This past Saturday was the annual Bishop’s Confirmation Rally, held on the first Saturday of March each year. We gather youth from all over Indiana who are involved in their local church’s confirmation process, and during this day-long rally we have photos together, lunch (over 100 pizzas this year), lively music, a presentation on the meaning of confirmation, an invitation for the youth to become United Methodist Christians, and a closing communion service. This year brought nearly 600 together, and it was a very energetic group. I am so grateful to the conference staff, the local church which hosts the event (this year it was Noblesville 1st UMC), and to the pastors and other adults who bring their youth.
In the midst of a lot of discouraging news on the national and church level, it was very uplifting for me to experience the joy of those hundreds of youth, their enthusiasm for their faith, their desire to become Christians, and their energy. It always amazes me how these kids can jump and dance and sing during the music, but then settle down in very respectful attention while we talk about faith issues.
We give the kids a chance to write questions for me, and I try to answer them. Their question range from many personal questions for me (What is your favorite color? Do you drive a Bishopmobile? How old are you? What is your favorite Bible verse?), all the way to important faith questions and questions about the church. This year one of those questions was, “How can I know where God is leading in my life?” Wow! What a great opportunity I had to share my own faith journey and to encourage the youth to be open to God’s leading in their lives.
This year we added a special treat: an appearance by John Wesley (in the person of Rev. Bert Kite who does a great job of acting the part). The kids got a chance to ask Mr. Wesley some questions, too, and he helped me serve them communion.
The Bishop’s Confirmation Rally is one of the highlights of my year. It ranks right up there with the Ordination Service at Annual Conference.
So in the midst of a dreary March filled with budget decisions, difficult appointment issues, and the usual “gripes” that come my way as a bishop, all I can say is: Thanks Kids! It was a great day and you encourage me.
from Bishop Michael J. Coyner
Indiana Conference of The United Methodist Church