As the Minnesota Conference focuses on growing in love of God and neighbor, reaching new people, and healing a broken world, all Minnesota United Methodist churches are tracking and submitting metrics on a weekly basis that help us pay attention to the impact we’re making in these areas. In addition to tracking worship attendance and faith professions, each church is also asked to provide periodic stories of life transformation. In many cases, these stories are powerful examples of the ways in which churches are fulfilling the Great Commission and serving as beacons of love and compassion in their communities. Here are four inspiring stories that have been shared thus far.
Little Prairie UMC: If not me, then who?
Throughout the months of January and February, the church’s youth group has been studying discipleship and what it means to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Each Wednesday, students have been reading the words of Jesus and having devotions and discussions around the idea that “when you do it unto the least of these, you do it unto me.” As a result, they wanted to do a hands-on mission project. They raised more than $500 by asking for donations from the congregation and the communities of Northfield and Faribault. Then on March 9, they had an overnight experience where they went without food for 12 hours, assembled 147 “blessing bags,” slept in cardboard shelters, and took a trip to Simpson Shelter in Minneapolis to donate the bags and make 100 bag lunches for people to take with them upon leaving Simpson for the day. The youth focused their actions around the song “If not me, then who?” which calls people to action because of the love Jesus has for each of us.
Iglesia Pedra Viva: Reaching new people
This multi-cultural church plant in South Minneapolis, which started weekly worship last fall, had nine professions of faith in March—one youth and eight adults! Additionally, two adults professed faith in Jesus Christ at the church’s Easter service on April 1. Thanks be to God!
Hope UMC, Duluth: Celebrating family in many forms
In January 2017, a young man named Vince came to Sunday morning worship. Vince had moved to Duluth from California three years earlier to work in the growing aeronautics industry. After experiencing worship and meeting some church members, he began exploring ways to be involved. He assisted a church crew in cooking supper for a local homeless outreach program. He attended a concert by church members. And he began helping to host a community outreach to parents and caregivers with young children. Recently, he joined the church choir. Vince struck up a friendship with one member who has become a surrogate grandmother to him. Both of them are active in mission and service in tangible, hands-on ways. As Advent approached, the pastor approached the two of them about lighting the Advent candle on the first Sunday. It was a new opportunity for Vince, who did not come from a strong church background. In a congregation where the candle-lighting has usually been done by traditional nuclear families, this pair demonstrated that “family” comes in many forms when home is defined by faith, and church is more than a building. Hope UMC has changed Vince's life, but just as importantly, Vince has changed the church's life.
Northfield UMC: Called from the community
One youth began coming to Northfield UMC shortly before her freshman year of high school. Having considered rejecting faith, she met one of our pastors in the community and decided of her own initiative to participate in the confirmation program. She immediately immersed herself into the life of the church, playing in worship band, performing liturgical dance, and giving a rousing confirmation service sermon. After being confirmed, she has actively sought out ways to stay involved, brought friends from other clubs to worship, and recently expressed her desire to be a pastor herself.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church