For the past three years, we have become accustomed to reading the words "Making a difference in Indiana and around the world" following the signature of our Bishop Mike Coyner.
This issue of Together illustrates those words in the continuing service of United Methodist clergy and laity in making a crucial difference in the lives of those who survived Hurricane Katrina, of students and patients in Liberia and Sierra Leone through Operation Classroom and Operation Doctor, of children and youth at the Indiana United Methodist Children's Home in Lebanon, and of the tens of thousands who have used the services of Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis now on the eve of its 100th year of service.
Together also sounds a warning in the front-page story which illustrates what can happen when we choose not to make a difference. It's a very different story with the painful reality of one of Hoosier United Methodists' greatest failures - the abandonment of Old City Church in downtown Gary. The recent Service of "Repentance, Reconciliation and Appreciation" was not a celebration but a lament of past sins and so necessary for the connectional church to move forward without forgetting past mistakes so those same mistakes are not repeated in the future. The park which will rise out of the ruins of Old City First United Methodist Church will be a painful reminder to us that large, influential congregations can die if they cannot quickly shift their mission in socially turbulent times.
"Making a difference." needs to be a chorus we can sing with joy as we close out another Christian year and open into a very unique year of conference unity and quadrennial conferencing. The leaders of our General Church have outlined below a suggested direction for the church to take as they list four areas where United Methodists need to focus globally.
"Making a difference." also means to Imagine Indiana as both North Indiana and South Indiana conferences work toward unity. The new Indiana Annual Conference continues to emerge in the hearts and minds of the Imagine Indiana Planning Team as its members continue to listen and next month write a plan to be released in early 2008. Changes continue as groups from both conferences meet together - Hoosier United Methodists Together living into an uncertain future with the certainty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, One who has made a difference around the world for two millenia.
Daniel R. Gangler