2020 Indiana Annual Conference

“I’m grateful this year for the gift of technology,” Bishop Julius Trimble said as he opened the 2020 Indiana Annual Conference. He encouraged members to fulfill the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 14:40 that “everything should be done with dignity and in proper order.” 

“Beautiful people of the Indiana Conference, let us do this work,” he said.

Darlene White, conference secretary, presented the following motions: 

Motion: That the voting bar, or legal limits of the conference, be designated as members registered at the Indiana Wesleyan campus, the regional sites, and those connected through the ZOOM webinar from their homes. The motion passed (99.5%).

Motion: That votes and decisions during the virtual session shall be legal and binding. The motion passed (98.9%).

Motion: That all the reports and presentations posted at http://www.inumc.org/ACreports/ be accepted as appropriately presented and ready for action. The motion passed (98.2%). 

Motion: That the conference program as printed or online at http://www.inumc.org/annual-conference/schedule/, subject to necessary adjustments, shall constitute the official agenda of the 2020 conference. The motion passed (99.2%). 

Rules and structure 

Paul Wagner read two amended areas to the Rules and Structure Document. He then presented a motion that the Rules and Structure Document be accepted as amended and then added to the record of this conference session.

Jason Rice proposed that two additional amendments. The first was about equalizing lay and clergy members. He then proposed the motion that the Rules and Structure Document be accepted as amended then added to the record of this Conference session.

While waiting for the results of the vote, Chris Lance made a point of order that there was not an opportunity for speeches for/against before the previous vote was taken. Bishop Trimble clarified, “Moving forward, there will be that opportunity.” 

The motion passed (75.9%). 

Rice presented a second motion about voting privileges at District Conferences. 

Mitch Gieselman, superintendent of the Southwest District, made a motion that for the sake of time, the amendment to the Rules and Structure Document be tabled until the October Annual Conference session.

Wagner declared that the motion required a majority vote. The motion passed (63.4%). 

Wagner then presented a motion that the Rules and Structure document be accepted as amended and then added to the record of this Conference session. The motion passed (89.2%). 

Consent calendar 

Wagner made the motion that the Board, Agency, and Committee Reports listed on the conference website under the heading "Consent Calendar" be accepted and added to the record of this Conference session. The motion passed (96.8%). 

Laity address

David Johns, conference lay leader, challenged the conference with the question: Why are you here? “How do we treat the people we encounter? Jesus' expectation of us is that we're different than the rest of the world. We're here to bring help and hope,” he said. 

United Methodist Foundation of Indiana Inc.

Manet Shettle made the motion that the annual conference affirm the slate for the Board of Directors of the United Methodist Foundation of Indiana, Inc. She presented the Class of 2020-2023: John Clay, Shalimar Holderly, Larry Price, Lee White. The motion passed (98.5%). 

Board of Pension and Health Benefits 

Susan Spaulding announced that Wespath will cover 100% of COVID treatment through the end of 2020, even if a deductible has not been met. And that churches will be receiving a refund because of decreased medical expenses thanks to digital consultations. She made the motion: that the report, including raising the Past Service Rate for years pre-1982, be approved as presented. The motion passed (96.6%). 

Council on Finance and Administration

Rodney Frieden explained that the 2021 budget wasn’t ready to present. “We’re dealing with and juggling unknowns day to day and week to week and month to month,” he said. The 2021 budget will be prepared and shared prior to the October Annual Conference session. 

Emerging leaders 

As Emily Krach opened the Emerging Leaders report she shared, “This is a reminder that we need to listen and be present with young people," referring to featured speaker Meadow Mertz. 

Meadow shared about her family’s apartment fire and how she had to transfer schools. “I started to have a lack of faith because I thought God no longer loved me,” she said. After attempting suicide, Meadow ended up at Parkview Behavioral Health, where she “never felt closer to God.” She reminded members that many young people have a story as well. “I challenge you to listen to the stories of younger people.” 

Charter recognition

Emily Reece, director of Church Development, presented two newly-chartered churches: 

  • Disciples Korean United Methodist Church (West Lafayette) - January 2020
  • Abundant Vida Nueva United Methodist Church (Indianapolis) - December 2019 

A point of order was made: an objection of a procedure by Bishop Trimble. During the Rules and Structure conversation, a motion was made by Mitch Gieselman to table the proposed Jason Rice amendment, though multiple amendments had been received. 

Bishop Trimble responded that he made the decision because it is his responsibility to “care for the business before us.”

Chris Gadlage at the microphone made a point of order: “Allowing a presider who does not have authority to expand the scope of a motion sets a dangerous precedent for whoever sits in that chair.”

Aleze Fulbright, superintendent in the Central and West Districts, spoke against the objection of the procedure. “Your rationale was clear,” she said to Bishop Trimble. “We’re trying to present a virtual Annual Conference. You saved us time; we heard important information, and we celebrated the work of the Church.”

The bishop’s rule was upheld by a 77.1 % vote. 

Phil Amerson made a motion that the Committee on Finance and Administration set aside 10% of the 2021 budget for anti-racism work. Bishop referred this motion to the Committee on Finance and Administration to consider before it's brought back before the conference. 

Children Matter Most

Emily Krach presented one of our Missional Offerings: Children Matter Most, an initiative that began because of startling statistics: 

  • Indiana has the second highest infant mortality rate in the Midwest.
  • Indiana has the highest rate in the country of teens who have considered suicide and the second-highest of those who have attempted it.
  • Compared to neighboring states, Indiana has the highest rates of children in the foster care system.

The Children Matter Most Team’s goal is to inspire churches to partner with schools, inform others about adverse childhood experiences, and invite children to camp. 

“Children Matter Most: We must live this out based on the realities around us!” Emily said.

Closing business

Darlene White shared some closing business:

  • A reminder of the Celebration of Ministry service at 2:00 pm
  • A reminder of the next annual conference session on October 10. (Registration opens August 29.)
  • Missional Offerings gathered to this point:
      • Stuff the Bus $1,375
      • Children Matter Most $700
      • The Cabinet Emergency Fund $520

Dave Neckers offered a closing prayer. 

Retiree recognition

Bishop Trimble welcomed members with a greeting and prayer. The Rev. Bryan Langdoc, the Rev. Mary Dicken, Bill Hamm, Rick Provine, and Steve Snyder offered “And Can It Be (Amazing Love)” as a musical response.

Fifty-seven retirees were honored for their 1,705 years of combined service. The Rev. Cheryl Garbe addressed members as a representative of the retiring class. 

Cheryl interviewed some former retirees and shared a few of their words of wisdom for the Retiring Class of 2020: 

  • "Retirement is a time to let go of that which has served you so well in the past to make room for that which will serve you so well in the future." 
  • "Travel as much as you can for as long as you can." 
  • "Give yourself a sabbath from ministry." 

To ordinands, she offered the following gems of wisdom, among others: 

  • "Surround yourself with the best people you can find." 
  • "Be the best possible you." 
  • "The size of a church is not an indicator of the size of their success." 

Presentation of persons to be commissioned, recognized as associate members and ordained

Four persons were commissioned for the work of deacon. Nine persons were commissioned for the work of elder. Two were recognized as associate members. One person was ordained into the Order of Deacon. Twelve were ordained into the Order of Elder. 

Bishop Trimble offered his message "Climbing our Second Mountain" without wearing his shoes, though he donned his United Methodist socks. "Where God's name is proclaimed and Christ is lifted as our Lord and Savior is holy ground," he said.

The bishop referenced David Brooks' book, “The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life,” as he defined a "second mountain:" people who radiate joy and clarity of purpose. He encouraged members to live that way. "We can choose joy. We can choose justice. We can choose life with Jesus!"

Names of clergy delegates for 2021 General Conference:

Russ Abel
Aleze Fulbright
Lisa Schubert Nowling
Ronnie Bell
Rob Fuquay
Jill Howard
Duane Carlisle
Larry Whitehead

Names of lay delegates for 2021 General Conference:

Chris Hancock
Ian Hall
Shirley Dominick
Leah Padgett
Michael Womack
John Lomperis
Shannon Priddy
Amy Land

There was a push for a more diverse delegation and Jennings, Lundy and Padgett are all in their 20s. R.C. Muhlbaier is 33.

Conference statistics for 2019:

  • Membership 174,032 down from 180,045.
  • Worship attend 84,554 down from 87,983.
  • Church school attend 26,911 down from 27,883.
  • Professions or reaffirmations of faith 2,395 down from 2,690.
  • Adults/young adults small groups 45,607 down from 47,899.
  • Worshippers engaged in mission 52,526 down from 52,619.

— Serena Acker, Indiana Conference communications officer

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