More than 500 clergy from across Indiana heard three keynote presentations during their two-day Our Life Together bishop’s retreat at St. Luke’s UMC in Indianapolis. Bishop Janice Huie of the Texas Conference outlined dos and don’ts of conferences uniting and conference restructure from her experiences helping unite the two former Arkansas conferences and leading the restructure of the Texas Conference. Her hour-long presentation underlined the need for conferences to listen to grassroots, be sensitive to all in the process and expect unity to take place during a decade and not a year or two. Associate Professor of Management Matt Bloom from Notre Dame University in South Bend described lasting happiness as complete well being which gives meaning and purpose to life. He reported on a research project he conducted of Hoosier 500 pastors and 150 pastor spouses. One of his many insights revealed that a pastor’s strengthens are a combination of his or her talents with interests and passions. Passion is a sustaining element of ministry. He said pastoral well being is in flux right now and receiving significant strains. He said the itinerancy and appointments is a growing problem and a serious challenge to United Methodists. He also said pastors need to be mentored over their entire career. Joy Moore, associate dean at the Center for Lifelong Learning at Duke Divinity School, told pastors that we need to tell the world what reality is and help the world give up virtual reality. Americans are never content and always wants more because they have so much. She said, “Our task is to counteract the amnesia that undermines contemporary Christian expression. We must remember and tell the Gospel story over and over, living it out in all we do. She said we need to embrace the storied life, recognize our commitment and live out that commitment.

Pastors also worshipped, prayed, socialized, relaxed, visited numerous exhibits, heard stand-up Christian comedian Craig Tornquist of Mishawaka and participated in a health screening.

Here are links to Bishop Huie’s PowerPoint and Dr. Bloom’s PowerPoint presentation outline and Well-Lived Pastoral Life Study Interim Summary of Survey Results.