Summary of 2010 Indiana Annual Conference session

MUNCIE, Ind. – Practice Faith was the theme of the second Indiana Annual Conference session held on the campus of Ball State University in Muncie, Ind. More than 2,000 conference members and guests spent equal amounts of time on learning, volunteer mission service, worship and the business of the conference.

Clergy and laity heard Missouri Bishop Robert Schnase set the pace of the conference teaching more than 3.5 hours during the two opening days about the content of his two books: Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations and its sequel Five Practices of Fruitful Living.

Conference members put Schnase’s teachings into action on Saturday afternoon during the second annual Day of Outreach to Muncie. More than 630 members and guests dressed in bright-orange “Practice Faith” lettered t-shirts, joined 150 volunteer hosts serving Muncie residents in 30 locations across town with projects that included prayer walking, gathering and sorting food, picking up trash off city streets, visiting seniors in ten nursing homes, sprucing up neighborhood parks, repairing homes and community mission sites, assisting in the Habitat for Humanity RE-store and assembling health kits for use in Sierra Leone and Liberia.

During a Saturday evening outreach celebration, Indiana Bishop Mike Coyner challenged members to multiply this community outreach by replicating it in their own communities.

Many churches across Indiana have held Rethink Church community impact days since last year’s Day of Outreach.

From General Church agencies, The Advance Conference Liaison David Malloy of the General Board of Global Ministries, emphasized the importance of a covenant relationship through The Advance with Global Ministries missionaries. Upper Room Publisher Sarah Wilke thanked Hoosiers for their contribution to The Upper Room in celebration of the 75th Anniversary of The Upper Room devotional booklet. Gil Hanke, the newly installed general secretary of the General Commission of United Methodist Men, challenged men at a breakfast to take men’s ministry in new directions including Scouting. He also greeted the conference on behalf of United Methodist Men. Director of Young People’s Ministries Hank Hilliard thanked the conference for partnering with the national Youth 2011 event to be held July 13-17, 2011 at Purdue University in West Lafayette.

During Sunday morning worship, Bishop Coyner commissioned 14 provisional members and ordained 19 elders and three deacons. Clergy congratulated five Local Pastor Course of Study graduates. The conference also retired 58 clergy who gave a total of 1,540 years of service and remembered 77 clergy and clergy spouses who died during the past 12 months. Four of the five services were led by a conference-wide Praise Team consisting of vocal and instrumental musicians.

In other business of the conference:

  • Approved the uniting of three conference-related foundations (of North Indiana, South Indiana and the Indiana Area) into one new Indiana United Methodist Foundation, Inc., which will begin operations on Jan. 1, 2011;
  • Emphasized the importance of providing financial support to United Methodist-related campus ministries which have lost funding from the conference;
  • Chartered two congregations and challenged each church to add a worship service;
  • Considered the possibility of mandating a conference-wide property insurance package;
  • Celebrated the new Indiana Conference Center in Indianapolis;
  • Approved a $15.6 million budget including more than $5 million in General Church apportionments;
  • Emphasized personal financial planning for pastors and laity through the conference’s Rejuvenate program underwritten by a grant from the Lilly Endowment;
  • Reported that Hoosier United Methodists gave more than $800,000 to Haiti earthquake relief and sent some of the first volunteers to Haiti following the earthquake;
  • Encouraged congregations to celebrate each of the denomination’s six Special Sundays and pay their conference tithe (10 percent of each month’s income) in full for the support of conference and general church apportionments;
  • Announced more than $2.2 million has been pledged to the Epworth Forest Conference and Retreat Center capital campaign, with a $10 million goal;
  • Created a conference-wide network to support advocacy ministries; and
  • Announced next year’s session will be held June 9-11 at Ball State University in Muncie.

Membership stands at 194,495, down 10,032 (5.1%) from the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 116,722, down 4,941 (4.2%). Church school attendance stands at 39,329, down 3,770 (9.5%). Some of the drop in all three areas was due to reviewed data gathered by the new annual conference.