Annual Conference Report for June 10, 2010

Schnase outlines Five Practices in practical ways

Bishop Robert Schnase presents to the annual conference at the Thursday morning session.

Bishop Robert Schnase opened the second Indiana Annual Conference sessions by reminding Hoosiers about Radical Hospitality, Passionate Worship, Intentional Faith Development, Risk-Taking Mission and Service and Extravagant Generosity.

Schnase, author of the books Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations and Five Practices of Fruitful Living, is the guest teacher for the conference. When sharing about those words, he added, “Those words and practices are much bigger than the book.”

Radical Hospitality: Radical Hospitality is the very core of our identity. “This is why we are supposed to welcome the stranger. It’s because of God’s grace that we were welcomed,” said Schnase. Radical hospitality is not a committee assignment or responsibility; it belongs to the whole church to look at how ministries such as Vacation Bible School or the activities of the trustees are being welcoming. Schnase challenged members to go back to see how others look at how we make our churches accessible to those in the community. “We don’t realize what the world looks like through their eyes.”

Passionate Worship: Passionate Worship is the principle setting where God works on our hearts and minds; it is not a preference to our worship style. “Passionate Worship is not routine or going through the motions,” said Schnase. “It connects people to God and one another.”

Schnase said laity and clergy often approach worship as a second thought and don’t give it the reflection or attention it needs. People need to enter worship with a sense that God is active and will work to transform our hearts. “The real critical question is what did God say to us.”

Intentional Faith Development: Learning as a community is part of our tradition. “Why do we learn as a community? Jesus taught us in community,” said Schnase. “So much of the faith cannot be learned on our own.” Churches that have active small groups are vibrant. It permeates into the spiritual life and mission of the church and its members.

Risk-Taking Mission and Service: These are the church’s involvement with justice and mercy ministries, VIM teams, soup kitchens, medical projects and more. Christ invites us to come out of our comfort zone and help those in our communities around us, not just those we know. Mission projects also serve as a way to teach children. Some churches, though, need to relook at how and what they do and identify a signature mission project. “We’ve got to open our imagination my friends,” he said.

Extravagant Generosity: The widow’s mite, the Good Samaritan, Zacchaeus all serve as examples of Extravagant Generosity. “Issues of money are also issues of faith,” said Schnase. Society and materialism have been pulling people off course. By entering into the practice of tithing, we are offering our possessions back to God.

“That single act of tithing changes how we look, spend, save and give money. God uses your generosity to reconfigure your spirit,” he said.

In addition Schnase shared the following about the Five Practices:

  • Core process: They are fundamental activities that are critical to a congregation’s mission if they don’t do one well, all of them can suffer and the congregation as a whole will begin to decline.
  • It’s the adjectives: They draw us in, let us intensify the practice and are interchangeable.
  • Mission of the church: “They help people understand the mission of the church in a practical way,” said Schnase.
  • Practices distinguished from programs, repeating and improving: These are the things we do and we can do them better by repeating them, improving them and growing them. Schnase encouraged members to see what Little Leaguers and Major League Baseball players do prior to each game: they practice, no matter how long they have been playing the game.
  • Power of a common language: Common language – such as the Five Practices – give direction and meaning. “They serve as a reminder of where we need to go.”
  • Examples of churches ‘figuring it out’: Growing congregations that come into obstacles and challenges will continue to grow by researching their issues and finding ways to solve them. Declining congregations are those who come to those challenges and do nothing.
  • Focus on fruitfulness and excellence: “Fruitfulness draws our eyes to the outcome. We have to stop doing ministry that is not bearing fruit. We have to do biblical pruning.”

With today’s society, we need to work with people’s schedules, understanding of church and culture and work, explore and converse with those we are trying to reach out to. We have to look hard to see what events or services bring the largest amount of people who aren’t members into the church building and plan to welcome them by various activities. – MO

Schnase challenges conference to fulfill their mission

Bishop Robert Schnase challenged conference members to picture fulfilling the mission of their congregation by envisioning a concentric circle with the pastor and key leaders in the very center.

Add another circle and additional leaders and in another circle those who serve on committees. Add another circle for active and semi-active members. Add yet another circle for inactive members.

“We fulfill the mission of the church when the church engages those who aren’t a part of the church. All of the action happens at the margins,” said Schnase. He continued teaching the focus is to keep reaching out to those on the margins.

We recognize those on the margins as “familiar strangers” – people who we see on a regular basis through activities and social events in our communities. In his life as pastor, Schnase used those events to be intentional in listening and leading and developing relationships in those circles. It is important for clergy to be engaged in the life of the community. “All of a sudden more people are calling me pastor other than my church members.”

After being elected a bishop, he had to search for a way to be a pastor in a world filled with meetings. “I had to find my own voice and my own way,” said Schnase.

As part of our faith heritage, Schnase challenged members to look back at people who put everything on the line and how they found the spiritual strength to step out in faith. – MO

As part of the Church Development report, members took time to greet one another and pray with each other.

Laity session

Laity learn of opportunities, thank those who are fruitful

Ike Williams and Kayc Mykrantz, conference co-lay leaders, welcomed the laity into session Thursday evening.

During the evening, the laity received updates on a variety of issues. They include:

  • Rev. Doug Anderson provided an update on cluster training and some of the outcomes from the clusters. Outcomes include praying for each church and their ministries, joint worship services, joint mission projects, joint youth groups and more.
  • The laity were informed that next year will be an election year for lay delegates to the 2012 General Conference. Williams shared that one of the items coming up will be ways to restructure the general church.
  • Information was given on Youth 2011 which will be at Purdue University in July 2011. For more information, please visit
  • Bread and Basin award winners: David Ashmore of Pendleton First UMC (local missions); Helen Aylsworth of Springs Valley UMC in French Lick (national missions); and Carolyn Olivier of Indianapolis Chapel Hill UMC (international missions).
  • Laity manuscript contest: This year’s contest had 19 entries. Jane Heustis of Irvington UMC in Indianapolis is this year’s winner. Her entry, titled “The Taste of Spiritual Strawberries,” is based on John 15:16. A complete version of her manuscript is available online here.  First runner up was Jennifer Kintner of Mishawaka First UMC; the second runner up was Mildred Ferro of Elkhart St. Paul’s UMC.
  • Shane Bennett from Union Chapel UMC in Muncie shared “Three Things We Need to Know About the World.” They include: the world is a scary, mixed-up place; the world really is our parish; and the world exists for Jesus. Bennett also talked about working and living with Muslims and ways to interact with those of different faiths and beliefs. “We lived in a crazy mixed-up world that is different from the ones our grandparents grew up in. The world is no longer way out there. It has come right here into our midst.” – MO

Conference opens with series of reports

Kent Millard, chair of CF&A, uses an apple core to demonstrate how much United Methodists give to God.
Monitoring report was given by Darren Cushman Wood

Cushman Wood said the conference would be monitored for its diversity. “Monitoring is tool to help us see how we are doing in relation to our diversity… Monitoring is a ministry of how to listen and articulate our vision of the church for Jesus Christ.” report was given by Lisa Shubert. The report will be posted on the conference Web site. A vote will come on Saturday.

Nominating report was given by Lisa Shubert. The report will be posted on the conference Web site. A vote will come on Saturday.

The Conference Council on Finance and Administration first report was given by Kent Millard, chair of CFA and Jennifer Gallagher, director of financial services. Figures and policies are on pages 19-36 of the pre-conference reports. In 2009, total income was $13.69 million leaving a deficit of $22,190, which was met by reserve funds. Our conference paid 55.9 percent of our General Church apportionments in 2009.

CFA proposed an annual conference income budget of $15.18 million and an expense budget of $15.16 million. This is a decrease of $451,000 or 3 percent below the current budget. Budgets will be voted on this Saturday.

Church Development presented two churches for chartering.

The conference chartered the Movie Theater Church, a ministry of Old Bethel UMC in Indianapolis, and the New Song Fellowship of First UMC of Valparaiso with 230 members. “Get wet, get dirty, connect with people the good news of Jesus Christ,” said Kurt Nichols, pastor of New Song.

The conference does have grants for your congregations to create a new congregation. Church Development will offer grants up to $5,000 for creating a new worship service. It’s part of the Fruitful Congregation emphasis of the conference’s Church Development ministry.

Corrections to the Nominations Report

Page 5-6 – Social Advocacy, Justice & Ethnic Ministries Team: add, Janet Jacobs as a member.

Pages 6-7 – Youth ministry team: add: Jessi Wilfong, April Reyes, Katie Pfaff, Tyler Best; remove: Casey Madsen and Breana Coppes (both graduated); add Adult members: Covey Howard, Ruis Renderos.

Page 8 – BOOM correction Chair of North District, remove Dennis Tyson; add Kerry O’Brien– Committee on Investigation: add Laura McDonald as clergy member

Page 11 – Committee on Investigation: add Laura McDonald as clergy member

Page 13 – Wesley Manor Retirement Community, Inc.: delete class of 2010; add John Wortinger to class of 2011; remove Michelle Cobb from class of 2012, add Sara Anderson to the class of 2012; add Alvan Eller, Kate Walker, David Patrick, Marcia Klingenberger to class of 2013

Clergy approve 22 for ordination, 14 for commissioning, 58 for retirement during the executive session Thursday evening

Clergy approved these 22 elders and deacons for ordination on Sunday during Thursday night clergy session
During the clergy executive session on Thursday night at Union Chapel UMC, these 22 provisional members were approved for ordination as Elders and Deacons and will be ordained on Sunday morning, June 13 in Emens Auditorium at Ball State in Muncie They included:.

ELDERS – Dennis Adams of Evansville; Karen Bray of West Terre Haute; Ted Chalk of New Middleton; Kevin DeKoninck of Winamac; Rebecca Fisher of Fort Wayne; Bradford Garrett of LaFontaine; Alex Hershey of Monticello; Warren Kirk of Grandview; Dave Marty of Huntington; Robert Preusz of Converse; Kevin Reed of Indianapolis; LeKisha Reed of Indianapolis; Dave Scifres of Noblesville; Ann Spahr of North Salem; Jerald Turner of Columbus; Eduard van Wijk of Kentland; Mary van Wijk of Remington; Brent Wright of Jamestown; Kevin Wrigley of Plainfield.

DEACONS – Julie Macy of Columbia City; Mary Beth Morgan of Bloomington and Sheri Rohrer of Delphi.

These14 candidates were approved for commissioning as provisional members seeking ordination. They included: Bessie Adams of New Albany; Daniel Cho of Mundelein, Ill.; James Clark of Kokomo; Christopher Gadlage of Central; Lauren Hall of South Bend; Anthony Hunley of Indianapolis; Jacob Juncker of Lafayette; Kim King of Indianapolis; Matt Landry of Delaware, Ohio; William Nickrand of Ramsey; Damon Soper of Brownstown; Anthony Stone of Summitville; Gregory Waggoner of Morocco; and Donna Ward of Anderson.

Also during the clergy session, 58 clergy were approved for retirement. They are listed in alpha order by their date of retirement and the number of service years. Include are: Jimmy Abbott, 10; Marcia Faye Carpenter, 18; Philip Granger, 32; Rosa Harris, 10; Laura Jones, 15; Thomas Shanahan, 8.5; Donald Smith, 39.5; Jon Walters, 30; Dennis White, 31; Donald Wilson, 22; Karen Morrow, 23; Richard Lyth, 15; Dennis Alstott, 10; Daniel Barker, 36; Diane Barrett, 12; Roy Eugene Carpenter III, 29; Nancy Harmon Chizmar, 29; Robert Church, 27; Marilyn Couger, 7; Billy Craddock, 10; Mark Day, 39; Linda Dolby, 33; Bill Farmer, 25; Jean Finney, 7; Malcolm Greene, 44.5; John Hall, 43; Jack Hartman, 44; Ann Hutchins-Case, 25; Myron James, 26; Jeffrey Jones, 30; David Kyle, 18; Harold Lee Klinker, 26; Chris Blane Madison, 34; Kenneth Mahan, 45; Judith Ann McGuire Marshall, 20; James Miller, 40; Joe Mitchell, 28; Robert Ostermeier, 40; David Overmyer, 20; Thomas Pitcher, 36; Timothy Rasmussen, 38; Alan Rumble, 41; Michael Rynkiewich, 17; Edward Scherer-Berry, 20; Patrick Schonbachler, 36; Hugh Severance, 17; Patrick Sinnott, 17; Leonard Sjogren, 36; Alvin Smith, 26; Doris Smith, 15; Larry Smith, 38; James Taylor, 45; Thomas True, 40; Don Viviano, 4; Roger Walby, 10; Glenda Ray Woodcox, 30; Kenneth Wooden, 33; and John Windell, 29.

These retirees will be honored during a worship service on Friday morning at 11 a.m. Their years of service total 1,540.

In other business

The chairs of the clergy orders, Tim Burchill – Elders, Jennifef Pollard – Deason, and Don Ransford – Local Pastors and Associate Members, encourage the clergy to be involved in covenant groups.

Clergy congratulated Local Pastors Course of Study graduates. They are: Linda McBride, John Long, Sharon Taylor, Daniel Voorhies and Warren Kirkwood.

Doug Anderson informed pastors about the need for ministry clusters and cluster leaders. Cluster training will be offered six times a year. Why clusters? We need to connect with our clergy colleagues. Clergy are crucial for the growth of the church. We learn from each other, grow, stay focused and explore what we can do together better than we can do as individual congregations. He said it’s imperative that every pastor be part of a cluster to stay focused and fruitful. – DRG

Lorelei Johnson Verlee of HAPI (Haitian Artisans for Peace International) shared her experiences of sacrifice as a missionary during the clergy spouses gathering. She assists Haitian artisans in selling their handicrafts and focusing their products for selling internationally.

 PDF version of this report.