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2013 Dakotas Annual Conference

June 6-8, 2013
Bismarck, N.D.
Theme: "Unleashed: Bold, Spirit Leaders!"

Bishop Bruce R. Ough, Dakotas-Minnesota Area, called for more than 600 Dakotas Annual Conference members and visitors to listen and feel the "whoosh" of the Pentecostal spirit. Ough's episcopal address challenged with the adaptive question, "What do we do now? If we are to ensure that offering Christ is our very heartbeat, permeating and shaping everything we are and do, then we will need to give full-blown expression to Jesus' imperatives to cultivate spiritual vitality, reach new people and heal a broken world."

The Rev. Sue Nilson Kibbey, director of connectional and missional church initiatives, West Ohio Annual Conference, addressed the conference. She helps congregations to look outside themselves and into the community and to open their hearts and eyes to their neighbors. Through her experience helping "stuck" churches to develop spirit-filled, compassionate ministries, Kibbey has developed "five breakthrough practices of the missional church," which she presented to conference members on June 7.

The Rev. Ray Baker, chair of the conference Common Table, presented several key elements the group has considered this year. Sheri Meister, First United Methodist Church, Sioux Falls, S.D., described "The Journey Toward Vitality" which provides the conference with a road map for the future. A panel facilitated by Vicki Renner, Britton (S.D.) United Methodist Church, explained a proposal to change the apportionments method. The Rev. Keith Nelson, Sakakawea District superintendent, Bismarck, N.D., presented the Bakken Oil Rush Ministry Plan.

Several business items came before the body. Participants considered and affirmed three resolutions on the death penalty, human trafficking and affordable and sustainable health care. They also approved a new method of apportioning, based on operating income and direct billing each church or charge for health and pensions costs. The body also affirmed the constitutional amendments from General Conference 2012.

A proposal to move the annual conference session to two different college campuses was defeated. A rotation between South Dakota and North Dakota, east and west, will be the continued pattern for the annual conference session. The 21st session will be June 5-7, 2014, at the Ramkota in Rapid City, S.D. The 22nd session will be held in Fargo, N.D., at a site to be determined.

The approved budget for 2014 is $4,250,000 in apportionments and $2,735,895 in direct billing to churches for a total of $6,985,895. This is a decrease of $331,859 from 2013 or 0.4 percent. The 2014 budget designates:

  • a $228,163 decrease (23 percent) in the defined benefit cost
  • pension direct bill transition grants
  • a focus on culture of call and ministry as a career
  • camping, youth and campus ministries focusing on leadership
  • a missional church initiative
  • the hiring of an associate director of missional impact
  • general church apportionments paid in full.

On June 5, members attended preconference workshops that focused on creating missional leaders to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Workshops included "Building a Culture of Call in the Local Church," "Covenant Discipleship in the Wesleyan Model" and "Developing a Culture of Call to be in Mission with Others."

Participants shared more than $262,000 to launch the Bakken Oil Rush Ministry. Ough called for a $100,000 Miracle Offering to be collected at the celebration banquet on June 7. Jim and Kathie Konsor, Cornerstone United Methodist Church, Watertown, S.D., expressed a call to open and lead a ministry center in Watford City, N.D. The offering, which far exceeded the bishop's call, will help to make the ministry center a possibility.

Ten retiring clergy were honored during the banquet. Five jubilee clergy were celebrated.

The Denman Award for Evangelism was presented to the Rev. Adam Weber, Embrace United Methodist Church, Sioux Falls, S.D.; the Rev. Scott McKirdy, Spearfish (S.D.) United Methodist Church; Karrie Miller, First United Methodist Church, Rapid City, S.D.; and Mollie McCaskell, Knollwood Heights United Methodist Church, Rapid City.

Amy Marie Atkins, Thomas E. Bowsher, Mark Walter Britton, Mark Jerald Gronseth, Gwen Mader and Sara Lamberson Nelson were ordained. Clay Michael Lundberg, Rob Salmonson and Peggy Stempson were commissioned. The average age of those ordained at this year's conference session was 41 years old.

Statistics:

  • Membership, 36,592, down 140 from 2012
  • Worship attendance, 20,511, up 369
  • Church-school attendance (Sunday morning statistics only), 5,992, down 125

- Doreen Gosmire, associate director of communications, Dakotas Annual Conference