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2009 Indiana Annual Conference

Indiana Annual Conference
June 25-28, 2009, Muncie, Ind.

More than 2,000 United Methodist conference members from across Indiana representing 1,200 congregations descended upon the Ball State University campus for the first Indiana Annual Conference session under the theme of "RETHINK CHURCH."

The conference partnered with United Methodist Communications in purchasing five billboards, radio spots and live radio remote, a full-page newspaper ad, 10 banners and 1,100 T-shirts to promote the conference's presence city-wide.

New to the conference session was a June 27 all-conference Day of Outreach and Mission. Dressed in red RETHINK CHURCH T-shirts, more than 1,000 volunteers were sent to 10 sites across town with their new districts to work with community leaders in outreach projects.

Muncie's 14 United Methodist churches hosted sites in five churches and five elementary schools. From these sites, the conference volunteers dispersed to help the City of Muncie clean streets of litter, visit residence in 10 nursing homes, work with food pantries, soup kitchens and the Red Cross, swing hammers with Habitat for Humanity, prayer walked streets in 10 neighborhoods and joined Covenant Partners Ministries, an inner-city United Methodist mission, with its community outreach day. Conference members also brought non-perishable foods to give to area pantries.

Indiana's Operation Classroom received 215 boxes of school and health supplies for missions in Liberia and Sierra Leone. The conference celebrated missions that evening with still pictures and videos of the day's outreach and received a mission offering of $7,744.

The four-day conference meeting also included three hour-long educational presentations by the Rev. Adam Hamilton, senior pastor of the 15,500-member of Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kan., who focused on church leadership, ideas for preaching and worship, and strategies for reaching residents who have no church commitment. The Rev. David Bell of Brighton, Mich., led two hour-long Bible studies on the theme of extravagant generosity. Bell serves as vice-president of stewardship with The United Methodist Foundation of Michigan.

In other business the conference:

  • Restructured the administration of the conference based on a Leadership Table chaired by the bishop;
  • Streamlined the conference from three offices to one and 18 to 10 districts (effective Jan. 1);
  • Announced boundaries and superintendents of the 10 new districts;
  • Announced the location (by Nov.1) of the new conference center on the north-side of Indianapolis and the closing of offices in Bloomington and Marion;
  • Established a special-Sunday offering for Indiana campus ministries;
  • Established a special-Sunday offering for a retired-ministers compassionate fund;
  • Authorized the implementation of a partially funded supplemental health-care insurance plan, separate from HealthFlex, for retired clergy, spouses and surviving spouses based on years of service;
  • Continued HealthFlex plan for clergy and conference employees;
  • Celebrated the chartering of Faithpoint United Methodist Church in New Albany;
  • Introduced a $3.9 million Lilly Endowment funded Well-Lived Life program to assist pastors with indebtedness and congregations with financial planning;
  • Celebrated the retirement of 28 pastors who served a total of 742 years;
  • Celebrated the ordination of 16 elders, 1 deacon, 1 associate member and commissioning of 16 provisional clergy;
  • Remembered the lives of 23 clergy and 37 clergy spouses who died this conference year; and
  • Approved a $15.1 million budget for 2010.

Five of the 32 proposed amendments to the United Methodist Church Constitution were approved by the Indiana Conference. A total of 1,257 ballots were cast, according to Conference Secretary Carolyn Johnson. All of the votes will be added to the individual votes from all the annual conferences.

Those receiving the required 2/3 or above votes in Indiana included proposed amendments:

  • II Conflict of Interest -- 1071 affirmative votes
  • VIII Gender -- 1113 affirmative votes
  • IX Jurisdictional Conference Membership -- 1040 affirmative votes
  • XIX Voting Eligibility -- 1087 affirmative votes
  • XXII Bermuda -- 1127 affirmative votes

All of these proposed amendments were passed in Indiana with an 82 percent or above approval. No other proposed amendments received more than 52 percent of the vote. None of the Global Nature of the Church proposed amendments received a 2/3 majority vote in Indiana. A complete tally and short description of these votes will be posted on the Indiana Conference Web site at, click on annual conference.

All constitutional amendments must be approved by a two-thirds vote of the total number of voting members of all annual conferences worldwide. The Council of Bishops is expected to announce the results during its 2010 spring meeting.

With both former conferences combined, membership stands at 204,527 down 1,872 from the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 121,591 down 2,467. Sunday school attendance stands at 43,119 down 2,329. The statistics are unofficial and will be audited in July.

- Daniel R. Gangler