2023 Reports

Reports from Conference Ministry Units

Appointive Cabinet Racial Justice Report

In its 2020 statement on racial justice the Minnesota Cabinet agreed to provide annual updates to our planned actions and accountability. As Wesleyans we are mindful of the deep grace of God and the continual work of growing in love of God and neighbor. In seeking to grow in anti-racism we lean on our theology of journeying in love with accountability. This report will cover the years from 2020-2023.


  • Require regular training in anti-racism/white supremacy for all clergy under appointment—including the Appointive Cabinet.  
  • Support the continued creation and development of churches of color in relevant mission fields. 
  • Continue to make and support cross-racial, cross-cultural clergy appointments. This year, we have begun to provide training and support for all of our new cross-racial appointments.
  • Encourage all of our churches to be engaged in anti-racism study and action. 
  • Identify, motivate, and equip more churches to be reflective of the diversity in their communities.  
  • Form a Multi-Cultural Wisdom Team to advise the Cabinet and Conference structures.


  • Each district superintendent reflects in their annual performance review on their work and witness for racial justice and reconciliation.
  • Annually, the Cabinet reports on its collective progress on these steps to the Annual Conference Session.

Require regular training in anti-racism/white supremacy for all clergy under appointment—including the Appointive Cabinet.  

In these last three years we have actively worked to train all our clergy in anti-racism through our Building Beloved Community (BBC Module 1) training led by Rev. Dana Neuhauser and trained moderators.  153 clergy participated in BBC training in these last three years. This represents 54 % of all clergy (Deacons, Elders, Licensed Local Pastors, Certified Lay Pastors) but is 67% of all active clergy who are not BIPOC. All of the current Extended Cabinet members have also gone through Module 1.

There are other places in our system where the work of growing in anti-racism continues. For a decade the BOOM has used pre and post bias questions as part of their interviewing process. The IDI is included as part of the BOOM psychological evaluation process, though there is no formal feedback session included. The IDI is included in our onboarding training. It is important to establish a regular rhythm of moving through the Building Beloved Community modules, with both cabinet and clergy under appointment.

Support the continued creation and development of churches of color in relevant mission fields. 

The Extended Cabinet of the Minnesota Conference continues to strategize, establish, and support new communities of color to better reach our increasingly diverse mission field. Currently mono-cultural and multi-cultural faith communities total 22 in the Minnesota Conference. Within the past three years new Filipino, Hispanic/Latine, and Hmong fellowships have been launched with outreach to the urban Karen community and greater Minnesota Hispanic/Latine populations being cultivated in 2023. We have great opportunity yet before us, with potential for at least one new “non-dominant culture” congregation launched each year.

Continue to make and support cross-racial, cross-cultural clergy appointments. This year, we have begun to provide training and support for all of our new cross-racial appointments.

Diversity is sought not only across new populations, but within existing congregations as well. In recent years, Cross-Racial/Cross-Cultural appointments strategically deployed clergy of color to churches in diverse communities. Not surprisingly however, optics and perspective of a lone leader rarely shifts the culture of an organization. We have also learned that effective Cross-Racial/Cross-Cultural appointments are mutually adaptive. In the process of the church and pastor learning how best to express their uniqueness and embrace the gifts of the other, they also better position themselves to be receptive and responsive to the diversity of their broader mission field. In the last three years we have increased intentionality and content for the preparation of church leaders and the onboarding of clergy of color. We also recognize the need for non-supervisory support systems for BIPOC clergy. Of thirty-two clergy of color currently under appointment through the Minnesota Conference, seventeen are in Cross-Racial/Cross-Cultural contexts.

Encourage all of our churches to be engaged in anti-racism study and action. 

As important as training and supporting our clergy is, making training available to our congregations is critical. This happened in a variety of ways. The Minnesota Church and Society team offered grants of up to $300 to churches to purchase books for book studies. Following the murder of George Floyd, the Twin Cities Rapid Response Team allocated thirteen grants totaling $34,650 for crisis intervention, reconciliation and restoration ministries. The application and award process centered voices most impacted. Community needs ranged from food to counseling to education to respite care for traumatized leaders.

New City Church received a GCORR grant for anti-racism education and anti-racism worship material development. Churches including Centenary, Centennial, Hamline, Living Spirit, Holy Trinity all hosted education opportunities for their congregations. Churches on every district hosted book studies on anti-racism, such as Two Harbors, Aitkin, Blooming Grove, Lake Harriet, and The Grove. These are initial efforts, at the educational stage, but lay the groundwork for more intentional action.

While not a Conference initiative, Hamline and Fairmount Avenue, along with several other United Methodist and a Lutheran congregation, raised $25,000 to house a family of a child victim of gun violence from North Minneapolis. They moved the family to St. Paul to be closer to Children’s Hospital for the six months he was hospitalized.

In addition, the Church Profile process now includes a multicultural inventory from CORR, though churches need training and context to understand how to use it.

Identify, motivate, and equip more churches to be reflective of the diversity in their communities.  

By 2050 it is projected that the Minnesota BIPOC population will grow by 1 million people comprising over 1/3 of the population of the state. Offering abundant life in Christian community is not a church growth strategy, it’s a gospel mandate. Motivating and equipping outreach to diverse communities isn’t just the role of a cabinet, or a conference office, but the clarion call of every local church to relevantly connect with the mission field entrusted to them by God. We have some points of leverage to effect this change:

  • Reclaim racial justice and equity not as a program initiative, but as a central discipline of discipleship.
  • While working diligently to recruit BIPOC clergy we recognize we need to listen to their needs and build a Minnesota Conference culture that better sustains and retains BIPOC clergy.
  • Across our state we embolden “eye opening leaders” who help our churches see and embrace everyone in their communities, not just those who look, value, and interact like themselves.

As local churches are more reflective of the diversity of their communities they become a clearer reflection of the Kin-dom of God!

Form a Multi-Cultural Wisdom Team to advise the Cabinet and Conference structures.

The goal to “Form a Multi-Cultural Wisdom Team to advise the Cabinet and Conference structures” was not met per se, but the Transitional Table has in part fulfilled this role. The Transitional Table, made up of 14 clergy and lay persons, is almost 30% BIPOC and raised up as one of its primary areas of focus “For the sake of the gospel and the integrity of our witness, we will have engaged the work of confession, repentance and repair towards becoming the beloved community with particular attention to racial justice and LGBTQI justice.” In addition,  Bishop Plambeck met in the spring of 2023 with various BIPOC groups and is exploring more intentional ways of onboarding cross-cultural/cross-racial appointments.

Each district superintendent reflects in their annual performance review on their work and witness for racial justice and reconciliation.

A final goal was for each district superintendent to reflect in their annual performance review on their work and witness for racial and restorative justice. In the season of multiple episcopal transitions, annual performance reviews with the DSs have not happened. We will resume the discipline of annual performance reviews in April 2023 with Bishop Plambeck and will include this question.

As this report is submitted, we are indebted to the foundational work of Deacon Dana Neuhauser for developing and piloting a program for support of congregations with Cross-Racial/Cross-Cultural appointments in addition to launching conference-wide training for Building Beloved Community. We commit to partner with our new full-time Director of Racial Justice and Equity, Sabrina Tapia as her passion, insight and expertise informs our ongoing work and witness!

Rev. Michelle Hargrave and Rev. Dan Johnson

Board of Ordained Ministry

The Board of Ordained Ministry (BOM) helps the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church live out its mission through the enlistment, recruitment, credentialing, training, and support of the clergy of the conference.  Updated Covid-19 recommendations allowed the Board to resume in person meetings at their Fall Retreat and February Interviews. The following are the highlights of our work for the past year.    

Updated process for Ordination of Deacons and Elders. BOM created a team to review the candidacy process through ordination, and provide recommendations to improve the candidates experience, while maintaining the integrity of the Book of Discipline requirements. Findings were shared at the fall retreat, resulting in a change in the final ordination process, beginning with the class of 2024. It is designed to be more candidate-friendly and allows a rigorous review of the candidates’ work through an online portfolio. There is less written work, and more tangible ministry examples, such links to sermons, blogs, bible studies, community engagement, church planting, and activities that highlight their unique skills. Candidates will receive a Master Coach trained to shepherd them through the comprehensive requirements and ensure that candidate demonstrates competency in their ministry before seeking an interview with the Board. The process for commissioning remains unchanged. The board would like to thank all those who contributed to this groundbreaking and holy work.

Board Development:  This past year, we held to our nine characteristics for ministry excellence: Personal Passionate Faith, Evangelistic Heart, Apostolic Leadership, Emotional and Social Intelligence, Wesleyan Way of Discipleship, Leading Adaptively, Holy, Healthy Habits, Life-Long Learner, Loves God’s World. These are the standards by which clergy and candidates are reviewed.

Licensed Local Pastors: Because of the growing numbers of licensed local pastors, we continued to have a conference staff person serve as registrar for LLPs. The ministry field we serve together is so enriched by the faithful leadership being provided through so many Licensed Local Pastors.

Cultural Competency:  The BOM continued to challenge members to reflect on personal bias with guided questions when meeting with candidates, before and after each interview. The BOM membership is always changing, and we are actively seeking diversity in our membership, and in our processes.

Clergy Support and Training:  A streamlined process for MEF grants (Ministry Education Funds) for student debt resulted in a faster turnaround for funding. BOM supported a single application point for a variety of grants for Clergy Wellbeing. We supported the New Clergy Leadership Academy, Soul Leaders, Shmita training and continued to review best practices for mentoring clergy candidates.

We are blessed to be supported by so many individuals. Through their gracious presence and diverse wisdom, we tended to the work of the Board with integrity. The terms of service for Board Members follow the quadrennium and we continue to seek diversity in board representatives. We are so thankful and filled with wonder at the blessings of time and talent God brings through the members of this Board of Ordained Ministry.

Rev. Terri Horn, Chair

Board of Trustees

The Board of Trustees is established by The Book of Discipline in each annual conference (Paragraph 2512). In Minnesota, the annual conference is incorporated as a nonprofit corporation; the members of the corporation are the same as the members of the Annual Conference. The Board of Trustees serves, for purposes under corporate actions under Minnesota law, as the board of director of the corporation. The Book of Discipline entrusts the Board of Trustees with responsibility for receiving, collecting, and holding in trust all donations, bequests and gifts to the Annual Conference; administering such donations in accordance with the grantor and in the interest of the intended beneficiary of such gifts; receiving, holding in trust for and on behalf of the annual conference for use in ministries; investing, reinvesting, buying and selling all funds and property held in trust; and taking all necessary legal steps to safeguard and protect the interest and rights of the Annual Conference in any place and in any matter relating to property and rights to property owned by or on behalf of the Annual Conference.

In its legal capacity as the board of directors of the corporation, the trustees are responsible for authorizing official acts of the Minnesota Annual Conference when it acts as a corporation. Thus, the Board of Trustees acts as the legal representatives of the Annual Conference in its conduct of business buying and selling property, protecting the interests of the Annual Conference by procuring and maintaining insurance, participating in legal proceedings to protect the property rights of the annual conference, and authorizing instruments that bind the annual conference, such as deeds, mortgages, guarantees, and investments.

United Methodist polity includes a trust clause whereby all property is held in trust for the denomination. While each local church owns its building and property, the trust clause means that assets are held in trust for the future of United Methodism as part of the covenant relationship that every United Methodist has with one another. This ensures that church property is used and retained by the denomination for the common goal of inviting, forming, and sending Christians to do God’s work in the world. Discontinued church property comes to the annual conference through this trust clause. Legacy resources from discontinued church properties are re-invested for the work of congregational development. As part of our work, the Board of Trustees, along with Congregational Development, assist transitioning congregations at the beginning or end of their life cycle.

Among the actions undertaken by the Board of Trustees in 2022-2023 are the following:

  • Assisted three churches to disaffiliate in 2022 and approximately 15 more churches disaffiliating in May 2023.
  • Refined and oversaw the disaffiliation process under paragraph 2553 for churches wanting to disaffiliate during the 2023 calendar year.  
  • Managing the discontinued Sunrise United Methodist Church building and parsonage as well as the relationship with four tenants in the church building.
  • Responsible for the upkeep and marketing of the closed Beloved property at 1965 Sherwood in Saint Paul.
  • Sold the West Bethel Church.
  • Made improvements to and continue to manage the West Bethel parsonage with plans to market and sell in spring/summer 2023.
  • Reviewed and approved several property usage agreements.
  • Continue to market the land in Sartell, MN for sale. Signed a letter of intent to sell 3.3 acres of this property.
  • Continued working with camping and retreats ministry as they finished construction of the tabernacle at Koronis Ministries.
  • Reduced conference office space and negotiated lease with MN Church Center.
  • Purchased an episcopal residence in Eden Prairie, MN.
  • Renewed the ground lease with the Koronis Ministries cottage owners.
  • Transferred the previous St. Croix Valley church and parsonage to Embrace Church as it met the benchmarks determined by Congregational Development to complete this transfer.

I continue to appreciate the opportunity to serve as Chair of the Board of Trustees and thank all the members of the Board for their service this year.

Rev. Rachel Morey, Chair

Church and Society

We funded Racial Justice Grants for 7 churches to buy books to study racial justice.  In the past year the following churches have received grants: Glenwood United Parish, First UMC in Duluth, Mounds Park UMC, Path of Grace UMC in Maplewood, Peace UMC in North Oaks,  First UMC in Austin, and Eden Prairie UMC. A total of 23 grants have been funded. Applications are still being accepted, available on the Church and Society page of the Minnesota Conference website: https://www.minnesotaumc.org/newsdetail/mn-church-and-society-offers-racial-justice-grants-14356637.

We had a display at Annual Conference 2022 and at the United Women in Faith Annual Gathering October 1-2, 2022 that featured information about the Racial Justice Book Grant.

Church and Society chair Gail Chalbi wrote an article,Racial Justice Grants Help Churches Learn, Listen & Grow,” which appeared in United Methodist News. https://www.minnesotaumc.org/newsdetail/racial-justice-grants-help-churches-learn-listen-grow-16522532

We created a Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/churchandsocietymn) where we have posted book reviews, articles, and events about social justice issues. Some of our book reviews also appear in Lyndys Mission Minute articles.

We co-sponsored with the COSROW digital seminar Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women” (https://vimeo.com/743894288).

We also participated in events led by other teams. Following is a partial list:

  • Healing Circle for Native American and Allies which included representatives from CONAM, Earthkeepers, COSROW, and UWFaith as well as Sabrina Tapia Contreras (Director of Racial Justice and Equity) and Gail Johnson (Congregational Development & Events Administrator).
  • General Board of Church and Society webinars and Zoom meetings which include legislative updates, presentations on the Social Principles, and discussions.
  • Intersectional Justice: Why LGBTQIA+ and Racial Justice Can't be Siloed with Rev. Dana Neuhauser.
  • Land Acknowledgment Statement Class sponsored by Minnesota Hopeful Earthkeepers and led by Rev. Debra Callum.
  • Clergy and Faith Leader Legislative Action presented by ISAIAH.

Gail Chalbi, Chair

Commission on Archives and History

  • The Commission on Archives and History (CAH) met quarterly in 2022 by Zoom. We had 11 active members, but two stepped down off the team during the year: Pastor Dan Foster and longtime member Mary Bakeman.
  • The Conference Archivist (Heidi Heller), the Conference Historian (Thelma Boeder), and the Conference Secretary of Memoirs (David Laechel) are all-active on the Commission.
  • We continue to promote the 15 official Conference Historic sites. A complete listing is available on the conference’s website. All sites are also listed as UM Historic Site of General Commission on Archives and History (GCAH).
  • We review our Commission duties as outlined by The Book of Discipline [¶641.1] the first meeting of the calendar year.
  • We stopped submitting a quarterly blog in the MN Connect, as the Connect is geared more for sharing current major stories of the Conference.
  • We provided clergy grave markers to eight families for clergy who passed away in 2022.
  • We sent letters of recognition and encouragement to a number of congregations that were celebrating significant milestones in the history of their congregations or buildings.
  • The MAC journals 1850-present that had been digitized last year have been linked on the Conference’s website and are available for everyone to use. Four Evangelical Association journals were also digitized and linked on the Conference’s website.
  • The MAC Archives received 171 boxes and 1 jump drive of church records from closed and disaffiliating churches.
  • We authorized the purchase of a memorial stone in Cottonwood Cemetery for early Evangelical Association Lay Leader Mannweiler, using $624 from grant monies. The stone will be set the spring of 2023.
  • We sent two delegates to the North Central Jurisdictional Convocation of the CAH in MI, July 11-14, 2022.
  • As the delayed General Conference will not be hosted in MN, we dropped plans to organize an informal gathering of archivists and historians during that time.

Rev. Dr. David Werner, Chair

Commission on the Status and Role of Women

The MN Commission on the Status and Role of Women (COSROW) needed to do things differently, or not do them at all, in 2020 and in 2021 due to COVID-19.  Consequently, no COSROW seminars were held. In 2022, we stretched our wings and tried some new things for the COSROW seminars:  The WEB was used instead of in-person seminars; Two seminars were presented rather than one; and the seminars were held weeks after the Annual Conference rather than the day before.

Members of COSROW were delighted when Juliet Rudie was willing to speak on the topic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.  Ms. Rudie is the new director (as of Feb. 28, 2022) of the Office of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives for the State of MN.  This is the first such office in the U.S., so we were pleased that she chose to help us understand the issues surrounding MMIW.  Pastor Dawn Hauser, chair of the Committee on Native American Ministries, showed us and told us about the Red Dress quilt which represents MMIW.  The quilt was a gift to her, made by Native American women at Dayspring Native American United Methodist Church. This seminar, “Where are My Sisters? MMIW” was presented on Friday, June 17, 2022, 7-9 pm.

As we were planning the seminar about MMIW, we discovered another very troublesome topic which we felt could not be ignored: “Voting in Native Country. Hurdles at Every Turn.” This seminar explored reasons for the very low turnout of voters within the Native American reservations and communities. The speakers were Bret Healy, a lawyer consultant and strategist for the Four Directions Vote in Native Country and Mike Simpkins, a Red Lake Reservation tribal member and voting rights activist.  This seminar was presented on Sat., June 18, 9-11 a.m.

The two COSROW seminars were supported & sponsored by the United Women in Faith, Committee on Native American Ministries, Church and Society, and the Commission on Religion & Race.  We are grateful for their partnership. Special thanks are extended to Gail Johnson, annual conference staff, who helped us navigate the web and to UWF members:  Linda Kotschevar and Shirley Durr who worked many dedicated hours doing research & planning to assure the presentations were informative and helpful for both seminars.

At COSROW’s request, we now have a seat at the planning table for annual conference sessions, specifically for the purpose of monitoring.

COSROW’s annual meeting was held during lunch at the annual conference, May 24-25, 2022. Two new deaconesses were congratulated on their commissioning:  Cindy Saufferer & Carolyn Winslow.  COSROW’s display table included information about the work of COSROW and GCSRW as well as the upcoming seminars. Gender buttons were given away & were well received. 

COSROW continues the tradition of giving a gift to women who are newly ordained deacons and elders.  During the 2022 annual conference, the book, “When God was a Little Girl” by David Weiss was given to Hope Hutchinson, newly ordained deacon.

“Images of God”:  Kay Schroeder Hacklander, musician and composer, continued her work of adding to and revising  the musical “Images of God.” COSROW gave seed money to begin the musical in the early 1980s and has been supporting and encouraging this uplifting endeavor since then. In 2015 “Images of God” was presented at the COSROW pre-conference seminar at the MN Annual Conference with singers, dancers and colorful clothing & scarves.  At the 2022 COSROW annual meeting, we were pleased that a professional music editor was available to transcribe the musical from the original hand-written notes to a professional manuscript. This was COSROW’s next step to promote the musical “Images of God” and shine a spiritual light upon the beauty of expansive language within the Bible.

COSROW Monitoring: The first Journal in the Minnesota Annual Conference of the UMC that reflected demographics for gender and ethnicity was in 1989.  In several monitoring studies, it became clear that the number and percentage of female clergy gained ground incrementally every 5 years after the 1989 baseline count.  For this study the clergy roles included deacon, elder, associate/affiliate, and local pastor.   In the 1989 Journal, women represented 12.4% of clergy compared to 87.6% for men.  By 1997 the difference was 20.2% for women and 79.8% for men.  In 2007 the numbers were 28.8% for women and 71.2% for men.  The comparison in 2017 was 35.6% for women and 64.4% for men.  By 2022 the difference was 41.2% for women and 58.8% for men.  In a separate grid using the Journals for 2011 through 2021, the percentage of female clergy (for all clergy roles) increased by a very gradual rate but clearly showed an increase every year.  At the same time, the percentage of male clergy decreased each year by an equivalent rate of the total clergy in the Minnesota Conference.  

Another monitoring study noted that the career tracks of deacon and local pastor became more of interest to both genders over time, especially as the deacon role was changed.  Increasingly from 1992 to 2022, the role of deacon and local pastor were filled by more women than by men, whereas men continued to fill the role of elder at a higher rate than women. This study started with 2.3% of the clergy women in 1992 being deacons and local pastors, was at 20.7% in 2007, and reached 35.0% in 2022.  The equivalent comparison for clergy men was less than 1.0% in 1992, 5.5% in 2007, and 14.7% in 2022.  Members of MN COSROW are considering a questionnaire of clergy women to determine possible reasons for these alternate career choices. 

For more details about these studies, contact Susan Clark Harris at sclarkharris@mlecwb.net.  Copies of the studies will also be made available on the COSROW display at Annual Conference.

Respectfully Submitted:

Faye Christensen and Rev. Debra Collum, Co-Chairs             

Committee on Finance and Administration

The Book of Discipline says, “The purpose of the council shall be to develop, maintain, and administer a comprehensive and coordinated plan of fiscal and administrative policies, procedures, and management services for the Annual Conference (Paragraph 612.1). The council worked on many activities this year including:

  • Paid the apportionments received into the general conference or 70%.
  • Approved conference-wide appeals and Special Asking’s
  • Reviewed the annual audited financial statements
  • Developed the 2024 budget and uncollectible amount
  • Approved clergy housing allowances

Our thanks to those churches that shared in the connection this year through apportionment payment.  Our collection rate in total for apportionments was 78.7% for 2022.  This was a 4% decrease from 2021. Most apportionment funds received from local congregations stay within Minnesota to provide clergy credentialing and deployment, plant new churches, revitalize others, provide training, workshops, internships and support other outreach efforts. 

Conference Reserves and Investments:

Invested funds as of end of 2022 totaled $83.1 million, this is a decrease of approximately $18.5 million from the end of 2021 primarily due to market returns.

The Minnesota Conference Board of Pensions, Inc., benefit reserves ($67.8 million) are held at Wespath in the Multiple Asset Fund.  The return on this fund for the year end 2022 was negative 16.6% underperforming benchmark by .63%.  The Multiple Asset Fund had the following investment allocations:  U.S. Equities 34.2%, International Equities 30.6%, Fixed Income Securities 24.9%, Inflation Protection Fund 10.0%, Alternatives .1%, and cash .2%.

The Permanent Church Extension Fund, Capital Facilities Fund, and the Trustee Property Fund are invested with the Minnesota United Methodist Foundation in 40% equity and 60% fixed and had a negative 15.6% return for the year ended 12/31/2022.  

There are three generations of clergy pension and retirement plans being administered by the Conference; each is funded at 100%. Retirement and health reserves are at a level that allows them to be used to cover approximately $3 million of expenses of our local churches and Conference. The operating reserve is funded at a level that meets current requirements.

Rev. John Mitchem, Chair

Barb Brower, Director of Finance and Administration

Director of Camping and Retreat Ministries

2022 Highlights:

Koronis Ministries  2022 was a momentous time for Koronis Ministries camp and retreat center as the program celebrated its 100th year of operation, and the long-awaited New Tabernacle meeting/dining center was completed! Roughly 200 people gathered with Bishop Bard on September 10, 2022 to consecrate the new $4.5 million Tabernacle for God’s service and to commemorate a century of ministry as a gathering place for the Church.  In addition, in 2022 a number of significant ancillary projects were completed; most notably the paving of camp driveways and parking lots, and the completion of a major septic system upgrade.  Attendance for the year at both our “cabin camp” and the retreat center continued to recover, with roughly 6,000 guests served (including nearly 300 at our youth camp), representing about 85% of pre-COVID levels.  Early registration numbers and group reservations for 2023 indicate continued growth to perhaps the highest attendance levels in two decades, as the ministry lives into its first $1 million annual budget.

KoWaKan Adventures – The summer of 2022 marked a return to pre-pandemic participation levels for the Minnesota UMC’s Boundary Waters wilderness adventure camp.  Over 100 individuals from ten church and family groups experienced the beauty and solitude of the north-country wilderness, including one college group expedition that logged over 80-miles of guided Boundary Waters exploration.  Enhancements to our 40-acre base camp continued in 2022, with the notable replacement of a number of platform tents and a new aluminum dock offering easy access to pristine Section 12 Lake.  The camp is looking forward to a full summer of adventure and spiritual growth in 2023 as early reservations have come in strong.

Northern Pines – 2022 saw summer camper numbers reaching closer to our 2019 high numbers. Our retreat groups increased as well.  We had great volunteer help in the spring and fall, with interior painting completed at Red Pine, a new playground by Woodward, and some outside clean-up done before the summer season. Grandparent/Grandchild Camp and Family Camps remained at higher numbers than in the past few years.  Northern Pines celebrated 100 years with a “100 Years of Telling the Story” celebration on July 2 at the camp.  It was capped off with a worship service in the chapel.  We had the third annual Christmas at Camp light show in December, a drive-through experience, with beautiful lights on the cabins, a live nativity, and carolers.

Northern Pines Camp was a recipient of a 2022 Ministry Impact Grant for $20,000 to help us prepare to build a new cabin.  With the funds we were able to hire a contractor/builder to guide us through the pre-build process.

Northern Pines Camp participated in the Effective Camp Research Project this last summer. This was a nation-wide survey project and we have received the report from the project with information about what we are doing well and areas we can focus on in 2023.

Strategic Initiatives Your Area Camp and Retreat Ministry experienced significant progress on Strategic Initiatives including the completion and dedication of the new Tabernacle/Dining Center at Koronis, a new ADA deck off the chapel and suspension bridge at Wesley Acres Camp, and clarity around next steps with New Cabin at Northern Pines Camp. 

2022 grants received – Our Area camps were blessed to receive multiple grants from the United Methodist Camp and Retreat Ministry (UMCRM) granting foundation.  The following ministry impact grants were received and used for the following projects:  Lake Poinsett Camp received $53,000 to construct a new playground; Koronis received $50,000 for the Tabernacle project, Northern Pines received $20,000 for a site evaluation to prepare for a new cabin, Wesley Acres received $24,000 to construct a suspension bridge and new ADA deck.  Total amount of grants received across the area was $147,000.  Camp Minnesota received an additional Solomon Cramer grant through UMCRM in the amount of $2,000 to support camperships around racial/ethnic diversity within camp participation and leadership.  

COVID 19 – Camping leaders continue to pay attention to current COVID-19 safety information and adjust the ways we care for campers accordingly.  We partnered with local and state health officials, the American Camp Association, and the Centers for Disease Control to implement COVID-19 safety best practices specifically developed for overnight camp settings.  Our 2022 camping season safety protocols were dictated by individual county COVID-19 levels. 

Staffing Transitions and Celebrations Welcome:  Tanner Clark, Director at Storm Mountain Center, Goodbye: Levi and Lara Ziegler, co-Directors at Storm Mountain Center; Elouaze and Edson Alexis, Koronis food service and support staff; Jerry Simmons, Food Service manager at Storm Mountain Center

Dakotas-Minnesota Area Alignment/Collaboration – Since 2016, the Dakotas and Minnesota conferences’ camp and retreat ministries have combined their strengths and leadership, forming a supportive, cooperative, symbiotic and highly collaborative relationship.  This merger helps provide consistent support while significantly reducing financial costs and includes a combined administration office and area staffing, director level staff shared policies, processes, and organizational strategies, and a joint advisory council.  The Camp and Retreat Council is made up of equal representation from each conference and meets quarterly. 

Camping Statistics and Additional Highlights  See 2022 missional report or contact the central camping office.

2022 Financials  Minnesota ended with a 1.4% operating deficit due to higher than anticipated inflation, and for the seventh year in a row in the Dakotas, ended financially in the black.  Camp MN has reserve funds to cover this small amount, but the Minnesota Conference covered the minimal loss.  Strong financial success is attributed to rebounding summer camp and retreat participation, generous financial support from local churches and conference boards/teams, unified financial system, controls and review processes, staff management and oversight, regular review of costs/rates, and real-time access to accurate data and information.

Camper Safety and the American Camp Association (ACA) Accreditation Dakotas and Minnesota staff regularly review every facet of camp programs and operations to ensure a safe and quality camp experience for all participants. Each of your six Area sites are fully accredited operations through the ACA, the national accrediting body for camping programs.  To earn accreditation, camps must comply with hundreds of health, safety, and program quality standards. Only one in five camps nationwide achieves this distinction.

Current Staffing  Dakotas: Christy Heflin - Director, Lake Poinsett Camp; Tanner Clark – Director, Storm Mountain Center; Paul and Brenda Lint - Co-Directors, Wesley Acres Camp.  Minnesota:  Leslie Hobson - Director, Northern Pines Camp; Dan Ziegler - Director, Koronis Ministries and Kowakan Adventures.  Central Camping Office - Stacey Edwards - Camping Coordinator; Linda Bowers - Camping Assistant; Beata Ferris - Marketing and Outreach Project Coordinator; Mary Hovden - Camping Accountant; Keith Shew – Area Executive Director of Camp and Retreat Ministries

Thank you for your continued support of your camp and retreat ministries in the Dakotas and Minnesota Annual Conferences.  Thank you for making sure that the children, youth, families, and adults in your church and community know about camping opportunities!  Your support and encouragement helps ensure that your camps and retreat centers can continue to be places where God meets with people.  An experience at one of your Dakotas and Minnesota United Methodist Camps has changed the lives of generations of our Conferences’ leadership.  Thank you! 

“Camp Gives Kids a World of Good!” American Camp Association

Keith Shew, Area Director of Camp and Retreat Ministries

Director of Communications

This past year has felt the most “normal” since pre-COVID, and it’s been wonderful to see so many Minnesota United Methodists in recent months as in-person gatherings have regained some frequency. I want to start by offering my gratitude for Communications Specialist (and graphic designer extraordinaire) Karla Hovde, who has played an instrumental role in sharing information with church leaders and helping tell the stories of the transformational ministry happening within our congregations. She is dedicated and talented, and such an asset to our conference.

In July 2022, I began the year-long Practical Church Leadership (PCL) Certificate Program through Dakota Wesleyan University. This has been an incredible experience, and along with pastors both within and beyond our conference and denomination, I’ve learned about everything from finance to strategic planning to effective governance. Along the way, I’ve gained a deeper appreciation of the opportunities and challenges that church leaders face and more knowledge about how churches and nonprofits can function at their best.

As part of the PCL program, I’ve spent months working on an applied project to take what I’ve learned about project management and create positive change within my ministry area. My project is creating a robust online, on-demand communications hub where church leaders in the Minnesota Annual Conference will be able to access customizable graphics and templates, ready-made resources, and best practices in eight categories to assist them in effectively communicating within their congregations and communities. Some categories, including copyright issues and church websites, are already on our MNsource platform—and the remainder will be added by the end of June (shout out to Karla and to Technology and Ministry Specialist Cullen Tanner, each of whom are creating one category of the resources). I’m thrilled to be able to equip leaders through this hub, which was created in response to a communications survey I sent to all active clergy last year. Stay tuned for more information when the hub is fully launched!

We were happy to welcome our new resident bishop, Bishop Lanette Plambeck, in January—and in recent months, we’ve been sharing articles, videos, blog posts, and sermons to help Minnesota United Methodists get to know her. Karla and Cullen also filmed and Karla edited a Lenten video series featuring Bishop Lanette and other members of the Minnesota Appointive Cabinet, and we encouraged congregations to use the videos and corresponding study guides with small groups.

In March, I was privileged to serve on a small task force appointed by Bishop Lanette to answer frequently asked questions about how we will live and lead together in this season of change within The United Methodist Church. That document was released in April—at which time we also debuted a “Rooted in Jesus” video series featuring a diverse range of voices within our conference talking about what it means to them to be rooted in Jesus, how that shows up in their life and ministry, and/or what they most appreciate about our Wesleyan heritage. This series will continue through the summer and possibly beyond.

As we seek to live into becoming a truly multi-cultural church, we’ve taken a couple of small steps in that direction in recent months. First, we put a Google Translate widget on our conference website and on the Camp Minnesota website so that each page of both websites can be easily translated into more than 100 languages. Additionally, a pre-conference workshop for multi-cultural conference participants was offered in May along with the five district ones we’ve historically held—and we made available three live stream options for the 2023 Annual Conference Session: traditional, closed captioning in English, and captioning in Spanish.

We continue to use two primary e-newsletters to help people throughout the conference stay connected and informed: MN Bulletin Board (which comes out every Tuesday and includes upcoming events and opportunities) and MN Connect (which comes out every Thursday and includes news, feature stories, ideas, and inspiration). Social media also continues to be a significant vehicle to disseminate information throughout our conference and stay connected to the churches and United Methodists we serve. We share articles and blog posts, events, opportunities, inspirational messages, and more. More than 3,400 people follow the conference on Facebook, and more than 3,000 follow us through other social media (Twitter and Instagram).  

My favorite parts of my role have always been consulting with congregations around communications and telling stories of churches that are reaching and discipling people in new and innovative ways. I have personally told dozens of stories over the past year, and I’m ever grateful for those of you who shared them with me and entrusted me to share them with others. I also want to acknowledge the work of Karla and Rev. Cindy Gregorson, director of connectional ministries & clergy assistant to the bishop, who attended and reported back from the North Central Jurisdictional Conference in November 2022; I could not be there, but they did a phenomenal job keeping conference constituents informed about this gathering and the process through which we were assigned our new bishop.

It’s an honor and a privilege to work alongside congregations and church leaders in our conference, and I’m grateful for your trust and partnership. Please know that I’m always available as a resource, and I am always eager to hear about the ways in which your church is growing in love of God and neighbor, reaching new people, and healing a broken world. Don’t hesitate to contact me anytime to ask questions or offer feedback or suggestions.

Christa Meland, Director of Communications 

Director of Congregational Vitality

Programming: SPRC trainings, re-vamped Ending Well, Clergy Boundary and Ethics training, expanded the use of Safe Gatherings, helped with On-Boarding sessions, coordinator for Rule of Christ trainings and Conversations at the Crossroads process. Coordinated trainings on Simplified Governing Structures and Imagination Playdates.

Coaching and Consulting: Worked with multiple congregations and pastors in each district to provide resources, coaching and consulting processes to deal with conflict, strategic planning and other ways to increase vitality.

Worked collaboratively with each DS and other staff in Connectional Ministries such as Director of Leadership Development, Director of Clergy Well-Being, the Director of  New Church Development and the Director of Racial Justice and Equity. Filled in gaps for those staff who were out on medical leaves.

Rev. Susan Nienaber, Director of Congregational Vitality

Director of Finance and Administration

The finance and administration area of the Annual Conference provides accounting, budgeting and reporting, investment management, personnel and benefits administration, oversight for historical records of churches and the conference, stewardship of resources for the conference, property and risk management, and the means by which funds are transmitted from churches in Minnesota to mission and ministry sites around the world.

Shared Ministry:

As a connectional church, apportionments are the foundation of our shared ministry.  Overall, in 2022, congregations within the state collectively remitted 78.7% of the requested apportionments approximately 4% less than in 2021. We received $4.6 million in apportioned revenue on a total apportioned amount of $5.9 million.  Approximately 74% of our churches paid their full apportionment this year. We are especially grateful to those churches who consistently and faithfully pay their full apportioned amounts and to those who have increased their giving of apportioned funds.  

We remitted to the General Conference the apportionments collected or 70%.  CFA did not use reserves to pay General Conference apportionments in 2022.

Non-apportioned giving and Love Offering:

Minnesota United Methodists have a strong history of generosity and last year gave $818,575 above and beyond apportionments to various ministries and causes. This mission giving included the conference's Reach • Renew • Rejoice congregational development initiativeGeneral Conference Advance SpecialsMinnesota Conference Advance Specials, the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR)Special Sundays, and the Minnesota Conference Love Offering.
Donations to the 2022 Love Offering, an offering that Minnesota churches take annually to support missions, totaled $63,967. The recipients included: The Red Bird Missionary Conference (40 percent), Holy Grounds at Centenary UMC, Mankato (17 percent), Simpson Food Pantry, Minneapolis (17 percent), West African Family and Community Food Shelf, Brooklyn Center (17 percent), and Volunteers in Mission Scholarships (10 percent). Thank you for your generosity!

Barb Brower, Director of Finance and Administration

Director of Leadership Development

Leadership Development continues to be a key aspect of our mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Our vision is one of flourishing clergy and congregational leadership energized for mission, and excelling in our gospel imperatives; Growing in Love of God and Neighbor (the Great Commandment, Matthew 22:37-40), Reaching New People (the Great Commission, Matthew 28:19-20), and Healing a Broken World (the Great Proclamation, Luke 4:16-21).

Leadership Development specifically exists to equip leaders in our Jesus movement of hope by creating, curating, and aligning systems & resources for a learning culture. This culture is Rooted in Jesus, Grounded in Wesleyan Theology, Inclusive of All Persons, and Engaged in the Work of Justice and Reconciliation

Highlights from the year include:

  • The 2022 launch of MNSource a collaborative learning resource platform with just-in-time training and development resources for clergy & lay leaders across our Minnesota congregations!
  • Equipping clergy across all stages of ministry with updated systems & resources for candidacy mentoring and full-member ordination, 12 new clergy onboarded, 18 clergy in Clergy Leadership Academy, 31 clergy participating in Shmita, our every 7-year reflection & renewal year, and 4 additional clergy beginning their training in Reflective Supervision.
  • New Lay Leadership Resources: The launch of a monthly Assigned Lay Pastor (ALP) group and monthly Lay Leader zoom call and email newsletter initiated and led by laity.  Lay Leadership in the Minnesota Annual Conference also offered two ConneXion Retreats, a virtual Lay Speaker Retreat, and additional trainings online and through MNSource.
  • We had 2 Eli Interns for the summer of 2022 and offered NEXT leadership grants for churches to create high school internships within their congregations.

In mission together,

Jody Thone, Director of Leadership Development

Director of Clergy Well-being

The initiative addressing the Economic Challenges Facing Pastoral Leaders, a collaborative ministry of the Dakotas and Minnesota Annual Conferences, expanded in 2022 to encompass a holistic approach to total well-being for clergy. Our mission is to encourage and resource clergy to improve their total well-being in order to strengthen their resiliency and become more effective pastoral and ministry leaders.  To further the mission, the Area Program Director role expanded to the Area Director of Clergy Well-being providing strategic oversight and increasing alignment with all efforts around clergy well-being in the Area. Additionally, the required match of $250,000 was raised through the combined efforts of the Dakotas Foundation and Minnesota Conference Board of Pensions with Lilly Endowment awarding the remaining $250,000.

These funds fuel the mission by equipping and resourcing clergy and thus, churches and ministries, through training, education, and resources as follows:

  • 92 clergy obtained resources from the Clergy Well-being Grant to focus on well-being improvements in one or more dimensions of well-being including:  physical, mental, spiritual, financial, and/or social.
  • 11 clergy and conference leaders joined or graduated from the Practical Church Leadership graduate certificate program, a partnership with Dakota Wesleyan University, offering coursework to strengthen competencies around financial management and development, human resources and governance, visioning and strategic planning, outreach and communications – all essential skills in leading local churches more effectively.
  • A variety of financial education and counseling options were provided for clergy, including student loan repayment counseling, resulting in student debt being reduced, eliminated, or forgiven through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program for numerous clergy ranging from $6000 to $130,000.
  • Clergy were provided a clear and comprehensive process to obtain renewal leaves and churches were provided a grant option to obtain different levels of pastoral coverage – both with funding support.
  • Explored the well-being needs of our BIPOC (black, indigenous, people of color) clergy through qualitative research by conducting interviews with our BIPOC clergy serving in the Minnesota Annual Conference. The research was conducted by a BIPOC clergyperson serving in extension ministry who provided recommendations to improve well-being of our BIPOC clergy. These recommendations are under review to ensure alignment with the overall strategy around racial justice and equity.
  • Qualitative research interviewing clergy serving rural and small community churches began in late 2022 to determine how to better support well-being needs for these pastors.
  • Provided a robust year of orientation to ministry and leadership through the Onboarding process for clergy new to Minnesota culminating in a well-being retreat in May.
  • Using the Audit Exchange which stipends expert lay people, completed 4 local church audits thus helping these churches strengthen their financial health.
  • Provided Staff Parish Relations Committees with guidelines around clergy compensation and time away along with training on supporting clergy well-being.

Diane Owen, Dakotas-Minnesota Area Director of Clergy Well-being

Director of Connectional Ministries

It has been a long season of transition since Bishop Bruce R Ough retired December 31, 2020.  We were blessed with interim leadership by Bishop David A Bard who returned to his home conference of Minnesota for longer than we expected due to the continual postponement of General and Jurisdictional Conference.  And finally on January 1, 2023, we welcomed Bishop Lanette Plambeck as the resident bishop for the Dakotas-Minnesota area.  We are excited to have her in our midst and to see what God has in store for us.  It feels like a new beginning!

We were delighted to be able to gather in person for our Annual Conference session in 2022.  It had been a long season of being apart and it was a homecoming to be around table with one another. 

In the past year we have been shepherding congregations that are seeking to disaffiliate over matters of human sexuality.  It is always sad when we come to a place where we cannot preserve the unity of the church, but we also know God is bigger than any one congregation, conference or denomination.  We had three congregations choose disaffiliation in 2022, and expect around 15-30 congregations to disaffiliate in 2023 which we would be about 10% of our congregations if we reach 33 in total.  Much of the work of this has been with our Board of Trustees and District Superintendents so a special thank you to Rachel Morey, Board of Trustees chair, Bart Seebach, chancellor and Walker Brault who has provided administrative support.

As we live into our vision of a church that welcomes all people, we celebrate the addition of Sabrina Tapia Contreras as our Director of Racial Justice and Equity.  She began her work on January 1, 2023.  We are in the midst of completing the racial audit as requested by annual conference session in 2022, and the results of that will help shape our collective work as an annual conference.

There have been many wonderful ministry moments over the past year whether that has been an on-boarding group, Clergy Leadership Academy cohort, Shmita gathering, Connexion Retreat, Lay Speaker training, Native American ministry immersion events, on-line book studies, Imagination incubator, Mission Summit to name a few.  We give thanks for leaders who continue to give of themselves to lead in new and creative ways.  We launched MN Source, an on-line platform for sharing resources with one another, and we engaged in a re-design of the full member process for the Board of Ordained Ministry.  A long-term renewal leave option was made possible to our clergy thanks to the funding from our Minnesota Board of Pensions and Benefits, Inc.  We continue to seek to find ways to innovate and respond to the expressed needs of our clergy and congregations.

Amid transitions, as we do every year, we said goodbye and hello to several staff members.  We give thanks for the ministries of Jean Edin, Executive Director of MCPBI and Benefits Officer; Dana Neuhauser, Racial Justice Coordinator; Lisa Schultze; Finance Office.  We welcomed Jim Nienaber, who is the new MCPBI Executive Director and Benefits Officer, and Martha Rockenstein, Connectional Ministries AA.  As always, I am so thankful for our staff team, and the support of the Council of Finance and Administration as we navigated staff transitions.  It takes a team to make the ministries go, so thank you to all who have served in any way in our connectional ministry. 

We formed a Transitional Table to consider staffing, structure, and resource investment for our annual conference as we consider our changing landscape.  They will be sharing a report of their work to date at our 2023 Annual Conference Session.  We have some financial challenges ahead in the next couple of years, but I have no doubt that our future is bright, and God has provided what we need in the ways of leaders, imagination and prayerful reliance on God’s grace to see us through.  Together, we can, and we will be the people called Methodist: rooted in Jesus, grounded in our Wesleyan theology, inclusive of all persons and engaged in the work of justice and reconciliation throughout Minnesota.

Rev. Cindy Gregorson, Director of Connectional Ministries and Clergy Assistant to the Bishop

Director of New Church Development

Together in mission with Reach Renew Rejoice funding, the Minnesota Conference is starting new services, sites and churches to reach new people for Jesus Christ.  Our shared goal is to see a reproductive rate of 3% as an annual conference.   As always, this report does NOT account for new services or new churches that may come into being without the direct support of the Minnesota Conference.  We celebrate all efforts to extend the Kingdom of Jesus Christ!

Congregations in pre-launch phase:

  • Blue Earth, The Well at Hope UMC.  Chris and Brittany Parker/ Rev. Lee Miller
  • Inver Grove Hts, All Peoples: Elisa Fonseca starting a new congregation. 
  • St. Michael Community: Laura Cottington starting an Embrace network church.
  • Worthington.  Pastor Angel Franco starting a new Hispanic place for new people

Congregations on the path to sustainability:

  • The Grove Cottage Grove:  Rev. Jeremy Peters
  • Iglesia Peidra Viva, Minneapolis: Rev. Jesus Purisaca
  • Isaias, Monticello Pastor Celia Nevas; Community UMC.
  • Recovering Love, Richfield: Rev. Brad Herman
  • Vineyard UMC Hutchinson  Revs. Jim and Sara Hein

Congregations self-funding and ready for chartering or chartered. 

  • Centennial St. Anthony Park, a campus of Centennial UMC in Roseville: Rev. Whitney Sheridan and Eric Bjorkland
  • Crossroads Church in Elko New Market: Rev Gordon Duel and Rev. Melissa Duel
  • Embrace St. Croix  Rev. Austin Walker
  • Rapha St. Paul Haitian : Rev. Mickson Deronvil
  • Roots and Branches, Anoka: Rev. Cullen Tanner
  • New City Church, Minneapolis: Rev. Tyler Sit

2021-22 Digital Campus Initiatives Under Development:

  • Aitkin;  Dawn Hauser
  • Brooklyn and North, Brooklyn Center; Alexandra Bergevin
  • Brunswick, Crystal; Eric Pone
  • Camphor Memorial, St Paul; Isiah Dennis
  • Common Ground, Cambridge; Eric Ryberg
  • Cornerstone, Lake Crystal; (pending leadership)
  • Elk River. Amber Roberts. 
  • First, Austin; Amanda Larson
  • Freshwaters, Princeton; Bethany Moos
  • Good Samaritan, Christian Nielson
  • Hubbard UMC.  Jeffery Hauger
  • Iglesia Piedra Viva, Minneapolis; Arianna Ortiz
  • Lake Harriet, Minneapolis; Natasha RIchter
  • Messiah, Plymouth; Andrew Fedje. 
  • Minnetonka, Dalton Bushnell
  • Stewartville.  Laura Nordstrom

Ben Ingebretson, Area Director of New Church Development

Episcopacy Committee

The functions of the MN Committee on Episcopacy are to support the bishop of the area in the spiritual and temporal affairs of the Church, with special reference to the area where the bishop has presidential responsibility, to be available to the bishop for counsel, to assist in the determination of the episcopal needs of the area, and to make recommendations to appropriate bodies and to keep the bishop advised concerning conditions within the area as they affect relationships between the bishop and the people of the conference agencies. See Book of Discipline paragraph 637 for a full description of the committee’s responsibilities. We pray that God will work through us as we engage in these tasks together.

Bishop David Bard served as our interim bishop from January 1, 2021 until December 31, 2022, while also serving as resident bishop of the Michigan Annual Conference. We give thanks to Bishop David Bard for his faithful leadership during much of the COVID-19 pandemic, postponements of the 2020 General Conference now scheduled for April 23-May 3, 2024, disaffiliations, and clarified roles for congregations through new Affiliation Agreements with Boy Scouts of America. The difficulties of this season were met with grace, patience and skill. Bishop David Bard also found ways to encourage our conference with insightful, faith-filled seasonal video messages along with regular blog posts carrying a heading of “The Joyful Journey.” He met in a joint DAK-MN episcopacy committee meeting in October 2022 to help us think through an effective episcopal transition plan. We recognized Bishop David Bard and offered our gratitude on behalf of the Minnesota Annual Conference at a conference staff holiday gathering in December 2022.

North Central Jurisdictional Conference met November 2-5, 2022. Bishop Lanette Plambeck was elected to the episcopacy and subsequently assigned to the Dakotas-Minnesota Episcopal Area, effective January 1, 2023. During the summer of 2022, we surveyed 106 elected leaders, conference staff and appointive cabinet members to identify major initiatives, conference priorities, and desired characteristics and skills needed for a missional match in our next episcopal leader. The Dakotas Conference Committee on Episcopacy engaged in a similar process. The data collected was summarized in conference-specific reports utilized by the North Central Jurisdiction Committee on Episcopacy when assigning bishops across our jurisdiction. As co-chairs of the Minnesota Delegation, Dave Nuckols and Rev. Carol Zaagsma serve on this committee, representing our conference.

An Episcopal Residence Committee convened in November 2022 for the purposes of identifying a process, guidelines and priorities for the purchase of an episcopal residence. See Book of Discipline paragraph 638 for a full description of the committee’s responsibilities.

Bishop Lanette Plambeck began onboarding in advance of her arrival January 1, 2023 and has prioritized meeting people across both conferences during these first few months, as evidenced by six District Gatherings across Minnesota in February 2023, and eight Meet & Greets across the Dakotas in March 2023. A representative from our committee provided a greeting and blessing for Bishop Lanette Plambeck during each of the gatherings in Minnesota. And we commissioned creation of a stole as a welcome on behalf of the Minnesota Annual Conference, and presented it at the all-clergy gathering in March.

Typical episcopal transitions occur in September, so this transition in January as appointment season began added an additional layer of complexity to her arrival. We have been blessed by Bishop Lanette Plambeck’s heart for hearing the people of this episcopal area, her naming of “The Four Greats” as the framework for our mission and ministry together (Great Commandment-Matt 22:36-40, Great Commission-Matt 28:16-20, Great Requirement-Mic 6:7-8, and Great Invitation-Acts 1 & 2), as well as her focus on our Wesleyan way of discipleship, alignment with the MAC values and vision, commitment to racial justice and equity, and enthusiasm for development across many aspects of our ministries including lay leadership, rural and urban ministries, Fresh Expressions, reaching the next generation, and creation care. Bishop Lanette Plambeck has made great effort to help us get to know her through various videos, blog posts and scheduled events.

Janet Beard has served well as our Administrative Assistant to the Bishop during this transition. Her excellent administrative skills, steady professionalism, and cheerful welcome she extends to all who reach out to the episcopal offices in both the Dakotas and Minnesota are greatly appreciated. We give thanks for Janet’s support and contributions, especially with the episcopal transitions across our episcopal area.

We also thank Rev. Cindy Gregorson for her service as Clergy Assistant to the Bishop, a role she was appointed to in July 2021. Her historical knowledge and day to day leadership has been vital for our conference ministries, and we are grateful for the ways she provided continuity throughout the last year.

Our MN Committee on Episcopacy has been pleased to support the episcopal leadership of our annual conference in this transitional year. We say farewell to Lloyd Peterson, Rev. Michelle Hargrave, Hyun Lee and Rev. Whitney Sheridan from our committee; thank those who are continuing: Marilyn Erdman, Bobbi Nichols, Walker Brault, Dave Nuckols, Lee Rainey, Rev. Mark Miller, Rev. Carol Zaagsma; and look forward to our incoming members.

Rev. Carol Zaagsma, Committee on Episcopacy, chair

Executive Secretary of Equitable Compensation

Since the 2017 Annual Conference session, only the Executive Secretary of Equitable Compensation position has been nominated and elected.

Grants for equitable compensation are paid from the Strategic Leadership Fund according to the 2022 Policy and Procedure Manual section 300.03c following the procedures established further in 300.03c(1-10).

The Covenant Committee of the Board of Ordained Ministry is to fulfill the recommendation for minimum compensation of the former Equitable Compensation Action Team (not elected since the 2015 Annual Conference).  The minimum compensation schedule is found in the 2022 Policy and Procedure Manual section 300.03a(2).  The minimum base is set at 62% of the Conference Average Compensation with service increments of $700 per year for 8 steps. 

Accordingly, in 2024 the minimum base will be $46,189.

Following the next session of General Conference to be held April 23 to May 3, 2024, in Charlotte, North Carolina, changes may be required in the way our Annual Conference has been doing things for years.  Proposed legislation removes the permissive language that the Commission on Equitable Compensation’s responsibilities can be given to other agencies in the Annual Conference.  Our Annual Conference may need to act to be compliant with The Book of Discipline if the legislation is approved.    

As Executive Secretary I seek to pay attention to issues that are important to raise before the Annual Conference for information and possible action. 

The 1997 Annual Conference approved grants up to $ 500 to pastors who moved less than 50 miles.  When a move was less than 50 miles, the moving expenses paid by the Annual Conference were considered taxable income by IRS regulations.  The grant was offered to offset the increased taxes paid.  The grant amount was taxable income in the year it was granted.  Application for the grant went to the Equitable Compensation Action Team with documentation that showed the additional tax liability.  The number of grants varied from none to a half dozen over the years.   

As a result of the federal tax legislation passed in December 2017 and Minnesota’s subsequent action to bring Minnesota into compliance with federal law, the expenses paid on behalf of pastors by our Annual Conference were considered regular income and were fully taxable—subject to federal and state taxes as well as SECA taxes (since pastors are considered self-employed for SECA taxes at 15.3%).  The total tax liability could easily be 40% of the cost of the move.  In 2018 our Annual Conference took action that a grant could be requested for up to $500 to help offset the additional tax liability for all pastors.  Information was to be received by contacting the Director of Moving according to the 2021 Policy and Procedure Manual section 300.06a(5) and section 300.06c.

In response to changes in federal and state legislation, the 2022 Annual Conference approved making the grants available upon request to the Executive Secretary of Equitable Compensation based on the cost of the move rather than asking for proof of increased tax liability. 

As a result of this 2022 legislation, requests for grants under the previous policy for moves prior to 2022 and requests for grants to be paid in 2023 for moves in 2022 were received.  The number has remained small as anticipated when the legislation was proposed.  I do not think the number of requests will increase significantly over previous years. 

If a grant is desired for 2023 moves, pastors should contact me so that I can get the information for a grant to be given.  It is the responsibility of the pastor to make a request for the grant.  The funds will come from the moving expense line as was decided following the receipt of grant requests in 2022 for 2021 moves and anticipated requests for grants in 2023 for 2022 moves.

The grant for those who request a grant is given on the following schedule:

            $ 150 for move costs up to $1000

            $ 275 for move costs from $1001 to $2000

$ 350 for move costs from $ 2001 to $3000

$ 500 for move costs over $ 3000

Another result of the 2017 federal tax legislation is that there is no itemized deduction for unreimbursed business expenses making it necessary to use an accountable reimbursement plan.  Note the special notes below about the tax consequences of not using an accountable reimbursement plan.

Clergy taxes are more complicated due to the fact that in parts of the Internal Revenue Code clergy are considered employees and in other parts self-employed.  Because of this I recommend that all clergy view the webinar on clergy taxes offered each year by the Board of Discipleship.  The video archive for the most recent one held February 13, 2023 can be found here, with handouts and a question and answer document also available there.  I highly recommend that United Methodist clergy pay more attention to the information offered through the United Methodist Church than other sources since United Methodists have some areas of distinctiveness compared to other denominations in tax issues.          

Information concerning the Minnesota Annual Conference’s compensation compared to the Denominational Average Compensation is something I look at and share with the Conference.  Remember that both figures are based on compensation actually paid two years previously.  The 2024 Denominational Average is calculated on actual compensation plus a housing addition for pastors across the US Annual Conferences paid in 2022.  25% of cash salary paid is added for those in a parsonage or the actual housing allowance paid for those not in parsonages is added. (Minnesota’s minimum housing allowance by 2022 Annual Conference action is $20,000.)  The 2022 figures are the most current to use for the calculation made in mid-2022 for 2024.

In 2021 Minnesota ranked 38th of 54 Annual Conferences.  In 2022 Minnesota ranked 37th of 54 Annual Conferences.  Minnesota ranked significantly lower than Iowa and Wisconsin and was comparable to the Dakotas in 2021 and 2022.  In 2023 Minnesota ranked 35th of 53 Annual Conferences at $71,849.  In 2023 the Dakotas ranked 30th at $73,163; Iowa ranked 31st at $73,100; and Wisconsin 34th at $71,888.  In 2024 Minnesota ranks 33rd of 54 Annual Conferences at $74,498.  In 2024 the Dakotas ranks 10th at $84,767; Iowa 27th at $76,636; and Wisconsin 40th at $72,733.  

Another way to consider compensation is to compare it to the Denominational Average Compensation.  From 1982 through 1994, Minnesota’s CAC was higher than the DAC.  Since 1995 Minnesota was higher than the DAC only in 2001 and 2003.  Since 2004 in most years Minnesota lost ground compared to the DAC. The difference of $3974 in 2024 means the DAC is 5.1% higher than Minnesota’s CAC.  (I have a chart showing this history since 1982 which I will provide to anyone who requests it.)

Pastoral responsibilities for costs of health insurance and pensions as well as items either paid directly by the church (such as parsonage utilities) or by reimbursement plans (such as continuing education, travel, professional expenses, and annual conference attendance expenses) may have a significant impact on true compensation.  I continue to gather information from neighboring conferences about how these are handled. 

With the delay of General Conference and the uncertainty about the number of disaffiliations, there may be changes made to these policies.  I am waiting for the dust to settle before sharing information within this Annual Report.      

Remember that the 2019 Annual Conference adopted an arrearage policy which can be found in the 2022 Policy and Procedure Manual section 303.03e.

Work that still needs to be done:

Completing the study of how salaries and benefits issues of neighboring conferences compare to the Minnesota Annual Conference as noted above.

Follow-up on any issues arising from General Conference when it is held.

Follow-up on the impact of the grant legislation adopted by the 2022 conference session.


The Internal Revenue Service mileage rate for 2023 is 65½ cents (up from the July 1, 2002 adjustment of 62½ cents which was a 4 cent increase from the 58½ cents which began January 1, 2022). 

Mileage reimbursement at the IRS rate has no tax impact as income.  Congregations may pay above this rate, but any reimbursement above the IRS rate must be declared as income (although actual expenses may offset the additional income).  Congregations do not have the option of reimbursing at a lower rate according to our Annual Conference policy. 

Some congregations continue to provide reimbursements for continuing education and mileage as an allowance (a budget figure divided by twelve) rather than on a vouchered basis for actual expenses.  To do so is contrary to conference policies AND IRS requirements.  Paying an allowance rather than to reimburse according to vouchered receipts and adopted congregational policy for reimbursements can result in a significant tax liability to the pastor since then IRS considers allowances to be regular income that is subject to tax liabilities for federal and state income and SECA. 

If you have questions about what has been reported above, please do not hesitate to contact me for further information.  

Rev. Rod Stemme, Executive Secretary                    

Higher Education

The Higher Education Ministry Team exists to advocate for and support campus ministries and

local church outreach to college-age students across the annual conference. The committee is made up of the conference’s campus ministry leaders and supporters and is chaired by campus minister Rev. Lauren Rheingans. We are committed to supporting ministry efforts that seek to connect young people with a faith home during an important season of identity formation and faith development. We are passionate about connecting the dots between youth ministry, college ministry, and local church involvement after students graduate. We meet on a quarterly basis to collaborate, offer encouragement, and exchange ideas. Clergy, youth group leaders, parents, and anyone who knows young adults in the local church are invited to reach out to the committee to connect students in your congregations with campus ministries.

To learn more about campus ministries in the conference or to refer a student, please contact committee chair Rev. Lauren Rheingans at lbrheingans@gmail.com.  Campus ministries and local churches with college student ministries are eligible to apply each year for conference grant money. These applications open in spring with grants recipients announced each summer.  Higher education grant applications are handled by the Investing in Congregations team, and Gail Johnson is the conference level contact person for this process. 

Rev. Lauren Rheingans, Chair

Lay Servant Ministries Team

“…all Christians are called to minister wherever Christ would have them serve and witness in deeds and words that heal and free” 2016 United Methodist Book of Discipline (12b)

  • Laity continue to form the bricks while faith in Jesus forms the mortar and God provides the foundation for ministry within their Churches wherever and however that my occur.  The ConneXion Program has now evolved with in-person training continuing to be an option but also an on-line with coaching experience also being available.  The Certified Lay Speaker program has continued fully on line via zoom and the Certified Lay Minister program continues to be provided on line through “Be a Disciple”.
  • In 2022 the Conference Lay Ministry Team continued training coordination with Jody Thone, our Conference representative, presiding over the ConneXion program, Marion Hansen CLS and LMT chair presiding over the Certified Lay Speaker training and Carol Ottoson, CLM, presiding over the Certified Lay Minister program.  Registration and information about these programs is included on the MN Conference UMC website.  Feel free to contact Marion Hansen at marionha@wcta.net if you have questions.
  • We continue to maintain a database of Certified Lay Speakers available to serve as well as people who have completed the Certified Lay Minister Program.  Completion of their respective Form 2’s and their submission back to the Conference helps to keep our database updated.
  • The Lay Ministry team meets 4 x/year for program planning.  We have added representation for the Lay Led Churches this year and are always interested in hearing from people who have ideas for laity training or would like to become part of our training teams.  If you are interested, please contact Marion Hansen, LMT chair marionha@wcta.net

Marion Hansen, Lay Servant Ministries Team Chair

Order of Deaconess/Home Missioner (DHM)

Our movement1

The earliest known usage of the term deaconess comes from Paul’s letter to the Romans, when he wrote: “I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deaconess of the church at Cenchreae, that you may receive her in the Lord as befits the saints, and help her in whatever she may require from you, for she has been a helper of many and of myself as well” (Romans 16:1-2). The Methodist deaconess movement in the United States began when Lucy Rider Meyer and her husband started the first deaconess training school in Chicago in 1885. In 1888, the Office of Deaconess was officially recognized by the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and the office has remained active ever since. Methodist deaconesses in the late 19th and early 20th centuries are credited with starting schools and hospitals in communities where they did not previously exist, and the need for such ministries was great. Deaconesses often worked under harsh conditions and in cutting-edge ministries of social service on behalf of women, children and youth. They were courageous and set the path for many institutions in social service around the country today. Deaconesses and Home Missioners continue this legacy of serving in cutting edge ministries of love, justice and service today. We serve in a variety of ministry settings including health/wellness, law, education, advocacy and social service.

At the General Conference in 1988, when the category of home missionary was eliminated in The United Methodist Church, there was no place for laity who identify as men to live out a recognized calling to lifetime service. This led to the establishment of the home missioner category of service, the equivalent to deaconesses at the 2004 General Conference. Legislation was passed at General Conference 2016 to make the Office of Deaconess and Home Missioner an official order within The United Methodist Church. The Order of Deaconess and Home Missioner is one of three orders of ministry in The United Methodist Church serving alongside the orders of Elder and Deacon and is the only order for laity. Deaconesses and Home Missioners feel called by God to a full-time vocation in service with those who are marginalized and in need in the world today.

“Deaconesses and Home Missioners function through diverse forms of service directed toward the world to make Jesus Christ known in the fullness of God’s ministry and mission, which mandate followers to:

  1. a) Alleviate suffering
  2. b) Eradicate causes of injustice and all that robs life of dignity and worth
  3. c) Facilitate the development of full human potential
  4. d) Share in the building global community through the church universal.” 2

Our Ministries Vary. Our Call to Service Binds Us.

The Order of Deaconess/Home Missioner is continuing to grow!  Our current numbers as of February 1, 2023 are:

Deaconesses:  Active – 206, Retired – 116

Home Missioners:  Active – 16, Retired - 1

Home Missionaries:  Active – 5, Retired - 47

D/HM Candidates – 67 (Home Missioner – 17, Deaconess – 50)

As of the writing of this report, in April, we will welcome 16 new DHM and 5 transferring DHM to our Order!

The Minnesota Conference has 9 active Deaconess/Home Missioners serving under appointment and 1 Deaconess in retired relationship. In 2023, we are celebrating the consecration and commissioning of Deaconess Amanda Zbacnik and Home Missioner Jak Henderson.  We serve in a variety of ministry settings including health/wellness, law, education, advocacy and social service. Our ministries vary but our call to love, justice and service binds us as a covenant community. 

“I have dual ministry appointments. I am a pre-school teacher at Kid & Co Child Care center, a position I have held for 17 years. I believe that this position helps us answer the call to facilitate the development of full human potential.  Just recently I added my second ministry call as the Congregational Care Coordinator at United Methodist Church of Anoka where I have held membership for 22 years. This ministry rounds out the other three mandates. I also hold a position as a member of the Program Advisory group of the United Women in Faith.” Deaconess Kim Harris, Big Waters District

“As the director of Northern Pines Camp and Retreat Center I have the opportunity to provide experiences of Christ, creation and community for those who come to our site here among the tall pines.  My position includes finding ways to care for and steward our environment, maintain our site for the next 100 years, and to provide a safe and welcoming space for all who come here.  We are open to all to experience the beauty and wonder of this sacred space.” Deaconess Leslie Hobson, North Star District

“My ministry appointment is serving as designated coordinator for a program called OakRidge Homes in Brainard, MN, planning activities and events for people with developmental disabilities and coordinating independent living skills with them. I oversee a staff of six, leading them so that they can work with our clients, helping them to live their lives as independently and as fully as possible. I enjoy lay speaking, writing & sharing sermons and speaking to churches and other groups about my faith and my journey with God.” Deaconess Pamela Johnson, North Star District

“My ministry as a home missioner, under appointment at Park Avenue United Methodist in Minneapolis, is in the areas of diversity, equity and inclusion, leading an interview team of church members to gather congregational thinking around those areas. I facilitated Park Avenue’s Commission on Radical Belonging, which identified four strategic priorities of welcome and inclusion to be implemented in the church and offered insight around efforts to replace the “white Jesus” stained glass in the sanctuary with a more inclusive and accurate image of faith.” Home Missioner Louis Porter II, Twin Cities District

“I serve the three churches of the Prairie Lakes Parish as the Love Through Justice Coordinator.  I walk alongside congregants as we discover how our faith informs our call as followers of Jesus and United Methodist in the work of Social Justice.” Deaconess Cindy Saufferer, Southern Prairie District

“I serve as the Director of Health Services for the non-profit agency Home and Community Options (HCO) in Winona, MN.  HCO provides community integration services for people of all ages with developmental disabilities so that all can realize their dreams, reach their full potential, and be actively involved in the community.  I provide wholistic nursing care that focuses on the well-being of the mind, body, and spirit so that each person served can be as healthy as possible.  I also serve in ministry at Wesley United Methodist Church in Winona and focus on areas of community-based justice."  Deaconess Nicole Weydt, River Valley District

“As Director of Caring Ministries at The Grove UMC – Woodbury, I oversee and coordinate a variety of ministry teams that provide caring supports (spiritual and tangible) to the people & community of The Grove. As a part of my ministry appointment, I also co-lead The Grove’s racial justice team. This team, working through education & action to heal our broken world, advocates for racial justice and equity, cultural transformation, and an inclusive community at The Grove.” Deaconess Carolyn Winslow, River Valley District

In October of 2022 the order convened its bi-annual convocation with the National Association of Deaconesses, Home Missioners and Home Missionaries in San Antonio, TX and will gather with its ecumenical diaconate body (Diakonia of the Americas and the Caribbean- DOTAC) in Minneapolis in August of 2023 for study, spiritual renewal and fellowship. The order met weekly for spiritual support, convened a racial justice summit, facilitated intersectional justice education training events, met for advent and lenten studies and convened a Building Global Community dialogue with the deaconess movement in the Philippines.

Is this the Call for you?

Is this a Call for you? If so, there is an opportunity to be a part of a supportive community in relationship with The United Methodist Church as a deaconess or home missioner. Discernment Events are held at various times throughout the year. The Deaconess/Home Missioner Discernment event is an opportunity to explore God's call to vocational ministry.  You can register for the upcoming event taking place on Saturday, August 12, 2023 at http://tinyurl.com/dhmaugust2023If this calling is for you or someone you know, we want to hear from you!

Website: https://uwfaith.org/what-we-do/deaconess-and-home-missioner/

Email:  deaconess@uwfaith.org , Call:  1-332-240-3898

Respectfully Submitted,

Deaconess Carolyn Winslow

[1]  Adapted in part from an article appearing on Resource UMC by Deaconess Amanda Mountain

2 2020 Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church Paragraph 1913.1

Youth Ministries Team

Through 2022, we continued to navigate Covid-19 and were forced to pivot and adapt within Conference Youth Ministry, just as youth leaders and pastors continued to adapt their own programming and ministry settings. Though challenging, we followed best practices and extra precautions to offer safe, accessible programming for Youth Groups across the state. These best practices paved the way for new partnerships and opportunities we have seen take hold in 2023. Finding a way forward together, listening to youth leaders and pastors, we navigated struggles and successes through 2022 as we have continued to live into our mission; to support, equip, and empower youth ministers throughout the MN Annual Conference.

The Event 2022

In early 2022 we found ourselves pivoting, just like in 2021, as a COVID-19 variant surged. The Event was originally scheduled for Jan. 15, designed to be “one event in three locations,” taking place in Park Rapids, Sartell, and Mankato. Details were coming together and falling into place, but because of the Omicron surge, we opted to move The Event online and offer an adapted version of The Event two weeks later. While this was not what we had originally planned, we had great success meeting online.

Here are some high points of The Event 2022:
More than 175 sixth- through 12th-grade youth and their leaders from all over Minnesota—from Detroit Lakes to Fairmont, and about 17 other communities in between—gathered for The Event online.
Catie Levenick started the event with a message about those “a-ha” moments in our lives. Catie shared scripture stories about Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus as well as the disciples’ walk to Emmaus with Jesus, after his death and resurrection. Levenick invited listeners to consider where God had been walking with them before they even knew it, much like the disciples, and when they have had “aha” moments of realizing the power and presence of Jesus—like a flash of light—similar to Paul.
Sami led a reflection activity inviting students to respond to the message.

One great success was an interactive adaptation of Clue led by Christian youth speaker Tony Ducklow—all while working through the theme of “aha” moments, or epiphanies.
We were able to continue to promote our partners and help leaders get connected to ministries who are also there to support them.

Kaboose, a hip hop artist we partnered with at The Event 2019, debuted a music video of a new song at The Event; made possible only because of the online format
As we have continued to try and find the best ways to support youth ministers, our current hope is to continue to offer The Event in January/February; this allows for a post-holidays event for youth programs to jumpstart the second half of the program year.

Confirmation Gathering

As the Omicron variant continued to run its course, we opted to not offer the Confirmation Gathering in 2022.

Youth Leader Lunch Session at Annual Conference

In May at the MN Annual Conference Gathering in St. Cloud, we were grateful to be able to offer a lunch session just for those serving in youth ministry. Roughly 30 leaders of Children, Youth, and Family Ministries gathered together to share one thing that is going well in youth ministry and one thing that was not. To give a pulse on youth ministry in this report, one person responded to this prompt with the question “can we share two things that are not going well?”. Many shared in this lunch time, and grieved, about the students who did not return to youth group, the seniors who graduated that we didn’t get to celebrate in the same way, the woes of the pandemic. As there were many moments of grief, our intentional hope was that as we shared one thing that was going well, connections might be made, youth leader to youth leader, to support one another. This goal of building connections and supporting one another was a great result of this time, but beyond our expectations their is comfort in unified grief. Our churches have incredible youth leaders who love students and give from the depths of their hearts, and feel the changes in church culture.

One result of this session that we were so grateful for was the doors that were opened for leaders to reach out to each other, and reach out to us so that we can be in this ministry together. We have heard many stories of leaders coming together in partnership, praise be to God.

Strategic Partnerships

As we ended 2022, an amazing partnership was made as we continued to focus on our MN UMC Youth Mission. Thanks to some strategic networking, we've established a denominational partnership with Youth Ministry Consultants, an organization that offers training and development opportunities for youth leaders. They're able to offer webinars with some of the top experts in the country on youth culture, and offer training cohorts. Establishing this partnership allows us to offer some of the best training available at no cost to our participants (and nominal cost to MN Annual Conference).Youth Leadership MN schedules and promotes monthly webinars and trainings, led by some of the top experts in the country on youth culture, to those serving in youth ministry. Because of this partnership, we are now able to offer these training sessions to MN UMC Youth Leaders for free for an entire year.

As we end our report for 2022, it feels like there is a tangible inclined line that runs through the year. Starting the year with another pivot due to Covid19, and ending the year with a partnership that directly supports the heartbeat of the work we do. We are eager and excited to continue to drive that line upward; growing together and helping students to come to know the great great love that can only be found in a life with Jesus.

Catie Levenick and Sami Tierney, Co-Chairs

Reports from Affiliated Organizations

The Ministry Lab

Greetings from The Ministry Lab!

We take keyboard in hand to extend our gratitude for support and joy for being in ministry with each of our supporting judicatories1 and all of the communities and congregations that make them up. Please accept this year-in-review letter as a giant thank you and as a way to highlight how you have supported the curation and creation of resources that have supported leaders and congregations across Minnesota.

2022 was again a year of transformation, shifting realities, and bold new undertakings - for The Ministry Lab as it was for many of the congregations we resource. We learned this through:

*over 40 one-on-one consultations

*with leaders from over 20 congregations

*representing rural, urban, suburban, exurban communities

*half of consultants returned for additional consults on different topics

Consultations are free from anywhere! Send us an email (ministrylab@unitedseminary.edu) or call (651.279.1677), and we’ll visit via zoom, phone, or in person.

We participated in several large gatherings and community events:

*ConNext Summit 2022 drew nearly 50 youth leaders and clergy together to rest, network, create, worship, and explore emerging approaches to faith formation. We hope you’ll join us in 2024.

*monthly gatherings with the UMC’s Children’s Ministry Collective and the UCC’s 4Thursdays

*the launch of United’s Leadership Center for Social Justice (LCSJ; see below)

*three judicatory assemblies:

~The St Paul Area Synod (ELCA)

~MN Annual Conference UMC, and

~MN Conference UCC

*the Minneapolis and St Paul Area Synods’ (ELCA) Faith Formation Leaders Breakfast

*the MN Opera’s interreligious panel discussing their production of Rinaldo

Where can we join you out and about in the community?

We LOVE collaborating with congregations to create new resources:

*Five congregations shared photos, one 11-year-old read, and Julia Bloom created a lovely score for our Psalm 148 Reflection - it’s free for members and available through the Season of Epiphany, here.

[P.S. To date, 19 MN Baptist, ELCA, UCC, UMC, PC(USA), and United communities have shared this video!!]

*We collaborated with Peace UCC (Duluth) to write and direct their Christmas pageant (a congregation member wrote a brand new song!); super fun!!

*Eden Prairie UMC created a sensory-aware VBS; we hope to share a prototype this summer!

*We created a chapel leader’s guide for United students, mentored students in preparing and leading chapel, and led chapel three times, including an interdenominational Ash Wednesday liturgy. Let us know if you’d like to borrow the liturgy or share the training with sacristans!

*Leaders and youth from four UCC, UMC & PC(USA) congregations led our Epiphany 2022 worship service, shared by 9 congregations.

We’re growing our capacity to serve others through two continuing ed pursuits:

*As a member of the inaugural LCSJ Leadership for Social Justice cohort I will resource the other 16 members’ projects - so I’ll have a slew of creative resources for engaging a diversity of social justice concerns!

*UCC Conference Minister Kevin Brown and I attended Innovation Lab’s Reimagine Ministry Summit. Facilitator training for the Innovation Culture Index (a tool that can empower congregations ready for transformation) and Innovation Catalyst (to accompany 18-month-long cohorts of congregations ready to develop their own culture of innovation) are on the horizon!

After two years in ‘isolation’, our three canvas labyrinths are back in use.

*We walked a labyrinth in a United chapel

*Two judicatories featured them at gatherings

*Three other congregations borrowed them

FUN NEWS! We now have a Tibetan singing bowl - already out on loan to its first congregation. Borrow it to discover how this beautiful tool can enhance individual and communal prayer.

We also support individual and communal spiritual practices with:

*our recorded weekly contemplative practice, Midweek Retreat; request your invitation to a new practice each week by emailing us: ministrylab@unitedseminary.edu

*our Daily Breath posts - updated almost daily on our home page

*our regularly updated Spiritual Practices page, highlighting online and in-person contemplative, worship, and retreat opportunities

We’re still thrilled to connect you with hard-copy and online resources. Our weekly Six New Things (6NT) blog offers the most recent and relevant resources, including:

*current hardcopy and online books, devotionals, studies, and curricula

*Spiritual Practices including worship, music, and prayer gatherings

*local and international trainings we call Blue Whirl Webinars

*more in-depth learning through Continuing Education and Cohorts

*social justice action and other Community Opportunities

*Great Ideas we create or collect - tell us about yours here.

We curate all of these and other resources for our online lists (called ‘lib guides’) which cover all areas of congregational life and ministry, including:


*Faith Formation

*Congregational Life

*Engaging the World

*Contemplative Practices

Access each of these pages through our website (theministrylab.org).

Looking ahead to 2023:

~We JUST created our Lenten Pop-Up Planning: if you’re not quite ready for Lent and

don’t have a big planning team or huge budget, join us for a ‘lovingly intense’ conversation that balances tradition and transformation as my mom and I plan Lent for our little Northwoods congregation - and discover how The MInistry Lab can support your Lenten journey, as well. Learn more and register here.

~The Ministry Lab is hittin’ the road! We intend to visit the Duluth, Bemidji, Morris/Alexandria, Twin Cities, and Mankato areas. Watch for details and join us while we’re in your neck of the woods!

~We’ll continue to offer video worship/sermons as long as they are helpful. Take advantage of our free Psalm 148 reflection before the end of Epiphany here.

~Thupten Dadak will teach us about Tibetan singing bowls in an in-person/online learning time.

~We’re convening another fantastic team to plan ConNext Summit, 2024.

~We’re gathering our first ICI cohort. Applications are due by June 9, so watch for your opportunity to apply soon!

~We’ll continue to write for Lutherans Restoring Creation and Green Blades Rising preaching commentaries. Email Kristin Foster with Green Blades questions.

~We’re still getting our hard copy library accessible online - OMW, it’s taking forever!!

As a member of one of our supporting judicatories you make all of this possible! Thank you!!

Best wishes of hope, peace, and resilience. We look forward to curating, collaborating and creating with you in 2023!


Rev. Emily Meyer, Executive Director The Ministry Lab


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P.S. Please don’t hesitate to sign up here to receive weekly posts of Six New Things or Midweek Retreat; consultations (via Zoom, email, phone or by appointment in person) and resources are free for members - like you!!

[1] The Minnesota Annual Conference UMC; Minnesota Conference UCC; Synod of Lakes and Prairies, PC(USA);’ Presbyter of the Twin Cities Area; Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys; and United Theological Seminary, Twin Cities

Minnesota Conference Board of Pension, Inc. (formerly Board of Pension and Health Benefits)

The Minnesota Conference Board of Pension, Inc. (MCBPI or Board) (formerly Conference Board of Pensions and Health Benefits) is composed of fourteen lay and clergy persons, assisted by one consultant, Wespath Benefits and Investments liaison and three staff. The Board is responsible for certain benefits for eligible ministerial members who are currently serving or who have served the annual conference and other church workers and lay employees of the annual conference. Those responsibilities include: 1) pensions; 2) protection in case of death or disability; 3) health insurance; 4) medical and dependent care reimbursement; 5) incapacitation funding (pulpit supply); 6) maternity/paternity leave funding and 7) adoptive aid grants.


  1. In calendar year 2022, the benefit reserves funded $3 million of conference and church expenditures thus providing relief to apportionment and local church expenses. The items funded from benefit reserves included retiree and LTD medical subsidy, active health subsidy, CRSP-match, 2% of CPP premiums (which lower the cost to local churches), medical grants, medical/maternity/paternity leave, conference lay staff pension and Death & Disability premium, and benefit office staffing. In calendar year 2023, benefit reserves will fund approximately $3.6 million in conference and church expenditures.
  2. A subcommittee of the Board worked with Wespath actuaries updating the Economic Projection Plan and reported to the Board in November 2022. An October 2021 report presented four Market return scenario projections over a 20-year outlook: 1) no variations to expected returns, 2) median returns (50th percentile), 3) poor returns (25th percentile), and 4) very poor returns (10th percentile). Given market performance in 2022, the committee requested an update to the 25th and 10th percentile and requested projections with three levels of reserve usage over the 20-year period paying any pension liability required and fund benefit related items to assist churches, participants and the annual conference apportioned items. The Board acted using a three-year reserve average process for additional reserve usage. The Board is looking at new ways to support clergy, staff, churches, and the conference that will fill ‘gaps’ that have not had support in the past but will make a difference for the future.   
  3. Beginning January 1, 2017, the Board reduced the billing rate to the local church for the Comprehensive Protection Plan (CPP), the death and disability coverage for clergy appointed ¾ time or more. The prior billing rate was 3% of compensation (salary + housing). Wespath has provided CPP premium holidays to all conferences in 2010, 2011, 2018, 2019, and 3 months of 2020. The Minnesota Conference provided a 6-month premium rebate to all churches in 2011 that provided CPP coverage at that time. The Board determined using the remaining reserves from the premium holidays and reducing the CPP rate to 1% to the local church, the conference can then fund the CPP cost (3% billed from Wespath) and continue the 1% CPP rate through 2024 and possibly beyond. It is understood, completely removing a cost to the local church for a year or two then reinstating the cost is more difficult than a continued lower rate over many years.
  4. The Pre-82 pension liability of the Minnesota Conference is currently fully funded (106%), on the Minnesota funding basis with 2% PSR increases, as of January 1, 2021, based on the most recent Final Valuation from Wespath. The Pre-82 funds are committed to the payment of obligations in the denominational pension plans.  They may be used for Pre-1982, MPP annuity contributions, and CRSP-DB contributions for Minnesota Conference clergy pension liabilities or for other conference’s unpaid liabilities to these same plans. In an effort to preserve a fully funded status, the Board has recommended the Past Service Rate (“PSR”) be increased at the annual rate of 2% for the foreseeable future. Wespath requires funding PSR increases prior to a year if the funded status is less than 100%.

The Wespath Valuation Report for 2024, as of 1/1/2022, indicates the Pre-82 plan for all conferences, on a minimum contribution basis, with a funded ratio of 125%. Minnesota’s minimum contribution basis funded ratio is reported at 115% and there is one conference with a funded ratio of less than 100 percent. The Pre-82 plan encompasses all participating conferences; if a conference defaults on its liability, all plan assets are available, and all conferences are responsible for the liability.  The Board reviews the Valuation reports, the financial climate and the funded status each year to determine when it is prudent to redirect funds from the Pre-82 assets.

The Pre-82 preliminary valuation report as of 1/1/2022 for 2022 reports a funded ratio of 114% on a funding plan basis for the Minnesota Conference. The Board has reserves available if there is an unfunded liability due for the Pre-82 service. Wespath’s glide path policy used with the Pre-82 plan indicates a reduction in equity allocation from 45% to 41% for the 2024 contribution. The equity allocation keeps the discount rate at 5.50% for the conference liability. Changes to the investment allocation protects the assets from large swings in the equity market and to improve sustainability of the conferences and the benefit program. The mortality assumption changes from the RP-14 (MP-16) to PRI12TQ Adj (MP20) decreased the liability.

  1. The Minnesota Conference 2022 payment to Wespath for the Clergy Retirement Security Program defined benefit component (“CRSP-DB”) was paid on December 31, 2022 from funds collected through direct bill to the local churches and reserve funds.  The 2022 contribution to CRSP-DB plan on December 31, 2022 was $1,145,307.
  2. For 2014 through 2023 the Board approved funding the CRSP one-to-one matching component of up to 1% of compensation for clergy contributing to the UMPIP from the benefit reserves in the Deposit account invested at Wespath. The total 2022 CRSP-DC Match contribution was $124,856. Currently 85% of clergy appointed in Minnesota participated and received CRSP-DC Match contributions. The Board approved continuing the funding of the 1% CRSP-DC Match thru 2024 or Wespath implementation of a pension plan change and will revisit this decision for 2025. See “Miscellaneous Additional Information” at the end of this report for specific billing information for 2024.
  3. The Book of Discipline ¶1506.6, states, “Each Annual Conference shall develop, adopt, and implement a formal comprehensive funding plan or plans for funding all of its benefit obligations.”  The Minnesota Conference Board of Pension, Inc. completed and submitted the Comprehensive Benefit Funding Plan for 2024 to Wespath in April 2023 for review and written opinion. The Comprehensive Benefit Funding Plan is submitted to Annual Conference Session for approval annually.
  4. Wespath’s HealthFlex Exchange is the health plan offered to eligible clergy, lay employees, and non-Medicare eligible retirees in the Minnesota Conference.  The use of MCBPI Health Plan reserves assists the local church and participants by moderating costs increases. When the 2023 HealthFlex Exchange Plan premiums were provided to the Board, the average increase was 10%. The Board voted at the April 2022 meeting to increase the church share and the reserves used in 2023. The 2023 church share for appointed clergy ‘Single’ coverage is $826 per month and the ‘Clergy +1’ or ‘Family’ coverage is $1,330 per month. The Board voted to use MNCBPI Health Plan reserves to moderate church and participant costs for 2023, which is estimated to be $1,155,600 vs. $842,000 actually used in 2022. 

The Retired over age 65 participants are enrolled in the BCBS Group Plan N medical supplement plan and the MedicareBlue Rx plan provides prescription drug coverage for all Medicare primary retirees. The premium for Retired over age 65 and LTD with Medicare increased $5 per month per policy for 2023. Retirees over 65 must have Medicare Part A and Part B to be enrolled in the plans.

At this time, the Board does not have a preliminary proposed rate for 2024 for Retired over age 65 with Medicare supplement plans. The Board, also, has not determined the 2024 cost share for participants in the HealthFlex Exchange plan. To keep the MAC Health Plan financially sustainable, reserve levels will be monitored regularly, and careful consideration given for use of reserves to moderate increases to churches and participants.

  1. The Conference has an unfunded liability for the retiree health care premium subsidy. PRM Consulting Group, the actuarial firm hired by the Conference, prepared an Actuarial Valuation of Postretirement Medical Benefits with a valuation date of January 1, 2023 for plan year ending December 31, 2022, which reported the Expected Postretirement Benefit Obligation (or present value of benefits) to be $8,630,041 using the RP 2014 mortality table projected with Scale MP-2020 and discount rate of 5.19%. The discount rate used to value plan liabilities has increased substantially from 2.1% to 5.19% since the 2021 valuation which decreased the liability $5,860,812. While there are no dedicated funds specifically set aside for the postretirement medical liability there are reserve funds available for funding pension and benefit needs.


  1. Pre-82 Pension Information: The Conference has been successful in satisfying the past service pension liability for pre-1982 years of service.  This is due to the philosophy adopted in 1985 of “funding in advance” rather than “paying as you go.”  As a result of gifts, apportionments, pension campaigns, continuing support of Pension Partners, and investment earnings, the Pre-82 Plan is projected to be 106% funded position as of January 1, 2021 for 2023, according to the most recent final valuation report issued September 2022 from Wespath. Future changes in actuarial assumptions, earnings or payments could alter this annual projection either up or down.  The following chart illustrates the progress made since 1982. There are reserves to fund Pre-82 liabilities if there is an amount due.    


Jan. 1



Funded Liability
(Projected Value of Assets)
























































































Special Grants, Pulpit Supply, &



Retiree Medical Subsidy







2022 Recipients



435 Retired Clergy Participants



148 Surviving Spouses and Others



583 Total Persons Receiving Pension Benefits



  1. Comprehensive Protection Plan (CPP)




Disability Benefits to Pastors



CPP Benefits to Children & Spouses







  1. General Information: The conference offers Wespath’s HealthFlex Exchange program. HealthFlex Exchange offers 6 medical/pharmacy plans, 3 dental plans and 2 enhanced vision plans for participants to choose from based on their coverage needs.
  2. Retirees over age 65 (Medicare eligible) and long-term disability members with Medicare are enrolled in fully insured Medicare supplement plans (see Conference Year Highlights #8 above.)
  3. MAC Health Plan Rates: The following charts show church share rates as of January 1, 2023

COSTS AS OF JANUARY 1, 2023 (Church shares after subsidy from reserves)

HealthFlex Exchange

Local Church share

Pastor’s share



With ACH*






Depends on choice


Family or Participant +1



Depends on choice


*ACH=Automatic Clearing House funds transfer/withdrawal from bank account





Individual Pays

Conference Pays

Retiree or Spouse 65+ & MEDICARE




Retiree under age 65

Depends on choice



Retired (clergy and spouse) One over 65/one under 65

See above by type




Conference will subsidize 70% of default premium for 5 years followed by 50% subsidy. (Board change July 1, 2005, amended 2009)


** Subsidy Rules apply (See #4 below Retiree Premium Subsidy for specifics)

  1. Retiree Premium Subsidy: Approved at the 2003 Annual Conference and effective January 1, 2005. Five years of continuous participation in the MAC Health Plan (HealthFlex plan as of 1/1/2018) immediately prior to retirement is required for continuation on the MAC Health Plan in retirement. Participation in Medicare Part A and B is required for continuation on the MAC Retiree Medicare Supplement Plans when retired and over age 65. The basis for subsidy is the year of retirement, the retirement type (full, early or 20-year rule), and years of service as follows.

Rules for Retiree Subsidy (subsidy is per clergy and per spouse on MAC Plan)

Type of Retirement

Retired before 1/1/1982

Retired between 12/31/1981 & 1/1/1991

Retired between 12/31/1990 & 1/1/2024

Full or Mandatory

Lesser of 100% of premium or $320 per month

Lesser of 100% of premium or $160 per month

Lesser of 100% of premium or $4 per month per year of service

Early (62 years of age or 30 years of service)

Lesser of 100% of premium or $320 per month

Lesser of 100% of premium or $160 per month

Lesser of 100% of premium or $4 per month per year of service

20-year rule

No Subsidy

No Subsidy

No Subsidy

Note: Withdrawal under BOD paragraph 360 will terminate conference retiree subsidy.

For the complete detail of the legislation look in the 2003 Journal, action item 509 on pages 161–164 and 2007 Journal, action item 523 on pages 138-146.

Approved action item 206 in the 2022 Journal on page 110 adjusted the years of service used for clergy retiring after 1990 to include the year 2023. The Board will regularly review the years of service used for subsidy.

  1. HealthFlex Exchange eligibility: All clergy appointed ½ time or more are under mandatory enrollment with the option to waive HealthFlex coverage if they have coverage by one of five options permitted by HealthFlex. Lay employees are eligible if the local church has completed the HealthFlex Sub-Adoption Agreement and work 30 or more hours on average per week. The local church is required to fund at least $636 per month for lay church employees enrolled, the reported church share by the Board for 2023.  

Note: Eligible clergy that do not complete the enrollment form or the waiver form within 30 days of eligibility will be automatically enrolled in the default C2000 HealthFlex plan and the church will be billed. Billing is issued monthly by the conference benefits office. Complete details regarding the coverage and operation of the program are on file with the Benefits Officer of the Minnesota Conference and with HealthFlex. As of January 2023, 197 pastors, lay employees and retirees under age 65 are enrolled in HealthFlex Exchange plus their dependents. As of January 2023, 223 Medicare eligible retirees, spouses, surviving spouses, and LTD participants with Medicare are enrolled in the fully insured Medicare supplement plans offered by the Minnesota Annual Conference.


FLEXIBLE SPENDING PLAN: HealthFlex Exchange offers a Flexible Spending Plan for participants on the HealthFlex medical coverage. The benefit plan is established by HealthFlex under Section 125 of the Internal Revenue Code. Participants elect an amount to withhold before tax, which may be used to pay medical, dental, or dependent care (daycare) expenses. Carryover of unused medical funds up to $610 in plan year 2023 are permitted into the next year.

MEDICAL/INCAPACITATION LEAVE COMPENSATION: See 2011 Journal, page 93 thru 95, for policies and funding of and by the Board relating to medical/incapacitation leave. The Board currently provides pulpit supply for up to 8 weeks when a clergy person, due to impaired health (illness, surgery or accident) is deemed temporarily unable to perform the essential duties of the appointment by the Cabinet.

MATERNITY AND PATERNITY LEAVE—PULPIT SUPPLY FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE: See 2005 Journal, page 125-126, for policies of funding by the Board relating to Maternity and Paternity Leave. The Board will provide pulpit supply financial assistance to the church when arranged with the church, the District Superintendent and the Benefits Officer. Compensation to the pastor, pension and medical coverage will be maintained by the church for no less than the first eight weeks of leave.

ADOPTIVE AID GRANTS: The Board provides an adoptive aid payment of $1,000 to active clergy participating in conference medical coverage for the adoption of a child other than a blood relative of either spouse or a legal lawful child from a previous marriage. Blood relatives are defined as nephews, nieces, grandchildren, or cousins. A request for payment must be made to the Board within 12 months from the date of adoption. The Board of Ordained Ministry & Cabinet should be reminded annually that this benefit is available to clergy.


The 2024 Minnesota Conference Average Compensation (CAC) is $74,498. The 2024 Denominational Average Compensation (DAC) is $78,292. Compensation is defined as total cash salary plus housing plus any tax-deferred contributions made on the pastor’s behalf.

The 2024 Clergy Retirement Security Program (CRSP-DB, CRSP-DC) and Comprehensive Protection Plan (CPP) billing calculations are shown below.

MCBPI pays Wespath the ‘normal cost’, a set amount, calculating the actuarial value of the benefit to be earned for the year to fully fund participant’s benefits, for clergy enrolled (CRSP-DB) based on appointment increment. The ‘normal cost’ can be influenced by past investment earnings, DAC for year, and actual experience to actuarial assumptions. This amount is billed to the local churches.

MCBPI approved starting for 2023 using $550,000 of reserve funds to subsidize half of the CRSP-DB cost to the local church. The 2023 CRSP-DB cost per appointment increment is as follows:

CRSP – DB (defined benefit) =            $2,700 fulltime appointment  

                                                            $2,025 ¾ time appointment 

                                                            $1,350 ½ time appointment 

CRSP – DC (defined contribution) = 2% of Compensation (Salary + Housing)

CPP - ¾ and fulltime appointment = 1% of Compensation (Salary +Housing)

*Wespath legislation adopted by General Conference 2016 changed the Comprehensive Protection Plan eligibility to all ¾ time clergy appointed, effective January 1, 2017, with a billing rate of 3% of clergy compensation (salary + housing). (See “Conference Year Highlights” #3 above)

Clergy pension benefits effective January 1, 2014, with Modified CRSP based on:

  • A defined benefit calculated at retirement: 1.0% x DAC x Years of Service beginning 1/1/2014 = Annual Defined Benefit at retirement
  • A defined contribution: 2% of clergy compensation (salary plus housing allowance or parsonage value of 25% of salary) to Clergy’s CRSP Defined Contribution account.
  • A defined matching contribution of up to 1% of clergy compensation for clergy contributing to the voluntary United Methodist Personal Investment Plan (UMPIP) greater than 0.   

Jim Nienaber, Benefits Officer/Executive Director of Minnesota Conference Board of Pension, Inc.
Kathleen Menne,
Minnesota Conference Board of Pension, Inc. Chair
Barbara Brower
, Director of Finance and Administration

Minnesota Methodist Foundation

 This past year presented us with many challenges but one thing that remained constant was the generosity of our churches and donors in the Minnesota Conference. Our growth has been tremendous in recent years as we continue to be an edge organization. As of December 31, 2022, we had a total of $38.7 million invested with the Foundation. This growth has allowed us to invest in ministries in the Minnesota United Methodist Conference. We continue to look for ways to assist our churches in turning money into ministry. 

Since joining the Minnesota Methodist Foundation in 2019, we have partnered with churches and organizations to open 56 new accounts. In 2022 alone we increased the number of investment accounts by 5. We were also blessed to work with Nancy Saathoff to establish an endowment to address racial and/or gender diversity. 

Seminary Scholarships - The Foundation is committed to coming alongside our future leaders in the United Methodist Church by investing in their call to ministry. In 2022, scholarships totaling $11,000 were awarded to three seminary students: Tapiwa Manyonga, Allison Schwarz, and Kelby Werner. Allison Schwarz also received a Dollars for Scholars scholarship in partnership with UMHEF.

Grants – Through the Grace Nelson Endowment Fund, we are able to offer grants for churches who are focused on improving access to ministry for Senior Citizens. Last year, we awarded a $2,500 grant to Cedar UMC in Ham Lake, MN. They used this grant money to install an automatic door opening system to improve access for senior citizens and anyone else who needs assistance in gaining access to the church building. 

MN UM Builders - Our MN UM Builders members gave generously to the Spring and Fall calls. The Builders is a wonderful example of connectional ministry. Each year hundreds of individuals, organizations and churches across the Conference assist churches in reaching new people in their community by financially supporting a building, remodel or expansion project. In 2022 our Builders members gave $9,500 to support:

  • Blooming Grove UMC in Morristown made their church building more welcoming and accessible for all by adding a new entrance, bathrooms, gathering space, and 3-level lift.
  • Faith Church in Farmington remodeled their outdated kitchen so they can continue to serve their many ministries for years to come.

If you’d like to become a member of the Builders or apply for a Builders grant, please visit the MN UM Builders page on our website www.mnumf.org or contact our office at 612-230-3337.

As we continue our work, we are excited about the many new opportunities and creative ways to continue developing relationships, cultivating resources, and embracing ministry across the Dakotas and Minnesota Conferences.

Donna Dempenwolf, Chair, Board of Directors
Sheri Meister, President/CEO, Minnesota Methodist Foundation

Reports from Affiliated Schools

Africa University 

United Methodists worldwide celebrated an ‘Ebenezer’ moment in the ministry of Africa University in 2022, marking 30 years of faithfulness, generosity, growth, and impact within and beyond The United Methodist Church.

The Minnesota Conference graciously invested 57.47 percent of its share of general church giving to support the day-to-day operations of Africa University in 2022. Thank you! At 83.7 percent overall in 2022, giving to the Africa University Fund (AUF) remained resilient in all five jurisdictions of The United Methodist Church in the United States.

Supported by Minnesota United Methodists and others across the denomination, Africa University embraced new opportunities as it emerged from pandemic-related restrictions in 2022.

  • Enrollment: Africa University achieved a total enrollment at 2,791 students in August 2022. Female students comprised 58 percent of the student population and 23 African nations were represented.
  • Academic Growth: Africa University launched its first new academic unit in almost twenty years—The School of Law—with a pioneer cohort of 20 students pursuing the Bachelor of Laws (Honors) (LL.B.) degree program. The institution is preparing to launch five new undergraduate and graduate programs with the approval of the Zimbabwe Council for Higher Education (ZIMCHE), the national accreditation and quality assurance agency.
  • Infrastructure expansion: A new residence hall for female students at Africa University is under construction, funded by the East Ohio Conference’s $1.5 million Teach * Reach * Bless campaign. Once completed, the facility will boost the available on campus housing for students to around 1200 beds.
  • Outcomes: 712 graduates from 18 African countries became Africa University alumni in June 2022. The university’s almost 11,000 graduates to date are making vital contributions as clergy, educators, agriculturalists, health professionals, entrepreneurs, and innovators. Faculty and students are addressing endemic challenges such as malaria and tuberculosis, food insecurity, and climate change, and gaining significant international support for their efforts.

Africa University’s year-long 30th anniversary program culminated in October 2022 with a gathering of more than 3,000 people at its main campus in Mutare, Zimbabwe. Amidst the commemoration and joyful thanksgiving livestreamed to the world, the Rev. Dr. Peter Mageto was formally installed as the fifth vice chancellor (president) of the institution.

Mageto, a Kenyan and academician specializing in theological ethics, echoed the gratitude of the students, faculty, staff, trustees and alumni of Africa University for the many answered prayers represented in the Africa University story. His inaugural address highlighted the optimism and commitment to purpose that are the foundation of the university’s unfolding vision.

“Today, Africa University turns thirty. The number 30 is a blessed figure. Thirty was the age of our Lord Jesus Christ when he commenced his ministry here on earth. It gives us great faith to be walking resolutely towards the fourth decade,” Mageto said.

God’s presence and provision in the life of Africa University are evident, thanks to the prayers and generous support of the Minnesota Conference. Thank you, Minnesota Conference, for nurturing change leaders and building an enduring legacy through the ministry of Africa University. Let us continue to journey together—learning, leading, and serving God, all the time, everywhere.

James H. Salley, President and Chief Executive Officer, Africa University (Tennessee) Inc. & Associate Vice Chancellor for Institutional Advancement, Africa University

Boston University School of Theology

I am profoundly grateful for your partnership, prayers, and support in these challenging times. A year like 2022 makes even more relevant BUSTH’s historic and ongoing commitments to peace and justice in equipping transformational leaders. We remain hopeful and vigilant in our continued partnership with you.


  • Students: Our academic year 2022-23 entering class was among our most diverse, with 88 new students enrolling, 34% of whom are international students.
  • Faculty: In September we welcomed three new faculty members: James McCarty, Assistant Clinical Professor of Religion and Conflict Transformation; Eunil David Cho, Assistant Professor of Spiritual Care; and Peng Yin, Assistant Professor of Ethics.
  • New Online Degree First Cohort: BUSTH’s first fully online master’s degree—the Master of Religion and Public Leadership (MARPL)—welcomed its first students in fall 2022. MARPL seeks students who wish to be prepared for leadership roles that creatively engage the challenges of public life. Learn more at bu.edu/sth/marpl.
  • Faculty Research: Prof. Filipe Maia was awarded a Louisville Institute book grant in April, and Prof. Luis Menéndez-Antuña was awarded a grant from the Catholic Biblical Association in August. Other large grants continue to move forward, including the Trauma Responsive Congregations Project led by Prof. Shelly Rambo and supported by the Lilly Endowment, and the Positive Psychology and Formation-Based Flourishing grant led by Prof. Steven Sandage and supported by the Peale Foundation.
  • Scholarships: This year, we announced free tuition for all residential master’s candidates. We continue to offer free tuition to UMC-registered candidates for ordained ministry and leadership fellowships that support students in ethnic, gender, and sexuality studies. New funds include the Research & Teaching Fund and Affirmation & Empowerment Fund as well as the following endowed funds: DEI, Theology & the Arts, and Doctor of Ministry.
  • Accreditation Visit: BUSTH just welcomed the United Methodist University Senate Review team on February 1-3 for our re-accreditation visit.
  • Online Lifelong Learning: BUSTH offers online courses for professional and spiritual enrichment of religious leaders. Recent offerings include “Ethics and Video Games,” and “Spiritual Mending for Helping Professionals.” To learn more, visit bu.edu/sth/oll.
  • Development: Recent accomplishments include endowing the Faith and Ecological Justice Fund, and new funding for student scholarships and academic programs.


  • BUSTH’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion offers webinars on timely inclusion efforts, such as “Increasing Participation of Students of Underrepresented Backgrounds.”
  • This year’s Lowell Lecture topics explore the spiritual dimension of artistic expression. This fall, Dr. Emmett G. Price III highlighted the brilliant resilience and demonstrative hope of Black folk through the lens of two exceptional spiritual beings: Nina Simone and John Coltrane. A diverse panel response fostered rich conversation.
  • Work continues to improve accessibility, sustainability, and responsible investing. BUSTH is the first certified Green School at BU and is active in the Green Seminary Initiative.

With faith and gratitude,

G. Sujin Pak, Dean

Candler School of Theology

Since 1914, Candler School of Theology at Emory University has educated faithful and creative leaders for the church’s ministries throughout the world. An official seminary of The United Methodist Church, Candler holds true to the Methodist value of ecumenical openness, enthusiastically welcoming students from more than 42 denominations, with nearly half of Master of Divinity students coming from the Wesleyan tradition, including United Methodist, African Methodist Episcopal, African Methodist Episcopal Zion, Christian Methodist Episcopal, Wesleyan, Free Methodist, Church of the Nazarene, and others. Our student body reflects the diversity and breadth of the Christian faithful, with an enrollment of 417 from 16 countries and 33 states, and 43% persons of color. This diversity is a blessing, enriching our life together and providing a “learning laboratory” for ministry in the 21st century—ministry that cultivates community across difference, welcomes all to contribute and belong, and embodies Christ’s love in and among us.

Candler offers six single degrees and ten dual degrees, most of which are available in hybrid or online formats so students can remain rooted in their home communities as they pursue their degrees. Our new hybrid Master of Divinity blending online classes and in-person intensives launches in Fall 2023, and our successful Doctor of Ministry—with its high 87% completion rate—is 90% online. Hybrid and online options are also available in the Master of Religious Leadership and the Master of Religion and Public Life programs. Plus, Candler’s Teaching Parish program allows student pastors to earn contextual education credit as they serve their churches. We are excited that these flexible learning formats make a first-rate Candler education possible for even more people who are called to ministry.

Alleviating student debt through generous financial aid is a top priority for Candler. In 2021-2022, we awarded $7.3 million in scholarship support, with 100% of MDiv students receiving aid. All MDiv students who are certified candidates for ordained ministry in the UMC receive full-tuition scholarships, and all MDiv, MTS, MRL, and ThM students receive a scholarship covering at least 50% of tuition. MDiv students also complete a financial literacy program to strengthen their financial and budgeting skills and reduce debt. 

Candler was recently honored as one of 16 theological schools to receive a “Pathways to Tomorrow” grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. The $5 million grant will support Candler in establishing a set of initiatives to create an interconnected continuum of offerings for the education of pastoral leaders. This will position Candler as a hub of theological learning with multiple entry points, including The Candler Foundry, our innovative program to make theological education accessible to the public, the United Methodist Course of Study, undergraduate classes, and a new venture, La Mesa Academy for Theological Studies. Set to launch in Fall 2023, La Mesa Academy will offer diplomas in pastoral leadership via a two-year hybrid program with courses in Spanish and English. An optional third year of study will be offered to those aspiring to continue to a graduate professional degree at Candler.

This year, we welcomed the Rev. Dr. Brett Opalinski as Assistant Dean of Methodist Studies, a position made available by the retirement of the Rev. Dr. Anne Burkholder. Brett is an elder in full connection in the Florida Annual Conference and most recently served for nine years as senior pastor of Christ Church United Methodist in Ft. Lauderdale. In addition to other pastoral appointments, he has held a variety of leadership roles in the Florida Conference, including chair of the Board of Ordained Ministry. He is deeply committed to working with students in discerning their call, spiritual formation, and guiding them through the commissioning and ordination process.

Candler’s ability to fulfill our mission to provide the church with the faithful and creative leaders it needs depends upon your prayers, partnership, and support. Thank you for the countless ways you advance this essential ministry in the life of our denomination. We invite you to visit us online at candler.emory.edu.

Jan Love

Mary Lee Hardin Willard Dean and Professor of Christianity and World Politics
Candler School of Theology, Emory University

Duke Divinity School

Duke Divinity School has been blessed to be part of the fresh work of the Holy Spirit this year and to participate in “little Pentecosts”—signs and foretastes of the hope we profess and the calling we follow. In his Opening Convocations sermon, Dean Edgardo Colón-Emeric said: “If Duke Divinity School is to keep on its Pentecost journey, it needs to devote itself to being guided by the marker of mercy. Our motto of Eruditio et Religio only makes sense when we add mercy. … How we care for the needy is the measure for the apostolicity of our studies, the holiness of our communion, and the power of our prayers.”

The school has continued in its commitment to form ministers of the gospel who will seek God’s justice and mercy. Our faculty have been leaders in the Duke Climate Initiative participating with colleagues from the Nicholas School for the Environment in the event “Pastoral Care for Climate Change: Weaving Together Science and Theology for Justice,” at the Duke University Marine Lab in Beaufort, N.C. Divinity faculty have also co-taught a university course titled “Let’s Talk about Climate Change,” and welcomed 30 young faith leaders from various religious traditions and places worldwide to understand better how to engage their faith communities in the fight for our climate.

The Office of Black Church Studies, which has been commemorating its 50th anniversary year, hosted “Justice Ministry Reimagined: Reentry Simulation” for pastors, students, and lay leaders to learn more about how to support people reentering the community after incarceration. We launched the Prison Engagement Initiative with the Kenan Institute for Ethics. Divinity faculty taught a “Trauma Engaged Duke” seminar and led the project team Developing Best Practices for Trauma-Informed Teaching and Learning.

This fall, we welcomed 226 entering students from 35 different states and eight other countries, including Canada, Colombia, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Nicaragua, Nigeria, and South Korea. The Master of Divinity program gained 130 new students, with 88 residential students and 42 in the hybrid program. The Master of Arts in Christian Practice enrolled 13 new students; the Doctor of Ministry, 28; Master of Theology, six; Master of Theological Studies, 22; the Doctor of Theology welcomed six new students to campus, and one special student has enrolled. The Certificate in Theology and Health Care welcomed four residential students to campus and 16 in the hybrid program. Across all degree programs at the Divinity School, 30 percent of the incoming class identified as a race or ethnicity other than white. Black students made up 18 percent of all students; Latinx students, six percent; Asian students, five percent; and American Indian students, one percent.  Fifty-seven percent of students in the incoming class are female.

The school continued to build on its rich tradition of ecumenical engagement, with Dean Colón-Emeric participating in the Methodist-Roman Catholic International Commission Dialogue meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican. Student Eliza Love, M.Div.’23, was awarded the $10,000 Bossey Institute scholarship from the United Methodist Church Council of Bishops to attend the World Council of Church Ecumenical Institute. The Houses of Study at Duke Divinity School—Methodist House, Anglican Episcopal House, Presbyterian/Reformed House, Baptist House, Office of Black Church Studies, Asian House, and Hispanic House—all enrich the Duke Divinity community through theological formation, student support, dynamic lectures, and robust programming.

The school has also welcomed new leaders who bring their gifts to the work of advancing the mission to serve Christ and the church. Three new associate deans have accepted appointments: Daniel Castelo, William Kellon Quick Professor of Theology and Methodist Studies, as associate dean for Academic Formation; Jung Choi, a consulting professor and director of the Asian House of Studies, as associate dean for Global and Intercultural Formation; and Sangwoo Kim, a consulting professor and senior director of the Methodist House of Studies and the Wesleyan Formation Initiatives, as associate dean for Vocational Formation. Linda Coley, who earned an M.Div. from Duke Divinity along with M.S., M.B.A., and Ph.D. degrees, has also joined as the executive director for the Ormond Center.

Several new programs demonstrate Duke’s sustained commitment to connecting with churches and ministers. The Ormond Center launched the Community Craft Collaborative to create resources for equipping lay and congregational leaders. The Certificate in Conflict Transformation and Reconciliation (CCTR), facilitated by leading scholars and practitioners in the fields of conflict transformation and reconciliation from Duke University and other institutions, provides a timely learning opportunity for pastors and other church leaders seeking theological and practical skills to foster reconciliation in their congregations and surrounding communities. The Clergy Health Initiative supports healthy practices for vibrant ministry. The research and programming from other Duke Divinity initiatives, including Theology, Medicine, and Culture; Duke Initiatives in Theology and the Arts; Leadership Education at Duke Divinity; and Thriving Rural Communities, continue to provide numerous opportunities to bear witness to God’s creativity, compassion, and care for communities and congregations.

Our Convocation & Pastors' School (CPS) returned to an in-person format for the first time since the start of the pandemic with the theme, Creativity & Courage: From Trauma to Tough Hope. The presenters—professional dancers, visual artists, musicians, and scholars—guided participants in facing brokenness and sin honestly, as they offered glimpses of "the beauty of holiness." NY Times Best Selling Author & Associate Professor of Christian History, Kate Bowler led a live taping of her Everything Happens podcast to kick off CPS with over 1000 registered participants.

Duke Divinity School continues to be grateful for our ongoing participation in The United Methodist Church and partnership with this annual conference. We celebrate the expansion of our connection to UMC colleges through a partnership with Wesleyan College in Macon, Ga., to enable qualified undergraduates to take master’s level course through the Duke Accelerated Pastoral Formation Program. We look forward to our ongoing work with you as we join the leading of God’s Spirit in the task of preparing men and women for Christian ministry. To learn more about Duke Divinity School, please visit our website at www.divinity.duke.edu.

Respectfully submitted by Edgardo Colón-Emeric

Dean of Duke Divinity School

Hamline University

The mission of Hamline University is “to create a diverse and collaborative community of

learners dedicated to the development of students’ knowledge, values, and skills for successful lives of leadership, scholarship, and service.” This mission continues to underpin the many ways in which we educate, care for, and serve the variety of students and other members of the Hamline community. Over the last few years, Hamline, like many other institutions of higher learning throughout the United States experienced disruptions in enrollment and operations due to the pandemic. More recently, Hamline has found itself at the center of a national conversation about the connection between academic freedom and care for students–a connection we believe is paramount to our identity as a Wesleyan institution.

The pandemic impacted enrollment at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. While we are trending back to normal with our undergraduate enrollment, graduate enrollment continues to be of concern. We are using innovative methods, like zero-based budgeting, to ensure our financial strength and stability and engaging in a rethinking and restructuring of academic programs and offerings. Campus life is robust with classes in-person, student activities in full swing, and faculty, staff, and students engaged in all aspects of the campus. We hired two new senior leaders–a Vice President for Finance and Administration, Brent Gustafson, who started his new role in June 2022, and a Vice President for Institutional Advancement, Heidi Fisher, who started her new role in November 2022. The Take the Lead Campaign will conclude in December 2023. We are on track to exceed the goal of $110 million for the campaign. More than $2.5 million has been raised through gifts and a federal appropriation for the Pipers to Professional Program ensuring that all Hamline students will be paid for their internships.

Chaplain Kelly Figueroa-Ray is in the process of seeking ordination and, at the May 2023 Minnesota Annual Conference, was recommended by the Board of Ordained Ministry for Commissioning as a Provisional Member. Chaplain Figueroa-Ray is the director of the Wesley Center and oversees three full and part-time staff along with a group of students. In order to more fully acclimate the Chaplain, enhance our program offerings related to spiritual and community growth, and create a more open and inviting space for Hamline community activities, we moved her family and her into the former Hamline Guest House next to campus.

The Wesley Center has returned to in-person, high-impact programming, much of which occurs in their redefined and more student-centered space. Catalyst Spring Break trips to places around the country have returned, along with smaller, local retreats in the Twin Cities and throughout Minnesota. For the spring of 2023, two Catalyst trips are in place. There is a trip to Washington D.C. focusing on housing, homelessness, and lobbying and a trip to Phoenix, Arizona focusing on refugee, immigrant, and indigenous life. The “Do all the Good” Pre-Orientation Pathway will relaunch in August of 2022 with workshops and events centering on Saint Paul and the Hamline- Midway neighborhood. The focus is on how to build a Beloved Community, especially in regard to community members’ health and wellness.

The Wesley Center is open Monday through Friday and is accessible to students, staff, and faculty. There are couches, tables and computers for community use, a small library room for private meetings and pastoral care, a kitchen area with treats, watercooler, and a refrigerator stocked with free microwavable meals from the Food Resource Center. In the Fall, Wesley Center staff served as in-person Campus Colleagues with the First-Year Seminars (FYSEMs) and on committees across campus. The McVay Youth Partnership is located in four church sites and is back to on-site programming. The Religious and Spiritual Life (RSL) student groups are engaged in the following programs–Holy Day celebrations, including the observance of Ramadan with access to prayer rooms, snacks to break the fast, and Iftar meals once a week for the month. Chaplain Kelly began offering Ecumenical Prayer and Holy Communion services in December, and plans to launch an RSL Multi- Faith Practices, Rituals, and Worship events program beginning with Ramadan in mid-March.

Spirituality Scholars will be holding House, Home, and Belonging Week, March 6-8, 2023.

A decision has been made to situate the operations of Hamline’s Food Resource Center (FRC) under the Wesley Center. With the work of third year VISTA Theo Brown and fourth year VISTA Lexi Borgesen, the FRC was relocated from the Walker Field House to West Hall. This move helps to de- stigmatize food insecurity and has led to the increased use of FRC by Hamline students, faculty, and staff. The FRC continues to be a vital resource for students, staff, and faculty. A new VISTA position has been approved by President Miller that will help build additional capacity for meeting the basic needs of members of the Hamline community.

For the 2022 midterm election, our student voting rate goal was 72%. Wesley Center staff member Nur Mood led campus efforts to inspire students to vote with a campaign built around the idea that #midtermsmatter. Student volunteers staffed tables on campus with options regarding when, where and how students could register and vote. Signs, posters, buttons, snacks, tabling and bus transportation to our neighborhood polling station all brought a festive and positive feel to campus on Election Day. We have received the following recognition for the 2022 election cycle: 2022 Highly Established Action Plan Seal and 2022 ALL IN Most Engaged Campus for College Student Voting Recognition

Collaboration with Hamline Church United Methodist continues through the SPROUT Garden, Ministry Intern program, and shared Christian-based programming offered on Hamline’s campus.

Annika McClintock continued as a ministry intern with Hamline Church and this Spring began work with Chaplain Kelly and Pastor Heather as the first Hamline University Christian Campus Ministry Student Leader. Annika runs a successful Religious Trauma group at Hamline and assists Chaplain Kelly with communion services. The theme of the annual Mahle Lecture Series for 2023 is Racial Reckoning, Repair, and Reconciliation. Lecture events will occur on the Hamline campus, at the Hamline Church, and the Underground Seminary in Minneapolis. We will collaborate with the World Student Christian Federation-US and the University of Virginia’s Project on Lived Theology’s Lift Every Voice and Teach Workgroup.

A multi-faith Baccalaureate Service on the theme of “Reckoning, Repair, and Resistance” will occur this year. It is our hope that Bishop Lanette Plambeck will offer words of welcome from the Minnesota Annual Conference. Finally, the Wesley Center has contracted with the Minnesota Council of Churches Respectful Conversations program to begin planting seeds of empathy in the Hamline Community. We plan to hold a community-wide conversation that increases empathy among various stakeholders within our community that have differing experiences and beliefs about the current crisis in which we find ourselves.

Fayneese Miller, PhD President

Saint Paul School of Theology

Educating tomorrow's leaders by offering on-campus, online, and hybrid learning courses at a FLEXible schedule, Saint Paul School of Theology is a seminary serving a diverse community committed to the formation of people for innovative, creative ministry through rigorous academic life. Grounded in the academic study of faith and ministry, theology is practiced in a traditional classroom and in remote spaces. Our contextual curriculum features Ministry Collaboration Groups, Practicums, Spiritual Formation Retreats, and Seminars. Students learn from dedicated faculty, experienced pastors, and community leaders about best ministry practices leaving our graduates with the tools and first-hand experience necessary to meet the needs of a changing world.

We continue to implement the changes the last few years have integrated into our daily lives. Our weekly chapel service utilizes a hybrid format, where participants may join in-person or online, allowing staff and students to come together as one institution where all are invited to create a sacred atmosphere from wherever they are. In addition, Saint Paul offers weekly Spiritual Formation allowing students to engage in spiritual practices led by Rev. Jen Logsdon-Kellogg. Some practices will take us outdoors or to other sacred spaces, and others will have us connect with community leaders.

Saint Paul welcomed over 30 new students for the 2022-2023 academic year. Enrollment remained solid for the Master of Divinity (MDiv) degree program with promising growth on our Oklahoma campus. With COVID-19 restrictions lifted yet monitored, prospective students returned to in-person visits on both campuses, experiencing community meals, worship, and the newly implemented "Hammock ministry" on the Oklahoma campus. The Admissions team continues to expand travel to meet new students, including the Carolinas, Washington, D.C., and various parts of Texas.

This year we have focused on strengthening the Master of Arts in Christian Ministry by creating two specializations: Women, Society, and Church; and Social Justice and Advocacy. In each case, the student takes 22 hours of MACM required courses, and then the remaining 12 hours of the degree are comprised of courses focusing upon the specialization. The two existing specializations, Prophetic Witness and Service; and Deacon Ministries, will continue to be offered as well. The Women, Society, and Church Studies specialization is also available in the MDiv program, as is a specialization in Wesleyan Studies.

Saint Paul staff and faculty continue contributing to the academy, church, and society. This year, we welcomed Rev. Dr. Sharon Betsworth as our new Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean and Professor of New Testament. The faculty of Saint Paul School of Theology maintains high standards of scholarship, research, publication, and engagement. Over the past year, their many activities and publications have been so numerous that space permits only sharing selected highlights.

  • Rev. Dr. Sharon Betsworth co-authored a journal article with Julie Faith Parker, "'Where Have All the Young Girls Gone?' Discovering the Girls of the Bible through Childist Analysis of Exodus 2 and Mark 5–7," in Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion 38, no. 2 (Fall 2022).
  • Dr. Casey Sigmon, Assistant Professor of Preaching and Worship and Director of Contextual Education, was the keynote speaker for the United Methodist Church Missouri Preaching Academy "Offering the Word to a Digital World." She published "Failure to Discern the Online/Hybrid Body: A Captivity of the Eucharist" for the special issue of Currents in Theology and Mission: Eucharist and Online Worship: Toward Extended Theological Reflection, vol. 50, no. 1 (2023) and published the chapter "Liturgical Authority and the Table in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)" in Liturgical Authority in Free Church Traditions, edited by Sarah Johnson and Andrew Wymer, Calvin Worship and Witness Series.
  • Dr. Joshua Bartholomew, Assistant Professor of Ethics, Church, and Society, led a "Race, Liberation, and Political Economics" series at Second Presbyterian. He also spoke at The Open Table KC on "Race, Liberation, and Economics."
  • Dr. Amy Oden, Adjunct Professor of Early Church History and Spirituality, was a guest speaker at numerous events around the country this year, including at a Five Day Academy for Spiritual Formation in Oklahoma, the Beyond Conference in St. Louis, and the Academy for Spiritual Formation in Alabama.

In October, Saint Paul hosted a forum on "Innovative, Creative Ministry" featuring alumni Matt Austin '18, Fabian Gonzalez '20, Bo Ireland '18, Matt Patrick '18, & Abby Peper '22, with each sharing their personal stories of innovation in ministry. In November, Saint Paul Evangelical Society, led by Dr. Israel Kamudzandu, hosted a forum given by Rev. Mike Slaughter, former lead pastor at Ginghamsburg Church, on "Spiritual Awakening: the here and the not yet." Later in the year, the Evangelical Society hosted a lecture featuring Dr. Cheryl Bridges Johns, Visiting Professor of Pentecostal Studies and Director of the Global Pentecostal House of Study at United Theological Seminary. And on May 12, Saint Paul again held a hybrid commencement celebration via Zoom, allowing graduates to come together from both campuses with attendees viewing from around the country. During the ceremony, we honored the 2023 Distinguished Graduate Award Winner and Commencement Speaker Bishop Delores J. "Dee" Williamston.

Saint Paul Board of Trustees changed leadership this year as long-time faculty and board member Rev. Dr. Tex Sample concluded his term as chair of the Board. Dr. Amy Hogan, Professor of Education and Dean of the School of Education at Ottawa University, has succeeded him as chair. Dr. Hogan possesses a deep reservoir of experience in teaching, research, and accreditation. In response to President Neil Blair's announcement that he will retire on December 31, 2023, Dr. Hogan appointed a search committee composed of faculty, staff, students, and trustees charged with identifying Saint Paul's next president. The search committee is currently conferring with Saint Paul's constituent groups to prepare the position prospectus that will describe Saint Paul's needs and aspirations to candidates.

In September 2022, Saint Paul School of Theology hosted a review team from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), one of Saint Paul's primary accreditation agencies, as part of the Seminary's regular reaffirmation cycle. On November 18, 2022, the Higher Learning Commission notified Saint Paul that the Commission "continued the accreditation of Saint Paul School of Theology with the next Reaffirmation of Accreditation in 2028-2029."

We are happy to report that Saint Paul School of Theology is financially sound. We operate with a balanced budget, no debt, and an endowment 9-10 times the size of our annual expenses. As always, we continue to be grateful for donations from the community that provide technology, scholarships, and evolving academic programs to students. As of the close of 2022, over one hundred alumni and friends of Saint Paul contributed more than $60,000 to create the Tex and Peggy Sample Endowed Scholarship Fund honoring the life and work of Tex and Peggy Sample. Sustainability has been our focus over the past five years, and we have achieved our goal. Investments in our future bring exciting new opportunities for our students, staff, and faculty. Our significant technological investments have allowed us to maintain a hybrid educational delivery model providing a flexible working arrangement for our students.

Saint Paul School of Theology is blessed to be your partner in ministry and help those seeking to discover more and answer the call. We are grateful for your support of our students and our seminary. May we continue to live into the call of Jesus Christ to be faithful witnesses for generations to come.

United Theological Seminary - Dayton, OH

United Theological Seminary celebrated rising enrollment in the 2022-2023 academic year. In the previous year, 464 students were enrolled at United; in 2022-2023, the seminary is serving 541 students, a 17% increase. A diverse community of many denominations, races and nationalities, United welcomed students from 36 states, 21 countries, and 43 denominations, with 42% of students identifying as United Methodist.* The Seminary prepared 103 Course of Study students** and served 10 students through the Hispanic Christian Academy, a 3-year online course of ministry program for Hispanic/Latino lay pastors and leaders serving United Methodist congregations.

Houses of Study

In large part, this enrollment growth is a result of the seminary’s House of Study initiative, which is supported by a $1 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc.’s Pathways for Tomorrow Initiative. As of 2022-2023, the Seminary has established five Houses of Study that are equipping master’s students for the unique ministry needs of the communities, movements and denominations in which they serve:

  • Fresh Expressions, directed by Dr. Michael Beck;
  • Full Gospel Baptist Fellowship, directed by Bishop Lisa Weah;
  • Global Methodist, directed by Rev. Gregory Stover;
  • Global Pentecostal, directed by Dr. Cheryl Bridges Johns;
  • and Hispanic, directed by Dr. Jorge Ochoa.

The largest of these communities is the Hispanic House of Study (Casa de Estudios Hispana), which is meeting a need for Hispanic/Latino pastors and church leaders ready to pursue a Master of Divinity in their native language. Nearly 50 students from across the United States and Latin America, including students from Mexico, Cuba, Columbia, and Peru, started in the online program in the 2022-2023 academic year.

As United continues to expand its offerings to support church leaders, it is preparing to launch three new Houses of Study in the 2023-2024 academic year: a Korean House of Study, taught 100% in Korean for Korean-speaking students, led by Dr. Seok Jae Jeon; an African Methodist Episcopal Zion House of Study led by Bishop Eric Leake; and a Global Lutheran House of Study led by Dr. Richard Blue, Dr. Tom Thorstad and Dr. Dan Landin.

Doctor of Ministry

The Seminary is also seeing growth in its Doctor of Ministry program. In 2022-2023, the Doctor of Ministry program has grown to 250 students, an increase of 32% over the past five years.* Doctoral students at United are actively engaged in ministry and seeking to become more effective leaders for the Church through a Doctor of Ministry degree. Students identify a need within their congregations or communities and, with the support of a peer group, mentor and United faculty, they develop a model of ministry to address the challenge.

Bishop Bruce Ough Innovation Center

Launched in Fall 2021, the Bishop Bruce Ough Innovation Center, directed by Rev. Sue Nilson Kibbey, is connecting with pastors, ministry leaders and congregational members hungry to bring God’s renewal to their faith communities. In the past year alone, the Innovation Center has engaged more than 1,000 participants through more than 40 live webinars, training events and courses. The Innovation Center has also partnered with The Center for Spiritual Formation, a connectional ministry of the Susquehanna Conference of The United Methodist Church, to offer a two-year online training course for those called to the ministry of spiritual direction. In addition, the Center is partnering with two United Methodist conferences to provide its Breakthrough Prayer Initiative training for all clergy in these conferences. Through these and other new opportunities, the Innovation Center seeks to set the stage for the increased vitality of leaders and congregations everywhere.

Dr. Kent Millard

* Student data represent 2022-2023 headcount enrollment, as of March 1, 2023. Denominational figures represent those who responded.

** Course of Study figures represent the most recent four terms.

Wesley Theological Seminary

Wesley Theological Seminary continues to grow and thrive through research, innovation, and equipping Christian leaders for real-life ministries.

Course offerings and support that respond to students’ needs

Get the education you need in the format you want.

  • Pursue your call in a dynamic community within the corridors of power in Washington, DC, or earn a degree through flexible hybrid and online options from your home! Learn more: wesleyseminary.edu/study/
  • Our FlexMA is a 36-hour flexible M.A. degree for those preparing for bi-vocational or specialized ministries. Learn more: www.wesleyseminary.edu/flexma/
  • Wesley offers specializations in African American church leadership, public theology, military chaplaincy, and certifications in Christian studies, children and youth ministry and advocacy, and health ministry. Learn more: wesleyseminary.edu

Wesley provides $2 million annually in scholarships, including full-tuition scholarships for master’s applicants recommended by alums, campus ministers, or Christian service ministries; Next Call in Ministry scholarships for students working 10+ years in a non-ministry setting; and Generación Latinx Scholarships for emerging Latinx leaders in ministry.

Wesley’s Doctor of Ministry programs includes relevant tracks such as Church Leadership Excellence, Soul Care, Global Church Leadership, Howard Thurman, and the ground-breaking track on Trauma, Moral Injury, and Christian Life. Journey with a cohort of leaders with online classes and hybrid week-long intensive sessions. Learn more: wesleyseminary.edu/doctorofministry/

Research projects support congregational thriving and envision future ministry.

Over $11 million in Grants from Lilly Endowment Inc. undergird Wesley’s research into and support of congregational thriving and innovation.

  • In collaboration with Southern Methodist University Perkins School of Theology, Wesley Theological Seminary is developing professional courses and certificates for pastors.
  • The Wesley Innovation Hub brings together diverse congregational cohorts to learn and practice ministry innovations that engage young adults for social change. Learn more: wesleyseminary.edu/wesley-innovation-hub/
  • The Wesley Ministry Innovation Fellowship is a one-year, cohort-based experience with community formation, spiritual direction, graduate-level courses, and hands-on experience leading innovation. Each innovator earns a stipend and four graduate academic course credits. Learn more: wesleyseminary.edu/wesley-innovation-hub/design-fellows/
  • The Lewis Center for Church Leadership’s Religious Workforce Project offers multi-denominational research into current and future needs. Visit religiousworkforce.com/

Enrich your congregational outreach and explore new dimensions of ministry.

The Lewis Center for Church Leadership conducts leading-edge research for the local church. Find the Leading Ideas e-newsletter and Leading Ideas podcast, a weekly resource for over 20,000 leaders, at churchleadership.com.

The Community Engagement Institute embraces a vibrant vision to be the premier center for churches and faith-based organization engaging their communities.

The Henry Luce III Center for the Arts and Religion explores the intersection of the arts and theology. Visit luceartsandreligion.org.

Stay connected

Contact us at (202) 885-8659 or admissions@wesleyseminary.edu. Follow us on social media— Facebook wesleyseminary, Instagram @wesleyseminary, LinkedIn wesleytheologicalseminary, and Twitter @WesTheoSem.

The Rev. Dr. David McAllister-Wilson
President, Wesley Theological Seminary

Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church

122 West Franklin Avenue, Suite 400 Minneapolis, MN 55404


(612) 870-0058