Annual Conference Summary 2023: Thursday, June 8

Praying Forward: No Turning Back

Opening Worship

Resident bishop of the Indiana Conference Julius C. Trimble presented his episcopal address entitled “Lord, Teach Us to Pray” at the 2023 Indiana Annual Conference Session at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. “We are praying forward with confidence in the God who calls us and walks with us. There is no turning back for God is doing a new thing among us,” he said.

The Many led the Conference in musical worship and a time of prayer. Retired Bishop John Hopkins presided over Holy Communion. 

Plenary #1

John Wesley (Retired elder Rev. Bert Kite) interrupted Bishop as he began the business of the Church. “God’s grace knows no limits! The mark of a Methodist is to love others, to share and redeem God’s love!” he said. “Will you love as Jesus loved?”


Barb Holcomb, Conference Secretary, presented the following motions.

Motion: I move that the voting bar, or legal limits, of the conference be designated as the registered members who have been issued their voting credentials.

The motion passed. 

Motion: I move that all votes and decisions made during this virtual Annual Conference shall be legal and binding.

The motion passed. 

Rules and Structure 

Rev. Paul Wagner presented the following motion.

Motion: I move that the Rules and Structure Document be accepted and then added to the record of this Conference Session.

The motion passed. 

Consent Calendar

Rev. Paul Wagner then presented the Conference Calendar.

Motion: I move that the Board, Agency, and Committee Reports listed on the Conference website under the heading “Consent Calendar” be accepted and added to the record of this Conference Session.

The motion passed. 

First Lady’s Greeting

A video greeting was shared by First Lady Grandberry-Trimble, during which she read “The Road Not Traveled” by Robert Frost. She then said, “Whichever road you take, God will be there always. Prayer has to be our go-to. We encourage you to embrace the Annual Conference theme of Praying Forward.” 

Rev. Ed Fisher posed a question: Though the Consent Calendar had been approved, one report had a financial impact—a new policy regarding clergy relocation that would require churches that haven’t fully paid their tithe to cover the cost for their clergy relocations. Bishop sent the question to CFA for review.

Plenary #2

Council on Finance & Administration

Rev. Rodney Frieden celebrated Robert Johnson for her 25+ years of service to the Conference. He then presented a motion. 

Motion: To elect Robert Johnson as treasurer for the Indiana Conference.

The motion passed (98%). 

Frieden reported that the year’s giving was $11,515400 and expenses were $11,515,400. “The Indiana Conference remains in good financial health,” he said. 

The proposed budget for 2024 is $11,949,858.

Rev. John Meunier posed a question regarding the financial reserves since we are drawing on that. Frieden explained that CFA crafted a budget in 2024 that did not cause harm. “It’s hard to predict where we’ll be in 2025, but we’ll do that in 12 months,” he said.

Committee on Nominations

Rev. Duane Carlisle, representing the Committee on Nominations, urged people to fill out the Conference Volunteer Form.

Missional Offering

Rev. Jen Huff presented the 2023 Indiana Annual Conference Missional Offering. Financially, the Missional Offering is going toward Bishop Trimble’s challenge of raising $300,000 for scholarships for students at Africa University. She announced that every participant in Annual Conference will receive a children’s book. “Even if you don’t have a child in your church, we believe there is one in your community,” she said.

Lay Leader Address

Conference Lay Leader David Johns spoke about the importance of rejoicing, praying, and giving thanks always. He concluded with, “Rejoice always, pray always, give thanks always, and do the will of God. Be sure and tell someone about Jesus. Read a book to a child. Help a student attend Africa University. Be the Church so that others can experience the joy of Jesus as you have.” 

Kim Arnott spoke on behalf of the Board of Laity in honoring David Johns for his 4.5 years of serving as the Conference Lay Leader. Rev. Shannon Priddy will take on the role in his absence.

Laity Session

Kim Arnott gave a presentation on Lay Servant Ministries and introduced the winner of the annual laity manuscript contest, John Wakeman, who read his sermon.

During a Missions Moment, John McCullough and Dan Weirich shared the benefits of children’s literacy development and the impact of scholarships for Africa University.

Rev. Sue Nilson Kibbey spoke about the importance of the Breakthrough Prayer initiative, which will have an impact on personally and congregationally. She invited the Conference to take part in the Dynamite Prayer 28-Day Experiment in September. 

Plenary #3

Board of Trustees 

Rev. Teri Crouse reported that from April 2022 to March 2023, 19 discontinued

or abandoned church and Conference properties were sold or disbursed for a total of $5,014,910. In 2022, the Shera Farm Trust had a net loss and, therefore, there will be no distribution of proceeds this year; the trust must recoup its losses before a distribution

can be made again. 

174 churches have disaffiliated from The United Methodist Church. (Once finalized, the complete list will be on the Conference website.)

Motion: Pursuant to the process outlined in the disaffiliation agreement and ¶2553, the Indiana Annual Conference is now called upon to ratify by simple majority the disaffiliation of the congregations, as previously read.

The motion passed (95%). 

Motion: That the Report of the Board of Trustees be approved as presented.

The motion passed (99%). 

2022 Resolutions

Rev. Paul Wagner gave an update on actions from the 2022 Annual Conference Session. 

Our passed resolution concerning “Commitment to Grace” submitted by Mary Dicken

was ruled “null and void” by Judicial Council (Ruling #1468) because it “was determined by the Judicial Council to ”contains prescriptive language that runs counter to The Discipline, therefore, it has no further impact or effect in the Indiana Conference.” Additionally, Bishop Trimble’s ruling that Resolution #3 submitted by Mike Womack and questioned by Rev. Darren Cushman-Wood was out of order, was affirmed by the Judicial Council (Ruling #1456). It remains out of order. 


Co-author of the book Growing Young, Jake Mulder posed a question to the Conference, “What does the future of your church look like?” He presented an opportunity for churches to “grow young” into the future. He highlighted 6 core commitments (keychain leadership, empathize with young people, take Jesus’ message seriously, fuel a warm community, prioritize young people everywhere, be the best neighbors) that can help do just that.

Board of Pensions and Health Benefits

Rev. Russ Abel shared that eighty percent of retired clergy are enrolled in the Medicare supplemental offerings through ViaBenefits. Church contributions for health coverage will increase by 12% in 2024.

Motion: Pre-service rate that the Past Service Rate (PSR) for Pre-1982 service be set at $904 per service year in 2024 – a 12% increase. 

The motion passed. 

Motion: That the monthly church contribution for health coverage be increased by 12%.

The motion passed.

Motion: That this report, in its entirety, be approved as presented in the written report.

The motion passed. 

Children Matter Most 

Rev. Jen Huff introduced the new Dream and Do award, which provides an opportunity for children and young people to receive a grant to help further the ideas young leaders have around mission, justice, and community. Zachary Manton leaned into the question, “Who are our children?” 

Ice cream from Bashor Children’s Home, which is celebrating 100 years of serving children.