By: Christa Meland
• Adam Hamilton teaching session: The key difference between churches that are highly vital and those that are not is effective clergy and lay leadership, Rev. Adam Hamilton of Church of the Resurrection told conference attendees Wednesday evening during his first of three teaching sessions. Hamilton talked about traits of successful leaders. Among them: positivity, humility, and being able to laugh at yourself. “Leaders set the tone of the organization,” he said. If you have a friendly pastor who’s always looking for visitors and making them feel welcome . . . the pastor acts like leaven in the loaf. “If the United Methodist Church in Minnesota is going to have a future, it’s going to be because of the decisions that the people in this room make in the next decade,” he told clergy and lay attendees.(Watch for a story about all three of Adam Hamilton’s teaching sessions in Thursday’s Annual Conference Special Edition e-newsletter.)
• Denman Award for Evangelism recipients:
Rev. Tsuchue Vang: Rev. Tsuchue Vang of Wheelock United Methodist Church in St. Paul was recognized for “sacrificing for the sake of the gospel.” Vang, a former missionary to Laos, has started three Hmong churches since returning to the United States. Since arriving in Minnesota in August 2013, 95 people have joined Wheelock and he has started two additional house churches that are worshipping approximately 60 people. “Tsuchue is passionate and relentless in sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with the Hmong in Minnesota and beyond,” said Bishop Bruce Ough. “He believes the world is his parish and he continues to urge his congregation to turn the church inside-out and move beyond their walls to reach Hmong who have not yet heard about Jesus.” When Bishop Bruce Ough asked this year’s two recipients what encouragement they would offer to a conference that’s seeking to become fearless, Spirit-led churches, Vang said: “I don’t wait for people to come and meet me; I go out and meet with them. I am involved in the community. The more people I meet, the bigger the opportunity I have to bring them to Christ.”
Jarvis Anderson:Jarvis Anderson, a member of Plainview-Elgin Peace United Methodist Church, was the second recipient of the award and was recognized for “a lifelong commitment to young people.” Anderson is a retired school guidance counselor who celebrated his 80th birthday this past December. He has carried on a youth ministry called COY (Children Outreach for Youth) since 1978 when he started the program. Every Wednesday, he rents one of the school gyms and opens it to 40 to 50 local youth of all ages to enjoy active play, prayer, and devotional time. This ministry reaches many in the community who don’t otherwise attend church. Anderson has served more than 1,500 young people over the years. He is active within his community in countless other ways as well. “When I think of what Jesus has done in my life, it frightens me that some do not know Jesus,” Anderson said after accepting his award.
• Laity session: The laity session, led by conference co-lay leaders Janet Beard and Bob Kutter, focused on evangelism in the context of our three gospel imperatives: Grow in love of God and neighbor, reach new people, and heal a broken world. Beard shared the formula that she and her husband found helpful when they were working to reach new people as they planted their church: “Notice them. Care about them. Invite them. Repeat.” Some people you may have to invite many times, but don’t give up, Beard urged. “We have the greatest secret: the treasure of God’s love,” she said. “Let’s not keep it a secret.” And let’s not dwell on the negative; let’s move from despair to hope because the world needs the good news of Jesus, and we are called to share it.
• Missionary thank you: Gordon and Ardell Graner, missionaries with the United Methodist Church’s General Board of Global Ministries who have relationships with a number of Minnesota churches, thanked the conference for its strong support. Gordon quoted Jeremiah 17:8: “They shall be like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots by the stream. It shall not fear when heat comes, and its leaves shall stay green; in the year of drought it is not anxious, and it does not cease to bear fruit.” He said, “If we are like the tree, you are the root system for us” and we could not do the work that we do without your support. The Graners work in the Dominican Republic, Latin America, and the Caribbean.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church