By: Karla Hovde
Fourteen clergy—some newly credentialed, some experienced—are starting their first appointment in the Minnesota Conference, which is committed to recruiting and raising up effective, Spirit-filled leaders.
The Minnesota conference held its new clergy orientation online due to COVID-19 restrictions on Tuesday, July 21. After the orientation, we asked each person to share a bit about themselves with the rest of the conference. Here’s a look at several of these incoming clergy—their gifts and passions, what drew them to the Minnesota Conference, and what they hope for in the future of The United Methodist Church.
Appointed to: Lydia Zion UMC, Jordan
Chapman has been serving in another denomination and is coming back to his United Methodist roots. He appreciates the more inclusive direction the Conference is headed and the ability that gives him to minister to all God's children. He is looking forward to getting to know his new church community, even though it is more challenging than usual during a pandemic. Patience and an ability to hear what's behind what people are saying with acceptance and empathy are Chapman’s best spiritual gifts.
Chapman maintains a healthy work-life balance by geocaching with his wife, Linda; reading non-ministry books for fun; and taking out his telescope to view the wonders of God's universe.
Appointed to: Hope UMC, Duluth
Clade is an elder in the Dakotas Conference and moved to Minnesota from Vermillion, South Dakota. She says that God has put an exciting vision on her heart for the future ministry of the church and the surrounding community. She claims dad jokes and administration as her top spiritual gifts, and she and her husband have a cat named Charlie (after Charles Wesley).
“My hope and dream for the UMC is to be a church that is inclusive and welcoming—to fully lean into our Wesleyan theology as it expands and transcends current cultural norms,” says Clade.
Appointed to: Minnetonka UMC
Damron, who recently moved to Minnesota from Ohio, says he’s drawn to the Minnesota Conference because it is clear about its identity and is known for innovation. He’s looking forward to “walking along a group of talented, passionate, and committed leaders intent on making new disciples of Jesus for the transformation of our local community.”
Damron hopes the UMC can find new passion for personal and social holiness as it restructures in a way that better resources the local church for mission and ministry. His primary spiritual gift is preaching, and he is a father of two sons, a social golfer, and a new fan of the Minnesota Twins.
Appointed to: Joyful Spirit UMC (formerly Wadena UMC and Deer Creek UMC) and Frazee UMC
Gregory moved here after finishing his MDiv at The University of Chicago Divinity School. He is from a small town near Fort Worth, Texas. He and his partner, Kate Gerike, met in seminary, and she is in the ordination process in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
In his first appointment, he is aware of the unique opportunities and challenges of entering ministry during a time of global pandemic, economic recession, and a burgeoning Civil Rights movement.
“So much right now is up in the air and can be reevaluated, recast, and renewed,” he says. Amidst all the tragedy, he sees great energy around asking, ‘What does it mean to be a United Methodist in this season?’
Gregory spent last summer interning with the UMC’s General Commission on Archives and History, where he enjoyed “geeking out over all our cool stuff,” he says.
Appointed to: Lamberton UMC and Jeffers UMC
Hoffbeck looks forward to bringing new energy to the two churches she is serving. She loves to bring people to Christ and says her best spiritual gift is shepherding.
Appointed to: Zion UMC of Bellingham, First UMC of Appleton, First UCC of Marietta, and First UMC of Correll
In this appointment, Holck looks forward to working with churches to spread the Good News. He is passionate about compassionate and healing ministries, especially visiting the sick and the dying. His hope is that the UMC can be known as the denomination that cares and loves for all people, no matter who they are.
Holck also does on-air talent as the Queen on WCCO Radio. His wife, Veronia, works as a teacher and astrophysicist and is British.
Appointed to: Hope UMC in Blue Earth
Miller was an intern in the first summer of the Minnesota Conference’s ELI Project. Now he has completed seminary and returned to Minnesota. He is looking forward to the opportunity to learn and grow with the community as they explore what it means to be church during and after the COVID-19 crisis. Listening is his top spiritual gift.
Miller’s greatest hope for the UMC is “that we are a church that if we left a community, the first question the community asked was not ‘where will these people worship?’ But rather if we were gone, the community would ask, ‘who will feed the hungry?’ ‘Who will fight for justice?’ ‘Who will protect the least and the loss?’”
And yes, he is the son of Rev. Mark Miller.
Appointed to: Fairmont UMC
Somers is returning to his home state after living in Texas. In this appointment, he looks forward to opportunities for connectionalism and working with the congregation to instigate a lay-leadership model. He hopes for a future that makes room for all people at God's table. Somers is inspired by the possibilities of adapting church to the 21st century through alternative ministry spaces.
Appointed to: Immanuel UMC, Winona
Svien describes herself as a Jill-of-all-trades and her spiritual gift as having a servant's perspective. She appreciates the family-like atmosphere of a small church. Her dream is that the UMC is part of bringing God’s kingdom, which she says includes healing people, bringing peace to the anxious, and opening hearts to “our complicity in racism, elitism, and all the others -isms.”
Appointed to: Community UMC, Columbia Heights
Tabelisma is from Manila, Philippines and moved to Minnesota in 2016, attracted by the ways spirituality and advocating for social justice intersect in the conference. She looks forward to using her spiritual gift of creative leadership in challenging times to lead ministry during this pandemic. Tabelisma hopes for a UMC that embodies the essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ. She loves to be in conversation with people, hear their stories, and learn about how they see their lives in Christ.
Appointed to: Park Avenue UMC, Minneapolis
The people of Park Avenue UMC, along with the vision and strategic focus of Bishop Ough and the Minnesota Cabinet, are what led Taylor to move to Minnesota from Houston, Texas. He looks forward to further mobilizing the church in its mission with his gifts of leadership and listening. Taylor envisions the UMC becoming the church that God dreams about, both in and for the world.
As a new resident of the Twin Cities, Taylor wants to know, “where can I find the best Juicy Lucy, and where's the TexMex?” You can let him know in the comments below.
Additional clergy who are new to Minnesota include Revs. Justin Dietel, Brad Herman, and John Scheuer.
Join us in giving thanks to God for each one of these new leaders and for the gifts and energy they will bring to the churches they serve and the Minnesota Conference!
Karla Hovde is the communications specialist for the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church