Volume 19, No. 7 | February 15, 2023

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Equipping a courageous Church alive with Christ’s transforming love

New "Small Church Collective" Launches March 14

Monthly Zoom meetings starting March 14 provide an opportunity to gather and talk together


Small churches with fewer than 50 people in worship each week are a special blessing in the Minnesota Conference UCC. Congregations that fit that description are also far more the norm than they are the exception: 71% of MN Conference congregations have an average of 50 or less individuals in worship.

If you are a pastor or leader in a small church, we invite you to a special discussion series especially for you starting next month.

The “Small Church Collective” will meet March 14, April 11, and May 9 (second Tuesdays of each month) from 10:30 am–noon. Each Zoom-based session will be hosted by one of the Conference staff and feature a special speaker who has specific expertise or experience with small churches. There will also be plenty of time for dialogue and interaction with the speaker and each other.

We intend for the Small Church Collective to be a space where you can wrestle with mutual challenges, learn of helpful resources, and mutually spark new ideas. These virtual gatherings are intended specifically for pastors of small congregations that average 50 or fewer in worship.


Check out Conference Minister Rev. Shari Prestemon’s COMMAntary article from February 1 about “Faithfulness & Vitality in Small Places."

Conference News & Events

The Future of Faith Formation Networking and Support is Topic of February FourTHursday

Thursday, February 23

11:30 am – lunch, 12:00 pm –conversation

United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities



Please join us for the February FourTHursday gathering for a time of sharing food and conversation about the future of faith formation networking and support in the Minnesota Conference UCC. This will be a generative conversation to hear from all you who work in local congregations about how the Conference can best support your work and well-being and the ministry of the faith community you serve.


The Conference staff have been in a process of discernment about how best to allocate resources for supporting faith formation with children, youth, and parents. During this process, questions have come up about continuing FourTHursday or finding alternative options for support and resourcing. Since before the pandemic, participation in FourTHursday has been flat or declining, the costs associated with the program have grown substantially, and finding quality presenters has been increasingly challenging. We need to hear your perspectives about how to reinvigorate this gathering or reimagine new ways of accomplishing our goals: creating a space for regular collegial connection and support, providing high quality resourcing for faith formation, and sparking the creative imaginations of faith formation leaders.


Know that we also have plans in place for the FourTHursday gatherings in March and April. Please plan to join us in March for a conversation about “Trauma & Resilience” led by Amy McNicholas, Faith and Mental Health Specialist with the Center for Faith & Community Health Transformation.

Questions? Contact Rev. Kevin Brown.

Check Out the Outdoor Ministry Zoom Series on Microplastics

Microplastics in the Great Lakes is an emerging water quality issue that has a huge potential to impact human health and the aquatic environment. The fascinating Outdoor Ministry Zoom conversation on February 9 on the topic, with presenter Art Hirsch, is available below.

March 1 is Deadline to Update 2023 UCC Yearbook & Directory

It’s that time again for the UCC to begin preparing the Yearbook & Directory for the coming year. The annual yearbook is not simply a formality but also what your church's 501(c)3 status depends on! Data from the annual reports is also used in the church profile when you are searching for a new pastor, and if no reports have been submitted for your church for five (5) years, all data reverts to zeros. In case those aren't enough reasons, check out this list of 12 important reasons to report your annual church data.


Instructional materials (both videos and documents) for local churches are available at the Yearbook and Directory webpage. Data Hub closes for churches March 1 at midnight (Eastern Time).

Mark Your Calendar for Youth Conference Events

Spring 2023 Youth Gathering

April 28-30, 2023 | Camp Onomia, Onamia


For youth 6th-12th grades

Summer Middle School Camp

July 5-7, 2023 | Osprey Wilds Environmental Learning Center, Sandstone

For youth entering 6th grade through 8th grade


Summer 2023 Youth Trip to Washington, DC

July 21-28, 2023

For students from Conference congregations currently enrolled in grades 8-12


Fall Youth Conference Event

October 6-8, 2023 Osprey Wilds Environmental Learning Center


Partner News & Events

Workshops Offered for Moderators, Treasurers and Other Lay Leadership Positions

Saturday, February 25, 9 am – noon

The Center for Transformational Leadership will offer basic training over Zoom for new and returning moderators, assistant moderators, treasurers, and pastor-parish relations committee members. The workshops are offered at no cost. REGISTER BY FEB 17.

Joys & Concerns

The Committee on Ministry will host an Ecclesiastical Council for Mitch Nathan Holst on Sunday, March 12, at 2:30 pm. People are invited to join in person at Peace UCC in Duluth or via Zoom. This is an opportunity for our member churches to participate in the Conference’s discernment for our candidates for ordination. Please consider joining in this important process. You can read Nathan’s ordination paper and learn more about him. RSVP to See Chang, COM administrative assistant at COMadmin@uccmn.org, to receive the Zoom link. If attending in person, the address is 1111 N 11th Ave E, Duluth, MN 55805.

A celebration of the life of Rev. Carol Joyce will be held at First Congregational Church of MN, UCC, on June 24, at 10 am. As the secretary of the United Church of Christ, Rev. Joyce was the first woman to serve in national leadership of a mainline denomination. She also served as pastor of Robbinsdale UCC. The United Church news offers an account of her life and career in this article.

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.