As Hoosier United Methodists, we have completed our first annual conference session as a united conference.
We have worked side-by-side as volunteers during our first day of mission and outreach to the City of Muncie, a model to be replicated in other Indiana communities.
We have approved a leaner budget than the two previous years’ conferences and prepare to move into a new conference center on the north side of Indianapolis by November 1.
We have hired young adult associate directors in missions and youth and young adult ministries, begun the process of moving toward ten new districts formed from the existing 18 districts and heard words of instruction about revitalizing existing congregations and establishing new faith communities.
In many ways, we probably have more questions than answers as we move forward to forge a church to meet the spiritual needs of the 21st century. Now we must ask ourselves, will all this restructure and uniting of the two former Indiana conferences into one streamlined and efficient conference be worth the effort? Questions are part of the journey.
In order for the new conference to truly be new, conference leaders need members and congregations to challenge them to become what God fully wants us, as Hoosier United Methodists, to be.
We need to be challenged to think in new ways, in other words – RETHINK CHURCH.
We need to be challenged and question who we are on this faith journey.
United Methodists are good on structure and method. It’s both in our name and our DNA.
Now, we need God’s Holy Spirit in Jesus Christ to continue to guide us in the future if we are to make a difference, if we are to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. We need a radical departure from the norm, because the norm no longer bears fruit.
We need to pray into our future as United Methodists in Indiana. We also need to listen to our neighbors and communities and hear where they are hurting and work for their healing and the healing of society. We need to knock on those 10,000 doors beyond our church doors.
We celebrate a successful first annual conference session in Muncie, but this isn’t our destination, only the way on our journey to a destination which ultimately is in Christ.
We face a challenge for the next decade to not only BE church but to DO church. We are challenged to RETHINK CHURCH.
We are challenged not to adopt the latest trend in doing church, but to be open to the leading of God’s Spirit in the months to come. We are challenged to be faithful even if that doesn’t mean being successful.
We need to ask the difficult questions of how to partner as clergy and laity, church and community, conference and state. We need to constantly try without the fear of failure.
In the pages ahead, you will find news and information about the annual conference session, read stories of mission, be introduced to new leaders who have come to join in the church’s service to Indiana, review the new conference budget and what it doesn’t include and hear the decision made of retiree’s pensions, as well as the results of the constitutional amendment vote.
And, if you don’t find the answers to your questions, please ask.
Daniel R. Gangler