From the Superintendent: June 2024

We have just concluded the 2024 Indiana Annual Conference Session, with appointments being fixed for clergy and recommitments made by congregations to continue advancing the mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. In many conversations afterwards, the ongoing sentiment was that this annual conference session felt different. NO, the difference was not equated to the those who decided to do ministry apart from the UMC. No, the difference was not because we were in Indianapolis.

There was a palatable difference in the way we engaged in holy conferencing this year. There was a significant difference felt and observed, as God’s Spirit was moving, from the Opening Worship to the Concluding Service. Perhaps, because the theme was Cultivate Joy, there was an expectation for how we would gather. Maybe it was because this was the first time, we held annual conference session at a church (many thanks for St. Luke’s UMC, a Central District congregation). Perhaps there were quite a few who attended annual conference for the first time. Or even perhaps, this was the first annual conference where persons felt they no longer had to be in hiding or under a burden of shame for who they are as God’s Beloved. And maybe it was truly a time where all felt welcome and part of the experience of annual conference, understanding our INUMC assurance that there is A Place.  I am unable to identify one particular aspect that brought about this feeling, but I just wonder if this is God at work, doing something new within us and among us!

I am reminded of the passage, in part, from Revelation 21:5, “Behold, I am making all things new…” Yes, there is still some consternation regarding the decisions of General Conference. Yes, there are still those who would rather not be part of The United Methodist Church and reconciling that there are no other options, in the Indiana Annual Conference, to leave is a challenge. Despite all of that, we still serve a God who is the Great I AM! A God who, in the beginning created the entirety of creation out of nothing and called it “good”. A God who has placed us in this unrepeatable time of life to do the remarkable for God’s Glory and the witness of Jesus Christ, regardless of our theological or political beliefs!

I would wonder, how we can lean into this Kairos moment and embrace this new that God is doing and begin to demonstrate it in our acts of faith and ministry actions. I believe God is calling some congregations to move beyond their walls to engage their changing communities more fully. I believe God is inviting the seasoned leaders to identity and make space for new leadership. I believe God is nudging all congregations to truly encourage the call, understanding that pastors and lay leaders are raised from the laity. I believe God is calling more of our congregations to collaborate, particularly with congregations in the same counties to expand the witness of Jesus Christ.

Friends, NEW (not existing before) does not come into fruition if we are still holding on to the old (old ways of thinking, being, and doing). If we are about the mission of disciple-making, while Cultivating Joy, we must release the former things and trust God, in faith and by faith, for SOMETHING NEW!

I encourage us all, to surrender to the movement of God’s Spirit and watch God do “far more than we could ever ask, think, or imagine…”

In Service and Witness for this NEW Season,

Rev. Dr. Aleze Fulbright   

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