Posts Tagged ‘the United Methodist Church’

isIn walked a family of seven Congolese refugees.  Why did they show up to one of our Indiana United Methodist churches?  Because of the cross and flame symbol on the church’s sign.

According to Sergio Reyes, pastor of Iglesia Cristiana Getsemani, a family fleeing violence in their home country in Africa recently were resettled near Reyes’ church on the south side of Fort Wayne.  The parents and their five children, ages 6-18 years old, happened to be traveling down the street when a son cried out, “There’s our church!”  The family are members of The United Methodist Church in Congo and so they were very familiar with the UM symbol of the cross and flame.  A family feeling disoriented suddenly felt a little more at home knowing that their church family was with them even though they were thousands of miles from their home country.

The family, that speaks primarily French and Swahili, not only attended Getsemani’s English-language worship service last Sunday, they decided to try its Spanish-language service too!  After the service the pastor and parishioner, who knew a bit of French, took them out to Pizza Hut for lunch.  And the next day they took the entire family out to get new shoes, which were desperately needed.  A couple days later, the family joined the church for its annual Fourth of July baptism service and day of fun at Chain-O-Lakes State Park.

What a beautiful reminder that we United Methodists are a part of global family, as well as God’s family.  Way to go, Sergio and Getsemani Church!  May each of our churches respond to the immigrants and refugees around us with open arms as well!

— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director of Church Development


ncj20161-300x176It’s the second Monday of the month.  That means it’s a special day of prayer and fasting for those of us on the North Central Jurisdictional Episcopacy Committee.  The committee goes into action this week as delegates to the North Central Jurisdictional Conference in Peoria, IL, elect four new bishops.  Following the last election, the Episcopacy Committee will assign all nine NCJ bishops–including the four newly elected ones–to the nine Episcopal Areas in the NCJ (Midwest).  As Bishop Mike Coyner is retiring, the Indiana Conference will be receiving a new bishop, something that has happened only once in the last 24 years!

So, I invite you, on my day of prayer and fasting, to join me this week in praying for the Jurisdictional Conference, not only ours in the Midwest, but the other four in the U.S., which will be meeting at the same time.  Together we’ll be electing a number of new United Methodist bishops.  Pray for the candidates.  Pray for us delegates who will be discerning which candidates to elect.  Pray for the twenty-two of us on the Episcopacy Committee who will be determining where to assign the nine NCJ bishops.  Pray, above all, that the Holy Spirit guides the entire process and that God’s will is done.

Prayer makes such a huge difference!  I had a greater sense of prayer support at the recent General Conference in Portland than any of the previous General Conferences I’ve attended.  I sensed God’s spirit on the floor of the conference.  And I believe we experienced a Kairos moment when we adopted the bishop’s proposal to create a commission to bring a plan dealing with human sexuality issues.  Never before had General Conference delegates asked the bishops to lead in this way.  I believe God’s movement in Portland among those of us there was a result of the prayers of many, many people and churches around the world.  If you were one of them, thank you so much!

With the election and assignment of bishops, the Jurisdictional Conference, I believe, will likely impact your church and mine, and our conference, more than any action taken at General Conference.  So don’t stop praying.  This week let’s lift our church and this special process to God and may the results be a real blessing to our churches, conference, and the world!

— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director of Church Development

CCI LogoAfter at least a decade of signs that the institutional church is on the decline, there is some hopeful news…

According to Warren Bird and Ed Stetzer in their book, Viral Churches (Leadership Network), for the first time in years American churches are planting more churches than they’re closing.   Additionally, in 2012 The United Methodist Church (in the U.S.) had its first increase in Professions of Faith after eleven straight years of decline.  And, there is a sense among leaders in the Indiana Conference that its churches are become more outwardly focused thanks, at least in large part, to its Fruitful Congregation Journey effort.

Although the number of church planting projects in 2012 didn’t exceed the number of Indiana Conference churches that closed, there are a growing number of church planting efforts going on, including the following:

Jeffersonville Riverside UMC.  Leader:  Daniel Payton.  South District.

Plainfield The Branches UMC.  Leader:  Alex Hershey.  Central District.

Indianapolis Casa de Dios (second campus of Fort Wayne Getsemani UMC).  Leader:  Marisa Calleja.  Central District.

Hammond Torre Fuerta (Strong Tower) Hispanic UMC relocating to East Chicago.  It also has a second congregation called Rio de Gracias that meets at Hobart Trinity UMC.  Leaders:  Esequiel and Suri Becerra.  North District.

South Bend Monson Community UMC‘s storefront United Methodist Church for All People, South Bend.  Leader:  Tim Aydelotte.  North District.

Fort Wayne Kristo’s Hands and Feet, a missional plant by St. Joseph UMC.  Leader:  Steve Mekaru.  Northeast District.

Add Bishop Mike Coyner’s vision of starting a hundred new worshiping opportunities in Indiana, and one can easily sense that the future of The United Methodist Church, at least in Indiana, is encouraging and hopeful.  Praise God!

— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director of Church Development