Skip to Main Content

Dakotas United Methodists respond to violence and disasters

Want to be a caring Christian presence for those hit by hurricane, earthquake, fire or flood? Are the victims of the Las Vegas shooting on your heart?  Read about the prayer vigil that was recently held for the victims of the Las Vegas shooting in Rapid City.  Share the statement about the shooting from Bishop Ough. Attend the upcoming ERT training so you are ready to help hurricane victims.  Sign up for the mission trip to Texas over Thanksgiving.

Reaching out to victims of Las Vegas shooting

A gunman opened fire on the crowd at a music festival Oct. 1, 2017, killing at least 59 in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.  Praying and showing solidarity are ways that United Methodists in Dakotas are lending a hand to those in a traumatized city.

Photo: Rev. Mark Johnsen, far right, organized a prayer vigil for victims of the Las Vegas shooting in Rapid City on October 2.  Photo by Lisa Johnsen.

Reverend Mark Johnson, Prairie View UMC organized a prayer vigil in the Rapid City area. Johnsen told a Rapid City Journal reporter, “Vigils are important because they are chances to gather in unity as Americans and show solidarity for the victims’ grieving families.”

During the vigil, people circled around a table filled with candles that represented each shooting victim and took turns reading the victims’ names aloud.

Holly Sortland, pastor of South Maple United Methodist Church in Rapid City, spoke briefly and urged everyone to be better neighbors, to build relationships and to ask God’s forgiveness for complacency.  View photos of the prayer vigil from the Rapid City Journal here.

Bishop Bruce R. Ough, resident bishop for the Dakotas-Minnesota Area released a statement encouraging United Methodists to “not permit our words to push us further apart at a time when we need to unite to extend comfort to the hurting, grieve with those who grieve, and embrace those who seek to mend.”  Read the Bishop’s full statement here.

Prepare to help hurricane victims

The Dakotas Conference is partnering with Dakota Wesleyan University to offer an UMCOR Early Response Team training, October 20-21 in Mitchell, SD (location TBD based on size of group).  The training will begin at 5:30pm on Friday night (supper included) and finish by noon on Saturday.  Participants will learn the who, what, when, where and how of doing ministry, as well as participate in hands-on experiences in the specific tasks that early responders are expected to accomplish. This training ensures that volunteers will operate under specific guidelines that allow them to be productive and caring while causing no further harm or being a burden to the affected community. This standardized class is required for the basic ERT UMCOR identification badge.

To participate in the training, please register here. Participants will also need to go through the Safe Gatherings online training before they attend (costs $22, takes about 1.5-2hrs). Click here for more infomation. In order to be badged, participants will also need to have a background check (forms provided at the training.)  For more questions, contact Rebecca Trefz in the Conference office.

Mission trip to Texas

Rev. Mark Johnsen, Prairieview UMC is organizing a mission trip to southeast Texas November 19-26. The current plan is to leave Sunday afternoon, November 19 and return Sunday, November 26.  Johnsen states, “We are preparing to take both a 14-passenger bus and a 15-passenger van if the number of participants require.”

The registration deadline is October 22. The first 29 registrations will be guaranteed a spot on the trip. The cost of the trip is $150 per person. The price includes gas, food and lodging.

“We have registered our team with the Texas Annual Conference, but the exact type and scope of work, along with the exact location, will not be provided to us until a couple of weeks before the trip,” said Johnsen.  However, we have been told that we will be staying at a United Methodist church in a community within about an hour of Houston. We only need to bring open hearts to serve in whatever capacity they need us at that time.”

The scheduling of the trip during the week of Thanksgiving is intentional. Many people have Thursday and Friday off during that week, so the hope is that folks would have to take less days off work. Johnsen notes, “What better way to show our Thanksgiving to God than to use that week to love our neighbors and help them in their hour of need?  Please pray about it!” 

Click here for more information.

For more information or to register for the trip, please contact   Mark Johnsen at 605-440-3201 or