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2008 South Indiana Annual Conference

June 5-7, 2008, Bloomington, Ind.

The South Indiana Annual Conference met at Indiana University using the theme "Friends with Christ, Friends with Each Other" based on John 15:15. Its 1,200 registered members discussed a 52-page Imagine Indiana Design Team report and voted by ballot on a detailed plan to unite with the North Indiana Annual Conference to form a new consolidated Indiana Annual Conference. Both conferences approved the new Indiana conference which will have 10 districts rather than the current 18 and will be served by five statewide resource centers. The conference center will be located in Indianapolis.

Bishop Mike Coyner announced the results of the vote on June 7 on the day after the South Indiana conference voted 616-185 (77 percent approval) to approve the plan. The North Indiana conference vote, received a week earlier, was 730-192 (79 percent approval). A special session of both conferences will convene Oct. 4 at the Indiana State Fair Grounds in Indianapolis to finalize details and elect officers. More than 300 members from both conferences have been involved in the process, plus participants at 18 district meetings held by Coyner. The goal of the new structure is to better serve local churches through resource centers, a conference leadership team modeled after the denomination's Connectional Table, congregational clusters and clergy covenant groups.

If the merger is approved by the North Central Jurisdictional Conference in July, the new conference is scheduled to convene for the first time June 25-28, 2009, at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., and begin functioning as a new conference on Jan. 1, 2010.

The conference unanimously endorsed the Rev. Frank Beard, Kokomo district superintendent in the North Indiana Conference, as an episcopal candidate to the North Central Jurisdictional Conference.

The Rev. Tom Grey, field director of the National Coalition Against Legalized Gambling, asked Hoosiers to join in a statewide effort to stop the expansion of legalized gambling. Both the North and South Indiana conferences approved a resolution asking the Indiana General Assembly for a referendum on the issue.

Other guests to annual conference included:

  • Dan Evans, CEO of Clarian Health, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Methodist Hospital of Indiana in Indianapolis, the denomination's largest United Methodist-related hospital;
  • The Rev. Peter Storey, former bishop of the Methodist Church in South Africa, who preached at the ordination-commissioning service;
  • Bishop Timothy Whitaker, resident bishop of Florida; and
  • The Rev. Gilbert Caldwell of the Rocky Mountain Annual Conference.

The Harry Denman Evangelism Awards were given to the Rev. Mark Dicken of Newburgh and Mary Lou Finchum of Sheridan.

The conference retired 11 clergy; commissioned 12 probationary members; ordained five elders, one deacon and four associate members; and recognized the clergy credentials of another pastor from another denomination. It approved 2009 income and expense budgets of $21.2 million, which includes $7.1 million in insurance premium income and $3.3 million in pension income, not previously listed in the total conference budgets.

Membership stands at 110,097, down 907. Worship attendance stands at 60,271, down 2,717.

Daniel R. Gangler