Volume 19, No. 13 | March 29, 2023

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Equipping a courageous Church alive with Christ’s transforming love

Sending Messages of Love to Trans-Youth

March 31 is International Transgender Day of Visibility, an annual event dedicated to celebrating transgender people and raising awareness of discrimination they face. The United Church of Christ is calling for a flood of "love letters" to trans-youth.

Across the country, 340 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced in statehouses, and 150 of those would specifically restrict the rights of transgender people, the highest number of bills targeting transgender people in a single year ever. Amid this wave of hatred and legislative violence, LGBTQ+ persons and their families are experiencing immense harm. Places committed to holding safe space for LGTBQ+ adults and youth have also been attacked and vandalized for doing so, including houses of worship.

On Monday of this week, the UCC’s national setting sent an urgent request to all Conference Ministers requesting “messages of love.” They hope to receive a minimum of 48 love notes in order to post at least one every 30 minutes on March 31. The notes will appear on the UCC website's landing page and various social media accounts.

Congregations and individuals throughout the Minnesota Conference UCC are invited to send your messages of love before or soon after March 31. The messages should be 200 words or less and express support for transgender persons, especially trans-youth. They should be emailed to lettersoflove@ucc.org

The Minnesota Conference UCC is an Open & Affirming Conference that joyfully welcomes and celebrates LGBTQ+ persons in our pulpits, our pews, and communities. Here is the message of love Conference Minister Rev. Shari Prestemon sent on behalf of the Conference:

Dear Child of God,

On this Transgender Day of Visibility, I send you love on behalf of the Minnesota Conference UCC. We want you to know that you are precious in God’s sight, a creation of God with beautiful dignity & worth. We celebrate you & your gifts.


Too many in these days are bent on hatred, targeting LGBTQ+ persons in ways that diminish you, try to make you invisible, and do immense harm. We deeply grieve this with you. Such actions are inconsistent with the kind of extravagant love and inclusive embrace the Gospels call us to share with others.


And so we will be witnesses to another way. We will stand with you to counter hatred with a Christ-like love. We will see you & celebrate you. We will hold you in our prayers, surround you with beloved community, & be advocates for your safety, inclusion, & rights.


We give God thanks for you. Know that you are loved.


Grace & peace,

Reverend Shari Prestemon, Conference Minister, Minnesota Conference United Church of Christ

Responding to the Nashville Mass Shooting

In the aftermath of yet another mass killing, this time at a school in Nashville, TN, where three children and three adults were murdered, we share this reflection. It is a paraphrase of Isaiah 58 written by Rev. Dr. Susan Thistlethwaite, President Emerita of Chicago Theological Seminary. She invites its use in worship and our confession, repentance, and change "until the guns fall silent."


Shout out, do not hold back!

Lift up your voice like a trumpet!

Why does the United States worship guns

Instead of God?


Yet day after day they seek me

and delight to know my ways,

as if they were a nation that practiced righteousness

and did not forsake the ordinance of their God;

They ask of me righteous judgments,

they delight to draw near to God.


Why do you go to all these churches, but you do not see?

Why do you humble yourselves, but you do not notice?”

Look, you serve your own interest on your worship day,

And then just do the bidding of the National Rifle Association.


Look, you pray and then go out to buy and sell guns

And make it easier for many to commit mass murder.

Such prayers as you do today

will not make your voice heard on high.


Is such the worship that I choose,

a day to make it easier to sell guns?

Is it to bow down the head in prayer,

And then call for prayers for gun victims?

Will you call these prayers,

a day acceptable to the Lord?


Is not this the prayers that I choose:

to free the nation from the yoke of the NRA,

to undo the fraudulent interpretation of the second


to let those who fear guns in their neighborhoods be freed,

and to overturn the gun lobbies?


Is it not to share your opposition to out of control

guns with your neighbors,

and to bring better policy to our nation;

when you see those in terror of gun violence,

protect them and keep them safe?


Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,

and your healing shall spring up quickly;

your vindicator shall go before you,

the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.


Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;

you shall cry for help, and God will say, Here I am.



Conference News & Events

Rev. Michael Malcom to Offer Keynote Address at Annual Meeting

We’re thrilled to welcome Rev. Michael Malcom to the MNCUCC’s Annual Meeting this June! Rev. Malcom comes to us from Alabama where he serves as Founding Executive Director of the People’s Justice Council and Alabama Interfaith Power and Light. He brings a passion and experienced leadership for faith communities to unite against environmental racism, injustice and climate change.


Opening Up "Heart Spaces": Register for Spring 2023 Youth Gathering

April 28-30, 2023 | Camp Onomia, Onamia

For youth in grades 6-12


Lori Alford, a licensed marriage and family therapist and long-time faith formation leader in the Minnesota Conference UCC, will guide youth through activities and experiences that help them listen to their bodies, practice stillness and quiet, open up “heart spaces” for connection, and tap into their innate capacity to know, love, and connect.

Power & Boundary Training Offered Prior to Annual Meeting in June

Date: Thursday, June 8, 2023

Time: 10:00 am – 4 pm (check-in begins at 9:30 am with coffee)

Cost: $65 (lunch included with a light afternoon snack)

Facilitator: Anita Bradshaw


Every three years, authorized ministers of the Minnesota Conference are required to take a workshop on Power and Boundaries. We are offering a training prior to the Annual Meeting on June 8. Come for the training, stay for the Annual Meeting!

Drawing on Our Strengths: Looking at Power and Boundaries from a Different Angle

Ministers in the United Church of Christ draw on several critical elements in forming our ethics around power and boundaries in ministry. These are: the Scriptures, our theology, our Ministerial Code of Ethics, and the Marks of Faithful and Effective Ministry. Each offers a grounding for how we understand our power in ministry and develop healthy boundaries to ensure good ministry and our own health. We will explore each element and work to apply their themes directly to the settings of each participant.

This workshop meets the requirement for authorized ministers for power and boundary training. Participants should bring a Bible with them to the training. Participants should be familiar with Basic Boundary Awareness. If you have not taken a Boundary Basic course, this may not be an appropriate training for you.

Thursday night accommodations should be made when you register for Annual Meeting.

If you have questions, please contact See Chang (comadmin@uccmn.org) or Kelly Gallagher (kellyg@uccmn.org).

First Annual UCC Earth Day Summit to be Held in Minnesota

"There is no greater power on Earth than Story." – Libba Bray

Saturday, April 22

Mayflower UCC, 106 E. Diamond Lake Road

The National Setting of the United Church of Christ is coordinating a First Annual Earth Day Summit with Mayflower UCC in Minneapolis and the MN Conference. Plan to attend all or part of a special day filled with inspiring stories of hope!

10:00 AM - 12:30 PM CST

National UCC Summit (virtual on Zoom) featuring renowned climate activist, theologian, and author Jim Antal as the keynote speaker and a panel of expert Minnesota organizers


Saturday 1:30 - 3:00 PM CST

A program held at Mayflower Church, both in person and live-streamed; 106 E. Diamond Lake Road, Minneapolis

Music, prayer, a call to Action and a Readers’ Theatre presentation “Hope From the Front Lines," personal stories of courage and hope from rural, small town and urban Minnesota. REGISTER

DOWNLOAD A PROMOTIONAL FLYER to share with your congregation, friends, neighbors, and colleagues!

Our Whole Lives Training is May 19-21

Clergy and lay leaders who plan to offer an Our Whole Lives program in their congregations are invited to three days of facilitation training May 19-21, 2023, at Camp Onomia in Onamia, MN.

Our Whole Lives, or OWL, is a comprehensive human sexuality curriculum for elementary-age children through older adults, developed by the United Church of Christ and the Unitarian Universalist Association. The August training is co-sponsored by the Minnesota and Wisconsin conferences.


Send Us Your Significant Anniversary Info!

We are gathering information for the Conference's Celebration Booklet. If you have a significant church anniversary, or ordination anniversary this year, please send your information to See Chang at comadmin@ucc.org.

For churches, please send a photo along with a brief history of the church. For clergy, please send a photo along with the Clergy Anniversary Questionnaire form.

Joys & Concerns

The ordination service for Nathan Roberts has been rescheduled for Sunday, April 16, 2 pm at Edina Morningside Church UCC, 4201 Morningside Rd., Edina, MN 55416.

Upcoming Conference Events
More Resources & Opportunities

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  • The Conference website offers a wealth of resources related to faith formation, 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.