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AC 2023 highlights to share

By: Doreen Gosmire, director of communications, Dakotas UMC

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The band from Sunnycrest UMC in Sioux Falls sings at worship at the 2023 Annual Conference. Photos by jlynn studios.

Wondering how to condense two and one-half full days of worship, discerning, and celebrating into a succinct report you can bring back to members of your congregation?

Here are some highlights to consider sharing:

Theme: Drawing on Luke 24:13-35, the theme of this year’s gathering was “Encounter. Transform. Respond. The Emmaus Experience.” This post-resurrection story where everything has changed and the implications still seem a bit cloudy mirrors the time and space we are living in as a church. We, like the two disciples, are on the road, asking deep questions, and trying to make sense of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus today. And we, too, are finding that we encounter Christ in transforming ways when we do. Access social media graphics

Bishop's Episcopal Address: In the Emmaus Road story, the impossible becomes possible as the world is made right again through encounters with the resurrected Christ who brings healing, reconciliation, and hope. Bishop Lanette Plambeck, in her inaugural Episcopal Address, reminds us that this story for the two disciples on the road is our story too. During this challenging time in The United Methodist Church, she invited Dakotas United Methodists to move forward and declare that there is enough love for all of us, and she reminded each person: You are loved. You are a child of God and a person of worth. There are no exceptions. (Watch or download Episcopal Address.)

Missional Report:
Leaning into the story of the Road to Emmaus we encounter Jesus, we are transformed and engage in making disciples like Jesus—our rock and redeemer, working in and through all of us. “We have seen first-hand that, even as we seek to follow Jesus closely, the way forward will not be without struggle. We know this is especially true as we navigate the divisions within our own denomination and the ways they are manifesting in our churches and relationships,” Rev. Jeanne Sortland, chair of the Dakotas Conference Common Table, told attendees at the 2023 Annual Conference. View the 2022-23 Missional Report.

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Michael Beck directs a dance party during AC 2023.

Fresh Expressions with Michael Beck:  Rev. Dr. Michael Beck is co-pastor of two Florida churches and a network of “fresh expressions” led by laity that gather in various community venues and public spaces around shared interests and hobbies. He talked about fresh expressions as a new movement of Christian communities where people with no connection to the church are finding life and encountering Christ. Dinner church whereby people gather to share a meal is an easy starting point for a fresh expression, Beck said. Some of the other fresh expressions he’s involved with take place in a tattoo parlor, at a restaurant, in a virtual reality space, at dog park, and even at Tesla charging stations. Read more

Ministry milestones:
Those gathered honored and thanked 14 clergy entering retirement, and they celebrated a pastor ordained as an elder, four commissioned as provisional members, eight local licensed pastors who completed their educational requirements, and six people authorized to serve as local pastors in the congregations and ministry areas in which they are appointed. View the Celebration of Life in Ministry Service. Access the Celebration of Life in Ministry Booklet.

Voting members of the 30th Session of the Dakotas Annual Conference ratified 24 church disaffiliation agreements, approved four legislative items, referred one item, and one legislative item was ruled out of ordered. The body approved the 2024 budget and spending plan, the nominations report, and the consent calendar. View all the legislation.

2023 Miracle Offering:
Bishop Lanette Plambeck invited those present to the 2023 Miracle Offering: The Road to Hope. "We need to reach into our pockets, not only for financial gifts, but also to let people know that every local church is a pocket of hope," said Bishop Lanette. So far $42,000 has been collected for the 2023 Miracle Offering. In response to the increasing numbers of deaths by suicide, ideation of suicide, and attempts among youth in North and South Dakota, and the mental health crisis in our nation, the offering recipients are Helpline of South Dakota and FirstLink of North Dakota. Pledges and donation will continue throughout 2023. Access information and resources

Bishop McAlilly’s sermon:
What does it mean to abide? This was the question set before the Dakotas Annual Conference on Friday morning by Bishop Bill McAlilly, the bishop of the Nashville Episcopal Area serving the Tennessee and Western Kentucky Conferences of The United Methodist Church. For Bishop McAlilly, the answer can be found in trust and service. Get more details.

Additional Resources:

Here are two great resources to help you tell the story of what happened at Annual Conference and what we are accomplishing together:
Recap video

Missional Report

Resources for creating a presentation or sharing what you learned: 

Conference theme logo
PowerPoint template

Breakthrough prayer card

Celebration of Life in Ministry Booklet

Bulletin insert word version | Bulletin insert pdf
Access all printed materials

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Bishop Lanette Plambeck and Bishop Bill McAlilly at the communion table.

Videos: Throughout annual conference, attendees watched videos that highlighted ways that churches and individuals are living out their Wesleyan ways as United Methodists in the Dakotas.

Living out Wesley’s Covenant Prayer in Dickinson: Welsey’s Covenant Prayer describes missional life devoted to following Jesus and serving as Christ's representative in the world he loves and is working to redeem. United Methodists in Dickinson, North Dakota are living out the prayer as they launch a new congregation. Nothing can stop this group of Christ followers from connecting with God and each other, not even disaffiliation. View the video.

#BeDakotasUMC:One Big Open Table—The United Methodist Church in the Dakotas is a place where people grow spiritually together. It is one big open table where people worship, learn about God and meet he ordinary people. It is a powerful connection that advocates those who often cannot speak up for themselves. We are proud to be Dakotas UMC.  View the video

#BeDakotasUMC: The place for me—You are welcome in The United Methodist Chruch1 If you grew up attending a church of a different denomination, you are welcome. If you left the church, you are welcome to come back and join us. If you struggle with faith and have questions, you are welcome in the United Methodist Church. We are proud to be Dakotas UMC.  View the video

#BeDakotas UMC: God is at work— We live out our faith in many ways but in the United Methodist Church we grow in faith and love of God together. Even though we may have differences we are all connected and find power in being in faith together through service, camping, worship and in so many other ways. We are proud to be Dakotas UMC. View the video

View and download all videos.

 You can view and even download high-resolution versions of all photographs that professional photographer Joni Rasmussen, jlynnstudios took. Just click on the photo you want, then hit the down arrow in the lower-right corner of the page. View and download some of the photos from:
Thursday, June 8

Friday, June 9

Saturday, June 10
(More photos will be added soon.)

Access all of the articles


Dakotas Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church 605.996.6552 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