Note: this e-pistle continues the reports about the next steps being taken as we move into the new Indiana Conference. You are welcome to share these reports:

Plans for the first Session of the new Indiana Conference are being prepared by the Interim Sessions Committee, under the leadership of Co-Chairs Karen DeVaisher and Mary Hubbard. The dates for this Annual Conference are Thursday to Sunday, June 25-28, 2009 at Ball State University. The decision to hold Annual Conference over a Sunday (with Sunday morning being the Commissioning and Ordination Service) was made in response to a strong push by many laity to have a “weekend” Annual Conference so that they don’t have to take so many days off work to attend.

The theme for the 2009 Session will be “Rethink Church” – which will reflect both the continuing work of Imagine Indiana to shape a new Annual Conference and a direct tie-in to the denominational marketing campaign being formed by Igniting Ministries. The image for “Rethink Church” will be Doors – doors that reflect our UMC slogan of “Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors.”

One new component of the Annual Conference Session will be a Teaching Day on Thursday, featuring Rev. Adam Hamilton, senior pastor of the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection, one of our largest UMC congregations. In addition, that Thursday will include an opening business session focused upon establishing the new rules to conduct the Annual Conference and followed by a special time of helping one another get acquainted with all of our United Methodist ministries in Indiana.

Another new component will be a time on Saturday for mission and outreach to the Muncie community. Members of the Annual Conference will be divided into teams built around the 10 new districts, and then sent forth to minister in a variety of opportunities for prayer, mission work, and sharing in the community. Saturday night’s worship service will be a celebration and report of those outreach efforts.

In addition, the 2009 Session will feature opening worship times on Friday and Saturday, followed by a Bible Study on “Extravagant Generosity” led by noted stewardship teacher Dr. David Bell of Michigan. These Bible Studies will be a part of the continuing emphasis in the new Indiana Conference on the “Five Practices” book which was given to all lay members at the North and South Indiana Conferences in the 2008 Sessions.

More information about the 2009 Session of the Indiana Conference will be shared as the Interim Sessions Committee continues its work. To read more about the new Indiana Conference, go to www.inareaumc.org and click on “New Indiana United Methodist Conference.” You will even find a Power Point which summarizes and visualizes the Next Steps toward this new conference.

from Bishop Michael J. Coyner
Indiana Area of The United Methodist Church