Note: this E-pistle continues the reports about the next steps being taken as we move into the new Indiana Conference. You are welcome to share these reports:

Things are moving forward in the creation of our New Indiana Conference. Here are some recent developments:

  1. Ministry Order Chairs named – working with the two current Cabinets and Board of Ordained Ministry Chairs, I have nominated the following persons to be our new conference-wide Chairs of Ministry Orders:
  • Elders – Tim Burchill, West Lafayette St. Andrews UMC
  • Deacons – Jennifer Pollard, The Promise UMC in Fishers
  • Local Pastors – Don Ransford, Ebenezer/Farmerburg UM churches

In addition to these 3 Chairs, there will be coordinators for each of the Ministry Orders in each of the 10 Districts. Those 30 names will be published at a later date. These persons were elected/affirmed at the "Our Life Together" gathering of our clergy earlier this week.

  1. Drawing of District Lines – the two current Cabinets have worked hard to finalize the Ministry Cluster selections that our pastors and congregations have made. It looks like that final number will be just about 200 Ministry Clusters. Using those Ministry Cluster choices, the Cabinets and I have then tweaked the proposed district lines. Frankly we are finding that several local churches made Ministry Cluster choices which surprised us, but we trust that our pastors and congregations know best which directions they should cluster, so we are finalizing the district lines using those Ministry Cluster choices. These final lines will be published prior to Annual Conference, as soon as we finish a few final contacts and have someone draw a map with lots of squiggly lines.
  2. Training for Ministry Cluster Leaders – the Cabinets and I have asked Dr. Doug Anderson, current interim DS for the Michiana District, to provide the training for the Ministry Cluster leaders. The other DSs are working to free Doug to have time to do this training. We have set up 5 regional trainings, but Cluster Leaders are welcome to attend any of the 5 events depending upon your geography and schedule. The final locations will be announced soon, but here is an early schedule of these 5 regional training events (all will be held from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Easter time):
  • Saturday, July 18th – West and Southwest Districts
  • Saturday, August 15th – Central and North Central Districts
  • Saturday, August 22nd – South and Southeast Districts
  • Saturday, September 12th – East and Northeast Districts
  • Saturday, September 26th – North and Northwest Districts

The training will include these topics (among others):

  • Providing Support and Accountability for our Mission
  • Doing Ministry Together for our Mission
  • Helping Churches Stay Healthy for our Mission

It will be excellent training. In the meantime, we encourage the Ministry Clusters to meet, get acquainted, and pray for one another.

  1. Selecting the site for a new conference office – the Trustees of our new Indiana Conference, chaired by Rev. Mark Dicken of Newburgh, have named a search team which has looked at over 40 possible sites in the greater Indianapolis area to rent or lease for offices for our new Conference staff and the Bishop’s office. They are looking for some of these criteria:
  • Availability – in terms of ease of travel, around the I-465 corridor
  • Visibility – in terms of a witness to the community of our UMC presence
  • Accessibility – in terms of handicap accessibility, free parking, and ease of location for persons coming to the office
  • Affordability – in terms of fitting with the budget assigned by the new CFA

The team has written of “letter of interest” for one excellent office space near the intersection of I-465 and US 31 on the northside of Indianapolis. Once a final decision is made and a deal is completed, that information will be shared with everyone. The hope is to start moving into a new office space by this fall, although there will be need for on-going staff in Bloomington and Marion for sometime beyond that – as we complete this “messy” year of 2009 as both the old North and South, as well as the new Indiana Conference.

  1. 5. Staff hirings – as new staff position descriptions are prepared, they are being posted for application, and then as staff hirings are made they are being announced. To date, those new staff include:
  • Jim Bushfield, Director of Connectional Ministries
  • Jennifer Gallagher, Director of Financial Services
  • Brent Williams, Director of Administrative Services
  • Mark Gough, Director of Church Development
  • Dan Gangler, Director of Communications
  • Michelle Cobb, Director of the Well-Lived Pastoral Life Project
  • Adolf Hansen, Interim Director of Human Resources
  • David VW Owen, Executive Assistant to the Bishop
  • Brian Durrand, Associate Director for Youth, Youth Adult, and Campus Ministries

Other staff hirings will be announced as they are finalized.

Further updates from the Transition Team will be provided, and they are bringing some amendments to Annual Conference as they seek to oversee our transitions into a new conference.

At the "Our Life Together" retreat for clergy this week, Bishop Janice Huie shared about the Arkansas process of bringing those two conferences together. She reminded us that we should think of this as a 10-year process, and that is a good reminder that we are probably only 3 years into this process. But we are moving forward, step by step. Thanks to all who are working hard to make this a smooth transition and one which moves us toward more effective ministry.