In 1990 Bishop Leroy Hodapp formed a "blue ribbon committee" to explore merger of the Indiana conferences. During the 12 year tenure of Bishop Woodie W. White, the episcopacy committee continued to raise the need to work together more effectively. In 2004 the South Indiana Futuring Task Force and the North Indiana Strategy Council held listening sessions. The information gathered led the 2005 annual conference sessions to create a Merger Task Force. Its work culminated in the 2006 recommendation for a plan for the creation of a new conference to be brought to the 2007 sessions for consideration and vote. The recommendation passed by an 80% margin in each conference.
Recognizing that we have a productive past to build on, we find ourselves in a new, dynamic environment. We are now ministering in a global society with new ways of communicating, informing, connecting, and moving. Organizational patterns that once were successful must now be adapted to meet the needs of a changing world. The time has come to take action.
The 2006 sessions of the North and South Indiana Conferences authorized Bishop Coyner to create a task force to study the creation of a new conference and to bring back a proposal to the 2007 sessions of the annual conferences.
This task force became the Imagine Indiana Planning Team. The team engaged in the disciplines of prayer and discernment as they sought to open themselves to the Holy Spirit and to discover and join what God is doing in Indiana in the 21st century.
In response to questions and concerns raised by members of the annual conferences in listening sessions, surveys, and conversations, 14 discernment teams were created to assist in the work of the Planning Team. One team blanketed the process with prayer and another gave vital feedback throughout the discernment process. Each team was co-chaired by persons from North Indiana and South Indiana Conferences. More than 260 people, both lay and clergy, were involved in the process.
The Imagine Indiana Planning Team visited or had conversation with seven annual conferences that experienced merger, union, or reorganization in the last ten years. In addition, there was consultation with representatives from other institutions with experience and expertise in organizational realignment and theological reflection.
With deep passion and unwavering commitment, the Imagine Indiana Planning Team invites the members of the conferences to join in the affirmation of a common belief in
the powerful presence of God working in the world today and
the ministry of all believers, laity and clergy, working in partnership together for building up of the body of Christ.
The Imagine Indiana Planning Team calls for the creation of a new conference in Indiana based upon the common values of
prayer and worship,
personal discipleship, and
that honors diversity and inclusiveness, is connected in covenant community with God and each other, and responds to the needs of a hurting world.