Blogs/Columns


Latest from the Bishop

Easter message: ‘Pray with your eyes wide open’

4/18/2019

Bishop Ough invites us to look for change, for hope, and for signs of Christ’s victory over death “with eyes wide open” in anticipation of the future.


Vital congregations series #2: Why worship?

8/7/2012

It’s been seven months since the churches of the Minnesota Annual Conference began recording and reporting weekly statistical data for our nation-wide United Methodist Vital Congregations program. United Methodist churches across the country have set goals and are intentionally tracking seven important metrics: 1. worship attendance 2. persons received into membership by profession of ...


Vital congregations series #1: Why measure?

7/3/2012

It’s been six months since Minnesota United Methodist churches began reporting weekly statistical data to the denomination-wide Vital Congregations project. United Methodist churches across the connection have set goals and are tracking progress in seven areas: worship attendance people received into membership by profession of faith number of small groups number of people participating...


What does my church ‘get back’ from apportionments?

6/29/2012

When church members ask this of pastors, district superintendents, and conference staff, they may be hoping for an answer in a dollar amount. Then they could compare that to the church’s apportionment payments. I sometimes wish I could give that type of answer because it is what I’m trained to do—measure and account for financial transactions. But participation in paying apportionments ...


A change of pace

6/22/2012

Why do we keep doing what is not working hoping for different results? LeeAnne Watkins, rector of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in St. Paul, reports that her church canceled all of its adult education opportunities and midweek services (“This just isn’t working,” Christian Century, June 14). They tried everything: Bible studies, book studies, video studies, morning and evening groups, ...


Pray for Duluth-area flood victims

6/22/2012

After more than seven inches of rain fell on the Duluth area in just a few days, that region is now faced with flood-damaged roads, homes, and businesses. You have seen the distressing images of cars swallowed by sinkholes in streets, blocks of homes and businesses isolated like islands, buildings ruined by flooding, even seals that swam lost and adrift from their zoo habitat. The good ...


Let’s ‘like’ growth!

4/23/2012

What would we do differently if we believed our communities were our congregations? Where would we allocate resources if believed that the world is our parish? When will we reclaim our denominational DNA of starting one new faith community per day in the U.S.? How can we learn from and encourage the many newly planted churches in our central (overseas) conferences? In a letter to our ...


We can’t afford to lose life-changing camping ministry

4/23/2012

We have some difficult decisions to make as a church about our camp and retreat ministry. Many of us had significant experiences, perhaps even life-changing ones, at church camp. We discovered the power of Christian community. We may have heard a call to full-time Christian vocation. Perhaps we have been going to the same family camp year after year and its location is sacred ground to ...


What’s the recommended 2013 budget?

4/23/2012

The 2013 annual conference recommended budget is just over $6.2 million, $130,000 lower than the 2012 budget. The 2013 budget continues a trend of declining budgets. The 2013 budget, if approved as recommended, will be at our ceiling (maximum allowed by conference rules) and at the same level as our 2003 budget. Ten of the last fourteen budgets have been below ceiling; three have been at...


Do we believe we are an Easter church?

3/26/2012

I heard a respected church consultant say that every church could potentially have in weekly worship the number of people who attend on Easter Sunday. He was consulting with a church of about 1,100 people who attend on Easter; on a “normal” week, they have about 500 in worship. It was intriguing to consider what this church would be doing differently, what the staffing would look like, ...


How does Imagine No Malaria generosity compare to apportionments?

3/26/2012

You may have read about the Minnesota Conference apportionment receipt rate for 2011. For several years, we held steady at receiving 86 percent of the amount we apportioned, but dropped to 84.2 percent in 2011. You probably also know that the Minnesota Conference is leading the denomination with our pledges and gifts for Imagine No Malaria. You have pledged or given over $2,397,445, more...


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