Indiana Conference Center employees have gotten accustomed to a warm and pleasant “good morning” as they start each work day. Erma Metzler, who routinely comes to work early, greets her coworkers as she makes her way to her desk adjacent to the bishop’s office. Some mornings, she jokingly wishes her husband and workmate, Ed, a good morning as well. It is a tradition that has lasted over a decade.
Collectively, Ed and Erma Metzler have committed more than 30 years of service to the Indiana Conference. They’ve seen the Conference transition from two separate branches — the North and South Conferences — to a unified body, known today as the Indiana Conference. Earlier this year, Ed and Erma announced their plans to retire at the end of 2019.
Ed and Erma are both natives of Erie, Pennsylvania. Ed served 20 years as a public affairs specialist, working in public relations and journalism for the United States Air Force. After retiring from the Force, he and Erma moved to Indianapolis, where Ed began working as a freelance writer for the Hoosier United Methodist newspaper in 1995.
Prior to his current role as the Administrator of Leadership Development – Ministerial Services, Ed was a secretary in the Episcopal office, a role in which he served two different bishops. When he transitioned to his current role with Leadership Development in 2015, Erma succeeded him in a new but similar role as the Assistant to former Bishop Mike Coyner and his Executive Assistant at the time, Rev. Dr. Cindy Reynolds. Prior to that role, Erma had been the Communications Assistant for 20 years, having worked alongside two Communications Directors.
“It’s been an honor and a privilege to serve as secretary to two Indiana bishops and then to work alongside candidates as they prepare for ministry,” said Ed. “My time with The United Methodist Church has been fulfilling and rewarding.”
Rev. Matthew Leffler, who has worked alongside Ed in supporting Ministerial Services for over four years, shared, “It has been a joy to work closely with Ed. I have been impressed by the ways in which he works with the various candidates. He always has time to answer their questions and patiently works with them throughout the process.”
In his role in Ministerial Services, Ed assists Conference Leadership Development in its focus to discover, develop, and deploy fruitful leaders throughout various stages of ministry, from recruitment to retirement.
“Across the years, Ed has thoughtfully and intentionally championed our clergy at every stage of their ministry,” said Rev. Shannon Stringer, Director of Leadership Development. “He brings an experienced eye to ministerial services, and we will miss both his perspective and how he clears obstacles out of the way so process does not become a distraction to ministry.”
Prior to Rev. Stringer joining the Conference staff, Ed worked with her predecessor, Rev. Dr. Aleze Fulbright, for three years. “The ways for which he [Ed] demonstrated servant leadership in his interactions with candidates and clergy embodied the essence of Jesus’ message to us all,” said Dr. Fulbright.
Erma’s experience in communications, working closely with Conference leaders, as well as her extensive knowledge of the various systems and processes that help sustain the Church, placed her in a unique position, with distinctive skills, to assist lay and clergy around the Conference. More so, Erma’s portfolio made her a treasured teammate in the Conference Center.
In regards to her service in the Communications office, Erma shared, “Working in Communications had given me many opportunities to share what the Conference was doing, as well as churches throughout the Conference.”
Erma attained a wealth of knowledge and was often the go-to person for many seeking assistance with office equipment, knowledge about the logistics of Conference events, and more significantly, her knowledge of the bishop’s schedule.
Erma stated, “Working as Bishop Trimble’s secretary has given me a wonderful chance to serve others.”
Bishop Trimble, who has worked alongside Erma since transitioning to Indiana in 2016, shared, “I need to look no further for role models of encouragement than Ed and Erma.”
The Rev. Dr. Cindy Reynolds, who retired from her role as Executive Assistant to the Bishop in July 2019 worked closely with Erma for a number years.
“We worked closely together, and she continued to bless me with her work, her kindness, and her hospitality,” said Dr. Reynolds.
The two collaborated to help support the work of the bishop’s office as well as to maintain clear communication channels throughout the Conference. Dr. Reynolds added, “When something was needed, you knew Erma could and would find an answer and provide resources. Her ministry was foundational support for many in ministry.”
Rev. Larry Whitehead, who succeeded Cindy’s role July 1, stated, “Even before coming to work in the Episcopal Office, I have been blessed by Erma’s servant heart as she has resourced our Cabinet and Extended Cabinet needs, frequently anticipating situations to serve our work and creating ways for us to be more effective. Now on the scene for the past several months – I see that as her way of life and I am grateful.”
But the Metzler’s impact on the Conference office extends well beyond their job descriptions. Erma is known for leaving crafty treats celebrating special events and holidays in each Conference mailbox. She and Ed also throw their annual Happy Halloweenie hotdog roast for the office staff each October.
The Metzlers will work their last day in the Conference Center on November 22, 2019. In their retirement, they look forward to spending time with family; they have two adult children and three grandchildren in the Indianapolis area.