The following piece was developed in consultation with a new Minnesota Conference strategy team formed in February, 2020. The team aims to help the Minnesota Conference move forward and stay together in this season of change within The United Methodist Church. Members of the team are Rev. Ron Bell, Rev. Cindy Gregorson (director of ministries), Marion Hanson, Rev. Terri Horn, Rev. Woojae Im, Rev. Dan Johnson (Twin Cities District superintendent), Christa Meland (director of communications), Rev. Nate Melcher, Dave Nuckols (conference lay leader), Rev. Jeff Ozanne, Rev. Tyler Sit, Jody Thone (director of leadership development), Rev. Mariah Furness Tollgaard, Rev. Fred Vanderwerf, and Rev. Carol Zaagsma.
Minnesota Annual Conference: Stay strong, stay together… because we are better together!
Click on each section below to see who we are, our commitments, and why we're better together.
Above all else, Jesus’ ministry was to extend abundant life to all God’s beloved children.
We have consistently called each person and congregation to be part of this abundant life movement by being a vital expression of the gospel imperatives to grow in love of God and neighbor, reach new people, and heal a broken world.
So what does an abundant life movement look like? It is a people and a church who are:
- Rooted in Jesus and who love as Christ loves.
- Grounded in Wesleyan theology and shaped by grace while offering such grace to all we meet.
- Inclusive of all persons, not only in how we talk, but by truly embodying that all people are created by God in the image of God, and loved by God as God’s beloved children.
- Engaged in the work of justice and reconciliation in our daily individual interactions and collective witness.
We understand that we are living in uncertain times. We are in the throes of a global pandemic, and our denomination is facing an uncertain future. The 2020 General Conference has been postponed for another year and we don’t yet know what will be decided at it. But we want you to know this is what you can count on in and from the Minnesota Annual Conference:
- We are committed to furthering our goals of growing in love of God and neighbor, reaching new people, and healing a broken world. This includes new church development, local church vitality, developing leaders, and ministry to the poor and marginalized.
- We are committed to inclusiveness in all aspects of the church by embracing the rich diversity found in sexual orientation, race, physical or mental ability, national origin, marital status, gender identity, ethnicity, economic status, and age.
- We affirm each clergyperson’s prayerful discernment in officiating wedding ceremonies for any prepared couple that comes to them.
- We affirm the Board of Ordained Ministry’s commitment to evaluate candidates for ordination, licensing and candidacy solely on the basis of the “All Are Called Competency Model,” which encompasses nine characteristics for effective ministry.
- We commit to the Cabinet’s consultation with clergy and congregations during the appointment process to ensure the best possible missional fit and to position each clergy and congregation to thrive.
- We understand that faithful people come to different conclusions on theological and political matters and resolve to unite in love as John Wesley preached in his sermon on “Catholic Spirit,” in which he said: “Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike? May we not be of one heart, though we are not of one opinion? Without all doubt, we may.”
- Regardless of the outcome of the next General Conference, we will be unwavering in our commitment to full inclusion and our abundant life movement.
- If General Conference adopts the Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace Through Separation, the continuing United Methodist Church commits to the full inclusion of all persons, and the prohibitive language in the Book of Discipline regarding LGBTQ persons is removed, this would align with the aspirational vision adopted at the June 2019 Annual Conference and the Minnesota Annual Conference would most likely remain part of The United Methodist Church.
- If the General Conference does not make progress toward a fully inclusive church and ends in a stalemate, the expectation is that the Minnesota Annual Conference would chart its own future that is committed to our values of being rooted in Jesus, grounded in Wesleyan theology, inclusive of all persons, and engaged in the work of justice and reconciliation.
We are better together through relationship and diversity.
- We have 360 churches all over the state of Minnesota. We are 58,000 people strong. The relationships we have with one another and our history of being the church together matters. We only can learn and know the fullness of God by coming together to hear each other’s experiences. We can only build God’s beloved community with the creativity each of us individually brings.
- Because abundant life means that all people are God’s beloved people, our witness to that movement is strengthened when we do not all look alike and/or think alike. Our ability to reach new people and invite them to taste and see abundant life expands when we open our circle instead of closing it. We need churches in every community, and all the gifts and abilities that God bestows to help us connect with more people.
We are better together through our connectional nature.
- We can do so much more together than we could as any single congregation.
- We can create a vibrant camp and retreat ministry for children and youth.
- We can start new churches in new communities.
- We can raise millions of dollars for causes such as Imagine No Malaria, and we have the systems and partnerships to get dollars to the mission fields where they are needed.
- We can deploy emergency response teams to disaster-torn areas and send Volunteers in Mission teams to places in need of recovery.
- We can support each other when we pool our resources.
- We can bring our youth together for events where they can see and meet hundreds of other kids on a similar Christian journey.
- We can provide training for and equip clergy and congregations in leadership development, congregational revitalization, communications, and financial management.
- We can raise up leaders who are equipped and sent out through programs such as EarthKeepers and certified lay ministry.
- We can connect with college students through our Minnesota United Methodist campus ministries and Wesley Foundations.
- We can provide benefit support for clergy.
- We can offer tools like Safe Gatherings so that every church can keep children, youth, and vulnerable adults safe.
- Every church has someone to call and receive support from when there is a crisis or a need because we have district superintendents.
We are better together when we have a diverse pool of clergy to deploy to the mission field.
- The key to the growth in the Methodist movement in the United States was the circuit rider. In the early days of Methodism, we sent preachers to the mission field who knew the context, who would gather people and form them into community. This is still our path forward.
- We call, credential, and support bold, apostolic, Spirit-filled leaders and work with every local church to appoint the best available clergyperson who is a missional fit for its context and congregation.
- We value the gifts of people often historically excluded from pastoral ministry, such as women, first-generation immigrants, and people of color.
There is a reformation occurring in The United Methodist Church. The Spirit is birthing something new. It is a challenging time in that we do not yet know what that new thing will look like or what the next General Conference will decide. But we have an incredible opportunity, here and now, to imagine anew how we in Minnesota will live into this abundant life movement that is truly liberating and life-giving for all people. We’ll be better together as we see this journey through.