Delegate Reflections on the 2017 Minnesota Annual Conference

posted Jul 31, 2017, 8:28 AM by Penny Skildum
by Pam Jacobson and Jean Leatherman

Thank you to the Peace Community of Faith for allowing us to be your lay representatives at the 2017 Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church which was held in St Cloud in June. The theme was “Encounter the Spirit--Live Expectantly!" As representatives, we can see how the UMC operates as a connectional church throughout the world which is supported by our apportionments.

After the opening worship and meal on Tuesday, the laity and clergy broke out into separate groups. The presenter for the laity was Chuck Bell, a music & worship consultant for the United Methodist Church. Try googling him. Highlights of his presentation on worship planning included:
  • use the instruments in worship in different ways & combinations with other instruments
  • the worship committee members can be thought of as “ritual artists”-changing & thinking out of the box
  • think of worship series where the entire service connects to the whole experience
  • transitions are important to push into the next moment rather than leaving a gap
  • leaders should be over communicating
  • worship participants need to PRACTICE before the service-this includes ushers, greeters, readers, musicians etc. to keep the flow
The reassuring thing about his presentation was that Dave Tidball and Pastor Gary were already doing many of the suggestions. 

There are speakers to energize us, lead us in worship and introduce innovative ways to reach out to everyone to share how our faith traditions spread the love of God. This year there was an opportunity to attend a camp revival in the park with Rev. Junius B. Dotson and pack birthing packs to send to Africa. The packs included a plastic sheet, 2 small blankets, gloves, razor blade & string (to tie off/cut the cord) and soap. The goal was 1000 packs which was met. People in the community who were enjoying the park were invited to participate in the service and project.

Throughout the conference there are break out sessions such as “Palestine & Israel--Exploding the Myth” presented by Rev. David Schneider. The main tidbit for us was to learn that for thousands of years people in the Middle East lived side by side practicing their faiths with minimal conflict. In recent history, since 1948, the conflicts have escalated. We have more information on this topic if you are interested in it.  Another favorite session was on Native American Art & Spirituality presented by a Lakota artist. He presented a very good explanation of why the recent gallows exhibit at the Walker was offensive to native people and provided insight into native spirituality.

We also picked up 30+ information cards by general Board of Church and Society on a wide range of topics from health care, domestic violence, food justice &non-proliferation to name a few.  Faith and facts are listed on each card including what do the facts say?  what do you say (how to get involved), what does the Bible say? & what does the UMC say? We’ll be setting these out for you to review.

Lastly, we get to meet all of Gary’s minister friends & former parishioners. This leads to new Gary stories!
Check out the video below for more highlights: