At the 2018 Minnesota Annual Conference, several outstanding faith communities and individuals received awards in recognition of their discipleship and evangelism work.
One Matters Discipleship Award: Communities of Faith Parish
Communities of Faith Parish, made up of Clarissa, Eagle Bend, and Clotho UMCs, and their pastor, Kali Christensen, were awarded the One Matters Discipleship Award, which recognizes that even one profession of faith represents a transformed life. With the leadership of Christensen, the new pastor of the parish, all three churches have grown in worship attendance and membership, receiving a total of 17 new members in 2017 with two adult baptisms and nine professions of faith. The previous year, before this transformation, the entire parish had two adult professions of faith.
Francis Asbury Award: Paulette Booker, Hilltop UMC, Mankato
Paulette Booker, as an active lay leader at Hilltop UMC in Mankato, has been instrumental in spearheading the congregation’s outreach to Minnesota State University, Mankato. A new campus ministry called the Wesley Foundation began in October 2017 with five students and now has about 35 active students who participate in weekly Wesleyan-style class meetings. These students also provide youth leadership at Hilltop UMC, participate in the worship band, and some are already discerning a call to ministry. One student says, “There is nothing like this being offered on the MSU Mankato campus.” Another says, “This is the Christian community I have always longed for.” Booker is currently serving as the interim president on the Wesley Foundation Board. She headed the grant writing process to fund the Wesley Foundation and helped create its mission, vision, and core values statement. Most importantly, “she readily seeks out relationships with young adults, cares genuinely, and she embodies and models what it means to live out her faith,” said Rev. Kelly McCuaig, lead pastor of Hilltop UMC.
Denman Evangelism Award: Rev. Whitney Sheridan and Eric Bjorklund, Centennial UMC, St. Anthony Park campus
Centennial UMC in Roseville embraced a bold calling in 2014. The church leadership, led by Rev. Whitney Sheridan and Eric Bjorklund, began exploring the populations and places within a five-mile radius for new ministry opportunities. At that time, a neighboring United Methodist church in St. Anthony Park was struggling—just 4.8 miles away! Conversations with the St. Anthony church turned into relationships, which turned into a plan for Centennial to adopt St. Anthony as a second campus. Sheridan and Bjorklund emerged as a visionary and talented team to relaunch St. Anthony with an entirely new model of United Methodist worship, work, and witness in the St. Anthony Park community. The two-and-a-half-year-old campus now has 120 worshippers on an average Sunday, with half of the congregation compromised of people from the community who were not formerly affiliated with either campus.
Jeanne Audrey Powers Award for Healing a Broken World: Spirit River Community Church and Foundation, Isanti
Spirit River supports and provides a community of acceptance and radical hospitality for those who are facing daily and complex struggles in life. The congregational arm of Spirit River, Spirit River Community Church, provides a worshipping community for spiritual growth and nurture. The Spirit River Foundation is dedicated to providing help for the physical and emotional needs of its community. Approximately 80 percent of those served by Spirit River are fragile families who are living in poverty with multiple complex issues stemming from adverse childhood experiences and/or traumatic events in their lives. Everyone is welcome at Spirit River, no matter who they are or what they have done. Recipients of this award demonstrate at least five acts of healing a broken world. Spirit River provides a monthly food giveaway, food safety and nutrition classes, financial peace classes, a place for those sentenced to community service to work through their probationary requirements, and a worship experience of truly radical acceptance.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church