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

Rev. Charlie Wilfong introduced the episcopal family, Bishop Julius C. Trimble and First Lady Racelder Grandberry-Trimble. The Episcopal Concerns Committee proceeded to present 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. 

First Lady Racelder brought greetings to the Conference and reminded us that “words do matter.” 

Daniel Cho presented constitutional amendments, Rev. Paul Wagner presented the consent calendar, and the Committee on Nominations presented their report. 

The Africa University report was given by Rev. David V.W. Owen. In the report, he stated that Indiana has raised over $1.6 million for Africa University with 441 churches having participated in raising money for the campaign. The funds raised allowed Africa University to secure a full endowment of a faculty chair for the Health, Agricultural, and Natural Sciences and four individual full scholarships. 

Karen Gould, representing Operation Classroom presented the pilot project known as the Taiama Enterprise Academy in Sierra Leone with the hope of launching 12 additional pilot programs across Sierra Leone and Liberia over the coming year. 

Mark Dicken called the corporation meeting to order and stated the sale of 16 discontinued and closed churches, netting $754,953 for district and church development ministries. Dicken also distributed Shera Fund earnings of $293,190 and moved that the Board of Trustees report be accepted as presented; motion passed. 

The Shera Fund earnings are distributed as follows; 
Sierra Leone Conference students at United Theological Seminary $28,000
Funding 2018 retiree health insurance subsidies $125,000
Miracle Offering - $125,53
  • Imagine No Malaria - $87,872
  • Global AIDS Fund - $37,659
Retained earnings - $14,659

David Abarca, Assistant Director of Annual Conference Relationships, of Discipleship Ministries presented the One Matters Discipleship Ministries Award to Atwood Aldersgate UMC, represented by Pastor Mike Beezley and lay representative Mike Long. The award was created in 2015 to recognize churches that once had 0 professions of faith and 0 baptisms that have turned around and now have positive numbers in professions of faith and baptisms. 

We also celebrated Legacies of Faith, churches who have closed their chapter of ministry. Those celebrated were, Indianapolis Aldersgate UMC, New Castle Sugar Grove UMC, Bennetts Switch UMC, Hudson UMC, Keystone UMC, Wawaka UMC, Williamsport UMC, Tunnelton UMC, Friendship UMC, Lewis UMC. 

Ian Hall, Conference Treasurer/Director of Administration and Financial Services, presented the Council on Finance and Administration report. 
  • Total income of 2016 $12, 987,000
  • Total expenditure $12,942, 000
  • Surplus $45,000
Hall shared that we, along with 26 other annual conferences, fully paid our general church apportionments of $5,313,000. In 2017, the Conference experienced a 4% increase of tithing. 

The Plenary Sessions ended by hearing two resolutions — 

Resolution One: Expanding Our Ministries in Creation Care
The cabinet put forth an amendment to refer this resolution to the conference staff and the Mission and Justice Committee to review and recommend what to do in districts. The motion to refer passed. 

Resolution Two: Help End Suicide and Homelessness Among Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning Youth was presented but was deferred to tomorrow’s plenary session due to time constraints. 

For a complete list of resolutions and reports click here

PHOTOS from the plenary session can be found HERE.