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Church-run cafe offers a different way to worship

Members of two generations plan a skateboard night over lunch at Under the Sun Café in Whiteland.

The Whiteland United Methodist Church opened the doors to its new Under the Sun Caf‚ at the end of July. The restaurant features a full deli menu and also offers a relaxed contemporary worship service on Sunday mornings.

Under the Sun is a nonprofit, with proceeds given to community programs, said Ginger Murphy, the cafe's communications director. During its opening weeks it has donated more than $150 from the server's tip jar to the local food pantry.

The church was awarded a $50,000 grant through the Indiana Conference of The United Methodist Church. However, almost all of the grant money was put into the startup costs of the business, renovating the facility and bringing it up to date with health codes.

With bills such as $2,000 in rent and buying kitchen equipment, other local churches and organizations, such as New Faith Communities and the Center for Congregations, have pitched in to help with the finances. Murphy said she is hoping churches of other faiths will see the difference the cafe is making and want to be part of it.

The menu was created by Chef Carl Huckaby, who works at the Chez Jean Bakery and Deli. The church buys many of the items for the cafe's food from him. The cafe's menu includes coffee, 12 sandwiches, gourmet soups, salads and five desserts, including sugar-free cherry pie, one of the pastor's favorites.

Eventually groups will be able to use the cafe as a gathering place. The church plans to have concerts, book discussions and tutoring there. To encourage students to come hang out, the cafe offers after-school specials for teens from 3 to 5 p.m. on weekdays.

The Under the Sun Caf‚ is located at 250 N. U.S. 31 in Whiteland. It's open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mon.-Sat. with alternative worship held Sunday at 11:15 a.m. Visit

Bishop announces new employees

INDIANAPOLIS - Bishop Mike Coyner announces the hiring of three more associate directors and one conference assistant to the new Indiana Conference staff. New employees include: Sharon L. Washington of Rocky Mount, N.C., as a full-time associate director of church development (now employed); the Rev. Stephen R. Seitz of Jasper, Ind., as a half-time associate director of church development (effective Sept. 15); and Steven P. Clouse of Goshen, Ind. as a full-time associate director of church development (effective Jan.1). 

All three were chosen by Indiana Conference Director of Church Development the Rev. Mark Gough following a panel interview. They join Ed Fenstermacher, who was chosen to be an associate director of church development this past spring.

Coyner also announces the continued employment of Lisa Timmerman, Indiana Area receptionist, in the new conference as conference assistant in the episcopal office. She was chosen by the Rev. David V.W. Owen, executive assistant to the bishop.

Leadership Table begins work aligning conference to goal

Bishop Mike Coyner opens the first session of the new Indiana Conference Leadership Table at Carmel UMC, Aug. 22.
Indiana Bishop Mike Coyner told the 28 members of the new Conference Leadership Table meeting in Carmel for the first time, "You are responsible for bringing the whole conference in alignment with our goal of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world." In setting norms for the new group, Coyner, who chaired the meeting Aug. 22, said the task of the new Leadership Table is one of coordinating and deciding, not micromanaging. The management of the new conference will be the task of the six directors and ten district superintendents."

At the table, members (who represent on of the conference's 13 teams, lay leaders, cabinet, United Methodist Women and United Methodist Men) will report to each other, continue the Imagine Indiana directives and keep the mission of the church before them.

Early on in the day-long meeting, Coyner introduced the Rev. Andy Kinsey of Franklin Grace UMC as the Table's Wesleyan Theologian. Kinsey asked members not to dismiss our theological task as the church when we meet to do the business of the church. He said conferencing began among Methodists with the first conference called by John Wesley, founder of the Methodist movement, at London in 1744. Kinsey said Wesley began by asking, "What to teach? How to teach? and What to do? - that is, how to regulate our doctrine, discipline and practice." Kinsey told Leadership Table members, "We meet to get beyond the service of what we have been called to do." He said the biblical model of conferencing is present in Ephesians 4:1-3 that "we meet with humility, gentleness, patience and bearing with one another in love."

Clusters, covenant groups and districts forming

Following the Indiana Annual Conference session, Bishop Mike Coyner met with the new chairpersons of Ministry Orders. Tim Burchill, chair of the Orders of Elders; Jennifer Pollard, chair of the Order of Deacons and Don Ransford, chair of the Fellowship of Local Pastors asked him to write about the new conference emphasizes of ministry clusters, clergy covenant groups and the new districts.

Coyner reported:

Ministry Clusters (four to nine congregations each) have been formed, and the training of Cluster Leaders has begun. There are more than 200 Ministry Clusters around the conference, and nearly every congregation is already established in a Cluster.

Clergy Covenant Groups are for clergy serving under appointment to churches, extension ministries and retirement. All clergy are encouraged to join a group of their own choosing.

The new Indiana Conference now has one Cabinet, composed of the 18 district superintendents for the current 18 districts. Three of these 18 superintendents (Doug Anderson, Ann Glass, and Marianne Chalstom) are part-time and interim until the end of 2009. As of Jan. 1, the ten new districts will begin and the Cabinet will be composed of the ten district superintendents for those districts.

In the meantime, each church and each pastor has only one district superintendent at a time. The current 18 districts are in effect until Dec. 31.

Coyner says, "We are in transition from the old to new. It's still a messy year. Thanks to everyone for your patience and cooperation as we go through these transitions.

"It is all about making our connection as United Methodists work more effectively by joining together in ways that strengthen our mission, support one another, and hold one another accountable."

Lilly Endowment awards grants to 30 Indiana congregations

Their renewal leaves are rare opportunities to receive the gift of time in a new way-to rest, pray, explore new worlds, and deepen their relationships with those they love.

Thirty Indiana congregations, including seven United Methodists - from Granger to New Albany - have received grants in Lilly Endowment's 2009 Clergy Renewal Program for Indiana Congregations. They represent 14 counties, 18 cities and towns, 11 Christian denominations and one reform Jewish synagogue.

Through this program, the Endowment invites congregations throughout the state to apply for grants of up to $50,000 to support an extended period of intentional reflection and renewal that ministers, working with their congregations, design to suit their own needs and aspirations for pastoral renewal. The pastors are welcome to include their families in the renewal activities.

The United Methodist congregations and pastors selected for the Indiana Clergy Renewal program are:

  • Broadway UMC, Indianapolis, $50,000, Suhyoung Baik
  • Church of the Four Seasons UMC, Crown Point, $49,948, Chris D. Nunley
  • Coalbush UMC, Mishawaka, $42,410, James Davidson
  • Granger Community UMC, $50,000, R. Mark Beeson
  • North UMC Indianapolis, $49,988, Kevin R. Armstrong
  • St. Luke's UMC, Indianapolis, $48,310, Linda S. McCoy
  • Trinity UMC, Elkhart, $26,030, Mark O. Fenstermacher

What our Indiana Conference youth are saying

By Brian Durand

At the Annual Conference Youth Gathering in June we asked a group of over 100 youth to share how they and their friends see the church. In small groups they responded to three questions:

  1. What words would your friends use to describe or define church?
  2. What do churches do that turn teenagers away?
  3. What should churches be doing to share the love of Christ with you and others your age?

While some of the answers aren't surprising (yes, donuts and pizza are effective in welcoming teens), we think you'll agree that other answers challenge us to think about how we represent church to the young people among us and in our communities while offering hope in the passion and faith captured in what these youth had to say.

The scope and depth of the youth responses, however, gives us a clear checklist of congregational attributes that are conducive to reaching out to young people:

  • Acceptance, like a second home, friendliness from the church body, openness from everyone, respecting youth as people, welcoming.
  • Being who you are, being real, leading by example.
  • Creative worship, energetic preaching, interactive, good music, prayer.
  • Fun, laughter, parties, upbeat.
  • Real life answers, relevancy, teaching each other.
  • Service, mission, showing love, sharing experiences, support.

The new thing at 'That Thing'

Written by Impact 2818 Staff

The That Thing camping program appeals to senior high youth, a group that was dwindling among Indiana Conference camping programs.
Summer 2009 marked the launch of a new model of senior high camping for Epworth Forest Conference Center in North Webster; it's simply called That Thing. The new program aims to not just connect students to Jesus Christ through evangelism, but also to challenge students in developing an outward and expressive faith that engages the world for Jesus Christ.

At the conclusion of the 2008 summer, the camping board decided to launch the program, then in development, in response to a multi-year decline of students and churches at Impact 2818's senior high level. That Thing is coordinated and programmed by Epworth Forest staff members Ryan Gernand and Matt Poorman.

That Thing is developed with a vision of students:

  • Loving God beyond just acknowledging God,
  • Inspiring change throughout their communities by living as Christ, and
  • Engaged in overcoming injustice and oppression through faith, hope and love.

The overall response from this first year has been extremely positive.

Program Director Ryan Gernand said, "I've been in student ministry for 13 years and I've never been so impressed by student responses as I was this summer.

To learn more about the Indiana Conference That Thing, visit

Christmas offering provides $82,382 to children

Far from the depths of winter, a six-member Bishop's Christmas offering task force convened May 12 to distribute $82,382 received this past December to 22 children's ministries worldwide.

The task force also set aside $10,000 for Coyner to use at his discretion during the next 12 months for ministries meeting the needs of children such as in natural disasters.

The task force divided the funds three ways: for children's ministries within Indiana, within the United States and worldwide. Some $27,460 went to United Methodist Church Advance Specials for children beyond the United States, $27,460 to UMC Advance Specials for children's ministries within the United States and another $27,460 to Indiana children's ministries.

More than $2,960 was given to each of eight ministries overseas.

Gifts to children's ministries within the United States included six projects receiving more than $4,570 each.

The remaining $27,460 was divided evenly between the two former North and South Indiana conferences which included in North Indiana:

  • North Indiana Camp Scholarships at $8,200;
  • Bridges (worship service for developmentally disabled children) in South Bend at $1,843;
  • Lafayette Urban Ministries at $1,843; and
  • Kokomo Urban Outreach at $1,844.

In South Indiana ministries included two children's projects including:

  • South Indiana Division of Outdoor Ministries Scholarships at $13,000; and the
  • South Indiana School of Christian Mission at $730.

The task force also recommended to Coyner that the special Christmas offering for children continue this coming Advent and Christmas. Next year, funds will be distributed earlier than spring.

Theological schools increase scholarship support in hard times


Dr. F. Douglas Powe Jr., assistant professor of Evangelism at Saint Paul, visits with students during class. 

The 13 United Methodist theological schools have increased scholarship support for their students by nearly 10 percent to keep students on campus despite the recession - even as the seminaries have faced dwindling endowments and decreasing funds from the church.

For the 2009-2010 academic year, the theological schools awarded nearly $27.9 million in scholarships, a 9.8 percent increase from the $25.4 million awarded in 2008-2009, according to figures compiled by the Association of United Methodist Theological Schools.

Dean Maxine Clarke Beach of The Theological School at Drew University said that means the 13 UM institutions are giving more in scholarships than they receive from the Ministerial Education Fund. The MEF is the church-wide apportionment fund that provides educational support for United Methodist ordained elders and deacons and assists theological schools and clergy recruitment. Twenty-five percent of the apportionment is retained in the annual conference for professional development, continuing education of clergy, and clergy recruitment.

To learn more about the Ministerial Education Fund, visit and

Ecumenical pact does not open door to gay clergy in UMC

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's acceptance of pastors in same-sex relationships does not pave the way for non-celibate gay clergy to serve in United Methodist churches, officials from the two denominations said.

The Lutheran vote Aug. 21 to drop its ban on gay clergy, coming a day after the denomination approved a full communion pact including the sharing of clergy with The United Methodist Church, raised the question of whether practicing homosexual Lutheran pastors would be permitted in United Methodist pulpits.

Leaders from both churches said Aug. 26, however, that The United Methodist Church's ban on non-celibate gay clergy is unchanged.

"Our Book of Discipline on that subject did not become null and void when they took that vote," said Bishop Gregory Palmer, president of the United Methodist Council of Bishops. "It still applies to United Methodist clergy."

On the Lutheran side, Michael Trice, associate executive for Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Relations of the 4.7 million-member Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, said the full communion agreement on Aug. 20 "did not compromise" United Methodist ministerial standards.

On Aug. 20, the 2009 Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America voted to enter into full communion with The United Methodist Church. The agreement was approved earlier by the 2008 United Methodist General Conference, the denomination's top policy-making body.

A joint commission of members of both churches is being established to iron out details of the ecumenical pact, including the process of appointing and calling clergy to each other's churches.

Warsaw District builds school cafeteria in Liberia

Warsaw District volunteers, decked out in St. Matthew senior high school T-shirts, pause before the United Methodist-related school in Liberia.
In an atmosphere of 90 degree heat and dire poverty, eleven Hoosier United Methodists of Indiana's Warsaw District assisted Liberian United Methodists earlier this year in constructing a new cafeteria at St. Matthew UMC and School in Monrovia.

After settling in, the Warsaw team boarded a new 15-passenger van recently donated by Hoosier United Methodists. The Rev. Anthony Dioh, former West African coordinator for Indiana based Operation Classroom, and his wife Jennifer Dioh hosted the team. Anthony has coordinated Operation Classroom in Liberia and Sierra Leone. He now serves an administrator at the Tubman College in Harper, Liberia. Jennifer now coordinates OC in Sierra Leone and Liberia

Arriving at the St. Matthew, the team's work was prefaced by singing and prayer. Then the Warsaw team began their week-long assignment of pouring a 40-foot by 60-foot concrete floor and applying stucco to both the outside and inside of the steel-roofed, concrete-block building.

All the work at the construction site was done manually. Team volunteers mixed bags of concrete with sand using shovels. Once mixed together, volunteers added hauled-in water. As the mixture began to resemble wet concrete, volunteers scooped it into wheelbarrows and added more water until the texture was right. Hoosier volunteers poured the floor, which they completed in three days.

During the remainder of the week, volunteers mixed more concrete to apply stucco to the walls, both inside and outside of the cafeteria building. By week's end, most of the exterior and about half of the interior of the building were covered with stucco.

For more information about school support, visit

Women's Division's Olson to speak at first Indiana UMW meeting

Women's Division's General Deputy Secretary Harriett Jane Olson will speak at the first gathering of the new United Methodist Women of Indiana on Saturday, Oct. 17. At this time the North and South Conferences of United Methodist Women will officially unite as one conference. This historical event takes place at Zionsville United Methodist Church, 9644 Whitestown Road in Zionsville, Ind.

Indiana Bishop Mike Coyner will serve communion and install officers. The new conference and all ten districts will elect 2010 officers, approve Standing Rules, budgets and pledges to mission. Newly elected officers will number between 180 and 200 women. These women have the awesome task of leading the organization into the future as United Methodist Women of Indiana.

Reservations strongly encouraged. Registration with lunch is $15, without lunch $10. Registration form available online at Registration deadline is Oct. 12.