Latest from the Bishop

The Joyful Journey: Disaffiliation, anti-racism, responding to violence


Bishop David Bard gives updates on disaffiliation, encourages every church to engage in anti-racism work, and shares how we might respond to recent violence.

How does federal healthcare reform affect the MAC Plan?


By Barbara Carroll and Jean Edin The Patient Protection and Affordable Healthcare Act was passed in Congress and signed by President Obama in March 2010. The provisions of the Healthcare Act will be implemented over a period of years. Many of the regulations that will govern these provisions are yet to be written. It is difficult to tell at this point how the conference’s self-funded ...



I have listened to hundreds of sermons and have preached even more than that. Too many of them—including my own—focus on telling me what to do: a good Christian tithes, prays, reads the Bible daily, works to eliminate poverty, recycles, forgives . . . you get the idea. These are all good things. But what is often missing is demonstrating why I should want to do these things and how I can...

Secretaries: find help at


By Carol Johanneck New to a church office—particularly a United Methodist church office? Or are you an experienced church office worker who is occasionally stumped by a request? The Minnesota Conference web site,, has answers or guidance for many of the tasks you face. Cleaning? You may discover filing cabinets full of old worship bulletins, fliers, newsletters, ...

Learning from our new church starts


Church planting is a contact sport. I heard that over and over from Jim Griffith, a coach/consultant who trains church planters. Proverbs 29:18 says that without a vision, the people perish. Griffith says the corollary for church planters is that without people, the vision will perish. It is all about people, making contacts, and finding and keeping people. Without people you do not have...

Generous God vs. cheap church


I am calling for a ban the following practice that I observe in many of our churches: the free-will offering basket placed at the refreshment table during coffee time. At a stewardship seminar I recently attended, Nelson Searcy of the Journey Church in New York City said that a theology of abundance underlies everything his church does in terms of stewardship. If we expect people to be ...

What does an audit have to do with ministry?


We have auditors in our office this week. At my mere mention of “We have auditors . . .” people respond with sympathy, ask how they can help, recommend I go out for a latte. The auditors themselves are not a problem. They are nice people doing important work. Their work—to determine if the conference financial statements “present fairly, in all material respects, the consolidated ...

No quick fixes for lasting change


Every year I would make New Year’s resolutions. They were almost always the same: lose weight, keep better spiritual disciplines, work less and play more. I would faithfully write them down in my journal, and then fall into that magical thinking that because I wrote them down, surely they’d come true. I had good intentions. But I had no action plans. I wanted the goal without the work. ...

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