Volume 19, No. 24 | June 14, 2023

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Equipping a courageous Church alive with Christ’s transforming love

Annual Meeting Re-Cap!

The 61st Annual Meeting of the MN Conference UCC is a wrap! It was a wonderful two days of deepening our connections, gathering for moving worship, learning in incredible workshops, laughing and dancing and singing, and reflecting on the theme “Protecting God’s Gift of Creation." Here are six takeaways:

1. Two new congregations granted full standing in the Conference

On Saturday of Annual Meeting, delegates voted unanimously to grant congregational standing to two new churches in our Conference. United Faith Community in Buffalo, which began as a “ministry connection” several years ago, was the first. Pastored by licensed minister Ole Olson, the small congregation worships in a conference room of a local organization and does an inspiring amount of advocacy, mission outreach, and public witness in the community. People’s Congregational Church in Bayport was also voted into Conference membership. Pastored by Rev. Clare Gromoll, People’s Congregational will also maintain its membership with the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches.

2. Conference Minister Prestemon Calls Conference to Faithful Re-Imagination

In her State of the Conference Address, Rev. Prestemon called Conference members to a season of faithful re-imagination and deep discernment. “Re-imagination is a core strategy for our future,” she said, “a tool for noticing & seizing the new thing God is longing to do in this “Age of the Spirit.” We need to re-imagine what it looks like to “be Church” in this historical moment for the sake of a Gospel and a witness that this world and our communities sorely need…Our faith has always relied on the imagination of our hearts, called on us to be “imagineers” of the future. And so I invite each of us in the Minnesota Conference to a season of faithful re-imagination, of paying attention to the movement of the Spirit as an act of our devotion, trusting that God is in fact doing a new thing among us, here and now.” Read the entire State of the Conference address HERE. A recording will be shared in coming days.


3. Use your voice!

Keynote speaker Rev. Michael Malcolm, founder of the People’s Justice Council in Alabama and a staunch environmental justice advocate, called on us to “use our voice” and compel change on the issues we care about. He reminded us that when we show up and lift our voices, those who are blocking change will pay attention. He shared that sometimes advocacy victories are as simple as getting up one more morning and continuing the fight. The recording of Rev. Malcolm’s powerful message will be shared in coming days.

4. Budgets are Mission Spending Plans

Conference delegates unanimously approved a budget for the 2024 fiscal year. The $1.6 million budget will fuel an exciting mission and ministry plan, including Clergy Communities of Practice, more Covenant Days across the Conference, a deepening commitment to anti-racism, incredible outdoor ministry & faith formation programs, and an exciting new initiative called the “Re-imagination Project”. Conference Treasurer Bob Sicoli reported a healthy financial position in the Conference, and thanked congregations for their generous giving to Our Church’s Wider Mission. Read our narrative budget and mission spending plan here.

5. Protect God’s Gift of Creation!

Our Annual Meeting theme was “Protecting God’s Gift of Creation”. Our anchoring scripture was Psalm 24:1: “The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it.” Our Bible Study leader, Rev. Dr. Brooks Berndt (UCC Environmental Justice Minister), invited us to explore Psalm 24 more deeply. Our closing worship preacher, Rev. Nikki Frontz (Solomon’s Porch church & United Theological Seminary Chaplain), called us to a spirit of “Ubuntu,” reminding us of our sacred interdependence. “I am because we are.”

6. Prophetic Witness Resolution

A resolution submitted by United Church of Christ in New Brighton passed with overwhelming support. The resolution called on the Conference to advocate for full funding of English Language Learner and Special Education services in public education. Several members of the Conference meaningfully spoke in favor of the resolution, sharing their own experiences and knowledge of the issue. Read the full resolution here.

Photo credits: Top row left: Rev. Nikki Darlene Frontz, our closing worship preacher extraordinaire! Top middle: Leaders of the inspiring United Faith Community in Buffalo pictured here; Top right: People’s Congregational in Bayport was also received into membership. Its pastor, the Rev. Clare Gromoll, shown here with her sons.Second row: Special guests Rev. Dr. Brooks Berndt (L) and Rev. Michael Malcolm (R) with Conference Minister Shari Prestemon 

Two Videos Capture the Spirit of Annual Meeting!

Check out these quick, wonderful videos of the Annual Meeting, created by the amazing Scott Keehn!

Conference News & Events

COMMAntary Goes to Summer Schedule

COMMAntary will go to an every-other-week publication schedule now through Labor Day. Publication dates are Wednesdays, June 28, July 12, July 26, August 9, August 23. The deadline remains the Monday before the Wednesday publication date at noon. Send story ideas, insights and more to [email protected].

Celebrate 2023 Twin Cities Pride!

June 23-25, 2023


Congregations from the Twin Cities metro area will be joining together to participate in this years Twin Cities Pride March. Sixty people from 11 congregations will represent the Conference to provide a public witness countering the dominant Christian voice that perpetuates exclusion, discrimination, and harm with a message of radical love, welcome, and affirmation for LGBTQIA+ people. While the spaces for participants marching are full, please make plans to attend the Pride March as a spectator, along with folks from other UCC congregations. Contact Kevin Brown to get connected with other congregations planning to take part.

2023 Justice and Local Church Ministry Common Application is Open

Individuals and churches who may be interested in applying for operational support, Neighbors in Need, CASA New and Renewing Church, and Pension Board New Church Start Benefit Support grants should check out the application! Please note that all applications will require a reference from Conference Minister Rev. Shari Prestemon.


Conference Moves to New Office Space

The Conference office has moved! We are still in the same building but in a smaller office, faithfully stewarding our resources. Our new address is: Minnesota Conference UCC; 122 W Franklin Avenue; Suite 200; Minneapolis, MN 55404. Our main phone number will remain 612-871-0359.

Partner News & Events

The Ministry Lab invites all leaders and members of Minnesota UCC, UMC, and PC(USA) congregations and all community members of United Theological Seminary and their neighbors and colleagues to gather for a time of inspiration, collaboration, contemplation, and lunch (it's free!). The Lab is visiting the Glenwood, Mankato, and Duluth Areas in June, July, and August (respectively). Come discover how we strive to support your ministries and inform future offerings by sharing your Great Ideas and challenges.

All gatherings run from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm. Learn more here. Find the complete daily schedule and register by clicking on your nearby locale:

Glenwood - Saturday, June 24

Mankato - Friday, July 14

Duluth - TBD

Sing a New Song Unto God at General Synod!

Any attendee interested can SIGN UP to join the choir, which will minister during the closing worship service Tuesday, July 4, at 7:30 pm. Sheet music and recordings will be distributed in the first week of June, and there will be at least two rehearsals during General Synod. Questions? Contact Cheryl Lindsay ([email protected]), Minister of Worship and Theology, UCC National Ministries.

Apply for The Leadership Center for Social Justice at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities

Congregational pastors and ministers are encouraged to apply for the second year of the program by July 1. The program, led by a team of experts, helps pastors develop and/or deepen sustainable, community-based, social justice ministries responsive to what God is doing in our world, congregations, and communities.

Those who wish to apply to join the program must supply a congregational letter of support and complete an application at www.unitedseminary.edu/lcsj by July 1. To learn more, contact the Center’s administrative assistant, Stella Pearce.

Joys & Concerns

Peace United Church of Christ in Duluth invites you to the celebration of ordination for Nathan Holst. The worship service is Sunday, June 25, at 4:00 pm, 1111 N 11th Ave E, Duluth MN 55805. For those not able to attend in person, you can watch the livestream at this link.

Rev. Seth Patterson will be installed as Minister for Justice & the Arts at Plymouth Congregational in Minneapolis (1900 Nicollet Avenue) this Sunday in the 11 am worship service. We celebrate with Seth and Plymouth on this sacred occasion.

Upcoming Conference Events
More Resources & Opportunities

  • Send story ideas, insights and more to [email protected]. 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.