AKRON, Ohio – The North Central Jurisdiction* of The United Methodist Church announced July 19, during its quadrennial conference in Akron, the assignment of Bishop Michael J. Coyner to Indiana for his third term as Bishop of the Indiana Area.

In his online E-pistle publication, posted the same day after the announcement, he wrote: “I feel very blessed to be assigned ‘back home again’ in Indiana, because I love being with the people called United Methodists in Indiana, and I also believe that we have much work to do here.”

Coyner, who during the past eight years led in uniting the former North and South Indiana conferences of the church into the new Indiana Conference, will remain in Indiana based at the Indiana Conference Center of the church located in Indianapolis. He says he plans to retire Aug. 31, 2016.

He went on to say, “You all know me well enough to know that I will not spend the next four years retiring. That is not my nature or my style of leadership. Rather, I want to make the most of these next four years, and so I will be soliciting your input about how best to use these years for the long-term good of the Indiana Conference.”

The announcement was good news to the 36 lay and clergy delegates of the Indiana Conference, who asked the NCJ Episcopacy Committee to return Coyner to Indiana. Bishops serve four-year terms, however, are usually moved after two terms in one area. They can be permitted to serve a third term by the jurisdictional conference at the recommendation of the 20-member NCJ Episcopacy Committee.

Beyond Indiana

Other assignments in the North Central Jurisdiction include:

  • Sally Dyck, Northern Illinois, Chicago Area
  • John Hopkins, East Ohio Area
  • Hee-Soo Jung, Wisconsin Area
  • Jonathon Keaton, Illinois Great Rivers, Illinois Area
  • Deborah Lieder Keisey, Michigan Area
  • Bruce Ough, the new Dakotas-Minnesota Area
  • Gregory V. Palmer, West Ohio Area
  • Julius Calvin Trimble, Iowa Area

All four-year term episcopal assignments begin Sept. 1, 2012 and end Aug. 31, 2016.

The number of bishops per jurisdiction changed at this jurisdictional conference. Each of the five jurisdictions of The United Methodist Church were mandated by the 2008 General Conference of the church to assign one fewer bishop per jurisdiction. With the retirement of Bishop Linda Lee of Wisconsin, no election was held to replace her position as a bishop. This also meant one fewer episcopal area.

Bishop Lee also pointed out that for the first time since the mid-1980s, the jurisdiction does not have an African-American female bishop.

New area

The Minnesota and Dakotas conferences will become one episcopal area (The Minnesota-Dakotas Area) on Sept. 1 based in Minneapolis with two separate conferences comprising an area of more than 224,000 sq. miles – similar to the size of Texas. Both conferences will be sharing some ministries together.

Many meetings are and will be handled through teleconferencing. Telecommunications has saved the conference more than $65,000 that would have been spent on travel. To assist the two former areas merging into one episcopal area, the North Central Jurisdiction has budgeted $120,000 to be used during the next quadrennium beginning Sept. 1.

Even though the Dakotas and Minnesota will remain as two annual conferences, their leaders announced that they do plan to work more closely together since their ministries will be under the same bishop.

District Days

In his E-pistle immediately following jurisdictional conference, Coyner also announced that his customary District Days will include an evening reception so that he can meet and greet Hoosier United Methodists across the state as he begins his third and final term as the Resident Bishop of Indiana. The dates and districts of the District Days will be:

  • September 20 – Northwest District
  • October 1 – North District
  • October 3 – West District
  • October 11 – Central District
  • October 18 – North Central District
  • October 22 – Southwest District
  • October 23 – Southeast District
  • October 29 – Northeast District
  • November 1 – East District
  • November 13 – South District

Times and places will be announced at a later time.

In closing, Coyner wrote: “I look forward to seeing many of you at one of these District Days where we can share our thoughts about how to make the most out of these next four years together.” (See From the Bishop on page 2.)

*The North Central Jurisdiction is comprised of 11 conferences, including: Dakotas, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Northern Illinois, Illinois Great Rivers, Indiana, Western Michigan, Detroit, West Ohio and East Ohio. The conferences are supervised by nine bishops beginning Sept. 1. The Western Michigan and Detroit conferences share one bishop. The Dakotas and Minnesota conferences also share one bishop. There are five jurisdictions in The United Methodist Church in the United States. Each meets the same days every four years following the quadrennial General Conference.

Bishop Mike Coyner and his wife, Marsha, greet the Rev. Ray Wilkins of Shelbyville during the bishops reception at the NCJ Conference.

“I feel very blessed to be assigned ‘back home again’ in Indiana…”

– Bishop Mike Coyner