By: Christa Meland
At this significant moment in our denomination, who shares Minnesota United Methodists’ hopes and dreams, would represent our conference well, and would work relationally and politically to bring about change?
At the 2019 Annual Conference, coming to St. Cloud June 18-20, voting members will elect delegates to represent them next year at General Conference in Minneapolis (May 5-15) and the North Central Jurisdiction Conference in Fort Wayne, Indiana (July 15-18). Minnesota will have two delegates (one clergy, one lay) to General Conference and four delegates (two clergy, two lay) to Jurisdictional Conference, plus alternates.
At General Conference, delegates play a key role in making decisions that impact the future of The United Methodist Church. Next year’s global gathering is being viewed by many as an opportunity to revisit the actions of General Conference 2019 or to re-order the denomination in some way. At Jurisdictional Conference, delegates elect bishops.
Those interested in being elected as delegates were invited to fill out an application form to help those voting gain a better understanding of who they are and how they would represent Minnesota United Methodists. Six individuals applied by the April 30 deadline. Others can still be elected from the floor of Annual Conference.
The full applications of the six applicants will be in the pre-conference materials distributed later this month. But here’s some preliminary information about each person to consider as you discern who will best represent us.
Those who have applied to be delegates—along with their church affiliation and one issue or opportunity impacting The United Methodist Church, in their own words—are:
Rev. Woojae Im
Serves: The United Methodist Church of Peace, Richfield
“The dialogue on the full inclusion of LGBTQI over many decades has been causing division within the whole Church. It hinders the mission of the church, sapping our passion and energy for the mission in many ways. It's an urgent need to find a way forward together in this matter, which may help the Church re-focus on gospel imperatives. The United Methodist Church should find ways to be relevant, fruitful, effective, and multiplying in ministry of the church. Let's live out our name: ‘United.’”
Rev. Jeff Ozanne
Serves: Willmar UMC
“Like many others, I am greatly concerned with the growing divide in our denomination. Whether you attribute to our different views on scripture or something else, our denomination is increasingly getting pulled apart. We need to find a solution to either come back together and heal or find a way to separate with love and be stronger in our mission by dividing.”
Rev. Carol Zaagsma
Serves: Portland Avenue UMC, Bloomington
“We have a tremendous opportunity at this time in our Church’s history to create an inclusive expression of Methodism as an alternative to the direction the United Methodist Church has taken with the adoption of the Traditional Plan. While I believe much of this creative work will be done outside of the legislative structure of General Conference, it is General Conference that still has power and authority over some aspects of such a future. A growing number of United Methodists are voicing their inability to support a Church with such punitive measures and discriminatory practices, and I want to see an inclusive Church built on Wesleyan values for them to continue to grow in their faith.”
Member of: Wesley UMC, Winona and Hamline Church United Methodist, St. Paul
“Our church is at a crisis point. A split of some form is imminent as a significant portion of the American churches have stated they cannot stand the full inclusion of LGBTQIA people. A new church, rooted in the Methodist tradition, must sprout from the ashes of the UMC and the 2019 General Conference where LGBTQIA persons are affirmed and included while their gifts are celebrated.”
Member of: Minnetonka UMC
“Current conflicts manifest at GC2019 indicate we face a denominational schism. This is certainly a troubling challenge, but also it's an opportunity to put the conflict behind us and live into a bold future for an inclusive church that succeed in reaching young and unchurched people as new disciples of Jesus Christ and together will transform the world.”
Member of: Blooming Grove UMC, Morristown
“It is critical that the current divide within the denomination is resolved. When a hurricane destroys a community, it does so without regard for sexual orientation, theological perspective, race, class, or religion. I am unsure how the divide will be resolved but our wholeness as God's one creation depends on how we show up.”
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church