Annual Conference highlights for Friday, May 30, 2014

More than 200 members pray to expand their church’s outreach.

Conference launches ‘100 New Points of Light’ emphasis

The Indiana Conference launched “100 New Points of Light” in Indiana during the coming conference year – 100 new faith communities, whether a worship service, Bible study or other organized effort, to reach new people with the light of Christ. Bishop Mike Coyner launched the program during the Friday morning session, May 30. Well more than the 100 churches hoped for, want to get involved, came forward, received a light and a packet of information. Soon after the session, each congregation and/or group will be assigned a consultant/advisor coach to assist in launching their new point of light. The goal was 100 churches and the response far exceeded that amount.

Coyner expects many of those new faith communities will be “offsite” in a location outside the church building, while others will be at “off-times” to reach new people beyond our typical worship services.

The Indiana Conference plans to grant $500 in seed money to 100 different congregations or groups who have a vision to start a new outreach ministry in their communities. Values undergirding this vision include: reach the un-churched, reach the de-churched, Wesleyan theology, lay-driven, empower laity, outwardly focused, entrepreneurial spirit and innovation and failing is okay as long as we learn from it – this is a pilot program. – Dan Gangler

Farr challenges Hoosiers to be missional.

Church development specialist encourages us to go back to our roots

The Rev. Bob Farr’s Friday morning teaching session encouraged Indiana Conference members to turn back to their early Methodist roots.

Farr, who is Missouri Conference Director of the Center for Congregational Excellence, believes the modern United Methodist congregation is focused more on making members rather than making disciples of Jesus Christ.

“We were not an established church,” Farr stated, “we came by horse. We were missionaries. Somewhere we went from missionary to member.”

In order to touch base with our roots, we should ask the question that John Wesley asked, “What was the most important thing Jesus said”?

The answer is to love the Lord with everything we got. Farr believes we need to be on fire for Jesus. “If we are going to go forward friends, we need to recapture our fire.”

Along with our recaptured fire for Christ, Farr also encouraged the conference members to rethink how they view service. He noted he believes United Methodists are good at charity in our communities, not mission in our communities. We are good at collecting materials to hand off to other agencies to distribute, but he doesn’t classify that as mission work. Instead, he hopes United Methodists go back to their roots of the missional church that got out into communities to build relationships and serve neighbors.

Farr stated, “Somewhere along the way, we have frozen in place.” The average United Methodist shares Jesus with someone every 38 years. Instead of sharing the Good News with others, he sees United Methodists stuck in their ways “playing church.” Instead, United Methodists need to shift their focus on developing relationships with the people right across the street from the church because the most important person, in greeting new people to a church, is its members. Members need to start seeing themselves as missional outposts for the church.

Farr specifically addressed clergy on how they should handle developing relationships outside of their current congregations. Pastors have two mission fields – those you know and those you do not know. Clergy have been trained to be shepherds and chaplains, only keeping care of the flock they have.

Farr challenged clergy to see themselves as shepherds and leaders willing to try new things and to become outwardly focused churches. He also challenged laity to protect and stand behind their pastors.

He challenged clergy to get out of their offices and laity to get out of the building and develop disciples of Christ in the communities they serve. – Jennifer Meadows

Conference approves 2015 expense, income budgets

The Council of Finance and Administration brought the final budget to the conference. The conference approved a 2015 income budget of $13.6 million and a 2015 expense budget of $14.1 million.

The 2015 Indiana Annual Conference Session will meet Thursday through Sunday, May 28-31 and will be held at the Indiana Convention Center.

Church Development reports gains in development, hope to establish 30 new congregations

Senior Associate Director Steve Clause began the Church Development Team report by presenting a video about the Fruitful Congregation Journey (FCJ), a growth program for congregations. Building new generations within current churches are the adjustments we need to make. FCJ is bringing new life to churches. Not only welcoming people to churches but also bringing the church to the community.

Associate Director Ed Fenstermacher introduced a new Fruitful Congregations Journey program for churches with under 50 people in worship attendance. It’s coming this fall.

Bishop Mike Coyner emphasized the importance of FCJ in helping congregations reach out to their communities. Church Development is now working with un-churched and de-churched people. New Hispanic congregations are being launched across the state. There are 23 Hispanic pastors now studying seminary curriculum online. Riverside in New Albany and Branches in Plainfield Community Churches were featured for their new growth to younger adults.

Coyner said the more choices we can provide the more we will grow as a church.

Associate Director Sharon Washington says she said “yes” with God doing a new thing in Indiana. We are just getting started. God is asking us to move deeper into the waters by establishing 30 new congregations in Indiana by 2020 in the “exceed” campaign.

Church Development announced “exceed” to raise $1.5 million to assist in reaching new people. The ultimate mission is the make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

Coyner said we are in the new church-start moment. Church Development helps tell us where the hot spots are. One dream is to start 100 new worship services or other form of community during the next year.

There are 25 new faith communities that have been created during the past 15 years. Each one of these locations are bringing vitality to new locations.

Christian Conferencing recommendations approved for 2015 elections

During the Friday afternoon session, the conference approved the General and Jurisdictional Conference procedures sections of the Christian Conferencing Task Force report to replace the current comparable sections in the 2013 Rules and Structure document of the Indiana Annual Conference.

Adolf Hansen, chairman of the Christian Conferencing Task Force, outlined the process for Christian Conferencing to be used in the election of delegates to the 2016 General and Jurisdictional Conferences of The United Methodist Church, as well as guidelines for other meetings within our Indiana Conference.

This process will include: Eligibility for election, managing the election, commitment of a delegate, procedure for endorsement, procedure for election and leadership of the conference delegation.

According to Hansen, this plan will involve the local church, assist conference members to become acquainted with each other, allow for a broader geographic selection and resolve difficulties of past election processes. The full report titled Christian Conferencing Task Force Report is available on the website under conference reports.

This coming fall, each district may generate a list of up to three laity and three clergy from each of our ten districts. These names would be submitted by local churches. The Leadership table can add five additional laity and five clergy candidates. These 70 candidates will be considered endorsed. Other candidates who desire candidacy to become a delegate also will have an avenue to be considered a candidate. According to General Conference procedures, eight clergy and eight laity will be elected from Indiana as delegates to the 2016 General Conference. They will be part of the 850-delegate General Conference legislative body of the UMC. Anyone elected to General Conference also will go to Jurisdictional Conference. Indiana will send 16 clergy and 16 laity. Indiana is part of the North Central Jurisdiction.

United Methodists worship in the streets of Indianapolis

Georgia Street had a United Methodist flare Friday afternoon. As part of being the Outwardly Focused Church, the Indiana Conference hosted Community Day on Georgia Street for the city of Indianapolis.

Amy Cox kicked off the event, sharing her music with the crowd. Besides having the opportunity to worship, attendees had their choice of lunch from a multitude of food trucks. Volunteers of the Indiana Conference greeted and welcomed guests by offering prayer, free balloons and water bottles, activities for the kids, and plenty of smiles.

Sixteen Cities concluded the event with worship.

Helene Foust developed the idea of worshiping in the streets of Indianapolis when she interacted with a homeless man at last year’s annual conference. He approached her excited that “the Methodists were in town.” He was looking for a worship experience.

When Foust invited him to the Convention Center for the evening worship, he declined the invitation because he didn’t want to intrude on our time together.

Foust realized a prime opportunity was missed to bring the Good News to our community. Thus, Community Day was developed in order to worship with our brothers and sisters of Indianapolis.

The Indiana Conference welcomed a multitude of guests. Even curious individuals at surrounding businesses and apartments opened up their windows to see what was happening in the streets. Foust is satisfied with the reception of the event. – Jennifer Meadows

63 clergy retiring

Names of retirees and number of service: John D. Abbott, Jr., 20; Philip Amerson, 46; Paul Arnold, 42; Daniel Baney, 36; Paul Bay, 23; Michael Beck, 31; Faye Bilskie, 15; Ted Blosser, 42; Herbert Buwalda, 43; Louie Stephen Cain, 40; Norman W. Campbell, 22; Norman Chaney, 53; Bill (William M.) Clark, 5; Victoria Clem, 7; James W. Dwyer , 46; Ida Easley, 31; James Fookes, 37.5; Daniel R. Gangler, 38; Janeen Gill, 25; Brenda Ginder, 20; Edgar Gladish, 23; Lonny R. Goen, 28; Allen A. Goetcheus, 49; Peggy Good, 30; Milton Gould, 45; Sandy Harlan, 16; Michael R. Harris, 39; Kent B. Harting, 12.5; Marianne Hawkins, 14; Michael Hayden, 29; David Holling, 37.5; James Hoppus, 20; Gilbert Hubbard, 40; Barry L. Humble, 35; David H. Ison, 22; Patrick Jackson, 23; Lenne L. Keithley, 20; Leonard L. King, 42; Barbara LaVeck, 2; William LaVeck, 6; Linda Lawler, 22.5; Paula Young Mayberry, 35; Dennis N. McLain, 45; Rick Miller, 30; Jon Myers, 12; Karen Ottjes, 24; Karen Powell, 16; Mark A. Powell, 22; Don Ransford, 20; Stephen Rasmussen, 37; P. Allen Relford, 12; Nancy Richmond, 15; Glenda Riggs, 16; Greg Rittenhouse, 30; Jack Scott, 29.5; Joseph Smith, 38; Delbert Stoll, 16; Barbara Taylor Clodfelter, 13; Ron Verlee, 44; Donald Wadkins, 7; Roger Ward, 16; Stephen E. Whitehead, 53; Dennis C. Zetterberg, 40. 63 retired with 1,748 collective years of service.