INDIANAPOLIS – Bishop Michael J. Coyner and the Rev. David Neckers, former director of church development of the Indiana Conference of The United Methodist Church are pleased to announce the appointment of the Rev. Sharon L. Washington as a church planter in the Indianapolis metropolitan area beginning July 1, 2015.

The Church Development team recently affirmed the need for a strategic and intentional focus on reaching the African-American and multi-ethnic population in the Indianapolis area. The team’s affirmation of this vital effort also included a recommendation that Washington’s expertise and diverse background would supply this new ministry endeavor with an equipped leader to build sustainable relationships within the Indianapolis community.

Neckers said, “Sharon has a driving passion to bring together people of differing ethnicities all for the sake of God’s Kingdom.” He continued, “Sharon is well suited to launch a new faith community as she has the necessary spiritual gifts, abilities and experience.”

In her role as an associate director for Church Development in the Indiana Conference, Washington has helped lead conference strategies for launching and sustaining new faith communities, as well as transforming existing congregations. Together with her colleagues, she successfully launched the Fruitful Congregation Journey (FCJ) process and has facilitated more than 40 consultations in Indiana, Michigan and Missouri.

Prior to joining the Indiana Conference, she served as an associate pastor of Word Tabernacle Church, a congregation committed to making an impact in the predominantly African-American community in Eastern North Carolina.

Steve Clouse, senior associate director of church development, shared, “It has truly been an honor to serve alongside Sharon as a colleague and friend during her six years of ministry in the Indiana Conference.”

Washington’s first church planting experience was a multi-ethnic UMC start in Philadelphia as seminarian and pastoral intern. She has also partnered with American Baptist Churches USA (ABC-USA) missionaries to lead the first Spanish speaking church start in Bluefields, Nicaragua. As a bilingual speaker with a strong background in new church development, she has been an asset to transformational ministry in the Indiana Conference.

“I know that I speak on behalf of our Church Development team when I say that we will miss her visionary gifts, passion for ministry and spirit-led leadership. I have great confidence that Sharon will make a deep impact on the local mission field she is called to as a church planter. Our hopes and prayers go with her as she makes this transition to a new chapter in her fruitful ministry,” Clouse stated.

“Sharon has an unrelenting drive to make a difference for Jesus, she will bring to Indiana an innovative model to plant new faith communities, from which she will discover, develop and deploy fruitful leaders to multiply faith communities across Indiana. She will make us all proud,” said Neckers.

Washington, a native of Wilmington, Delaware, holds a Bachelor of Science from Duke University, Durham, N.C. and a Master of Divinity from Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary King of Prussia, Pa. She is a volunteer coach for the General Board of Global Ministries, serves as the board secretary for the United Methodist Foundation and has interests in creative arts, fitness, travel/tourism, as well as mentoring.