April COMMAnts from the Conference Minister

The Work of Easter

It was just over a week ago that two million Americans participated in the March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C. and other cities across the country.  They marched in protest of rising gun violence in our nation, demanding common sense gun control legislation and declaring our nation had at last had #Enough.  The March for Our Lives was inspired, organized, and led by students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where 17 of their own students and faculty were killed just six weeks prior.

Members of Minnesota Conference UCC congregations were among those marching on March 24.  In Duluth, Brainerd, Mankato, Rochester, and St. Paul, our congregants and leaders took their faith to the streets and prayed with their feet.  And in Washington, D.C., 14 of our Conference’s youth, accompanied by Conference staff Rev. Kevin Brown and three other adults, joined others from across the United Church of Christ and nation, advocating for gun violence prevention in the halls of Congress and raising their voices in protest and hope.

Now, as you read this, I am in Indonesia, gathering with global partners of the UCC from Bangladesh, Myanmar, Cambodia, Australia, India, Malaysia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and East Timor. Over the course of a few days we will imagine how we might more creatively partner as Christ’s Church in pursuit of God’s justice, particularly in regards to the scourge of human trafficking in Southern Asia and around the world.

After the Conference, I will travel with Tom, Monica, Hannah, and Simon Liddle to Laspalos, East Timor, where they have been serving as UCC mission co-workers since July 2016. Members of our own Minnesota Conference UCC, the Liddle family is an inspiration to us all, as they share with the East Timorese people in mutual learning, support, and faith amid extremely challenging circumstances.

There are so many places in the world that need the promise of new life.  There are so many issues and stark realities that exhaust and diminish us.  But we are an Easter People.  So while we often get discouraged and overwhelmed, we don’t let that stop us from showing up and speaking out.  We take the undaunted promises of Easter and step right into the fray, believing all the while that God can somehow use us to embody persevering hope and beautiful love in a fractured, hurting world.

Isn’t that the Easter story….that death and death-dealing powers don’t have the ultimate victory? That violence itself will be overcome by resurrecting love? That there is nothing that is impossible if God is in the mix?

So much of discipleship is simply about showing up again and again and again in the very places where violence and hatred and blatant indifference seem to be winning the day, and transforming those moments with the power of our love and courage and hope.  Sometimes that means marching with our feet and shouting our protest.  Sometimes it means traveling to the other side of our community or half-way across the world to be present with others’ pain.  Sometimes it’s a quiet vigil at another’s bedside or daring to reach out to the stranger among us.   The point is that we do it.  We show up.  We speak a word of hope. We embody a dose of courage.  We insist upon greater love.

That’s the work of Easter. That’s who we are as an Easter people.

With you on the journey,




Reverend Shari Prestemon, Conference Minister

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