By: Christa Meland
“I want to be where our people are, hear their hopes and dreams for our conference, and see the places they live, love, and worship,” said Bishop Lanette Plambeck, who began her assignment as resident bishop for the Dakotas-Minnesota Episcopal Area on Jan. 1.
That’s precisely what our new bishop hopes to do at a series of upcoming gatherings in each district. Minnesota United Methodists are invited to choose a location and come to meet Bishop Lanette, hear some of her story, worship together, enjoy warm hospitality and good conversation, and leave with a renewed sense of hope for the future.
“There is a misperception that ‘the conference’ is a building and certain staff positions,” said Bishop Lanette. “The truth is every single United Methodist lay person and clergy, including those in extension ministry, are the Minnesota Annual Conference. I’m getting out to meet the conference. In order to lead a people, you need to know the people...I'm excited to be in the places where the United Methodist Church is engaged across the state—sharing and showing the love of Jesus.”
Many bishops begin their assignment with an official installation service; elements of such a service will be weaved into the Episcopal Address at the 2023 Annual Conference. But Bishop Lanette is eager to get to know Minnesota United Methodists before then.
Bishop Lanette began onboarding Nov. 13 after being elected Nov. 2 at the North Central Jurisdictional Conference in Fort Wayne, Indiana. She said her initial weeks have been both inspirational and revelatory.
The upcoming gatherings will include a time for Bishop Lanette to share about herself and to answer questions from attendees. What does she most want Minnesota United Methodists to know?
“I want people to know that I love Jesus and the United Methodist Church,” she said. “I want to assure them I am committed to leading in a way where all are welcome and wanted. I want Minnesota United Methodists to see how my life and leadership are deeply rooted in the Wesleyan Way. I also want to listen deeply for their hurts, pains, and celebrations and also to hear how we are growing as disciples of Jesus and transforming the world.”
Sabrina Tapia Contreras, who joined the conference earlier this month as director of racial justice and equity, will attend as many gatherings as she is able so that she, too, has an opportunity to meet the clergy and laity she’ll be working with.
The past few years have been challenging, to say the least: From the global pandemic that impacted mission and ministry to the deep divisions in our world, country, and church, there’s been much to discourage us. More than ever, we need community—and the hope and encouragement that comes from being together and looking to the future. That’s precisely what these gatherings will offer.
“When we gather together, we have the assurance that we are not alone in this and that best of all, God is with us,” Bishop Lanette said. “So come. Worship. Connect. Pray. And be emboldened. I am very much looking forward to meeting the people I already love.”
The gatherings (four of which will be live streamed for those unable to attend in-person) will take place at:
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church