Those of us who cheer for the Colts, and even many fans who don’t usually follow the Colts, are inspired by the “Chuck Strong” campaign to support Coach Chuck Pagano as he battles cancer. The surprising success of the Colts (who are 5-3 as I write this message) is due in part to the inspiration of having their head coach’s battle with leukemia as a constant reminder about priorities.

In a much less dramatic fashion, I have been sharing my District Days about my own prayer to “Finish Strong” in these final four years as the bishop of the Indiana Conference. I will retire in 2016, but I am not intending to slide into retirement or to waste these four years. So I have been sharing my hopes and priorities for these four years, and I have been receiving much feedback and many suggestions from the more than 1,500 people who have attended those District Days. I will be compiling those suggestions and using them to help craft my plans for the next four years.

The top three priorities I have named include these:

  1. Leadership – recruiting, training, supporting and deploying new and younger clergy and lay leadership at every level in the Indiana Conference;
  2. Mission Partnerships – building upon our Indiana Conference’s commitments to missions, by developing mission partnerships in local communities, in the State of Indiana, and around the world by joining in mutually beneficial efforts with other groups, and especially other Conferences, in Africa, Europe and South America; and
  3. Vital Congregations – continuing our focus upon using the Indiana Conference staff, resources and networks to strengthen our congregations for more fruitful ministry.

As I have shared during my District Days, these may not be the only priorities, or even the most important ones, but these three are the ones which keep coming to me as I pray about our next four years. If you have other input for me, please respond to me by email at and share your own hopes, dreams and thoughts for the future.

In the meantime, I ask for your prayers, based upon Philippians 3:12-14, for God’s strength and guidance to help me to “Finish Strong.”

I believe our prayers and our efforts together can help all of us in the Indiana Conference to keep the faith, keep our focus upon Christ and to finish strong together.

Bishop Michael J. Coyner,
 Indiana Area of
The United Methodist Church
Making a difference in Indiana
and around the world.

Bishop Coyner