What is God calling the Minnesota Conference to do over the next three years?
That is the question the board of directors and staff leaders pondered in crafting the Conference’s new strategic plan, approved by the board in early March. The plan articulates the Conference’s calling and five strategic priorities.
While the plan was developed in a time before the Covid-19 pandemic, it has provided strong guidance in the past few weeks, says Conference Minister Rev. Shari Prestemon. “The whole world has changed since the board adopted this plan just one month ago, but the commitments we made then remain incredibly relevant for us now in this crisis, perhaps even more so. To me this is beautiful evidence of the Holy Spirit at work in great and mysterious ways.”
Rev. Jane McBride, moderator of the Minnesota Conference board of directors, notes, “The words ‘courageous,’ ‘alive’ and ‘transforming’ in our new statement of calling depict a church that is actively engaged with the world. It articulates the hope so many of us have, that the church is not primarily dedicated to its own survival, but to the abundant sharing of Christ’s love. Watching our staff and local church leaders respond to this pandemic, I have truly seen the church come alive in this way.”
The following is a brief summary of the plan; the full plan is available on the Conference’s website.
God calls the Minnesota Conference United Church of Christ to equip a courageous Church alive with Christ’s transforming love.
OUR STRATEGIC PRIORITIES
The Minnesota Conference responds to God’s covenantal call by facilitating relationships within and beyond the Church. Resisting isolation, we serve as connective tissue for deep listening, healing justice and spiritual transformation. The Conference fosters mutual, loving and creative collaboration among our congregations, the United Church of Christ, multifaith partners, and community organizations.
- Share resources, programming and best practices.
- Connect Conference members to one another in order to faithfully build one another up in love.
- Develop and deepen relationships with organizations with whom we share common goals.
We equip disciples in all ages, stages and settings of the Minnesota Conference to lead an emerging Church with passion and excellence. We cultivate the leadership skills needed for a changing landscape of Church and culture, including adaptability, faithful risk-taking, collaboration, and the ability to assess ministry contexts. Our efforts result in deepened spirituality, revitalized congregations, and purposeful ministry among leaders of all ages.
- Address the growing challenge of providing trained pastoral leadership to congregations of all sizes and settings, and provide for multiple paths to authorized ministry.
- Develop and strengthen faith in youth and young adults, especially through the means of outdoor ministry, immersion experiences, and the practice of their own leadership as they move out into the world.
- Encourage adult leaders with spiritual enrichment and resources relevant to multiple contexts.
Doing Justice and Mercy
The Minnesota Conference joins God’s mission to transform the world, extending a prophetic call for mercy, justice and humility in the name of Christ. We exercise leadership as a Conference, using our collective voice and resources to further the work of justice. We invite and equip our members of all ages, stages, and settings to engage in acts of compassion and witness.
- Evaluate the resolution-driven process of prophetic witness, and discern a new approach to prioritizing issues or committing resources.
- Evaluate the current practice of prophetic witness teams in the Conference, developing a different structure for greater collaboration and flexibility.
- Engage Conference members in immersion experiences designed to educate, transform, and mobilize faithful action.
- Identify likely partners within justice movements across the state working to enact change.
Communicating Our Story
The Minnesota Conference uses diverse communication tools to lift our distinctive voice. We share stories of our faith, service and extravagant welcome, celebrating the ministries of our local congregations and covenantal partners. We invite dialogue, and engagement in our shared ministry. Our communications connect us with one another, the United Church of Christ, and God’s wider world.
- Develop a comprehensive communications plan.
- Utilize stories of our wider UCC and Minnesota Conference members to inspire, connect, and inform.
- Position staff to better attend to communications needs.
As an inheritor of historic resources and a donor to the church that succeeds us, the Minnesota Conference is a responsible steward of God’s gifts. We exercise prudent financial practices, develop new sources of revenue, and inspire current donors to greater generosity. We leverage our resources to accomplish our collective mission in the world. We seek sustainability of our vital ministries through wise investment and careful planning.
- Assess operating costs, including the current staffing model. Within three years, create a financially sustainable model that is aligned with our calling and priorities.
- Evaluate our current fundraising infrastructure, addressing gaps in its effectiveness.
- Develop a plan for how we will steward proceeds from the sale of Pilgrim Point Camp.
- Identify ways our resources can contribute to healing, justice and reparations in our relationships with indigenous people, people of color, and with the earth.