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2007 South Indiana Annual Conference

June 6-9, 2007, Bloomington, Ind.

Under the theme "Imagine Indiana," the South Indiana Annual Conference met at Indiana University as its 1,200 registered members discussed a 12-page report and voted by ballot on a recommendation to unite with the North Indiana Annual Conference to form a new Indiana Conference.

Indiana Area Bishop Michael Coyner simultaneously announced on June 9 by e-mail and in person that both annual conferences favored uniting the two conferences. The North conference vote was 663-190, a 78 percent approval. The South conference vote was 550-267 with 6 invalid votes, a 67 percent approval. More than 300 members from both conferences have been involved in the Imagine Indiana uniting conferences' process.

Two items envisioned by the seven-member Imagine Indiana Planning Team report are clustering churches geographically and forming voluntary affinity groups of churches conference-wide around specific issues, missions and ministries. Coyner will appoint an implementation team to come to the two 2008 annual conference sessions with a detailed plan of union.

Lloyd Tucker, conference finance and administration chairman, reported that the new "tithe plus" system, which replaced traditional conference apportionments beginning in January, is working and funds are being remitted on schedule.

Bishop Coyner announced that the $13,966 donation for pastors' pensions from the United Methodist Publishing House will go to the Africa Central Conference Clergy Pension Fund.

Conference preacher Bishop Woodie White, a former Indiana bishop, challenged members to work for justice for all and emphasized the importance of the church to engage in justice and charity, "not because we are good, but because we experience a living God who says, this is my world; these are my children; and I love them all." In a second sermon, he told those anticipating ordination: "It's not our church, our ministry, our conference or our vision. It's Christ's. We proclaim Christ, not ourselves."

Other guests to annual conference included: David Cumbest and Larry Davis of the Mississippi Conference, who thanked the conference for continued assistance to Hurricane Katrina survivors; Bill Cross, retiring Cokesbury bookstore manager for the past 35 years, who was honored; Sam Dixon, deputy general secretary of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, who asked laity during their annual luncheon, "Do (United Methodists) want to change or do we as a church want to die?"

The conference celebrated the:

  • Thirtieth anniversary of diaconal ministry and the 10th anniversary of the permanent Order of Deacon. Guest speaker Louise Williams, president of the DIAKONIA World Federation, presented five biblical images of diaconate ministry: washing feet, waiting tables, storytelling, tending the door and bearing the light;

  • Twentieth anniversary of Operation Classroom/Operation Doctor, an area-based ministry to schools and hospitals in Liberia and Sierra Leone;

  • Giving of more than $92,000 to the Nothing But Nets campaign since January;

  • Giving of more than $6,100 to the Global AIDS Fund during the annual conference session;

    "First-place Volunteer In Mission ranking in the North Central Jurisdiction, giving $1.4 million in supplies and providing work valued at $3.2 million;

  • Kamina Project in the North Katanga Conference in Congo, an African annual conference that has started 150 new congregations this past year;

  • Deman Evangelism Award recipients: the Rev. Karen Devaisher, pastor of Avon United Methodist Church, and Lloyd Anderson of Barnes United Methodist Church in Indianapolis;

  • Bishop's Awards of Excellence that went to Boy Scout Troup 119 of Ellettsville United Methodist Church in the Bloomington District.

The body adopted resolutions that:

  • Asked congregations to pray for the people of Darfur and for Sudan's government to administer in just and fair ways;

  • Asked the United Methodist Board of Pension and Health Benefits to divest targeted funds in Sudan;

  • Asked congregations to support the Global AIDS Fund and give at least $2 per member and to distribute 25 percent of those gifts to HIV/AIDS work in Indiana;

  • Affirmed the importance of Christ-centered ministries that do not compromise the biblical standards for sexual morality;

  • Created a conference-wide Prayer Ministry Team;

  • Required parsonage standards include high-speed Internet connection or additional phone line for dialup connection.

The conference voted to forward three petitions to General Conference asking that:

  • "No person shall or will be excluded from membership in the United Methodist Church for reasons related to sexual orientation or gender identity";

  • The United Methodist Church is withdrawn from membership in the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice;

  • General Conference recommit to raising funds for the United Methodist Global AIDS Fund during the 2009-2012 quadrennium in the amount of $4 million through Advance gifts.

Lay delegates elected to General Conference are Ike Williams of Indianapolis; Patricia Miller of Indianapolis; Rita Gaither-Gant of Indianapolis; Vickie Newkirk of New Palestine; John Lawson of Westchester; and David Crane of Newburgh.

Clergy delegates to General Conference are Ann Glass of Plainfield; Greg McGarvey of Carmel; David Penalva of Indianapolis, Darren Cushman Wood of Speedway; James Bushfield of Columbus; and Beth Ann Cook of Evansville.

Lay delegates to the North Central Jurisdictional Conference are Carolyn Marshall of Veedersburg; Luke Robbins of Indianapolis; Dan Evans of Indianapolis; Benjamin Boruff of Indianapolis; Sandra Ruby of Crawfordsville; and Bert Talbott of Indianapolis.

Reserve lay delegates are Ethan Jones of Charlestown; Anne Bunch of Terre Haute; and Beckie Minglin of Indianapolis.

Clergy delegates to the North Central Jurisdictional Conference are Judith Purvis of Vincennes; Kent Millard of Indianapolis; Rosa Harris of Rockford; Kevin Armstrong of Indianapolis; John Abbott of Indianapolis; and Marie Lang of Indianapolis. Reserve clergy delegates are Jean Wilson of Jeffersonville; David V.W. Owen of Indianapolis; and Raymond Wilkins of Indianapolis.

The conference retired 10 elders and six local pastors, commissioned 20 probationary members, ordained eight elders and one associate member, and announced six Course of Study graduates. It also approved a 2008 expense budget of $9.28 million.

Membership stands at 111,004, down 201 or 0.2 percent. Worship attendance stands at 62,988, down 790 or 1 percent. Church school average attendance stands at 23,309, down 185 or 4 percent.

- Daniel R. Gangler