Recent days have included a lot of United Methodist celebrations here in Indiana.
Friday night was the 90th anniversary of the Wesley Foundation and campus ministry at Purdue University. We gathered to hear stories of the history of this ministry, testimonies from present and former students whose lives have been blessed by the ministry, and dreams for the future. The current partnership between Wesley Foundation and First UMC in West Lafayette seems to be working well.
Sunday night was the celebration of the 20th anniversary of Operation Classroom. This unique mission partnership began with the work of the two conference lay leaders (John Shettle and Bob Bowman) who looked for a way to bring the North and South Conferences together around mission and education in Liberia and Sierra Leone. We celebrated with a total of six bishops present, many missionaries, work teams, and other interested clergy and laity. The evening included an announcement of a generous gift of $100,000 to start an Endowment Fund to underwrite the administrative costs of the program.
In addition to these celebrations, this fall I have been involved in a variety of local church celebrations of anniversaries, new building projects, and various other creative ministry starts. In recent weeks, those have included: Evansville Old North (175th), W. Lafayette St. Andrew (new building), Frankfort St. Matthew (175th), Jeffersonville Wall Street (200th), Battle Ground (150th), Connersville Cluster 5th Sunday Worship (exploring ways to work together in that community), Bicknell (150th), Gary (Service of Seeds of Hope at old City Church), and Fort Wayne Simpson (a Sunday night service after a morning of “Faith in Action”).
Wow! It is fun to celebrate, and I usually get to show up for the “party” after so many others have done the hard work to start ministries, build buildings, or celebrate decades of faithfulness. For those who think that church is “boring” or just “business as usual” – I invite you to see how many United Methodist celebrations we are having here in Indiana. It is indeed time for the church to celebrate!
from Bishop Michael J. Coyner