“Being a ‘witness’ is among the most biblical of all the characteristics of a disciple of Jesus.”
– Bishop Coyner
Some people seem not to have noticed that the 2008 General Conference changed the membership vows of our United Methodist Church. Now, when new members join any of our 1,200 congregations of the Indiana Conference (or any of our 40,000 congregations around the world), they should be asked to pledge their support to the church by their Prayers, Presence, Gifts, Service and Witness. What does that new word “Witness” mean, and why was it added?
The actual decision to add “witness” to our membership vows was initiated by the United Methodist Council of Bishops, because we bishops believe too many United Methodists have lost the skill or desire to witness to our faith. Being a “witness” is among the most biblical of all the characteristics of a disciple of Jesus.
We remember how the Risen Christ said to those first disciples, “You shall be my witnesses.” Through the centuries, the witness of faithful Christians has even resulted in some becoming martyrs for the faith. At the very least, being a faithful witness ought to challenge us to find ways to testify, to advocate, to evangelize and to uplift one another.
Here are some of the ways we all might share our witness:
Can we do that? Can we take seriously our vow to Witness? I believe we can, but most of us need practice.
I want to help us get started. I plan to share a monthly e-mail to all of the Indiana Conference clergy that I will call something like “The Three Best Ministry Stories Bishop Mike Has Heard This Month.” These e-mails can be sent with one push of a button on my computer to all of our clergy – IF they are signed up to their INUMC.org e-mail accounts.
I need all of our clergy to be sure each one has activated his or her INUMC.org e-mail account.* These accounts also can be set up to be forwarded to any other e-mail account clergy use, so that all clergy will receive these monthly stories. I will only be sending this e-mail to INUMC.org e-mail addresses.
I also need clergy to send me their best ministry stories to share, such as what are the great things God is doing in and through your local church or your ministry setting? I will pass along the three best stories I hear each month .
We start being a good Witness by witnessing to one another, not about ourselves, but about what God is doing in and through us and others. So, clergy, please help me start this process with these monthly e-mails. I hope you will be uplifted by these stories, and I hope you will share them with the laity of your churches, too.
Bishop Michael J. Coyner
Indiana Area of
The United Methodist Church
“Making a difference in Indiana
and around the world”
*To activate an Indiana Conference e-mail account, go to http://mail.inumc.org and use your firstname.lastname as the user ID. The password for the first time is inumc2010. You will be prompted to change the password. If you wish to forward this e-mail to an existing account, go to “Settings” and then “Forwarding.” For answers to questions about clergy e-mail addresses, contact the Indiana Conference Center at 317-924-1321 or toll-free at 877-781-6706.