I have been given the honor of announcing the theme for our 2016 Annual Conference Session. The theme was developed by the planning team, and it was vetted with numerous groups, and now finally I am glad to announce it and endorse it. The theme and logo are as follows:
I really like the theme our planning team selected, for several reasons:
- It reminds us that our Hope is in Jesus Christ, and yet we are called to embody that hope. That is slightly reminiscent of the motto: "be the change you seek." John Wesley reminded his Methodist followers that the Christian Faith is about what he called "responsible grace" – namely, once we discover the grace, forgiveness, salvation, and new life we have in Jesus Christ, then we are responsible to live that faith, that hope, and that love.
- It reminds us that our Hope is manifested in our BEING in a loving, fair, and just relationship with God and with one another. Sometimes in the church we get busy "doing" our faith, but this theme reminds us that Hope is first about our Being. Even though we are responsible to live our Hope (as noted above in #1), that really starts with our Being in relationship through Christ.
- It also reminds us that our world desperately needs HOPE – and we who follow Christ are in the best position to offer such HOPE through our own lives, ministries, and presence.
As I think about this theme, I celebrate all of the ways we Indiana Methodists are already living that theme. I think of our Campaign for Africa University which has raised $1.3 million toward our goal of $1.6 million to provide a professorship and scholarships to bring HOPE to Africa (our campaign was cut short by the untimely death of Rev. Bill Keith who chaired that campaign, and so now we have a little more to finish). I think about our "Building Discipleship Centers" Campaign which is providing HOPE by enhancing our camp, retreat, and spiritual formation ministries, especially with young people. I think about the HOPE that we provide in our 1,100 congregations every week as we provide sanctuary for worship and for renewing of HOPE in people's lives. I think about the HOPE that we provide through a variety of United Methodist institutions in Indiana whereby we literally save lives in medical facilities, promote healthy lifestyles, and offer communities of HOPE for youth people as well as seniors. I think about the HOPE that so many of our congregations offer through their food banks, clothing closets, school back-pack campaigns, and literally hundreds of other local outreach ministries. And of course as a United Methodist, I think about the HOPE that we offer all around the world through our Conference Tithe and the percentage that goes to our connectional ministries everywhere.
HOPE. BE the HOPE. Come to the 2016 Session of our Indiana Conference prepared to Embrace, Realize, and Live the HOPE that is ours in Jesus Christ.