I met last week with the team planning our 2015 Session of the Indiana Conference, and I am very excited and pleased with their preparations. In fact, I am actually looking forward to our Conference. Here are some details you may want to know as you plan to attend and participate in our Session:
  • The dates are May 28-29-30, Thursday-Friday-Saturday, in the Indiana Convention Center in downtown Indianapolis. The dates were announced at the close of our Session last year to indicate going through Sunday, but the planning team believes we can keep it to these three days and save everyone the expense of an extra day/night. 
  • The theme will be "Transform the World – Share Your Story" (thus continuing our focus these four years on the "second half" of our mission statement "Making Disciples of Jesus Christ for the Transformation of the World.") Our Scripture focus this year will be Joel 1:3, "Tell your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children to another generation." The "it" in that verse is, of course, the story of what God is doing in our lives.
  •  We will open the Session at 1 p.m. on Thursday, May 28, with an introduction of our theme and a setting of the necessary details to launch our time together. I will be preaching/sharing my story as a part of that opening worship time. This opening worship and plenary will be followed that afternoon by separate Laity and Clergy sessions. 
  • We will be electing delegates to the 2016 General and Jurisdictional Conferences. Persons have already submitted "Willing to Serve" forms which are posted on our website (click here), and the Districts and the Conference Leadership Table have endorsed some of those persons who will be indicated by an (*) on the ballot. Time to "meet and greet" those persons will be provided on Thursday morning from 10 a.m. to noon in the Convention Center. Those persons will also be identified in the Laity Session and the Clergy Session on Thursday afternoon. The actual voting will occur on Friday, with the laity voting in the morning and the clergy voting in the afternoon. Voting will be done by electronic machines with instant results. We are voting in separate sessions to save costs by re-using those electronic devices, and of course laity can only vote for laity delegates, and full-member clergy can only vote for clergy delegates
  •  In order to allow our newest clergy to vote on Friday, we will be holding our Ordination/Commissioning Service on Thursday evening at 7:30 p.m. Those newly-ordained clergy are then eligible to vote as we start voting the next day.
  • While the laity vote in the morning on Friday, the clergy will participate in learning experiences with our keynote speaker, George Howard, from the General Board of Global Ministries, followed by specialty workshops. Friday afternoon this will be reversed with the clergy voting and the laity participating in the same learning experiences.
  • Our memorial service will be held, again, on Friday evening, as we celebrate the lives of our clergy and spouses who have died in the last year. I have asked one of veteran pastors and one of our seminary students to share the message at that service - thus bringing to life the notion of "Sharing Our Story."
  • On Saturday morning we will hold our Prayer Breakfast. We will soon be announcing our speaker(s) for that event which has become such a meaningful part of Conference.
  • All of our Conference "business" will be conducted on Saturday, including voting on any petitions to General Conference. Once our business is completed on Saturday afternoon, we will have our brief closing worship to give/receive/bless the appointments of our clergy to go forth and serve.
  • For the first time, alongside our usual Annual Conference Session we will have a parallel MERGE - Family Ministry Conference on May 29-30 with a focus upon families with children and sharing the faith story from generation to generation. Registration will be open soon. It is our hope that this parallel event will allow churches to send teams of laity to learn about family ministry and bring those resources back to your local church. 
Learn more about Annual Conference on Twitter at #inumc15. Additional details are, of course, available on our conference website at www.inumc.org, and the on-line registration for Annual Conference will open April 1st (no jokes, please, about April Fool's Day). The hotel registration is already open on our conference website.
Finally, I ask that you join me in praying that God will work in and through us at our 2015 Session of the Indiana Conference.