On the evening of July 31, close to 300 people gathered in Hennepin Avenue’s parking lot for hamburgers on the grill, baked beans, chips, watermelon, and fellowship.
Centennial UMC in Roseville recently hosted its first ever Disability Awareness Sunday, where members experienced being in ministry with people with disabilities through worship, a lunch panel, and workshops.
Members of Reconciling United Methodist congregations in Minnesota created a float for the Pride parade and hosted a booth where they handed out rainbow peace medallions.
Minnetonka has grown 6 percent per year to reach average Sunday worship of 284 and total membership of 519 in 2015.
The church hosted an informative panel discussion and workshop on the timely topic of advance care planning, and 57 community members attended.
“Hosting this important event is a privilege and gives us a chance to reach out to a population that might not have the resources able to go to a lawyer’s office,” said Rev. Jim Crecelius.
Every Tuesday and Thursday, from 8 to 10 a.m., young children and their caregivers can stop by for playtime in the church’s carpeted gym.
Normandale Hylands UMC (Bloomington) found a creative way to host a Super Bowl-themed blanket drive.
Children and youth at Coon Rapids UMC filled Ziploc bags with necessities to distribute to people in the community who lack consistent housing.
Even smaller mission projects can make a big difference in the community. Over the summer members and friends of Mabel United Methodist Church and Newburg United Methodist Church decided to collect school supplies to make sure the staff of the Mabel-Canton School District are ready to welcome students back to class. “The people at our churches believe that to have a strong community, we need to have a strong education program,” Rev. David Stoeger said. “This starts with equipping our teachers for the important role they have in the lives of students. It is a joy to support the teachers and students in our community.” The boxes of donated supplies were presented to district staff and were distributed to teachers before the first day of class.
Back-to-school haircuts can be costly for parents. The youth group at Peace United Methodist Church in Virginia thought of a great way to reach neighbors and help those in need to get a fresh look by holding a treasure sale at the church. The congregation, along with some community members, donated household items, clothing, and other goods to the sale. At the end of the sale, the youth had collected more than $2,000 and purchased more than 100 gift cards for students to use.
Over the past year Glendale United Methodist Church in Savage has handed out boxes of food to more than 1,325 guests.
Last month, 36 Urban CROSS campers spent a week in St. Paul, helping neighbors with painting, yard work, landscaping, cleanup, construction, and repair projects at 39 sites across St. Paul’s residential East Side.
Rev. Kristi Franken of Adrian United Methodist Church immediately knew what she had to do when she heard that her son-in-law’s father had passed away with no funding available for a funeral.
Hannah Dudak, a junior at Chanhassen High School, implemented a program to connect different generations at her church, Excelsior United Methodist.
More than 40 people of all ages attended a cribbage tournament in March; one-third of the players were from the community.
Lake Harriet United Methodist Church in Minneapolis has been using the theater as a way to reach new people in the community.
More than 60 people from churches in Rochester, Plainview, Chatfield, and elsewhere met at Christ United Methodist Church to strategize faith-based action on climate change.
Every Sunday Mounds Park United Methodist Church provides children with a special time to learn and grow in love of God.
Does a good deed stay with the recipient all day? Will the recipient in turn perform a good deed for someone else? That’s what youth at Minnehaha United Methodist Church in Minneapolis asked each other before setting a goal to complete 15,000 good deeds in 2015.
Rev. Beth Perez invited members to bring new shoes to donate to the children at Rio Bravo Children’s Home in Mexico. The church, which averages 85 in worship attendance, produced 44 pairs of shoes.
On Sunday, about 200 people from Cross Winds showed up wearing flowered shirts, sunglasses, and hats. Between reports and budget discussions, members participated in hula-hoop and limbo contests and sing-alongs. The party approach to church conferences has increased participation.
How do you bring members of a community together? Feed them lunch.
Tammy Bailey used to visit her local food shelf on a regular basis in order to be able to provide for her 16-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son. But since Hastings United Methodist Church started a community garden in the summer of 2013, her trips have become few and far between.
Sixty-six. That’s how many beds the downtown Minneapolis Simpson Housing Services overnight shelter has available to the homeless. It’s also the number of blankets that the Fairmount Avenue United Methodist Church youth group collected for guests.
Kabetogama UMC and Crane Lake Chapel (a non-denominational church), both located in the most northern part of Minnesota, teamed this summer for a special Vacation Bible School through The Mobile Ministry.
Root beer floats, clowns, face painting, balloon animals, burgers, new neighbors and a vibrant congregation came together on Aug. 5 to celebrate National Night Out in Rochester.
On August 4, Champlin United Methodist Church, other faith groups, local schools, and the surrounding community hosted a clothing “boutique” that allowed families in need to “shop” for free school clothes.
What started as an outreach ministry by one of Grace United Methodist Church’s Bible study groups has become a yearly event that the entire church community has embraced.
The church collects and distributes emergency clothing, school supplies, and care items.
Many of us use social media to connect with our friends, but how about if we use it to spur action in our communities?
Members of Richfield United Methodist Church found a unique way to exercise their bodies and souls throughout Lent.
On April 11 and 12, Wheelock United Methodist Church in St. Paul hosted about 140 Hmong youth and young adults from across the United States for an annual event that brings Hmong United Methodists together for worship, workshops, and fellowship.
When they had an early release day from school on March 5, Park UMC youth (and adults) went to pack meals for Kids Against Hunger.
Richfield UMC youth educate and encourage congregation members to take part in ending homelessness through creating a display with a tent and backpack to emphasize the reality that many homeless youth face.
Byron United Methodist Church’s confirmation class project collected 500 pairs of shoes, which went to a refugee camp in Afghanistan. Church members went to a Twin Cities airport to witness the send-off.
As the community of Elk River welcomed 5,700 hockey players and fans for “Hockey Day Minnesota” in January, Elk River United Methodist Church transformed itself into the city’s largest warming house, welcoming visitors with hot food and a warm place to rest.
The Seahawks and the Broncos weren’t the only ones competing on Feb. 2. Two churches in the Minnesota Conference were having a “Souper Bowl” of their own.
With the help of the United Methodist Foundation, Park United Methodist Church raised enough money to save the church’s historic Cassavant organ, which was in desperate need of restoration to the tune of $93,000.
Almost every year, members from Advent United Methodist Church travel to Haiti to work on projects there in collaboration with local residents.
In the harsh northern Minnesota winters, no one can go without a coat—and no one needs to thanks to Grand Rapids United Methodist Church’s “open-door coat rack.”
After discovering that hunger was prevalent in the Farmington community, Faith United Methodist Church forged a partnership with a local elementary school that has made a difference in the lives of needy children in the community.
After Normandale Hylands United Methodist Women read a book about human trafficking in the United States and discovered that the problem was prevalent in Minnesota, they were committed to doing their part to combat it.
The Centennial Community Food Shelf, which began in the 1950s, has continued to thrive and grow thanks to an ecumenical group of area churches that keep it going, including Gethsemane United Methodist Church in Lino Lakes.
Two years ago, members of Lindstrom and Main Street UMCs returned from a mission trip inspired to make change in their own communities.
After noticing a house in the community that was in need of repair, parishioners of the Crane Lake Chapel in northern Minnesota decided to help the owner fix up the house.
Since constructing the bread oven in 2010, it has brought together the White Bear Lake community on many occasions: meals for local residents, bread-baking classes, and more.
Members of Advent United Methodist Church in Eagan wanted to celebrate the church’s 30-year anniversary by sharing God’s love with the community. They chose to do that with one great day of sharing, an event they called “Advent Cares.”
Lydia Zion United Methodist Church celebrates members’ birthdays in a most unique way: Birthday honorees (and/or other worship attendees of their choosing) are invited to perform a special mission task. Tasks have included zipping through the day with a smile, calling on a friend to see how they’re doing, reading a scripture, taking a meal to someone, bringing a friend to church, and visiting a Sunday School class. It’s a reminder that “we can all be in mission,” says Pastor Larry Kasten, and the ministry has been well-received by the 155-member congregation.
Each month, schools in the small, west-central Minnesota community of Morris have a two-hour late start due to staff in-services. Younger children have a school-based program, but what do middle and high school students do? Some drop in at the 2-Hour Delay Cafe in the Federated Church.
North United Methodist Church is big on community outreach. One of its most well known ministries is its clothing closet, through which residents in need can come up to several times each month and select items at no cost.
This summer, members of Chatfield United Methodist Church embarked on a pilgrimage that involved placing blessing stones around their 2,800-person city and speaking words of blessing and affirmation for the good of the community.
Park Avenue United Methodist Church’s Women to Women Ministries group started thinking about ways it could spread God’s love through an unassuming act of kindness and came up with the idea to distribute muffins to people passing by the church in vehicles and by foot.
When the Volunteers Enlisted to Assist People food shelf in Bloomington needed emergency bags of groceries for people unable to wait for the next available food pantry appointment, Richfield’s Church of Peace stepped up to the plate.
This year’s STORM Camp moved to Faribault. In late July, 63 students and 12 adult drivers from 14 congregations served 70 families in the community.
In conjunction with vacation Bible school, which had a “Down on the Farm” theme, Willmar United Methodist Church Education Director Jackie Svejkovsky hoped that the congregation might contribute $120, enough to donate one pig through Heifer International.
Three talented musicians who attend a nearby Lutheran church heard about Thief River Falls’ ambitious fundraising goal for Imagine No Malaria and offered to help out by performing a benefit concert.
Recognizing that things like navigating landlord-tenant relations, understanding child custody laws, and filing taxes can be difficult and complicated for new Americans, and hiring a lawyer can be expensive, Spirit River Community United Methodist Church in Isanti hosts an annual “Ask-a-Lawyer Day.”
“I believe God is riding with me,” says Mavis Fry, an avid motorcyclist. “I feel more aware of my surroundings and I ride more safely.” Fry is talking about why she chose to participate in the first-ever biker blessing at The Recovery Church in St. Paul.
A 14-member work team from Brownsdale United Methodist Church recently returned from Brown’s Town, Jamaica, where they worked with local community members.
During Minnesota FoodShare month, River Hills United Methodist Church in Burnsville saw a need to fight hunger in its community. The church came up with a “Ton of Tuna” campaign, which resulted in the collection of 6,555 cans, or almost 3,000 pounds, of tuna to give to local food banks.
Minnetonka United Methodist Church youth have driven the church’s Imagine No Malaria fundraising efforts, which to date have raised $40,609 to combat malaria deaths in Africa.
Lanesboro United Methodist Church may be small in membership but it’s big on helping those in need. The church raised $1,300 from a “High Tea for High Waters” and used it to support two outreach efforts.
Faith United Methodist Church’s parish nurse is leading a community-wide effort to provide for caregivers and care receivers.
Thief River Falls United Methodist Church raised over $1,400 for Imagine No Malaria during the month of May. The church had a “Muffins for Malaria” fellowship after worship on May 5.
A third-grade girl at Fridley United Methodist Church has a heart for people who are homeless, and she led a three-week church fundraising effort that brought in $156.65 for Family Promise of Anoka County.
363 Days organization seeks to provide those people who are experiencing homelessness with food for every day out of the year (363 because there are typically meals served at many shelters and other places on Christmas and Thanksgiving).
A year ago a team of volunteers at Lake City United Methodist Church began an outreach ministry called “Packing for the Weekend.” This program feeds children on weekends that miss out on nutrition when school is not in session.
United Methodist Church of Anoka and its satellite campus, Northern Light, took part in an all-congregation book study, named “One Congregation, One Book.” They read Tony Jones’ “The Sacred Way,” and then invited him to speak at the church. Many small groups were formed to study this book, which focuses on spiritual growth and discipline. At the culmination of the book study, congregants felt as though they already knew Jones—which made his message resonate even further.
In response to the Dec. 14 shooting in which twenty children and six school administrators were killed, youth from Brooklyn United Methodist Church (Brooklyn Center) offered a token of warmth and comfort for the grieving community during the Christmas season.
Each summer, the town of Adrian, Minn., hosts a “Christmas in July” celebration for the community. Seeing an opportunity for community involvement with Imagine No Malaria, Adrian and Magnolia United Methodist Church set up a “game tent” for children to win prizes during the day-long celebration.
The first Camp MSP (mission, service, purpose) was held Aug 14-16. Twelve churches from the conference participated in this event designed to bring United Methodist fifth through seventh graders together to have fun, learn, and have the opportunity to serve their neighbor.
The Hamline Church Dining Hall, a well-known and loved institution at the Minnesota State Fair, is providing its 115th year of food and hospitality this year.
Urban CROSS service camp took place this summer, and was hugely successful. Fifty-four campers completed many projects on houses in the Dayton’s Bluff area of St. Paul.
A tragic accident in June left two young girls from southeast Minnesota with burns on over 70 percent of their bodies. Money Creek UMC, a small church near Winona, already had in place a Saturday morning ministry called “cakes for campers,” a pancake breakfast fundraiser to help support the ministries of the church.
On a beautiful summer Saturday last month, Richfield United Methodist Church hosted its fourth annual community carnival. The carnival featured a petting zoo, bounce house, games, good food, music by the Living Waters Band, and a dunk tank.
Evangelical UMC (Waseca) decided to raise money for Imagine No Malaria by having a special monthly offering called “Change for a Change” during which we would collect change using aluminum coffee pots for the best sound effects we could get.
Ed Dallas, a seasoned cyclist, is riding his bicycle over 4,000 miles across the country this summer to raise awareness and funds for UMC Mobile Ministry. UMC Mobile Ministry is a Minnesota Annual Conference mission to the communities of Kabetogama and Crane Lake in the northwoods of Minnesota. Ed’s trip will take him around 90 days; he’s expected to make his way through Minnesota in late June. According to Dallas, “At some time during a person’s life, there will be the need for pastoral care and for those who don’t live in a major urban area, that care might not be available. The Mobile Ministry assures the people in Crane Lake and Kabetogama that they will have access to pastoral care.”
For twelve years, Haiti Solar Oven Partners, a United Methodist Advance Special project based in Brookings, South Dakota, has empowered families in Haiti to use solar energy for cooking and pasteurizing clean water. The most recent Volunteers in Mission trip included four people from the Minnesota Conference. The team assembled two hundred solar ovens and ran seminars on how use them. By the end of their time there, two hundred new solar oven users had a way purify drinking water and use energy from the sun to cook food to provide for their families.
There is a place to stop for a cup of coffee and friendly conversation in the little village of East Chain in southern Minnesota. The United Methodist Women open the church doors the second Saturday of each month and spend the morning serving the community coffee, rolls and juice. It’s been so successful, the group has been asked to do it twice a month! This is a valuable way to reach out into the community and make connections.
Sometimes doing good can be beneficial for both parties involved. This was the case for Oakwood United Methodist Church (New Ulm) when it decided to “adopt” Jefferson Elementary School. Members of the church did a few small things to help the school community. The church provided a box of emergency clothes the school nurse could use for kids who do not have adequate clothing, gave encouraging notes to teachers and staff members to thank them for making a difference in the children’s lives, and read to groups of children weekly. As a result of their reaching out, the church has seen an influx of new baptisms and worship attendees.
Fairfax United Methodist Church has reached their pledged amount for Imagine No Malaria by hosting a silent auction fundraiser that brought in money from community members.
Mounds Park UMC hosted a brunch on Christmas Eve and invited the outside community.
Chatfield United Methodist Church’s newly-formed health ministry for senior citizens, The Gathering Place, held its inaugural open house Jan. 10. Led by parish nurse Beverly Simpson, the Gathering Place brings together agencies intent on making elder citizens’ golden years well-lived and enriched through services available to them. The ministry is now open the second Tuesday of each month from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Besides being a place for health education and fellowship, the Gathering Place also houses a medical equipment loan closet available for community use.
Debbie Mahoney shares the story of her two sons whose lives were changed during a mission trip last year. As part of the Solid Rock Singers, the two teenagers experienced God’s presence during their performances.
On Christmas day the First United Methodist church of Red Wing brought 26 trays of goodies to those who had to work that day. They blessed the local fire and police departments, hospital, hotels, local power plant, nursing homes, gas stations and more.
Wednesday night, like for many churches, is a busy night at Coon Rapids United Methodist Church. Chancel choir rehearsal and youth group meetings ensure a full, bustling building. Four years ago, three churchgoers decided they had the perfect opportunity—a newly renovated kitchen and and a hungry customer base. They began to serve dinner Wednesdays, charging $3—and it was a hit! Over the years, the organizers developed a ticket process to bring in people from outside. Church members donate the tickets to a family in need—so the family can come to the church, have a warm meal and not be embarrassed. Once an internal fellowship time, this ministry has grown to serve the community.
More than 100 members and friends of Advent United Methodist Church (Eagan) ran or walked five kilometers on Oct. 8 to raise over $2,500—and save more than 250 lives—for Imagine No Malaria. Participants enjoyed the course of roadsides and park trails, showcasing the beautiful fall scenery. The band for the church’s contemporary worship service, Thrive, provided upbeat music to spur on participants (who could hear it through the entirety of the course). Among church leaders running with the crowd were Bishop Sally Dyck. The event was so successful that the church hopes to organize it every year. Donations continue to arrive at the church office.
On Oct. 2, a clear, bright, and cool fall Saturday, Blooming Grove United Methodist Church attracted 76 runners and walkers for their first “Run for the Loaves” event and raised nearly $2,300 for county food shelves. This is just one of three events this church (average worship attendance: 40) has led to help feed the hungry in their area. They also hosted a February Cabin Fever Reliever, with a meal, auction, and Wii dance contest. This fought back the winter doldrums and raised $2,111 for the Steele County Food Shelf. Eighty-two neighbors attended the concert they presented in September 2010 that raised $950 for Waseca and Steele County food shelves.
The last Saturday of each month, Mosaic United Methodist Church members buy the first drink for everyone who comes into the Brookdale Caribou coffee shop (Brooklyn Center) between 9 a.m. and noon. While buying coffee for strangers has been a good way to generate general goodwill in the community and hand out a few brochures and cards, perhaps even more importantly it has been a training workshop for invitation. While inviting people to church is scary, inviting people to get free coffee on a Saturday morning is not. Mosaic members stake out a table and the cast of characters changes over the course of three hours. It is most successful when treated as a way to teach and live invitation. It also does give folks who are interested a chance to check out Mosaic in a non-threatening environment. As pastor I’ve had a chance to meet otherwise anonymous Mosaic Facebook fans and Twitter followers because they feel comfortable coming over and introducing themselves in the coffee shop.
Family Table at Fridley United Methodist Church has been serving a free meal one Saturday a month since October 2008. This ministry of food and friendship served its 4,000th meal in June 2011. The leadership team with the aid of the parish nurse was looking into other services that could be provided when Mary Ann Neu volunteered her time and skills for free haircuts. Many volunteers share their gifts of hospitality, generosity, and service through this ministry. Paying attention to the gifts and talents of members and the needs of the guests has allowed them to serve our neighbors in more ways.
In November 2010, members of Lanesboro United Methodist Church decided to serve in Wadena, Minnesota, assisting with cleanup following the June 2010 tornado that rendered significant damage to many homes in the area. We contacted Kingswood Camp and Retreat Center, and the staff helped us plan the trip. They found us lodging, as the Minnesota Annual Conference does not have a camp near Wadena. Kingswood also found us work through the Ottertail County long term recovery office; these were local people who knew the immediate local needs. In one week we cleaned up debris at two farms, reconstructed a vegetable stand, and painted the exterior trim at 6 homes. Our presence in the town was part of the motivation the people needed to have hope again.
This is New Day United Methodist Church's recipe for parade fun and raising awareness for Imagine No Malaria: Take about 35 people ages 1 through 50; put ten people on roller blades wearing wings and antennae and give 18 people giant flyswatter signs; cover two beds on wheels with netting and insert a preschooler on each bed for a ride; don matching t-shirts (red for the mosquitoes; yellow for the fly swatters); load a vehicle with boxes of plastic flyswatters (imprinted with church logo/website) and kazoos (mosquito buzzers) to give away; get everyone marching down the street, beds and mosquitoes first, followed by the fly swatter signs spelling out “Join Our Swat Team;" play some loud music; coordinate the mosquitoes to "attack" the beds and the fly swatters to "attack" the mosquitoes every couple of blocks; have extra people hand out giveaways.
UZone provides a safe space for Paynesville kids after school.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church