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2017 Indiana Annual Conference


The Indiana Annual Conference opened with vibrant worship along with a welcome and call to session from Bishop Julius C. Trimble.

Trimble preached “Believe in Miracles”, sharing from the Gospel of Matthew on the miracles of Jesus, particularly the feeding of the multitude. 

“Jesus Christ never performed miracles to display his power, He always used his power to aid, relieve, heal the most needy and oppressed.”

Trimble also told reminded us that we shouldn’t worry about the future of The United Methodist Church because “our God is able and in fact it’s not your church anyway!” 

The bishop celebrated Bishop Mande Muyombo as the first graduate of Africa University to be elected as a bishop of The United Methodist Church.

He also spoke of Indiana’s impact in aiding the fight against malaria and HIV/AIDS.

After the bishop’s message, the attendees came together for a time of prayer and worship, including a multi-lingual singing of “How Great is Our God.” Watch the video summary.

The Encouraging Call of Young Leaders luncheon began with an opening address by Emily Krach, associate director of Leadership Development – Emerging Leaders. Krach introduced six emerging leaders who shared their personal journeys to faith and service within the church. 

Deanna Hedges, Merritt Johnson, James T. White, Janet LaFuze, Emily Hudson and Sarah Fuquay, spoke in turn of the importance of God’s calling on their lives.

The June 8 plenary session began with first orders of business, setting the bar and the adoption of the program book and agenda. 

The Episcopal Concerns Committee presented Bishop Trimble with a stole and a $1,000 gift for the Indiana Miracle Offering for Global Health made in the Bishop and First Lady’s honor. 

Business continued with a vote on the five amendments to the constitution of The United Methodist Church that were passed by the 2016 General Conference.

The results of the vote will not be released until all annual and central conferences throughout the denomination have voted. 

The laity gathering on June 8 consisted of several segments that were designed to not only show the work of laypersons throughout the United Methodist churches of Indiana, but to celebrate their strides throughout the past year, and highlight their continued mission and renewed focus for the road ahead.

Yollande Yambo, an Africa University graduate who now serves as the Executive Secretary for Global Ministries in Africa, spoke at the Friends of Africa University breakfast. Yambo travels all over the world, partnering with organizations to construct real-time solutions and practices for various issues - from public health to social injustice.

The Rev. Kim Reisman taught the June 9 Bible study on the annual conference theme scripture passage, Ephesians 4: 4-6, While also referencing Genesis, Reisman talked about the difference between approaching scripture with a wide lens versus a zoom lens. 

“We excel in an individualistic interpretation of just about everything – we’re all about understanding Scripture in terms of ourselves – but it’s dangerous to only use a zoom lens – it’s dangerous to use our own circumstances as the single interpretive lens”

More than 500 clergy and laity learned ways they can become more vibrant communities of faith throughout Indiana at workshops on the Four Areas of Focus.

Attendees of the Developing Principled Christian Leaders workshop learned that "calling is a journey of self and God-awareness, you start asking really deep questions when you are discerning what God is calling you to do. It is a journey that is transformative, no question, in a amazing and positive way. But it takes some time and some patience."

The Revs. Jeff Newton, Angie Kidd, Randy Davis and Ann Mead shared stories and lessons from their various ministries with the poor across the state. All emphasized the importance of building relationships with the people you serve. Another key to ministering to the poor is granting dignity to those receiving assistance by allowing them to become involved within the ministry itself. “We’re working WITH the people, not for them.” 

Ashley Gish, assistant campaign director for Imagine No Malaria, shared insights, statistics and encouragement on topics of global health. Gish was joined by Gary Henderson, executive director for the United Methodist Global Health Initiative. Kathy Griffith, who works with the United Methodist Global Aids Fund who also spoke to issues of global health. 

The Indiana Miracle Offering for Global Health supports initiatives, Imagine No Malaria and the United Methodist Global Aids Fund. The 2017 miracle offering called for clergy and church representatives to take up an offering at their church and then bring that offering to the 2017 annual conference. The miracle offering received more than $400,000 during the annual conference session. As contributions are still being submitted, an updated amount will be made available in the coming weeks. 

More than 900 backpacks were donated during the annual conference session to help those experiencing homelessness. The backpacks are given to donation centers, churches around the Indianapolis area. 

June 9 plenary session

The June 9 afternoon plenary sessions allowed for a time of celebration, approved resolutions and the conference budget.

The Rev. Beverly Perry, Conference Superintendent serving the Southeast District and Dr. Aleze Fulbright, Director of Leadership Development, presented the Extended Cabinet Report and shared about the desire and goal for our conference to become more missional in mindset.

“Being missional” means being engaged in life-giving changes for Jesus Christ in 
my mission field,“ Perry said.

In order to address this goal, the Extended Cabinet put forth a survey to members of the Indiana Conference, clergy and laity alike. 

The survey determined, that there is a disconnect between what it means to be missional and be engaged in our communities. Perry and Fulbright shared examples from across Indiana of what is looks like to be engaged in mission in our communities. Perry and Fulbright also shared the commitment of the Extended Cabinet to; live out their ministry and personal lives missionally, make appointments missionally, ask and answer questions missionally, conduct the business of the Conference missionally, align the resources of the Conference missionally. 

Doris Clark, Conference Lay Leader, presented the Laity Address along with Debbie Neyhouse, David Johns and Scott Reed. Each presented and celebrated ways the laity of the Indiana Conference work together in different capacities to achieve our mission of ‘making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world’. During the address, Scott Reed announced that, currently, more than 900 backpacks were collected to be given to those experiencing homelessness around Indiana.

Dr. Aleze Fulbright, Emily Krach, and the Rev. Matthew Leffler presented the Leadership Development report. Fulbright, Director of Leadership Development stated that the team seeks to discover, develop, and deploy fruitful leaders, lay and clergy, to accomplish the mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ. A video was shown that demonstrated examples of discovering emerging leaders, developing principled Christian leaders, and deploying those leaders. 
Steve Clouse, Director of Church Development, and Emily Reece, associate director of Church Development, presented the report on behalf of Church Development. During the report, the Indiana annual conference recognized and chartered The Garden United Methodist Church, pastor Carolyn Scanlan-Holmes. 

Resolution #2 titled “ Help end suicide and homelessness among Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and questioning youth. After much discussion for both for and against, an amendment was offered from the floor which was followed by an amendment to that amendment. The first amendment stated a change to the wording to include all youth and the amendment to that amendment offered the opportunity to recognize that LGBTQ persons do face separate challenges. The amended amendment passed. 

Resolution #3 which called for new elections for Special General Conference Session was presented but did not pass. 

The Mission and Justice Ministries Report was presented by Allison Curts, associate director of Missions and Justice Ministries. Curts took a moment to introduce Tom Heaton, a new staff member serving with Allison as the associate director of Missions and Justice Ministries. Curts mentioned a Love Your Neighbor Toolkit that is available at their booth. The Rev. Steve Newnum was acknowledged as a missionary to Brazil as the conference celebrated his retirement.
Manet Shettle presented the report for the United Methodist Foundation. Shettle reported that the Untied Methodist Foundation gives $187,089 to the conference for support of health insurance for the retired ministers of our Conference. Shettle presented the conference with a check in that amount. Following the check presentation, Shettle moved to approve the covenant between the Indiana Annual Conference and the UM Foundation to which the Board of Directors approved. 

A budget of $35,159,408 was approved. The budget includes $19.8 million dollars, 57 percent of the budget, designated for Care and Wellness. The reason for this designation includes that fact that 505 individuals or families’ healthcare needs are met through our health insurance program. In addition, over 400 retirees receive a subsidy to help cover their monthly health insurance expenses, and 628 clergy and Indiana Conference lay employees are provided with long-term financial security through participation in the Wespath pension program. General and Jurisdictional Church Apportionments make up 15 percent and funding for core ministries, Leadership Development, Church Development, and Connectional Ministries including our focus on Mission and Justice as well as our Impact 2818 Outdoor Ministries program also receive an invested 15 percent of the budget in 2018. The remaining 13 percent of our 2018 budget goes to our ministry of administration, which includes ministries such as administration and support services, communications, episcopal office and appointed Cabinet.  

The 2018 annual conference session will be held in Indianapolis, June 7-9. 

Service of Remembrance and Holy Communion

United Methodists gathered in a community of faith and peace, in a spirit of thanks and restfulness, to honor those who have gone on to the Church Triumphant. The Service of Remembrance and Holy Communion commenced with a procession by families and friends of late Indiana Conference clergy and clergy spouses who had passed away throughout the past year, followed by members of the Conference Cabinet. Led by the Rev. Larry Whitehead, Conference Superintendent of the North District, the ceremony shined a spotlight on servants of faith who died during 2016 and the early portion of 2017, and allowed loved ones to show their respects, as well as representation in solidarity, faith, and love. 

Commissioning and Ordination Service

“The undisciplined call is not worth giving. We must surrender who we were to become who God wants us to be.”

Bishop Latrelle Easterling, Baltimore-Washington Conference, preached ‘A Life Worthy of the Call” during the Commissioning and Ordination Service. 

Speaking from 1 Corinthians 13, Easterling encouraged all to bear with one another in love, despite differences and disagreements. “We may not agree on all the matters facing the church, but we must remember that we are more together.” Easterling concluded with a charge to the ordinands and commissioners: that in the face of trials and disagreements, “Walk worthy anyhow! Walk worthy of the call of Jesus the Christ!”

One provisional deacon and eight provisional elders were commissioned. Trimble, who conducted this portion of the service, recognized the ordinations of one deacon and eight elders and full members as well as the ordinations of three members from other Christian faiths as full elders.

2017 Statistics 

Membership stands at 189,400 down less than 1 percent from the previous year; average worship attendance stands at 96,530, down 2 percent from the previous year; Christian formation groups, 88,340 down 2 percent; Professions of Faith, 3,105 down 2 percent; Baptisms, 13,748 down 9 percent.

Number of persons engaged in mission 48,813, a 16 percent increase.

Photos from the 2017 Annual Conference can be found here.

-Skyler E. Nimmons, Indiana Conference communications director