Volume 19, No. 4 | January 25, 2023

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Equipping a courageous Church alive with Christ’s transforming love

"We Can Never Go Wrong if We Spend Time Building our Relationships"

Robbinsdale Parkway UCC

February 4, 9:30 am to 3:30 pm

REGISTER by February 1

The Minnesota Conference UCC will host its second Covenant Day on Sunday, February 4. All are welcome! Conference Minister Rev. Shari Prestemon shares a few thoughts on these special days.

Why did the Conference plan this series of Covenant Days?

One of the Conference’s priorities is “deepening connections." That work is probably the most important thing we can do right now: helping people re-connect and strengthening relationships within our Conference community. So we decided to offer these regional events, a great opportunity for lay members and clergy to gather for a day, worship together, get some relevant resources, and just be reminded that none of us are alone in this ministry. We all need each other, and we all have something to offer each other. We can never go wrong if we spend time building our relationships.


Who is invited on February 4?

All congregations in the greater metro area are invited, and anyone who wants to drive from farther away, too! We hope to see a lot of lay leaders as well as clergy. There’s something for everyone!


What will people experience?

This is a day to swap stories, share challenges, celebrate joys, and benefit from the wisdom and experience that all of us bring to the Conference “table.” We hope participants will walk away strengthened and encouraged, spiritually fed, with some gratitude in their hearts for the community we share in the Conference. And we’re confident that people will also walk away with a new way of thinking about something, a new idea to try, or a new friend who is willing to talk some more about a question they have in common or to plan something they’re excited to make happen together.

Pictured above: Rev. Torri Vande Zande (Hackensack), Rev. Jill Sanders (Alexandria), Conference Minister Shari Prestemon

Conference News & Events

Our Whole Lives Training Offered May 19-21 at Camp Onamia

Clergy and lay leaders who plan to offer an Our Whole Lives program in their congregations are invited to three days of facilitation training May 19-21, 2023, at Camp Onomia in Onamia, MN.

Our Whole Lives, or OWL, is a comprehensive human sexuality curriculum for elementary-age children through older adults, developed by the United Church of Christ and the Unitarian Universalist Association. The August training is co-sponsored by the Minnesota and Wisconsin conferences.


Cost is $350 for a shared double-occupancy room, meals and training for UCC participants and $450 for non-UCC participants. A limited number of private rooms are available for an additional fee of $75. MORE INFORMATION & REGISTRATION


Training will be offered for either elementary (grades K-1/4-6) and secondary (grades 7-9/  10-12). Each participant may participate in training for just one age level, so consider sending a team to be trained to start or expand the OWL program in your congregation. Questions? Contact Rev. Kevin Brown, Associate Conference Minister for Faith Formation.

Boundary Training for Authorized Ministers is February 22 & 23

Rev. Dr. Diane Weible, ordained minister and trained facilitator, will lead two Zoom sessions on Feb 22 & 23 from 9 am-noon. For credit, participants must be fully present and participate in both sessions. Each topic will include a case study and be discussed as a full group before breaking out into small groups for discussion.

Topics covered include: Power and Vulnerability, Social Media, Finances, Pastoral Identity and Vocation, Self-Care (burn-out, stress, compassion fatigue), Receiving Gifts, Boundaries and Church Conflict, When a Minister Leaves/Retires, Ministers as Church Members/Ministers in Four-Way Covenants Cultural Boundaries.

This training fulfills the standing requirement for authorized ministers in the Minnesota Conference. Cost is $60. REGISTER

Price Drops for July Youth Trip to Washington, D.C.

Associate Conference Minister Kevin Brown reports that a drop in transportation costs means that the youth price drops to $650 and the adult price drops to $400 (down $150 each!). In this age of inflation, it is nice to be able to provide good news! Registrations are due January 31.


The Damascus Project Sponsors Leadership Matters Conversation with Phiwa Langeni

Tuesday, January 31, 6:00 to 8:00 pm

Cost: $10

Phiwa Langeni, the United Church of Christ’s first Ambassador for Innovation and Engagement, will join a Damascus Project discussion to share their thoughts about the types and forms of leadership needed at this time in Christian history. Join us for an inspiring and challenging evening.


The Damascus Project Launches "Ministry Studies: Faith Formation & Pastoral Care"

Explore best practices for forming faith in people of all ages, and develop skills and tools for effective pastoral and spiritual care in congregations. The course begins February 2.


Virtual National Gathering of UCC Rural/Small Town Churches Set for February 9-11

A Virtual National Gathering of UCC Rural/Small Town Churches and Ministries, "Nourishing the Seeds of Faith," is being presented by the Coalition for UCC Rural Ministries. It is being hosted by the UCC National Faith INFO Ministry Team of the Justice and Local Church Ministries. The event will be held from February 9-11, 4-7 pm ET. REGISTER.

Stewardship Theme Materials Available


“Because of You, Our Church Changes Lives” is this year's UCC stewardship theme, making the connection between donor generosity and the ministry and mission of your congregation.

Materials are available HERE.

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 is 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).

Exploring the Enneagram

January 30 - March 12, 2023

Learn the Enneagram’s system of 9 Types and identify your type with The Damascus Project's upcoming learning opportunity. LEARN MORE & REGISTER

Partner News & Events

United Theological Seminary to Install Dr. Munjed M. Murad

United Theological Seminary invites you to the upcoming convocation on February 9 to celebrate and install Dr. Munjed M. Murad, the inaugural Johnson-Fry Endowed Chair in World Religions and Intercultural Studies. Dr. Murad also makes institutional history as United’s first full-time Muslim scholar and faculty member and program director for the school’s new Eco-Justice program. REGISTER

Joys & Concerns

You are invited to the ordination of Rev. Nathan Roberts February 19, 2:30-3:30 pm, at Edina Morningside Church. Rev. Roberts will continue to serve as Director of Community Engagement at First Lutheran Church, and will now be an ordained UCC Minister with rights and responsibilities to serve Word and Sacrament. Masks strongly encouraged. Clergy are invited to wear red stoles.

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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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.