As the calendar flips to the year 2015, I realize that my tenure as your bishop is moving quickly toward my retirement at the end of August in 2016. So rather than thinking of New Year’s Resolutions, I find myself thinking of what I resolve to be and do for the next year and a half. Here are my thoughts, and I welcome your feedback to make sure I am on the right pathway.
First, here are my core beliefs about our Indiana Conference which have not changed, so these are things I will continue to emphasize:

  • God is leading us
  • The mission is primary
  • Our UMC Connection is how we accomplish our mission

Those three core beliefs about our Indiana Conference have important implications:

To know that God is leading us means that we need to focus upon things such as Spiritual Formation, developing a Culture of Call to help persons discern God’s leading, and keeping Kingdom work as our primary focus (as opposed to just maintaining the institution of our church).

To know that the Mission is primary means that we must be purpose-centered (not preference-centered), we must help our congregations to be outwardly-focused, and we must all maintain a sense of service and outreach in the spirit of Christ.

To know that our UMC connection is how we accomplish our mission means that we celebrate diversity, we use Christian conferencing to discern God’s will, we work together, and we encourage innovation and collaboration.

Second, here are my core strategies for our Indiana Conference as developed with my Bishop’s Spiritual Leadership Team (composed of Doris Clark, Roger Summers, Cindy Reynolds, David Byrum, David VW Owen, and Jennifer Gallagher):

  • Discovering, developing and deploying fruitful leaders (both lay and clergy)
  • Increasing the number of vibrant congregations (both by starting new ones and by helping existing congregations to become more fruitful)
  • Engaging the next generation (through things like camping ministry, youth ministry, campus ministry, family ministries, etc., but especially by listening to the next generation and allowing them to lead us)
  • Strengthening our connection (including financial support, trust and cooperation)
  • Protecting innovation (taking risks, seeing “failure” as learning opportunities, and encouraging those who innovate)
  • Preparing for a smooth transition to the next bishop

That last one is new on my list, but it is essential. Our Committee on Episcopacy has named Cindy Reynolds and Doris Clark to head a team which will plan for the transition to our next bishop. I want everyone to know that part of my own mission throughout the next 18 months is to prepare the way for my successor. I will do everything I can to assure the success of my successor and will support and encourage this new episcopal leader for our Indiana Conference. I will not get in the way, but rather I will stand behind that person.

These are my Resolutions for the New Year and a Half. There is much to be done, and I pray for God’s guidance that I may finish strong.

Yours in Christ,
Bishop Mike Coyner