Indiana, N. Katanga covenant together to assist Congo


COLUMBUS, Ind. – Two months and a half world away, the Rev. Joseph Mulongo, a United Methodist superintendent in the North Katanga Conference of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, finally met up with the Rev. Bob Walters of Friendly Planet Missiology. They met to celebrate and share their experience of riding 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) across North Katanga during February and March and Walters experience of riding 1,000 miles across Indiana during September.

Because of passport problems with the DRC, Mulongo arrived in Indiana in early October, a couple of weeks after the Indiana ride done by Walters.

Both trips were to raise awareness of the strong covenant partnership between the North Katanga and Indiana conferences of the church.

According to Walters and Mulongo, United Methodist Bishop Ntambo Nkula Ntanda played a primary role in bringing troops, war lords and rebels together for a three-day meeting which resulted in peace.

Talking about his trans-North Katanga bike trip with Walters, Mulongo said, “People felt abandoned; when they saw us coming, it was great joy for them,” then adding that the war with guns is over, but in its wake is another deadly war that will claim almost as many victims.

Lack of safe water, sanitation, education and medical care are all taking a deadly toll on villages deep in the countryside. Most of the villages were 85 percent burned by government soldiers or rebels or warlord troops, Mulongo said.

Walters was a missionary in the Congo in 1998 when all United Methodist missionaries were forced to evacuate. In the midst of the war, when most people were fleeing, Bishop Ntambo told his United Methodist pastors to stay. Because they stayed, the people put great trust in them. Many became United Methodists.

Walters plans to return to the DRC just in time for the next rainy season.

Walters rides 1,000 miles across Indiana

INDIANAPOLIS – Friendly Planet Missiology missionary, the Rev. Bob Walters, biked by the Indiana Conference Center on Sept. 15, accompanied by the Rev. Ruth Waite of Greensboro, Ind., bringing the needs of the North Katanga Conference to light.

At that point, Walters said he was just shy of 600 miles on his statewide 1,000 mile bike trek. He began on Sept. 1 in southern Indiana and concluded on Sept. 30 in northern Indiana. He visited more than four dozen United Methodist congregations.

He reported that “we (United Methodists) have a lot of pastors, doctors, nurses, school teachers in the remote districts of North Katanga that are exhausted and running out of the few resources they have.”

For more information, visit their website at

Bishop appoints Bloomington pastor to be Southwest District Superintendent

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana Bishop Mike Coyner announced Oct. 18, the appointment of the Rev. George Purnell, senior pastor of First United Methodist Church of Bloomington, to be Superintendent of the Southwest District effective Feb. 1, 2011.

Purnell was ordained an Elder in the former South Indiana Conference in 1989. He has served his current appointment since 2003 and also has served Pittsboro UMC (1987 to 1995) and Evansville Aldersgate UMC (1995 to 2003). Before entering the ordained ministry, he served the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns and the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs.

He is married to Diane Purnell. They have four grown children.

Bishop Coyner previously announced on Oct. 4 the appointment of the Rev. Glenn Howell, current superintendent of the Southwest District, to serve the Zionsville United Methodist Church in the Central District effective Feb. 1, 2011.

Indiana Conference finances strong at end of October

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana United Methodist Conference receipts were strong at the end of October.

According to Indiana Conference Treasurer Jennifer Gallagher, “Year to date finances look good. We have set the (conference) budget cautiously for this first year. We are on target for the 2010. It is difficult to predict where we will end up for income with it being our first year, but we feel confident about covering our expenses for the year.”

Each church covenants with the conference to give 10 percent or a tithe of its monthly income receipts to the Indiana Conference for General Church apportionments, our global outreach as a denomination, and for the programs, resources, missions, ministries and administrative costs of the Indiana Conference.

October giving receipts of our 1,200 congregations to the conference tithe stands at $10.3 million. The 2010 Indiana Conference income budget was approved by the 2009 Indiana Annual Conference session at $13.8 million. That means the conference has received to date 74.8 percent of its budgeted income.

Overall, of the $15.18 million income budget, approved by the 2009 conference session, $11.46 million has been received or 75.4 percent.

Indiana Conference session to feature worship specialist McFee

 A UMNS photo by Paul Jeffrey.

Marcia McFee was co-director of music for the 2008 General Conference of The United Methodist Church in Fort Worth, Texas, leads singing during morning worship.

MUNCIE, Ind. – “Do justice, love kindness, walk humbly with God” is the theme for the 2011 Indiana Annual Conference Session to be held at Ball State University in Muncie, Wednesday, June 8 through Saturday afternoon, June 11. Plenary sessions will be held in Emen’s Auditorium.

Keynote speaker for the annual conference will be Dr. Marcia McFee (, who also will assist in worship services and with the conference praise team. McFee is an author, worship designer and leader, professor, preacher and artist. Her engaging and interactive style has been called refreshing, inspiring and unforgettable.

Balloting for clergy and lay delegates to represent the Indiana Conference at the 2012 General and North Central Jurisdictional Conferences will be added to the usual business of an annual conference.

The 2012 General Conference of The United Methodist Church will take place April 24-May 4 at the Tampa Convention Center. The 2012 North Central Jurisdictional Conference of the church will take place July 17-21 at the Knight Center in Akron, Ohio.

Next year’s annual conference will not host a mission outreach to the Muncie community. Instead, congregations from across the state will be reporting on their own mission outreach days that took place since the 2010 Annual Conference Session.

Highlights of conference include:

  • Wednesday, June 8 – late afternoon and early evening
  • Laity will have an informal mixer to meet-and-greet lay candidates for the 2012 General and Jurisdictional Conferences, to be followed by the Laity Session and the first ballot for laity candidate elections.
  • Clergy will have a separate informal mixer to discover the views of fellow clergy before the first ballot for 2012 General and Jurisdictional delegates. The mixer will be followed by the clergy session where the first clergy ballot will be taken.
  • Thursday morning, June 9 – Opening worship and teaching time with Dr. McFee
  • Thursday afternoon and evening – Plenary sessions
  • Friday morning, June 10 – Recognition of retirees
  • Friday evening – Service of Remembrance and Celebration of Resurrection
  • Saturday morning, June 11 – Ordination and Commissioning Service
  • Saturday afternoon – Plenary session, if needed, to conclude business and balloting.

Information about the 2011 Indiana Annual Conference Session will continue to be placed in a new tab on the Indiana Conference website at

Indiana to host national Youth 2011 conference at Purdue

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – This coming summer, several thousand youth from across the United States and around the world will come together with top United Methodist leaders and the best ecumenical speakers, bands and talent for a life-changing event. We here in Indiana have an opportunity to show our radical Hoosier hospitality to the youth of our churches.

Youth 2011 is the national youth gathering for The United Methodist Church, and it’s coming to Purdue University in West Lafayette July 13-17, 2011.

Online registration is open for groups of youth who would like to attend at This is a once in a lifetime experience for youth, with hands on mission opportunities, passionate worship services, in depth labs for spiritual growth and connection, and late night fun and games. If you have a youth or two who would like to go, consider partnering with others in your cluster or district to bring a group.

With thousands of youth coming, we’re now recruiting a cast of volunteers to welcome them to Indiana. Are you ready to be a part of a ministry that will change lives? There are several ways to get involved. One way is to sign up a team from your church: Each day, July 13-17, we’ll have teams who help navigate the campus, who staff the workshops and labs, and who provide logistical support. Your church can sign up for a day of volunteering by contacting the Rev. Brian Durand at, or by phone toll-free at 877-781-6706. Please provide an estimate of how many you will bring and the day or days you would like to come.

Sign up as an individual. You’ll find the form to register as an individual volunteer at You can also contact Brian with questions.

American Indians, advocates want UM worshipping community

Together photo

American Indiana Sunday educational events, like this one held earlier this year at St. Luke’s UMC in Indianapolis, becomes a bridge to partnering with native peoples to establish a United Methodist community.

INDIANAPOLIS – Wanting to provide a safe place for American Indians native to Indiana to worship and gather as a community, the Rev. LeKisha Reed, Indiana Conference Associate Director of Mission and Advocacy, convened an Oct. meeting of United Methodist and other American Indian advocates of greater Indianapolis to discuss the emergence of a United Methodist ministry to native peoples in the Indianapolis area.

The meeting was held at the Indiana Conference Center. It was the first meeting of an emerging Native American Ministries Team in the new Indiana Conference. This meeting came into being following an Aug. 23 meeting between Bishop Mike Coyner and United Methodist American Indians connected with the American Indian education and celebrations Aug. 22 in Indianapolis. (See September issue of Together.)

Also present were the Rev. Anita Phillips of Oklahoma, executive director of the national United Methodist Native American Comprehensive Plan, and the Rev. John Adams, of New Harmony, Ind. and a member of the conference Social Advocacy and Justice and Ethnic Ministries Team.

Adams outlined previous Native American ministries activity in the former Indiana conferences, most of which sponsored Volunteer in Mission trips to the Crow Creek Indiana Reservation in South Dakota.

The 12-member advocacy group discussed the now defunct state Native American Indian Affairs Commission, health care concerns among native peoples in Indiana, past Volunteer in Mission projects done by Hoosier United Methodists and the establishment of a American Indian United Methodist congregation in greater Indianapolis.

Irish honored as Missioner of the Year

McCORDSVILLE, Ind. (e-HUM) – United Methodist Central District-related Metro Ministries honored Georganna Irish of Christ United Methodist Church in Indianapolis as its urban ministries’ Missioner of the Year during the organization’s annual meeting on Sunday, Nov. 7, at the McCordsville United Methodist Church.

She was honored for her volunteer service at Brightwood Community Center, Fletcher Place Community Center, as an active member of the Metro Ministries board and for engaging the cluster of churches related to Christ UMC in Metro Ministries activities.

For more information, visit

UMW assemble kits to assist people suffering disasters

UMW leaders pack trailer with layette kits, birthing kits and health kits assembled during their annual meeting Oct. 9 at Castleton.

CASTLETON, Ind. – More than 230 United Methodist Women from across Indiana attended the second UMW of Indiana Annual Meeting on Saturday, Oct. 9 at Castleton United Methodist Church. As a part of their mission outreach, they assembled enough layette kits, birthing kits and health kits to fill a van and small trailer. The kits were transported to the Midwest Mission Distribution Center in Illinois. The day began with worship led by the Rainbow Junction Players puppeteers of St. Andrews UMC in Indianapolis.  Speakers emphasized the mission involvement of Indiana women.

Bishop announces appointments of Brindel to church, new foundation

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana Bishop Mike Coyner announced Nov. 5, the appointment of the Rev. Jean Brindel, currently full-time Indiana Conference Development Director, Capital Funds Campaign for Camping, to be the new pastor of First United Methodist Church in Alexandria. This is a part-time position. The other part of her appointment will be serving as Development Officer for the new United Methodist Foundation of Indiana, Inc., working with Manet Shettle, the foundation’s new president, to continue developing potential donors for the various ministries of the Indiana Conference.  Both positions are effective Jan. 1, 2011.

Upon her appointment, Coyner said, “Jean has done a fine job in helping with the Epworth Forest Campaign through its Phase One, which has successfully resulted in raising funds to build the first new cabins at Epworth Forest in more than 40 years. Her new position will allow her to continue to provide care and contact with those donors who have already given to the Epworth Forest Right Future Campaign, as well as other donors who may want to make gifts to other ministries. In addition, of course, Jean will be a fine pastor of the First UMC in Alexandria.”

Bishops support church reforms, accountability

A UMNS photo by Rich Peck

Bishop Gregory Palmer (right), chairperson of the Call To Action Committee, shares thoughts with consultants, Mark Harrison and Frederick Miller, during the group’s April 6-8 meeting in Nashville, Tenn.

PANAMA CITY, Panama (UMNS) – United Methodist bishops endorsed recommendations for widespread church reforms during their meeting in Panama Nov. 3-4, including greater accountability for denominational leaders in promoting church growth.

The Council of Bishops’ approval of the Call to Action Steering Team Report on Nov. 4 was heralded as a step forward for a church that has suffered decades of membership decline in the United States.

The major recommendations for reform include:

  • Starting in January 2011, make congregational vitality the church’s “true first priority” for at least a decade.
  • Dramatically reform clergy leadership development, deployment, evaluation and accountability. This would include dismissing ineffective clergy and sanctioning under-performing bishops.
  • Collect statistical information in consistent and uniform ways for the denomination to measure attendance, growth and engagement.
  • Reform the Council of Bishops, with the active bishops assuming responsibility for promoting congregational vitality and for establishing a new culture of accountability throughout the church.
  • Consolidate general church agencies and align their work and resources with the priorities of the church and the decade-long commitment to build vital congregations. Also, the agencies should be reconstituted with smaller, competency-based boards.

The Call to Action Steering Team’s recommendations go next to the Connectional Table, which will next meet on Nov. 15 in Franklin, Tenn. The Connectional Table helps guide funding of denominational operations, including the work of the proposed operational team.

For two days, more than 80 active and retired bishops at the Council of Bishops discussed the steering team’s report. In 2009, the council and general church’s Connectional Table created a 16-member church-wide advisory group, which includes clergy and laity, to address the decades-long membership decline in the United States.

Court upholds pastor's right to accept members

A United Methodist pastor has the right to determine local church membership, even if the decision is based on whether the potential member is gay or lesbian. Annual conferences cannot limit that right or ask the church’s top court to set policy, the United Methodist Judicial Council ruled during its Oct. 27-30 meeting. (See Decision No. 1179.)

“The General Conference is the only body authorized and able to resolve the issue for the (United Methodist) Church,” wrote Jon R. Gray in a concurring opinion on one of the October cases. The General Conference is the denomination’s top legislative body and meets every four years.

The council declined several requests to revisit a decision allowing a pastor to bar a gay man from joining his congregation. In one case, the denomination’s top court ruled that the Northern Illinois Conference did not have the authority to interpret constitutional language to prohibit pastors from denying membership based on a person’s sexual identity.

When the court denied requests for reconsideration at this meeting made by the Northern Illinois and Arkansas conferences, Judicial Council member Ruben T. Reyes noted in a concurrence that the council had previously taken “a second hard look” at the decision in April 2006, based on 12 briefs and more than 2,000 pieces of communication. “There should be an end to a controversy,” he wrote.

But the issue has been an unceasing source of debate within the church for the past five years.

The full story can be read at, click on NEWS.

The full decisions from the Judicial Council’s October 2010 meeting can be found online at This case is in Decision No. 1179.

Number of trained clergy not keeping pace in Africa

PANAMA CITY, Panama – The United Methodist Church in Africa is growing, but the number of trained and licensed clergy is not keeping pace.

In addition, money allocated for African theological education has been slow to filter down.

General Conference, the denomination’s policy-making body, approved the Africa Educational Initiative in 2008. The United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry, the General Board of Global Ministries and United Methodist Communications agreed to provide $2 million to support the initiative.

The initiative calls for each of the 12 African bishops to receive $100,000 for scholarships and logistical support to educate clergy in each episcopal area. But so far only $20,000 has been distributed. Liberia Bishop John Innis used those funds to send four students to Africa University in Mutare, Zimbabwe.

The higher education agency also is developing resources in the three major languages of the continent, English, French and Portuguese. Plans call for the development of professional and institutional associations for theological educators on the African continent.

Change the World online campaign coming May 14-15, 2011

The date is set and the public announcements are forthcoming. Now, how will your congregation participate in Change the World 2011? From food pantries to community gardens, the local church demonstrated in 2010 a strong commitment to meeting the needs of its communities.

In 2011, we will address hunger in an even larger way. While still meeting immediate community needs, together we will learn about hunger’s root causes and project a new vision for dealing with it. 

Mission website reaches hundreds of thousands

A UMNS photo by Ronny Perry.

Patrick Friday (left) communicates via Skype with Rev. Jong Sung Kim in South East Asia during a 10-Fold webcast at United Methodist Communications studios in Nashville, Tenn.

10-Fold accomplished its purpose more than 40,000-fold.

The innovative online site attracted more than 417,000 people from 92 countries during a recent 10-day period featuring live webcasts about United Methodist projects throughout the world.

10-Fold has been described as an online mission movement for the 21st century. For 10 days last month, the website featured live webcasts on church mission projects related to themes including children’s health and wholeness, missionaries in the United States, missionaries around the world, church leader training, church planting worldwide, social justice, clean water and sanitation, health care in Africa and sustainable agriculture. The website features Skype, streaming videos, online chats and downloadable podcasts.

During the campaign, people could help just by clicking the link of a particular project and becoming advocates. For each click, various church groups donated one dollar to the selected project, up to $10,000. More than 43,000 advocates were counted. An additional $30,000 was raised online for projects related to 10-Fold.

Putnam County residential child care agency director receives award

GREENCASTLE, Ind. – ResCare recently announced that the Indiana Association of Residential Child Care Agency (IARCCA) has awarded the Excellence in Service Award to ResCare Residential Director of Treatment Services Donna Bonath. ResCare Residential provides residential treatment services to approximately 80 children from across the State of Indiana.

Bonath, wife of the Rev. LaMont Bonath, senior pastor of the Linden (Ind.) United Methodist Church, has been with ResCare Residential program since its inception in 1996. She is currently responsible for ResCare’s social services department. During this time she also has helped direct Children’s Sanctuary, a ResCare foster care agency in Indiana, and prior to her work with ResCare, she was employed by the Collette Children’s Home.

LaPorte cluster extends Christ's love during charge conference

LAPORTE, Ind. – The new New LaPorte Prairie Cluster consisting of LaPorte First, Maple Grove, New Castle, Rolling Prairie, Salem Chapel and Lambs Chapel United Methodist churches, agreed to have a joint mission focus for their charge conference. The cluster supported the Epworth Forest Campaign to build lodges by presenting North District Superintendent Cindy Reynolds (pictured here) with a check for $6,428. The cluster also collected several boxes of books, magazine and personal hygiene items to be distributed at the two local prisons of Westville and Michigan City. Their hope is that through this outreach mission, the love of Jesus Christ will reach others and transform their lives.

Jasonville church places food pantry float in parade

The Jasonville United Methodist Church recently entered a float in the Jasonville/Shakamak Homecoming Parade on Sept. 25. The parade theme was ‘Seuss on the Loose.’ The intent of the float was to raise awareness of the Back Door Food Pantry the church sponsors, and to collect non-perishable food items and monetary donations. For their efforts, more than 215 pounds of food was collected and almost $600 in cash donations. Not bad for their first time of collecting along a parade route. Back Door Food Pantry has been operating for a little more than a year and serves approximately 50 families a month or 250 people. Riding on the float is Jasonville UMC Pastor Carl Leth. Others assisting either on the float, collecting food or pulling the float were Bill and Karen Gaskins, Jim and Marilyn Flanders, Francie Barton, Lauri, Bob and Pam Chattin with granddaughters Alexis, Halle and Jolee Brunson. In the words of Dr. Seuss “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

Historical Society presents interactive online Indiana Heritage Map

United Methodism in the state of Indiana has an uncommonly rich heritage. In fact, Indiana may be one of the few states to have congregations from all of the major predecessor bodies that became part of what we now think of as The United Methodist Church.

To introduce those historic places across Indiana important to United Methodist heritage, the Indiana United Methodist Historical Society and the Indiana Conference Communication staff have partnered together to provide an interactive Indiana Conference Heritage Map. It’s available online at and click on Heritage Map in the left hand navigation column on the homepage.

As Hoosier United Methodists continue to get to know one another in the context of new clusters and new district structures, they also can take the opportunity to learn more about the history of our predecessors. This map was produced to acquaint United Methodists of Indiana with some past and present aspects of our church.

Interact with the Heritage Map at

Portage First UMC celebrates 175th anniversary

PORTAGE, Ind. – Women perform sacred dance during a celebratory worship during the 175th anniversary of First United Methodist Church at Portage, Ind. Indiana Bishop Mike Coyner was the preacher at all three worship services celebrating the anniversary on Sunday, Oct. 10. A times capsule was buried between the first two services. The former McCool Methodist Church began meeting at McCool’s Grove, in schools and homes with circuit riders ministering to new congregation in 1835. The first chapel was built in 1855. A second chapel was built in 1896. In 1968 the church was renamed First UMC of Portage. In 1985 the former building was razed and a new structure was built. Five years ago, First UMC purchased the Curry Farm and renamed it Crossroads, a place for gatherings and special outreach events.