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Dickinson UMC votes to charter

By: Doreen Gosmire, director of communications, Dakotas UMC

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Rev. Joel Winckler (left), NW District Superintendent and Karl Rockeman lead the charge conference at Dickinson UMC.

“We are being patient and open. We are listening for where the Holy Spirit is leading us and what God has in store for us next,” said Pastor Rita Ennen, Dickinson United Methodist Church in North Dakota.

Meeting on October 30 for a charge conference under the direction of Rev. Joel Winckler, Northwest District Superintendent of the Dakotas Conference, a vote was taken to move ahead with the chartering process at Dickinson United Methodist Church.

What is chartering? Chartering is the process through which a new church starts becoming self-sufficient within the structure of The United Methodist Church. It means that the worshipping body has reached a point in ministry that no longer needs the direct support or supervision of the Dakotas Annual Conference. The stability and sustainability of the church are crucial to deciding if it is time to charter. 
The charter journey is underway. Worshippers started gathering as Dickinson United Methodist Church in the summer of 2021 after the disaffiliation of the former Prairie Winds United Methodist Church.

“There were people that wanted to continue to be United Methodist. So we started with Vacations Bible school and worship in the park,” said Pastor Rita. “That fall, we moved to the basement of the Episcopal Church.” Read more about Dickinson VBS

A team of leaders attended a discernment retreat in the first year of worship. A small group Bible study started; weekly hospitality events were held, and a children’s and youth ministry program was launched.

“We have a leadership team of four. We all have our gifts and bring those gifts to the ministry. Dawn (Weber) is great with hospitality and care. Karl (Rockeman) has a gift for planning and administration. Debi (Wilson) leads the children’s and youth ministry. Together we attended a Discernment Retreat and continue our paths in ministry training,” said Ennen.

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In year one, legal documents were filed, a worship space was readied, and outreach ministries happened. Each Sunday, you could find at least 25 people at worship. Breakfast was often served before worship or a potluck meal after worship. A core group of volunteers worked throughout the year to clean, paint, and make the space feel like a church home.

“We have a stained glass cross and flame from the original United Methodist Church in Dickinson that is part of our worship area. This piece and all the efforts of the volunteers make it feel like our church home,” said Pastor Rita.

In year two, Vacation Bible School was held again, a small group Bible Study was launched, and Sunday School began.

“We are seeing more people show up for worship, Bible study, fellowship, and children’s and youth ministry. So some people are checking things out and seeing if it fits,” said Ennen.

The weekend of the vote to charter, the congregation held a pumpkin festival, complete with painting and carving, worship, and the charge conference, followed by a chili feed.

“There was even a decorated cake at the chili feed. We always have something going on. I am part-time now and will be leaving my job as the city librarian in 2023 to dedicate more time to the ministry,” said Pastor Rita.

Ennen is on the path to becoming a licensed local pastor. She attended licensing school in the summer of 2022 and will continue with the course of study.

In the future, the hope is to find a new location that is handicap accessible, perhaps add another worship service, and expand mission outreach activities.

“Before we take any next steps, we make sure we take time to listen, inform everyone, and pray,” said Ennen. "We are committed to our United Methodist roots, being patient to where God is leading us."


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