The North and South Conferences met last Saturday to take the final vote on the plan to create a new conference, and the answer to the vote was “Yes.” In my sermon that day, I raised the question from Ezekiel 37 and his vision of the valley of dry bones, “Can these bones live?” I believe that question is not an organizational question, it is a spiritual question for us as we begin our new Indiana Conference. “Can these bones live?” Can these plans for our new conference organization bring life and power and vitality?

My answer (and the answer from Ezekiel the prophet) is, “Yes, by God’s Spirit.” We have our part to play, making a new conference is our responsibility, and (in the words of Jim Wallace), “We are the ones we have been waiting for.” It is up to us, but it is not all up to us, it depends upon God’s Spirit.

That is why it is so important that we bathe this new Indiana Conference in prayer. That is why we are invited to begin our new as new entity with a week of prayer (see my previous e-pistle about that). That is why we must be open to God’s Spirit leading us into a new future, no matter how uncertain that future may seem.

One of my mentors in ministry, Don LaSuer, was pastor at my home church in Anderson and later my superintendent in the old South Bend District. One of Don’s favorite sayings has been, “Assume a YES.” He meant that we cannot wait for everyone to agree, we cannot move forward with hesitancy, and we cannot live our faith timidly. Rather, we should “Assume a YES” and move forward with faith.

So it was appropriate that on Monday when I arrived at a meeting with the North Cabinet, I found waiting for me a gift of a YES. It is a wooden carving with the word YES! on it. I plan to keep that YES! on the table in the conference room at the Area Office, so whenever we host meetings to help shape the new Indiana Conference we will be reminded to assume a YES.

That is our task now as the new Indiana Conference. The answer is YES. God wants to fill our lives with God’s Spirit, to lead us into new pathways of faith, and to challenge us to be more faithful disciples. The answer is YES, so assume that YES and move forward.

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