By: Amanda Yanchury
Bishop Bruce Ough (pronounced “oh”) and his wife, Charlene, are very excited about coming to the Minnesota conference and also to the new Dakotas-Minnesota episcopal area. Having both grown up in North Dakota, coming to the newly-formed Dakotas-Minnesota Episcopal Area feels like “coming home” for them.
“I could not be more pleased to have the opportunity to work here,” Bishop Ough said. “I’m impressed with the steps you’ve already taken to come together as one episcopal area, and I’m impressed with the innovation. Having grown up there, I know these are conferences that are innovators who are willing to take risks, to call up leaders and give them opportunities to lead at a young age—just like I had the opportunity to do so—so I’m excited for this opportunity to engage with the strengths of the Dakotas and Minnesota.”
Bishop Ough has traveled all over the North Central Jurisdiction in a number of roles.
“Ireceived my call to ministry while working as a youth pastor at Faith United Methodist Church in Fargo, North Dakota,” Bishop Ough said. “I completed my seminary work at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois, and then I started to travel the Midwest in a variety of settings. I started my ministry on the Dakotas area staff; then spent some time in Indiana, and spent most of my ministry in Iowa, when I was elected to the episcopacy. My first appointment was to the West Ohio area, where I served for twelve years before coming here.”
Passions and focus
Bishop Ough says there are two or three areas that he considers his passions and that will be his focus as a bishop here.
“The first is leadership development—particularly clergy development, and more specifically, raising up the next generation of young clergy,” Bishop Ough said. “I’ve invested a great deal of time in that, in finding ways to call forth and encourage young clergy in West Ohio.”
Bishop Ough acknowledges that Minnesota has made inroads in this area.
“I’m aware and excited about all that Minnesota has been doing around clergy development and lay leadership development,” he said. “Leaders are the key to the vitality of our congregations and to know that Minnesota is well down this path gives me great hope and encouragement.”
Bishop Ough’s second area of focus is a commitment to mission.
“I was fortunate to serve as president for the last quadrennium of the General Board of Global Ministries,” Bishop Ough said. “I helped my previous assignments to become more engaged in mission both domestically and internationally, so I’m looking forward to coming back to an area where I know there’s a strong passion for mission as well.”
Bishop Ough says one of the things that intrigues him about Minnesota in particular is the work we’ve done in missions, “especially around the Imagine No Malaria campaign and the great accomplishments you’ve made in that area,” he says.
Another area of commitment is congregational vitality.
“Especially with the current emphasis on increasing the number of vital congregations, it matches my own interests, so I expect to give a lot of time and energy to increasing the number of vital congregations,” Bishop Ough said. “Also I’m aware you’ve begun an initiative with new church development and this is one of my passions as well, so I’m looking forward to getting acquainted to the new congregations and the pastors that are leading them.”
Where are we headed?
Bishop Ough says that though many are discouraged after this year’s General Conference session, he remains hopeful
“I think there were so many hopes about changing our structures to facilitate and encourage this call for vital congregations, but I’m not discouraged,” Bishop Ough said. “I'm hopeful. Do we have challenges? Yes. But I believe that God is calling the United Methodist Church to emerge as the place that can successfully reach out to those who have been left behind, excluded, or looking for a sign of hope and good news in their life. I think this may be our best moment.”
Portions of this article were taken from “Interview with Bishop Bruce R. Ough,” produced by the Dakotas Conference communications department.
Amanda Yanchury is communications assistant for the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church