Volume 16, No. 26 | July 1, 2020

COMMAntary
Equipping a courageous Church alive with Christ’s transforming love
"The Frontier of the Heart"
Rev. Shari Prestemon, Conference Minister

Back in early 2018, when the Conference was entering into a time of strategic discernment about what our future might look like, one of the questions we posed went something like this:

What is it that the Minnesota Conference UCC can offer that no one else likely can or will?

That’s a question I still think about all the time as I contemplate our ministries together. What is it that we in our UCC congregations uniquely have to offer in this moment? What distinctive gifts do we bring? What is our particular piece of the transformational work needed in the world?

These are the questions I’m asking now in the wake of George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis, too. In the last five weeks, we’ve seen Minnesota and the entire nation respond to that horrific event with a mix of anger, profound sadness, and what appears to be a renewed commitment to systemic change and true racial equity.

But what is the Church’s role in this important work? What is our role as the Minnesota Conference United Church of Christ?

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Isabel Wilkerson, author of The Warmth of Other Suns , was recently Krista Tippet’s guest on the “On Being” podcast. As the two talked about the ongoing narrative in this country of black death and racial injustice, Wilkerson said something that struck a chord with me: “…laws are necessary, but they’re not sufficient… if the hearts have not changed. And so I view myself as on kind of a mission to change the country, the world, one heart at a time. I feel as if the heart is the last frontier because we have tried so many other things.”

Changing hearts as the last frontier of meaningful social change.  That is a distinctive role the Church can meaningfully claim! CONTINUE READING …
Racial Justice Webinar Series Continues
The Conference's new webinar series, “Justice Talk to Justice Walk: Building Awareness, Strengthening Our Resolve,” launched June 30 with an insightful conversation with Rev. Traci Blackmon , Associate General Minister of the United Church of Christ. The webinar will be available to view later this week on the Conference's website.

Next Up: “Sacred Disruption: Standing with Jesus at the Corner of 38th and Chicago"
Wednesday, July 15, 7-8:30 pm
Join guest speakers Rev. Gary Green and Rev. Dr. Justin Tabia-Sanis , both faculty at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities, for a dynamic conversation about how our sacred scriptures and our theologies can help shape our responses to George Floyd’s murder and a history of racial oppression. How can we disrupt existing realities to create something new? Free but REGISTRATION REQUIRED HERE.
Conference News & Information
Family Connection Toolkit for Summer Debuts July 8

The Minnesota Conference Outdoor Ministry is partnering with a team from  Danger Boat Productions  and  Doing Good Together to provide five weeks of a family-focused toolkit, a collection of at-home faith formation resources to support parents overwhelmed by the demands of the pandemic that has interrupted the routines of daily life and altered so many summer plans. 
 
The toolkit will be available electronically in weekly installments July 8 through August 5. Each edition will focus on a specific value of the Conference’s outdoor ministry programs and will provide a rich collection of activities to engage the whole family – readings, reflections, spiritual practices, creative/art activities, games, community service projects, justice and advocacy opportunities, and more.
 
To receive the toolkit each week, email Sandy Kellen .
Register Now for Youth and Young Adult Racial Justice Rallies

Youth and young adults from congregations of the Minnesota Conference UCC are invited to join a series of online gatherings focusing on the work of racial justice. Each of these gatherings will feature youth and young adult presenters, who will provide challenge, encouragement, and inspiration for young leaders to engage the work for racial justice and equity. LEARN MORE about this fantastic line-up of rallies, in the form of town hall forums and webinars.
UCC Churches Share Best Practices for Live-Streaming

We're pleased to share the insights of four UCC congregations who have found successful and innovative ways to worship online.

Our thanks to Rev. Garth Schumacher (The Congregational Church, Rochester), Chris Bonhoff (Plymouth Congregational), Eli'jah Carroll (Mayflower UCC), and Lucas Cervi (St. Paul's UCC) for sharing their wisdom and advice, and for Robert Galkiewicz for suggesting this idea! We plan to continue sharing insights in the weeks to come. VIEW THE VIDEO
Looking for Faith & Leadership Development?
 
Whether you are seeking personal faith development, are a lay leader wanting to reinvigorate your congregation, or a person considering a pastoral role in a small church that needs leadership, The Damascus Project will serve you well!

We believe we will find the leadership our congregations need in everyday people of faith coming to life in their faith or stepping into pastoral roles, in clergy who have one foot in ministry and one foot in another line of work, and in individuals who pursue a non-traditional path to authorized ministry. Our affordable, relevant, high quality learning opportunities, are accessible from your living room or office. LEARN MORE
Invite the Liddles to Share Their Story

Tom, Monica, Hannah, and Simon Liddle returned from their service as global mission co-workers in East Timor back in March. They have moved to Duluth and will remain with us here in the Minnesota Conference, which we’re thrilled about!

They’d love to share with your congregation their experiences and lessons learned over several years of service in a global ministries setting on behalf of our denomination. Consider inviting them to share in your virtual worship service or educational time.


Young Adults Work for Justice

On June 20, the Minnesota Conference's interns and two other young adults met at Peace United Church of Christ in St. Cloud to participate in a Black Lives Matter Sidewalk Chalk event. Along with youth from the Church of God in Christ Church, they filled the sidewalk in front of the church with messages of hope, unity, and information to help lead us into a better future. READ MORE
Beloved, Love 2020 Stewardship Materials

Are you looking for fresh materials for this fall’s stewardship campaign? You are in luck! The new 2020 stewardship materials are now available from the United Church of Christ, and they are great!

The materials are based on 1 John 4:7 — Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. They are available in print form or as a digital download and include Facebook, Twitter and Instagram graphics. FIND THE RESOURCES HERE.
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.
News & Notices
Send story ideas, insights and more to communications@uccmn.o rg . COMMAntary is published on Wednesdays; submissions are due the Monday prior to publication at noon.

Check out the  e mp l oym e nt o pport u ni t ies  portion of our website for all open positions.
Clergy Clusters
The North Central Clergy Cluster will meet online this Thursday, July 2, at 12:30 pm. Contact Rev. Leslie Moughty  for a link.
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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.