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2015 Indiana Annual Conference

May 28-30, 2015  in Indianapolis,Indiana

“Share Your Story” was the theme of the 2015 Indiana Annual Conference held May 28-30 at the Indiana Convention Center in downtown Indianapolis. The three-day event had an intentional focus to equip and empower individuals to share their personal stories of faith with the world around them, using Joel 1:3 as the scripture reference: “Tell your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children to another generation.”

Bishop Michael J. Coyner called the conference into session May 28 with more than 2,000 members and guests in attendance. During ordination and commissioning service, Louisiana Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey challenged those to be ordained to “be who you are, and I promise the spirit will spin it, churn it, twist it and weave it into a story of legacy. You have a story to tell – of supernatural calling, of sacrifice, of joy, of suffering – and the moving of the spirit.”

The Rev. Carver McGriff, a retired elder of the Indiana Conference, preached the memorial sermon. “Grief is a terrible experience, yet, also, it’s a wonderful experience because it is the greatest experience we can give to a person we love,” he said.

George Howard, an executive with the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, led teaching sessions May 29 for laity and clergy, reminding members that faith forming relationship is the growing edge in Christian mission and ministry today. Howard noted that the poor must be a priority for United Methodist worldwide in keeping our Wesleyan tradition.

Paula and Ed Kassig, parents of the late Abdul-Rahman “Peter” Kassig, spoke at the annual prayer breakfast May 30, and shared how prayer has sustained them through the loss of their son, who was held hostage and killed by the Islamic State. The Kassigs are members of Epworth United Methodist Church in Indianapolis.

Clergy and laity elected delegates for the 2016 General and Jurisdictional Conferences. The results are as follows (listed in order of election):

Laity – General Conference

  • Tyler Best, Pfrimmer's Chapel UMC, Corydon
  • Allison Curts, Wesley Chapel UMC, New Albany
  • Ed Fenstermacher, Covenant UMC, Fort Wayne
  • John Lomperis, New Song Fellowship UMC, Valparaiso
  • Amy Land, Huntington Trinity UMC
  • Leanna Zimmerman, Kokomo Grace UMC
  • Doris Clark, University UMC, Indianapolis
  • Jim Ottjes, Thorntown UMC

Laity – Jurisdictional Conference

  • Manet Shettle, Elwood First UMC
  • Douglas Worthington, St. Joseph UMC, Fort Wayne
  • William Amerson, Wesley Chapel, New Albany
  • Christopher Hancock, Kokomo St. Luke's UMC
  • Nancy Low, Sandy Hook UMC, Columbus
  • Ian Hall, Bloomington St. Paul
  • Greg Tielking, Hanover UMC
  • Kate Singer, Elkhart Trinity UMC

Laity – Jurisdictional Conference Alternates:

  • Austin Yim, Valparaiso First
  • Kenneth Einselen, McGrawsville UMC, Amboy
  • Carolyn Johnson, St. Andrew UMC, West Lafayette

Clergy – General Conference

  • Frank Beard, Castleton UMC, Indianapolis
  • Kim Reisman, St. Andrew UMC, West Lafayette
  • Tony Alstott, Wesley Chapel of Floyd County
  • Dave Neckers, The Compass, Selma
  • Lisa Schubert Nowling, College Avenue UMC, Muncie
  • Russ Abel, Saint Joseph UMC, Fort Wayne
  • Mitch Norwood, Kokomo St. Luke's UMC
  • Beth Ann Cook, Ogilville and Rockford UMC

Clergy – Jurisdictional Conference

  • Cindy Reynolds, Castleton UMC, Indianapolis
  • Jill Howard, Morgantown UMC
  • Mike Dominick, Dayton UMC
  • Greg Pimlott, Main Street UMC, Boonville
  • Mark Fenstermacher, First UMC, Bloomington
  • Daniel Cho, McDonough First UMC
  • Samuel Padgett, Fishers UMC
  • Robert Land, Huntington Trinity UMC

Clergy – Jurisdictional Alternates

  • Darren Cushman Wood, North UMC, Indianapolis
  • Brian Williams, University UMC, Indianapolis
  • Stephen Austin, McGrawsville UMC

During business sessions, conference members also:

  • Received updates on the work of the Africa University Campaign to raise $1 million to endow a chairperson for the Faculty of Agriculture and Natural Resources, as well as scholarships for students in the amount of $600,000.
  • Celebrated the 100 Points of Light initiative, launched in 2014, as well as the 103 points of light that were successfully launched throughout the state of Indiana. Each point of light represents a new worship service, Bible study or other organized effort to reach new people with the light of Christ.
  • In conjunction with the 100 Points of Light celebration, the conference also launched a new effort, “I Have a Story to Tell,” encouraging members to share their faith story or what God is doing in their life with others. More information about this initiative can be found at iwillsharethestory.org.
  • Raised $4,686.37 during an offering to support the cabinet emergency ministry fund.
  • Voted unanimously to launch a $6 million campaign to build a new Discipleship Center at Epworth Forest.
  • Approved the 2016 budget of $13.7 million.

The Conference debated several proposed petitions for the 2016 General Conference concerning a variety of issues. The results of these petitions are as follows:

Passed

•    2015-01 Supporting Adoption and Common Ground on Abortion

•    2015-02 Abortion and Disability

•    2015-03 Affirm Christian Principles for Bioethics

•    2015-04 Withdraw from the Religious Coalition for Reproduction Choice

•    2015-07 Making General Conference Work

Defeated/Withdrawn

•    2015-05 Church Resolutions to be placed in Book of Discipline (WITHDREW)

•    2015-06 Church Resolutions

•    2015-08 Delete Para 341.4 of the Discipline

•    2015-09 Complainant as party to just resolution

•    2015-10 Membership of the University Senate 

he conference ordained one deacon and 12 elders, as well as commissioned four provisional deacons and 11 provisional elders. The conference also retired 38 elders, deacons and local pastors from active ministry and remembered 41 clergy and 34 clergy spouses who had died this past conference year.

Membership stands at 193,060, down less than one percent from the previous year; average worship attendance stands at 102,238, down four percent from the previous year; church school (children and youth ministries), 31,128, down five percent; professions of faith, 3,258, down 11 percent; baptisms, 2,944, down 11 percent.

Skyler Nimmons, director of communications, Indiana Conference