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2007 Minnesota Annual Conference

May 29-June 1, 2007, St. Cloud, Minn.

"If you want to see a miracle, be a miracle!" said Bishop Sally Dyck to Minnesota United Methodists during their annual conference session.

Bishop Dyck rolled out the "two imperatives" that will be informing conference ministry: reaching new people and cultivating spiritual vitality. The imperatives are based on the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20 and the Great Commandment in Matthew 22:35-39. The 2008 budget, legislation and workshops conducted at the session all support these imperatives.

The $6.5 million budget is about $1 million less than what the conference ceiling would allow and about $500,000 less than the 2007 budget. Reductions were made primarily in changing the way churches could receive grants to assist their outreach ministries, staffing adjustments, reducing the number of districts from six to five and other cuts. The smaller budget creates a base upon which future conferences can add ministries to help congregations pursue the two imperatives, according to the Council on Finance and Administration. It also brings the budget in line with the apportionment receipts of the past few years, and helps churches adjust to a new apportionment calculation adopted at this conference.

"Investing in Congregations," a granting process adopted at this conference, combines equitable compensation grants, mission grants and race and religion grants. An oversight group with representatives from each of these areas will determine the disbursement.

In other business, conference members:

  • Asked members to protest to state legislators about recent Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids on workplaces in Willmar and Worthington, Minn., and to study justice issues surrounding immigration policies and enforcement;
  • Commended Walker Methodist Health Center's recognition of its employees' vote to form a union and urged administrators to accept a timely and fair contract;
  • Required its elected teams to spend meeting time praying for the poor and to donate to poverty ministries;
  • Created a congregational communicators association in which participants would share best practices and organize trainings;
  • Established September 2007 as Open House Month, when churches will make special efforts to invite and welcome guests;
  • Identified November as "Miracle Month," during which congregations will raise funds for two commitments made by previous conference sessions: $1 per member for the United Methodist Global AIDS Fund and $5 per member to build a multi-use church center in St. Petersburg, Russia;
  • Approved medical benefits for the domestic partners of lay people on the MAC (conference) benefit plan (this was referred to the Judicial Council for a declaratory decision)
  • Sent two resolutions to General Conference: one urging United Methodists to study and promote peacemaking and another directing the United Methodist Board of Discipleship to create a curriculum on peacemaking.

Bishop Hans Växby, episcopal leader of the Eurasia Area; Garlinda Burton, top executive of the Commission on the Status and Role of Women; and Doug Anderson, executive director of the Bishop Rueben Job Center for Leadership Development, led workshops on reaching people in one's own neighborhood and around the world. The Love Offering for Missions collected more than $80,000. The offering benefits the conference's Russia Church Partnership, projects chosen by Minnesota missionaries, and Volunteers in Mission scholarships.

On the first day of conference, Bishop Dyck announced that every time a cell phone rang during a session, the phone's owner must donate $5 to missions. Unbeknownst to the bishop, conference members conspired to ring each other's phones at 11:30 a.m. on the last day of conference. The violators then paraded to the offering basket with more than $2,000 in donations.

Lay delegates elected to General Conference: Mary Jo Dahlberg (North Branch; co-chair), Otis Anderson (Minneapolis), Dwain Petersen (Mankato) and Mary Gates (Minneapolis). Clergy elected: Judith Zabel (Minneapolis; co-chair), David Bard (Duluth), Cindy Gregorson (Maplewood) and Victoria Rebeck (Blaine).

Lay delegates elected to the North Central Jurisdictional Conference: Mary Grant (Maplewood), Frederic Schnoor (La Crescent), Sara Swenson (Brainerd) and Jeff Sitts (Coon Rapids). Clergy elected are Rufus Campbell (Springfield), Mark Horst (Stillwater), Dennis Alexander (Minneapolis) and Becky Sechrist (Minneapolis).

Eighteen clergy retired, 13 were commissioned and one deacon and three elders were ordained. Leslie Hobson's commissioning as a deaconess was celebrated.

Membership stands at 79,706, down 2,184 from the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 40,145, down 829. Church school attendance stands at 26,713, down 295.

Victoria Rebeck