From the Bishop

At the 1980 General Conference* of The United Methodist Church, which was my first to attend as an elected clergy delegate, the Indiana Area hosted a special musical presentation written by local artist and titled, “Where’s John Wesley When We Need Him Now?” The humorous title song lamented our current problems as a church and wondered how we could rediscover John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, and his ideals.

Similar to our own annual conference, among the many, many positive comments I have received about our first session of the new Indiana Annual Conference at Muncie in June was this one which I cherish: “John Wesley would have recognized this as a Methodist event.”

That’s right. Our model of an annual conference built around teaching, worship, business, service and sending forth is exactly what John Wesley envisioned for the Methodist people. We had a “John Wesley” Annual Conference Session, didn’t we?

Other comments have reflected something that we don’t often experience: great enthusiasm and excitement in the afterglow of an annual conference. I have heard and received comments like these:

  • “The new Indiana Conference is truly greater than just the sum of our parts;”
  • “This was my first time to attend an Annual Conference, and it was so much more wonderful than I expected;”
  • “It was worth the drive from Evansville, and I even got to reconnect with a high school friend from South Bend from 41 years ago;”
  • “I have finally seen the revival of Methodism in Indiana for which I been praying for 60 years;”
  • “Thanks for a kick-butt Conference” (from a young person);
  • “The best conference I have ever attended – spiritually, educationally and otherwise;”
  • “I think God went way beyond what we could IMAGINE at Annual Conference”
  • “The first gathering of the Indiana Conference has resulted in the saving of at least one pastor! I have hope again for our church. And, I have regained hope for myself.”

Of course I know we also had some tough issues at annual conference, and adapting to a new location presented all of us with challenges. We still have a greatly-reduced budget to live with, and are still in the midst of a “messy” transition year.

There is much yet to be done. We must translate our enthusiasm into action and into fulfilling our mission of “making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” But John Wesley would have recognized us as the people called Methodists.

Bishop Michael J. Coyner
Indiana Conference of
The United Methodist Church
“Making a Difference in Indiana
and around the world”

* General Conference is the top legislative body for The United Methodist Church.

“John Wesley would have recognized this as a Methodist event.”