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Annual Conference

Learning sessions

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Participants in pre-conference workshop during the 2018 annual conference listen to the presenter. Photos by jlynn studio.

Historical Society luncheon, Wednesday June 5, 2019, 12:00 p.m. - $15 (includes lunch)

The life and witness of Bishop Rueben Job - reflections by Bishop Bruce  R. Ough, Wednesday, June 5, 12 p.m., presented by the Dakotas United Methodist Historical Society.  Bishop Ough and Bishop Job both grew up in North Dakota.  They worked together on the Dakotas Area Program Staff and in Iowa when Bishop Ough served as Council Director for the Iowa Annual Conference. More information about Bishop Job is here. Everyone is invited to register for the meeting and the meal, which will cost $15. Click here to register.

Missional impact sessionWednesday June 5, 2019, 5:30 p.m. - $16 (includes dinner)

Earthkeepers—presented by Jo Flesner, Wednesday June 5, 2019, sponsored by the  EarthKeeper Movement of the General Board of Global Ministries
Earthkeepers equip United Methodist laity and clergy to develop or deepen environmental initiatives in their communities. Participates will: Feel a deep sense of God’s call to care for the environment, recognize the urgency of the environmental crisis, and are ready to take bold action.  Deepen theological resources to support the development or growth of an environmental project or initiative in churches and communities.  Join the broader community of United Methodists who are engaged in environmental ministries and have some previous experience with environmental issues and ministry.

Pre-conference workshops, Wednesday, June 5, 2019, 1:30-3:00 p.m., and 3:15-4:45 p.m.

Creating a missional culture – presented by Gina Mueller, regional director, 3dMovements. Learn about specific strategies to increase missional engagement in your congregation.  Discover how to move your congregation to have greater influence in your community. Move towards a greater heart for the least, last, and lost. Train everyday people to become effective at reaching their neighbors, friends, and co-workers with the good news. Participants will look at the specific strategy Jesus gave us to imitate and walk away with tools to apply immediately.  

New worship styles to reach new people – presented by Dakotas pastors and lay leaders. Worship is still one of the primary ways people will encounter your church.  But reaching NEW people often requires new approaches to worship.  This workshop will include panelists who are doing worship in new and innovate ways to Dare to Reach and will inspire you to think creatively about how your church might do the same.

Reach! Replay – A Learner's Guide to Evangelism – presented by Rev. Fred Vanderwerf, District Superintendent, Minnesota Conference. As a former missionary, Fred understands what it means to Dare to Reach. In this workshop, he'll cover the basics of what it means to share your faith as an act of Loving Boldly. What do I really need to know to be an evangelist? How can I share faith without being a jerk? How will I know if I was successful? This session will look at a way of evangelism that merely requires a curious and learning heart. “Know-it-alls” need not register! We will look at concepts cross-cultural missionaries employ as a way to inform how we share our faith right next door.

Reach! Replay – Revitalizing the rural church – presented by Pastors Cory Thrall and Marty Martens. A conversation about rural ministry.  This fun, interactive workshop will get creative juices flowing.  Dive into the culture of rural faith communities and how a solid vision will move you toward a “love first” church.  Explore ways the rural church can create changes to Sunday worship, technology, and children’s and youth ministry, while addressing challenges that will arise in the midst of those changes.  Leave the workshop empowered to go into your rural faith communities and be agents of change for the kingdom of God.”

Reaching the next generation – presented by Stephanie Caro and Dakotas Conference pastors and lay leadership. Daring to Reach the next generation requires boldness, as well as creativity and innovation.  Stephanie Caro from Ministry Architects, who leads the Dakotas Conference Children’s and Youth Ministry cohort, will facilitate a panel discussion of leaders from throughout the Conference who are reaching and discipling children and youth in unique and effective ways.

The power of Breakthrough Prayer – presented by Dakotas Conference Breakthrough Prayer leaders. “The open flood gate of a Breakthrough Prayer Initiative recalibrates stagnation into a movement,” from Sue Nilson Kibbey’s book, “Flood Gates – Holy Momentum for a Fearless Church.”  Starting with Nilson Kibbey’s teaching at the 2013 Annual Conference and subsequent Breakthrough Prayer Training events, churches throughout the Dakotas Conference have felt the rush of the Holy Spirit as they began asking God to breakthrough in powerful ways in their churches and lives. This workshop will give attendees a taste of information and ideas, as well as, an invitation to further training and equipping on how to begin a Breakthrough Prayer Initiative. 

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Gina Mueller, regional Hub director for 3dMovements.


Laity session, Thursday, June 6, 8:30 a.m.

Living the Ways of Jesus – presented by Gina Mueller, regional director, 3dMovements. This session will start with what it means to grow a Jesus-shaped life of Up-In-Out. The presenter will give additional focus to OUT, helping attendees understand and unpack a key strategy - People of Peace. You will hear stories and learn steps to take in your own neighborhoods and relationships to make disciples for Jesus.


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Pastor Susan Jennys presents at AC 2018.

Lunch and Learn sessions, Thursday, June 6 and Friday, June 7

Decolonization and church revitalization – presented by Pastor Susan Jennys and MorningStar Fellowship (limit 8 people), Thursday, June 6 and Friday, June 7. The Dakotas Conference Native American Ministries Action Team (NAMAT) and MorningStar Fellowship will be sponsoring “talking circles” on the topic of “Decolonization and Church Revitalization” during the lunch hours on June 6 and June 7.  What is decolonization?  What bearing does it have on our partnership ministries in Indian country?  What kind of impact might decolonization work have on the vitality of our churches and outreach?  Come explore this topic using a traditional “talking circle” format.

A legacy of giving – presented by Sheri Meister, executive director, Dakotas United Methodist Foundation, Thursday, June 6 only.  Explore how legacy giving (or planned giving) is a way to support your local church and ministries near and dear to your heart.  Ideas shared will enable individuals to make more significant gifts than they thought they could make from ordinary income.  Well thought out planned gifts, when administrated appropriately, not only benefit ministries but often provide a life-long income to the donors.  This workshop will look at ways estate planning encourages opportunities for giving beyond the offering plate.

Social media for churches – presented by United Methodist Communications staff, Thursday, June 6 only. Social media is everywhere these days. Shouldn’t the church be there too? Learn the basics of using social media for ministry.  Take a look at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat as a tool for ministry. Learn the best practices for social media.  Get on the right track to engaging with members and reaching new people.  

Internal church communications – presented by United Methodist Communications staff, Friday, June 7 only. Developing an internal church communication plan is vital to consistent messaging, managing change, and maximizing interactions with church members. Identify effective online strategies to maximize interactions with church members. Understand various elements of change and how to manage. Employ best practices for email and newsletter communications. Use communication skills to recruit and maintain volunteers.


Benefits sessions, Thursday, June 6, 2019 and Friday June 7, 2019

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Compassion Fatigue — presented by Theresa Porter, Optum-EAP, Thursday, June 6, 2019, one hour
For many of us our day to day jobs are not only physically exhausting but mentally exhausting. The class will guide you through what compassion fatigue is, the sign and symptoms and real-life strategies to combat your everyday lives. Program highlights include: What is compassion fatigue? How do you recognize if you have the signs and symptoms?  Signs and symptoms? The difference between compassion fatigue and burnout.

Build your resilience — presented by Theresa Porter, Optum-EAP, Friday, June 7. 2019, 1.5 hours
“Building resiliency” explores the personal characteristics associated with being able to positively cope with unexpected challenges. The concept of stress hardiness is defined and discussed. The program will highlight these topics: defining resiliency, exploring the relationship between resiliency, stress and overall health, determining if you’re a resilient person, and discovering how to become more stress hardy.

Theresa Porter MSW, LICSW is one of our clinical experts who employs a solution-focused and strength-based approach in her treatment process. She has been active in the social work field since 1991, providing expert counseling to both the public and private sectors. Trained to provide EMDR therapy, Theresa focuses on finding ways to help you gain control of your life. She helps her patients in the areas of domestic violence, abuse, anger management, issues in marriage (traditional/non-traditional), children and families, depression and other struggles that get in the way of enjoying a harmonious and purposeful life.

Bachelor's Degree in Social Work from UND--graduated Cum Laude.

Master's Degree in Social Work

  • Graduated 3.93 GPA from the University of North Dakota (1998-1999) through attendance in the IVN Distance Learning Program while working full-time
  • Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker—(Third Party Reimbursable Status)
  • Extensive training in the areas of children and family services, juvenile justice and mental health.


Dakotas Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church 605.996.6552 Announcements Slider.jpg 1331 University Ave. Mitchell SD 57301-0460 US 43.69689310 -98.03291320 122 W. Franklin Avenue Ste 400 Minneapolis MN 55404 US 0.00000000 0.00000000 1331 W University Ave Mitchell SD 57301 US 0.00000000 0.00000000 1331 University Ave Mitchell SD 57301 US 0.00000000 0.00000000