Partnering is key to the Indiana Conference’s role in relating to its ten new districts and more than 1,200 congregations, according to conference leaders.

North District Superintendent Cindy Reynolds, chairperson of Indiana’s 10-district cabinet, said that the new conference will be living out the philosophy set forth in the Imagine Indiana planning that led to the creation of the new conference.

“We need to stay purpose driven, live out horizontal initiatives serving and working side-by-side as partners in leadership development, planning and implementation of conference goals,” Reynolds said during the first meeting of the new cabinet with directors and associate directors, “Ministry is not top down but in the ministry clusters.”

During a two-hour session Dec. 10 with Connectional Ministries and Congregational Development areas, directors and associate directors explained the emphasis of their areas and what their ministries would be focusing on as the new conference serves congregations across Indiana. They met with Bishop Mike Coyner and nine of the ten conference superintendents. North Central District Superintendent Frank Beard was on professional leave and not present at this meeting.

Connectional Ministries

Director of Connectional Ministries, Jim Bushfield, outlined major areas his team would be working with as they begin. These are:

  • Youth, Young Adult and Campus Ministries led by Associate Director Brian Durand (“the youth guy”);
  • Mission and Advocacy led by Associate Director LeKisha Reed; and
  • Clergy Services led by Associate Director Sandy Harlan.

Collectively, Connectional Ministries includes the areas of discipleship; missions and advocacy; youth, young adult and campus ministries; clergy services; camping; media resource center; diversity training and safe sanctuary; archives and history; institutional table; annual conference sessions; nominations; rules and structure; United Methodist Men; United Methodist Women; and the board of laity.

Bushfield explained, “The goal of the connectional ministry team is to be visible, identifiable and accessible to all the congregational leadership across Indiana.” This also means a major effort in explaining to congregations the value of the dollars they tithe to the conference, including general church apportioned dollars, plus the joy of service and giving so that others can be touched by God, he stated.

For more information, visit and click on Connectional Ministries or call the conference center to talk with one of the directors at 317-924-1321.

Church Development

Director of Church Development Mark Gough said his teams’ marching order is “To make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”

He outlined two goal areas of emphasis his team of associates would be joining him in accomplishing – new faith communities and church revitalization.

New faith communities will include establishing: two new congregations, five new off-site congregations or second campuses, 50 new worship services, four relocations to improve the outreach and ministry of these congregations and four vital mergers that would result in stronger congregations than the efforts of individual congregations.

Under the area of church revitalization, the church development team plans to:

  • Identifying those congregations that are ready to develop a new faith community,
  • Monitoring church effectiveness in carrying out the mission of the conference,
  • Engaging 50 congregations in the Fruitful Congregation Journey and
  • Strategically targeting four communities for transformation.

The team will accomplish these goals through grants, workshops, a pool of new-church planters and a “tool box” including demographics and assessment tools, plus teaching church development principles.

Other team members include Associate Directors Doug Anderson (who will work with the state’s 15 largest congregations and resource district superintendents), Steve Clouse (who will work closely with Missioninsite and worship), Ed Fernstermacher (who will communicate the work of church develop) and Sharon Washington (who will work with Hispanic ministries). Each associate director has been deployed to live and work from one of four areas of the state and relate with two of the conference’s ten districts. Mark Gough will convene the team at the Conference Center to coordinate their service.

For more information, visit and click on Church Development or call the conference center to talk with one of the directors at 317-924-1321.

In his closing remarks, Coyner asked the conference leaders to “pay attention to what matters opposed to running to put out fires. Focus on our churches that want to be connectional and pay attention to ourselves through peaceful relationships,” and finally, “spend each day focusing on being a disciple.”

Cabinet chair Cindy Reynolds discusses strategies with Associate Director of Church Development Ed Fenstermacher during the first meeting between the Indiana Cabinet and Indiana Conference staff members.

“Ministry is not top down but in the ministry clusters.”

– Cindy Reynolds