Dear members and friends of Dakotas United Methodist Churches,
Grace and peace to you in this season of uncertainty as we navigate the waters of pandemics, racial justice, and tension across the denomination. Let us prepare our hearts with prayer and turn our eyes to the cross and the resurrection promise.
On October 10, 2020, we will meet virtually for the 27th Session of the Dakotas Annual Conference. A significant portion of our time together will be focused on worship and the necessary business of the annual conference. We will also celebrate our eight-year partnership as the Dakotas-Minnesota Episcopal Area.
Our theme for this conference session is Be the Light: Live Hope! We will explore our passion for outreach to the world’s most challenged communities and explore more fully Jesus’ missional imperative to heal a broken world.
Again, this year we will receive a Miracle Offering as an expression of our gratitude for God’s extravagant blessings and advance our mission “to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” The offering will be received during our time together on October 10. I encourage each of our 250 congregations to begin praying and preparing to participate in yet another miraculous expression of the abundant life we have in Christ Jesus.
Jesus’ teaching about our being the salt of the earth and the light of the world (Matthew 5:13-16) serves as the principle scriptural inspiration for our conference’s theme. Jesus instructs us to “let your light shine before people, so they can see the good things you do and praise your Father in heaven.” The 2020 Miracle Offering provides the opportunity to be the light and living hope for those crying out for love, compassion, justice, and grace in their lives.
Our 2020 Miracle Offering goal is $60,000, to be shared among of our signature missions in the Dakotas Conference: Bakken Oil Rush Ministry in Watford City, Bakken Out-In-Faith Ministry, Solar Oven Partners, Spirit Lake Ministry Center, and Tree of Life Ministry.
Our Dakotas Conference mission ministries serve thousands of people each year.
In the past year, Bakken Oil Rush Ministry, based in Watford City, assisted 5,045 families or individuals with clothing, work gear, and household items.
Bakken Out-In-Faith Ministry continues to serve the people of Williston with a weekly meal and devotion. During the pandemic, the number of families seeking assistance has grown by 25 percent, and the meal is being served curbside.
Solar Oven Partners distributed ovens in the Dominican Republic with Gordon and Ardell Graner, natives of North Dakota. Ovens are also distributed in Sierra Leone and to the Navajo Nation in Arizona. Solar Oven Partners has workshops to build solar ovens in Raymond, South Dakota, Montrose, South Dakota, and soon at Open Heart United Methodist Church in Rapid City, South Dakota.
Spirit Lake Ministry Center operates a food pantry, Shoebox Christmas, a summer program for children and youth, and a construction ministry. In the past year, Spirit Lake has reached more than 6,000 families and youth and hosted 426 Volunteers in Mission. The Journey at Spirit Lake, a newly formed worshipping community, continues to grow, with an average attendance of 50.
Tree of Life Ministry operates a soup kitchen, thrift store, and construction ministry. Last year the soup kitchen served or distributed 1,059,178 lbs. of food, a value of $1,747,644.00. The thrift store provided 130,990 items, including household goods, furniture, appliances, gently used and new clothing for babies, children, teens, men, and women. VIM teams assisted with 24 home repairs to improve the health and wellness of residents. Tree of Life recently began a botanical garden to grow native plants such as black and gold currants, buffalo berry, chokecherry, and prairie red plums.
These ministries are in need are struggling for support during COVID-19. I invite each of our 250 congregations to contribute $250 to the 2020 Miracle Offering. If we do, our light will shine brightly for all to see. Let us join our hands and hearts with each of these ministries, not only with our financial gifts but also by volunteering and lifting them in prayer as they reach out to heal a broken world.
Additional information about the 2020 Miracle Offering is available on the Dakotas Conference website. Please invite the members and friends of your congregation to experience the joy of participating in this miraculous expression of Christ’s light in the world. Jesus sent the Twelve out “to proclaim God’s Kingdom and to heal …” (Luke 9:2). Let us also go forth to bring healing to a broken world.
Thank you in advance for your extravagant generosity, passion for reaching others for Christ, and your courage to Be the Light: Live Hope!
Yours in Christ,
Bruce R. Ough
Bishop Bruce R. Ough