Bishop Mike Coyner presiding at General Conference.

One of the most powerful worship services at General Conference and at Annual Conference is the memorial service. This year’s service at General Conference was a time to remember and give thanks for the lives and witness of 17 United Methodist bishops who died during the past four years since the previous General Conference. I knew all of them, some were especially close friends and colleagues, and others were veterans who provided inspiration for the whole church. I was blessed to carry the lantern of remembrance for Bishop Sheldon Duecker.

This year’s memorial service at our Indiana Conference will be meaningful in a similar way. I know all of the names on the list of pastors and spouses to be remembered, and many were close colleagues of mine. Of course there is sadness in that fact, but there also is reassurance in knowing that the continuity of ministry continues.

Several years ago, I was serving a church where we lost a teenager of that congregation after a long battle with cancer. It was a tough time of grieving, and most of us were inspired by the way the family grieved in a healthy way and then began moving on with their lives. While visiting with them one day, I asked how they were doing so well. The mother replied, “We are working on making new memories.” What a wonderful expression of grief that is blessed by faith. We remember and mourn those we have lost, but we also work to make new memories as we move forward in faith.

I look forward to making new memories with you at our Indiana Conference Session in June. We will spend some time remembering and giving thanks for the saints who have gone before us, and we will likely spend some time remembering our former North and South Conferences and noticing the things that are different now in our new Indiana Conference. We can let the grief of our past pull us backward, or we can work to make new memories together.

Let’s make our 2012 Annual Conference Session one of the most memorable ever. Let’s give thanks for the past, but let’s make some new memories together.

Bishop Michael J. Coyner
Indiana Area of
The United Methodist Church
“Making a Difference in Indiana
and around the world”