First Indiana Conference headed for Muncie

MUNCIE, Ind. - "RETHINK CHURCH" was endorsed by Indiana Bishop Mike Coyner and the 13-member Indiana Conference interim sessions committee as the theme for the first Indiana Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church scheduled for June 25-28 at Ball State University. The committee made its decision for the theme during an Oct. 27 meeting at College Avenue United Methodist Church in Muncie.

More than 3,000 lay and clergy conference members from Indiana's 1,200 congregations are expected to attend the four-day event.

"RETHINK CHURCH" dovetails with a national United Methodist Church media campaign.

"What if church wasn't just a place where people spend an hour on Sundays? What if there wasn't just one door into the church but 10,000? And what if we began thinking about 'church' as a verb instead of a noun?"

The United Methodist Church will pose these questions when it rolls out a new media campaign in 2009 aimed at getting people to "Rethink Church." The awareness campaign's launch will coincide with World Malaria Day, April 25.

quot;In the next few years, we will seek to encourage a global spiritual dialogue," said the Rev. Larry Hollon, lead executive of United Methodist Communications. "It will ask us to rethink church. We will ask, 'What if church were a verb and not a noun?'"

Day of teaching

Adam Hamilton


With this theme in mind, the Rev. Adam Hamilton, founding and senior pastor of the 15,550-member United Methodist Church of the Resurrection, one of the largest and fastest-growing congregations, located in Leawood, Kan. (a Kansas City suburb), will lead a "Day of Teaching" on Thursday, June 25, in Emens Auditorium on the campus of Ball State University in Muncie, a few blocks from the College Avenue UMC.

Hamilton will focus on effective church leadership, ideas for preaching and worship and strategies for reaching residents who have no church commitment. Conference members will discuss his teachings in break-out groups across the campus.

During an evangelism conference in Fort Worth, Texas, this past fall, Hamilton said, when evangelism and social justice merge, the result is the "sweet spot."

"Sometimes evangelists forget about social justice, and sometimes justice seekers forget to tell people about Jesus," he said. "People need to know about the bread of life, but they also need to know their lives matter."

Hamilton said many un-churched people want to start with mission. He said the emerging generation longs for a gospel that pursues justice. "I see generations hungry for the Methodist way. God's grace is a call to holiness, a call to be the heart, head and hands of God," he said.

The laity and clergy sessions will convene during the evening. The laity session will be held at Emens Auditorium. The clergy session will be held at Union Chapel United Methodist Church.


David Bell


The Rev. David S. Bell of Brighton, Mich., will lead a Bible study on stewardship on the second day (A Day of Organizing and Remembering). He serves as vice president of stewardship with The United Methodist Foundation of Michigan. He also does independent consulting through the Design for MinistryTM ( He also is board president of the Ecumenical Stewardship Center based in Indianapolis. Bell will give a biblical definition to "extravagant generosity" during a morning Bible study.

A communion worship service of Remembering and Resurrection will be held in Emens Auditorium on Friday night.

Mission outreach

Saturday will be a Day of Outreach and Mission to the Muncie community. Following a morning Bible study led by Bell, conference members will be divided into 10 volunteer in mission teams to coincide with the conference's 10 new districts. The sessions committee will be recruiting from 30 to 50 team leaders to organize the volunteers in mission projects across the city.

Following a Saturday late-afternoon dinner, conference members will share their experiences and highlight the missions of the Indiana Conference during a mission celebration in Emens Auditorium.

Sunday worship

Emen Auditorium Outside
Emens Auditorium on the campus of Ball State University.

The conference sessions will close with a Celebration of Ministry Service during which deacons, elders and probationary clergy members will be ordained or commissioned to Christian ministry.

Following the conference planning session, committee members toured the 3,300-seat Emens Auditorium.

More information about the upcoming conference in Muncie will be shared on the Indiana United Methodist Web site.

Members of the sessions committee include: Co-chairs the Revs. Karen Devaisher and Mary Hubbard, Rev. James Bushfield, Rev. Mark Gough, Rev. Karen Altergott, Rev. Betty Ann Garrett, Chuck Scott, Rev. Jennifer Pollard, Rev. Lynn Renne, Jennifer Gallagher, Brent Williams, Ruth Ellen Needler and Elsie Miller. The Muncie conference team includes: the Revs. Dale Mendenhall, David Arnold, Karen Powell and David Neckers.

Sessions committee members have requested the Indiana Conference Transition Team to name ethnic minority individuals and young adults to the committee.