2018 conference highlights for churches to share with members

June 02, 2018

By: Christa Meland

Watch/download highlights video: 2-min. version / 7-min. version

Wondering how to condense three full days of worship, learning, and celebrating into a succinct report you can bring back to members of your congregation? Click here for a seven-minute video you can download and show or click here for a two-minute version. Here are some additional highlights to consider sharing:
Theme: Drawing on John 15:1-17, the theme of this year's annual conference session was “Discover Joy: Live Deeply!” We focused on the pathway to a deep, well-lived life, which comes as we abide in Jesus. We connected to our collective story of how God has named and claimed us, heard a variety of “Why Jesus” stories, and explored practices that sustain us and give depth to our spiritual lives—those that allow us to discover the joy that comes when we invest ourselves in growing in our love of God and neighbor. And we celebrated the multitude of ways that we are sent into the world to live fully and offer the goodness we have discovered in living in the way of Jesus.
Bishop’s Episcopal Address: In his 2018 Episcopal Address, Bishop Ough talked about how when we remain in Jesus, his joy is our joy, and he explored what it means to be Love First congregations—focused on loving God and loving our neighbors. The three most distinctive characteristics of Love First churches are that they live the United Methodist way, tell their Jesus stories, and generate Love First fruit, he said.
Teaching sessions with Olu Brown: In two teaching sessions, Rev. Olu Brown explored the importance of knowing, claiming, and reclaiming our personal “why” stories and underscored the critical task of staying connected to the vine so we can be inspired to transform the world. One of the worst things that can happen is for us to become “professional Christians”—doing church, worship, and prayer by the numbers, he said. He urged us to be “catalyst evangelists”—those who go before to create an opportunity or atmosphere to connect people to Jesus.
Missional Report: On Wednesday, through a spoken Missional Report, conference attendees learned about and celebrated a variety of Holy Spirit breakthroughs in our midst—places where we are shaking things up and changing people’s lives by helping them come to know Christ more deeply. Examples include starting a faith community in St. Michael, creating a culture of call and helping laity to pursue new ministry paths, and clergy participating in covenant groups for support, learning, and accountability.
Vine and Branches Talks: Rev. Carol Zaagsma and Rev. Rachel McIver Morey shared TED-style “Vine and Branches Talks” related to staying connected to the vine that is Jesus; living with love, compassion, and respect; and honoring different perspectives while maintaining our Christian beliefs and ideals. Zaagsma focused on the importance of listening deeply to others and trying to see the other as Christ would, while Morey talked about sharing our stories from where we stand and listening to the stories of others as they would have them be told.
Recognizing those entering new chapter of ministry: At a Celebration of Life in Ministry worship service Friday afternoon, hundreds of Minnesota United Methodists gathered to remember 21 friends and colleagues who have died over the past year, honor 22 retiring clergy, and celebrate nine people being ordained, two people transferring in from other denominations, four being commissioned as provisional members, and 17 newly licensed local pastors. Thanks be to God for this group of dedicated leaders!
Arts as a Spiritual Practice festival and concert: Attendees explored various art forms as spiritual practices at a festival on Wednesday night. They engaged with local artists hosting stations where they could try out sculpture, spoken word, body movement, drawing, and paper cutting. Then nationally known singer-songwriter Carrie Newcomer performed a 90-minute concert.
Legislation: Members of Annual Conference debated and voted on a number of pieces of legislation on Thursday. They approved changing the location of the 2020 Annual Conference to Sioux Falls, South Dakota so that the Minnesota and Dakotas Annual Conferences can engage in two shared days of learning, worship, and celebration, and they approved raising the minimum clergy salary. They also approved resolutions related to preventing gun violence and advocating for the rights of children living under Israeli occupation.  
Love Offering: As of the end of Annual Conference, nearly $70,000 had been given to the 2018 Love Offering. This year’s Love Offering will go to Puerto Rico Hurricane Recovery Trips (65 percent), Park Avenue UMC Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools Program (20 percent), and NUMAS Haus (15 percent).

Additional Resources

Conference highlights videos: 2-min. wrap-up / 7-min. wrap-up Wed., May 30 / Thurs., May 31 / Pre-conference: Tues., May 29
• Annual conference logo: Click here to download the "Discover Joy: Live Deeply" annual conference logo.
• Annual conference PowerPoint template: Click here to download a 16x9 conference-themed PowerPoint template and click here to download a 4x3 conference-themed PowerPoint template. These can be used to create your own presentation.
• Missional report: Click here to view (and print) a missional report that highlights key conference goals and progress we're making toward achieving those goals.
• Photos: Click here to view photos from all three days of annual conference session (just select the album with photos from the day you want to see). You can download high-resolution versions of any of the photographs that professional photographer David Haines took by clicking on the photo you want, then hitting the down arrow in the lower-right corner of the page.
• Articles: Click here to read all the articles about key news and events during annual conference.
• Videos: Click here to view videos shown throughout annual conference. (Note: Vine and Branches Talks will be available soon.)
• Breakthrough prayer card: Click here to view and download a sheet with copies of the Breakthrough Prayer that Bishop Ough encourages all Minnesota United Methodists to pray daily. (Click here for a large-print version.)
'All Are Called' discipleship model graphic: Click here to view and download the "All Are Called" discipleship model graphic that appeared in the front of the Sketchbook given to all attendees.
• 'I Imagine' prayer: Click here to view and download the powerful "I Imagine" prayer that Rev. Cindy Gregorson shared as part of the Missional Report.

Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church

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