Bishop encourages clergy to attend Our Life Together

The annual gathering of our United Methodist clergy here in Indiana continues with the "Our Life Together" retreat on April 20-21, 2009, at St. Luke's UMC in Indianapolis. Since returning to Indiana as bishop in 2004, each year I have called together the clergy for a retreat to worship, share, learn and focus upon our life together as "the congregation of the clergy" in Indiana. Prior to last year, these were separate one-day events in the former North and South Conferences. Last year we gathered together for a two-day retreat as we considered becoming one Indiana Conference. This year we continue that two-day format, and it looks like a great event.

Clergy need to register now for "Our Life Together" by going to the South Indiana Web site at www.sicumc.org and following the links to "Our Life Together."

This year's event will focus upon "Holy Friendship" and it will provide new opportunities for our clergy to celebrate being in Clergy Covenant Groups and new opportunities to join such a group. Our keynote speaker is Bishop Janice Huie from the Texas Conference. Janice led the two Arkansas conferences to become one, and she has insights to share with us in Indiana about being a new conference. She also is my friend, so she and I will have a chance to share about how "Holy Friendship" helps us stay focused in our ministries as bishops. Janice is a powerful speaker, and we will be blessed by her preaching and her keynote address.

We also have excellent workshops that we will experience together as a whole group this year. These include:

Dr. Matt Bloom, professor at Notre Dame, will report back to us the results of the surveys and personal interviews with our clergy in Indiana. Matt has shared with me some of those anonymous results, and I think all of our clergy will want to hear what he learned about us. As a follow-up to Matt's presentation, we will have Rev. Michelle Cobb, current Calumet District Superintendent and the new Director of the Well-Lived Pastoral Life Project, share how that WLPL project will be launched July 1st to respond to the needs of our clergy and their families.

Christian comedian Craig Tornquist of South Bend, Indiana, will help us laugh at ourselves in a workshop called, "Pastors Say the Darnedest Things." Many folks heard him at South Conference a few years ago, and others from the northern part of the state know what a funny and insightful guy Craig is.

Dr. Joy Moore, a professor from Duke Divinity School, will help us to focus upon preaching and communication in the 21st century.

In addition, we will be challenged by our fellow Indiana clergy to participate in "Servant 2 Servant Love" by supporting the Central Conference Pension Initiative to help UM clergy in the Central Conferences, especially in Africa.

Our Life Together continues, and we clergy need to tend to our life together in order to be the kind of Christian leaders that our United Methodist Church needs here in Indiana. OLT is for all clergy, retired and active, Local Pastors, Deacons, and Elders. It is supported by our registration fees and by the Ministerial Education Fund (which is supported by our Board of Ordained Ministry through the general church apportionments we all give).

See you at OLT.