Volume 17, No. 33 | August 25, 2021

COMMAntary
Equipping a courageous Church alive with Christ’s transforming love
Sacred Sites Tour to Explore Indigenous Experience in Minnesota
Minnesota Conference UCC members are invited to experience a sacred sites tour with Rev. Jim Bear Jacobs of the Minnesota Council of Churches (MCC) on Sunday, October 3, 1-5 pm.

The tour is part of the MCC’s “Healing MN Stories” program, an effort to create understanding and healing between Native American and non-Native people, particularly those in faith communities. This particular tour will be for Minnesota Conference UCC members only.

As the Healing Minnesota Stories webpage states: “Native people have suffered deep trauma over many years, losing their land, language, and culture, and all who call Minnesota home are the lesser for it. While many people and institutions contributed to that trauma, it happened with the full participation of Christian churches. We all still in need of healing, healing is doable, and churches have a role to play in healing.”

This opportunity is offered as part of the Conference’s commitment to racial justice and equity. All sites visited in the sacred sites tour are located in the Twin Cities, around the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers, what the Dakota refer to as Bdote, or “meeting place of rivers.”

Registration is required by September 30 and limited to 30 people. The tours are entirely outdoors and designed for adults and older youth (16+). Per person cost is $40; registration fees will be donated to support the Healing Minnesota Stories program.

Four Ways to Jumpstart Your Stewardship in 2020
by Bob Olsen, Development Officer of the Minnesota Conference UCC

Many years ago, my church choir director, Joel Johnson, taught me about the danger of doing anything that was just SO-SO. No, it wasn’t about the mediocre singing of a Bach chorale (although that did come up); rather, it was working hard and getting the Same Old-Same Old results.

Does your church do SO-SO stewardship? SO-SO stewardship looks like this: months are spent writing the fall campaign letter; a church member gives a message from the pulpit in the fall about the importance of giving or tithing; return envelopes are distributed; the stewardship team waits for weeks for the pledges to come in; and then, everyone lets out a sigh of relief when the fall stewardship campaign is over and the budget is passed in January. And in the next year the process is repeated all over again. SO-SO stewardship.

Conference News & Events
Last Chance to Register!
The Damascus Project's Heavenly Meetings Course Begins Thu Aug 26

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”!

In just two sessions (August 26 and September 23) you'll participate in 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.

FourTHursday Faith Formation Gatherings Begin August 26

Our topic for August 26 (noon–1:30 pm) 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 to share our collective wisdom, offer mutual support, and share best practices.
 
Join Us for Hemp and Food Health Day

Saturday, September 11
Cotter Farm, Austin | 9:30 am–2:30 pm
Cost: $15/person + $5 to ride the bus from Falcon Heights UCC church parking lot.
REGISTER by September 3

Tom Cotter and friends invite you to join them for a day on the Cotter Farm to learn more about the science of hemp farming and production, soil conservation, and natural growing methods that can be used in gardens big and tiny. READ MORE

Also Coming Up (register by September 10)

Women’s Wilderness Retreat: September 24–26
  • Camp Amnicon
  • $200/ person
  • Age requirement 21+. This has a maximum of 14 participants so act quickly.
  • Register by September 10
Take a break from the chaos and stress of daily life, and unplug into adventure! Each day will bring a different kind of adventure while we hike and paddle on the South Shore of Lake Superior. Each evening you’ll enjoy gourmet foods and beverages around the fire. 

Men’s Retreat – Overwhelmed by Life: An Invitation to Reconnect and Remember
September 24–26 (start time 4:00 pm, end time 11 am)
  • Osprey Wilds Environmental Learning Center, Sandstone
  • $200 (actual cost of event), $150 subsidized price, $100 subsidized with added scholarship, or contact Rev. Sheri Nelson for more scholarship funding (there is an extra $25/ night for single rooms, limited to the first four requests)
  • Register by September 10
  • Participation maximum is 15
Join other men from around the Minnesota Conference for a weekend to pause amid the chaos and overwhelm of life. The retreat will be co-facilitated by Rev. Kevin Brown, Associate Conference Minister for Faith Formation, and Hans Peterson. LEARN MORE AND REGISTER
New COVID-19 Guidelines Published for Conference-Sponsored Activities

Churches around the Conference are prayerfully considering this alarming data as they plan for the fall season. Please read the Conference's new policy, approved in August. Read the entire policy here.
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.
Take Your Shot!

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.

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

Joys & Concerns
We offer thanks for two Interim pastors who are concluding their ministries in two of our churches. Pilgrim Congregational UCC in Duluth bids farewell this Sunday to Rev. Judith Youngman. First UCC in Northfield will say good bye to Rev. Wendy Vander Hart. We give thanks for the faithful ministries of these two pastors and pray blessings on each congregation as they prepare to welcome new pastors.

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. If you would like the Zoom link, please email Claire at claire.klein280@gmail.com. Masks will be required. Congratulations to Claire on this momentous occasion in her ministry.
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.