As we prepare to gather for the 4th session of the Indiana Conference of The United Methodist Church, for the first time the people called Methodist will gather in the capital city of Indiana. In many ways we are gathering “in the midst of” many things.
We are still in the midst of becoming a new Conference, and we will hear a report from the group which has studied our Imagine Indiana Plan and surveyed and interviewed many of the United Methodists in Indiana to discern how we are doing in our efforts to become a new conference.
We will literally gather on the site of the original Bethel AME Church, which was an important stop along the Underground Railroad to help slaves escape. In 1862 that first building was burned by those opposed to abolition, and the Bethel AME congregation located further out from the city. As we consecrate the site of our Annual Conference Session, it will be important to remember that painful history and to pray for healing of the racism which still plagues us in Indiana.
We will gather in the midst of the capital city of Indiana, which means we will also gather in the midst of the current political realities. Our governor, Mitch Daniels, will speak to our Prayer Breakfast on Saturday, and the City Council chair, Maggie Lewis, will also alert us to the prayer concerns of the city – and then we will have time to pray for both the state and the city.
We will meet in the same convention center and at the same time that the Republican State Convention will be held, and the annual Gay Pride Parade will take place on Saturday, too, just a few blocks away.
So, we will be gathering “in the midst of it all” – and perhaps that is the right place for us to be: in the midst of competing political groups and agenda, trying to be faithful, to heal historic hurts, and to “be church” in the midst of it all.