Work continues toward developing the staff to serve the new Indiana Conference. So far the only staff "officially" selected for the new conference are the Directors selected and elected on Oct. 4. Since that special session, Bishop Mike Coyner also named Adolf Hansen as Interim Director of Human Resources.

These directors have been meeting with Coyner and David V. W. Owen, executive assistant to the bishop, to work on staffing needs, including the development of position descriptions, staffing models and projected budget for this new staff. To date, Coyner estimates the new staff will be about a 40 to 50 percent reduction in size and cost compared with the total staff of the previous two conferences and area staffs. More detailed work is still needed.

Directors are working with a space planner provided to the conference by Clarian Health to analyze the type of space needed for a new conference staff. This action will lead the new conference trustees in selecting an appropriate location for the new conference office somewhere in greater Indianapolis.

Leaders will be reviewing a variety of options, including utilizing more space in the Indiana Interchurch Center location of the Indiana Area Office, leasing office space at a difference location, or even building a new conference center. No decisions have been made yet, because leaders are focused first upon defining a staff and the space needs for it.

Human resources

Next in the planning process is action by the new Human Resources Committee to bring together the various personnel handbooks of the previous conferences, area office, foundations and camping ministries into one new, hopefully very complete set of HR Policies.

Hansen is doing this work, but neither he nor the Human Resources Committee will do the actual hiring - that will be accomplished by the Conference Directors as a group and individually as they complete the staff for the new conference. The HR director will help to post positions, receive applications and oversee processes to meet the guidelines of the HR Committee.

This whole process will take time. The directors anticipate they will begin listing various staff positions this spring, for hiring and placement starting with some positions this summer, and continuing for several months. This process will adhere to our values of openness and diversity while seeking the best person for each position.

More than one position

In the meantime, many of our staff members are working more than one position - continuing their work in the North, South and Area offices, while helping move into the new conference. Some staff have been reassigned to help this movement until new staff are hired. For example, the Rev. Gary Schaar of South Indiana and Ed Fenstermacher of North Indiana are reassigned to work with Director Mark Gough (formerly of the NIC) with the current district superintendents to help develop Ministry Clusters and to staff those districts and clusters.

Director Jim Bushfield (formerly SIC) was named as the Coordinator of Annual Conference session, supported by Ruth Ellen Needler of North Indiana, as they work with the Interim Session Committee to plan our first Indiana Annual Conference next June 25-28 at Ball State University in Muncie.

Director Mark Gough continues to serve as Director of Connectional Ministries for North Indiana, but is moving ahead with plans in the area of church development, which is his new position. Many other examples of staff reassigned or working more than one position could be offered.

As Coyner has pointed out more than once, "This is a time of transition, and 2009 will likely be a 'messy' year as we continue to work with the separate budgets adopted by North and South Conferences as we move into the new conference."

In fact, Coyner has said he has come to realize that he is currently serving three annual conferences: the former North Conference, the former South Conference and the emerging new Indiana Conference.

Coyner and the directors ask pastors and lay leaders of the church to "please be patient with all of us as we and district superintendents work to finish the old and to start the new." There are many, many steps to be taken as Hoosier United Methodists move into the new Indiana Conference.

"These next several months will be messy, but hopefully as we move into a new, more faithful and effective, Indiana Conference with a goal of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world," Coyner said.