Latest from the Bishop

Pastoral message following Judicial Council rulings


Bishop Ough urges Minnesota United Methodists to stay together and strong in this in-between time, and to be the leaders and the church God is calling us to be.

Welcome to a new day


By Keith Shew Greetings from Camp Minnesota! It’s an exciting time of year in camping. The days are getting longer, temperatures seem to be rising a bit, the ice isn’t quite as solid as it was, and between storms, we’re seeing more open patches of grass at the camp sites. As the winter shows signs of giving way to the promise of a spring, the thoughts of the camping staff are turning ...

2012: A year of transition and focus


In 2012, there was some expectation that it would be a year of significant change and transition for people and churches called United Methodist. General Conference 2012 met for ten days. Sweeping changes were proposed, but in the end, very little substantively changed in terms of the Book of Discipline. However, there does seem to be a change of attitude by those who attended. Many came...

How should my church properly document contributions?


As I wrote this column during the first week of December, the weather forecast included the first significant snowfall of the year in the Twin Cities. I suspect that as you read this in January, you will be tired of shoveling snow, wondering how we can drop the weight we gained from too many Christmas cookies, and maybe even feeling a bit let down at the end of the Christmas season. Here...

The other side of Christmas


Grace and peace to you from God our Creator and Christ Jesus, the Light of the World. By the time you read this, we will have celebrated the birth of Jesus and will be well into the twelve days of Christmas on our way to Epiphany Day (Jan. 6), the last day of Christmas. This ancient church festival commemorates the coming of the magi to Jesus in Bethlehem, having followed a new ...

Vital Congregations series entry #7: Why support mission beyond the local church?


“Why are we giving money away to other charities when we can’t support our own church budget?” The words, voices and contexts may differ, but the question is common in many congregations. The provocative irony is that in this day and age, we may not be able to support our own church budget unless we do give money away to other charities! At the November 2012 national gathering of United ...

Time to cease the slaughter of the innocents


“A voice was hear in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they were no more.” (Matt. 2:18, NRSV) Matthew’s Gospel quotes the prophecy of Jeremiah in reporting that King Herod killed all the male children in the region of Bethlehem who were two years old or under in his misguided, rage-induced and evil attempt to ...

Loosened tongues


I greet you in the name and spirit of Emmanuel, God with us. We have entered the Advent season. This is a season of waiting, watching, and preparing for the “God with us” mystery—the incarnation mystery. This is the season of anticipating the gift of the Christ child. Advent is also a time of joyous proclamation: a time of Magnificat, a time of prophecy, a time of singing praises, a time...

Rx for church financial health


As we enter the season of Advent, a time of watching and waiting, it’s a good time to perform a checkup on your congregation’s financial health. Your answers to the following questions will give you a quick assessment of your church’s overall financial health. No computer or calculator needed! 1. Are you able to pay current expenses on time? 2. Do you have funds for emergencies like an ...

Vital congregations series entry #6: Why engage in service and outreach?


How do you measure a lake? You could measure depth or surface area, or water clarity, or fish population, or mineral content, or invasive species, or any of a host of other variables. How to measure it depends on how we plan to use it! So it is with service and outreach. We could measure missional activity in a variety of ways, but through the United Methodist Vital Congregations ...

Who is Christmas for?


Consider this provocative thought: Supremely, early Methodism was driven by the conviction that it is not a Christian movement’s main business to protect the gospel from the pagans and barbarians; the gospel is entrusted to us for the sake of the pagans and barbarians. Furthermore, Methodists believe that it is not a local church’s main business to nurture the members, important as that ...

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