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Pastor of largest UMC encourages Hoosiers to ‘Rethink Church’

 Adam Hamilton
Adam Hamilton

The Rev. Adam Hamilton, founding and current lead pastor of the Church of the Resurrection (UMC) in suburban Kansas City, presented three sessions on “Effective Church Leadership,” “Ideas for Preaching and Worship” and “Strategies for Reaching the Unchurched” during the opening day of the Indiana Annual Conference.
The Church of the Resurrection is the largest UM congregation in the United States with 15,500 members.

Effective Church Leadership

Hamilton kicked off the day by offering a revival for spiritual renewal for laity and clergy, saying that on average there are about 10 percent of both who are feeling burned out, which then effects their ministries and leadership.

“I believe we have a future with hope, but not with out change.” Now is the time to address various areas of the church that have not worked well and work on ways to change for the future.

Five ways for effective church leadership include:

  • Setting the tone of the organization,
  • Clarifying and championing the mission and vision,
  • Holding the organization accountable to its mission,
  • Owning ultimate responsibility for the organization’s mission,
  • Preparing the organization for the future by leading for change.

“The mission drives everything,” said Hamilton. “The problem is we don’t like change. We like the status quo. This is a problem for every generation.”

Hamilton also explained the differences between managers (plan and budget, develop policies, control and problem solve and create predictability and order) and leaders (establish direction and cost vision, align people and resources to accomplish a vision, motivate, inspire and produce change and chaos).

“Leaders evaluate, celebrate victories and honestly address short-comings,” he said. “Leaders don’t give up.”

Effective church leadership also includes five important principles:

  • It’s all about people.
  • Healthy organizations have a clear mission, vision and plan.
  • Change, innovate, improve or die.
  • Understand the discipleship pyramid.
  • Discernment by nausea.

“Leaders help take the path less traveled.”

Ideas for Preaching and Worship

“If you preach excellent sermons, people grow in their faith,” said Hamilton. “The entire church benefits.”

Hamilton encouraged the conference to understand that worship is more than just a sermon and is more involved and important than putting together the order on Friday or Saturday.

Throughout the session, he provided tips on music introductions, explaining to congregations what they are singing and the different facets of faith that people attending a church for the first time might not understand. “If you help them in leading worship, the grace of God flows through the sacraments.”

He added, “Your sermon is the most powerful tool in your tool belt to help your congregation.” For example, at Christmas and Easter, announce various programs to those visiting.

One of the strategic goals at the Church of the Resurrection is to reach out to young adults, not just in growing their faith or becoming members, but also to involve them more in the decision making and life of the church.

Some of those sermons include:

  • Fishing expeditions: exploring various questions of non-church active people.
  • Discipleship: Lent.
  • Pastoral care sermons: addressing topics of marriages, suicides, care giving.
  • Equipping and sending: preparing members to do missions, social justice and more.
  • Strengthening the church: stewardship and visioning.

The sermons should touch on five components:

  • Teaching something new.
  • Inspiring others.
  • Providing practical advise for life.
  • Calling people to action.
  • Including creativity, be interesting and intriguing.

“Preaching has power…the world is changed.”

Strategies for Reaching the Nonreligious

Each church in developing various strategies for evangelism and outreach needs to wrestle and answer the following questions:

  • Why do people need Jesus Christ? “The fundamental needs in our human heart are spiritual needs. We yearn for unconditional love, need hope and more. “All of these things are orchestrated by the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
  • Why do people need the church? “The church belongs to Jesus Christ.”
  • Why do people need your church? People need the help of our local congregationsin finding the love of Jesus. “Many of our churches are struggling with self-esteem with years of decline.” Hamilton encouraged the conference laity to take pride in their pastors and pastors to find the special aspects of their congregations.

At Church of Resurrection, they emphasize mission work and projects for outreach to young adults. “Non-religious young adults are really interested in changing the world. That’s what Rethink Church is all about.”

After sharing an example of following up with visitors, Hamilton concluded, “The world needs vibrant, vital United Methodists. The world needs you.”

IC 2009 Opening session

Bishop Mike calls the first annual conference session to order

Bishop Mike Coyner called the first Indiana Annual Conference Session at 3 p.m. using a gavel made from the wood of an Indiana frontier building used by Bishop Roberts. He then led in prayer using a prayer of John Wesley, founder of Methodism.

  • Carolyn Johnson, conference secretary, said to speak to the conference one needs to wave, wait and walk to a microphone after being recognized by the bishop.
  • Mary Hubbard and Karen Devaisher were introduced as the co-chairs of the conference sessions committee, who made announcements of conference events outside of the plenary sessions as well as in-house guidelines.
  • Jim Bushfield, new director of connectional ministries, reviewed the process of how the rules and structure of the conference were written and introduced the new rules and structure of the annual conference which were adopted.
  • Kent Millard, chair of the Conference Council on Finance and Administration, introduced the proposed 2010 conference budget. The interim CF&A was composed of equal number of members from each of the previous two conferences. He reported that the recession has made an impact upon how people give to the church. He also reported 600 UM churches have given more than 90 percent of their tithe. Another 50 percent gave less than 90 percent of their expected tithe. On the average, most United Methodists give 2 to 3 percent of their income. A $15.1 million budget is proposed. What CF&A is requesting is a tithe (10 percent) for conference and general church plus a one percent asking for district ministries. Streamlining ministry has included reduction of administration, reduction of property and increased general conference support. The budget will come back to the conference on Saturday morning.
  • CF&A policies on pages 23-28 of the Pre-Conference Reports were adopted.
  • In regard to retiree health-care insurance, CF&A proposes a shift in health care insurance coverage for subsidizing Medicare coverage. That proposal will be discussed on Friday.
  • Concerns were raised about the proposed retiree health-care insurance plan and funding of campus ministries whose funding is not in the 2010 proposed budget.
  • Ashley Cone, the new manager of the Indiana Cokesbury Store, was introduced. She presented Bishop Coyner with a white stole bearing the new Indiana Conference logo.
Olan Mills Photos
Bishop Coyner getting picture taken at the Olan Mills booth in the lower lobby area.

Indiana Conference Directory for Lay and Clergy

All Annual Conference members, LAY AND CLERGY, are strongly encouraged to have their picture taken by Olan Mills at Annual Conference in Muncie June 25-27. This year’s directory will include clergy photos, lay photos, church listings and contact information. This directory, along with our new online Journal, will replace the printed Journal. Each Annual Conference member will receive a free directory if he or she has a picture taken at Annual Conference. Additional directories may be ordered for a fee. Olan Mills will be taking pictures in the lower lobby of Emens Auditorium at Ball State University, during these times: Friday, June 26, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday, June 27, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. 

Well Lived Life project to help pastors in financial crisis

The Rev. Michelle Cobb, superintendent of the Calumet District, on Thursday night explained the Well Lived Life project to help pastors in financial crisis to the Laity Session. She will become director of the new project and Rejuvenate program on July 1. The project has been funded $3.9 millions by the Lilly Endowment.

She said the purpose of the project is to strengthen the quality of pastoral leadership and enhance the vitality of Indiana United Methodist congregations.

Research informs us that UM clergy in Indiana are experiencing debt at a level that is negatively impacting their sense of well-being and their ability to provide for their families. There is little correlation between the age of the pastor and the amount of debt – older pastors are as likely to carry high debt loads as are younger pastors. This suggests that it is very hard for pastors to retire their debt, especially educational debt.

The research also informs us that few clergy understand financial issues and therefore cannot model personal financial competence nor practice sound financial management skills in leading their congregations.

Cobb said the grant from Lilly Endowment will permit the conference to address not only the debt issue (that will include a grant/match component), but several other issues that the survey brought to our attention. The survey revealed that a significant number of clergy do not make personal contributions to their pension funds.

In response, the conference will offer Retirement Fund Incentives – these incentives will encourage clergy to personally contribute to their UM Pension Plan; develop a retirement savings plan and assist clergy to prepare for a retirement fund. Funding for Emergencies – there is an alarming number of clergy who reported no provisions for financial emergencies. Through the grant, clergy and pastoral families will be encouraged to develop within a financial plan the means to establish and maintain funds for an emergency. Also, the fund will provide immediate resources to the Bishop and the Cabinet to assist pastoral families who may experience a significant family crisis that could force the family into a major financial crisis.

The Called Anew Fund will assist pastors who need to exit pastoral/appointive ministry. This is a Conference Board of Ordained Ministry and cabinet procedure. Transitional support for a limited period of time will be offered to the clergy person.

Cobb said, for the laity, the success of this project will mean they will grow in the practice of faithful stewardship; renew financial support for effective clergy leadership; experience a renewed sense of pastoral excellence among Judicatory clergy and the congregation’s clergy.

Co-Lay Leaders join forces in first united laity session

The inaugural laity session for the new Indiana Conference began with words from co-lay leaders Kayc Mykrantz and Ike Williams thanking lay members for their service and attendance.

The Rev. Jim Bushfield, director of connectional ministries, gave the laity an update of the Imagine Indiana plan.

“Your congregation must have a clear mission statement you have to know where you’re going.” The same can be said about the annual conference.

“You are the conference,” Bushfield continued. “You are making decisions for the conference, which is your local church. If the conference is to grow, the local church needs to grow. The energy of the annual conference should be to assist the local church.”

Bushfield closed with a question of the lay members: “Why are you here?” He added that members should answer that question theologically: “Why has God called you here? Even if you are here by accident, God wants you here.”

“We have the potential to model and lead the denomination,” said Bushfield.

Bread and Basin Award

Alan Riendeau of the Kokomo District was this year’s recipient of the Bread and Basin Award. Alan was honored for his commitment and dedication to building 50 camp chairs for Camp Adventure, organizing members of the Kokomo District to build 128 bunk beds for Pine Creek Camp and participating in various mission trips in Africa, South America, Central America and across the U.S.

Laity manuscript

Bob Ice of Mt. Zion UMC near Evansville was the winner of the annual laity manuscript contest, with this year’s theme of “Disciples Transforming the World Through Prayer.”

Jane Heustis of Indianapolis Irvington UMC was the first runner-up and Scott Semester of Indianapolis St. Luke’s UMC was the second runner-up.

Ice began asking what if the disciples had to go through a modern day screening process to become Jesus’ disciples. He concluded saying, “A good disciple is hard to find today as in Jesus’ day.”

Saying that we are all called to consecrated action, discipleship is the process of becoming a whole person. “Discipleship is not a part-time activity. It is a Christian’s full-time vocation.”

Ice used several analogies, including football references and not just huddle in the church: we need to go out and share Jesus’ love.

“We’re all called to be disciples,” he said. “We’re being watched by others. Your actions are viewed by others and may be the only Bible others ever see.”

33 candidates to be ordained or commissioned on Sunday

During the Service of Ministry on Sunday morning at 10 a.m. in Emens Auditorium, 17 provisional clergy will be ordained and 16 candidates will be commissioned into Christian ministry by Indiana Bishop Mike Coyner.

The 33 were approved during the clergy session Thursday night at Union Chapel Ministries UMC in Muncie. Those being ordained as Elder include: Michael David Alexander, Michael Scott Brockway, Brian Dwain Campbell, Clarinda Ellen Crawford, Benjamin Keith Dilworth, Brian Lee Durand, Marsha Kay Hutchinson, Frank Charles Oakman, Charlene Ann Harris Allen, Stacee Fischer Gehring, Brian Felker Jones, Kathy J. Newton, Shannon Colleen Stringer, Zachary Kyle Washler and Doris Cockerham Winford.
Diane Menke Pence will be ordained a Deacon.

Brian Clarence White was accepted as an associate clergy member and will be ordained.

Those entering the process of ordination as provisional clergy who will be commissioned by Bishop Coyner on Sunday include: Dirk Alan Caldwell, Andrew Clyde Charnstrom, Colin Christopher Cress, Peter Hoyt Curts, Taylor Walters Denyer, Edward C. Fisher, Jr., Brenda Hacker Freije, James Hiram Higdon, Sean Litherland Johnson, Charles Frederic Kersey, Steven Paul Rundel, Ruth Irene Waite, Brian Keith Williams, Andrea Ruth Bremmer, Devin Russell Cook and Christopher Stahlman.

Retirees celebrate a total of 742 years of ordained ministry

Front: Saundra Hamm, Jerry Wibert, Mary Beth Byrne, Bernice Gude, Garry Gestner, Gloria J. Gestner, Ella Myers Nickles, Jim Nickles, Ann. L. Glass, Neil D. Butcher, Martha Butcher
Middle: James A. Dance, Gloria Dance, Mary Bowers, Forrest L. Bowers, John K. Wortinger, Linda Wortinger, Sandy Howard, Ernest M. Howard Jr., Terry D. Campbell, Pam Campbell
Back: Warrell Law, J. Scott Wood, Cynthia Wood

Totaling 742 years of service as ordained ministers, 28 pastors retire during this first session of the new Indiana Conference. They were granted retirement status by the clergy executive session of the conference held Thursday night at Union Chapel Ministries UMC in Muncie.

Those ministers with years of service include: Forrest L. Bowers 15, Neil D. Butcher 40, Mary Beth Byrne 38, Terry D. Campbell 37, Cheryl A. Jones Cumbee 25, David C. Cummings 25, Kent E. Dale 26, James A. Dance 38, Roger Domingo 6, Wendell L. Emerson 14, Ann. L. Glass 31, Saundra Hamm 17, Darrell Harris 11, Ernest M. Howard Jr. 30, S. John Hrynk 20, Steven G. Kaetzel 40, Barbara Jean Kinsler 14, Ronald L. Lawhead 39, Andrea L. Leininger 21, Gloria J. Nelson 20, Ella Myers Nickles 25, Nancy Schoff 23, Stephen R. Seitz 26, Nancy E. Stimson 18, Cheryl E. Stratton 11, Jerry Wibert 49, J. Scott Wood 44 and John K. Wortinger 39.

Death Notice – Chuck Hefley

CHUCK HEFLEY, long-time North Indiana Conference lay leader and supporter of camping and Epworth Forest, died Wednesday, June 24, 2009. A memorial service is tentatively planned for Saturday, July 11 at Grace United Methodist Church in Kokomo. The Rev. Steve Beutler, pastor of Kokomo Grace, reported that Hefley had hoped to be strong enough to attend Annual Conference.

Clarification on upcoming meals

Reconciling Ministry Dinner

  • Friday, June 26, 5:30 p.m., at the High Street UMC, Muncie

Africa U. Breakfast

  • June 27 at 7 a.m., at LaFollette Dining Room #2