By: Christa Meland
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff—
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
my whole life long.”
We are a people and a world in need of healing beyond our doing. God invites us to come sit by still waters, and to allow God to restore our soul.
“That is our hope for the 2022 annual conference session—that it will be one of deep community, experiencing the goodness of God who sets a table before us, and that we can enter into holy conversation with one another about the future of the Minnesota Annual Conference as we navigate this unique time we are in,” said Rev. Cindy Gregorson, director of connectional ministries and clergy assistant to the bishop.
Drawing on Psalm 23 and John 10:10-11, our theme is “Jesus: Healer.”
It’s been almost three years since we last gathered in-person. “We have been through so much, and to be able to be in-person, in community, to see each other’s faces, and to worship, sing, pray, laugh and play together will be a joy,” said Gregorson.
We’ll meet at the Rivers Edge Convention Center in St. Cloud May 24 and 25. Our time together will include:
• a banquet with a meal, conversation, a time of remembering the saints (clergy and spouses) who have died within the past year, and an opportunity to listen to guest musician Rachel Kurtz
• table conversations about who and where we are and what we’ve learned from the pandemic
• a time to celebrate ministry milestones at the Service of Ordination and Commissioning, which will take place Tuesday evening, May 24
• inspiring worship services, including a message from this year’s conference preacher, Rev. Bruce Kronen, honoring those retiring, and Bishop David Bard’s Episcopal Address
• presentations and sharing in table conversations around the four parts of our aspirational vision: rooted in Jesus, grounded in Wesleyan theology, inclusive of all, and engaged in the work of justice and reconciliation
• a business session on Wednesday, May 25, where we’ll vote on legislation, including the conference budget, and hear a couple of reports
• interest group lunches on Wednesday, May 25
“Joy breaks” consisting of fun-filled, festive, uplifting activities between sessions will be offered throughout our time together. As always, the gathering will be live streamed so that non-members and those who don’t feel comfortable meeting in-person can still watch. Prior to the event, five virtual pre-conference webinars will be offered throughout May; these provide an opportunity to become acquainted with the legislation and prepared for the discussions that will take place at Annual Conference.
Registration will open April 1. That will allow us to be relatively sure that the COVID infection rate will be low enough to enable us to meet in-person as planned. Attendees are encouraged to book their hotel rooms as soon as possible, but be sure your reservation allows you to cancel up until right before the event in case a COVID surge prevents us from meeting in-person. There will be COVID protocols in place at our gathering; they will be announced around the time registration opens.
Should another COVID surge emerge right before Annual Conference, we would resort to plan B—which would involve live streaming presentations to small groups gathering at designated locations around the state (similar to last year) on the first day and a virtual business session via Zoom webinar on the second day.
Clergy Session will be virtual and take place May 19.
We hope you join us at the 2022 Annual Conference to be renewed, restored, and to experience God’s goodness and healing power at a time when we, and our world, desperately need them.
Christa Meland is director of communications for the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church