By: Christa Meland
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 in the past few months. (Share a story of life transformation from your congregation along with your weekly metrics so we can share it in a future article!)
Finding love, finding faith: Mabel UMC
From Rev. Pam Seebach: “I received a call last week suggesting I needed to call ‘Bill.’ Bill’s wife lost her battle with brain cancer a year ago and Bill has had a hard time grieving and returning to life. When I called Bill, he said he wanted me to meet ‘Sue.’ We set a date and I went to Bill’s house. Sue and Bill knew each other years ago, but each married someone else. Bill and his wife were married 25 years when she died. Sue endured nine years of domestic abuse, resulting in a broken neck a year ago. Sue, through her grown son, found the courage during her six-month hospitalization to leave her abusing spouse. Then Sue and Bill found each other again. They have helped each other heal, in part by discussing faith. Sue and Bill wanted to have a formal reaffirmation of faith ceremony and Sue wanted to join the church. Bill has been a member for many years and wants to start attending again. Both say their recoveries have progressed since they started talking about God and actively seeking God’s presence in their lives. It was an honor and a privilege to celebrate their renewed faith and welcome them into (and back into) the church family!”
Working toward financial freedom: Northfield UMC
From a member of Northfield UMC: “Before taking [Financial Peace University] (FPU), [my husband] was the only person in our family that dealt with finances. Through FPU we were able to learn alongside each other and openly discuss our money together. We enjoyed the time spent each week getting to know the other couples and people in our FPU class as we openly and honestly discussed how to be financially smart and healthy. Having the opportunity to take this class under the guidance of Pastors Jerad and Rachel was also helpful as we felt cared for spiritually through a new piece in our married life together. The biggest takeaway that we learned together from taking this class is that weekly communication and honest communication is a key in being financially healthy. We have begun doing weekly financial check-ins and monthly budget meetings. All of this has kept us on track to tackle our debt and build a better open communication as we learn how to walk through the baby steps to become financially stable.”
Giving lives to Christ: Jackson UMC
While attending the Momentum Youth Conference at Indiana Wesleyan University with thousands of other young people from across the country in July, six of the church’s young people responded to an altar call and gave their lives to Jesus Christ. They reported that they knew who Jesus was and what He had done but, for the first time in their lives, they were ready to say “yes” to Jesus. The young people and adult chaperones will lead Sunday morning worship Sept. 29 to share more about the way Jesus has transformed their lives.
Praying for students: First UMC, Redwood Falls
This year, as students arrived for the first day of school, about 20 members of the church stood on the church lawn (which is located directly across the street from an elementary school) smiling, waving, and holding signs with sentiments like, “Sending prayers,” “Blessings,” and “You are loved.” They also prayed for the people in cars as they went past or parked in the lot. Members wore a paper prayer chain; each link on it held the name of a child or teacher. The prayed for each person as they created the prayer chain a few weeks before—and the congregation as a whole blessed the names the Sunday prior to the first day of school. The chains were later given to the teachers to use however they desired. One teacher told the church, “Thank you for praying for us. Many children here do not belong to a church and are in need of others to pray for them as they learn and make friendships at school. I know that prayers make all the difference!” Redwood Falls UMC’s social media page exploded with positive comments about the ministry, and the members who participated talked about how it transformed them as well. “It was a simple way to spread God’s joy,” one person said.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church