A review of all of the activities of our association since its inception in 1953.
Where MCMA has come
The MCMA started as
the Minnesota Sunday School Association in 1953, originally organized to stage
a national Sunday School convention in Minneapolis. The next year, the
decision was made to hold an annual convention offering training for Sunday
School and church leaders from all over the State of Minnesota.
As the ministry
continued to grow, additional leadership was necessary to sustain the program.
For a number of years Dr. Herb Hazzard was the missionary consultant for
the MSSA and he travelled widely across the state doing workshops and
conferences in addition to the annual convention. He divided his time between
MSSA and Camp Lebanon in Upsala, MN. In the 1970's, Dr. Hazzard passed on
the baton of leadership to Rev. Arnold Carlson, a respected lay minister in the
Covenant Church. He served as Executive Director a few years until the
ministry was maintained by a volunteer board for several years.
Timothy A. Johnson Era
By the early 1980's
Sunday School convention ministry began to wane around the country and
attendance and involvement in MSSA lagged as well. A discouraged Board of
MSSA passed the responsibility for leadership in 1981 to a new group of leaders
who began a new movement with the Association. Throughout the early
1980's, MSSA's program continued to develop and grow until it was deemed
necessary for full-time leadership to go forward. In 1984, the Board of Directors
called Timothy A. Johnson as Executive Director.
Throughout the 1980's
and early 1990's there was a resurgence the the Sunday School convention
movement all over the country. Great response was seen in many states
with conferences cropping up all over. The Minnesota program drew in
excess of 2000 on a weekend throughout those days and there were many hundreds
of churches being served.
Transition to MCMA
By the middle of the
1990's the general direction of church training Associations around the U.S.
was to rebrand themselves as Church Ministries Associations, or some other
deisgnation. This was seen as truth in advertising because the former
Sunday School handle did not really describe the full range of training and
resources being offered by these groups. It was in that period that the
decision was made to reincorporate our association as the Minnesota Church
Ministries Association, reflecting the broader focus of our work. That
was effected by 1996.
In recent years the
MCMA has made efforts to provide more targeted training for specific ministry
needs in the church, reached out regionally around the state with general
training conferences, developed new connections with senior pastors through the
Pastors' Roundtable book club, expanded the personal mentoring and
encouragement ministry of the Executive Director, and responded to a call from
Africa to provide leadership training in a growing network across that
continent. This move to Africa has opened doors of opportunity in Europe
and America, as well, as MCMA has linked with immigrant populations in several
The addition of Rev. Natt E. Miller, II as Associate Director gives some great opportunities for expansion and strengthening of the work of MCMA. We thank God for his dynamic leadership and international perspective.
As the future emerges,
MCMA is seeking expanded opportunities to seize current technology in providing
its services to the Church. The Association takes great satisfaction in
knowing that over the last 25 years nearly 1600 congregations across the state
have been served in their training and resourcing needs. Well over 15,000
households have been touched with its ministry. The future has many
opportunities looming. MCMA seeks to walk through the open doors
available as it continues to develop a network of pastors, leaders, teachers,
and workers committed to building a generation of confident leaders and
In an effort to pursue future possibilities, in October 2021, Rev. Matt Stacey, pastor of First Baptist Church of Long Prairie, joined the executive team as Associate Director for Ministry Development. Rev. Stacey brings a strong mind and heart and good educational background with him that will enable him to work with our Board of Directors to plot strategy and tactics for the coming season.