Volume 16, No. 39 | September 30, 2020

COMMAntary
Equipping a courageous Church alive with Christ’s transforming love
"Keep the Faith … God is Always Making a Way Out of No Way"
"Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." (Hebrews 11)

Now in this eighth month of the COVID pandemic in the United States, we know that over 210,000 lives have perished from the virus and there are 40,000 new infections every day.

Our nation’s reckoning with racial inequities and widespread injustice is ongoing, calling each of us to prayerful reflection and renewed commitment to overturning centuries-long systems that have harmed and oppressed our siblings in communities of color.

Election season rages around us, further widening the divisions among us and leaving us all on edge.

And for many, daily life is far from normal…" Conference Minister Rev. Shari Prestemon shares a video message of faith in turbulent times. Click on the image above to hear her message, or read it here.

As always, if you have questions or comments, please reach out to Rev. Prestemon at sharip@uccmn.org.
The Urgent Work of Racial Justice & Equity
Conference Minister Shari Prestemon joins her Conference Minister colleagues from across the United Church of Christ in calling the whole church to a time of prayerful self-reflection, brave conversation, and the urgent work of racial justice and equity in each of our congregations and communities.

In August the National Setting of the UCC committed to hire a consulting firm to lead them through “an objective racial equity assessment” to hold the national setting of the church accountable to the ideals the church has espoused regarding racial equality and inclusion.

We recognize that the history of the UCC includes a wide array of narratives: those of myriad immigrants, formerly enslaved persons, colonists, Indigenous communities, and more. Our predecessor bodies included abolitionists as well as slave owners; those who believed that racial inequality was established by God, and those who affirmed God-given racial equality with passion and fervor. Our predecessor bodies included those who pressed for the forced assimilation of indigenous peoples as well as those who stood in solidarity with and advocated on behalf of Indigenous people.

Our history contains the very best of American history regarding racial equality and it contains some of the worst. As a body made up of myriad traditions, theologies, languages, and geographies, our predecessor bodies reflected the society and time around them. Yet out of that complexity and contention arose something new: a movement of unity in the face of difference, our United Church of Christ.
Conference News & Info
"Practice Paying Attention": First Week of New Fall Family and Faith Formation Leader Toolkit Released
The Conference's new fall family toolkit includes a wealth of fun, kid-friendly ideas to help you begin to weave intentional moments of stillness into your family life.

It’s a noisy, distracting, task-driven world. Practicing stillness provides an anchor to the present, allows us to appreciate life, marvel at the wonder of our own bodies, and get in touch with a deeper wisdom. Children (and adults) need opportunities to be quiet, times to settle their minds and find peace.

We will provide 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.
Progressive Christian Revival in Minnesota: A Dream Deferred

Remember way, way back to February … when more than 200 people from eight different UCC congregations gathered in person for a "progressive Christian revival"? (Read the story from that MN Alive event.)

Leaders of the revival had hoped to light the Pentecost fire for more old-fashioned revivals this past summer and fall all over our Minnesota. Their dream was to incite enthusiasm about a different kind of Christianity than one often hears about in the news these days—enthusiasm for our kind of faith that welcomes the stranger, the refugee; that celebrates diversity; that calls for the reign of God on earth, a caring and just economy that assures health care for all, childcare and senior care and education for all, rather than more money in the hands of the growing billionaire class.

While the revivals remain a dream deferred, the group is sharing video clips from the February revival – along with the strong message of the revival: VOTE for our faith values! Share the video with your congregation and remind them to request their absentee ballot, vote early, or go to the polls on November 3. Just VOTE!

Our thanks to this group for its passion and commitment: Reverends Paul Bauch, Peace UCC Rochester; Adam Blons, Mac Plymouth; Sarah Campbell, Mayflower UCC; Dana Mann, First Congregational UCC Mankato; Jane McBride, First Congregational Mpls; Kathy Nelson, Peace UCC Duluth; T. Michael Rock, Robbinsdale UCC.
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 in October:
 
October 8 – Practicing Justice: Engaging youth and families in the work of service and justice in their communities and the wider world. Presenter: Rev. Trayce Potter, Minister for Youth & Young Adult Engagement with the national setting of the UCC. REGISTER
 
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 2020 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 through the Facilitating Racial Equity Collaborative, the group sponsoring the Overcoming Racism Conference. 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.

“Refusing to Fight for Crumbs: Exploring the Intersections of Indigenous and Black Justice”

If you missed the latest webinar in the Conference's "Justice Talk to Justice Walk," no worries! Jim Bear Jacobs' powerful talk was recorded and now available. Read more about Jim and view the webinar HERE.
UCC Seeks Consulting Services on Virtual Presence, Digital and IT Strategy

The National Setting of the United Church of Christ is requesting consulting services on virtual presence, digital and IT strategy. The focus of this work is to advance and support brand presence in the virtual community space, enhance digital strategies that position the UCC National resoundingly to our external stakeholders, and improve IT efficiencies relative to our departmental functions. See the request for proposal, which is being extended especially to multicultural, multiracial communities, LGBTQ+ communities, and persons with disabilities. Proposals are due October 30.
MN Conference Outdoor Ministry Presents Three-Part Contemplative Gatherings

The MN Conference Outdoor Ministry will present a three-part Contemplative Gathering 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. With the facilitation of three singer-songwriters/theological artists, each Zoom gathering will involve story, song, and inspiration. The first gathering is October 17. LEARN MORE & REGISTER
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
Rev. Grace Anderson and her daughter have been diagnosed with COVID-19. The Minnesota Conference asks that you keep them in your prayers as you do all who have been affected by the virus, praying for their peace and healing now and for robust health in the future.
Clergy Clusters
The Southeast Clergy Cluster will meet on Thursday, October 8, from 9:00-11:00 am via Zoom. Contact Rev. Paul Bauch at Peace Church in Rochester for a 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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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.