Imagine Indiana comes to life on January 1 as the new Indiana Conference of The United Methodist Church becomes a physical reality. It’s fitting that as we plan to celebrate the Advent of Jesus Christ, we also prepare for the coming reality of our new conference.

From the day leaders of the two former conferences began seriously discussing the unity of the conferences, Bishop Mike Coyner impressed upon them the need for a new conference for contemporary ministry rather than just merging two conferences together. Merger Task Force talks that seemed to be going nowhere took on new vitality as its members began exploring the possibilities of a new conference – one for the 21st century. This action led to the Imagine Indiana process that has now implemented clergy covenant groups, ministry clusters, an emphasis upon resourcing congregations through district centers and deploying church development staff across the state.

Central to all planning was the goal of making congregations the top priority of the annual conference. Loca churches are the place disciples are made for Jesus Christ, who take the Gospel in word and deed into the world so that God’s spirit can transform the world.

As the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us” (2 Corinthians 5:19).

As ministry teams move into the new Indiana Conference Center in Indianapolis, the reality of something new and different is settling in. From the beginning, the building of a new culture, a new way of thinking with new models that promote productive, effective, efficient and meaningful changes for us becomes essential for the growth and success of not only our church, but for the society in which it exists.

Change and newness are not comfortable, but remember we are not called to be comfortable but to be faithful to the mandate of our church and of our Lord, Jesus Christ. As we learn from our failures, we will continue to push forward for what the Apostle Paul called our high calling. Bringing about positive tends will be difficult and hard work, but we can and will succeed if we allow God’s spirit to move among us and lead us.

The change in our annual conference session with a day of outreach and ministry has been a positive change, which has influenced congregations across Indiana to experience days of outreach and ministry on their own.

In this issue of Together, there are stories of changes. On page one read about an inner-city church that in the past two years has built a ministry of hope in reaching out to neighborhood youth by being open every Friday night for them.

Read about the Rejuvenate project which reaches out to financially strapped parsonage families that are limited to reach out in ministry because of debilitating debts. Need help in gaining financial stability?

Read about the unique relationship United Methodist-related University of Indianapolis. Learn more about your UIndy, a growing, high-ranking institution rooted in the Wesleyan tradition.

Celebrate with Indiana’s United Methodist Women who united into a new creation this past month in Zionsville. Read their story and meet their new leaders.

Also read the story about a young woman in Newburgh who raised thousands of dollars through craft sales to combat the trafficking of women in Thailand.

Pray through the pages of this issue of Together knowing that Hoosier United Methodists are making a difference.

Daniel R. Gangler