Volume 17, No. 32 | August 18, 2021

Equipping a courageous Church alive with Christ’s transforming love
Welcome to Rev. Sandy Johnson, our Bridge Associate Conference Minister!
Rev. Sandy Johnson began work this week as our Bridge Associate Conference Minister. She will serve in this position to bridge the brief period between the recent departure of Interim ACM Rev. Sheresa Simpson-Rice and a new settled ACM, due to arrive in January.

In her role, Sandy is providing care and support to approximately 80 congregations and pastors and will provide primary staff support to the Committee on Ministry.

Read more about Sandy and reach out to welcome her to our Conference staff at sandyj@uccmn.org.
UCC National Officers Speak Out on Situation in Afghanistan

"We write with profound grief at the news of the Taliban takeover of Kabul and fall of the Afghan government. Images like those of people clinging to U.S. planes are haunting, and they point to the desperation and fear of our Afghan siblings. After 20 years of military intervention, it is clear that U.S. and international approaches have not brought about a Just Peace for the people of Afghanistan. Twenty more years of the same approach would not have done more. The cycle of violence and endless war had to end. As we have said for years in the United Church of Christ, peace is not the absence of conflict but the presence of justice. We need new approaches to address the root causes of unrest that lead to radicalization, and to break the cycle of violence…" CONTINUE READING
UCC Appeals for $100,000 for Disaster-Beleaguered Haiti

A UCC Haiti Appeal seeks to raise $100,000 for immediate relief and longer-term recovery for the thousands of people in Haiti who are reeling from the sequential disasters of the deadly, destructive 7.2 earthquake on August 14 and now Tropical Depression Grace, which is causing massive flooding and mudslides that are hindering the search and rescue of earthquake survivors. The country is also facing a desperate situation with COVID-19 due to lack of vaccines and political and social disruption following the assassination of the country’s president in July.

The UCC’s Global Ministries has long-standing partners in Haiti and is working ecumenically to ensure meaningful assistance during this devastating time in the country.

Conference News & Events
New COVID-19 Guidelines Published for Conference-Sponsored Activities

Churches around the Conference are prayerfully considering this alarming data as they look toward making plans for the fall season. The Conference is also giving this data careful attention as it seeks to start offering a variety of in-person programs in the coming weeks. Last week, the Executive Committee of the Conference's Board of Directors approved a new policy. Read the entire policy here.
The Damascus Project's Heavenly Meetings Course Begins August 26

“Heavenly Meetings: Processes to Foster Healthy Engagement” is a short course from Barb Bickford that will help church leaders encourage people to contribute more during church meetings. Too often, the way we run church meetings actually can weaken a church. We don’t want “meetings from hell.” We want “meetings from heaven”!

Participants will experience three simple and highly adaptable structured activities that encourage groups to know one another, share opinions, review progress and make decisions in a healthy and inclusive way. They will also learn how to lead the structured activities (both online and in person), explore how to use them in church settings, and receive personal support for trying these structures in their own meetings.

Power and Boundary Training
Oct 20 & 21, 9:30 am–noon

The Conference will utilize the services of LeaderWise to provide online power and boundary training on Wednesday and Thursday, October 20 & 21, from 9:30 am–noon both day. The fee is $50.

If you have questions or would like additional information, please email the Registrar for the Conference, Catherine Cejda, at catherinec@uccmn.org. To ensure that your training is recorded, please email your certificate of completion to Catherine at the same email.
The Minnesota Conference UCC encourages all members who are able to do so to receive the COVID-19 vaccine as a sign of our care of ourselves and our neighbors.

FourTHursday Faith Formation Gatherings Return via Zoom August 26, 12:00–1:30 pm

Our topic for August 26 is “Creating Safer Spaces for Children, Youth, and Family Ministry in an Ever-Evolving Pandemic.” Conference staff have been wrestling with the safest ways to resume in-person gatherings for Outdoor Ministry, youth events, and other faith formation programs. We have also had numerous conversations with congregational staff and other leaders frantically working on plans for their specific contexts. Let’s bring these conversations together on the 26th to share our collective wisdom, offer mutual support, and share best practices. Rev. Kevin Brown, Associate Conference Minister for Faith Formation, and Rev. Sheri Nelson, Outdoor Ministry Director, will share the Conference’s COVID-19 safety guidelines and will invite participants to share their plans for fall and ask whatever questions they are holding.
Anti-racism Training Offered for Ministers

Wednesdays, September 22 and 29, 5:30 to 8:30 pm
Attend at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities or online
Registration fee: $75
 Led by Okogyeamon, co-founder of ASDIC

This Antiracism Study Dialogue Circle (ASDIC) workshop is interactive and experiential. We will explore the ways that racial dynamics play out in and about us, every day, in both personal and institutional spaces. We will seek to develop our ability to identify and interrupt whiteness – while exploring the mindset, feelings, social communications (conscious and unconscious), and contexts that support the racial hierarchy in all sectors of our society.

Our intention is to share and participate in honest and deep dialogue; to provide a context of safe space for risk-taking and relationship-building; to build and strengthen community bonds in our common struggle against racism.

This training is open to everyone and meets the requirement for the Minnesota Conference UCC Diversity/Anti-Racism Education for Authorized Ministers.

Fall Outdoor Ministry Event Update

Please be aware of our Covid-19 Policy before registering for any event, noting that proof of Covid-19 vaccination is required for all participants and staff, including all camp site staff, for events that include an overnight stay.

Please read the appropriate Covid-19 Policy before registering for any event. Proof of vaccination is required in the form of a mailed copy, received one week before an event. Electronic copies will not be accepted due to our lack of HIPPA compliant electronic data storage at this time. If proof of vaccination is not received one week before event, registrant will not be allowed to participate and no refund will be issued.

Please mail to Minnesota Conference United Church of Christ
122 W Franklin Ave, Suite 323
Minneapolis, MN 55404
Attn: Administrator
Summer Worship Series

The Ministry Lab is delighted to offer a 2021 Summer Worship Series featuring three excellent preachers and a beautiful team of current United Theological Seminary students giving voice to the diversity of identities and contexts of our supporting congregations. Worship formats vary across the state, so all three services are available in video and print form. You can access the service in its entirety, or each segment individually. Use as best fits your setting! VIEW HERE
Joys & Concerns
We celebrate the ordination of Claire Klein on August 29 at 2:00 pm. Claire is being ordained into a four-way covenant between Lyndale UCC, AccentCare Hospice, and the Minnesota Conference. The ordination service will be at the Waburn C picnic shelter in Minnehaha Falls Park, as well as streamed via Zoom. Masks will be required. Congratulations to Claire on this momentous occasion in her ministry.

The Conference offers prayers and condolences to the family of Rev. Madison L. Sheely Jr., who passed away August 15, just a few weeks after celebrating his 95th birthday. A graveside service is planned for Saturday, August 21, at 10 am at Lakewood Cemetery. Read his full obituary here.
Resources & Clergy Clusters

  • 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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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.