Read below to hear all about what happened at Annual Conference 2023!
Annual Conference Summary 2023
Praying Forward: No Turning Back
Thursday, June 8, 2023
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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%).
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.
Friday, June 9, 2023
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.
Saturday, June 10, 2023
Outgoing Conference Lay Leader David Johns and incoming Conference Lay Leader Shannon Priddy encouraged the Conference to give generously to the Missional Offering.
General Board of Global Ministry
Rev. Dee Stickley Miner from the General Board of Global Ministry reported that in 2022, UMCOR responded to 97 disasters and gave $29.1 million. “Thank you for your resilient compassion and generosity. Your Conference gave $1.2 million through the Advance. Thank you for your belief and for living your faith,” she said. She offered a prayer of blessing over Becca May Baughman, from the Indiana Conference, who discerned a call to live her faith as a global mission fellow.
Rev. Paul Wagner presented R-1 Gadlage: Removing our poll tax.
Speech against: Rev. Cindy Reynolds, Chair of the Sessions Committee, Keith Flesher, laity
Speech for: Rev. Chris Gadlage, senior pastor of UM Temple Terre Haute
Make a motion: Rev. Crystal Jacobson, senior pastor at Lagrange First, made a motion to refer the resolution to CFA because of its financial implications.
The motion passed (74%).
Rev. Shalimar Holderly, senior pastor at Avilla, Garrett, and Huntington Trinity, made a motion: That any resolution not acted upon by the close of the Annual Conference Session be referred to the Coordinating Council, with reporting back to 2024 Annual Conference for final approval.
The motion passed (85%).
Rev. Paul Wagner presented R-2 Lassiat: Encouraging leadership with integrity.
Speech for: Rev. Meg Lassiat, deacon
Don Green, laity, made a motion to amend the resolution: Remove the words “participating in leadership roles in all areas of the church including the” and replaces them with “participating in any voting capacity in there.”
The amendment passed (72%).
Speeches against the amended resolution: Heidi Clear, senior pastor at Prairie City, Ricky Simpson, senior pastor at Patoka, Rev. Lauren Hall, senior pastor Playmouth First
Speeches for the amended resolution: Rev. Joe Boggs, senior pastor at Portland Asbury, Pat Lancet, laity, Rev. Meg Lassiat, deacon
Resolution #2 passed (77%).
Rev. Paul Wagner presented R-3 Williams: Protecting clergy and their families
Speech for: Tricia Williams, senior pastor at Parker City
Rev. Lore Blinn Gibson, Conference Superintendent, made a motion: To refer the resolution to the Cabinet to consult with COSROW, GCOSROW, and CFA to draft a policy to be brought to the Coordinating Council.
The motion passed (96%).
Rev. Paul Wagner presented R-4 Hidalgo: Affirmation fo the queer delegates’ call to center justice and empowerment for LGBTQIA+ 1 people in the INUMC.
Author of the resolution, Albert Hidalgo, Jr., laity, made a motion to amend: Strike item #2 and replace it with “implores our Annual Conference to resolve in a timely fashion through a process of just resolution any complaints against clergy regarding their sexual orientation of the officiating of weddings of LGBTQIA+ persons until changes can be made in the UMC Book of Discipline.”
The amendment to the resolution passed.
Speeches against: Steve Spence, laity, John Wakeman, laity
Speeches for: Albert Hidalgo, Jr., laity, Rev. Tracey Leslie, Peter Loutzenhiser, laity
Rev. John Meunier, senior pastor at Sheridan, made a motion to amend the (amended) resolution: To strike number #3.
The motion to amend the resolution passed (80%).
Resolution #4 passed (69%).
Nathan Lundy, laity, made a motion: That the Conference Secretary re-certify the membership of all clergy and lay delegates elected in both in 2019 and this weekend, to confirm that all delegates have met the requisite continuous membership necessary to serve.
The motion passed (87%).
Rev. Mary Dicken, deacon, made a motion to limit debate to two, two-minute speeches for and two, 2-minute speeches against resolutions.
The motion passed (82%).
Rev. Paul Wagner presented R-5 INUMC Cabinet: Our collective mission and witness.
Speech for: Rev. Dr. Marti Lundy, Conference Superintendent
Speech against: Rev. Brian Beeks, senior pastor of Monticello UMC
Rev. Tony Alstott, senior pastor at Wesley Chapel, proposed an amendment to the resolution: Implementation of Resolution-5 shall begin by communication from Bishop Trimble to all retirees, clearly stating per the Book of Discipline the expectations of service and connection in retirement. Furthermore, all retirees are given until July 1 , 2024, to fully comply with the expectations set forth by this resolution.
The amendment passed.
Speeches for: Monica McDougall, pastor at Attica First, Rev. Dr. Aleze Fulbright, Conference Superintendent
Speeches against: Rev. Kent Biller, retired elder, Kerry Clear, senior pastor at Staunton
The resolution passed.
Rev. Paul Wagner presented R-6 Jacobson: Supporting the removal of discriminatory policies.
Speeches for: Lydia Jacobson, laity, Rev. Mark Dicken, retired
Speeches against: Rev. Tom Ream, senior pastor Ft Wayne Aldersgate, Rev. Joe Seger, senior pastor at Richmond Central
The resolution passed (66%).
Rev. Paul Wagner presented R-7 Priddy: In support of creating a U.S. Regional Conference.
Speeches for: Shannon Priddy, Meg Lassiat
Speech against: Rev. John Meunier, senior pastor at Sheridan
The resolution passed (74%).
Kayla Grehl, senior pastor at Plymouth Trinity, made a motion for taking up a special offering to go toward eliminating gun violence.
Speech for: Beckie Adams, laity
Speeches against: Keith Flesher, laity
The motion passed (55%).
Rev. Lore Blinn Gibson encouraged the Conference to become “We, which is the strongest, most death-defying word. From the beginning, Jesus called a diverse group of people to follow him to become a ‘we’ who would, by becoming more like him, change the world forever.” She gave an urgent call to action NOW. “God is with us, even we, even now. We are not done. The gates of hell will not prevail,” she concluded.
Rev. Lore Blinn Gibson reported that the following churches have closed their doors in the last year.
Central: Monrovia, Woodside
North: South Bend Faith
North Central: Frankfort Trinity, Point Isabel
Northeast: Andrews, Columbia City Oak Grove
Northwest: Twelve Mile Bethlehem
South: Crawford Consolidated, Pilot Knob
Southeast: Deputy, Burney
Southwest: Evansville St. John
West: Hickory, Lena, Waveland Covenant
Council on Finance and Administration
Rev. Rodney Frieden announced that the Indiana Conference will pay our portion to the Boy Scout Settlement Trust, which is around $1.5 million. This will will be paid before the end of 2023 out of our reserves.
He made a motion: To approve the 2024 budget as presented.
Alice Crouse, laity, made a request: to refer the budget to CFA to reduce the 2024 budget by 30% and have it referred to the Coordinating Council for action.
Rev. Rodney Frieden clarified that the 2024 budget was created with planned resources in mind, largely by disaffiliating churches. Should the 2024 budget be cut by 30%, ministries and staff will be cut, some of which are dictated by the Book of Discipline. CFA chose to plan the 2024 budget as close to status quo as possible so that they did not do harm. Discussions about the 2025 budget will begin on Monday.
The motion passed (93%).
Crystal Jacobson gave an up-to-the-moment monitoring report. Full and complete data will be shared after the Celebration of Ministry service.
Conference Secretary Barb Holcomb announced that 2024 Annual Conference will be June 6, 7, and 8 at St. Luke’s UMC in Indianapolis.
Celebration of Ministry
The following children were baptized by Bishop Trimble.
Brandon Favre Beaver, son of Bridgette Nunley (died 2022), adopted son of Pastor Mandie and Harold Willoughby
Zoe Righteous Cubahiro, child of Pastor Ezechiel and Esperance Habwawihe
Flourish Habwawihe, child of Pastor Ezechiel and Esperance Habwawihe
Harper Kay Koehne, child of Payton and Cameron Koehne, grandchild of Rev. Larry and Susan Whitehead
Caroline Elizabeth Koehne, child of Payton and Cameron Koehne, grandchild of Rev. Larry and Susan Whitehead
The following were ordained as deacons:
Janelle Washburn Ohlemiller
Matthew Edward Sherrill
The following were ordained as elders:
Joseph E. Boggs
Julia Pritchett Gonzales
The following were commissioned as provisional members:
Sunil L. Kotian
Bishop Sharma D. Lewis, resident bishop of The Mississippi Episcopal area, gave the sermon “Are you Committed?”
Passing of the Mantle
2023 Ordinands Rev. Julia Pritchett Gonzales and Rev. Janelle Ohlemiller received the mantle which was passed from 2023 retirees Rev. Michelle Cobb and Rev. Candyce Kaiser.