More than 2,000 United Methodist conference members from across Indiana representing 1,200 congregations descended upon the Ball State University campus in Muncie June 25-28 for the first Indiana Annual Conference session under the theme of “RETHINK CHURCH.”
The conference partnered with United Methodist Communications in purchasing five billboards, radio spots and live radio remote, a full-page newspaper ad, 10 banners and 1,100 T-shirts to promote the conference’s presence city-wide.
New to the conference session was a Saturday all-conference Day of Outreach and Mission. Dressed in red RETHINK CHURCH T-shirts, more than 1,000 volunteers were sent to ten sites across town with their new districts to work with community leaders in outreach projects.
Muncie’s 14 United Methodist churches hosted sites in five churches and five elementary schools. From these sites, the conference volunteers dispersed to help the City of Muncie clean streets of litter, visit residence in ten nursing homes, work with food pantries, soup kitchens and the Red Cross, swing hammers with Habitat for Humanity, prayer walked streets in 10 neighborhoods and joined Covenant Partners Ministries, an inner-city United Methodist mission, with its community outreach day. Conference members also brought non-perishable foods to give to area pantries. Indiana’s Operation Classroom received 215 boxes of school and health supplies for missions in Liberia and Sierra Leone. The conference celebrated missions that evening with still pictures and videos of the day’s outreach and received a mission offering of $7,744.
The four-day meeting also included three hour-long educational presentations by the Rev. Adam Hamilton, senior pastor of the 15,500-member of Church of the Resurrection (UMC) in Leawood, Kan., who focused on church leadership, ideas for preaching and worship, and strategies for reaching residents who have no church commitment.
The Rev. David Bell of Brighton, Mich., led two hour-long Bible studies on the theme of extravagant generosity. Bell serves as vice-president of stewardship with The United Methodist Foundation of Michigan.
In other business the conference:
- Restructured the administration of the conference based on a Leadership Table chaired by the bishop;
- Streamlined the conference from three offices to one conference center and 18 to 10 districts;
- Announced boundaries and superintendents of the 10 new districts (effective Jan. 1);
- Announced the location (by Nov.1) of the new conference center on the north-side of Indianapolis and the closing of offices in Bloomington and Marion;
- Established a special-Sunday offering for Indiana campus ministries;
- Established a special-Sunday offering for a retired-ministers compassionate fund;
- Authorized the implementation of a partially funded supplemental health-care insurance plan, separate from HealthFlex, for retired clergy, spouses and surviving spouses based on years of service;
- Continued HealthFlex plan for clergy and conference employees;
- Celebrated the chartering of Faithpoint UMC in New Albany District;
- Introduced a $3.9 million Lilly Endowment funded Well-Lived Life program to assist pastors with indebtedness and congregations with financial planning;
- Celebrated the retirement of 28 pastors who served a total of 742 years;
- Celebrated the ordination of 15 elders, 1 deacon, 1 associate member and commissioning of 16 provisional clergy;
- Remembered the lives of 23 clergy and 37 clergy spouses who died this conference year; and
- Approved a $15.1 million budget for 2010.
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.
Indiana approved only five of the 32 Constitutional Amendments considered by all annual conference globally.
Hundreds of Indiana Conference members prepare to depart Emons Auditorium at Ball State University to scatter across Munice in 40 sites for a Day of Mission and Outreach. More than 1,000 volunteers wore bright red RETHINK CHURCH T-shirts given to the conference by United Methodist Communications.