By: Christa Meland
The Dakotas-Minnesota Area will welcome a new bishop on Jan. 1, 2023: Lanette Plambeck. Watch video interview with Bishop Plambeck. She was one of three new bishops elected at the North Central Jurisdictional Conference in Fort Wayne, Indiana, which concluded Nov. 5 with the assignment of bishops. “I love our God, and I love the United Methodist Church,” Bishop Plambeck said after her election. “I wasn’t born in it but was called to it, and I believe to the very depth of who I am and that our very best years are ahead of us, right here, right now.”
Here are 10 things that will help you get to know our new bishop:
1. Ministry background: Bishop Plambeck currently serves as director of clergy leadership excellence and assistant to the bishop in the Iowa Annual Conference. Prior to that, she pastored four churches in four very different contexts in Iowa—including urban, county seat, town, and country—and served as the chaplain at Morningside University in Sioux City, Iowa.
2. Formative years: Bishop Plambeck grew up in western Iowa and spent her first decade unchurched and living in poverty. When her dad married her mom and adopted her, she was introduced to faith and baptized. But it was when she spent two months in the hospital with a severe illness that God showed up and shared God’s plan for her life; the very next day, at age 10, she declared that she was going to be a pastor. Eventually, she found her way to United Methodist-related Morningside College (now Morningside University), and started attending a nearby United Methodist Church. “My heart was warmed by that theology,” she said, and soon after she became United Methodist.
3. Gifts and graces: Bishop Plambeck describes herself as “unapologetically Wesleyan,” empathetic, compassionate, and loyal, and said she clings to her integrity. “I am compelled to see others who are often overlooked,” she said. “I can speak the truth in love and see ways to move through log jams of personal preference toward missional priorities. I can build diverse teams that lead well together.”
4. Nature and mission of the church: “Church is a community of people struggling with and embracing life finding hope and purpose through Jesus while learning to love God and love others,” said Bishop Plambeck. “The church at its best is generative in its disciple-making, engaged in the means of grace, working toward justice, especially with the poor and marginalized. Jesus’ on earth as it is in heaven goal is nothing less than behaving as if God is leading and loving us toward something bigger than ourselves.”
5. Vision for the church: “My vision for the church is a body of Christ-followers engaged in serving others and finding wholeness for themselves along the way,” Bishop Plambeck said. She holds a deep conviction that church as Jesus saw it—the community of people following his teaching—has the potential and the power to change the world. “Fulfilling that vision begins with local people who know God and learn to love one another – who are committed to serve their local community,” she explained.
6. Ministry focus: Developing and deploying leaders has been Bishop Plambeck’s passion over her 25 years in pastoral ministry, and she believes this is most successful when there is intentional partnership between laity and clergy. The local church is the most significant location where disciple-making occurs, she said, and “it is where we discover ministry is not the obligation of the licensed or ordained; it is the responsibility, privilege, and joy of all the baptized.”
7. Human sexuality: “I desire and will work to remove the restrictive language around human sexuality in the Book of Discipline, relying on the discernment of local churches and clergy to act with grace and faithfulness in their witness and teaching,” Bishop Plambeck said. “I believe the North Central Jurisdiction can be a place where clergy are entrusted and empowered to act with theological integrity and social sensitivity as they each determine who they will marry—a place where all people who are gifted and called to be pastors will be able to enter the licensing and ordination process. I trust every church to self-determine how to honor God and love their neighbors in the ways they bear witness and minister within and beyond their walls.”
8. Fun facts: The bishop’s resume includes two most interesting, non-ministry roles: She is a veteran of the U.S. Army and was deployed to Desert Storm/Desert Shield as a military intelligence analyst from 1989 to 1992. In the Army, she studied Russian language and culture and spent almost a full year at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California. She also served as a licensed counselor in family systems and chemical and substance abuse from 1992 to 1997.
9. Personal practices and hobbies: Every day, Bishop Plambeck engages in a daily practice of what she calls “sacred listening” from 4:30 to 7:30 a.m. It is a set-apart time to center, read, meditate, journal, and pray, and the bishop says this is the most disciplined part of her life as well as the most important. In her free time, Bishop Plambeck enjoys finding her way to bookstores, antique shops, or museums. She loves board games, going to brunch with friends, traveling, and baking. And she tries to go on an annual mission trip with a local community of faith. She has one adult daughter who is in her second year at Georgetown Law in Washington, D.C.
10. Leadership: To stay accountable in her leadership, Bishop Plambeck asks God three questions every day: How may I glorify you? How might I point others to Christ? And (at the end of the day) did I love? Those who enjoy personality assessments might be interested to learn that she is an INTJ on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, an Enneagram 3W4, a high D on the DISC Inventory, and her top five StrengthsFinder strengths are ideation, strategic, learner, self-assurance, and achiever. “I am a visionary who is passionate about Jesus, justice, and quality leadership,” she said. “I beg permission to assert one inviolate truth: Our deep longing for God and for the vital witness of The United Methodist Church will be fulfilled as by God’s grace we stand firm and cling to our deeply rooted spiritual and missional integrity.”
Read more about Bishop Lanette in her episcopal nominee form or on her episcopal candidate website.
Christa Meland is director of communications for the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church