|Indiana United Methodists approve unity plan|
Members of the United Methodist South Indiana Annual
(regional) Conference discuss plans to unify with the church's North
UMNS photos by Linda Hoopes.
By Daniel R. Gangler*
June 11, 2008 | BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (UMNS)
With shouts of joy and prayers of thanksgiving, members of The United
Methodist Church's South Indiana and North Indiana annual conferences
approved a plan to merge the two regions into one new Indiana Annual
Bishop Mike Coyner of Indianapolis announced the results of votes by
each annual conference during the closing session of the South Indiana
legislative gathering June 7 at the Indiana University Auditorium in
Youth member Ben Boruff offers an amendment to increase youth representation.
South Indiana members voted 616-185 on June 6 to unite with the North
Indiana Conference. North Indiana members, meeting May 30 in West
Lafayette, voted 730-192 for the merger.
The votes conclude 62 years of Methodist annual conference sessions at
Indiana University and 40 years of United Methodist annual conference
sessions at Purdue University.
In a June 9 letter to leaders of both conferences, Coyner thanked all who helped in the process.
"Thanks to all who have prayed, discussed, disagreed, and worked
together to shape the plan to date," he wrote. "There are many 'next
steps' to follow, but I sense the strong affirmation of both conferences
for us to continue on this journey together. I pray that it will all be
to the glory of God and to the ministry of Christ here in Indiana."
Coyner called for a special session of both conferences Oct. 4 at the
Indiana State Fairgrounds to finalize amendments, elect committees and
begin plans for the first combined Indiana Annual Conference session,
scheduled for June 25-28, 2009, at Ball State University in Muncie.
Bishop Mike Coyner
The merger is designed to streamline administration of the Indiana
Area to bring resources closer to congregations for their support. The
new structure will have five district resource centers across the state.
Currently, having two annual conference centers in Bloomington and
Marion and an area office in Indianapolis has resulted in administrative
duplication and a need for better communication and recordkeeping.
Proponents say uniting the conferences also will give Indiana United
Methodists a single statewide voice.
The bishop will appoint a transition team to implement design plans.
Features of the new annual conference, which was two years in design,
- Forming clergy into covenant groups and all 1,200 congregations
into ministry clusters for the support of and accountability to the
mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of
- Dissolving the 18 districts across Indiana and establishing five resource centers to support the work of 10 districts; and
- Creating a new conference structure and establishing a new conference center in Indianapolis.
The only major amendments to the 50-page unity document added youth
and young adults to the discussion-making process of the statewide
church and added more staff in youth and young adult ministries to the
five resource centers across the state.
Largest Protestant group
The last such structural change of this magnitude in the state
occurred in 1968 when the former Methodist Church and former Evangelical
United Brethren Church voted to become The United Methodist Church.
With 225,000 United Methodists and 1,200 congregations in Indiana, The
United Methodist Church is the largest Protestant denomination in the
state. Methodists first established churches in Indiana in 1801.
An usher collects ballots from South Indiana members.
The denomination also is related to three Indiana hospitals, three
universities, three children’s homes, six residential facilities for
seniors, one halfway house and seven retreat/camps. All of these will be
part of the new Indiana Conference.
*Gangler is director of communications for the Indiana Area of The United Methodist Church.
News media contact: Kathy Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or email@example.com.
Indiana conferences vote to unite into one conference
United Methodists consider new northeast boundaries
2008 Annual Conference Reports
2007 Annual Conference Reports