Volume 18, No. 2 | January 12, 2022

Equipping a courageous Church alive with Christ’s transforming love
A Warm Welcome to Our New Conference Staff Members

We welcome two new staff members to our Minnesota Conference UCC team!
Sharon Siegel (sharons@uccmn.org) joined us January 4 as Administrative Assistant. Sharon’s role includes supporting one of the Associate Conference Ministers, Committee on Ministry, and the Steward for Search and Call and Congregational Legacy Planning. Sharon is an active lay leader and member at Living Table UCC in Minneapolis. She looks forward to getting to know the United Church of Christ at the Conference level.
Rev. Kelly Gallagher (kellyg@uccmn.org) started in her role as settled Associate Conference Minister on January 10. Kelly joins us from Massachusetts where she previously served for eight years as Associate Conference Minister in the Massachusetts Conference UCC. She brings with her deep experience in supporting congregations and their leadership and leading Committee on Ministry work. She also brings demonstrated commitment to the work of racial equity. “I have experienced an incredible welcome from the Minnesota Conference,” Kelly says. "I look forward to meeting more people and getting to know the churches and ministries of the Conference in the coming months.”
Please join us in providing a warm welcome to Sharon and Kelly as they engage in our shared ministry in the Minnesota Conference UCC!
Sharon Siegel
Rev. Kelly Gallagher
Conference News & Events
A Message about COVID and the Conference 
As the number of cases now surges nationwide and in Minnesota due to the highly transmissible Omicron variant, the Conference is "dialing back" in regards to our protocols and activities. In-person programming and activities sponsored by the Conference have been cancelled for the month of January.

Conference staff will once again be working largely from home this month, and in-person visits by Conference staff to churches will be limited. As always, Conference staff nonetheless remain available to serve the needs of our churches and ministers, and can be reached by email or by telephone. All voice messages left at the Conference office are automatically forwarded to staff. 
Thank you for your continued patience and grace as we strive to keep each other healthy and express our love of neighbor by practicing good public health protocols. We pray with all of you for a day when widespread vaccination will finally bring less chaos to this experience and allow us to more fully share together in the beloved community, free of fear and anxiety.

We also pray for all those overwhelmed by the burden of care amid such crisis in our health care communities, educational settings, congregations, other work environments, and among especially vulnerable populations. May God's healing and restoration come quickly and grant hope in these times. And may each of us trust in the abiding presence and care of God for us and with us. 
Creation Care Series Begins Thursday, January 13

The Great Lakes Creation Care Collaborative invites you to a three-part Zoom series, offered by the Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan Conferences of the United Church of Christ.

The series kicks off Thursday, January 13, from 6:30-8:00 pm CST with “Treaties Broken, Earth and Lives in Crisis: How do we change the narrative for the land and all its people?” featuring Frank Bibeau, tribal attorney for Honor the Earth and White Earth Band of Ojibwe.

Fourth Thursdays
Hybrid FourTHursday: Let’s Talk Outdoor Ministry & Youth Faith Formation

January 27, 2022 | 12:00-1:30 pm | Join in-person or online

January’s topic is the 2022 full season of Outdoor Ministry programs and retreat for all ages and a preview of the exciting opportunities for youth throughout the year, including the summer 2022 Youth Immersion Trip. Register to join in-person (required) for a light, physically distanced lunch and conversation. You may also register participate via Zoom. All in-person participants will be required to wear a face mask throughout the event, regardless of vaccination status, except when eating or drinking.
Winter Spiritual Immersion Retreat Rescheduled for February!

February 11-13, 2022 (Friday, 6:00 pm through Sunday, 11:00 am) 
Clearwater Forest Camp and Retreat Center, Deerwood, MN
Youth Ambassador Program Open for Application

The Youth Ambassadors Program brings together emerging leaders in the United Church of Christ who are in their freshman, sophomore or junior year of high school to gain a deeper understanding of their faith, study alongside justice leaders, collaborate on one large yearly project that aligns with the mission and goals of the UCC and, regularly give voice to the wider church through appropriate news and social media challenges, and when possible gather at a denomination wide event for in person community building. LEARN MORE AND APPLY
Reimagining Youth Ministry

The United Church of Christ seeks input from those who regularly work with youth in various capacities. Your responses will help us better understand the changes and challenges to youth ministry as we continue to experience advances in technology, competing priorities, and a long-lasting pandemic. Our hope is to imagine ways to build a comprehensive youth ministry that encompasses local, conference, regional and national ministries of the United Church of Christ. TAKE THE SURVEY HERE.
Rest in the Divine Presence with The Ministry Lab's Midweek Retreat

This recorded contemplative practice posts at noon each Wednesday and is a free resource for all members. Register to receive the weekly post by sending an email of request to Emily Meyer.

The Ministry Lab also has a recorded Epiphany Worship Service, based on Season of Epiphany texts and featuring leaders and youth from across the state, a fun movement liturgy and music from Billy McLaughlin. Available through February 20, 2022.
Powerful Words

by David Cleaver-Bartholomew, Director of Stewardship and Donor Relations for the
Southern New England Conference, United Church of Christ

Growing up, I remember my parents teaching us the poem, “Five Little Words.”

There are five little words, I would have you to know;
They are "Pardon me," "Thank you," and "Please."
Oh, use them quite often wherever you go,
There are few words more useful as these.
These five little words have a power
That fortune or fame cannot give.
So commit them to memory this very hour
And please use them as long as you live. Thank you!

READ David's full blog post about the reasons why and how to set up a thank you strategy and system in your church.
Joys & Concerns
Reverend Levering Reynolds, III, died peacefully on January 2, 2022 at the age of 81 at his home in St. Charles, Missouri. Rev. Reynolds had served as an Interim Minister in congregations of the MN Conference. He and his wife, Linda, were members at Peace UCC in Rochester, where Linda served as Associate Pastor. We send Linda and the entire family our heartfelt prayers. Read his obituary HERE.
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 Covid, racial justice, and more.
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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.