Mary Barnes retires in December as the South Indiana Media Center Director for the Indiana Conference of The United Methodist Church in Bloomington. I have appreciated her special ministry that has paralleled my ministry in communication since the 1980s.
I first met Mary more than 20 years ago as a fellow member of the United Methodist Association of Communicators. She served a unique communication ministry as one of a few conference media directors across the United Methodist nationwide connection active in UMAC. From the very beginning of knowing her, I knew she felt herself in ministry in how she served the former South Indiana Conference.
I also will remember Mary for her Native American jewelry, an influence of living in the Southwest for 15 years and her commitment to Christ through the ministry of First United Methodist Church in Bloomington.
Recently she wrote, “I have always envisioned my ministry as a servant ministry, one focused on meeting the needs of primarily those in local church, though I also take seriously my responsibility to serve individuals at all levels of the connectional system.”
Mary began her employee relationship to the former South Indiana Conference in 1985 as secretary to then Associate Council Director Susan Ruach. She began her ministry as director of the Media Resource Center in 1987. Her ministry has spanned years of change from splicing 16mm films, patching broken video tape, to wiping clean small compact disks.
Her hallmark, in working with more than 325 congregations at a time, was serving the media needs of individuals and congregations. In her own words, “My ministry is to help strengthen, resource and challenge congregations by supplying them with quality resources that will provide meaningful, creative way to tell the Gospel story. My ministry is one of relationships.”
As Mary retires, what also is retired is a daily, individual presence in a conference media center. We will miss both. Fortunately, an Indiana Conference Media Center remains in the new conference with the combined DVD libraries of both North and South media centers. Angel Rea, current director of the North Indiana Media Center will continue the legacy left by Mary with a commitment of serving the media needs of individuals and congregations from a Marion location, however on a part-time basis. The importance of instructional and informational media in Christian ministry remains, what is changing is the delivery of such media from physical to electronic means.
We wish Mary well in retirement and thank her for her years of service to The United Methodist Church.
Come celebrate Mary Barnes’ ministry at a luncheon and reception in Bloomington on Dec. 11.
– Daniel R. Gangler