Annual Conference 2023: Encounter. Transform. Respond. The Emmaus Experience

February 23, 2023

By: Christa Meland

A palpable sense of the Holy Spirit. Great worship and conversation. Tools that you can bring back to your local church.
Those are some of the things you can expect at the 2023 Annual Conference, scheduled for May 31-June 1 at the River’s Edge Convention Center in St. Cloud.

Drawing on Luke 24: 13-35, the theme of this year’s gathering is “Encounter. Transform. Respond. The Emmaus Experience.”
“A post-resurrection story where everything has changed but all the implications of it still seem a bit cloudy fits the time and space we are living in as a church,” said Rev. Cindy Gregorson, director of connectional ministries and clergy assistant to the bishop. “We, too, are on the road. We, too, are asking deep questions and trying to make sense of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus today. And we, too, are seeking to offer hospitality to all even in the midst of our uncertainty and finding that we encounter Christ in transforming ways when we do.”
Our time together will include:
· an inspiring Episcopal Address from Bishop Lanette Plambeck—our spiritual shepherd who will preside over her first annual conference as our resident bishop.
· guest speaker, Rev. Michael Beck, who will offer practical ways that churches can connect to their communities and reach new people that are lay-led, low-cost, highly relational, and contextual. Beck co-pastors two Florida churches where he directs addiction recovery programs, a jail ministry, a food pantry, an interracial unity movement, and house a faith-based inpatient treatment center. The churches are traditional congregations and a network of 13 fresh expressions that gather in tattoo parlors, dog parks, salons, running tracks, community centers, burrito joints, and digital spaces. Beck is also director of remissioning at Fresh Expressions, an organization that makes space for church leaders to use both traditional services as well as innovative forms of church to live out Christ’s mission, the idea being that one does not replace the other, but rather creates a mutual benefit for both—a “mixed economy of church.”
• uplifting worship services, including a celebration of ministry milestones at the Service of Life in Ministry on Wednesday, May 31, and a message from this year’s conference preacher, Rev. Becky Jo Messenbrink, at morning worship on Thursday, June 1.
an engaging missional report that celebrates what we’ve accomplished together and looks ahead to what’s next, followed by table conversation around discipleship in the Wesleyan way
• a business session where we’ll vote on legislation, including the conference budget and churches that are disaffiliating.
 a report from the Transitional Table, a think tank of clergy and laity that has been meeting over the past year to creatively brainstorm how to position Minnesota Conference staffing, structure, and resources as we move ahead. 
• an opportunity to meet with colleagues and friends in your district for lunch on Wednesday, May 31.
Registration will open March 15. Both voting members and guests are welcome and encouraged to attend. Clergy Session will take place Tuesday, May 23 from 9 a.m. to noon via Zoom.
The hope for this annual conference session is to have rich table discussion where we encounter the risen Christ, experience heart-transforming moments as we listen deeply to each another, and respond with clarity and passion about how and where God is calling us as the United Methodist Church in Minnesota.
“It feels like a new beginning for the people called Methodist in the Minnesota Annual Conference, and my prayer is that we come, open to however Christ might meet us as we gather at table together so that we can see and experience all that God would have for us,” said Gregorson.

Christa Meland is director of communications for the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.

Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church

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