Latest from the Bishop

The Joyful Journey: Autumn reverie


We miss something deeply important if we neglect opportunities to slow down, watch the leaves change colors, and let a cool autumn breeze kiss our cheeks.

Is our tent big enough?


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?


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


“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


Church historians and others who take care of historical documents: Do you wonder what to do with piles of photographs of many sizes, shapes, and conditions?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?


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


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?


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 ...

A third place


Last month on a flight from Minneapolis to Portland, I struck up a conversation with a young woman in the adjacent seat. I introduced myself and asked, “Are you coming or going?” Jamey, I’ll call her, explained that she was a researcher for one of the large Minnesota food companies. She was part of a local team headed to the Pacific Northwest to monitor focus group responses to a new ...

Will our children have faith?


How many baseball games will be you be sitting at this summer? Having a couple of nephews who love and live for baseball, I’ll be attending a few games. I have watched their games from T-ball through high school. Sports have been a huge part of their lives and have given them much joy, and their parents have done everything they could to give their children that experience. How many of ...

We believe in resurrection churches


We have been closing churches in the Minnesota Annual Conference. When we think of church, we often image a pastor, a building, and a group of people who meet there. In that model, when a church drops below 100 people in average worship attendance, it usually cannot afford a full-time pastor anymore. When attendance drops to 30 or 40, and particularly as the congregants age, they find it...

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