Following a Saturday June 27 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 in market recognition by 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.

“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 litter 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 to 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.

Two volunteers pick up trash in a parking lot across from High Street UMC in downtown Muncie. In less than three hours, United Methodist volunteers picked up 2,080 pounds of litter which was hauled away the Muncie Department of Sanitation.

“The secret is that open doors swing in both directions...”

Bishop Mike Coyner

Volunteers piled into vans at Riverside United Methodist Church and nine other Muncie sites to be transported to one of 40 sites citywide.