Volume 16, No. 40 | October 13, 2020

COMMAntary
Equipping a courageous Church alive with Christ’s transforming love
New Ministry, New Look: Conference's Outdoor Ministry Responds to the Moment
When the Covid-19 pandemic canceled so many activities scheduled in 2020, the Outdoor Ministry of the Minnesota Conference United Church of Christ got busy reinventing, creating, and working with ecumenical partners.

With a new look and renewed energy around Outdoor Ministry, we will continue to utilize online spaces for such things as the Contemplative Gatherings series with Richard Bruxvoort Colligan, Hans Peterson, and Sara Thomsen, as well as deeper conversations about Creation Justice with a series starting in January featuring Rev. Brooks Berndt, Minister for Environmental Justice in the United Church of Christ, and Buff Grace from the Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light.

Youth Programming
We don’t know what Covid-19 has in store for us in 2021, but we are planning some new in-person activities, keeping our fingers crossed that we won’t have to cancel.
Youth programming will take on an old and new look, starting with our Spring Conference Youth Event (CYE) April 30-May 2 at Camp Onomia. Our fall CYE is set for October 8-10 at Osprey Wilds Environmental Learning Center. Summer camp will look a bit different with a middle school retreat July 12-14 and a high school retreat July 17-19, both at Shalom Hill Farm.

Families
For families, we are working with Camp Amnicon to create three 1-day canoe adventures, one of which will take place in the Twin Cities. A bit of time on the water, a little hike in the woods, a meal, and contemplation will round out the day. Dates for these events will be shared in coming months.

Women's & Men's Retreats
We are also planning two Women’s Retreats in 2021. We are working on a location for our regular retreat in September, and we will offer a Wilderness Retreat with Camp Amnicon on the banks of Lake Superior September 24-26. Canoeing, hiking, relaxing around a campfire, and sleeping in tents (cots included) will bring us into natural contemplation.
The Men’s Retreat will be September 24-26 at Osprey Wilds Environmental Learning Center. Relax and engage with nature in this idyllic location surrounded by woods and water.

In the wilds of the unknowns, we continue to plan and prepare. We will work with creation, not against it.
What is Happening with Our Immigrant Brothers and Sisters?
The Minnesota Conference UCC Immigration Team will offer two important virtual events about the current status of immigrants.

The first event, on October 26 from 7–8 pm, will focus on what is happening in the six Minnesota detention facilities. Hanne Sandison of The Advocates for Human Rights (pictured) will talk about efforts to get detainees released from these facilities. She will be joined by Julio Zelaya from the American Civil Liberties Union (Mankato office), who will talk about what is happening to our immigrant brothers and sisters in rural Minnesota. 

The event is free and open to all, but you must REGISTER to receive the Zoom link.

On December 7, from 7–8 pm, learn about what is happening at our southern border with asylum seekers and members of the O’odham tribe. Stay tuned for details about the speaker and REGISTER HERE.
Conference News & Info
"Practice Paying Attention – Listening" is Topic of This Week's Toolkit for Families and Faith Formation Leaders
Rumi, the 13th century Persian poet, said, “The quieter you become, the more you are able to hear.”

In this week's toolkit release, the Conference shares fun, creative ideas for how to quiet ourselves for deep listening: to nature, to your own inner voice, and to others—starting with our children.
As we encourage our children to be aware of the sounds around them and actively listen as others are speaking, it’s also important to encourage them to listen to — and share – their own voice, as teen activist Malala shares in one of this week's video offerings.

We are providing two options weekly: a toolkit for families and a toolkit for faith formation leaders. Each toolkit will provide a thoughtfully focused and curated collection of video reflections, music, spiritual practices, readings, creative/art activities, games, community service projects, justice and advocacy opportunities, and more.


If you would like to receive a direct email each week, please email Sandy Kellen.
Contemplative Gatherings Begin October 17

The MN Conference Outdoor Ministry kicks off a three-part Contemplative Gathering series to bring us into a place of mindfulness and peace as we enter a change of seasons, a time of thanksgiving, and a time of reflection and anticipation.

The October 17 retreat is led by psalmist and musician Richard Bruxvoort Colligan. He serves the Olive Branch community in Rochester, MN. LEARN MORE & REGISTER
#Grateful? Your Photo is Needed!

As the Minnesota Conference team prepares worship for Conference congregations to use in November, we want to find a way to showcase YOU in our worship! We invite you —individuals, families, and churches—to send us photos that we will share during a prayer time focused on gratitude. Our goal is to provide a visual of the Conference community across the state.

Please send us a picture of you or your church, and if you can feature #gratitude or #thankful, that’s even better! Send your photo by November 5 to communications@uccmn.org.
Faith formation leaders (clergy, lay staff, and volunteers) from around the MN Conference are invited to to gather via Zoom on most second and fourth Thursdays this fall from noon to 1:30 pm. The topics this fall focus on a set of spiritual practices essential for adaptive leadership in this challenging season of ministry. There is no registration fee! Coming up:
 
October 22 – Practicing Strength: Building resilience and supporting mental wellness for those you serve and you, too! Presenter: Lori Alford, LAMFT. REGISTER
Overcoming Racism Conference is November 13 & 14

Join other UCCers online for the conference on "Overcoming Racism: Taking Back "We the People." Keynote speakers are Eddie S. Glaude, Jr. and the Funny Asian Women Kollective. 

A special workshop on Saturday, November 14, from 2–3:30 pm CST will help us strategize how we can respond, as congregations and as a Conference, to further the efforts of racial justice. Anita Bradshaw, Associate Conference Minister, will be leading the workshop.

Limited scholarship money is available. Follow the link below for info. The MN Conference UCC also has some limited scholarship money available for first-time attenders. Please contact Anita Bradshaw at anitab@uccmn.org for more information.

Army Chaplaincy Seminar Offered October 27

A special webinar on the Army Chaplaincy, with guest speaker, CH (BG) William Green, the US Army Deputy Chief of Chaplains, is offered October 27 at 9:30 am. The webinar will share details about the future of the corps and what the Army is looking for in future chaplains. Register by sending an email to NCCRTeam@gmail.com, or view the event on Facebook.
Financial Assistance for Congregations

  • 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.


Joys and Concerns
Jan Murphy will be ordained via Zoom at Peace UCC in Duluth on Sunday, October 18 at 2:00 pm. For a link to the service, contact Janet at the Minnesota Conference office. Congratulations, Jan, on this joyful occasion in your life of ministry!

Rev. Kent Meyer's elder brother, Cullen "Cully" Meyer, died September 30 following years of poor health. He was 78. Please pray for his wife Lorna, adult children Heather and Ross, and his wider family.
Clergy Clusters
The Northern Clergy Cluster will meet Tuesday, October 20, noon, via Zoom. Contact Nathan Holst at Peace UCC, Duluth for the link. 

The Southwest Clergy Cluster will meet on Thursday, October 15, 11:30 am, via Zoom. Contact Rev. Dana Mann at Mankato UCC for the link. 
Tell Us Your News!
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.

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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.