By: Christa Meland
The first day of the 2016 Annual Conference had a different feel from past years, and attendees spent much of the day discussing issues that are important to them and enjoying fellowship in a more laid-back atmosphere. Here’s a brief look at a couple of highlights:
Open-space conversations: Conference attendees spent Tuesday afternoon engaged in small-group “open-space” conversations to discuss social justice issues and explore how Minnesota United Methodists can be a good gift to the world. They selected which topics they wanted to discuss, and broad categories included climate care, reaching the next generation, renewing the church, creating a safe and just world, unity in The United Methodist Church, and radical hospitality. Participants wrote down their big ideas and posted them on “sticky walls” in the back of the room. A few of the many ideas they wrote down included going where young people are instead of expecting them to come to church, praying for those with whom we disagree, trying new things even if they don’t always work, engaging in dialogue with refugees rather than fearing them, having meaningful roles for youth in worship, and making LGBTQ people feel welcome and fully included in the church.
Party in the park: On Tuesday evening, attendees gathered at Lake George Park, located about a mile from the convention center where conference is taking place, to celebrate and enjoy fellowship. They enjoyed live music from Boiling Point band, participated in a fun run/walk, packed health kits for refugees (as part of this year’s Love Offering for Missions), played games—including a bean-bag toss, had popcorn and food from food trucks, and listened to a brief program at which they met the 2016 ELI Project interns and blessed those who have been confirmed within the past year. Kids also had fun in a bounce house and at a splash pad at the park.
Christa Meland is director of communications for the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church