“I will not abandon you or fail to help you.” Joshua 1:5
The last eleven months have been challenging as we have lived with the reality of COVID-19 which has brought sickness and death around the globe. We weep with those who weep and journey with those who need our support.
Since February 2019, The United Methodist Church has been in a place of ambiguity and division over the future of the denomination with proposals for separation with grace. Political division and racial unrest in 2020, along with COVID-19, have claimed much of the news cycle, but the Church is yet alive. We are still in the business of prayer, making disciples of Jesus and transforming the world through acts of mercy, justice and healing. If the Church were out of business, I would tell you to take down your signs.
God’s presence and protection is promised throughout the Bible:
Isaiah 41:10 says, “Fear not, for I am with you…”
Matthew 28:20 says, “Jesus said, ‘I am with you always, to the end of the age.’”
There has been speculation about the future of The United Methodist Church and whether there will be another postponement of 2020 General Conference. No matter the decision about General Conference—or the continued disruption caused by the pandemic—here is what I know for sure:
The Indiana United Methodist Annual Conference has and will have a place for everyone. If you are like me, you are a United Methodist who professes Christian faith in “God incarnate in Jesus Christ for our salvation and ever at work in human history in the Holy Spirit” (UMC Book of Discipline).
My parents were Methodist, and I became United Methodist. I married a Baptist who became a United Methodist. I was nurtured as a youth through Methodist Youth Fellowship, camping, confirmation and later Lay Speaker’s School.
Thousands of Indiana United Methodists love the Lord and may vote Republican, Democrat, or independent of political identities. You love the Church and have not been part of any debates. You want to see your Church continue to be missional and participate in the spread of the Good News of the Gospel that has been part of United Methodism and our predecessor bodies in Indiana for decades.
No one has to leave The United Methodist Church in Indiana. No one will be forced to stay; but all are welcome to offer themselves in service and witness for Jesus Christ and Christ’s Church. The diversity of United Methodism reflects the diversity of our state and the Global Village. We are many things, but most of all we are Children of the Most High God. Lost in our decades of debate about human sexuality and authority are millions of United Methodists who simply want to be the Church.
My vision for Indiana United Methodists is based on a belief that if we journey together with Jesus and each other, we can build a bridge of Beloved Community and stay in love with God. Indiana UMC is a place for everyone; if you love Jesus, there’s a place for you in Indiana.
“Hope and fear cannot occupy the same space. Invite one to stay.” -Maya Angelou
Be encouraged and stay tuned,
Bishop Julius C. Trimble
Indiana Conference of The United Methodist Church