Friday morning began with an opportunity to worship God in song, prayer, and learning. Rev. Beth Newton Watson, who serves as the Director of Spiritual Care and Chaplaincy Services, IU Health, and as the Indiana Conference Chaplin, led a time of Bible study on Luke 7: 12-14.
“This passage in Luke is a story of compassion, stories in which something rare and wondrous occurs,” said Newton Watson.
“I see you, I hear you, I’m right here right next to you,” sang Newton Watson; a warm reminder during our time of gathering together.
She continued to challenge, “Who’s story do we know? Who’s suffering can we see? Toward whom can we move today?”
Friday Morning Plenary
The morning plenary session began with a skit centered around praying for a waitress at a restaurant, which led into an Episcopal Address delivered by Bishop Trimble.
Bishop Trimble reminded us that praying for and with people is a chance for us to see them.
“Little prayer, little power, much prayer, much power, no prayer no power,” he said.
Bishop Trimble shared stories of the people within our midst and in our care, including those experiencing homelessness, children, and lay members serving in their mission fields.
“In case of an emergency, are you willing to assist?” he said “There is an opportunity for you to become an Indiana missionary,” he continued, rousing attendees to their feet as they emphatically shouted, “Yes!”
As we transitioned into Friday morning business, Ms. Doris Clark, Conference Lay Leader brought the Laity Address.
“We need to see all the people; we need the organizations that are looking at all of the people,” said Clark.
“Laity, we have to be bold and courageous! Pastors, your lay members said yes because they want to do what God has called them to to,” she continued.
“We are called, and because God has called us we need to work together,” Clark reminded us as she charged all of us to step up in the ministries to which God has called us.
Kim Arnott, Conference Director of Lay Servant Ministries shared on the importance and value of Lay Servant Ministries. Lay Servant Academies happen throughout the year in the districts and credits are given. Starting with the basic class, one can then go on to advanced classes and even on to broader service as a Certified Lay Servant. “Not all clergy have all gifts; it’s why we need laity,” said Arnott, recognizing the role and value Lay Servant Ministers play in the Indiana Conference.
Church Development Report
Emily Reece, Director of Church Development, provided the report. She thanked Rev. Steve Clouse, who transitioned out of the role of Director and is now serving in the Missouri Conference, and Rev. Doug Anderson, Associate Director of Church Development, who served in the interim.
“More than 4 million people in Indiana are unaffiliated with a religious group. That is every other household on your street,” said Reece.
She continued, “God calls us to get to know all of the people in our mission field.”
Reece shared the Church Development programming that helps congregations to see all of the people, AIM, which stands for “Adapt, Impact, and Multiply.”
Reece continued, “to that end, we have three primary objectives: to help churches adapt to our changing ministry contexts, to impact their communities, and multiply the number of disciples, faith communities, and churches throughout the state.
The Indiana Annual Conference celebrated having reached our goal of 30 new faith communities by 2020, two years ahead of schedule. An announcement that was met with much applause.
Report from the Board of Pension and Health Benefits
Mr. Ian Hall introduced Ms. Susan Spaulding as the new Chairperson of the Board of Pension and Health Benefits. Ms. Spaulding presented the Board of Pension and Health Benefits report.
The report highlighted the continued effort in encouraging each pastor in his or her retirement preparations. In regards to the United Methodist Personal Investment Plan, Ms. Spaulding stated “to date, over 89% of our clergy participants are actively enrolled in UMPIP.”
As a result of the 2014 decision for the Annual Conference to match 2% of Plan Compensation contributions made by clergy, $927,318 has been contributed by the Annual Conference.
This report also recognized the new high deductible health plan with HSA and it’s successes, the Compassion Fund, and the upcoming health care benefits to be seen in the coming year.
A motion was made that the Past Service Rate for years of pre-1982 service for 2019 will be $731, which represents a 2.5% increase.
Leadership Development Report
The Leadership Development report began with a video highlighting various leadership development events.
Rev. Dr. Aleze Fulbright, Director of Leadership Development, welcomed Rev. Tony Johnson, Chair for the Leadership Development Operational Team, to the stage.
Rev. Tony Johnson recognized the three areas in which the Leadership Development team does missional leadership: discover, develop and deploy fruitful leaders. He then prompted each person in the room to turn to his or her neighbor and ask, “How are you, and your congregation ‘Seeing All the People’ by discovering, developing, and deploying principled Christian leaders?”
Rev. Dr. Aleze Fulbright then celebrated the many persons in the room who have responded to the Lord’s Call by acknowledging the “Elders and Deacons in their fifth year interval, the 100+ clergypersons celebrating a milestone anniversary with the Annual Conference, and the 32 clergypersons who have chosen to journey over 8-months to be resourced for more fruitful ministry.”
Emily Krach, the Associate Director of Leadership for Emerging Leaders, then came to the stage. On behalf of the Leadership Development team, she presented the General Board of Higher Education’s Francis Asbury Award to Rev. Sharon Samsell with the United Campus Ministries of Terre Haute.
Ending her report Fulbright introduced incoming Director, Rev. Shannon Stringer as she transitions to her new role as Conference Superintendent serving the East District on July 1.
UMC 50 Year Celebration: Part 2
Pastor Joe Boggs, a member of the Conference Commission on Archives and History, presented the second 50 Year Celebration of The United Methodist Church.
He began with a quote from Martin Luther King Jr. saying, “We are not makers of history. We are made by history.” Pastor Boggs framed his celebration reflection on the importance of understanding where we began so that we could better understand who we are today, whether that be as individuals, families, a nation, or a church.
Pastor Joe Boggs shared that the goal of the Conference Commission on Archives and History is to, “understand how our conference has been made by history and to ensure that future generations will be able to understand how they have been made by us.”
He concluded by inviting everyone to check out their booth in the Exhibit Hall to learn more about how the Commission on Archives and History works to preserve the heritage of The United Methodist Church.
Retirement Recognition Service
The 2018 Annual Conference Session took a break from business to recognize those who are retiring. As organ music played, many gathered to celebrate and honor the 34 clergy members who are retiring along with their spouses.
Rev. Dr. Brian K. White began our gathering with a greeting and Rev. Julie Macy offered a prayer. The Prayer for Illumination was offered by Pastor Dawn Cuthbert.
A scripture lesson was read from Philippians 3:7-16 and Bishop Trimble then shared an encouraging word regarding his appreciation towards the retiring class and the impact and legacies they leave.
Those retiring this year include: Doug Barber, Steve Bard, Monty Barker, Bill Bergstrom, Dave Byrum, Wade Compton, Steve Conner, Barbara Cross, Mark Dicken, Mark Allen Fernihough, Daryl Gressel, C. Archibald Hawkins, George C. Haysler, David Heim, Mark Hill, Randy Jungkurth, Bert Kite, Bob Kumpf, Craig LaSuer, Gail D. Law, Brenda Ludwig, Rob Martindale, Yvonne Cuenca Oropeza, Paul D. Perry, Larry Platt, Patty Roberts, Dennis Rush, Douglas Sanders, Bill Shannon, Jackie Smith, Scott Stephans, Laurence Landon Stewart, JT Thomas, and Charles Wanner.
Bishop Trimble led the retirees through a time of reading and response. Rev. Craig LaSuer passed the mantle to Rev. Lisa Cottingham. The mantle is passed from a representative of the retiring class to representative of the incoming full member class.
The service concluded by singing Take My Life, and Let it Be and a blessing from Bishop Trimble