In less than a year, thousands of United Methodists from around the world will come to Minneapolis for General Conference 2020. The Dakotas-Minnesota Area will serve as host to all of these guests at the Minneapolis Convention Center.
Members of the 2020 General Conference Host Team have been meeting for the past four years to prepare for the opportunity to welcome siblings in Christ from around the world. Host team members have attended the 2016 General Conference in Portland, and the 2019 Special General Conference in St. Louis. At both events, team members observed, volunteered, and learned firsthand what it takes to host and how we can provide extravagant hospitality.
Jim Haun who serves as the chair for the 2020 General Conference Host Team, recently said at annual conference sessions in Bismarck, North Dakota and St. Cloud, Minnesota, “Members of our Host Team have been working tirelessly to make arrangements for everything from transportation and accommodations to special outings. Earlier this year, we hired Jan Russell (whom you might recognize as your Cokesbury rep) to be our volunteer coordinator—and she has been diligently recruiting volunteers from across our area, our jurisdiction, and the U.S.”
Becky Boland, a member of Hennepin Avenue UMC in Minneapolis and the 2020 Host Team, states that radical hospitality is the key. “My favorite motto is ‘kinder than is necessary,’ because I believe when we are kinder than is necessary, it gives people a glimpse of the face of God. I try to live out that motto, and it’s also informed our preparations for General Conference guests. We want to go above and beyond to make them feel welcome.”
This is a challenging time for our denomination. The 2020 General Conference will be an essential step in determining the future of The United Methodist Church. Dakotas and Minnesota United Methodists have an opportunity to show how church can be done well. Volunteers can demonstrate through actions that loving our neighbor isn’t about agreeing with our neighbor on all the things we care about. We can show visitors that no matter who you are, no matter where you’re from, no matter how you feel about human sexuality or any other topic, you are welcome here.
Hosting General Conference is also an opportunity for us to showcase our region. From our amazing live theater performances to Twins games at Target Field to our beautiful lakes and prairies to our incredible national monuments and parks, we have so much to offer as a tourist destination.
Matt Bader is a member of Pierre First UMC who is currently working as youth director at Albert Lea UMC in Minnesota. Bader is looking forward to volunteering at General Conference 2020 because it’s an opportunity to serve the church. “I love to witness important moments and decisions in the life of our denomination. This is a unique opportunity to see the United Methodist connection up close, and as a former General Conference delegate, I can attest to how meaningful that is,” Bader says.
There are volunteer roles for all ages and interests—everything from greeters to drivers to translators to administrative support. Volunteers will be deployed to the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, hotels, the Minneapolis Convention Center, and several other venues.
Jan Russell, as the volunteer coordinator, invites everyone to sign-up to volunteer. “The volunteer shifts are a manageable three-hours each, and you can sign up for multiple shifts over the ten days of the gathering,” says Russell. “We will have childcare for volunteers’ kiddos. We are working on easy parking and affordable lodging.”
Sign up right now at gc2020welcome.org.