My recent journeys around Indiana included a stop at the Evansville Youth Home, one of our United Methodist institutions supported by the South Indiana Conference budget and by Advance Special gifts. This home is for youth who have been in trouble with the law, abused at home, or placed with the Home for a variety of other reasons by the court systems. Here in the Home those youth find a comfortable family-style living environment, support, counseling, accountability, tutoring, and help in turning their lives around. I visited with some of the youth, with the staff, and with many of the Board of Directors. In the midst of a lively discussion, I asked both the staff and the volunteers on their Board of Directors, "Why do you do this ministry?" Almost immediately one young woman on staff answered, "Because growth happens here." She went on to explain, "We aren't just helping these kids, we are growing them into responsible young adults who get a second chance in life." I hope that you can sense the passion and the love in her comments.

We have several such ministries here in Indiana -- including the Indiana Children's Home in Lebanon, Indiana, and the Bashor Home near Goshen, Indiana. We also have retirement homes for older adults, three Universities, campus ministries, outdoor ministry programs, and several hospitals related to our United Methodist Church. In addition, we have ministries like the Lucille Raines Residence, Brightwood Community Center, and Fletcher Place -- just to mention those here in Indianapolis. All of these ministries, along with many other local church ministries for children and youth and adults, are truly fulfilling my motto of "Making a Difference" here in Indiana. And every one of these ministries has a caring staff, committed volunteers, and generous supporters who make those ministries possible. One really cannot overestimate the contributions of such ministries in changing lives, breaking the cycles of violence and poverty, healing broken bodies and broken hearts, and in providing places where we can say, "Growth happens here."

Kind of makes you proud to be a United Methodist, doesn't it?

from Bishop Michael J. Coyner