Volume 18, No. 3 | January 19, 2022

COMMAntary
Equipping a courageous Church alive with Christ’s transforming love
Pictured l-r: Liam Magistad, Lily Perkel, Eli'jah Carroll
Three Congregations Join Forces to Bring "Our Whole Lives Sexuality" to Youth

Saint Anthony Park UCC, St. Paul's UCC on Summit, and First Congregational Church of Minnesota (Minneapolis) have teamed up to bring youth in their congregations together for Our Whole Lives (OWL), a program that helps participants make informed and responsible decisions about their relationships, health and behavior in the context of their faith.

"OWL works better if you have 10-12 youth," says Liam Magistad, Director of Children, Youth and Family Ministries at St. Anthony Park UCC. "Together, the three congregations created a class of 7th, 8th and 9th graders. We were worried about how it would work to mix kids but frankly some of the strongest relationships are between youth from different congregations."

Magistad, who is a certified OWL leader and an OWL "graduate," is working alongside co-facilitators Lily Perkel (who is a community organizer with Girl Scouts River Valleys) and Eli'jah Carroll, Associate Pastor at St. Paul's UCC on Summit. The OWL program focuses on six subject areas: human development, relationships, personal skills, sexual behavior, sexual health, and society and culture. It provides not only facts about anatomy and human development but also helps participants to clarify their values, build interpersonal skills, and understand the social, emotional, and spiritual aspects of sexuality.

For more information about how these three congregations are working together, contact Magistad at liam@sapucc.org.
Conference News & Events
Summary of Conference Board Meeting January 8, 2022

The Conference Board of Directors met for its bi-monthly meeting on January 8, 2022, in a Zoom call. A brief summary follows:

  • Lisa Tabor of CultureBrokers Consulting made an extensive presentation on her company's inclusiveness assessment. CultureBrokers helps organizations and their stakeholders transform to a rich and collaborative diversity, equity, and inclusion culture. CultureBrokers pledges to assess strengths and weaknesses in our Conference’s inclusion and diversity practices and deliver measurable results on structural improvements that become habits. Shari Prestemon offered to talk with the national office about their experience with CultureBrokers. Key questions are how the Board prioritizes this work over what staff already do and how they expect organizational structural change without individuals growing in cultural competence themselves, which is not part of CultureBrokers' services. The Board decided to table the discussion until its March meeting. 

  • Coqui Conkey reported on a proposed bylaw change from the Committee on Ministry to allow retired licensed ministers to be “members” with voice and vote at annual Conference member meetings. It is expected that fewer than 20 ministers would become eligible over time as they retire and few would be expected to opt in. Coqui will put together bylaw change language for further discussion at the March Board meeting.

  • Communications consultant Kathy Graves of Parenteau Graves presented suggestions to increase the open rate for COMMAntary and boost social media presence. She encouraged the use of stories as the best engagement tool. The Board endorsed and will recommend to their congregations Mac-Plymouth's a “picture and paragraph” approach.

  • Shari recommended the Board update the Conference’s gift acceptance policy to clarify that it can’t be required to accept real estate gifts from individuals or member churches. She will ask the Development Committee to propose an updated policy for the March meeting.
Explore the Enneagram as a Tool to Grow in Faith and Service

"Introduction to the Enneagram: Forming Beloved Community"
One month of self-guided learning: Feb 3 – Mar 3
Plus three live Zoom sessions: February 18, 6:00–8:00 pm, and February 19, 10:00 am–12:00 pm & 1:00–3:00 pm

Calling all lay leaders, volunteers, council chairs, moderators, task force members, and more! Join the Leadership Skills cohort with the Damascus Project to explore the Enneagram as a tool to grow in faith and service as a lay leader.

The Enneagram is a system for profiling personalities that describes the patterns and methods that people use to interpret and move through the world. Every day we take in the world around us through our own individual lens (personality type) and create our own assumptions about it that conform to our views and ideals. By learning how this personality type influences our perception of the world we can notice how our own personality may give us a view of the world that is skewed or off-center.

What you can expect from this Enneagram course is an invitation to notice your own personal patterns and behaviors, and how your behaviors impact your surroundings. It's a chance to notice other types as well, and how you might find more understanding for the people in your life and learn how to care for them better. Through the wisdom of the Enneagram, and through honest and open sharing, this class is designed to help expand your heart and mind. This is meant to ground you more deeply in yourself, your relationships, and your connection to God.

  • Instructor: Rev. Casey Martinez-Tinnin
  • Registration open now through February 1, 2022
  • ENROLL (find "Length of Study" drop-down menu and select "Unit 2: Enneagram and You")
  • Questions? Contact info@the-damascus-project.org or 507-222-0194.
Get Free At-home COVID-19 Tests

Every home in the U.S. is eligible to order four at-⁠home COVID-⁠19 tests free-of-chharge. Orders will usually ship in 7-12 days.

Great Lakes Creation Care Collaborative Justice Series Kicks Off
 
Nearly 100 people signed up for the first in a three-part series exploring creation care justice through the lens of Indigenous rights. Frank Bibeau, tribal attorney for Honor the Earth and White Earth Band of Ojibwe, shared his vast knowledge of the treaties through the ages that continue to be broken by white settlements and corporations working with the U.S. government. Watch and listen to the discussion below.

The next in the series, “Good Money After Bad: How to Invest in Creation Care,” is slated for February 10, 6:30-8:00 pm CST. LEARN MORE AND REGISTER
Fourth Thursdays
Let’s Talk Outdoor Ministry & Youth Faith Formation

January 27, 2022 | 12:00-1:30 pm Via Zoom

January’s topic is the 2022 full season of Outdoor Ministry programs and retreat for all ages and a preview of the exciting opportunities for youth throughout the year, including the summer 2022 Youth Immersion Trip.
Upgrade Your Church’s Stewardship in 2022

The Cultivating Generous Congregations Seminar for pastors and lay leaders offers an opportunity to explore faithful, practical, and tested ways to promoting generosity and stewardship 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 held on six Thursdays between Feb. 24 – May 12 from 6:00 – 7:00 pm CT. Between class sessions, the instructors provide materials to help you analyze the culture of your own congregation and learn how to create change.

The seminar is $300 for a team of two leaders. The Minnesota Conference will pay half of the cost ($150) for up to three participating congregations! REGISTER BY FEBRUARY 10.

For more information, contact Minnesota Conference’s Development Officer, Bob Olsen, at development@uccmn.org.
Winter Spiritual Immersion Retreat Rescheduled for February!

February 11-13, 2022 (Friday, 6:00 pm through Sunday, 11:00 am) 
Clearwater Forest Camp and Retreat Center, Deerwood, MN
Our Church’s Pledge Goals for Mission and Ministry Forms Reminder

Many Minnesota UCC churches have their annual meetings in January to look back on their last year’s ministry and look forward to the coming year’s activities. Annual congregational meetings are also where your next year’s budget is approved, and covenantal financial commitments to your shared ministry with the Minnesota Conference and the national setting of the United Church of Christ occur.

Included in your church’s Fourth Quarter Giving Statement was the Our Church’s Pledge Goals for Mission and Ministry form that your church should fill out and return to the Conference office, just as soon after your annual meeting as possible. The form is available HERE. We greatly appreciate your sending in your form promptly!
Reimagining Youth Ministry

The United Church of Christ seeks input from those who regularly work with youth in various capacities. Your responses will help us better understand the changes and challenges to youth ministry as we continue to experience advances in technology, competing priorities, and a long-lasting pandemic. Our hope is to imagine ways to build a comprehensive youth ministry that encompasses local, conference, regional and national ministries of the United Church of Christ. TAKE THE SURVEY HERE.
Joys & Concerns
You are invited to celebrate the installations of Rev. Sarah Brouwer, Lead Minister, and Rev. Eli'jah Carroll, Associate Minister, at St. Paul's United Church of Christ, 900 Summit Ave., St. Paul, on Sun, Feb 13. If you are clergy, please arrive by 10 am, and bring a robe with red stole so we can welcome you into participation. Worship begins at 10:30 am. If you are unable to come in person, you can watch via livestream or on our church's Facebook page. We are fortunate to have the Rev. Shari Prestemon preaching. A note on safety: we are a highly vaccinated congregation, all masked, and spread out in our large sanctuary for worship. 

Congratulations to Revs. Kent & Deb Meyer whose granddaughter, Ivy Helen Jenkins, was born to Tyler and Serenity (Meyer) Jenkins on January 11 (Kent's birthday, too). Kent officially retired from parish ministry January 2 and is giving himself a 90-day sabbatical!
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.