By: Christa Meland
• Remembering our baptisms: At Friday morning worship, conference attendees watched and celebrated the baptism of Bryce Anthony Ozanne, son of Rev. Jeff and Marianne Ozanne. They also remembered their own baptisms. Rev. Ozanne, this year’s conference preacher, talked about how many of us like to keep score, to reassure ourselves that we’re winning. “What God really wants is justice and righteousness,” he said. “Are you willing to do whatever it takes? Are you willing to be uncomfortable? Are you willing to risk the hostile stare?” We must step out of our comfort zones and do things differently than the way we’ve always done them, he said. “We’ve got to let God be unleashed in us and we’ve got to figure out what’s getting in the way. . . . Are we ready to wade into that water and be the hands and feet of Christ in the world? Are we ready to live into our baptism each and every day?”
• Consecration of deaconess: Pamela Marie Johnson was consecrated as a deaconess of the United Methodist Church during Friday morning worship. A deaconess is a laywoman who has been commissioned by the United Methodist Church to a lifetime commitment to ministries of love, justice, and service. The office was formally recognized in the Methodist tradition in 1888. Bishop Ough commissioned Johnson as a deaconess to the appointment ministry of life skills trainer at Oak Ridge Residential Services in Brainerd.
• Jeanne Audrey Powers recognized: Retired Rev. Jeanne Audrey Powers was one of the first women ordained in the United Methodist Church (in 1958), has long been engaged in national and international work in the church, and has been a tireless advocate for ecumenism and inclusiveness in the life of the church. The Minnesota Conference annually gives an award that bears her name, but this year, Powers herself was also recognized. Retired Rev. Bruce Robbins, who presented her with a plaque before conference session attendees, described her as intense, strategic, articulate, generous, demanding, a lover of the church and Jesus, loyal, long-suffering, a mentor, a benefactor, a friend, a trailblazer, and a crafter of the future. She also paid a terrible price as a closeted lesbian woman before her courageous coming out, he said. In 1972, she created the Committee on the Status and Role of Women, which has continued to serve as an important tool for the empowerment of women in our church. Powers has described herself as “subversive” and a “resister.” The plaque presented to her read, “In recognition of your many years of visionary leadership and service to the Minnesota Annual Conference, The United Methodist Church, and the people of God everywhere.” In accepting her award, Powers said, “No matter where or what I have been doing, this annual conference has been my home. I am so grateful for it.”
• Jeanne Audrey Powers Award: Rev. Bescye P. Burnett received this year’s Jeanne Audrey Powers Award. Burnett has served for years on the Board of the Roman Catholic Holy Spirit Retreat Center just outside of Janesville, where she serves as a local pastor. She has developed relationships across multiple denominations in the Janesville-Elysian community where she serves United Methodist churches. Because she has established a foundation of trust, she has been able to lead a group of representatives from Roman Catholic, Lutheran, and civic organizations in working together to transform the community. She demonstrates a willingness to share her perspectives and experiences as an African American woman and listens to and learns from the people in the community she serves, where there are very few African Americans. Burnett, a local pastor, is a member of this year’s retiring class.
• Election of General and Jurisdictional Conference delegates: Conference members elected both clergy and lay delegates to represent them at the 2016 General and Jurisdictional Conferences. General Conference delegates will also attend Jurisdictional Conference. Those elected are:
Clergy: David A. Bard (General and Jurisdictional Conferences); Judy A. Zabel (General and Jurisdictional Conferences); Woojae Im (Jurisdictional Conference); Carol Zaagsma (Jurisdictional Conference); Jeffrey Ozanne (reserve); Amy Jo Bur (reserve); Paula Colton (reserve).
Laity: Faye B. Christensen (General and Jurisdictional Conferences); Sara Ann Swenson (General and Jurisdictional Conferences); Dave Nuckols (Jurisdictional Conference); Leslie Hobson (Jurisdictional Conference); Walker Brault (reserve); Karen Thompson (reserve); Shirley Durr (reserve).
• Francis Asbury Award: This award, which recognizes and encourages support of higher education ministries within the United Methodist Church, was awarded to Rev. Andrew Keck, who serves as director of library services at Luther Seminary and is an ordained deacon in the North Carolina Annual Conference. Beyond his primary appointment as director of the library, Keck is making a substantial impact in supporting faith formation and higher education within the church in his work to create a Methodist House of Studies at Luther Seminary. His goal is assuring that United Methodist students have a structured opportunity to come together outside of class time to build relationships; learn more about United Methodist polity and the Wesleyan way; and receive information, support, and encouragement in the ordination process. He has helped bring conference leadership, local pastors, and students together to dream and vision about the Methodist House of Studies.
• 2015 conference preacher: Nancy Victorin-Vangerud—who serves as chaplain and director of Wesley Center, a campus ministry at Hamline University—was randomly selected in a drawing for next year’s conference preacher.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church