INDIANAPOLIS - The Imagine Indiana Design Team members are in the process of writing a 50-page proposal to enact the uniting of both the North Indiana and South Indiana conferences later this spring.

Congregations are at the heart of the proposal with a commitment by the newly proposed conference to bring services and other resources closer to congregations in order to "make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world."

The team's two-day retreat led by Bishop Mike Coyner was Dec. 14-15 in Indianapolis. The team heard a summary report of his 18 District Day events, discussed for hours the structure of the new conference beginning at the local church, heard reports from several task forces and gave final approval to a proposed pension and health care benefits package. The team continued its work on Jan. 4 and will meet again on Jan. 15 to finish its first draft of a plan to unite the two conferences.

The proposal begins with the congregation and proceeds organizationally to clusters, districts and the conference.

According to the district days reports, the most popular and affirmed part of the proposal is the clustering of congregations to add both support and accountability to all congregations. Also under this proposal, all pastors will be required to be part of a covenant group which may or may not include the same churches that are in the congregation's cluster.

Conference structure will be proposed to place three service centers across the state instead of centralizing services in Indianapolis. A separate Indiana Conference Center will contain conference administration, communication and the bishop's office in greater Indianapolis.

Nine districts

Taking into consideration a marketing study done in partnership with the University of Indianapolis, the team will propose nine districts for the new Indiana Conference - three in northern Indiana, three in central Indiana and three in southern Indiana. District boundaries are still being considered. Each district will have a district superintendent that lives in the district and will be supported by a regional service center.

The team will propose three regional district centers, one to be placed in northern Indiana, one in central Indiana and one in southern Indiana. Each of these centers will serve three districts and will include three district superintendents, a district ministries director and program staff, administrative assistants and a receptionist/communicator.

Commenting on the 12-member team's work, Coyner said, "I am excited about the work of the Imagine Indiana Design Team as it prepares a final recommendation to be considered by the two Annual Conferences. They are being imaginative, creative and yet faithfully focused upon creating a new Indiana to fulfill our mission of 'making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.'"

Upcoming reviews

A task force from the design team is writing a report that will be reviewed by the team at its meetings this month in Indianapolis.

At the close of a Jan. 4 meeting, the team members discussed their plans with the Young Leaders Team that met last summer. The team also will meet for a review of the proposed plan with last year's Imagine Indiana Planning Team and co-chairs of last year's Discernment Teams on Jan. 15 in Indianapolis. Part of the team met with district superintendents of both conferences for review and input during their meeting at DePauw University in Greencastle on Jan. 7.

North Indiana Lay Leader Kayc Mykrantz and South Indiana Lay Leader Ike Williams also plan to hold focus groups for feedback as the plan is being shaped.

The Imagine Indiana report to both annual conferences will be available in February and will be discussed during a statewide presentation to be held online and in multiple locations on Palm Sunday afternoon or evening, March 16.

For more information, log on to www.inareaumc.org and click on the Imagine Indiana logo on the left column. Comments can be e-mailed to ImagineIndiana@inareaumc.org.