The latest news from the Montana-Northern Wyoming UCC Conference of the UCC
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January 2019
A Full Year Ahead

What's Happening in the UCC
3 Great Loves Daily Action Calendar

UCC 32nd General Synod in Milwaukee
June 21-25, 2019 plans
Official Call to General Synod

What's New in the UCC
New Manual on Ministry download

On-line classes on UCC Faith and Practices
Center for Progressive Renewal
S. Cal. UCC

God-seeds,  reflections from Marc Stewart  

     This camp demonstrated that even though good classrooms may be     
     important, well ordered schedules, valuable, proper courses for which
     credit may be given, desirable, the greatest possible asset to any
     youth camp is the presence of at least one person who shares worthy life
     experiences with each camper—a person who in (themselves) epitomizes
     joyful Christian living and the best of Christian qualities.

                                         Clayton Rice, Conference Superintendent (Minister), 1930

As we prepare for our August 8-9, 2019 Conference Annual Meeting to be held at Camp Mimanagish, I will be focusing many of my God-seed articles this year on our Conference stewardship of Camp Mimanagish. To be good stewards of this place, we need to know what is special about Mimanagish so we can make honor it with good decisions.

This year, 2019, marks the end of the eighth decade since the beginning of Camp Mimanagish. Camp has been through a lot in these 89 years.
Those first 83 campers in 1930 got drenched from two weeks of rain spilling through a leaky 30x60 tarp that served to mark the dinning room/rec room/chapel. But they voted with hurrays to stay a third week, and the sun shone through. (link to archived stories)
A few years later, Mimanagish was well supplied with the goods needed to do meals and chores, only to have all of it stolen during winter. No problem for them as they quickly retooled and found a trapper neighbor with whom to store materials through the next winter. Tragically, he died in an avalanche while checking his trap line, but his young widow kept watch over Mimanagish.

During the Second World War, gas rationing prevented travel to Mimanagish so summer gatherings happened in Red Lodge.  Returning to "the place of singing waters" after the War, a question ensued regarding whether to continue tenting or to build lodges. Sidney came with a 20-person war surplus tent, while Glendive came and built a cabin. Perhaps in anticipation of a baby boom, plans developed throughout the Conference to build up camp with a lodge, cabins, and electrical service.

During these first three decades, Mimanagish centered around three purposes (1948), to:
1. develop Christian character through worship, education, recreation, and sharing camp responsibilities;
2. strengthen the program of each local church by sending back consecrated and informed leaders;
3. provide a setting for an annual business meeting for the Conference.

The baby boom happened and by the early 60's a shower house with bathrooms and septic system were built by work crews as our camp participation grew to 500 and stayed at that number throughout a 20-year run of baby-boomers. Such numbers took a toll on facilities and by the mid-70's efforts were successful in completing a new dining hall with retreat wing. With the baby boom over, though, registration numbers did not keep up as anticipated. For example, in the early 1990's UCC camp enrollment was down to 298 and camp needed to market to non-UCC groups.

We might wonder how the purpose of Mimanagish has changed. One of the early camp directors told how a teen girl came out to camp and joined the Mt. Hawley climbing team despite everyone's objections that her only footwear were high heels. She was not out done, as she was the first to the summit and the first back to camp. Last year, I told the story of Destiny who despite objecting to hike up the road to "4-mile" quickly became the leader of the group. These experiences of transformation for youth and their leaders do not change with the years. The observation of the 1937 camp director remains true: "Camp Mimanagish does something to people. You can't quite describe it."

The Three Mission Priorities of the  MT-NWy Conference UCC:

All congregations will be vital and viable

“What does the Lord require of you
but to do justice,
 and to love kindness,
    and to walk humbly with your God?”
--Micah 6: 8 [NRSV]
One of the ways your Montana - N.Wyoming Conference UCC supports church vitality is by encouraging and supporting the continued education and development of pastors. Our leadership coaching training has been offered to all our pastors, and at least five will be participating.  Our "members in discernment" are lay leaders and some licensed ministers who are exploring a path to ordination. In support of their pursuit, we have provided scholarships for them to enroll in UCC Church History and Polity. Among our ordained pastors who have designed a path of continuing education, Rev. Laura Folkwein enrolled and received a scholarship from the Conference for the Certificate in Convergence Leadership with the Center for Progressive Renewal. The CLP program director, Rev. Dr. Lindsey Andreolli-Comstock, recently wrote to us to affirm Laura's fine wok:

Over the last year, Laura has invested in herself and her community by spending hours engaged in online intensives with people across the country. Her diligent work put her at the top of her class and made her a sought after student in each intensive...  The work of the Convergence Leadership Project is a vital one for the future of our church leaders. The sense of belonging and community is priceless. In honor of Laura, we invite each of you to invite four ministers you think should be part of the CLP to apply today. We are currently running a 50% sale and now is a perfect time to join our growing pool of students. 

2. The Conference will be appropriately staffed and the staff will be justly compensated.

We welcome Rev. Cathy Barker back to Conference staff in our new position of 
Partner Organizations Recruiter

Cathy was an associate program staff person for the Conference in the early 1990's and most recently
retired as co-pastor, with her spouse Rev. Dick Weaver, of Plymouth UCC in Helena. During the past few years, Cathy has led "Geography of Grace" and "Soul of Aging" retreats at Mimanagish. She is well connected within and beyond the UCC for recruiting partner organizations to make use of Camp Mimanagish. There are about 8 weeks of vacant space at Mimanagish available between June 1 and October 1. What group, organization, or business do you know with whom our recruiter might talk about coming to Mimanagish?  Contact Cathy at

3. The Conference will offer transformative experiences and have an active presence in places where we are not now present.
During 2019, the MT-NWy Conference UCC will join teams with the Pacific NW Conference UCC and the Central Pacific Conference UCC to explore mutual and/or shared ministries. Our 6-person team will include 2 pastors who have also served in one or both of these other Conferences, Peter Shober and Susan Watterson, our previous moderator, Gus Byrom, our current moderator and vice-moderator, Tracy Heilman and Lynne Spencer Smith, and our Conference Minister, Marc Stewart.  This project was awarded a $15,000 Essential Conference Ministries grant that Marc applied for to be used for bringing the teams together up to 2 times in 2019.  Out first gathering will be hosted by the Central Pacific Conference UCC around Portland OR March 25-26.

Camp Mimanagish Sunday, suggested date January 17, 2019, promotional materials will be added to the promotions link as they are available.

Greetings to all and Happy New Year!

As your point person for Mimanagish fundraising, I want to be sure that you’re all aware of giving opportunities that have been identified so far for the 2019 season. They include the following:

Look for our Love Mimanagish campaign during February. There will be more information forthcoming, so be sure to watch the Camp Mimanagish and MNWC-UCC Facebook pages for more details as the time draws nearer.

Camp Mimanagish took part in the Columbus Community Foundation’s version of Montana Gives in 2018. This is a state-wide fundraising effort headlined by local community foundations for area non-profits. It offers an online giving event for local non-profit organizations to receive local donations. CCF matches funds raised, based on percentage of total money raised; so, say Mimanagish raises 25% of the total dollars raised for the Columbus Montana Gives effort, Mimanagish would receive 25% of the matching funds. Local businesses donate the matching funds, so that their contributions benefit their local communities.

We will again take part in this effort in May. Stop by the donor lounge to make a donation in person or use the online giving option which will be available during the event.

Also during May, we look forward to the musical talents of Chris Cunningham from Bozeman who has generously offered to donate proceeds from a concert in which he will perform. Stay tuned for more particulars.

And remember, donations are always accepted in person at, or mailed to the Conference Office, 2016 Alderson Ave., Billings, MT 59102. Look online at and click on ‘donate’ on the bottom lefthand side to do a quick online donation through giving tools. Note that it is an easy step to set up a regular recurring donation, whether it’s weekly or yearly – your choice!

Abundant thanks and blessings,

Leslie (Bennett) Roche

West Region Conference Minister's Table supporting
cloud-based connections
MT-NWy Conference Scholarships Coach Training
The MT-NWy Conference UCC in collaboration with “Coaching for Clergy” will be offering classes that can lead to certification in clergy or leader coaching. There are 3 scholarships still available for those who register immediately.
Our instructor, the Rev. Dr. Felix Villanueva, is a Certified Master Coach. He is also a Certified Trainer and Mentor Coach. The week-long Clergy Coaching Certification Training will take place March 18-22, 2019 at the Ursuline Center, 2300 Central Ave., Great Falls MT 59401. If you are interested in becoming a certified coach or can refer someone, email Marc Stewart.
Dr. Tyler Mayfield is UCC.  Here is his book link on Amazon.

We keep Jan Hawk in our prayers of comfort and strength as Rev. Bill Hawk passed on December 8.

We keep Randy and Karen Hyvonen and their family in our prayers of thanksgiving for the life of Randy’s mother, Ruby Mae Hyvonen, who passed on December 21.  Randy is our predecessor Conference Minister.
link to online Conference calendar

Jan 11-12 Church and Ministry Commission, Billings and Zoom
Jan 13 Marc preaches at Molt UCC
Jan 15 COM meeting, Billings office 7 pm
Jan 16 office closed
Jan 17 Mimanagish Advisory Council, Zoom, 3 pm
Jan 18- 25 Week of Prayer
Jan 20 Marc preaches at Great Falls First Congregational UCC
Jan 21 MAC Legislative Day in Helena
Jan 27 suggested Camp Mimanagish Sunday
Jan 24 Executive Committee, Billings office
Jan 25 - 26 Board of Directors, Billings office
Feb 3 Marc preachers at Powder River UCC in Broadus
Feb 8 - 9 Church and Ministry Commission, Billings and Zoom
Feb 18-21 Marc at West Region CM Table meeting, HI Conference
Feb 20 office closed
Feb 22-27 Marc on Cont. Ed. Professional Coaching level course
March 4-7 Marc at Council of Conference Minister meeting, Cleveland
March 18 - 22 Coaching training, Ursuline Center, Great Falls
March 29 - 30 Jesus Seminar, Billings First UCC
                          "Displacement, Loss, and Reinvention"

June 21 - 25 UCC Gen Synod in Milwaukee MT-NWy staying at Hilton City Center
Aug 8 - 9 Conference Annual Meeting at Camp Mimanagish


Did You Know...

Mimanagish Matters is our new monthly eNews all about Mimanagish. Mimanagish Matters comes out during the third week of the month. Email the Conference office to subscribe.


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"Another Voice" community television series features some of our Billings area clergy and Conference Minister Click here!
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