Volume 17, No. 9 | March 3, 2021

COMMAntary
Equipping a courageous Church alive with Christ’s transforming love
Continuing the Conversation about Reparations and White Supremacy
Two discussions in the UCC this past week continued the conversation about reparations and disrupting white supremacy.

Conference Minister Rev. Shari Prestemon was a panelist for the UCC national setting's "Church-based Reparations" webinar (watch the discussion below). The panel explored the theological grounding for reparations and shared learnings, mistakes, and suggestions.

On Tuesday, March 2, the Amos Task Force of the MN Conference co-hosted (in partnership with United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities and the Minnesota Council of Churches) a conversation on the topic of "Seeking Justice, Caring for Community: Preparing for the Days Ahead." Rev. Traci Blackmon, Associate General Minister of Justice & Local Church Ministries for the United Church of Christ, joined Rev. Steven Belton, President and CEO of the Urban League (Twin Cities), and Rev. Dr. Gary Green II, assistant professor of pastoral theology and social transformation at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities. (Watch the conversation above.)

Rev. Dr. Green began with an overview of the purpose of the conversation: "To create space for powerful Black voices, in dialogue, without interruption." The panelists were asked to share their concerns for clergy as our community prepares for the trial of Derek Chauvin. Panelists reminded participants the importance of acknowledging and honoring anger and trauma, and for clergy to create safe spaces where people can both speak to pain and craft hope. As Rev. Belton said, "Clergy need to write prescriptions for self-care and pain management and spiritual therapy."

Rev. Blackmon emphasized the need for clergy to show up with humility and ready to serve and for churches to help deconstruct the theology of "chosen-ness." She also testified to the hope she is finding in the young people who are leading change. "The church is in the streets now," she said. "And I'm here to tell you, if you've never been part of movement work, the Spirit is there and it is the church, a church that says we won’t leave anybody behind."

The discussion also included information about the Day of Prayers for Justice for George Floyd and Black Liberation, scheduled for March 8. LEARN MORE

Rev. Dr. Green closed the conversation with this observation: "We have so much more to discuss. I know this is incomplete but so is the movement. We have work to do but we will create a different reality."
Conference News & Events
Johannah Frisby from MN Interfaith Power and Light Joins FourTHursday

Thursday, March 25, noon-1:30 pm

To prepare for Earth Day on April 22, Johannah Frisby from MN Interfaith Power and Light (MNIPL) will join us March 25 from noon–1:30 pm to discuss activities families can do at home and leaders can introduce to their groups in response to environmental issues. Emily Meyer from the Ministry Lab will have other resources to share as well.
 
Johannah is the Outreach Fellow for MNIPL focusing on developing the Climate Justice Household Program, which engages households committed to effective and sustained action in response to the climate crisis. She has a degree in Peace Studies from the College of Saint Benedict and experience working in environmental policy in Washington, DC, plus field work in Chilean Patagonia. Johannah is a member of St. John the Evangelist in Saint Paul where she serves on the Creation Care team and as a Youth Leader.
Sign up for Power and Boundary Training Offered March 16 & 17
 
The Conference will be offering a training on Tuesday, March 16 (2 pm to 4:30 pm) and Wednesday, March 17, (9:30 am to noon) -- both days are required. The training will be led by LeaderWise, our partner in leader development, assessment, and counseling. It is totally online and the cost is $50. The deadline to register is March 11. REGISTER

We are also working on dates with LeaderWise for a training later in the spring. If you have questions, please contact Anita Bradshaw at anitab@uccmn.org.
"Practicing Belovedness" with Week 3 of the Lenten Family Toolkit
How can I be brave in the world for God? How can I love others as God loves me? would worship feel if everyone, even kids, asked questions? Check out the wonderful resources in week 3 of the Lenten Family Toolkit. Video reflections, games, activities, books and more available on our Lenten Toolkit page. If you would like to receive a direct email each week, please email Sandy Kellen.
What Is Permaculture?

Creation Justice Webinar Series
March 11 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

Heidi Morlock and Hans Peterson will relate stories of experimenting for 20 years with permaculture principles and sustainable agriculture at both the garden and farm scale. Get ideas to support a transition to a more just food and farming system. The workshop will cover theory related to sustainable farming/gardening as well as practical examples to consider in your own garden design or advocacy work. LEARN MORE & REGISTER
Last Chance to Register for Workshop on Ministry with LGBTQIA+ Youth

March 12-13 | Only $49 |  INFO AND REGISTRATION

Join the discussion on how to proactively create spaces in church so LGBTQIA+ youth in the wider community know they are welcome. This weekend workshop from The Damascus Project will include practical and meaningful information for building or strengthening a ministry among LGBTQIA+ youth in your church.
Cultivating Generous Congregations Seminar

National UCC staff will offer a new Cultivating Generous Congregations Seminar for pastors and lay leaders beginning in May. The seminar offers an opportunity to explore faithful, practical, and tested ways to promoting generosity in our congregations. The seminar draws on current research, seeks guidance from the wisdom of scripture, and discusses the best practices in church-based fundraising.

Class sessions are May 19, May 26, June 2, June 9, June 16, and June 23, 2021 from 6:30 – 8:00pm EST. Between class sessions, the instructors provide materials to help you analyze the culture of your own congregation and learn how to create change. Register today: The CGC Seminar is $150 per participant. REGISTER by April 30
Church Annual Reports Due: Data Hub Closes Wednesday, March 3!

The Data Hub is open to church administrators just through Wednesday, March 3!  All churches in the conference are requested to submit data that informs us about our shared regional and national resources in a movement of faith and love. Click here for instructions. Contact Catherine Cejda at the Conference office if you experience problems with the process. The deadline for submissions is March 3. Thank you for your time on this project! 
Joys & Concerns
The Rev. Henry Campbell, father of both the Rev. Sarah Campbell and the Rev. Hank Campbell and grandfather of the Rev. Hannah Campbell Gustafson passed away early Sunday morning, February 28. He served in the Iowa Conference, was Pastor Emeritus at First Congregational in Moorhead, as well as served as pastor at Parkview in White Bear Lake. The Minnesota Conference holds the entire family in our prayers.
Resources

  • The Conference website offers a wealth of resources related to ministry.

  • The United Church of Christ National Setting is offering financial assistance to local churches whose ministries have been challenged by the pandemic. See the process.


  • 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.
Clergy Clusters
The BIPOC Clergy Cluster meets quarterly on the second Thursday of the month (March 11, June 10, September 9, December 9) from 5pm-6:30pm on Zoom for now.  To receive the Zoom link to the cluster meeting and/or get an invitation to the Facebook group, email Rev. Nikki Frontz.
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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.