Indiana conferences vote to unite into one conference|
The North Indiana Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church meets in West Lafayette, Ind. Delegates voted to combine with the South Indiana Conference. A UMNS photo courtesy of Indiana Area Communications.
By Dan Gangler
June 12, 2007 | Bloomington, Ind. (UMNS)
Indiana United Methodists have voted to combine the North and South Annual (regional) Conferences after a decade of discussion and debate.
They will consider a plan of implementation at next year's annual conference sessions and could meet as a new unified conference as early as 2009.
Bishop Michael J. Coyner
"What this means in simplified terms is that during this year's annual conference sessions, the two conferences became engaged by approving the recommendation of the Imagine Indiana Planning Team to unite the two conferences," Bishop Michael J. Coyner said. "Next year, they plan to get married."
The Imagine Indiana Planning Team recommended the merger due to declining attendance figures. Membership in both conferences is less than half of what it was in 1968.
The team said a single conference would be more efficient and would allow more financial resources to go to ministries and programs rather than administration.
"The uniting of the two conferences is not a mere merger of the same, but a new way of conferencing with clustering of congregations and voluntary affinity groups of congregations based on like interests with one vision for mission and ministry," the team stated.
The North Indiana Conference voted during its May 30-June 2 session at Purdue University in West Lafayette, and the South Indiana Conference voted during its June 6-9 meeting at Indiana University in Bloomington.
The North Indiana Conference votes totaled 663 for unity and 190 against - or 78 percent approval. The South Indiana Conference voted 550 for unity and 267 against, with six votes invalid - or 67 percent approval. A simple majority was needed for approval.
"This is an overwhelming decision in favor of moving forward to form one Indiana conference," said Coyner, upon hearing the results of the election.
Coyner will appoint a team to develop a detailed plan of implementation and to report back to the two Indiana conferences in June 2008.
"This is an overwhelming decision in favor of moving forward to form one Indiana conference."
- Bishop Michael J. Coyner
If the plan is approved, the North Central Jurisdictional Conference of The United Methodist Church also must approve the merger plan. The earliest the new conference could meet would be 2009.
The last such structural change of this magnitude to The United Methodist Church in Indiana came in 1968, when the former Methodist Church and former Evangelical United Brethren Church voted nationally to become The United Methodist Church.
Each Indiana conference, a church legislative body composed of equal number of laity and clergy, was attended by more than 1,300 delegates representing a total of 1,218 congregations in Indiana.
There are 212,000 United Methodists laity and 1,500 clergy in Indiana. The United Methodist Church is the largest Protestant denomination in Indiana.
*Gangler is director of communication for the Indiana Area of the United Methodist Church.
News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or email@example.com.
United Methodists celebrate clergywomen at annual gatherings
Arkansas annual conferences vote to merge
Missouri annual conferences vote to merge
United Methodist church votes to unite Indiana conferences
2007 Annual Conferences