A couple of weeks ago, the appointive Cabinets from the Dakotas and Minnesota were together, and one of our tasks was filming a video about Area ministries. The tagline throughout the video was, “We are better together!” I have been thinking about that a lot, particularly since the Protocol of Grace and Reconciliation Through Separation came out.
For the past eight years, the Dakotas and Minnesota Conferences have been part of the same Episcopal Area—and what we have discovered is that it has taken time, and there have been challenges and bumps in the road, but in fact we are better together!
We will celebrate our eight years together on this shared journey of ministry by holding a joint Annual Conference Session in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, June 10-12. It is going to be a jam-packed, joy-filled, inspiring three days! We want you to be there. Here are a few things to look forward to:
We will begin Wednesday morning at 9:30 a.m. with pre-conference workshops. Opening worship on this day, which is set aside for the Minnesota Conference, is at 1 p.m. There will be very limited time for legislative actions, so we are asking that only essential/required items be submitted this year. We want to allow some time for processing what happened at General Conference, but we also know that time will not be sufficient—so there are plans to have a special session of Annual Conference in November (tentatively Nov. 13-14) to discuss implications from General Conference actions.
Thursday’s breakfast will be in district gatherings. Then we’ll gather with the Dakotas Conference for worship, teaching time, lunch-and-learns and networking, and a worship service to celebrate those being commissioned, ordained, and licensed as local pastors.
Friday will feature an area missional report, Bishop Ough’s Episcopal Address, and a party to celebrate Bishop Ough's ministry with us and send him and Char off into retirement. We will conclude at 2:30 p.m.
Bishop Sally Dyck will preach at the Wednesday evening worship service, at which we’ll celebrate our retirees and remember the ministry of the saints who have died in the past year.
Rev. Rudy and Juanita Rasmus from St. John's UMC in Houston, Texas will be our teachers on Thursday. They have a powerful, dynamic ministry that is diverse, reaching people who have been challenged by addiction and poverty, and building a community of transformation and possibility.
Bishop Ough will preach at the Thursday evening worship service in which we will commission and ordain new clergy and recognize those who have been approved for licensing.
Rev. Thomas Kemper, general secretary of the General Board of Global Ministries, will bring greetings at our Thursday morning worship in which we’ll celebrate 200 years of Global Ministries and 80 years of UMCOR, and lift up this year’s Annual Conference theme of “Be the Light: Live Hope!”
Lodging, registration, and transportation:
We have blocks with enough rooms for all participants at hotels near the convention center, and those rooms will become available in early February. We will send an email alerting you when the reservation window opens.
Registration for the Annual Conference Session itself will open March 1! The fees will be similar to what they were last year.
The Sioux Falls area is a great place to visit! There is a 20-mile, paved, mostly flat bike trail around the entire city. Downtown has many wonderful restaurants and breweries. Falls Park is a beautiful place to walk.
We are considering arranging bus transportation from regional locations around the state to Sioux Falls. Look for a survey link with the hotel announcement, and the survey will help us determine if there is sufficient interest.
We look forward to coming together as the beautiful body of Christ in June and remembering all that God has done in and through the people called United Methodist in Minnesota and the Dakotas. And we are excited to dream and pray about what God might have for us next as we continue to Be the Light: Live Hope!
Rev. Cindy Gregorson is director of ministries for the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.