The Indiana United Methodist Conference is the largest conference in the North Central Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church. With over 1,000 congregations connected through our missions, we have local churches and related ministries in every county in Indiana.
What does it mean for 174,000 people who belong to the denomination identified by the Cross and Flame to be in ministry together as one Church in many places and many churches in one state?
It means that hundreds of daycare centers that provide before-and-after-school programs are housed in or adjacent to local churches. It means that dozens of Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops have United Methodist sponsors. It means that children in poverty have school supplies and winter coats thanks to United Methodist Women groups.
The network of free meals and groceries for the most vulnerable in our state is dependent on the connection of United Methodist Churches to supply volunteers, food, and space to do ministry. Opioid recovery ministries and prison ministries and school partnerships are in place where United Methodists have joined others in saying, “We will not turn our backs on families and neighbors for we must go and do what Jesus would have us do!”
People need Jesus. They need hope in Jesus Christ. Salvation in Jesus Christ. Direction in Jesus Christ. Joy in Jesus Christ. As United Methodists, we take this charge seriously. We are not part of a meaningless movement or lackadaisical denomination. No, we go into the dark places bringing the light and hope and peace of Jesus Christ.
A Christian is a person who believes that the living God is revealed in and through Jesus Christ, who accepts Jesus as Lord and Savior and chooses to take his/her place in the community of the Church as a follower of Jesus Christ.
We have a public mission as the Indiana Conference of The United Methodist Church that is a direct response to Jesus’ Commission in Matthew 28. Our mission is to “Make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”
With a statewide mission field of six million residents, our work is not done. There are people in areas of Indiana who still need Jesus, and we have a Gospel worth sharing. We profess that the world would be better if the imprint of the love and transforming power of Jesus was upon all of our communities.
As we prepare to begin the Lenten journey, I say to you, “Be not afraid.” Make room this season for prayer in the spaces we usually reserve for worry. Make space for both laughter and lament.
One of my favorite songs is a Jazz rendition by saxophonist Kirk Whalum. The lyrics say, “Falling in love with Jesus is the best thing I’ve ever done…”
Rather than fuss and fight, I believe the season is before us to fall deeper in love with the One who died for us and showed us the way to love. It will be the best thing we’ve ever done.
Bishop Julius C. Trimble