Praying Forward: No Turning Back
Rev. Dr. Gary Schaar led the Conference in voting for clergy and laity delegates for General and Jurisdictional Conferences.
Sarah Black, laity from Valparaiso First, made a motion to remove John Lomperis as a delegate to General and Jurisdictional Conferences since he doesn’t live in Indiana and only recently (5 days ago) became a member of the church.
Bishop asked for confirmation that John Lomperis is a member at Valparaiso First. Senior pastor at Valparaiso First, Rev. Kevin Miller, confirmed that John Lomparis is a member.
Rev. Russ Abel, Chair of the Delegation, stated that the delegation contacted lay members to General Conference inquiring if their church is other than the one listed on their initial Willingness to Serve Form. “We did not see it as our responsibility to act as investigators,” he said. “We act in trust. We’ve done what we believe was a fair and faithful process to try to gain that information. We were not aware of a transfer of his membership.”
Rev. John Meunier, senior pastor at Sheridan First, posed a question: Can the Annual Conference rescind the membership of a delegate that has already been elected?
Rev. Beth Ann Cook made a Point of Information: The process to challenge a delegate is to send a letter to Gary Graves, General Conference Secretary. “I don’t believe that this body has the ability to do that,” she said.
After a brief recess, Bishop Trimble ruled the motion out of order. “The Judicial Council declared that the delegation that had been elected—but not yet served—had been certified. John Lomperis’ membership had been verified. So the motion to remove a member of the delegation was out of order.
Ballot #1 had no clergy elections.
Ballot #1 had 2 laity elections: Alisa Isaacs-Bailey, Janee LaFuze
Deacon Mary Dicken made a motion “in the interest of supporting Sarah Black’s motion: ”I move that we send a letter to the Secretary of the General Conference from the Indiana Conference requesting that John Lomperis be removed from the delegation.”
Retired elder Rev. Mark Fenstermacher made a Point of Order: At a Zoom Charge Conference in the last past year, John Lomperis’ eligibility to serve on the delegation became a topic of conversation. In the meeting, former Rev. Sam Padgett (who withdrew his credentials from The United Methodist Church) clarified that John was a member of his church and was active there. So Mark posed the question: Is John Lomperis a member of Valparaiso First or the member of a church that Sam Padgett serves at the time? “I’m not sure how you can be an active member in both congregations,” he said.
Senior pastor at Valparaiso First, Rev. Kevin Miller, explained John Lomperis’ membership was with Decatur St. Mark’s. When they disaffiliated, he transferred his membership to Rochester Grace. When they disaffiliated, John became a member at Valparaiso First, where “he has a history, and he was previously employed. He is an active member,” Kevin clarified.
The motion passed (62%).
According to co-author of Growing Young, Jake Mulder, growing young is not about changing your youth ministry; it’s about changing your church culture. He encouraged churches to identify who may be ready for “a set of keys” and to empower young leaders to envision new doors with new keys. “Those are a taste of keychain leadership,” he said.
When asked, “What if we have no young people in our church?” Jake Mulder responded that Jesus defines your neighbor as “person different from you, who you don’t want to trust…that sort of person is your neighbor.”
Retirees filed onto the stage as the congregation sang Great Is Thy Faithfulness.
Retiring elder Rev. Mary Cartwright gave a sermon entitled Sharing the Call. 56 retirees were recognized for a combined total of 1,506 years of service.
Rev. Tony Alstott, chair of the Board of Ordained Ministry, presented the class with a gift—a $1,000 donation was made in their honor toward Bishop Trimble’s Africa University Missional Challenge to support student scholarships. “This gift will make a lasting difference in many lives, just as your ministry has made a lasting difference in ours,” he said.
Rev. Duane Carlisle presented a motion: the Conference Nominations Committee be accepted as presented.
The motion passed (99%).
Lydia Jacobson shared that the Emerging Leaders presentation would be comprised of highlights of a discussion from a recent retreat. Hannah Mekaru talked about what she loves about the Church. Emerson Cress shared what they want the Church to know. Andrew Griffin and Conner Johnson offered suggestions for how we can all work together as multiple generations. Emily Krach invited people to join a Growing Young cohort.
Representing Diversity, Missions, and Justice, Rev. Annettra Jones thanked Linda Madagame for her 10+ years of service to CONAM. She shared brief updates about CONAM, the Compassion and Inclusion ministry, and Prison and Jail ministry. She highlighted that 100% of Conference staff have taken the IDI (Intercultural Development Inventory). Finally, she announced the creation of R3 Academy (Rest, Rewal & Relationships) for ethnic clergy.
For Missions, Rev. Jen Huff shared that the Indiana Conference’s financial giving to the Bishop’s Christmas Offering, Special Sundays, Advances, and United Methodist ministries equals $1, 286,181.98. There are currently 43 trained and active ERTs in the state and 5 district disaster response coordinators.
Rev. Jen Huff invited everyone to the Jurisdictional Mission Academy that will be held at Epworth Forest, August 9-12, with Rev. Dee Stickley-Miner, the Global Ministries Executive Director for Mission Engagement, as the keynote speaker. She then awarded a new Ripple Effect Award to Lydia Davis from Barnes UMC for “providing a better future for all in your path, you are inspiring others with your shining spark, and with each connection you grow and gain a community of love, that will forever remain.”
Scott Reed, laity from Richmond First made a motion for another Special Annual Conference Session in 2023. Bishop Trimble ruled it out of order since a special session must be called by a Bishop, not an Annual conference.
Ballot #2 had no clergy elections.
Ballot #2 had 2 laity elections: MaryKate Annin and Karin Heinicke
Local pastor Peggy Nunley, incoming chair for the Indiana United Methodist Board
of Camps and Conference, acknowledged Camp Rivervale and Epworth Forest Conference Center, both of which are celebrating 100 years of life change in 2023.
She reported that each year, the number of students attending summer camps has declined; and each year the camping ministry struggles to find summer staff and volunteer counselors. 1,807 lives were touched by our Impact2818 camps in 2022. 244 custom camps, retreats and discipleship events impacted additional lives. She also reported that Impact2818 received six grants through United Methodist Camp & Retreat Ministries Association (UMCRM) totaling over $210,000.
United Methodist Foundation, Inc.(UMFI)
Manet Shettle, President of the United Methodist Foundation and the Indiana Loan & Saving Ministries, thanked Tamye O’Neal for 29 years of service to the Foundation and Loan and Savings Ministry. Meanwhile, George Davis began as a new loan officer. In 2022, UMFI supported 77 congregations and missions through grants, and 24 undergraduate, graduate, and seminary students with scholarships, as well as scholarships to 15 first-time mission trip participants. Last year, UMFI distributed $47,890 directly to retired clergy experiencing financial crisis and provided $226,971 in support to the Conference for retired clergy health
insurance. She presented a check for $231,114 this year to the Conference in support of our retired clergy.
Motion: Affirm the nominations slate for the UMFI 2023-2026 Board Member Class.
The motion passed (100%).
Deacon Rev. Julie Pimlott posed a question: how many loans were given for churches to help with disaffiliations? Can’t tell the specific number, they did make loans to some churches for disaffiliations, but they also lost several investments because of that. She estimated 5-6 but said she could confirm that number.
The Many—with the help of Emerging Leaders—led the Conference in a meaningful time of prayer focused on the impact of gun violence.
Ed Fenstermacher reported that Church Development launched a series of training events led by Rev. Kibbey called the Breakthrough Prayer Initiative that has had over 500 participants representing 150 churches. He celebrated the start of Noel UMC in southern Indiana with 98 in attendance at their first Sunday service. Their goal is to launch 25 new faith communities in the next year. He also celebrated that Revs. Sergio and Janie Reyes started a church in Warsaw, which has grown from eight people to 30 people.
Rev. Dr. Aleze Fulbright and Janee LaFuze, representing the Strategic Planning Team, announced the new strategic direction: Cultivate Joy! Conference leadership and strategic partners will be working over the next several months developing action plans and strategies to live into cultivating joy. But they determined that…
- We are unapologetically Jesus-centered, United Methodist communities living our mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ.
- We are called to the transformation of the world following in our Wesleyan heritage.
- We are beautiful children of God, and God is among us now.
- We are empowered by God’s mighty acts to be the light of Christ in our world.
Our purpose is to do good works so people can see, experience, and glorify Christ.
We are God’s accomplishment, created in Christ Jesus to do good things (Ephesians 2:10 CEB). They then led everyone in singing “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy, down in my heart!”
Rev. Larry Whitehead introduced Lan Wilson, the new Associate Director of Diversity, Missions, and Justice, who is replacing Rev. Annettra Jones, who is returning to ministry with a local church in Ft. Wayne.
Rev. Glenn Howell, Director of Development for United Methodist Foundation, Inc., urged the Conference to be generous as they consider giving toward the Missional Offering, which will go toward student scholarships at Africa University. “It’s about investing in people,” he said.
Ballot #2 had 1 clergy election: Rev. Shannon Stringer
Ballot #2 had 2 laity elections: Mya Taylor and Lou Ann Pence
Celebration of Life
Family members of those being remembered collectively read scriptures before Rev. Tony Alstott gave a sermon entitled With Me based on John 14:1-6. The Conference honored the lives of 41 clergy and 38 spouses who have joined the Church Triumphant in the last year.