Wondering how to condense three full days of worship, celebration, learning, and conference business into a succinct report you can bring back to members of your congregation? Here are some highlights to consider sharing:
Theme: The theme of this year's annual conference is “Encounter the Spirit—LIVE Expectantly!” We will celebrate the ways in which we are inviting others to become disciples of God and how we are living our lives in ways that are far beyond our imagination to grow in love of God and neighbor, reach new people, and heal a broken world.
Bishop’s Episcopal Address: Bishop Bruce Ough’s Episcopal Address on Friday morning encouraged the Dakotas Annual Conference to live expectantly by claiming and putting into practice the dynamics that led to vitality, growth, and missional passion in the primitive church. “Our journey toward vitality is producing much kingdom fruit,” Bishop Ough said. “There are many signs our congregations are growing in our capacity to love God and neighbor, reach new people, and heal a broken world.” As evidence of this fruitfulness, he pointed to metrics drawn from Robert Schnase’s Five Practices of Faithful Congregations. Click here for the full story, video and a the link to the full address.
Kids Count Miracle Offering: At morning worship on Friday, June 9, 2017, Dakotas United Methodists celebrated what God is doing in and through them. They also committed over 12,000 hours of service to local schools. The Kids Count Miracle Offering, called for churches to have members volunteer in their local schools. Cash offering of over $45,000 was also collected. The money will be used to help fund grants to local churches for school partnerships. The total of the Kids Count Miracle Offering is expected to grow. Churches and individuals can send pledges and donations to JoAnn Schlimgen, Dakotas Conference UMC, PO Box 460, Mitchell, SD 57301. Watch a video of the service here.
Dotson urges us to focus on the “why”: “Deep within us is a desire for purpose,” Rev. Dotson said. Many churches have lost focus because they are building roads to nowhere. We have mistaken activity for accomplishment.” Junius Dotson’s goal in his Friday morning teaching was to give church leaders a way to take the inspiration from annual conference home in practical ways—beginning with the “why.” Read more
2016-17 Missional Report: We are 36,000 United Methodists in 250 churches who are creating a culture of call, multiplying disciples, connecting with neighbors, and understanding God’s abundant giving. The Dakotas Conference is experiencing growth in worship attendance for the sixth year and is home to Embrace Church, the fastest growing United Methodist Church in the country.
Seven presenters told attendees how United Methodists throughout the Dakotas are creating a culture of call. Rev. Sara McManus, West Fargo Flame of Faith, recognized the 6 Elisha interns from 2016 and the launching of the Samuel Project—a internship for high school students feeling a call to ministry. Katie Clark, Valley City Epworth, told participants how first youth ministry cohort of ten churches is equipping local congregations with tools and coaching to create vitalized youth ministry programs. Jane Hincks, Center UMC told members that over 68 people had attended a discernment retreat or advanced lay servant ministry training this past year. Deb Kjerstad, director of leadership development shared that clergy have spent of 4,300 hours in coaching and training this past year. Kjerstad also shared the story of Rev. Peggy Stempson’s unique call to ministry in the Dakotas Conference through this video.
Attendees at the conference in Bismarck learned about how Dakotas Conference churches were multiplying disciples. Rev. Ben Ingebretson, director of new church development Dakotas-Minnesota Area, shared that 12 churches have began the process to create a new worship service to reach out to new disciples. John Srtska, Sioux Falls Sunnycrest, reported 183 new ideas or initiatives churches have been launched by churches as a result of participation in the Missional Church Consultation Initiative (MCCI) and the Journey Renewal Process.
Kara Togel, Watertown First UMC, explained how God began to multiple disciples in ways that we never could have imagined a few years ago in the towns of Salem and Montrose. Check out this video that tells their story. Rev. Dee Ann Eidem, Rapid City Canyon Lake UMC, told participants that using multiple methods, we can move from a goal of one new congregation a year, to a goal of 10 new congregations in four years, and eventually, to a doubling of that goal to a 3% reproduction rate or over 6 new congregations per year.
Attendees learned that the number of Dakotas United Methodists in mission has grown each of the past three years. Examples of these members in mission include Velva North Dakota where love in action is seen in multiple ways. Take a look at this video. Rev. Sharla McCaskell, Rapid City Knollwood Heights, told attendees that $12,500 was given to churches for Breakthrough Ministry grants impacting over 2,000 lives. JoAnn Schlimgen, assistant director of finance and administration, shared that the Dakotas Conference has donated $850,000 to hunger ministries in North and South Dakota the past 10 years.
Sheri Meister, director of the Dakotas United Methodist Foundation introduced Diane Owen, who will serve as the project manager for the $1 miilion Liilly Grant received by the Dakotas-Minnesota Area. Meister also thanked and celebrated with attendees the success of Thrive: Strength for Today, Hope for Tomorrow, capital campaign. Individuals and churches have pledged over $3.5 million and $1.2 million has been collected. Watch this Thrive thank you video. Read more
Festival in the park: An atmosphere of fun and fellowship was present as attendees at the 24th session of the Dakotas Annual Conference spent the evening at the park. A picnic dinner was served. The praise team provided music from Fargo First African UMC. Lawn games were available. One of the feature activities was the volleyball match challenge between the cabinet and the Conference Council of Youth Ministry (CCYM). The CCYM challenged the cabinet to a match. It was a challenge of athleticism and financial pledges. Click here to read more
Recognizing clergy: On Friday evening at a Celebration of Life in Ministry Service, we remembered eight United Methodist clergy and clergy spouses who have died over the past year, honored clergy who are retiring, and celebrated those who were commissioned and ordained. We remembered three clergy and five clergy spouses that passed away this year. We honored nine retiring clergy and we celebrated ficw clergy who were commissioned and six clergy who were ordained as elders. Click here for details
Legislation: We approved the 2018 budget of $4,361,252 amount of at a slight decrease of -0.05% compared to the 2016 budget total of $4,365,000. Other legislative items approved include: a resolution to join as a coalition partner with South Dakotans for Responsible Lending, rule changes that allow for changes in ministry teams, the selection of the site for Annual Conference for 2017-2020, Camp and Retreat Ministry and lay leadership and quadrennial elections. Read more
Missional Report: Click here to view the missional report that highlights key conference initiatives throughout the year and highlights Holy Spirit breakthroughs in our midst. Click here to download and print an executive summary—this is 11 x 17, tabloid format.
Articles: Click here for all of the news stories related to 2017 Annual Conference
Videos: Click here for videos from 2017 Annual Conference
Photos: Click here for all of the photos from 2017 Annual Conference