Bishop Julius C. Trimble opened the Plenary session by encouraging members to turn to their neighbor and offer a fist bump, saying, “The Lord be with you,” and then respond, “And also with you.” He then brought greetings to Bishop Frank Beard, Bishop John Hopkins, and Bishop Mike Coyer.
During her address, First Lady Racelder Grandberry-Trimble read portions of 1 Corinthians 13 and challenged the Conference to “take this ‘L word’ [love] in 2019 and beyond.” She closed, “I love you, and there’s nothing you can do about it!”
Cathy Burris, representing the Coordinating Council, moved—in light of Doris Clark’s passing—that the Indiana Conference approve the Coordinating Council’s affirmation of David Johns as the Indiana Conference Lay Leader beginning February 1, 2019. The Conference affirmed the decision by 97.98%.
The Council on Finance and Administration was presented by Rev. Lore Blinn Gibson, Conference Superintendent serving the Northwest District, and Rev. Chris Lantz, Senior Pastor at First United Methodist Church, LaGrange. Rather than a line by line review of the proposed budget, Rev. Blinn Gibson and Rev. Lantz shared an illustration on what happens when we give.
Focusing on the impact of 1 dollar, or 100 pennies, CF&A presented a brief look at just how much change it takes to make change in our world through The United Methodist Church. The illustration demonstrated that of 100 pennies, 88 of those pennies go back to our local churches. The remaining 12 pennies break down to support the remaining efforts of our church – 2 cents supports ministry within our 10 districts, 4 cents supports the work of our General Church, what is often referred to as Apportionments and the final 6 pennies supports our Annual Conference core ministries and administrative oversight.
A vote on the 2020 proposed budget will be taken Friday once voting members of the Annual Conference have had time to review.
Cathy Burris, President of United Methodist Women of Indiana, reported that the organization is celebrating 150 years in mission. A video was shared about their history and impact over the years.
Bishop announced that $7,500 was collected during the Missional Offering on Wednesday evening and offered a way for members to donate additional funds via text or online. He challenged the group to raise an additional $100,000 for offering.
Rev. Ed Fisher, Chair, presented the report from the Committee on Nominations. Rev. Fisher unveiled a new Ministry Interests Inventory form. This new online format is “part of a new effort to reach a diverse group who are committed to reaching those who are lost, forgotten, without hope, shamed, and/or cast aside,” he said.
Finally, he instructed members to add 2 names to the Report of the Committee on Nominations:
Cindy Schrader and Kendall Macri, both are serving on the Church Development Team.
Rev. Paul Wagner presented the Consent Calendar, which includes items that have no fiscal implications and that do not need to be referred to any teams or boards for discussion. He moved 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.
Rev. Chris Gadlage, Pastor of St Marks UMC in Decatur, made a motion to remove the Rules and Structure from the Consent Calendar. The motion passed with 71%.
The Consent Calendar was adopted (96%), with the exception of the removed Rules and Structure.
Rev. Teri Crouse, President of the Indiana Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church, presented a report from the Conference Board of Trustees.
Rev. Crouse reported that in 2018, 10 closed or abandoned church properties were sold or disbursed in Indiana totaling $361, 350. Proceeds from these sales are used to fund new District and Ministry initiatives and are also used for local church ministries.
The Board of Trustees also distributed $486,900 in proceeds from the Shera Farm fund. Shera Farm fund beneficiaries include Operation Classroom and Taiama Enterprise Academies.
Rev. Crouse also reported that due to adverse marketing conditions in the 2018 4th quarter, the Indiana Conference investment portfolio experienced a net earnings loss. As a result, the Board will not be distributing funds in 2019. Rev. Crouse remarked that year-to-date returns in 2019 show funds have recouped the losses of 2018 and are now generating an additional return.
In the close of her report, Rev. Crouse presented modifications made during the 2019 Special-Called General Conference in February regarding three conditions for disaffiliation, ruled constitutional by the Judicial Council:
The disaffiliation resolution be approved by a 2/3 majority of the professing members of the local church present and voting at a properly called church conference;
The terms and conditions of the agreement between the exiting church and the annual conference be established by the Conference Board of Trustees; and
The disaffiliation agreement (of the exiting church) be ratified by a majority of the members of the annual conference present and voting.
Representatives from the Conference Trustees, Council on Finance and Administration, and the Cabinet have considered the legislation. The final process for a church wishing to disaffiliate from the Indiana Conference of The United Methodist Church will be ratified later this summer.
The Conference accepted the report as presented via a vote of raised hands.
Rev. Dr. Kimberly Reisman, Chair of the Indiana delegation, offered a report on behalf of the Indiana Conference delegation to the 2019 Special-Called Session of the General Conference.
In the months leading up to the February Conference, numerous petitions that made up both the One Church Plan and the Traditional Plan were ruled unconstitutional by the Judicial Council. Ultimately, the petitions that formed the Traditional Plan prevailed strengthening the current wording in our Book of Discipline; however, due to a variety of parliamentary procedural maneuvers, there was not enough time to adequately perfect them. Therefore, the question of constitutionality remained at the close of the conference, prompting a request for review by the Judicial Council.
The Judicial Council made the following ruling regarding the petitions passed by GC2019. Petitions in the Traditional Plan were found to be constitutional and will take effect January 1, 2020: An expansion of the definition of a “self-avowed, practicing homosexual” to include persons in same-sex marriages or civil unions. The prohibition of bishops from consecrating bishops or commissioning or ordaining “self-avowed, practicing homosexuals.” Minimum penalties for church trials regarding officiating at a same-sex wedding. Prohibiting District Committees on Ordained Ministry and Boards of Ordained Ministry from recommending persons who do not meet all disciplinary requirements.
A separate petition, that was not part of the Traditional Plan, regarding local church disaffiliation from an Annual Conference was also approved at General Conference. The Judicial Council ruled that this separate petition was constitutional. This process includes a 2/3 majority vote by the church Conference, an agreement between the church and the conference trustees, and a ratification vote by the Annual Conference. This legislation takes effect immediately.
Rev. Reisman asked Bishop for a moment of personal privilege, during which she asked the 2019 Special-Called General Conference Delegation to stand. “It’s been an honor and privilege—albeit a painful one—to be with you on this journey, and I thank you for all of your hard work. More importantly, I thank you for your commitment to the Church that I know each one of you loves so much.”
Sullivan Curtis opened the Emerging Leaders report. He introduced a video promoting their upcoming Back to School Rally, which will be held on August 3.
Jalen Lawson, a Black College Fund Ambassador and recent graduate of Bennett College, thanked the Conference for supporting the Black College Fund, which has helped pay for her education.
“I don’t want the Indiana Conference to be comfortable. I don’t want you to feel like you’ve checked off the box because you’ve heard from a youth member,” said Molly Bickle. She offered a passionate monologue, challenging the Conference to “sink or swim.” Bickle also introduced a Young Voices Challenge for members “to hear and love the young voices around you.”