‘Wesley’ may be coming to a theater near you

By J. Richard Peck

A UMNS photo ©2009 Foundery Pictures.

Director John Jackman (right) discusses a scene with actors Jenkins and John Stein.

A Moravian preacher is bringing the film “Wesley” to a movie theater near you.

The two-hour movie that is slowly building a platform in theaters across the United States not only brings to life John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, but also his mother, brother, Georgia girlfriend and an assorted group of uptight religious leaders and hired thugs.

The Rev. John Jackman, 53, pastor of Trinity Moravian Church in Winston-Salem, N.C., says he got into the movie business as a way of telling stories of redemption, and Wesley’s story has enough action for several films.

“I wish I could have made this into a mini-series,” Jackman says. “There is enough great material here to make an eight-hour film.”

Jackman also put together an impressive cast, including June Lockhart, best known for her roles as the mother in TV’s “Lassie” and “Lost in Space,” to play Susannah Wesley, John’s mother.

Jackman says he hopes the film will appeal to United Methodists and others alike, but is urging United Methodists to encourage theater owners in their community to show the film. He plans to release a DVD later in the year. Further information, including scheduled theater dates, is available at www.wesleythemovie.com.

Read the complete story here.

Leadership joins bishop in blessing Indiana Conference Center

Together photo

Conference Leadership Team members bless Bishop Coyner’s office in the Indiana Conference Center.
INDIANAPOLIS – To the sound of bells and liturgy, the 35-member Indiana Conference Leadership Team joined Bishop Mike Coyner in blessing the new Indiana Conference Center on Carmel’s southside.

Preceding lunch during the Feb. 27 Conference Leadership Team meeting, Coyner led members through the center stopping in each area. June Owen, Marsha Coyner and Debbie Bushfield rang bells and a team member read a blessing for that area of the center, followed by a response from the whole group.

The liturgical response was based on Galatians 5:22-23 known as the fruits of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Read the complete story here.

Indiana Conference giving to general church near bottom of list

INDIANAPOLIS – During the recent Leadership Table meeting at the Indiana Conference Center, leaders learned the Indiana Conference was near the bottom of the list of annual conferences in terms of paying their general church or denominational apportionments to The United Methodist Church. There was only one conference below the two former Indiana conferences.

The General Council on Finance and Administration reported the former North and South Indiana conferences gave only 53.58 percent and 50.11 percent respectively to their 2009 general church apportionment. The other 61 annual conferences in the United States finances the mission and ministry of the global outreach of the denomination. The general church apportionment for the former North Indiana Conference this past year was $2.9 million of which former NIC congregations collectively paid $1.5 million. The same apportionment for the former South Indiana Conference was $2.7 million of which the former SIC congregations collectively paid $1.3 million.

In addition to general church apportionments, Hoosier United Methodists also gave more than $70,000 collectively to the six Special Day Offerings of the denomination beyond the apportionment. Of this, more than $42,000 was given to One Great Hour of Sharing. This ministry outreach supports the United Methodist Committee on Relief, which receives no funds from general church apportionments.

Read the complete story here.

Memoirs of DePauw University’s forgotten founder published

GREENCASTLE, Ind. — DePauw’s Forgotten Founder: The Memoirs of Calvin Washington Ruter has been published by the Archives of DePauw University and Indiana United Methodism. Wesley W. Wilson, coordinator of archives and special collections at DePauw, is co-editor of the book.

Ruter (1794-1859), a Methodist minister in Ohio and pioneer Indiana, was described by contemporaries as “... a vigorous man ... who possessed a strong, clear voice, well adapted to outdoor preaching.” He considered his part in the founding of DePauw University his greatest achievement.

As Wilson and David H. Tripp write in the introduction to the book, “The memoirs of Calvin Washington Ruter offer unique insight into the part he played in the founding of Indiana Asbury (DePauw) University. The names of Robert R. Roberts, Edward Ames and Allen Wiley are well-known founders, but until examination of his two-volume, hand-written memoirs, little was known of Ruter’s efforts on the University’s behalf. The conference minutes note Ruter’s part in the establishment of the university, but these memoirs give a much clearer picture of the man and the event.”

DePauw’s Forgotten Founder is available for $10 from the DePauw Bookstore or through the Archives by e-mailing archives@depauw.edu.

Read the complete story here.

South Bend church blessed by building, walking labyrinth

Photo courtesy of Grace UMC

Members of Grace UMC in South Bend walk the congregation’s new labyrinth.

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – In exploring ways to nurture spiritual growth, the Spiritual Life Center team of Grace United Methodist Church in South Bend built a permanent outdoor labyrinth.

Team members say the labyrinth represents a journey to a spiritual connection with God and then back out again into the world. Labyrinths have long been used as meditation and prayer tools.

With the encouragement of Senior Pastor David Schrader, team members began by visiting and walking several labyrinths in the greater South Bend area. Encouraged by what they found, a task force was formed and given the assignment to design and develop the project.

The task force first prayerfully considered how this project could meet the spiritual needs of the community and congregation. After much reading and research, the group met with a knowledgeable consultant. Several concerns were considered: design, size, materials, maintenance, location, cost, construction and climate constraints.

The labyrinth was constructed of paving stones in three earth tones. The seven-circuit classic design is 32-feet in diameter and features an enlarged center with a cross patterned in the pavers. The labyrinth entrance faces the large stained glass sanctuary window depicting Christ as the Good Shepherd.

The ancient practice of walking the labyrinth becomes a profound and surprising way to experience God today. The labyrinth of Grace Church is always open and all are welcome to walk it.

For further information or to schedule a program on the labyrinth, contact Ann Hofsommer by e-mail at GraceSpiritLife@aol.com or call the Grace Church office at 574-288-4789.

Read the complete story here.

Indiana Annual Conference Laity Manuscript Contest announced

Each year the Indiana Conference Board of Laity offers the opportunity to all laity of the Indiana Conference to express thanks and praise God by submitting an original sermon manuscript for judging. The theme this year is “What Does It Take To Be A Fruitful United Methodist Congregation?” Due to the full agenda of the Laity Session, it is necessary that the sermon be no more than 15 minutes in length. Entries are judged based on creative and original development of the theme, but may be eliminated due to length.

The author will present the winning manuscript at the Laity Session of the Indiana Annual Conference on Thursday evening, June 10, at Emens Auditorium on the campus of Ball State University in Muncie. Two other manuscripts will be given Honorable Mention.

All entries must be received by May 3. The winner will be notified by May 24.

Additional information concerning the contest can be obtained by contacting Bob Pimlott, Southeast District Lay Leader at rpimlott1@verizon.net or by calling 812-273-3081.

Read the complete story here.

Bishop announces hiring of three new staff members

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana Bishop Mike Coyner announced in February the employment of three new Indiana Conference Center staff members in financial services.

Heidi Player joined the conference center staff in February. She serves as acting controller until March 31. She continues her work in finances which began in the former South Indiana Conference Center 11 years ago.

Emily Burkhart began serving as an accounting/data base clerk on Feb. 15. She previously worked as an office assistant in Nicholasville, Ky. and as a project coordinator for the March of Dimes in Lexington, Ky. She also served as an intern with Outdoor Ministries in the former South Indiana Conference.

Anne Hayton joined the conference staff on March 1 as an accounting/data base clerk. She was previously employed by the Messiah Lutheran Church in Brownsburg, where she served as financial administrator since 2004.

With the advent of these new employees, the Indiana Conference Center now employees 35 people. Not all these employees work in the Conference Center. Six employees in church development and camping development are deployed across the state.

The ten Indiana District Centers employ a total of 25 people including a District Superintendent, Associate District Superintendent and District Assistant in each of the ten locations.

The current Conference and District Centers staff is a reduction of seven employees from the former two conference staffs and a reduction of 11 employees from the previous 18 districts staffs.

Read the complete story here.

Bishop shares his favorites, discusses faith at confirmation rally

A Together photo

In the midst of praise band drums and canned goods bound for area pantries, Bishop Mike Coyner takes on more than 30 of 113 questions handed to him for answers at the conference-wide confirmation retreat held March 6 at Noblesville First UMC.

NOBLESVILLE, Ind. – More than 590 youth and their sponsors from across Indiana heard Bishop Mike Coyner answer three dozen questions he selected from more than 113 questions submitted by the youth. Subjects ranged from what is your favorite color to do you believe everyone is going to heaven?

The question-and-answer session was an hour-long segment of the larger six-hour “Connect” Confirmation Rally sponsored March 6 by the Indiana Conference of The United Methodist Church and hosted by First United Methodist Church in Noblesville. Other segments included speaker Scott Greene, small group conversations, a visit by John Wesley, founder of Methodism portrayed by Central District Superintendent Bert Kite, and a concluding service of Holy Communion.

From answers to their questions, youth learned the two hardest things for Bishop Mike to do each day are getting up and going to bed. He said he wakes up thinking about all the things he needs to do during the day and has a difficult time settling in at night, because his days are very busy and filled with things for him to reflect on.

Coyner said he is one of 50 active United Methodist bishops in the United States that includes 16 women bishops – an answer to two questions.

He answered many questions quickly, such as favorites:

  • Color – blue,
  • Sport – basketball,
  • Food – Arnie’s pizza,
  • Ice cream – butter pecan,
  • Bible passage – Romans 8,
  • Best friend – his wife, Marsha, and
  • Soap opera – “I don’t watch soap operas.”

He complimented the confirmands for thinking about God and the church and for coming together as they readied themselves for confirmation and membership in The United Methodist Church.

The rally was led by the Rev. Brian Durand, conference associate director of youth, young adult and campus ministry, and a conference task force. This event was paid for in part by conference tithes.

Read the complete story here.

Conference treasurer announces new place to send checks

Many changes have come with the creation of the new Indiana Conference of The United Methodist Church, including how the conference treasurer handles the receipts from local churches to the district, annual conference and other mission giving.

In December, Conference Treasurer Jennifer Gallagher asked local church treasurers to send all such giving to a local post office box with the U.S. Postal Service. From there, all receipts were forwarded to a centralized bank processing point. Gallagher said that system has proven to be very slow, unreliable and inefficient. She said that several treasurers have reported checks taking many weeks to clear or not clearing at all.

Conference leaders have taken a second look at this process and believe it would be better for local church treasurers to send these payments directly to the bank processing center in order to achieve maximum efficiency rather than to local post office boxes.

For all future giving payments from local churches to districts, the conference or other mission giving, local church treasurers are asked to please use the following address: INUMC, Dept 6089, Carol Stream, IL 60122-6089.

Checks can be made payable either to districts or to INUMC – either way will work as long as treasurers mark their intentions clearly.

Read the complete story here.

OC coordinators discover crisis with English in West Africa

Operation Classroom coordinators, the Rev. Joe and Carolyn Wagner, have discovered one major problem this past month in the West Africa nations of Sierra Leone and Liberia – English. The discovery became apparent after visiting seven Operation Classroom-related schools in Liberia.

Joe Wagner said, “This was a real surprise to me as this had not been discussed until this year. The civil war (1990-2004) brought a national crisis in English. Many students entering college cannot write proper sentences and the spelling leaves much to be desired. In our conversation with teachers and administrators, we have made a decision to make an emphasis (on English) in the elementary level beginning with the first grade to begin this process.

“We have to be able to build a foundation and we must start there. This will involve not only getting the proper materials but also working with training the teachers. We must make an effort to upgrade our schools beginning this fall. We are working some ideas for high school, but they are only in the idea stage at the present.”

Wagner also reported that by 2012, all high schools in Liberia need microscopes. OC needs three or four microscopes for each of its related schools in both Liberia and Sierra Leone. In addition to science class inventories, Wagner says they are asking each of the schools to survey the jobs that are available in the community in order to develop a program to make it possible for students to find employment when they graduate from high school.

For more information about Operation Classroom or Operation Doctor, visit www.operationclassroom.org.

Read the complete story here.

Tents desperately needed in Haiti for earthquake survivors

HAMMOND, Ind. – Friends of the Orphans, a Chicago-based charity with Roman Catholic roots serving South America and the Caribbean, and Children of Abraham, an Indiana Conference Advance Special with offices at Hammond First UMC, have been resupplying the Saint Damien Children’s Hospital in Haiti.

This 120-bed hospital currently has 700 people in serious or critical condition under its care. Children of Abraham have been supplying medical supplies and many additional beds, as well as food which are being distributed with help from the Italian contingent of the United Nations.

The United Nations is supplying tents to house the additional patients, however, a community of more than 6,000 people is now living in the open or in cardboard boxes and lean-tos in the area around the hospital. Many of them family members of patients. The rainy season begins in about a month, and these people have no shelter, no homes in Port-au-Prince to return to, and relief organizations will be unable to build shelter until sufficient infrastructure is built.

Children of Abraham is partnering with other concerned relief agencies to supply ten-person mosquito netted tents complete with rain tarps. They have multiple suppliers willing to provide these tents, which normally sell in the $350 to $400 range, for $150 each. To allow room to actually live and move around, the tents will be set up for five people or less. It will take 1,200 tents to accomplish this task.

Donations can be sent to Children of Abraham, 6635 Hohman Avenue, Hammond, IN 46324.

For more information, please contact Schrader at 574-288-4789, or by e-mail at pastordavidschrader@yahoo.com.

Read the complete story here.

Conference, health network partner to provide health ministry workshop

INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana Conference of The United Methodist Church and Community Health Network of Indianapolis are partnering to promote health ministry and parish nursing across Indiana. As a result of a recent United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) grant, they are pleased to offer a health ministry workshop for the West and Southwest Districts of the conference. This class is open to all parishioners and pastors who are interested in including health ministry as a part of their church’s mission outreach. They hope you will take advantage of this opportunity to send several interested members to the workshop.

The workshop will be held April 15 and 16, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., at Vincennes Community United Methodist Church at 1548 S. Hart Street in Vincennes, Ind. A continental breakfast and lunch will be included. Attendees will need to commit to both days. Cost is $10 per person and needs to be included with the initial registration form. Checks need to be made payable to Community Health Network with a memo Parish Nursing.

Deadline for registration is Tuesday, March 30.

A registration form is available at www.inumc.org on the Conference Calendar.

For more information, contact Sherry McIntyre at 317-355-8702 or smcintyre@ecommunity.com.

Read the complete story here.

Lectures series to take up Christian approaches to interfaith relations

The 2010 Showers Lectures at the United Methodist-related University of Indianapolis will take place on Tuesday, April 6. Father David Burrell, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy and Theology of the University of Notre Dame, will be giving this year’s lectures. The focus of the lectureship will be Christian approaches to interfaith relations.

The first lecture will take place at 4 p.m. in McCleary Chapel in the Schwitzer Student Center.

The second presentation will take place at 7 p.m. in the same location. For more information please contact Cindy Tyree at 317-788-2106.

Burrell is an internationally renowned Christian theologian, who has contributed much to interfaith understanding. This event promises to be a significant opportunity for exploring what Christians can learn from other faith traditions even as we engage the persistent problems that have made interfaith interaction difficult in the past.

Read the complete story here.

Volunteer in Mission team leader training coming in March, April

United Methodist Committee on Relief Trainer, Penny Krug of South Bend, will be holding special Volunteer in Mission local team leader training in Indiana, Saturdays, March 20 and April 10, to prepare Volunteers in Mission leaders, especially in light of the Haiti relief efforts following the earthquake in January.

The events will be held Saturday, March 20 at First UMC at 219 East Fourth Street (downtown) in Bloomington, Ind. and Saturday, April 10 at New Life UMC at 3039 W 400 N (on US 30) near Mexico, Ind. Both sessions are from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (ET). Krug will be the trainer for both sessions.

Register here.

For more informations, contact Bonnie Albert at bonkay@hotmail.com or call 219-464-1447.

Read the complete story here.

Volunteer for Haiti earthquake relief

Mission Volunteers in conjunction with the North Central Jurisdictional United Methodist Volunteers In Mission Coordinators and General Board of Global Ministries staff have recommended and instituted a National Database for volunteers wishing to go to Haiti, when we are invited in. I have received names and e-mails from many persons and would ask that you go to this Web site and register your intent to volunteer in Haiti in the future, along with your skills and aptitudes for being a United Methodist Volunteer In Mission. Once a week, the database will be forwarded to the North Central Jurisdictional Coordinator Volunteer in Mission Coordinator Lorna Jost.

Please register online at http://secure.gbgm-umc.org/HaitiVolunteer even if you have already sent your name to the NCJ- UMVIM coordinator as the database includes more information. – Lorna Jost, NCJ-UMVIM coordinator

Read the complete story here.

Professor’s book offers new look at John Wesley as theologian

A University of Indianapolis professor’s new book uses recent research on the concept of emotion to take a fresh look at the work of John Wesley, the influential 18th-century thinker and founder of the Methodist movement.

Gregory S. Clapper is the author of The Renewal of the Heart is the Mission of the Church: Wesley’s Heart Religion in the Twenty-First Century, published by Cascade Books.

In his fifth book, Clapper combines an analysis of Wesley’s writings – which often refer to the “heart” and its “affections” – with historical and conceptual analysis of “emotion,” an idea that has changed dramatically in the past 200 years. He argues that Wesley’s terminology reveals a nuanced view of inner life that contemporary philosophers are only beginning to discuss. Although Wesleyan theology is sometimes dismissed as a pandering dilution of the Christian message, Clapper shows that Wesley’s vision of the “renewed heart” is a message with both intellectual integrity and life-changing power.

More information on The Renewal of the Heart is the Mission of the Church is available from the publisher at http://wipfandstock.com.

Read the complete story here