“My vision for the future of the Minnesota Conference is that we are a spacious conference. God has a mission in the world, and love is at the heart of that mission. It is a heart-enlarging mission. It is a world-shaking mission. It is a mission that leans into trauma, that embraces learning and crosses boundaries, that allows hearts to be broken open to create new spaces—spaces for grace and healing.” Bishop David Bard
Bishop David Bard: “Moving into the future, The United Methodist Church will continue to focus on making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. We will be a church that works to include all persons and to make changes so that the church better reflects the beautiful diversity of God’s people and builds beloved community. We will continue to have global connections and global impact. We will continue to help people connect more deeply with God through Jesus Christ and be open to new ways of doing that through worship, spiritual disciplines, and building community. Through and following whatever separation will happen, The United Methodist Church will continue to change to meet the needs of new people, new generations, and a changing world.”
The Minnesota Annual Conference seeks to be an abundant life in Jesus Christ movement. We believe we are better together, and we are clear about our shared vision: that every congregation be a vital expression of the scriptural imperatives to grow in love of God and neighbor, reach new people, and heal a broken world. In the aspirational vision adopted at the 2019 Annual Conference, we have identified four core values that guide our shared journey: We are rooted in Jesus, grounded in Wesleyan theology, inclusive of all persons, and engaged in the work of justice and reconciliation. Living into our vision and embodying our core values means that we are committed to creating a place at the table for everyone, including LGBTQIA+ persons, and to listening more deeply to voices that have often been marginalized. The Extended Cabinet has created a statement of our commitments that speaks specifically to how we hold the value of LGBTQIA+ inclusion. And the Appointive Cabinet has created a statement on racial justice and reconciliation that lists specific commitments and actions that group will take to acknowledge the sins of racism and injustice and work to transform our Church, our Conference, our communities, and our world into the beloved community.
General Conference 2020 has been postponed several times and will not take place until 2024. But regardless of the outcome of the next General Conference, we will be unwavering in our commitment to full inclusion and laser focused on furthering Jesus’s ministry of extending abundant life to all of God’s children. This extended liminal time does not change who we are as the Minnesota Annual Conference or who we are in Christ.
Bishop David Bard: “I see that our mission, vision, and values really lend themselves to the Minnesota Conference being a spacious place. We are not always going to agree on every way we live out those mission vision, and values, but we’ve said, ‘these are our center,’ and I think it means we can have a wide circumference.”
Rev. Cindy Gregorson: “We have made a commitment as the Minnesota Annual Conference to embrace the richness of diversity. We really want to celebrate and honor the gifts of all who want to come and follow and be part of this Jesus Christ movement. So anyone who says, ‘I’m rooted in Jesus and I’m grounded in a Wesleyan theology and I’m committed to be in ministry in respectful, welcoming ways to all people, and I want to work in a broken world, and I want to be engaged in continuing to look at myself and our church how we can we working on reconciliation,’ we say yes—come be a part of who we are.”
We are better and stronger together, and there's room for theological diversity within our shared journey. We need not all think exactly alike. At the same time, we recognize that some churches and individuals have discerned that their path differs from that of the Minnesota Annual Conference. We are committed to extending love, grace, and kindness and blessing them as they embark on a new journey. (Read Bishop Bard's last communication on disaffiliation.)
Rev. Cindy Gregorson: “As an Annual Conference, we are seeking to call and equip bold, Spirit-filled leaders to start new ministries, to reach new people, and we’re invested in well-being for our clergy and churches in order that we can be the healthiest places possible going forward—all to the end of how do we help impact our world and make the difference we can in our communities and globally?”
Mission, Vision, and Values Document: This document could be explored using the questions: Which part of this document most resonates with you? What challenges you? What questions do you have? How do you see your church living into this mission and vision? How are you personally called to live into this mission and vision?
Journey Toward Vitality Map: This document could be explored using the questions: Where are you on this map? Where would you say your church is on the map? Which new territories might you explore, who are your partners for your journey, and what tools would you take with you? Which areas make you nervous or uncomfortable?
Talking about LGBTQIA+ inclusion: There are a variety of tools to help congregations have difficult conversations and explore how we understand our vision for full inclusion within our broader identity as the Minnesota Conference.
Video: Looking Ahead: Bishop Bard names our mission, vision, and values—and he and Rev. Cindy Gregorson, director of connectional ministries & clergy assistant to the bishop, share their hope for the Minnesota Conference to be both spacious and diverse as we look to the future.
Video: Our Focus: Rev. Cindy Gregorson, director of connectional ministries & clergy assistant to the bishop, talks about how we're investing our energy and resources during this liminal time.
Video: Hope for Tomorrow: The members of the Minnesota Conference's 2022 Clergy Leadership Academy, which equips pastors with essential skills and practices for leading in such a time as this, shared what an abundant life in Jesus Christ movement looks like and what their hopes and dreams are for the Minnesota Conference as we look ahead. Have your congregation watch this and then ask what an abundant life in Jesus Christ movement looks like to them and what their hopes and dreams are for your church and/or our conference.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church