The twenty-ninth session of the Dakotas Annual Conference was held June 9-11, 2022, at the Bismarck Event Center in Bismarck, North Dakota. It was an in-person event after two years of virtual and hybrid annual conferences. More than 450 United Methodists from North and South Dakota experienced inspiring worship, meaningful learning, and conducting business.
Bishop Laurie Haller is on medical leave after a fall causing a concussion, so two other beloved bishops, Bishop Deborah Kiesey and Bishop Bruce R. Ough, were welcomed back to preside.
Here are some of the highlights.
Theme: Drawing on Psalm 23 and John 10:10-11, our theme is "Jesus: Healer." We are a people and a world needing healing beyond our doing. God invites us to come to sit by still waters and to allow God to restore our souls. Access 2022 Annual Conference logos.
Bishop's Episcopal Address: On Thursday morning, Bishop Bruce Ough began the episcopal address to the Dakotas Annual Conference with a provocative question. "Are we too wounded, too broken, too bruised, too trampled upon to be revived?" For Ough, this is more than rhetoric. In addition to societal problems of racism, violence, and dysfunctional politics, the Annual Conference is dealing with the glaring United Methodist issues of separation, disaffiliation, and broken relationships. Together these present potentially catastrophic threats to our mission, health, and well-being.
TED Talk-style speakers inspire action: This year's Dakotas Annual Conference included brief presentations on three areas of ministry: discipleship, consensus building, and rural ministry. Experts on these subjects offered their thoughts in a format similar to the popular TED Talk videos. Rev Ben Ingebretson suggested a three-step path of discipleship: Know-Do-Be. Allen Stanton spoke on rural communities' challenges and opportunities in the Dakotas. And on Friday, Ann Crews Melton, executive director of the Consensus Council, opened her session on consensus building by referencing the friendship of John Wesley and George Whitfield, which endured despite profound disagreements. View talks on Thursday, June 9, and Friday, June 10. Read more
Missional Report: Dakotas United Methodists have been living the incarnational love of Jesus Christ, working to bring healing to a hurting world. Even as we seek to offer that grace to others, we know we need the Good Shepherd—the Great Physician—to offer that continual healing to us. More than 500 people viewed the 2021-2022 Missional Report as part of the opening plenary session of the Dakotas Annual Conference in Bismarck, North Dakota. View the 2021-2022 Missional Report.
Recognizing those entering a new chapter of ministry: "In the challenges of life, we are called by the Holy Spirit to live our call as one body of Christ," said Bishop Deborah Kiesey as she delivered the message, "Our Calling," at the 2022 Celebration of Life in Ministry Service. During the service, persons were remembered, recognized, and celebrated as they entered a new stage and commitment to ministry. "Despite everything that's happening within our church, let's celebrate these women and these men who've answered the call God has placed on their hearts," said Bishop Deb. "Thanks be to God for this group of dedicated leaders!" Read more
Legislation: Voting members of the 29th Session of the Dakotas Annual Conference approved all pieces of legislation before them, including everything on the consent calendar. Legislation approved included Item 1.2. an Inter-Methodist Standing Committee, Item 1.3 changes to the lay equalization formula, and Item 1.4 recommendations for the process for local churches leaving the UMC. New this year was voting with electronic devices. Option Technologies provided each voting member of the body with a push-button device. Voting on each motion took place for 30 seconds, with results displayed instantly.
Specific legislation approved:
A presentation of the updated Disaffiliation Process was received, and time was spent in plenary sessions fielding questions.
Miracle Offering: Participants in the 29th Session of the Dakotas Annual Conference gathered for worship Friday morning, June 10, to share their gifts to heal a broken world. During the service, Bishop Deb Kiesey said, "One of the most meaningful ways we express our love of God and grow in faith is through our gifts." Rev. Bob Ruedebusch, Southwest District Superintendent, gave the morning worship message, "Jesus Gets Us," proclaiming that Jesus heals us. "Jesus sends us out into the world to be the apprentices of healing and proclaiming the Kingdom of God has come near to all of God's people." The 2022 Miracle Offering: Wings for Wellness is a hope-bringing, spirit-fueled activity that will have a lasting impact on Native American youth served by Tree of Life Ministry and Spirit Lake Ministry. So far, we've collected close to $47,000. Donations are still being accepted. Read article. Access 2022 Miracle Offering resources.
Food, fun, and fellowship by the river: Kids played on the playsets, several generations of cornhole enthusiasts competed in friendlies, and the weather was beautiful for a time to relax, laugh, and exchange after such a long hiatus from Bismarck, where the Dakotas Annual Conference was last held in 2019. This was the Festival in the Park. View a slideshow.
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