Volume 18, No. 32 | September 14, 2022

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Equipping a courageous Church alive with Christ’s transforming love

"Giving Thanks as I Return from Sabbatical"

Today marks my first day back after three months of sabbath. I want to take a bit of space here to offer abundant thanks for the privilege and deep blessing of that time away.

My goal for the sabbatical time was to “deepen connections”. The pandemic season of these last 2-1/2 years is one I experienced as difficult isolation at times. The strain of being unable to meaningfully connect with family and friends and places dear to my heart often drained my spirit. In this Sabbath time I wanted nothing more than to spend quality time with people I love in unrushed conversation and spaces, soaking up God’s goodness and rediscovering joy.

Mission accomplished!

From Iowa to Connecticut and Maine to Mississippi, I lingered with loved ones, was awed by the beauty of God’s Creation, and reconnected with people who are integral to my faith journey. And at the close of it all, I attended the 11th Assembly of the World Council of Churches in Karlsruhe, Germany, where I had the amazing opportunity to observe the wideness of Christ’s global Church engaged in ecumenical ministry together. (More on that another time; it was fascinating!)

Thank you…

  • To the Conference staff: the strength and dedication of our talented staff team allowed me to be confident that all would be well during my absence. Many thanks to them for their ongoing hard work and for picking up any ‘extras’ caused by my time away
  • To Rev. Rick Wagner, who served as sabbatical supply Conference Minister during this time and provided the necessary glue and steady leadership to help things run smoothly
  • To the Board of Directors, who never hesitated in its support of my sabbatical, urged good boundaries to allow for blessed rest, and made it possible for me to attend the World Council of Churches Assembly.
  • To all of you for being a Conference that loves and supports its Conference staff and offers a generous sabbatical policy, and for your patience as you’ve awaited my return when questions or concerns arose.

The months ahead will be filled with good ministry and ample opportunities for all of us to deepen our own connections across the life of the Conference. I look forward to seeing or talking with you soon!


Rev. Shari Prestemon

Conference News & Events

Reporting on a Wonderful Women's Retreat

Outdoor Ministry of the MN Conference hosted its first in-person event for 2022 at Camp Onomia September 9-11. Twelve women from eight UCC congregations participated in the annual Women's Retreat. With the Theme of "Women as Storytellers and Healers," we learned about historical women and the strength and resilience their stories give us. Through our own work, using discussion, creating artwork, and meditation we acknowledged our own stories to share with others.


September FourTHursday: Caring for Gen-Z in a Post Pandemic World

September 22, noon – 1:30 pm


For many young people, there is no normal to return to after the pandemic. Their entire lives have changed. Our pandemic research focused on what young people are experiencing, how they view the future and, most importantly, what you can do to support them. Dr. Josh Packard, Executive Director of Springtide Research Institute, will join our gathering via Zoom to present and lead a time for questions and conversation. Registration link coming soon!

Women's Wilderness Weekend

Camp Amnicom, September 23–25


Join with other women from around Minnesota for a weekend of hiking through wooded hills and marshes and exploring the amazing shore of Lake Superior. With enough participants, there is a chance to paddle on the lake in one of the Montreal canoes or take a leisurely paddle on the Amnicon River that spills into Lake Superior.

Begin and end each day around the campfire with spirit-filled conversations, and drink in the amazing starry sky before heading to bed. Don’t forget to feast on hearty campfire breakfasts and gourmet lunch and dinners provided in the outdoor dining hall. While some may call this “glamping” we want to emphasize that sleeping in a tent (in a bed) is NOT glamorous, but a step above sleeping on the ground!

Register for the Minnesota Conference UCC Clergy Retreat

November 1-3, 2022 (Tue 5 pm – Thu 11:30 am)

Christ the King Retreat Center, Buffalo, MN

$200 private room | $170 shared double room | $100 commuter



All actively serving clergy from around the Minnesota Conference UCC are invited to come together with colleagues for a few days of renewal, rest, and reconnection. Over the last year this clergy retreat has evolved and been rescheduled several times due to the limitations of our ongoing life with Covid. 

Proof of vaccination against COVID-19 will be required for all participants, and face masks and physical distancing may be required in some spaces throughout the event. You will find the Conference’s COVID-19 Safety Guidelines here. Please contact Rev. Kevin Brown, Associate Conference Minister, for more information and with any questions.

Circle of Trust Peer Groups Offered for Faith Leaders

"I have found no other experience quite like it. Listening and being listened to with such intentionality opened parts inside me that are usually inaccessible, and I left each gathering with a profound sense of gratitude and hope." —Kara Scroggins, pastor, North Bethesda United Methodist Church, Washington, D.C.

If you are a leader in a faith community or other ministry context - clergy, lay staff, or volunteer - whose ministry focuses on nurturing the spiritual lives of others, this opportunity is for you. These Circle of Trust Peer Groups will offer space for faith leaders to be nurtured and nourished within themselves and in community. This is an opportunity to refocus on what inspires and sustains you in ministry. The Circle of Trust approach is an invitation and a structure for doing our own inner work in the company of others. This series of gatherings will be held entirely online and includes both an opening retreat AND monthly small group calls. LEARN MORE & REGISTER

Faith and Reproductive Choice: a Webinar for Minnesota UCC Clergy and Laity

Thursday, September 29, 7:00-8:30 pm | Free of charge | REGISTER

Many Christians struggle with the issue of abortion morality and find themselves conflicted or confused in today’s intense, polarized political environment. Others support reproductive choice politically, but still feel that abortion is shameful. This webinar invites participants to step back a bit from politics to explore positive positions on abortion in terms of biblical theology of “living beings” and pastoral concerns about people’s real lives. Led by faith leaders with time for Q&A.

Outdoor Ministry Launches Monthly Newsletter

Check out the first edition of Outdoor Ministry's monthly newsletter HERE!

Partner News & Events

Minnesota Council of Churches Peacemakers Series

Peace practitioners with experience in transforming conflict abroad are looking for ways to teach Minnesotans what they know, some with a special focus on clergy. Minnesota Council of Churches, steward of Respectful Conversations, is partnering with them to help Minnesota congregations be sources of peace in their communities even as pundits fear growing prospects of violence.

You are invited to participate in a series of learnings, workshops and conversations focused on helping you and your congregation to reduce the likelihood of violence in your community. Attend an online orientation to this series featuring Princeton University’s Bridging Divides Initiative on Tuesday, September 20, and sign up for a two-part workshop run by Resetting the Table on October 6 and 13. LEARN MORE AND REGISTER

Leadership Center for Social Justice Partners with Anti-Racism Study Dialogue Circles for Clergy-specific Anti-Racism Workshops


Are you a clergy member looking for a way to fulfill requirements for six hours of continuing education in anti-racism? The Leadership Center for Social Justice invites you to participate in Discerning Whiteness: The Unacknowledged Barrier. These two clergy-specific workshops will be led by the Anti-Racism Study Dialogue Circles (ASDIC). Two sessions over Zoom on October 13 and October 27 from 9 am-noon CT. Cost is $90. Contact Stella Pearce at spearce@united.edu to register.

Take Care of Yourself, Be Good to Your Ministry, Enrich Your Congregation

October 16-18, Christ the King Retreat Center


Let’s get together to process what has been and move forward In the Ways of Jesus. Join colleagues at ConNext Summit 2022 for Gracious Idleness that’ll prepare you for Scrappy Transformation that will lead your congregation into Radical Belonging. Refresh your soul with scenic beauty and spacious time, reimagine a more sustainable and life-giving ministry, and depart ready to renew your community. Scrumptious happy hours; community-building music; and laughter will be balm for your soul.

Are you Called to Seminary?

The world needs your voice, your leadership. At United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities, our transformational curriculum prepares faith leaders for the pulpit and beyond--where the world needs them most. If you apply by October 15, you will automatically receive a $1,000 scholarship for the spring 2023 term! Our support team will also help walk you through robust scholarship and financial aid options to make your calling a reality. You can attend in St. Paul or online, part-time or full-time. LEARN MORE

Joy & Concerns

Join the Closing Celebration for Mizpah UCC on September 25

Congregations, Members and Pastors of the MN Conference UCC are invited to the Closing Worship Celebration of Mizpah United Church of Christ, 412 5th Ave. North in Hopkins, MN, on Sunday morning, September 25, at 10 am. An informal luncheon with time for sharing memories will follow the service; please call the church office to make a reservation for lunch at 952-935-5509.

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 faith formation, racial justice, and more.

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This newsletter is brought to you by generous contribution to Our Church's Wider Mission.

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.