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.


A conspiracy of kindness

10/6/2011

One October the congregation to which I was appointed began a conspiracy. I am not sure how it got started. I just knew I was at the center of it. Every day something mysteriously showed up at my desk. Flowers, chocolate, a small gift, a personal note of thanks. Every day. For no apparent reason. I couldn’t imagine what I had done to deserve this. I was used to occasional notes of thanks...


Focusing on the essentials

8/23/2011

We are a church with high aspirations. You should see the list of all the annual conference teams. They are trying to accomplish every good idea someone has had at some time, with the really good intentions of being responsive to people and expanding the circle of those with whom we are in ministry. The problem: we have become so wide in our scope of ministry that we are facing ...


Is our tent big enough?

8/23/2011

Following her husband’s death, a member of a congregation I once led was rummaging through some old files in preparation for moving to a new apartment. She ran across a clipping from the World War II era that she passed on to me. I dropped it in a file of my own and recently ran across it as I perused and purged papers as I settled into my new office at the Minnesota Church Center. It ...


Is our tent big enough?

8/23/2011

By Dan Johnson Following her husband’s death, a member of a congregation I once led was rummaging through some old files in preparation for moving to a new apartment. She ran across a clipping from the World War II era that she passed on to me. I dropped it in a file of my own and recently ran across it as I perused and purged papers as I settled into my new office at the Minnesota ...


How will the church ‘reset’ to future changes?

8/22/2011

Almost every measurement of the United Methodist Church’s work at making disciples, where we count people, shows decreases. Almost every measurement related to giving and financial assets, where we count dollars, shows increases. Bishops, Cabinets, benefits officers, treasurers, and chairs of conference councils on finance and administration, pension boards, and boards of ordained ...


Minnesota campus life in the roaring ‘20s

8/17/2011

“Efficiency Our Aim, Scholarship Our Watchword, Character Our Goal” was the motto of Parker College, Minnesota United Methodism’s little-known second college. Parker College was founded in 1886 by Baptists in Winnebago and run by Methodists from 1912 to 1924. Parker College was dedicated to educating rural youth of southern Minnesota. Continuous emphasis was put on creating a good ...


Preserving photos

8/17/2011

Church historians and others who take care of historical documents: Do you wonder what to do with piles of photographs of many sizes, shapes, and conditions? Photographs provide a special challenge as they need different care than regular paper documents. Here are some guidelines for photo care. First, when possible, store photographs separately from other paper documents. Because of the...


What pension & health benefits decisions face General Conference?

8/17/2011

Delegates to the 2012 General Conference will have hundreds of pages to read and understand as they prepare to vote on items that will have lasting implications for the church and individuals who serve the church. The items relating to pension and benefit changes for United Methodist clergy are among the most complex pieces of legislation that delegates will consider. During March I ...


Year of the sums

7/25/2011

At annual conference session, Bishop Sally Dyck drew our attention to the “nones”—people who indicate “none” when asked their religious affiliation. This is the fastest growing “religious” group in America. They may be spiritual, but not religious. They may be emerging adults or mature adults. They may have roots in one or more faith traditions or be severed from any heritage of faith. ...


What’s stopping us?

7/1/2011

Once there was a small church with a large sanctuary. About 30 to 40 people attended worship each Sunday, scattered throughout the sanctuary. When I visited this church, I noticed how uncomfortably empty it seemed. It was too large a space for this small group of people. I wanted to rip out the pews, carpet the floor and put in flexible seating so the environment was more conducive to a ...


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