Volume 18, No. 11 | March 16, 2022

Equipping a courageous Church alive with Christ’s transforming love
"Rest & Renewal": Registration Opens for 2022 Annual Meeting
We are excited to welcome you to this year’s Annual Meeting June 10–11, where we will gather for Rest and Renewal! This will be a hybrid meeting, but we hope you will join us in person at College of St. Benedict.

All of the workshops will take place on Zoom in the days leading up to the meeting; the plenary sessions will be offered in person as well as via Zoom. Because the health of all of attendees is of the utmost importance, careful protocols will be in place. 
For details on registration, keynote speaker Diana Butler Bass, rest and renewal activities, workshops, resolutions, worship, Power and Boundary Training, and all the many details of the Annual Meeting, please visit the Annual Meeting page on our website.
Conference News & Events
Loneliness and Isolation Focus of this Week's Lenten Family Toolkit

Our weekly toolkit for families and faith formation leaders focuses on loneliness and isolation in week three of lent. Each week features a video with clergy from around the Minnesota Conference in conversation and reflection on the themes and texts for the week. This week's video features Cindy Lemke from First Congregational UCC in Wadena and Rev. Enno Limvere from First Congregational in Grand Marais (watch the brief video above).

The toolkits also provide a rich and diverse collection of at-home games, activities, book and film recommendations, spiritual practices, and service ideas for individuals and families of all ages.

Faithful Groan: Lamenting the Pandemic as Part of Worship 

May 4-6, 2022 
ARC Retreat Community, Stanchfield 

Cost: $225 actual (25% and 50% discount if needed)

Outdoor Ministry will host this retreat to breathe out the grief and pains of life during a pandemic and breathe in a renewed sense of presence in our body, mind, heart, and soul.

Psalmist and musician Richard Bruxvoort Colligan will serve as companion and guide throughout our time together. Richard will draw on the rich tradition of lament found within our sacred scriptures. Through worship and music, conversation, embodied practice, and solitude, participants will be encouraged to tend to their aching souls and sighing spirits and to rest and “just be.” With the ARC Retreat Community in Stanchfield as our host site, there will be warm hospitality, plenty of good food, time for walking in the white pine forest, and lovely spaces for meditation and rest. 
This retreat is open to all adults, especially clergy and lay leaders. Space is limited, so register early. READ MORE ABOUT THE RETREAT & OUR FACILITATOR.
Build and Transform Your Congregation

This 4-week course explores community organizing as a tool for building and transforming congregations and communities. "Organizing as Evangelism" features six hours of online learning in community via Zoom and four weeks of self-guided learning using the Damascus Project’s course platform, the Damascus Project Network. Live Zoom sessions are required for successful completion of this course and meet on Friday, March 25, 6:00–8:00 pm; Saturday, March 26, 10:00 am–12:00 pm and 1:00–3:00 pm.

About this course
Community organizing in the Progressive Christian world is the new “evangelism.” Rather than recruiting people into our churches, we learn to invite the church to go out into the community and find out what God is already doing in our neighborhoods and communities. It is the job of spiritual leaders to learn how to listen to the needs of the community, and attach those needs to resources for change. Community organizing is the best tool to transform a congregation, a community, and our world. This course will require you to ask—and answer—big questions. It will challenge you to get outside your comfort zone, and it will invite you to tap into how God might be leading you to seek justice in your community.

LEARN MORE & REGISTER BY MARCH 24 (in “Length of Study” drop-down menu, select “Unit 3"; cost is $154 for laypeople; $220 for Assessment Learners [MIDs])
Reimagining Faith Formation: The Spiritual Practice of Making It Up as We Go

March 24, noon–1:30 pm via Zoom
A note from Kevin Brown about this month’s conversation:
I love musical theater! In fact, watching movies and videos of stage productions and listening to soundtrack recordings have been important escapes and sustaining spiritual practices for me throughout the pandemic. One song in particular has become my personal anthem for this chaotic, confusing, and distressing season: “Anybody Have a Map” from Dear Evan Hansen.
I have listened to this song a hundred or more times over the past two years. To hear two mothers singing their confusion and dismay over how to connect with their adolescent sons has given voice to my own sense of confusion, fear, and overwhelm. The chorus of the song includes the lines, “I don’t know if you can tell but this is me just pretending to know,” and “I’m making this up as I go.” These words have a deep resonance with my experience of ministry in this challenging season. Most days I do feel like I am only pretending to know what I am doing and that I am in fact making everything up as I go. At first, I tightly held on to this realization as an embarrassing secret, but over time, I have come to embrace this and share it with others as a faithful response and essential practice of ministry. READ MORE
New Materials Available for Stewardship
Your church’s fall stewardship campaign may feel like it’s way out in the future, but now is a great time to have your Stewardship Committee start building a super successful effort in 2022. And best of all, you don’t need to invent it all on your own.
The national office of the United Church of Christ has just released UCC-branded stewardship materials, From Bread and Cup to Faith and Giving,” that can save your committee time, effort, and energy this year with things like bulletin inserts, posters, envelopes, worship and sermon startersTake a look at these materials HERE, and get a head start on your efforts.
Date Correction: Family Camp at Moon Beach is July 10-16

Come to Moon Beach Camp in northern Wisconsin for a week of fun, fellowship and discussion. In this beautiful northwoods setting, there will be age group classes in the morning, lots of swim time, arts and crafts, nature exploration and time to enjoy your own family and meet others. Each family group will have their own cabin with bathroom and meals are eaten as a group. Co-directors of this camp are Jan Shaffer of Minnesota and Paul Williams of Wisconsin. Check out the Moon Beach website for more information and to register. 
Joys & Concerns
Celebrate the installation of the Rev. Cindy Maddox as the Senior Minister of First United Church of Christ in Northfield. The service will be held Sunday, March 27, at 10:30 am during worship. Conference Minister Rev. Shari Prestemon will preach. All are welcome! Clergy are invited to robe (red stoles). The service will be livestreamed via Zoom and Youtube. Streaming information is available on the church’s website.
Upcoming Conference Events
More Resources & Opportunities

  • Send story ideas, insights and more to communications@uccmn.org. COMMAntary is published on Wednesdays; submissions are due the Monday prior to publication at noon.

  • The Conference website offers a wealth of resources related to Covid, racial justice, and more.
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The Minnesota Conference United Church of Christ (UCC) equips a courageous Church alive with Christ’s transforming love. Through advice, support, and resources, we strengthen the 126 congregations throughout the state to do the redemptive work of God in the world.