Operating Pledge 2021

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What does it mean to be essential? One of the many terms that took on new meaning during this pandemic is the meaning of the word essential. Our response to COVID-19 has caused us to rethink what it is really essential in our lives. We started to realize the importance of small things, like toilet paper, and also the importance of people we often overlook, like grocery store workers, whose essential work makes it possible for us to eat. While church employees did not make the list of essential workers, we know how essential the church, and our faith, is to our lives and the pandemic has only served to highlight that fact. We know that the church makes a difference in our lives but it also is a way that we can help make a difference in our community.

We do not know the full effects of this pandemic on our lives, our community, and our world, but we do know that things will never return to “normal.” Instead, we are moving into a new normal and what that looks like and how that affects us is yet to be fully know. What I do know however is that the church was essential before the pandemic, it is essential during the pandemic and it will be essential in this new normal that comes next. People will still need a place to discover God, to connect to each other and to make a difference in the community. Our mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world will not change. How we do things will change, but why we do them remains the same.

I have been overwhelmed with the generosity of this congregation during this pandemic. People have continued to support not only this church through your gifts and offerings, but also reached out to help others, giving to address issues of racism through the Bishop’s Just Love appeal, our Christmas in July offerings to support local food shelves, or the continued gifts to groups like UMCOR who help deal with recovery from disasters. At a time when so many people are hurting and in need, your support this year has allowed us to make a difference in so many ways.

Looking ahead to the future, we will need your continued support going forward as well. I do not know what this “new normal” will be like, but I believe that God has great plans for our congregation and I know that we want to be poised to make a difference in the world going forward. We know that the financial effects of this pandemic will be long lasting and we want to be ready to help those in our community who are struggling. We know that we will continue to struggle with the legacy of systemic racism that plagues our society and we are committed to continue to examine our role and how we can begin to undo the harm we have helped cause. While the larger decisions of General Conference might have been put on hold for another year, we remain committed to the bold vision of Minnesota Methodists that imagines a church that is rooted in Jesus, grounded in Wesleyan theology, inclusive of all persons, and engaged in the work of justice and reconciliation. Finally, we know that in times of crisis, people need more than every to know of a God who loves them, who suffers with them, and who is ready to embrace them. We are committed to being a place where more people can discover this God and grow in their faith alongside others who walk the journey of faith with them.

We are entering into a new normal. We do so knowing that God goes with us. Are you ready to help us on this journey?

Rev. Jeff Ozanne

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