During his sermon titled, “BUT GOD,” based on Ephesians 2:1-10 and delivered during the Saturday morning, June 8 Celebration of Ministry: Commissioning and Ordination, at the Annual Conference Session, Indiana Bishop Mike Coyner began with an apology to his high school English teacher, Mrs. Simons. Coyner recognized that BUT GOD is bad grammar, but, he said, “We must take seriously the reality of sin, evil, brokenness, heartache, pain – BUT GOD is the final answer.”

He continued, “Anyone and everyone knows that our world today is one in which we see sin, separation from God, evil-doers and evil deeds, brokenness and heartache, dysfunction and disaster all around us.” The questions remain: How do we respond; how do we engage ministry in the midst of such reality? How are we World Changers, proclaimed in our annual conference theme?

Coyner said during his four decades of ministry, he noticed most people in the world face problems with either “Ain’t it awful” or “It will be OK.” “Ain’t it awful” says the world is evil, people are broken and sinful. Nothing is going to change and we can’t do much about it all. Coyner pointed out that such a response leads to clergy cynicism about the church, ministry and life. On the other hand – “It will be OK” – is really not an answer to the obvious problems and evils of the real world.

He continued: “Ain’t it awful” usually implies, “If I were in charge, I would fix it.” And, likewise the “It will be OK” attitude really implies, “As long as I am alright, then who cares about the rest of the world?”

Coyner said, “Both attitudes leave God out of the equation and focus upon me, me, me.”

Ephesians, on the other hand, says BUT GOD. The final answer is Grace – the gift of God’s love. As Ephesians says, “By grace you have been saved, through faith – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

To illustrate this point, Coyner talked about Brother Guy, a Benedictine monk at the Blue Cloud Abbey in South Dakota. “He (Brother Guy) talked about gardening, and wood-working, and washing dishes. Then he would make his point: ‘holy living’ is about discovering God’s presence in everyday life so we might see holy living in every aspect of life.” Coyner said, Brother Guy complimented United Methodists for being the first denomination to include in Communion liturgy, “Jesus ate with sinners.” In Communion the final answer of grace is given: BUT GOD, the Good News.

Addressing those waiting for ordination he said, as ministers of faith, we present Jesus Christ wherever we show up. “We offer the new answer: BUT GOD,” he said. “And when we leave the church after worship, as a deacon or pastor or layperson offers us a Benediction, do you know what they are saying? ‘Go out into a world that looks very ungodly, and trust that the message of BUT GOD will go with you and change the world.’

“That’s our ministry: living and sharing the Good News that trouble is real, BUT GOD offers grace. We need to be reminded, as Ephesians says, “It is by grace that we are saved and this is God’s doing. The final answer in this world is BUT GOD…”

During the service, Bishop Coyner commissioned 10 provisional ministers and ordained 13 Elders, receiving them as full-time clergy members of the conference.

Photo by Enid Gangler

Bishop Coyner is joined by other Elders laying hands on Daniel Cho during the ritual of ordination.

Photo by Enid Gangler

Bishop Coyner baptized three children from parsonage families during the Ministry Service Saturday, June 8. Here he baptizes Callie Marie Weiner Johnson, daughter of the Rev. Sean and Abigail Johnson of Avon. Also baptized were Asher David Reed, son of the Rev. Kevin and Julie Reed of Edinburgh and Robert Victor Stephens, son of the Rev. Chris and Michelle Stephens of Indianapolis.