As always at this time of year, attention turns toward Annual Sessions. The Conference Program Planning Committee is coordinating the overall planning, and Frank Kandel as local coordinator, is overseeing the team of people working in Indianapolis. Annual Sessions give us an opportunity to encounter God and see how God is at work in the city of Indianapolis. Make sure to register and make your hotel reservation before the prices expire on May 15! Check the website regularly for new information.
Broadway United Methodist Church will be a beautiful setting for Annual Sessions worship. The congregation at Broadway is being transformed by mission. The next Gospel Evangel features some background about this congregation, and ways it is joining God in the neighborhood. Let’s come with an intention to learn from one another.
The Ministry Credentialing Team report of its credential review of Karl Shelly was announced on April 6, 2015. Conference has received a lot of feedback about this decision, representing the breadth of conviction across conference. We encourage everyone to engage the Unity and Variance Discernment Process as it continues through June 2016.
Missional Leadership Team (MLT) meets this Saturday, 8am-4pm. Please pray for them as they meet. MLT member Steve Miller resigned last month following announcement of the credential review. We are sorry to see him go. With Bob Yoder leading an SST unit in Nicaragua, the board will be missing two people at this meeting. That’s a lot when there are seven to begin with. A little known detail from the bylaws is that all leadership groups are accountable for their work to MLT, so annual reports are submitted to the MLT. Those reports are shared with delegates, to whom the whole structure is accountable. Make sure to check out the work of conference leadership groups in the report book, available on the conference website at http://im.mennonite.net/calendar/annual-sessions.
Gifts Development Team continues working diligently to fill the slate for conference leadership groups. Information about individuals nominated to fill different positions is also in the report booklet.
Several years ago conference leadership commissioned an update of conference history. Mary Swartley has faithfully tended the project over the last number of years. The current target publication date is summer 2016.
David Zehr, a Goshen College student from Elkhart, will be doing research this summer about Mennonite Church Minority Ministries Council and efforts to welcome people of color. Since this story significantly overlaps with Indiana-Michigan (IN-MI) Mennonite Conference, Dan has agreed to supervise David. In the fall David will offer reflections on IN-MI Conference history, through articles and/or presentations.
As staff we are aware that in 1½ months, staffing changes. The Conference Administrator and 3 regional pastor positions will be discontinued at the end of June: Greg Sommers, Brent Eash, David Araujo and Russell Jensen. Dan, Doug, John, Mary and Vanessa will continue, as will the new bookkeeper Jim Norton. We have begun learning and shifting responsibilities, hoping to work out major glitches before they leave. When staffing changes, the administrative team will cease to exist, and the emphasis will be on having one staff team.
In April, Philip Leichty, pastor at Burr Oak Mennonite Church, chaired his last meeting of the Journey board. Philip has been a faithful fan for Journey since the beginning, and the longest serving Journey board chair. He mentored three participants, and two of them joined the pastoral team at Burr Oak. Thank you Philip for your love for Jesus and your passion for leadership development! The board is actively seeking a new chair.
Because this will be a big summer with Annual Sessions, plus Mennonite Church USA convention and Mennonite World Conference, there has been some suggestion that IN-MI Conference hold a special meeting as we enter the fall. With congregations considering their Mennonite Church USA and IN-MI ties, it might be useful to take stock. Sometimes extra meetings are unwelcome intrusions and other times we wish for extra connections as we navigate uncharted waters. The administrative team welcomes your thoughts.