Clear Opens

As bishop of the Dakotas-Minnesota Area, I and the Dakotas and Minnesota Appointive Cabinets seek to match clergy and congregations in order to fulfill our gospel imperatives - to grow in love of God and neighbor, reach new people, and heal a broken world. In appointment making, each Cabinet, through prayerful discernment, seeks to hold in balance the demonstrated gifts and graces of available pastors with the missional needs of the local church.

As part of our consultation process in appointment-making, we are again this year inviting clergy to indicate their interest in those churches which we presently know to be open as of Dec. 8, 2020. If additional clear opens become known, a second notification will be sent after the first of the year.

Presently there are clear opens in seven of the nine districts in the Dakotas and Minnesota Annual Conferences. The clear-open churches in both conferences are listed below. The appointive cabinets will use the information from your interest as part of our process of appointment-making.

If you are interested in being considered for one of these churches, we invite you to drop an email to the superintendent of the open church, with a copy to your own DS, stating why you are interested and what gifts you think you bring. If you want to know more about the church, please check out its website and/or ask the DS.

In addition to the churches listed below, we are in a season of exploring new models of ministry and need persons both inside and outside of our annual conferences to partner with us. In particular, we are looking for entrepreneurial individuals interested in planting new ministries and churches as well as pastors who feel called to serve network churches (worship online or through live-streaming in partnership with another church). Please let us know if you are interested and forward this list of clear opens and other opportunities to those you know who are feeling called to partner with us in our disciple-making mission in the Dakotas-Minnesota Area.

Thank you, and we ask that you keep us in your prayers as the Dakotas and Minnesota cabinets begin our appointment-making season.

Bruce R. Ough
Resident Bishop of Dakotas-Minnesota Area


Fargo:  Calvary (Fulltime, AWA – 300)
Calvary UMC, located in Fargo, North Dakota, is an evangelical church within The United Methodist Church which worships around 300 every Sunday. Sunday mornings has a staffed nursery and children’s ministry options for ages four through fifth grade. Wednesday evening children’s ministry includes nursery and an AWANA Bible exploration program. The youth ministry offers small groups for 6-12 grades on Sundays and Wednesdays, and a ninth grade faith basics program as well. Calvary also hosts the YMCA and UPWARD SPORTS program. Their robust children and youth program runs alongside many discipleship and mission opportunities for adults. Calvary African United Methodist Church shares space in the building.
The City of Fargo is located in Cass County, North Dakota, along the Red River of the North which forms the border between Minnesota and North Dakota. An estimated 124,844 (as of July 2018) people live in Fargo. The greater Fargo-Moorhead metropolitan area population is more than 238,000. It is the home of North Dakota State University, museums, performing arts, a zoo, and much more.

Bismarck:  Calvary – Lead Pastor (.25-time, AWA – 30)
The cities of Bismarck and Mandan are situated on either side of the Missouri River in North Dakota. The metropolitan area continues to grow with an estimated population of 130,000. Calvary UMC presently has an average worship of about 30, with a membership of 200. Those attending are mostly elderly and theologically conservative in outlook. The church has greatly declined in attendance the past few years due to contention within the congregation. Up until recently it had been averaging 120 in worship. There are opportunities for new ministry in this growing area with the right pastoral/visionary leadership. The building was built in 1982 and has been well maintained. The addition of two projectors and screens in the sanctuary have made it possible to include electronic visual elements to worship. Presently a preschool rents the basement and two rooms on the main level during the week. This could be a fit for a bi-vocational pastor as the area has many employment opportunities.

Langdon – Lead Pastor (Fulltime, AWA – 30)
Langdon is a county seat community of 1,700 located near the Canadian border in northeastern North Dakota. The Langdon UMC has had a fulltime pastor but is now planning to share a pastor with the Presbyterian Church to make it a fulltime position between the two. The UMC has 15 children in Sunday school between Kindergarten and 3rd grade. The church building and parsonage were built in 1980 with the church being all on one level. Large monitor screens have been recently added to the sanctuary. The public-school system has 400 students PreK-12th and there is a local hospital and clinic in town.

Sioux Falls:  First – Associate Pastor (Fulltime, AWA - 430)
Sioux Falls:  First UMC is a congregation with a mission to be a sanctuary of hope, love, and encouragement in the heart of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. First UMC has three distinctive styles of worship and is committed to helping people grow as disciples and impact their neighborhood and beyond. The building has recently had major remodeling and the congregation is finishing the MCCI prescriptions toward a very vital and alive congregation. With 20 full and part-time staff, the ministries of the church keep the congregation alive with activity. Sioux Falls is a rapidly growing community of 187,000.

Brandon:  Celebration – Lead Pastor (Fulltime, AWA - 135)
Celebration UMC is located in Brandon, South Dakota—a fast-growing suburb of Sioux Falls. Its mission is to REACH people who are not connected to Christ or a church home, CONNECT them with God and one another, and GROW in faith through SERVING. The church has been through a challenging season in recent years and needs a leader to help it recapture its vision. With a worship center that is a multi-purpose room, a contemporary worship style that is casual and accessible, and a love for hands-on mission in the community and beyond, Celebration has tremendous tools for reaching its mission field.

Alexandria – Pastor (.5-time, AWA - 40)
Alexandria, South Dakota, is a community of 600 located on Interstate 90, 45 minutes west of Sioux Falls and 15 minutes east of Mitchell. The church is multi-generational and committed to being a vital part of its community. It has an updated addition as well as worship technology that has opened up ministry possibilities. It is a multi-generational church with active laity invested in ministries with young people.

Rapid City: Canyon Lake - Lead Pastor  (Fulltime, AWA - 350)
Rapid City: Canyon Lake is one of 5 United Methodist churches in Rapid City, South Dakota. Nestled in the western part of the city, it sits on 9 acres of property. The congregation is about 60 years old. It is a suburban congregation with a worship attendance of 350 and a membership of 850. This is a multi-generational church with a preschool/ daycare. The congregation values inclusiveness and spiritual growth. Canyon Lake presently has three worship services: one on Saturday evening and two on Sunday morning. It is a strong missional congregation and reaches out to its community. This is a wonderful, faithful congregation of God.

Eureka (Fulltime, AWA - 70)
Eureka is a community that lies in the northern part of South Dakota not far from the North Dakota border. It is a part of the Germans-from-Russia culture and is a former EUB congregation. With a membership of 120 and worship attendance of 70, this church has a  great legacy of producing pastors. It is a strong church in the Eureka community. Eureka UMC embraces a more conservative theology and has a deep heart for mission and outreach in the community. It is a strong, faithful, giving congregation that lives out its mission to make disciples for Jesus Christ.

Fairburn (.25-time, AWA - 30)
Fairburn is a small congregation about 35 miles south of Rapid City, South Dakota. It is a very small community that is a hub for the surrounding ranchers. Fairburn UMC recently tore down its old church building and has put up a very nice multi-purpose worship space, along with a fellowship hall and kitchen. The congregation recently burned the mortgage and has about 50-60 members, with about 30 in average worship attendance. The Rapid City area is a growing area, and Fairburn has some new developments that will be coming in nearby in the next 5 years. The congregation is conservative in its theology and has a heart for neighbor.

Maple Grove: Cross Winds (Fulltime, AWA pre-pandemic - 210)
Maple Grove, MN (population 71,050) is a northwest suburb of Minneapolis located approximately 20 miles from downtown. In 2014, it was recognized by Money Magazine as the No. 2 community to live in the United States. The community is well supported by a strong city infrastructure and school system. The population is generally affluent and highly educated. Community trends indicate a shift in population growth from young families to retirees. The Cross Winds Board “Purpose Task Force” has identified a continued need for significant young family ministry and an increased ministry opportunity to empty nesters and retirees.

The church has benefited from a strong and devoted team of staff, retired clergy and lay leadership that ministers to an active congregation. Current staff includes an associate pastor (LLP) who also heads youth programming, a music worship arts director, a worship administrator, a children’s ministry director, treasurer, office manager, and music accompanist.

The next pastor will need to be visionary in setting direction for the church prioritizing service and outreach to younger generations, empty nesters and retirees. Experience leading a high performing team including coordination of diverse ministries, communication across staff for awareness and inclusion, and future focused ministry event and experiences planning. A focus on growth and community outreach will be highly valued as well. A desired trait would be appreciation of evolving ministry trends including online worship.

Taylors Falls (.25-time, AWA pre-pandemic - 25-30)
Taylors Falls is a charming, small town located along the St. Croix River. It is a popular tourist community and the church attracts some visitors during the summer and early fall. The Taylors Falls UMC building is the oldest, continuous use UMC building in Minnesota. The building, because of its history and charm, is often used/rented for weddings (however, the pastor of this church is not required to do all these weddings).

The congregation consists primarily of retirees. However, there are some younger, working folks and a few youth. This congregation sings well and with gusto! Folks want a pastor who will form a strong bond with them, who will guide them in their spiritual growth and walk as followers of Jesus and be their pastor in time of need. The church has a strong desire to become more active in ministry to the community. It recently constructed a food pantry to assist families during the pandemic. Each summer, Taylors Falls UMC unites with the Lutheran and Baptist churches to provide a community VBS. The town of Taylors Falls has an annual Festival of Lights and Taylors Falls UMC serves as the hub for most of the activities that take place during that festival.

Spirit River Community Church and Spirit River Foundation
Spirit River is a very unique ministry modeled after the Church for All People in Columbus, OH. Since 2007, Spirit River has provided a community of acceptance and radical hospitality for those who are facing daily and complex struggles in life. The congregational arm of Spirit River provides a worshipping community for spiritual growth and nurture. The Spirit River Foundation is dedicated to providing help for physical and emotional needs such as financial insecurity, food scarcity, divorce care for parents/children/adolescents, life skills, memory care, recovery from adverse childhood experiences and other types of mental health issues. Spirit River Community Church recently sold its building in order to better focus on its mission. This article describes in greater detail the mission and history of Spirit River. The pastor will also serve ex-officio on the Spirit River Foundation Board. West Bethel and Spirit River currently share the same pastor and have a positive relationship with each other as congregations. Both are open and flexible regarding the future.

Cedar:  West Bethel (.25-time, AWA pre-pandemic - 30-35)
Located 45 miles north of downtown Minneapolis, in Cedar, Minnesota, West Bethel UMC is a small congregation in a growing area. This is a very outreach, mission-minded church that is a big supporter of Emma Norton Services. Some members serve monthly at the Food Shelf, others serve Meals on Wheels, and they pack meals at Feed My Starving Children. The congregation loves good music and its holiday services and enjoys both traditional and contemporary music. There is a weekly men’s Bible study with participants from outside the church. They most appreciate sermons that are scriptural and relevant to daily living. West Bethel and Spirit River currently share the same pastor and have a positive relationship with each other as congregations. Both are open and flexible regarding the future.

Detroit Lakes (Fulltime,  AWA – 196)
Detroit Lakes is the county seat of Becker County and is located in the heart of lakes country. The community of Detroit Lakes, located on Highway 10 approximately 45 miles from Fargo, ND, has a population of over 9,000 and has seen steady growth in the last several years. Detroit Lakes UMC is a vital growing church. This church has a membership of 354 with average worship attendance of 196. After participating in HCI a few years ago, the church began a Wednesday evening worship service targeted for young families without a church connection. That program saw immediate growth and has been well supported by the existing congregation. Before the COVID-19 shutdown, Detroit Lakes UMC had two Sunday morning worship opportunities – one contemporary, and one traditional, and one on Wednesday evening. This church has been served for the last year by interim pastors and a dedicated staff who have stepped up remarkably during this uncertain time. This is a church that is committed to outreach, growth, and disciple-making. Its members are looking for a pastor to lead them with inspiring worship and a missional mindset. Detroit Lakes is a reconciling congregation. This is a fulltime position with a housing allowance.

Pine River  (.25- time, AWA – 30)
Pine River is a town with a population of 1,000 located on Hwy 371, 30 miles from Brainerd.  Pine River UMC is a congregation of 48 members with an average worship attendance of 30. The members are mainly older adults with very strong leadership abilities. They have been served by a retired pastor who retired altogether from ministry this year. This is a beautiful area to retire to. Pine River UMC is a church whose members enjoy each other and serving their community together. This is a quarter-time position and there is no parsonage. 

Burnsville:  Grace -  Lead Pastor  (Fulltime, AWA – 110)
Burnsville (population 61,000) is a growing suburban community in Dakota County, located less than 20 miles from the Twin Cities metropolitan area. Burnsville borders Savage, Apple Valley and Lakeville. The average median age is 38 years old with average income of over $55,000 a year. Burnsville continues to become more and more ethnically and culturally diverse with people of color reflecting 21% of the population. Grace, known in the community as “The Church on the Hill,” values its intimate, traditional worship services. The congregation, committed to being inclusive of all, is theologically diverse with progressive leanings. There is high value placed on prayer, spiritual growth and missional outreach. The church, having recently eliminated mortgage debt, has renewed energy and focus to reach new people and expand community partnerships. The church is challenged by and yet has a strong desire to attract families and strengthen its ministry to children and youth. There is a need for longer-term, strategic, adaptive pastoral leadership, with gifts to expand discipleship systems, leadership development, and vibrant congregational engagement. Housing allowance.
Rosemount:  The Well  - Associate Pastor  (Fulltime, AWA – 307)
The Well is located in Rosemount (population 23,000), in Dakota County, a southern suburb 15 miles south of the Twin Cities metropolitan area. Rosemount residents enjoy the advantages of living in a community with both a small town and large metropolitan city atmosphere. The surrounding community is more and more ethnically and culturally diverse. The Well is an intergenerational congregation focused on connecting people to Jesus for the transformation of their community. The congregation is theologically diverse, intentionally nonpartisan, and committed to being inclusive of all. Prayer, spiritual formation through small group discipleship, missional outreach, and congregational engagement are congregational strengths. The Associate Pastor will be responsible for church outreach and growth through virtual ministries and livestream worship, contemporary worship, strategic leadership and coordination, spiritual formation programming, and pastoral care to young families and new members. This position has the primary responsibility for creating and overseeing contemporary worship services. This would include preaching on a regular basis and providing leadership and support in weekly Sunday worship services. In addition, the Associate Pastor will provide leadership and coordination of spiritual formation, discipleship, and engage ministries. The responsibilities would include recruiting, equipping, and training volunteer leaders and teams; creating and implementing a strategic spiritual formation strategy and programming for spiritual growth; and shepherding and care to young families and new members at The Well, including design and implementation of strategies for new members to connect, engage and serve at The Well. Housing allowance.

Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church

122 West Franklin Avenue, Suite 400 Minneapolis, MN 55404

(612) 870-0058