2018 AC Summary
The 2018 Indiana Annual Conference was held June 7-9 in Indianapolis, with the theme, “See All the People,” with Matthew 9:35-38 as the primary text for the week:
“Jesus traveled among all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, announcing the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every sickness. Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he had compassion for them because they were troubled and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The size of the harvest is bigger than you can imagine, but there are few workers. Therefore, plead with the Lord of the harvest to send out workers for his harvest.” (CEB)
Bishop Julius C. Trimble presided over his second annual conference session as the resident bishop of the Indiana Area. He opened the 2018 meeting with enthusiasm as he greeted lay and clergy members at the Indiana Convention Center located in downtown Indianapolis.
Celebration of Life Service brings opportunity to “See All The People”
The Annual Conference began with the Celebration of Life Service to remember with great joy, the life, and service of those who have transitioned from the Church Militant to the Church Triumphant since the last gathering. Bishop Trimble served as the preacher and led the Conference in an upbeat memorialization of 33 clergy and 41 spouses.
In his sermon to the Conference, Trimble encouraged members and guests to “Stand steady, don’t be afraid, bring others to Christ, and leave nothing undone.” Focusing on 2 Timothy 4: 6-8, he shared that we serve a God that knows what it is like to lose a loved one, and likewise, we believe in Jesus who knows the struggles, temptations, and hurt we endure.
As the day continued, the membership reconvened for the official opening and business meeting where standard procedures, rules, and consent calendar items were approved.
During the opening business session, members sat in a new seating format of roundtables to foster a heightened sense of community, as well as provide space for discussion and dialogue with planning for Critical Conversations.
First Lady Racelder Grandberry-Trimble, wife and ministry partner of Bishop Trimble, brought greetings to the members and guests. She shared a message of the importance of words and how they impact each of us in our lives, as well as prompting us to think about how we continue to find a source of inspiration in our work.
The United Methodist Foundation of Indiana (UMFI) presented Bishop Trimble and the Conference a check totaling $226,557 for the Minister’s Retirement Fund for Indiana Conference retirees. The Foundation also gave the Conference Cane to Rev. Elmer Bosworth. The oldest Elder of the Conference is the steward of the Walking Cane. Rev. Bosworth is 99.
During the opening business, the Conference Committee on Archives and History offered a brief video highlighting the 50th Anniversary of the merger of the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church which happened in 1968.
The Trustees reported the sale of eight church properties for 2017 resulting in a total of $680,000, the Retiree Health Insurance Subsidy, as well as support for theological education for students in Sierra Leone.
The Conference Council on Finance and Administration offered a live-enactment/illustration of Connectional Giving that made visual the impact of what a $100 tithe to the offering plate has to the Connection from the local church to the community, to the Conference, and the broader Connection as the Church to the world.
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 with the singing of Take My Life, and Let it Be and a blessing from Bishop Trimble.
Laity Session calls for a time to see, and go to, all the people
Kate Biggs opened the Laity Session with a call to worship, followed by a time of worship and a prayer led by Ginger Booker, Assistant Director of Lay Servant Ministries for the Northeast District. Kim Arnott, Conference Director of Lay Servant Ministries, introduced the laity manuscript winners for 2018: Ruth Esther Vawter and emerging leader Tiffany Duke. Each winner then delivered her winning manuscript to those in attendance.
Ruth Esther Vawter encouraged fellow laity to remember, observe, and be contagious; to not only “see all the people,” but to see all the people through the eyes of Jesus. Emerging leader Tiffany Duke challenged fellow laity to see all the people by reserving judgments based on physical appearance, supporting those in the LGTBQ+ community, and encouraging women in their call to seminary and ministry.
Missional Offering at Annual Conference
This year, Bishop Trimble and the Annual Conference Executive Committee invited members to participate in a special offering designated to support UMCOR, Indiana Disaster Response, and Ministry With the Poor Matching grants. One-third of the offering will go to help UMCOR and its work in disaster recovery throughout the U.S., one-third to the Indiana Disaster Fund, and one-third to support the continued giving of matching grants to churches doing projects with the poor. To date, $9,159.81 has been collected.
Celebration of Ministry Service
The Celebration of Ministry: Commissioning and Ordination Service began with uplifting, worshipful song as guests were invited to remember their baptisms. We were blessed by a myriad of voices around the Indiana Conference throughout the service including our Conference Choir, led by Conference Worship Director Fran Wyatt, and the choir of Mizo United Methodist Church, directed by Zia R. Thanga.
During the 2018 Annual Conference, 23 members have been confirmed by the annual conference for commissioning and ordination.
Bishop Trimble led those being commissioned and ordained through a response and examination as they agreed to uphold the covenant of the orders of which they were commissioned or ordained as Elders and Deacons in The United Methodist Church.
Rev. Brian K. Milford, President, and CEO, United Methodist Publishing House, preached, “That You May Be Faithful Disciples.”
Rev. Milford reminded all to remember their baptism and be thankful, and that the Holy Spirit is always at work within us so that we may live as faithful disciples of Jesus Christ.
“We are all connected,” he continued, “stand in the gap and be evangelists of the Christian faith always ready to help.” Rev. Milford ended his sermon by reciting Romans 12: 1-2.
The service continued with worship and song as hands were laid on those being ordained, followed by the receiving of Holy Communion. The service concluded with the giving and receiving of appointments and final blessings from Bishop Trimble and Deacon Jill Marie DeHaven Buckler.
Click here to access the 2018 Annual Conference Reports.
Emily Reece, Director of Church Development, began the report by thanking the Rev. Steve Clouse, who transitioned out of the role of Director and is now serving in the Missouri Conference, as well as the 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 also celebrated having reached our goal of starting 30 new faith communities by 2020, a task that was completed two years ahead of schedule.
Emerging Leaders’ influence on Annual Conference
Grace Covington, Emerging Leader from First United Methodist Church Decatur, shared about the Back to School Rally and ways the Conference can support this event.
Molly Bickle, Emerging Leader from Castleton UMC, shared about Emerging Leaders saying we are the leaders of the church not just tomorrow but also today.
Several Emerging Leaders shared reasons why they are an Emerging Leader in the Indiana Conference. Some of their responses included: to empower youth and young people to transform the world for Christ, to gain a voice for youth in the church, to lead and create change, and to make a change in our world. Their passion for service has stemmed from the church’s encouragement and a desire to serve others and watch them grow.
Emily Krach, Assoc. Director of Leadership Development, shared more on ways the church can partner with the Emerging Leaders Team. Krach also shared about Leadership Labs throughout the state along with an accompanied video.
Rev. Larry Whitehead, Dean of the Cabinet and Conference Superintendent serving the North District led the Conference in a moment of remembering as we celebrated the legacies of churches who have faithfully ended their life cycles. The 18 churches celebrated were; Amboy UMC, Bethesda UMC, Brazil Wesley UMC, Denver UMC, Forest Park UMC, Fort Ritner UMC, Laconia UMC, Lakeview UMC, Morocco Evangelical UMC, Orange UMC, Portland Center UMC, Richmond Faith-Trinity UMC, Riddle UMC, Riley UMC, Smith Park UMC, Twelve Mile UMC, Walker’s Chapel UMC, and West Terre Haute First UMC. Their ministries were celebrated by singing “I Love To Tell The Story” as members stood in their honor and memory. Bishop Trimble led a moment of prayer over these communities of faith.
Rev. Larry Whitehead continued with the Extended Cabinet report.
Mission + Justice
Rev. Tom Heaton and Allison Curts, Assoc. Directors of Mission and Justice began their presentation by singing “Jesus Love the Little Children,” setting the tone for their report.
“Jesus loves all the people, Jesus is able to see all the people. In Mission and Justice we work with all people,” said Heaton.
Curts shared and celebrated the quick response of the Indiana Conference after hurricanes hit in Texas, Louisiana, Florida and Puerto Rico. Indiana churches created over 3,000 cleaning buckets and over 3,000 health kits, as well as direct cash contributions to UMCOR totaling over one thousand dollars. Altogether, we gave one million three hundred thousand dollars to help with this Disaster Response.
In Indiana, the South Bend Disaster Response Team, in partnership with Catholic Charities, has helped more than 40 homeowners recover.
“When it comes to disaster, Indiana United Methodists respond! Through UMCOR, we are committed to continuing to be the last out after disaster strikes. Hurricanes, earthquakes, and flooding don’t discriminate – so we don’t either. When UMCOR responds, we see all the people who are hurting offer hope,” said Curts.
Creation Care awards were presented to Taylor Chapel UMC in Ft. Wayne, North UMC in Indianapolis, and Mike Oles, for his personal efforts in creation care.
Heaton and Curts also shared a video highlighting the first Respond: Mission and Justice Summit. The 2019 Respond Summit will be on Saturday, March 9, at Grace UMC in Franklin.
Heaton shared their focus on ministry with the poor, not just for them. He showed a video about example by video the Matthew’s Voices choir from Roberts Park UMC in Indianapolis, who then blessed us with their voices during the giving of the Missional Offering.
This year, Bishop Trimble and the Committee on The Annual Conference made a decision to collect a special offering which would be designated to assist with UMCOR, Indiana Disaster Response, and Ministry With the Poor matching grants. One-third of the offering will go to help UMCOR and its work in disaster recovery throughout the U.S., one-third to the Indiana Disaster Fund, and one-third to support the continued giving of matching grants to churches doing projects with the poor.
Extended Cabinet Report
Whitehead shared the language change as we continue to live into utilizing the title of Conference Superintendent over previously used District Superintendent. “This change is a reminder that we serve more than one single district,” shared Whitehead.
Whitehead outlined the team structure and our Indiana Conference “Wildly Important Goal(WIG)”, of 100% of churches/pastors engaged in life giving changes for Jesus Christ in their mission fields by 2020. He continued to share the steps we will take on a path towards this goal.
Earlier this year, the Extended Cabinet shared a notice and letter speaking out against hate. Whitehead shared some of that letter with the Annual Conference. Whitehead also shared the Extended Cabinet’s support of women noting that “we still have work to do in the Indiana Conference.” He continued, “As an Extended Cabinet we place extremely high value on our clergy women in our congregations, it’s not an exception, it’s our standard.”
Finally, Whitehead shared a desire of the Extended Cabinet for continued conversation to happen around issues with which we are not in agreement.
He noted appreciation for Rev. David Byrum, Rev. Michelle Cobb, Rev. Chris Newman-Jacobs, and Rev. Kate Walker, who have served on the Cabinet and will now now be transitioning off the Cabinet and into further ministry in new appointments and retirement. Whitehead also welcomed those coming to join the Cabinet this incoming year, Rev. Chris Nunley who will serve as Conference Superintendent.
Whitehead shared that Rev. Dave Neckers will serve as the new Dean of Cabinet.
A motion was made from the floor to suspend the start of Critical Conversations time until all resolutions have been voted upon. The motion also requested that the vote be taken by standing and require a two-third majority vote.
The motion passed with a two-thirds vote and the agenda was adjusted as such.
Resolutions other business
Nominations Committee Report Vote
Ed van Wijk presented the report during Thursday’s plenary session for review. Prior to the vote, Ed van Wijk announced several corrections to put the report properly before us. A vote was taken and the report as corrected was accepted.
Resolutions from Friday Afternoon Plenary
Corrected Constitutional Amendment #1
Corrected Constitutional Amendment #1 was voted upon. Results will be announced once all Conferences have had an opportunity to vote upon the corrected amendment.
2017 Resolution #5: Welcoming the Migrant in Our Midst passed.
2017 Resolution #6: Wesley Seminary and the University Senate
After speeches against and in favor were heard an amendment was proposed to change a line stating “Wesley offers one of”. 2017 Resolution #6 was passed as amended.
2018 Resolution #1: Exemption of Property Trust Provisions was ruled out of order.
2018 Resolution #2: Affirming Historical Position and Doctrinal Standards
After several speeches were made both in favor and against, a motion was made to postpone this resolution indefinitely. The motion was approved.
Doug Worthington shared that 100% of the 2017 INUMC General & Jurisdiction Church Apportionments have been fulfilled to total $5,259,000.
Ian Hall, Director of Administration and Financial Services, shared the budget as it came before the Annual Conference and was approved as presented.
2019 Total Income Budget – $13,149,000
2019 Expense Budget – 40% General Church, 60% Indiana Annual Conference
In a unique moment, Rev. Rodney Frieden, a member of the CFA, interrupted Mr. Hall to offer an illustration of how connectional giving has had an impact on all of us and why the tithe is so important.
The 2018 Annual Conference Community Prayer Breakfast opened with a greeting and prayer from Bishop Trimble. Shannon Priddy, national President of United Methodist Women and Indiana native, began her address with a reading of Matthew 5:15-16 from The Message and singing This Little Light of Mine. She encouraged attendees to use their gifts, their ‘lights,’ to put their faith, hope, and love into action. “Do more than see all the people – invest in all the people, invite all the people,” Priddy said.
Rev. Jake Ohlemiller read Matthew 9:35-38 and painted a picture of God’s people going out into the harvest, working as a team, singing songs and sharing stories, and returning to share a feast; to bring back to God what belongs to God. He invited attendees to reflect upon ways we sometimes ignore the charge to tend to God’s harvest, and Stan Clark offered a prayer that we might rekindle our desire to reap God’s harvest.
Rev. Jake Ohlemiller then reminded us of Christ’s commission to see all the people and invited those in attendance to go around their tables and mention five names for whom the heartbreaks; lost children of God that need to be guided into his light. Rev. Angel Rea then led a heartfelt prayer of intercession for the names spoken.
Rev. Julia Pritchett, Carmel Saint Marks UMC, again emphasized the Matthew 5:14-16 verse from The Message translation – we are charged with “bringing out the God-colors of the world.” The church should see all the people, and all the people should see in the church the light and hope of Christ. Janelle Ohlemiller spoke of our personal light, our spiritual gifts, through which God shines his light on the world. Attendees were given time to reflect and share on their own gifts, as well as time to share the gifts they witnessed by interacting with those sitting around them. A prayer of thanksgiving was offered.
Janelle also invited guests to a closing prayer and all participants joined together in the Lord’s Prayer. Bishop Trimble reflected on all of the people it takes to make things happen and invited those in attendance to “be a blessing as we walk from this place,” and invited all to the commissioning and ordination service.
Membership at the close of 2017 was 184,513, a decrease of 2% since 2016; average worship attendance stands at 92,523, down 4% from the previous year; Sunday School (all ages), 29,407, down 5%; Professions of Faith through confirmation, 923 (new category); Professions of Faith other than confirmation, is at 2,105, down 32%; Baptisms, 2,675, down 10%; the Mission Offering stands at $9,159.81 and the Emergency Fund stands at $4,094.90.
Please note: This information is not completely accurate due to the many churches that do not report.
2019 Annual Conference Dates Set
Mark your calendars! The 2019 Annual Conference Session of the Indiana Conference of The United Methodist Church will be June 13-15, 2019 in Indianapolis.