“Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them . . . .” Romans 12:6
Last year, the Minnesota United Methodist Builders, then known as the Metro West Builders, celebrated their 125th year of lay-led ministry of helping area congregations create sacred space and mission expansion.
During the past year, the MnUMB Board of Directors spent considerable time assessing how their gifts could best be used within the Minnesota Annual Conference to supplement the initiatives of the Reach, Renew, Rejoice campaign, the work of Minnesota Conference Congregational Development, and the focus of the Minnesota Foundation, in addition to ministry support provided within several districts.
Completing that process of conversation and reflection led to a new vision and strategic plan to continue both our loan and call process, but to expand them to all Conference churches. Already in 2015, the MnUMB has received requests for assistance from congregations in three of the Conference districts.
As of January 1, I had the honor of following in the footsteps of one of my Conference mentors, Pat Hinker, who left the Builders after serving four years as Field Director. Some in the Conference may remember me from my service as pastor of Minneapolis Native American Ministries (UMC) or under appointment with the Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches Division of Indian Work, the Minnesota Committee for Prevention of Child Abuse, and the St Paul Area Council of Churches where I coordinated St. Paul police chaplains and served as the protestant chaplain at the Ramsey County Workhouse.
Since that time, I have been under leave of absence, continuing to provide leadership to social service organizations in the areas of criminal justice, including drug and mental health courts; substance abuse prevention, intervention, and treatment; and community-based counseling. During two of those years, I coordinated a national effort to help local faith communities develop programs to support crime victims in their communities and wrote a program development manual for the State of Louisiana for local faith community involvement throughout the continuum of care for those impacted by substance abuse.
So, it is with that history and much excitement that I have returned to Minnesota and been able to find a way to offer my gifts again to the people and congregations within this Conference. I look forward to meeting some of you at Annual Conference (please look for our display table) and others of you our Annual Meeting in October or when your congregation is in need of the resources of the Minnesota United Methodist Builders.
I welcome you to contact me with any questions you may have about the new vision and mission of the MnUM Builders – or about how you and/or your congregation can support our ministry. I’ve listed below both my email address and my nearly twenty-year-old cell phone number from Connecticut that I am still using.
May you too find a way to use the gifts God has so gracefully given you today and every day – as we journey Together in Mission.
Rev. Larry W. Mens, Field Director