Churches to receive offering for campus ministries this month

The 2009 Indiana Annual Conference session approved a state-wide special offering to support Indiana United Methodist-related Campus Ministries. Indiana’s 1,200 congregations are invited and encouraged to receive the offering any Sunday in February and to promote campus ministries in their congregations. Envelopes and other resources will be arriving before the first Sunday in February. For more information, resources, videos, PowerPoint slides to promote campus ministries or to request a campus ministry speaker for your congregation, visit www.inumc.org/campusministry or contact the Rev. Brian Durand at or by phone at 877-781-6706 or 317-924-1321.

Church giving forms are available on conference Web site

Here’s a note for local church treasurers. Monthly giving reports will be available soon; in the meantime a blank giving form is available on the conference Web site at www.inumc.org.

The Annual Audit Report is also available on the conference Web site and once completed needs to be returned by May 31 to: Indiana United Methodist Church, Attn: Audit, 301 Pennsylvania Pkwy, Suite 300, Indianapolis, IN 46280. If you need a paper copy of either of these forms, please contact the Indiana Conference Center at 877-781-6706. –  Brent Williams, Conference Director of Administrative Services

650,000 Hoosiers get food aid in 2009

Nearly 650,000 Indiana residents – almost half of them children or seniors – received emergency food from local food banks last year as the recession lingered, according to a statewide study recently released (Associated Press). “The study, conducted by the groups Feeding Indiana’s Hungry and Feeding America, found that 37 percent of the households served have at least one employed adult,” said Emily Weikert Bryant, a spokeswoman for Feeding Indiana’s Hungry. “Twenty-five percent of adults in the households that Feeding Indiana’s Hungry serves work at least part time.”

“The findings illustrate the growing problem of hunger in the weak economy and the significant connection between the economy and the increased need for emergency food,” Bryant said.

The study, which the groups say is the first of its kind in Indiana, found that about 37 percent of client households in Indiana receive food stamp benefits. Among households with young children, half participate in the federal nutrition program for women, infants and children. And more than half of the households with school-age children also receive federal school lunch assistance. “What this says for Indiana is that the folks who are being hit the hardest are the folks who are trying to provide for themselves and unfortunately, don’t have the resources available to them to have enough food to supply their family,” Bryant said. – Howey Politics Indiana

Dakotas, Minnesota to become new episcopal area in 2012

Four of the five U.S. jurisdictions of The United Methodist Church will have to reduce the number of bishops by one prior to Sept. 1, 2012, the date new bishops assume their assignments. The Southeastern Jurisdiction presently has one bishop less than it is entitled to, so no reduction is required in that jurisdiction. The North Central Jurisdiction College of Bishops decided, Jan. 26 in Chicago, to reduce the number of episcopal areas from 10 to nine by linking the Dakotas Annual Conference and Minnesota Annual Conference into one episcopal area. Conference boundaries will not change, but the two conferences will be served by one bishop. This merger does not affect the Indiana Conference. – UMNS

Church pioneer Lina McCord dies at 86

Lina H. McCord, 86, former staff executive of the Black College Fund and one of the first black employees hired at the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry based in Nashville, Tenn., died Jan. 29 in Nashville. McCord began the Black College Fund intern program, now named the Lina H. McCord Internship in honor of 26 years of service to the Nashville agency. – UMNS

Indiana House passes diluted smoke ban as it heads to Senate

The Indiana House passed a watered-down statewide smoking ban Feb. 2 by 73-26 vote (Kelly, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). “This is not even close to a comprehensive ban anymore,” said Rep. Matt Pierce, D-Bloomington. “But the least we can do is help this bill limp its way across the hall and see what the Senate might do.” House Bill 1131 initially exempted only casinos, but legislators have since added numerous other exemptions. They include bars and taverns catering only to Hoosiers 21 and older; tobacco-related businesses; private clubs and fraternal organizations; and small businesses in which all employees are family members and there are no areas of the business open to the public. It still covers all restaurants and would add Indiana to a growing list of states with smoking bans for most public places. – Howey Politics Indiana