Friday morning’s Bible Study and Guided Prayer opened with foot washings followed by song and prayer.
Bishop Julius C. Trimble called upon the Conference Secretary, Becky Huff-Cook, for announcements. Huff-Cook announced the number of registered clergy, laity, and non-voting members. At the time, the persons in attendance totaled 1,743.
The Rule and Structure Amendment was adopted (69.9%) and the Consent Calendar was approved (91.5%).
The Annual Conference remembered the ministry and legacy of Doris Clark, who served as the Conference Lay Leader from 2014 until her death in January 2019.
“Today, let us not only remember Doris, but with your help and direction, be as faithful and as dedicated as she was,” prayed David Johns, Conference Lay Leader.
During the Laity Address, Johns shared the Board of Laity’s 2019/2020 goals. He invited clergy, lay members, and helpers of local churches to stand, recognizing that we are all the Church.
Mark Dicken, retired Elder, amended the process to announce ballot results as soon as they were available. This was approved by the bishop.
Rev. Russ Abel was elected as a clergy delegate to General Conference 2020 on the first ballot. The second clergy ballot elected Rev. Dr. Aleze Fulbright. No laity were elected on the first or second ballots.
Manet Shettle, President of The United Methodist Foundation of Indiana, Inc. (UMFI), reported that in 2018, UMFI partnered with 200+ local churches, boards and agencies of the Indiana Conference.
In 2018, the Foundation received over $249,000 in gifts from 28 different donors. It is through these donors and the hundreds before them that UMFI was able to distribute over $567,000 in grants to 23 ministries in Indiana this year.
As part of the covenant agreement between UMFI and the Indiana Annual Conference, Shettle submitted a motion to affirm the slate for the Board of Directors of UMFI. The Conference approved the motion (98%).
To read the Foundation’s full report, click here.
Ballot 3 brought laity’s first elections:
Chris Hancock (54.49%)
Ian Hall (51.96%)
Shirley Dominick (51.33%)
Leah Padgett (51.20%)
On Ballot 3, Clergy added 3 more to the delegation:
Lisa Schubert Nowling (71.25%)
Ronnie Bell (51.13%)
Rob Fuquay, Jr. (50.10%)
Pension and Health
Susan Spaulding, Chair of the Board of Pension and Health Benefits, and Ian Hall, Director of Administration & Financial Services, presented information about the new Wespath Heath Exchange program.
They explained why they reviewed the existing health system, options they considered, and benefits of transitioning to HealthFlex Exchange. They also proposed a new Opt-Out policy for clergy wanting to waive their insurance rights.
In summary, the Board of Pension and Health Benefits made the following recommendations, all of which were passed via a vote of hands:
That the Conference transition from the current HealthFlex healthcare options and programs to the HealthFlex Exchange healthcare options and programs, both provided by Wespath, for its active clergy, lay staff, and their dependents.
That effective January 1, 2020, the Conference allow a waiver option to the mandatory participation of full-time eligible clergy and lay staff under the circumstances listed above. Proof of other healthcare coverage will be required by the participant.
That the Past Service Rate for pre-1982 service be set at $749 per service year in 2020, which represents a 2.5% increase.
And that the report, sections A through I, be approved as presented in the written report.
Marcus Jennings, Northeast District Equalization Member, proposed a reorganization of the agenda to continue electing delegates until that task was completed. 2 members spoke against, 1 spoke in favor. The Conference voted not to change the agenda and proceed as planned (55%).
Bishop Trimble began his address “From Water to Witness – I Dare You to Believe” with a video portraying the value of every person. “There’s nothing you can do—or anyone else can do—to change your sacred worth in Jesus Christ. That has always been settled!” he said.
Bishop prompted the Conference to read Acts 8:26-40 in unison. He followed up with, “If you preach or worship in a small town, the Bible says we need to proclaim the Gospel in every little town…big town…all towns!”
New AC Venue
Rev. Jennifer Lewis presented the new Annual Conference venue. She was part of the Search Team which was formed in the Fall of 2017 and comprised of both laity and clergy from all over the state. The team was assembled because of a growing concern of the cost of Annual Conference for both members and the Conference.
The Search Team looked for potential locations that could meet the needs of our conference that would also reduce the cost for members and the Conference. After much deliberation, the 2020 Annual Conference will be held at Indiana Wesleyan University, June 11-13.
A video was shown highlighting IWU’s amenities: a large green area for outside eating and community, prayer spaces, a worship center, free WIFI all over campus, and free parking. A second video was shown featuring Rev. Rob Barton, who serves in Marion, Indiana.
As we returned to balloting, we elected 2 additional laity on the 4th ballot:
Michael Womack (50%)
John Lomperis (50%)
After Ballot 4, clergy voted in:
Jill Howard (53%)
Andy Kinsey, Petition Resolution Committee, presented the following petitions to the Conference for discussion and vote.
Petition #1: Cottrell Petition
3 spoke in favor, 3 spoke against. The Conference voted to support sending the petition to General Conference (60%).
Petition #2: Gadlage Petition #2
3 spoke in favor, 3 spoke against. The Conference voted to support sending the petition to General Conference (58.6%).
Petition #3: Gadlage Petition #3
After the author of the petition spoke in favor, the Conference voted (86%) to end debate. They then voted to support sending the petition to General Conference (62.8%).
Petition #4: Gadlage Petition #4
2 spoke in favor, 1 against. The Conference voted to support sending the petition to General Conference (90%).
Ballot 5 did not elect any laity, though it added Rev. Duane Carlisle (51.5%) to the delegation.
Bishop took a moment to celebrate and honor Rev. Dr. Cindy Reynolds as she retires after 40+ years of service to The United Methodist Church. She received a standing ovation from the Conference. Reynolds currently serves as the Executive Assistant to the Bishop and Director of Connectional Ministries.
Ballot 6 completed the delegation for laity:
Shannon Priddy (52%)
Amy Land (51%)
Clergy also completed their delegation with the election of Rev. Larry Whitehead (54.7%)
Rev. Ed Fisher, Chair, moved that the Conference Nomination Committee report be accepted as presented. The Conference approved (96%).
Ballot 7 began the voting for delegates for Jurisdictional Conference 2020. No one was elected for laity. For clergy, 3 were selected:
Chris Nunley (53%)
Greg Pimlott (52%)
Adriane Curtis (51%)
A video was shown about the IMPACT program. The IMPACT process, designed especially for smaller congregations, helps churches become more effective and fruitful. Milt Ashby, Faith UMC, said “Sometimes small churches feel discouraged about what’s happening, and IMPACT can help you identify what your problems are and give you solutions.” He shared how—after participating in the IMPACT program—his church went from 0 to 18 children on an average Sunday.