From the Bishop
I am excited about our second session of the new Indiana Annual Conference, which will be held June 10-13 at Ball State University in Muncie.
Our very first, historic session in 2009 was great and many people reported it was “the best annual conference I ever attended.” But it also had its problems – getting used to a new place, a new venue, a larger crowd than previous conferences and lots of administrative issues as we continued forming the new Indiana Conference.
I am grateful that we built that first session around teaching, worship, celebration and service – as well as the usual business. We learned much which should lead to improvements in the “flow” of the annual conference session this year.
I am excited about our 2010 Annual Conference. We will keep a similar schedule with a Teaching Day on Thursday. Bishop Robert Schnase is coming to share from his book the Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations – radical hospitality, passionate worship, intentional faith development, risk-taking mission and service, and extravagant generosity. Having Robert share in person will be a great learning experience for all of us. He also will be present for the Friday morning launch of his new book about how we each, as individuals, can live out those Five Practices. For that reason, our Annual Conference theme will be “Practice Faith.”
Annual Conference will include a Laity Session, a Clergy Session, time for business items, a Friday night service of Remembrance and Resurrection, another Mission Outreach Day on Saturday and a closing Service of Ministry on Sunday to commission and ordain new clergy and to give appointments to all clergy. It promises to be a great Annual Conference.
As I anticipate all of that, I keep reflecting on our theme of “Practice Faith.” I am reminded of the words of the Letter of James that says, “Faith without works is dead.” Too often we all talk a good game about faith. We even “play church” pretty well. We try to have faith. But do we really practice faith? Do we put our good will and our good feelings about God into practice?
Research of Americans who have no commitment to a church or other religious group say most people who don’t attend church believe we, in the church, are hypocrites who are too moralistic, too rigid and too concerned about our own welfare. Especially, these folks say that we churched folks are way too concerned about money and taking care of our church buildings and budgets. Most of these folks say they would be attracted to a church where the people really live their faith. That is why I believe we all need to hear this call to Practice Faith. It is not only a theme for our 2010 Annual Conference, but also needs to be our way of life.
Bishop Michael J. Coyner
Indiana Conference of The United Methodist Church