By: Christa Meland
Here are a few highlights from Thursday, the last day of the 2017 Annual Conference session:
Acts 2 Talks:
Four individuals shared TED-style Acts 2 Talks that painted a bold, provocative vision for the church. Watch for each person’s full, 10-minute talk to be available in video form very soon. But in the meantime, here are some compelling quotes from each presentation:
Rev. Cullen Tanner, Northern Light Church (Ramsey):
· "The church should celebrate attempts that are noble that end in failure."
· “The life of ministry should be like music in the ears of our world. But we can’t become virtuosos overnight. We need to offer one another enough grace to hit some wrong notes—maybe even a lot of wrong notes—if we want to create the kind of music that makes the world want to sing along.”
· "Faith is trusting God enough to act like a follower of Jesus in your everyday life, even if it means you might fail. I am deeply convicted of this truth: It is better to fail at something worthy than to succeed at something inconsequential.”
Rev. David E. Brown, Mount Bethel UMC (Inver Grove Heights) and STORM Faith Community:
· “A fundamental problem in our life together is disciple making…We have equated ‘church’ with worship…and worship with being a disciple of Jesus.”
· “I am convinced that if we want to do the mission of the United Methodist Church, if we want to experience the vision, if we want to become disciples in order to make disciples, it is imperative that we sit at the table with our friends, with scripture in hand, reading and applying God’s word, with bread and cup, acknowledging the presence of Jesus, with hands open, praying for one another and sharing deeply from our lives.”
Steve Fredlund, Common Ground: A United Methodist Community (Cambridge):
· “We had been leaders in the conservative evangelical movement for many, many years and now were doing one of the most radical things we could do…become members of a Methodist church.”
· “People like me are looking for a place…with a grounded perspective of God and faith—but where questions are not only allowed but welcomed and celebrated…where the primary goal is not to convince everyone to think the same way instead to hear and share different perspectives from each person’s own journey…where everyone is invited to participate in this redemptive movement.”
Rev. Tyler Sit, New City Church (Minneapolis):
· “I’m here because of a lemon tree named Bendiciones.”
· “A common sentiment I hear is, ‘I guess I’m too poor to live in a safe and green neighborhood. As a person of faith, I must reject that narrative. Revelation 21 says that God will send a new city, and it will be one where all tribes are welcomed in, where there is no more violence, and where the whole earth is renewed.”
· “We knew we weren’t just planting a fruit tree, we were planting a covenant that said ‘as long as you are in my neighborhood, we will stand with you—not despite the fact that we are Christians but because we are Christians.’”
Jeanne Audrey Powers Award for Healing a Broken World: JoAnn Knutson
JoAnn Knutson was recognized as the recipient of this year’s Jeanne Audrey Powers Award for Healing a Broken World. Knutson an active member of Good Samaritan UMC in Edina and an individual with a big heart. She has spearheaded or led numerous projects that have effectively shared God’s love with people around the world—and time and again, she has instilled in others a desire and willingness to serve those in need. One of her projects is “SaniNaps.” When Knutson and her friend Pat heard that many girls in Kenya couldn’t afford to purchase sanitary napkins, and missing school during menstruation led to many of them dropping out of school, the two women enlisted members of their church and community to cut and sew 850 reusable sanitary napkins that were taken to Kenya and distributed to girls. Separately, 23 years ago, Knutson organized a partnership between Good Samaritan UMC and Stonebridge World School—which is comprised of low-income students. Knutson and her team run the school’s library and work there one full day each week. Knutson also runs a wish list store every year at her church. She and her team solicit requests from teachers, purchase the products needed most, and offer them “for sale” to church members, who give them as gifts to help the teachers. Additionally, Knutson leads her church’s efforts to participate in Hearts and Hammers, a program that devotes one Saturday twice each year to paint homes of individuals who cannot afford to do so—and she has also led efforts to reunite a Somali family and to find housing for a family after its home was foreclosed upon.
2019 and 2020 General Conference delegates:
Conference session members voted to have General Conference delegates and alternates represent the Minnesota Conference at the special called session of General Conference that will occur in February 2019. The election for 2020 General Conference delegates will not occur until 2019. This legislation was brought forth by the Sessions Action Team, which is tasked with planning Annual Conference sessions.
Updates to Policy and Procedure Manual:
Conference members voted to approve an updated Policy and Procedure Manual. (Click here to view 2017 Procedure Manual.)
Protecting the right to peacefully address injustice through boycotts, divestment, and sanctions:
Members voted to approve a resolution that goes on record stating their opposition to any state or federal legislation that seeks to restrict the right to address injustice through boycotts, divestment and sanctions and joins the Rabbinical Council of Jewish Voice for Peace in calling on our elected officials “to resist efforts to stifle the movement toward justice for Palestinians through the current wave of ‘anti-BDS’ legislation.” The approved legislation also calls for the Minnesota Conference Secretary to write a letter to President Trump, Gov. Mark Dayton, and Minnesota’s congressional and state leaders, informing them of this resolution and including the approximate number of congregations and church members within the conference.
The Minnesota Conference has a tradition of randomly drawing the name of a clergyperson to give a sermon at the following Annual Conference. The 2018 conference preacher is Rev. Tyler Sit, pastor of New City Church in Minneapolis.
Christa Meland is director of communications for the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church