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Day of Mission and Outreach morning teaching
'Follow me' is the rallying point for generosity
Our culture relies on our own ability, jobs, homes, insurance, investments, pensions, children, education, leisure activities and possessions for their faith. If we utilize a biblical approach, we rely on God for our faith, he said.
Bell addressed the issue of being stuck. While taking a shuttle ride a few days ago, the shuttle driver opened up to Bell saying how he felt stuck in his life. "This issue of being stuck if an issue many of us feel," said Bell.
We face being stuck in our appointments, our jobs and family. "But we are really free in Jesus. Many people are in the wilderness today. They are lost - they don't know where to turn."
Bell utilized Exodus 16 in his talk to the conference. We are to trust in God's provisions, live life one day at a time and learn to observe a Sabbath. "How we choose to use our time is an indicator on our view of stewardship."
The Wesleyan tradition on money is the first Methodist budget planning course, emphasizing how we are to earn all you can, save all you can and give all you can. How we choose to earn, give, save and spend is how we use God's faith in you, added Bell.
Churches and people are facing scarcity and abundance. "We are so blessed. At the same time we have people who are down-trodden," said Bell. "The negative cycle of scarcity begins by money appearing scarce dominates most churches. The message is we have less money and ministry."
The negative cycle of scarcity begins when money appears scarce, act to protect our money from competing needs and then we have less money to support congregation and ministry. "The end result is they do not give more when they have scarcity, they give less."
The positive cycle of abundance to recognize abundant gifts, we share gifts with others and we share larger blessings in community. "The challenge you have is recognizing that abundance and sharing it with one another."
Churches also need to realize that asking for money is not about obtaining money for the budget. "Inviting people to give is about creating stewards," said Bell. "Each of us has gifts that are different."
There is a connection between discipleship and stewardship. "Generous giving requires a decision to act and commit to be a disciple," said Bell. "Balancing time is really a stewardship decision."
Bell concluded with these six points:
- Invited to use our gifts to benefit others. Giving is a faith decision.
- God is abundant and has already given beyond measure to us.
- Responding to God is a matter of Spirit, not just the wallet.
- Giving requires commitment and trust in God.
- God doesn't always invite us to give when we necessarily want to give.
- All is possible with God.
Day of Mission and Outreach embraces City of Muncie
More than half of the 2,000 conference members gave themselves to volunteer outreach missions on Saturday afternoon.
The Rev. David Arnold of Muncie College Avenue UMC, which served as one of the host churches for the West District, has been part of the planning team. "The congregation feels privileged to serve in this manner," said Arnold, who also is expecting a variety of follow-up from community members and agencies.
Ann Newton of Greencastle Gobin Memorial UMC was excited about the day of mission. "I do a lot of mission projects. Action is an important part," said Newton. "The way to do church is different than what most people think. This is quite a witness."
Rev. Colin Cress, pastor at Freedom and Worthington UMCs, was spreading mulch at A Better Way, a domestic violence shelter and transitional housing program.
"I really think it is a good thing to demonstrate as a conference body what we should do. Church is more than just Sunday morning," said Cress. "This is the work of the church."
All ten teams had volunteers who worked with Muncie's Sanitation Department picking up litter on streets.
Christina Kelley of A Better Way spent part of her time explaining the various services they offer, as well as gathering tools for the 10 volunteers from Terre Haute, Bloomington, Indianapolis West and Vincennes districts.
"I was really excited because we don't frequently get adults as volunteers," said Kelley. "We often don't have time to get to the outside and yard work."
Based out of High Street UMC in downtown Muncie, the Rev. Greg Pimlott of Mohawk UMC in the Central District worked with Rev. David Neuen of Muncie High Street UMC picking up trash on the West End of downtown.
"There's no limits or bounds to what your work as a minister is," said Pimlott as they were walking down the sidewalks and alleys hauling trash bags, also adding that it was fun to do a project like this.
Pimlott also added that having a hands-on project such as picking up trash or participating in a prayer walk or other community project affirms some of the other mission projects and passions that the Mohawk church and other churches are active with.
"By actually seeing people live it out gives the church a new vitality. It helps build trust," said Neuen. "It should become part of our life. Think about what you could do all year."
Joan Scrivnor of Muncie Avondale UMC served as a host coordinator at Southview Elementary School, which hosted a prayer walk and a community clean up. "Everyone seemed to have fun," said Scrivnor.
Members of the new Central District from Indianapolis walk and pray thought the inner city of Muncie during a Day of Outreach and Ministry.
The Rev. John Keller of Patronville UMC, the Rev. Honna Schloss of the Lynnville-Spurgeon Charge and Rapid Watters of Muncie Avondale UMC went on a prayer walk, had stopped at the edge of an industrial area and had decided to start praying for the community when something happened.
"A car pulled up and we heard the doors close and the next thing we know, a man was in our circle and he needed prayer. He thanked us for praying," said Keller.
"We just put our arms around him," said Schloss. "He knew the power of God. It sill gives me goose bumps."
This was Watters first prayer walk and he did not know what to expect. "I felt this hand on my shoulder and I heard someone crying," said Watters. "God told me to start another prayer for the gentleman who I was embracing."
After talking to the man for a while, he returned to his car and left.
"It was just an experience I will never forget," said Watters.
Mission celebration Saturday night
Dancers interpret Psalms 32 during the mission night Annual Conference celebration.
Following an afternoon of sweat and aching muscles, 1,500 conference members and guests celebrated the outreach and mission of the church not only across Muncie, but around the world.
Day of the outreach leader, Karen Powell, pastor of Riverside UMC in Muncie, proclaimed, "Jesus has left the building. Bathing a city in prayer, it's not easy to share in the name of Christ. We have a God who has a big imagination."
Muncie District Superintendent Dale Mendenhall expressed the project team's thanks to all who lead and participated in the four-hour event that witnessed and worked to Muncie in more than 40 locations across the city.
Reflecting on Scripture from Romans 12, Powell told the conferees to take this same expression of love into the city where you live. Four hours can change a city, she said.
As he preached to the conference, Bishop Mike Coyner began by saying, "You have already preached the sermon this afternoon."
After reading Romans 12:9-21, he said the church has proclaimed open hearts, open minds and open doors across the country and the cross-and-flame logo of the church has gained market recognition of 40 percent.
"But the secret is that open doors swing in both directions - not just welcoming people into the church and certainly not just inviting people who look like us to help pay the bills. No those open doors swing open to welcome all in the name of Jesus.
"Jesus has left the building. Bathing a city in prayer, it's not easy to share in the name of Christ. We have a God who has a big imagination."
"And those open doors wing outward as we go to serve in Jesus' name."
He then walked across the stage and opened the door on stage, which was a symbol of the 10 thousand doors, a part of the Rethink Church promotional campaign.
He then outlined the projects volunteers had worked on during the afternoon, including Habitat for Humanity, nursing homes, picking up trash on city streets as other walked those street in prayer. We helped feed people and celebrated with the elderly.
One conference member named Norma, who is 89, helped the "older people" in a nursing home.
Coyner said in order for open doors swing inwardly and outwardly, we need to work at the five practices of a faithful churched outlined by Bishop Robert Schnase, author of Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations.
He announced Schnase would be next year's annual conference teacher. Those five practices including Indiana examples:
Radical Hospitality - such as the ministries of Park Place and Morton Memorial sharing a building in New Albany and the Kokomo Urban Outreach of Trinity UMC.
Passionate Worship - such as shared worship of Washington Otterbein and Bethel churches and the offsite worship services of Grace UMC in Hartford City.
Intentional Faith Development - such as Marquette Park UMC's "Living Your Strength" program.
Risk Taking - such as the Calumet District's Children of Abraham project where Christians, Muslims and Jews collect and send millions of dollars worth of medical good and equipment to the Middle East and ordinands serving in a work project on their retreat with the bishop.
Extravagant Generosity - such as the $78 million in charity care of Indianapolis' Methodist Hospital and the accumulated services of $829 million in the value of service given by the hospital (29 percent of the net value of the hospital) and a man in the Evansville District who felt he was called to be more generous with his wealth.
Open doors allow Jesus to come into our churches and lead us out into mission.
Coyner concluded, "I'm proud of you. We are the Indiana Conference."
A mission offering of $7,744.91was received to be divided three ways - for mission work in Indiana, the U.S. and around the world.
With both former conferences combined, membership stands at 204,527 down 1,872 from the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 121,591 down 2,467. Sunday school attendance stands at 43,119 down 2,329. The statistics are unofficial and will be audited in July.
Results from the Constitutional Amendments vote are not yet available.
Youth rally at Union Chapel's one-eighty program center
Youth from across the Indiana Conference and the Muncie District participated in a fun evening of fellowship, worship and sharing on Saturday.
The Rev. Mark Beeson of Granger Community Church near South Bend provided the message to more than 150 youth at the event.
"You try to stay true. You try to stay on path. It's too easy to get off track," said Beeson. "Then you've got to pay close attention to who you let close to you."
Beeson shared experiences throughout his life where he learned from others who were teachers, colleagues and friends and how their influence guided and helped him.
"But it's the stuff in you that can kill you," added Beeson about the various sins that we all face through out lives. "Jesus came into the world for you. If you don't let God help you, it will ruin your life. God comes to revive us."
Beeson called upon the youth to let Jesus have a strong influence in their lives and to be cleansed by God's love. "You are the hope that the world is looking for. You are the carriers of Christ," he said. "If you let Jesus keep you clean, your life will shine with purpose, meaning and joy."
Conference takes action in relation to campus ministry
Due to severe budget cuts across the board directly affecting outreach ministries in Indiana, the issue of campus ministries and its funding came to the floor of the Indiana Annual Conference session in Muncie for debate. In relation to campus ministry, the conference took several important actions this past week. They included:
- The conference approved and has already implemented the hiring of the first-ever associate director devoted to Youth, Young Adults, and Campus Ministry. The Rev. Brian Durand is that associate director. With his previous experience, he will do an excellent job of helping the conference move forward with an over-all plan for these areas of ministry.
- During the Saturday morning session final Council on Finance and Administration report, the conference approved a Special Sunday offering to support our Indiana campus ministries - again, for the first time ever. Many people expressed their desire to "go the extra mile" and to expand their giving to support those campus ministries which are effective by the budget cuts. Since the Conference also greatly reduced the local church share sent to support the conference in 2010 (from 12 to 10 percent), there could be more local church support available to help campus ministries, especially those that enjoy a sense of relationship and local support from nearby congregations.
- The conference also approved and referred to the new Leadership Table a fund for "Emergency and Emerging Ministries," which may be assigned to help any of our institutions and agencies that need transitional help (including campus ministries).
- Of course the current funding for Campus Ministries in the 2009 budgets of the former North and South conferences continues to the end of 2009, so there is time for these transitions and for decisions by the Leadership Table to provide transitional funding in 2010.
The only item the conference did not approve was a last-minute resolution to revert to the former budgets and to the former "pass through" method of supporting some agencies, which has resulted in increasingly less support in recent years. Clearly the new Indiana Conference is looking for new ways to encourage, evaluate and support Campus Ministries.
Ministry service calls on members to 'Finish the Song'
Bishop Coyner ordained 15 elders, one deacon, one associate member and commissioned 16 provisional clergy on Sunday morning.
Members and friends of the Indiana Annual Conference packed Emens Auditorium for a Sunday morning worship service that included the commissioning and ordaining of 33 clergy members of the conference.
Of the 33 clergy members, 16 were commissioned; one was received as an associate member; one as a deacon; and 15 were ordained elder in full connection.
Bishop Coyner began talking about how in April 1995, Pastor Jim Dickey, went to church for the first of two services, and shared with his wife that he wasn't feeling well. That morning as he announced the opening hymn, he fell back into the pulpit chair and died. "Jim was a good guy, a faithful pastor. He was a family friend and served as an associate pastor at my home church," said Coyner.
At the funeral, Jim's granddaughter was to sing a solo. "She wanted to sing for her granddaddy. She got up and sang the anthem, 'On Eagle's Wings.' After the first verse, she faltered. We all at once joined together to finish the chorus with her. She sang the second verse and we sang the chorus again.
"It was one of the most healing experiences I have ever had at a funeral. We helped each other finish the song," said Coyner.
"We're called to finish the song of Jesus. He taught us the words, the melody to sing the song of Jesus. He gave it to his disciples. They passed it on to us."
Coyner continued to the conference that there are many people who don't know the song. They have forgotten the lyrics. We have to finish the song. On an average Sunday, fewer than 20 percent of the population is in any church.
"Ministry is hard. It's hard to lead a church when it doesn't want to be lead," he said. "What we need for each other is someone to help finish the song.
"It's all the little stuff … death by a thousand paper cuts. There's always more ministry to be done. There's also the picky stuff. All of those things add up."
Coyner called upon all clergy and laity to work together and be there for one another. "When they go through some moment in their ministry, if they call any of you and tell you that, will you have coffee with them, will you say something to help them get through that time to sing that song."
With the start of a new conference, Coyner added, "We have a new secret code language that everyone knows. I'm having trouble singing the song of Jesus today. I'll help you finish the song.'"
The service, much like all sessions of this annual conference, was Webcast. At least 24 churches across the state were using the ordination service as part of their Sunday morning worship. (See www.inumc.org.)
Leeannah Huffman Gough and Eeviya Marie Gough, daughters of Rev. Mark and Paula Gough, were baptized during the service.
Conference approves $15.1 million 2010 budget
The annual conference approved $15.1 million income and expense budgets for the 2010 conference year. The budget amount was based upon the 2008 actual income of $15.8 million.
The Conference Council on Finance and Administration (CF&A) called the budget realistic, reasonable and achievable.
The income budget is based upon a 10 percent tithe of $13.8 million from the 1,200 congregations giving 10 percent of their monthly income to the conference, plus another one-percent of income from each church to support its district ministries and adding another $1.38 million to the conference income budget.
The expense budget of $15,166,718 will support 80 percent of the general church apportionment of $5.9 million or $4.7 million (31.2 percent of the budget). The Indiana Conference CF&A has requested the General CF&A to recalculate the new conference's apportionment in light of the unification of the two former conferences and plans to pay 80 percent of the General Church apportionment in 2010, 90 percent in 2011 and hopefully a full 100 percent in 2012.
Two significant changes in the budget have directly affected retiree health-care insurance and outreach ministries, especially campus ministries, which was reduced to no income from the conference budget. Other conference-related ministries were affected by this move, too, but not to the extent that campus ministries was affected.
The conference did take measures to shore up individual congregational giving to campus ministries through a Special Sunday offering and other means. See separate story.
Other expenditures in the conference 2010 budget include: $2.5 million (16.7 percent) for districts including the salaries of district superintendents, $1.95 million (12.9 percent) for pension and health-care insurance, and $5.9 million (39.2 percent) for connectional ministries, church development, communications, administrative services, episcopal office and another $958,200 for financial services.
Class of 2009
Print-quality photos of the Class of 2009 and Retirees