Volume 16, No. 24 | June 17, 2020

Equipping a courageous Church alive with Christ’s transforming love
Board of Directors Appoints Amos Task Force to Address Racial Injustice
Two weeks after George Floyd was murdered at 38th Street and Chicago Avenue in Minneapolis, the Executive Committee of the Conference Board of Directors approved the establishment of the “Amos Task Force."

The Task Force will: 1) shape a short-term, thoughtful response to the murder of George Floyd and the communities most impacted by the unrest resulting from it; and 2) develop a longer-term strategy for the Minnesota Conference UCC to address and repair historic and present-day racial injustice in the state of Minnesota and in ourselves as a Conference of local churches.

This effort will be consistent with our Conference’s calling statement and priorities (approved March 2020), rooted in our faith, and done with prayerful attention to the broader voices and roles of others in this important work.  

Twelve diverse clergy from across the Conference have been recruited to serve on the Amos Task Force: Christian Briones (Mayflower, Minneapolis), Corinne Freedman Ellis (Macalester Plymouth, St. Paul), Beth Faeth (Plymouth Congregational, Minneapolis), Marlene Helgamo (All Nations Indian Church, Minneapolis), Nathan Holst (Peace UCC, Duluth), Rachael Keefe (Living Table, Minneapolis), Dana Mann (First Congregational, Mankato), Okogyeamon (First Congregational, Montevideo), Kwame Reed (UCC New Brighton), Jill Sanders (First Congregational UCC, Alexandria), Justin Sabia-Tanis (Robbinsdale Parkway, Robbinsdale), and Lawrence Tanner Richardson (Linden Hills UCC, Minneapolis). Associate Conference Minister Anita Bradshaw will staff the Task Force.

The establishment of the Amos Task Force signals a deepened commitment in the Conference to seeking racial justice and dismantling white supremacy. As Conference Minister Shari Prestemon said in her “State of the Conference” address to Annual Meeting delegates on June 13: “…while the MN Conference has engaged in the work of racial justice in a multitude of meaningful ways over the years, we can do better and we will. This is that season. Now is the time. Let us be about the work to which God is calling us.”
Justice Talk to Justice Walk: Building Awareness, Strengthening Our Resolve
Racial Justice Webinar Series Launches June 30 with Rev. Traci Blackmon as Guest

A new webinar series, “Justice Talk to Justice Walk: Building Awareness, Strengthening Our Resolve,” launches June 30, from 7:00–8:30 pm. The first of several webinars aimed at expanding our racial justice awareness will feature Rev. Traci Blackmon , Associate General Minister of the United Church of Christ, for a webinar entitled “Where Do We Go From Here? Lessons from Ferguson & Beyond.” Registration is required for this and every webinar in the series.

Rev. Blackmon’s leadership and ministry in the aftermath of the killing of Michael Brown, Jr. in Ferguson, Missouri nearly six years ago is well known. She has since become a leading national voice on the struggle for racial justice, and has toured the nation with Rev. Dr. William Barber of Moral Mondays and Repairer of the Breech to declare the need for a moral revival in the United States.

Other webinars are currently being planned and will be announced as details are finalized. They will include:
  • In July, explore the theological and scriptural basis of the struggle for racial justice with Rev. Gary Green and Rev. Dr. Justin Tabia-Sanis, faculty at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities.
  • August 6, 7:00–8:30 pm: “Youth Lead Now: Equipping Young Leaders for Social Change,” with guest speaker Samantha Fuentes, a survivor of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in February 2018 and leader in the March for Our Lives movement that emerged from that horrific event.
  • Examining racial terrorism in our own Minnesota history. We will revisit the injustices done to Indigenous peoples in Minnesota as well as the lynchings of three black men in Duluth in 1920.
Conference News & Information
A Report on the Annual Meeting

Delegates from the Minnesota Conference UCC gathered via Zoom on Saturday, June 13, for the Annual Meeting. Following an engaging time of worship, Conference Minister Rev. Shari Prestemon gave a powerful State of the Conference address.

  • Watch the 10-minute worship service
  • Listen to Rev. Prestemon's address
  • Read Rev. Prestemon's address

At the meeting, the 173 delegates unanimously approved the:

We are grateful to the Conference staff and Annual Meeting Committee for the tremendous amount of time and talent it took to move this event to Zoom.
Conference Youth Intern Creates Powerful Video

One of our young adult interns, Cole Marshall, has created a powerful video in response to the George Floyd murder. This is an example of the work our young adults are doing to promote justice. Cole is a member of First Congregational UCC, Anoka, and is a student at Minnesota State University, Mankato, studying music industry/song writing.  Watch the video , with music also written by Cole.
The Damascus Project equips clergy, lay and staff leaders, and spiritual seekers to navigate a changing world and a changing church. Through high quality learning experiences designed specifically for online delivery, a growing network of engaged and curious colleagues, and abundant resources and tools, The Damascus Project provides meaningful opportunities for faith and leadership growth. Registration for 2020-2021 opens June 30. Read more about the learning experiences planned for the coming year on The Damascus Project website .
Ringing Out Loud that Black Lives Matter: June 19, 8 pm

UCC congregations are invited to ring bells in unison at 8 pm this Friday, June 19 — once every nine seconds for a duration of nine minutes — to commemorate Juneteenth and George Floyd's death and the injustices that it symbolizes. This idea comes from a Rhode Island community in the Southern New England Conference of the UCC. Together, let's stop being silent on the issue of racial justice. Ring out loud that Black Lives Matter!

"For bells are the voice of the church; 
They have tones that touch and search 
      The hearts of young and old; 
One sound to all, yet each 
Lends a meaning to their speech, 
      And the meaning is manifold."
(Excerpt from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Bells of San Blas)
Youth and Young Adults Connecting for Racial Justice

The Minnesota Conference is partnering with staff from the national setting of the UCC and other conferences around the country to host and facilitate a series of online gatherings for youth and young adults to give voice to the unrest they are experiencing in these days and to encourage and support one another in their work for racial justice. Learn more about this fantastic line-up of rallies, in the form of town hall forums and webinars.
Online Youth Camp Registration Closes Monday, June 22

Registration for the online youth camp, scheduled for June 29–July 1, must close Monday, June 22. Register today!
Ministry Lab Resources & Webinar

…for Anti-Racism Work in Faith Communities
The Ministry Lab, an ecumenical organization that supports innovation in faith communities and is supported by the Minnesota Conference UMC, the MN Conference UCC, the Synod of Lakes and Prairies (PCUSA) and Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area, has compiled a myriad of resources on its website around anti-racism and helping churches navigate ministry amid the pandemic. Check them out and call or email Director Emily Meyer for a free consultation to help you find resources that meet your congregation's needs during this challenging season.  View website .

…for Talking with Children & Teens about Grief & Trauma
The Ministry Lab's  Co-Lab Webinar  series continues on Tuesday, June 23 @ 2:00 pm with Jenny Schroedel, Optage Hospice Chaplain and former Clinical Director of Camp Erin Hawaii (a grief camp for kids), sharing "Tools for Talking with Children & Teens about Grief & Trauma." Jenny created a YouTube video on  Collective Grief & Covid-19  and on Saturday, June 27, will be part of The Basilica of Saint Mary's  Zoom: Grief in Our City - Can We Talk? , with Don Samuels, addressing the grief around this pandemic as well as the unfolding grief surrounding George Floyd’s death and the events that followed. Contact Emily Meyer at  ministrylab@unitedseminary.edu  to register.
Power & Boundary Training Follow-Up This Monday

Authorized ministers who have completed the Lewis Center online course on "Maintaining Boundaries in a Digital Age" by Monday morning should send the  certificate to Janet Anderson  to receive a link for the follow-up session on Monday, June 22, at 1:30 pm.
Being in Covenant: AIR Forms Due July 31

About 25 percent of authorized ministers have submitted 2020 Authorized Minister Information Review forms to the Minnesota Conference office.  Thank you!  These AIR forms are due annually as part of the covenantal responsibility for being ordained in the conference. As with power and boundary training, not attending to this matter can jeopardize ministerial standing. Ordained, licensed, and commissioned ministers may fill out the  form online  or by  hand  and return it to Janet Anderson by  email  or by mail. 
Financial Assistance for Congregations from Conference and National Setting

The United Church of Christ National Setting is offering financial assistance to local churches whose ministries have been challenged by the novel coronavirus pandemic. Applications are now being accepted. See the process described here .

Applications are being accepted from Minnesota Conference UCC congregations for the Pandemic Relief Loan Program. Access the application and further details here.

Congregations may also apply for  emergency grants  to cover operating expenses, technology needs, or community ministries; grants to cover the cost of  website development ; or  counseling assistance grants  for authorized ministers.
Joys & Concerns
The Conference offers condolences to Rev. Emily Goldthwaite Fries , whose father, George Goldthwaite, died June 12. Prayers and blessings to Emily and her family.

Seth Patterson will be ordained to a call at Plymouth Congregational Church in Minneapolis on Sunday, June 28, at noon. Ordained clergy in the conference are encouraged to participate. RSVP to Doug Freeman at  dougf@plymouth.org  to receive a link to register for the webinar ordination.
News & Notices
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.

Check out the  employment opportunities  portion of our website for all open positions.
Clergy Clusters & Upcoming Events
The North Central Clergy Cluster will meet Thursday, June 18,  at 12:30 pm via Zoom. Contact Rev. Leslie Moughty  at First Congregational in Brainerd for the link.

Please check the Conference's website for all events.
Like us on Facebook to stay up-to-date on news, events, jobs and more.

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.