2013 Annual Conference

AU Choir

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Fifth Session of the Indiana Annual Conference met June 6-8 at the Indiana Convention Center in downtown Indianapolis. The theme was “Transforming the World: Be a World Changer” based on Romans 12:1-2 from The Message. Bishop Michael J. Coyner presided over his ninth conference in Indiana.

More than 2,000 members and 500 guests experienced the significance of the theme with the presence, music and witness of the United Methodist-related Africa University Choir. The choir also toured the state giving concerts in six cities following the session. One of the highlights of this session was the approval by the conference to raise $1.6 million during the next three years to fund an Endowed Chair of Agriculture and Natural Resources and at least four student scholarships at Africa University in Mutare, Zimbabwe. Associate Vice-Chancellor for Institutional Advancement at Africa University, Dr. James Salley, thanked the Indiana Conference for raising funds for the school and for providing funds to build four residence halls when the university was just beginning. Salley told many stories about the numerous students Hoosier United Methodists have helped through scholarships during the school’s 20-year history.

Other presenter to the conference included the Rev. Rob Fuquay and his wife Susan, of St. Luke’s UMC in Indianapolis, who led a joint Bible study based on the story of Nehemiah and congregations intentionally planning their future. Such planning includes a visioning process as well as adult Bible study like the new Disciple Bible Study Fast Track, designed by Susan Fuquay. During another plenary workshop, the Rev. Mark Beeson, senior pastor of Granger Community UMC near South Bend, defined what he has experienced to be five essentials of team leadership -- the leader, mission, team members, value and cause.

Sixteen other workshops and seminars, many with more than 100 participants, also were held using the Be a World Changer theme. The day before conference, more than 150 volunteers from across the state connected with the community by working at a Habitat for Humanity house and two United Methodist-related community centers, repairing a home, preparing and packing meals at Roberts Park UMC in downtown Indianapolis for homeless residents, plus knitting caps for babies at Riley Hospital for Children.

More than 100 members and guests participated in a Thursday morning Fun Run/Walk to raise money and awareness of conference-related campus ministries across the state. Also that morning, an inspiring group of 18 young people preached during a Festival of Young Preachers, a one-of-a-kind event designed by the national Academy of Preachers.

During a community outreach on Friday, hundreds of members and residents poured on to Monument Circle in the heart of downtown for a Family Fun Night of food, games entertainment and music provided by area churches, conference youth and camping ministries.

The three-day session provided six worship services including a memorial service remembering 36 deceased pastors and 36 deceased pastor’s spouses, a retirement service recognizing 1,425 years of service by 56 retiring clergy and a closing commissioning-ordination service when 13 provisional members were ordained and 10 candidates for ministry were commissioned. Only business requiring action was brought to the floor of annual conference. All other written and video reports were provided on the conference website as well as on a DVD that was mailed before the session to all conference members.

Highlighting two business sessions, the conference:

  • Approved a 2014 income budget of $13.5 million;
  • Approved a campaign to raise $1.6 million for Africa University;
  • Heard a report from the United Methodist Foundation of Indiana celebrated that during the past four years, the foundation’s Rejuvenate program has granted $1.8 million to 419 pastors and their families for education debt retirement of clergy, pastors with financial emergencies, retirement and the Call Anew program.
  • Approved continuing funds for Medicare supplements to surviving spouses at $250 per month.
  • Defeated a Conference Board of Pension and Benefits proposal to end funding of Medicare supplements in 2014 for retired clergy. A Medicare supplement program for retired clergy will continue. This meant an increase of more than $700,000 to the conference 2014 budget.
  • Heard that the six-member Church Development staff works with 185 churches participating in the Fruitful Congregation Journey. The conference welcomed the Rev. David Neckers as the new Church Development Director and Pastor Steve Clouse as the new senior associate director of Church Development.
  • Will meet for the 2014 Annual Conference Session May 29-31 at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis.

Membership stands at 196,564, down 1,353 from the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 111,352, down 2,909. Average Sunday school attendance stands at 34,562, down 1,680. Professions of faith stand at 4,237, up 444. The total in group ministries stands at 91,681, up 1,289. People in covenant disciple groups 8,740, up 573. -- Daniel R. Gangler, director of communication, Indiana Conference

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