“Making ROOM” was the theme of this year’s Indiana Annual Conference session June 7-9 at the Indiana Convention Center in downtown Indianapolis. The Scripture used for the theme was taken from the Acts of the Apostles 2:46-47: “Day by day, continuing steadfastly with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread at home, they took their food with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favor with all the people. The Lord added to the assembly day by day those who were being saved.”
In this Scripture, the members of the early church at Jerusalem were making room in an invitational manner with utmost hospitality. They were focused on being the church and enjoyed each other’s company. This was the goal of this year’s annual conference session – to make room. (See pages 6-9.)
As a place for reflection, the conference communication team provided a place (wall) on the communication display boards to permit conference members and guests to answer the question: “What does Making ROOM mean to you?”
Here are most of the responses that were written on the board. Making ROOM means:
- Stepping out of the box (church walls) and going to make a difference in Jesus’ name with all people. Share his love.
- Making room for the Holy Spirit to speak, lead, shock and awe!
- Ensuring that no child or family is asked to leave a church “because we really can’t help you” because of a handicap or disability.
- Open to His plan instead of mine!?
- Not “welcome” but “being welcomed” actively. Including everyone in the church no matter age, gender, race or anything that we think separates us. We are all family in Christ. You make room for family.
- Do “whatever it takes” to open hearts and minds to Jesus.
- Allowing God to be my master and following Jesus.
- Acting instead of only talking about change.
- Lead, follow or get out of the way!
- Room – MOOR ROOM!
- Making room for the un-churched!
- Making room for our entire community.
- Unite all the good in the world!
- Making room for Jesus in every aspect of life and for all people in our churches.
- Making room for the youth in our church.
- Making room for LBGT community laity and clergy.
- Being open minded.
- Opening our church to ALL of God’s people.
- Moving over so someone else can have the best spot.
- Willingness to let go of that which does not work in order to move forward and grow.
- Making room for my son and his partner.
- Uniqueness and diversity.
- Making room – if you can afford to pay for the room to stay and the parking.
- Making room for all races! We are all children of God!
- Making room for inclusion of God’s Holy Spirit!
- Breaking away from tradition to make room for the youth.
- Allowing God’s Spirit to reside in mind and heart to be the hands and feet of His son Jesus in the world.
- It means clearing a space for God in everyone’s heart.
- Opening my heart to make room for all with whom I come in contact.
If anything, these expressions ran a broad spectrum for the clergy and lay leaders of the Indiana Conference to hear as they plan for the future. They touched on several themes, cultures and diversities that comprise us as the church. Many are futuristic in scope.
Making ROOM is more than an annual theme, but the beginning of forward movement to “make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”
In this issue, Together touches on many ways we the church are making room not only through the annual conference session and its outreach Community Connection ministry, but through a response to the Henryville Church by the Edwardsville Church, the positive reception of the new conference, the conference teaching moments, the future of the jurisdictional conference, those receiving funds for children’s ministry provided by the Bishop’s Christmas Offering, male-and-female perspectives of biblical stories in a new book and new Teaching Family Homes at our Indiana United Methodist Children’s Home in Lebanon.
And if you missed the front page and Bishop's column, Bishop Coyner has returned to Indiana to continue his leadership in setting a path and challenge for Hoosier United Methodists as we are Making ROOM for others, all others.
Daniel R. Gangler