2015 Annual Report by Conference Moderator and Board Chairperson

– from Rev. Cindy Mueller, Conference Moderator and Board Chairperson

Annual Report

As you may be aware, I am serving a church as an Intentional Interim Minister in Hutchinson. My ministry with this congregation has proven to be a wonderful source of challenge as well as inspiration. I have found this to be true of my position as Moderator of the MN Conference UCC as well. I am grateful to our dedicated staff that serves us under the gifted leadership of Rev. Shari Prestemon, a hard working Board of Directors and a Conference of churches committed to responding to God’s call to see our world become all God intends for it to be.

As in any local church, the challenges we face as a Conference can either make us stronger or they can defeat us. This past year, the MN Conference has faced what appeared to be obstacles and yet turned them into opportunities. Thank God for the Holy Spirit’s nudging, as well as, God equipping us with the personnel, the leadership, the churches’ support and the individuals necessary in carrying forward a mission of hope in these incredibly changing times for the church and our judicatories.

This past year the Board of Directors (BOD) has encountered several opportunities of its own, alongside the Conference. Since the BOD is charged to act on behalf of the MN Conference between Annual Meetings, we have sought to be faithful to God’s calling as we seek to live out the priorities and core values of this Conference. The covenantal relationship that we have with the MN Conference churches and the national setting of our denomination is honored and taken very seriously as we go about our work on your behalf. We are thankful for the Holy Spirit’s guidance as we seek to carry out the work we are charged with by this body.

Let me highlight some of the work we have accomplished this past year –

We meet as a BOD approximately 8 times a year. We are comprised of a group of dedicated individuals from both outstate churches and metro churches; clergy and laity. We work with our staff to ensure the ministry of our Conference not only continues, but thrives.

  • Last year Pilgrim’s UCC (Maple Grove) closed and transferred its property and building to the MN Conference. The BOD oversaw the sale of that asset in this past year. With the funds made available from that sale we have created a 21st Century Church Fund. These funds will allow us to further fund one of our strategic priorities to develop and revitalize our congregations throughout the Conference.
  • In order to ensure delegates fully understand, and are prepared to vote upon resolutions brought before them, the BOD oversaw the revision of the Resolution process that will be put into place at this meeting.
  • Acting upon the Annual Meeting’s passage of the 2014 anti-racism resolution we charged one of our members (Oby Ballinger) to develop a task force to implement the components of said resolution and allocated additional funds to support anti-racism training and dialogue at the 2015 Annual Meeting.
  • A part of our regular responsibilities is to oversee the income and expenses of the Conference alongside our Finance Committee. This includes the oversight of Ashley Endowment earnings as well. Floyd Ashley’s gift has empowered us to enrich and expand our ministry with children and youth in our Conference as well as throughout our denomination.
  • As Moderator I take part in the annual evaluation of our Conference Minister along with the Personnel Committee. I was quite happy to learn (though I wasn’t surprised) that there is a high level of confidence and deep appreciation for Shari within the Conference. Her first complete year was filled with many large tasks to complete in addition to her regular responsibilities. The BOD has sought to support her in that ministry and share as appropriate in carrying our shared ministry forward.
  • After having received the Kaleidescope Report in 2013 regarding Pilgrim Point Camp (which laid out its recommendation of over $6 million dollars of improvements for PPC), the BOD decided to look into the feasibility of conducting a Conference wide campaign to raise these funds along with other funds for a Leadership Initiative program of enrichment which brought the goal up to 8.2 million. To conduct this feasibility study the BOD hired Ackley Consulting. Earlier this year we received the final results and recommendation of that study which, unfortunately, revealed we are presently not in a position as a Conference to conduct a campaign at this time. That same study, however, did reveal a good amount of information about our Conference for which we can celebrate and build upon. Our Consultant will be sharing the specifics of her recommendation with us at this year’s meeting.

Because the PPC Committee is deeply affected by these recommendations, we have sought to keep them apprised of all our findings and shared the consultant’s entire report as they seek to do their work. Further decisions regarding all elements of the consultant’s recommendations will be considered in this upcoming year. We ask for your prayers and your support as we discern what next steps God is calling forth from the MN Conference.

This is not an insignificant amount of work to have been accomplished by your BOD. I want to personally thank each of them for their devotion and commitment to a Conference we all so love. I, particularly, want to thank Philip Keithahn and Dave Kettering who are completing their terms on the BOD. Their insights and contributions to our shared ministry are deeply appreciated.

– from Rev. Cindy Mueller, Conference Moderator and Board Chairperson