AKRON, Ohio – During the North Central Jurisdictional Conference July 18-20 at Akron, the Indiana and North Illinois conferences of The United Methodist Church took the lead in the passage of a proposal to study the mission and structure of jurisdictions, in particular the North Central Jurisdiction.

Indiana Conference’s Rev. Cindy Reynolds, North District Superintendent, joined with Lonnie Chafin, treasurer of the Northern Illinois Conference, in combining like resolutions presented earlier in the conference. At that time the proposals were referred to the NCJ Mission Council, chaired by Ruth Ellen Stone of Clayton, Ind. Stone brought the legislation back to the floor on behalf of the Mission Council July 20 as a united document that was approved by more than three-fourths of the delegates.

The action approved the formation of a task force using an online platform for dialogue initiated by staff and leaders of the Northern Illinois and Indiana conferences with assistance from across the NCJ. The action would then establish a task force consisting of two people (lay and clergy) from each conference of NCJ plus up to five more individuals to balance the task force racially and ethnically.

The task they have been assigned to lead will examine a zero-based approach to the structure of jurisdictions, place conclusions in the context of other discussions of changes with the UMC, provide updates to annual conferences beginning in 2014 and make recommendations to conferences for the 2016 General Conference of the denomination.

In the Indiana proposal submitted by Reynolds and the 36-member Indiana delegation, the ultimate goal of the task is “prayerfully and with diligence discern the purpose, vision and role of the Jurisdictional System in fulfilling the mission of the church to Make Disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world in the 21st century…”

In other highlighted business:

The NCJ UM Volunteers in Mission (www.umvimncj.org) reported there are three aspects to VIM – honoring the local hosts with an invitation to come to another conference, for incarnational ministry changing the lives of volunteers, and deepening the faith of those served. The mission includes interpretation, Mission Discovery for youth and young adults, Conference Disaster Response, RxConnexion consultations, teach UM for educators, Quadrennial RoundUP (held at Epworth Forest in Indiana) and Haiti Response. Visit.

The NCJ Asian-American Mission reported that the mission is committed to developing and strengthening the Asian-American churches and Christian communities.The mission offers convocations, immigration workshops, leadership development and support groups and churches in outreach to new Asian immigrants.

Nominations Committee reported the names of people elected to general boards and agencies, officers of the NCJ and to the NCJ Mission Council. Those from Indiana include: Doris Clark to the Connectional Table, the Rev. Lisa Schubert to the General Board of Church and Society, the Rev. Jim Bushfield to the UM Publishing House, the Rev. Kim Reisman to the General Commission on Communications, both the Rev. Mark Dicken and Rita Gather-Gant to the Jurisdictional Mission Council. Ed Fenstermacher to the General Board of Discipleship and the Rev. Frank Beard previouly elected to the General Commission on General Conference

Town & Country Ministries reported that there are 25,000 small membership UMCs across the U.S. Many rural churches need more laity training. Twenty-five percent of these churches are in NCJ.

The Rev. Doug Anderson, of Indiana and executive director of the Ruben Job Center, reported that the center is changing. Bishop Job is moving toward an endowed chair of spiritual formation at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. Anderson will retire from his duties June 2013. The Dakota Wesleyan University connection will not change.

MMDC – Pat Wright, executive director of the Midwest Mission Distribution Center in Chatham, Ill., reported the center is self-funded and related to the NJC, Great Rivers Conference and the United Methodist Committee on Relief. It provides disaster response supplies as well as makes school desks, reconditions sewing machines and bikes and ships them to places all over the world. More than 1,100 volunteers helped run the center this past year.

Imagine NO Malaria – Bishop Sally Dyck of the Minnesota Area reported that the NCJ leads the UMC in the Imagine NO Malaria campaign. In addition to the malaria-preventing mosquito nets, the campaign also does diagnostic work, plus education and communication about malaria. The ultimate goal is to eliminate death by malaria. The UMC total goal is to raise $75 million and has already raised more than $20 million. More than 3,500 volunteers in Liberia work with the campaign.

Native American Ministry – Carol Lakota Eatin reported NCJ’s Native American Ministry has two primary educational programs across conference lines. One is the clergy course of study for Native Americans. The other is the Flying Eagle Youth Leadership Program. The Act of Repentance event at the 2012 General Conference launched a process to be in dialogue with indigenous people. Native American Ministry requested an Act of Repentance be performed in each annual conference session.

Treasuer – The NCJ Conference approved a 2013-2016 budget of $1.1 million, an increase of $196,060 above the 2009-2012 conference budget of $921.240. Indiana’s share is nearly 20 percent of the whole budget. Early in the conference, the Rev. Mark Dicken of Elkhart made a motion to cut the quadrennial NCJ budget 20 percent to match the amount of money received in this quadrennium. His motion was defeated.

2016 NCJ – The 2016 North Central Jurisdictional conference will be hosted in mid-July by the Illinois Great Rivers Conference in Peoria, Ill.

Prayerfully and with diligence discern the purpose, vision and role of the Jurisdictional System