Thanks to Christa Meland of the MN Annual Conference UMC for sharing this Great Idea from Wesley UMC in Winona.

Meland writes about Wesley UMC’s creative ways of becoming and deepening community in the midst of Covid – with hopes and intentions of continuing these practices in whatever is “next”.

She highlights three key areas of ministry that are either brand-new or have taken on new shape in the past two years.

First, early in the pandemic Wesley UMC created a video production studio inside their building. Lead pastor, Rev. Robert Hicks’s son, Isaac Hicks, creates professional-quality videos in that studio for use in worship and to support local nonprofits.

Tapping into the tech skills of local youth – whether members of the congregation or not – can be a great way to take work off of clergy and worship leaders’ hands, empower the youth, and probably wind up with excellent quality “productions”. Strengthen this ministry by funding it – you might develop a paid intern program to create a just working situation for the young person/people and to emphasize the importance of the ministry.

After initialing focusing specifically on how Wesley UMC could support local nonprofits through service and financial support, the video productions became more about helping local nonprofits increase their visibility online and in the community – at a fraction of the cost of PR from a company.

With what local nonprofits might your congregation network? How might ministries within your congregation begin to support and further the efforts of those organizations in new ways?

Secondly, Wesley UMC received a $20,000 grant to create a new position of director of community-based justice. Located in Winona, this role is primarily (for now) about building relationships with diverse students on the college campus and learning how the congregation can become a “trauma sensitive congregation” to support people living on the margins.

In what creative ways might your congregation develop relationships with people who are not at the center of your community’s social or economic systems? What grants might exist to help you fund these efforts? You might learn more about church funding at Convergence’s Courageous Economy Summit: Rethinking Money & Ministry (November 1-5, 2021).

A third avenue for community outreach includes providing local artists a platform for performance and exhibition of their crafts.

How might your congregation do the same? How might this be a meaningful ministry in your community?

Honing in on “mission, vision, values” helped Wesley UMC develop three new avenues of ministry that have rejuvenated the congregation and strengthened their ties with their broader community. How might your congregation find new life by clarifying your mission, vision, and values and being creative in how you live them out?

Read Christa’s full article here.