The Ministry Lab opens at United Theological Seminary, explores new ways to support churches

The Ministry Lab—an ecumenical project that serves United Methodist, United Church of Christ, and Presbyterian churches in Minnesota – will open in June at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities in St. Paul. “The Ministry Lab will become a valued partner to church leaders seeking curated resources and creative approaches to ministry,” said Christa Meland, President of The Ministry Lab Board of Directors and Director of Communications for the Minnesota Conference of the United Methodist Church.  “The Ministry Lab is a place for church leaders to dream, explore, innovate, and discover new ideas to bring back to their churches as they seek to make disciples and help individuals take the next step in their faith journey.”

At the Ministry Lab, which takes the place of and expands the ministry of the Resource Center for Churches, congregational leaders will be able to consult with staff that brings an understanding of changing ministry contexts and knowledge of current, outstanding resources – both digital and traditional.  Leaders will have access to United’s Spencer Library and the collection of the Resource Center for Churches, which will close in the Minnesota Church Center at the end of May. The Ministry Lab will also lift up innovative practices and develop fresh approaches to faith formation.

“The Ministry Lab is one of the primary hubs for consulting, resourcing, and support for clergy, lay, and volunteer faith formation leaders serving our local congregations across the Minnesota Conference United Church of Christ,” said Rev. Kevin Brown, vice president of The Ministry Lab Board of Directors and Associate Conference Minister for Faith Formation with Children and Youth. “As we enter this new partnership with United, I am excited to see new opportunities for The Ministry Lab to engage in constructive work in the area of progressive, life-long spiritual formation, expand its capacity for point-of-need consulting for local congregations, and foster an ecumenical network of leaders connected together by a spirit of collaboration, experimentation, and innovation.”

Due to generous annual support from the Ashley Endowment, all Minnesota United Church of Christ clergy, staff, and lay leaders have free access to The Ministry Lab’s wide variety of outstanding ministry resources and free consultation.

Through its partnership with United, the Ministry Lab hopes to develop new learning opportunities from cohorts and digital sharing to workshops and certification programs. These new opportunities will join The ConNext Summit, a biannual gathering on children, youth and family ministry, which is co-sponsored and coordinated by staff of the Ministry Lab.

“The rapid change and challenges of local church leadership demand access to innovative ideas and methods for creating an entrepreneurial culture rooted in valued traditions in the community church,” said United President Lewis P. Zeidner. “Together, United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities and The Ministry Lab will provide local church leaders a place to incubate new ideas, develop tools, and collaborate with subject matter experts to help nurture stronger, more vibrant faith communities. The United team is excited to utilize its new location and creative space in St. Paul to host its partnership with The Ministry Lab in service to this important work. A core value of United is to nurture lifelong learning for faith leaders, and The Ministry Lab is an important model for supporting such exploration and growth.”

Resource Center for Churches Executive Director Lizabeth Bougie—who has played a key role in the creation of The Ministry Lab and will oversee it this summer—plans to retire in the fall. The Ministry Lab’s board of directors is working with United to conduct a search for a new leader.

The Ministry Lab will host an open house at its new location at United Theological Seminary (767 Eustis St., Suite 140) this fall. This summer, it is open for visits and consultation Tuesday through Thursday, noon to 4 p.m., and by appointment via email at info@rcc-mn.org. Obtain directions and parking information here.

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