Volume 18, No. 15 | April 13, 2022

Equipping a courageous Church alive with Christ’s transforming love
Holy Week
Three Churches Form Ecumenical Building Partnership
New Branches is the new home of Lake Nokomis Lutheran Church, Living Table United Church of Christ, and Spirit of St. Stephen’s Catholic Community three unique congregations, deeply rooted in faith and focused on possibilities. Together, they share a call to do justice and love mercy within and beyond their walls, into the community and world.

The three churches formed this innovative partnership at 5011 31st Ave. S. in Minneapolis, the former site of Lake Nokomis Lutheran. Extensive main-level renovations to the newly shared space make it possible for the churches to share the updated building and worship spaces while retaining their individual faith identities. Building ownership and management are equally shared.

“We are thrilled to create this partnership,” says Rev. Sara Spohr, pastor at Lake Nokomis Lutheran. “We have been deeply rooted in South Minneapolis for over 100 years, and this partnership will help us grow more fully into our call to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.”

In addition to reducing the environmental impact of three separate church spaces, the partnership allows the three churches to focus financial and human resources on mission and ministry. The faith communities were drawn together by a shared call to justice, including racial justice and LGBTQIA+ inclusion. Through their partnership, the congregations are committed to increasing their impact in the community. 

Marilaurice Hemlock, community coordinator at Spirit Catholic Community, says, "The relationships we have begun to build support a vision of being a new church, one rooted in traditions of hope with branches reaching out in possibility."

Living Table UCC Pastor Rachael Keefe agrees. “Working together, we can provide a place for people to worship, question, and seek, to challenge the status quo, and to find wholeness. We’re excited for the future.”

Learn more at NewBranchesMN.org.
Conference News & Events
Family Toolkit Offers Wonderful Resources for Holy Week and Easter

Check out the Holy Week and Easter family toolkit, including the video conversation (above) with Rev. Kevin Brown and family. The toolkit also provides a rich and diverse collection of at-home games, activities, book and film recommendations, spiritual practices, and service ideas for individuals and families of all ages.

Rest and Renewal Activities: A Special Feature of this Year’s Annual Meeting
The theme for this year’s Minnesota Conference Annual Meeting is “Rest and Renewal.” Not only will we have an opportunity to discuss what that means for our spirits after two difficult years, but we will also engage in opportunities for rest and renewal.
Attendees of the Annual Meeting will notice in their schedules that time has been set aside as unscheduled (giving people an opportunity to simply rest their bodies or catch up with friends old and new), as well as for attendees to participate in special restorative activities.
The College of St. Benedict shares a campus with the home of the beloved Illuminated Bible. This work, done slowly and prayerfully by the hands of artists, has toured the world. We will have two opportunities to get a special viewing of the Illuminated Bible and hear from its curators.
A walking labyrinth on campus will be open for attendees to participate in that prayer-filled activity that engages the body. Additionally, there are several walking and biking paths around the campus (maps provided!) so bring your bikes, roller skates, and walking shoes!
A special prayer room will be created and set aside for attendees to do various types of prayer activities. This room will be available for people who wish to engage in quiet moments of prayer, apart from our meeting room.
In addition to these various activities, the College of St. Benedict has ample green space for attendees to simply sit and enjoy the sun and one another.
The sincere hope of the Annual Meeting Planning Workgroup is that this meeting’s focus on Rest and Renewal is not simply about words, but rather an opportunity for the people of the Minnesota Conference to experience renewal and bring that sense of peace to their work, ministry, and lives.

Strengthen the Church Resources Available

The Strengthen the Church offering supports the expansion of ministry and growth of local UCC congregations. Your support of this offering helps the UCC fulfill its commitment to creating a just world for all by investing in new ministries that meet emerging needs of UCC communities. Your generosity will plant new churches, awaken ideas and develop the spiritual life of youth and young adults. Most congregations will receive the STC offering on Pentecost Sunday, June 5. Resources available HERE as a download or as print resources. Click link for details on offering supplies included.
Call for Ordination Anniversaries

If you have an ordination anniversary of 50, 55, 60 or 65 years coming up and would like to be included in the celebration booklet for annual meeting in June 2022, please email our Administrative Assistant, See Chang, at comadmin@uccmn.org.
Great Offerings from The Ministry Lab

Tired after a lengthy Lenten journey? Join Rev. Nicole Havelka, registered yoga teacher, for a two-hour post-Easter yoga release including: gentle movement; restorative yoga (the laying around kind!); and guided meditation. Monday, April 18, 2022; 12:00-2:00 CT; learn more and register HERE.

The Ministry Lab worked with Lutherans Restoring Creation to create a beautiful Earth Day Worship Service. Free to use April 24 or anytime thereafter. LEARN MORE or REGISTER. Let your own body, mind, and soul experience a little New Life this Easter!
Celebrating Church Anniversaries at Annual Meeting

We would like to acknowledge and celebrate anniversaries from the last two years at this year’s Annual Meeting. If your church has celebrated an anniversary of 100 years or more within the last two years and you would like to include that in the celebration booklet for annual meeting, please send an email with a short summary of the church’s history (including anniversary year) to our Administrative Assistant See Chang. SEND EMAIL
Watch & Discuss "The Story of Plastic"

Virtual viewing: April 18–30 (at your convenience)
Virtual discussion: Sunday, May 1, 3:00 pm CT

Learn what throwaway plastic is doing to our health, animals, environment and planet — and what you can do locally to reduce throwaway plastic. REGISTER for the discussion (you will receive a link to view the movie).
Faithful Groan: Lamenting the Pandemic as Part of Worship

May 4-6, 2022 
ARC Retreat CommunityStanchfield 

Breathe out the grief and pains of life during a pandemic and breathe in a renewed sense of presence in our body, mind, heart, and soul at this special Outdoor Ministry retreat.
Upcoming Conference Events
Joys & Concerns
The Committee on Ministry will host an Ecclesiastical Council for Mitch Nelson on Thursday, May 12, at 6:30 pm 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 Mitch’s ordination paper HERE and learn more about him HERE. RSVP to See Chang at COMadmin@uccmn.org to receive the Zoom link.
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 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.