Those who are working on the plans for Annual Conference are starting to ask me for my sermon text and title for the Ordination Service. That service will be held on Sunday morning, June 28th in Emens Auditorium on the campus of Ball State University. Having the Ordination Service on Sunday morning is a kind of “back to the future” change for us, since it once was always true that this service was held on a Sunday (I was ordained on a Sunday). For the past several years, it is been Friday night, Saturday morning, or Saturday afternoon at the former North and South Indiana Conferences. Going back to a Sunday morning will cause our churches to have to think how they will handle that Sunday. Here are a few options to think about:

  1. Ask one of our hundreds and well-trained Lay Speakers to preach that Sunday at your church
  2. Videotape your pastor ahead of time and play that video on Sunday, June 28th
  3. The Annual Conference worship will be web-cast on the internet, so your church could gather and worship with us in your sanctuary via webcast
  4. Celebrate our ecumenical connections by invite a preacher from a near-by congregation of another denomination to preach for you that day
  5. Involve your laity and make it a celebration of the ministry of the laity

It is up to you and your church to decide how to deal with that Sunday. Certainly your ordained clergy who are members of the Annual Conference deserve to have that Sunday “off” and to share in the Ordination Service at Annual Conference to welcome their new clergy colleagues.

Now back to my question for you: What would you tell them? What would you tell those new ministers being commissioned and ordained on June 28th? This is a serious request. Write to me by e-mail (bishop.coyner@inumc.org) and give me your best advice and wisdom to be shared with those new ministers on the day they are being commissioned or ordained. I am not trying to avoid my responsibility to preach that day, but I would like to incorporate into my sermon some of your thoughts, good words, and admonitions to these new ministers.

After all, in our United Methodist system, clergy are not ordained by the local church or just for local ministry. They belong to all of us, all of the United Methodists here in Indiana, and in fact all United Methodists around the world. So, let me hear from you. What would you tell them?

Thanks for your help.

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