By: Christa Meland
Rev. Anita Phillips: “We are all, as human beings, connected by the places where we have shed tears,” Phillips, executive director of the United Methodist Church’s Comprehensive Plan, said during Friday morning worship. “We’re all connected through the waters of this world.” Phillips said the notion of repentance is a living thing, a process that’s ongoing, and she talked about that process. “You might say to our native people, yes, native American brothers and sisters, those indigenous people around the world, we recognize you, we see you, and we are willing to hear your story now. We are willing to know the road you have walked…and we’re ready to receive what you have to say, as your church, the body of Jesus Christ. We’re here for you.” Phillips said there are four questions she’s found helpful to ask at times when she has journeyed toward repentance:
1. Can you see us?
2. Can you hear us?
3. Can you find Christ in us?
4. Will you claim us as part of yourself and your community?
Love Offering: As of Friday morning, the Love Offering for missions totaled $74,735. Sixty percent of this year’s Love Offering for missions will help expand Grace Children’s Center in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The Minnesota Conference recently formed a partnership with United Methodist missionaries in Vietnam to help expand Grace, which isproviding education and daycare for about 20 orphaned children. Another 30 percent of the Love Offering will be used for grants for local churches that develop a long-term partnership with a school. And the remaining 10 percent will go toward Volunteers in Mission scholarships for first-time participants. Through the Volunteers in Mission program, teams spend up to two weeks working on mission projects either domestically or abroad. (Read more about the Love Offering recipients here.)
Future annual conference dates: Next year’s annual conference will convene from Tuesday, June 21-Thursday, June 23. And the 2017 annual conference will be from Tuesday, June 20-Thursday, June 22. Both conferences will remain in St. Cloud. The later dates are in response to 2013 legislation that aimed to increase accessibility of annual conference session—particularly for teachers, school staff, and students who are still in school in late May. Revs. Carol Zaagsma and Marianne Ozanne, co-chairs of the Sessions Action Team that plans annual conference, said the two years of later dates will provide an opportunity to test and review their impact on accessibility and participation. The 2013 legislation also requested a Friday start date for annual conference, however, the costs were significantly higher on weekends, which leaders feared would cause an undue financial burden for participants. Zaagsma and Ozanne provided a few questions for conference members to ponder for the future: What if families came to annual conference, fostering relationships that extend for years to come? Who will make a genuine effort to encourage newcomers…especially young ones…and then listen to and encourage their leadership once here? Could annual conference be more about the experience than the obligation?
Christa Meland is director of communications for the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church