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Five learning opportunities at annual conference 2019

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Participants at the pre-conference workshops listen intently, during the 2018 annual conference. Photos by jlynn studios.

The three-day conference session is a time for Dakotas United Methodists to worship and enjoy fellowship, learn from teaching sessions, seek God’s guidance as we make decisions about ministry direction, determine budgets, ordain and commission clergy, and receive the bishop’s clergy appointments.  Annual conference is not just for clergy and lay members, it is for anyone who would like to attend as a guest, to learn with others.  Pre-conference sessions, June 5,  include opportunities to learn and grow in faith.  Register now at this link. Here are five learning opportunities you will not want to miss.

1. Missional Impact learning session: Earthkeeper—presented by Jo Flesner, Wednesday June 5, 2019, sponsored by the,  EarthKeeper Movement of the General Board of Global Ministries Earthkeepers equip United Methodist laity and clergy to develop or deepen environmental initiatives in their communities. Participates will: Feel a deep sense of God’s call to care for the environment, recognize the urgency of the environmental crisis, and are ready to take bold action.  Deepen theological resources to support the development or growth of an environmental project or initiative in churches and communities.  Join the broader community of United Methodists who are engaged in environmental ministries and have some previous experience with environmental issues and ministry.

2. Pre-conference workshops, Wednesday, June 5, 2019, 1:30-3:00 p.m., and 3:15-4:45 p.m.

Creating a missional culture – presented by Gina Mueller, regional director, 3dMovements. Learn about specific strategies to increase missional engagement in your congregation.  Discover how to move your congregation to have greater influence in your community. Move towards a greater heart for the least, last, and lost. Train everyday people to become effective at reaching their neighbors, friends, and co-workers with the good news. Participants will look at the specific strategy Jesus gave us to imitate and walk away with tools to apply immediately.  

New worship styles to reach new people – presented by Dakotas pastors and lay leaders. Worship is still one of the primary ways people will encounter your church.  But reaching NEW people often requires new approaches to worship.  This workshop will include panelists who are doing worship in new and innovate ways to Dare to Reach and will inspire you to think creatively about how your church might do the same.

Reach! Replay – From Entrance to Engagement – presented by Rev. Fred Vanderwerf, District Superintendent, Minnesota Conference. As a former missionary, Fred understands what it means to Dare to Reach.  But Reaching also means connecting people to a relationship with Christ and the congregation.  In this workshop, Rev. Vanderwerf will provide practical tools to help you connect new people to the life and ministry of your church.

Reach! Replay – Revitalizing the rural church – presented by Pastors Cory Thrall and Marty Martens. A conversation about rural ministry.  This fun, interactive workshop will get creative juices flowing.  Dive into the culture of rural faith communities and how a solid vision will move you toward a “love first” church.  Explore ways the rural church can create changes to Sunday worship, technology, and children’s and youth ministry, while addressing challenges that will arise in the midst of those changes.  Leave the workshop empowered to go into your rural faith communities and be agents of change for the kingdom of God.”

Reaching the next generation – presented by Stephanie Caro and Dakotas Conference pastors and lay leadership. Daring to Reach the next generation requires boldness, as well as creativity and innovation.  Stephanie Caro from Ministry Architects, who leads the Dakotas Conference Children’s and Youth Ministry cohort, will facilitate a panel discussion of leaders from throughout the Conference who are reaching and discipling children and youth in unique and effective ways.

The power of Breakthrough Prayer – presented by Dakotas Conference Breakthrough Prayer leaders. “The open flood gate of a Breakthrough Prayer Initiative recalibrates stagnation into a movement,” from Sue Nilson Kibbey’s book, “Flood Gates – Holy Momentum for a Fearless Church.”  Starting with Nilson Kibbey’s teaching at the 2013 Annual Conference and subsequent Breakthrough Prayer Training events, churches throughout the Dakotas Conference have felt the rush of the Holy Spirit as they began asking God to breakthrough in powerful ways in their churches and lives. This workshop will give attendees a taste of information and ideas, as well as, an invitation to further training and equipping on how to begin a Breakthrough Prayer Initiative. 

3. Laity Session, Thursday, June 6, 8:30 a.m., Living the ways of Jesus – presented by Gina Mueller. This session will start with what it means to grow a Jesus-shaped life of Up-In-Out. The presenter will give additional focus to OUT, helping attendees understand and unpack a key strategy - People of Peace. You will hear stories and learn steps to take in your own neighborhoods and relationships to make disciples for Jesus. 

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Pastor Susan Jennys presents at 2018 AC.

4. Lunch and Learn sessions, Thursday, June 6 and Friday, June 7

Decolonization and church revitalization – presented by Pastor Susan Jennys and MorningStar Fellowship (limit 8 people), Thursday, June 6 and Friday, June 7. The Dakotas Conference Native American Ministries Action Team (NAMAT) and MorningStar Fellowship will be sponsoring “talking circles” on the topic of “Decolonization and Church Revitalization” during the lunch hours on June 6 and June 7.  What is decolonization?  What bearing does it have on our partnership ministries in Indian country?  What kind of impact might decolonization work have on the vitality of our churches and outreach?  Come explore this topic using a traditional “talking circle” format.

A legacy of giving – presented by Sheri Meister, executive director, Dakotas United Methodist Foundation, Thursday, June 6 only.  Explore how legacy giving (or planned giving) is a way to support your local church and ministries near and dear to your heart. Ideas shared will enable individuals to make more significant gifts than they thought they could make from ordinary income.  Well thought out planned gifts, when administrated appropriately, not only benefit ministries but often provide a life-long income to the donors. This workshop will look at ways estate planning encourages opportunities for giving beyond the offering plate.

Social media for churches – presented by United Methodist Communications staff, Thursday, June 6 only. Social media is everywhere these days. Shouldn’t the church be there too? Learn the basics of using social media for ministry. Take a look at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat as a tool for ministry. Learn the best practices for social media. Get on the right track to engaging with members and reaching new people.  

Internal church communications – presented by United Methodist Communications staff, Friday, June 7 only. Developing an internal church communication plan is vital to consistent messaging, managing change, and maximizing interactions with church members. Identify effective online strategies to maximize interactions with church members. Understand various elements of change and how to manage. Employ best practices for email and newsletter communications. Use communication skills to recruit and maintain volunteers.

5. Benefits sessions, Thursday, June 6, 2019 and Friday, June 7, 2019

Compassion Fatigue — presented by Optum-EAP, Thursday, June 6, 2019, one hour. For many of us our day to day jobs are not only physically exhausting but mentally exhausting. The class will guide you through what compassion fatigue is, the sign and symptoms and real-life strategies to combat your everyday lives. Program highlights include: What is compassion fatigue? How do you recognize if you have the signs and symptoms?  The difference between compassion fatigue and burnout.

Building resiliency — presented by TBD, Friday, June 7, 2019, 1.5 hours. “Building resiliency” explores the personal characteristics associated with being able to positively cope with unexpected challenges.  The concept of stress hardiness is defined and discussed. The program will highlight these topics: defining resiliency, exploring the relationship between resiliency, stress and overall health, determining if you’re a resilient person, and discovering how to become more stress hardy.