Northfield United Methodist Church

Statement of Reconciliation

We affirm that all people are created in the image of God and, as beloved children of God, all are worthy of God’s love and grace, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, family status, race, ethnicity, physical or mental ability, socioeconomic status, or age. We unreservedly support and affirm the full inclusion of persons of all sexual orientations and gender identities in all facets of ministry at Northfield UMC, including ordination and marriage. Following Christ’s example, we open our hearts, minds, and doors to welcome all who come to us in God’s grace.

Northfield United Methodist Church

1401 South Maple Street

Northfield, MN  55057

Phone:  507-645-5689

Pastor: Rev. Donna Dempewolf

We are located in the southeast part of town on Maple Street, right across from Sibley Elementary School

Our congregation is a multigenerational mix of retirees, college students, farmers, educators, engineers, first responders, full time parents, full time grandparents and youth. Because Northfield is a growing community we are always welcoming new visitors and members. An average Sunday will see between 200 and 300 people in the single 9:30am service.

Our congregational identity is rooted in service to others and the broader community. We birthed an affordable housing complex and a school backpack program locally, we sponsor a Palestinian single parent family in Bethlehem, we plan missions at home and abroad, and our members are active in environmental and climate stewardship efforts both within our church and in broader community advocacy. In addition to our service emphasis we are known in the community for our ministries with children, including KC3, a Wednesday afternoon program that draws elementary age youth from families throughout the community, and PlayTime!, a winter program where pre-K children come play in our gym on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Our high school youth organize service projects for the church and in anticipation of upcoming mission opportunities.

The 9:30am service in our architecturally distinct sanctuary is accompanied by organ, piano, band, choir and bells, occasionally a male quintent, children’s choir and other talented musicians. We incorporate traditional hymns, contemporary Christian songs and other sources of music to in order to be nurtured, challenged and energized by God. A prayground in the sanctuary helps younger children to read books or play with soft toys while still experiencing worship, though childcare is provided. Discovery Zone Sunday School takes place during the worship service.

Members have held discussions about welcoming LGBTQ persons for at
least 20 years with lay leaders and clergy leading sessions including Bible study, theological discussion, and hearing from various advocates. In previous decades events like a Reconciling process had begun and concluded in welcome statements that did not explicitly embrace LGBTQIA+ individuals. Starting in 2018 a series of workshops including understanding General Conference and the global church, understanding how to talk with people with whom you disagree, scripture study and a Respectful Conversation led the church to endorse the One Church Plan. Following General Conference 2019 the congregation expressed urgent and powerfully felt concern for how the news affected the mission field’s perception of God and God’s people. We initiated a new Reconciling process conversation in which a preliminary survey showed over 95% support for a move to full inclusion. Building on decades of conversations and education facilitated by generations of laity and clergy, we voted to become a Reconciling Congregation in July of 2019.

We live into a Reconciling Vision by extending explicit welcome through our public signage at church, in lawns and in members’ dorm rooms, by inviting speakers to our discipleship forums to educate us about the joys and challenges of being LGBTQIA+ in our community, by opening our homes to youth who find themselves homeless (sometimes because parents’ response to their orientation), by meeting regularly to better learn how we can be in service with and support of LGBTQIA+ individuals, and by working to understand the challenges and opportunities presented by General Conference in 2020.