I have just returned from the North Indiana Conference where a vote was taken on a recommendation of the Area Committee on Episcopacy to request that a Task Force be formed to bring back to the 2007 Session a plan for merger or forming a new Indiana Conference. Such a plan would then be voted upon in 2007, revised and finalized in 2008, and taken to the North Central Jurisdictional Conference for approval in July of 2008. The vote in the North Conference was "sealed" and the results will not be available until after the South Conference has an opportunity later this week to consider, discuss, and vote upon the same recommendation. If both Conferences approve the recommendation, then a Task Force will be formed and will work this year to bring back some kind of a plan for vote next year.

Meanwhile, I have been sharing this choice with various groups in both Conferences. When I shared this recommendation with two gatherings of younger clergy in Bloomington and in Kokomo, we had excellent sessions. It was encouraging just to see the number of younger clergy (we had over 40 at each session), and we took notes on their comments. Those notes are now posted on our Indiana Area Web site, and you can read their comments. There is also a place for you to add your own comments. Just click on this link and you will get to that web page:

http://inareaumc.org/Imagine-Indiana/young_clergy_responses_to_merger.htm 

I am content with whatever decision is made by both of our Indiana Conferences. What really intrigues me is the idea of asking the right questions about our United Methodist Church in Indiana. The proposals from our Area Committee on Episcopacy come under the theme of "Imagine Indiana." That theme really captures the right questions - What kind of Indiana is God imaging? What kind of Indiana do we imagine? How can we imagine our United Methodist Church helping to accomplish the dream of God for our state of Indiana? For our world?

I invite you to review the comments of the younger clergy, to add your own comments, and especially to keep considering this prayer question: how do we Imagine Indiana?

from Bishop Michael J. Coyner