By:  Dan Gangler (Indiana Communications)

AKRON, Ohio – During the North Central Jurisdictional Conference Friday morning in Akron, the Indiana and North Illinois conferences of The United Methodist Church took the lead in the passage of a proposal to study the mission and structure of jurisdictions, in particular the North Central Jurisdiction.

Indiana Conference’s Rev. Cindy Reynolds, North District Superintendent, joined with Lonnie Chafin, treasurer of the Northern Illinois Conference, in combining like resolutions presented on Wednesday of the NCJ Conference. At that time the proposals were referred to the NCJ Mission Council, chaired by Ruth Ellen Stone of Clayton, Ind. Stone brought the legislation back to the floor on behalf of the Mission Council as a united document that was approved by more than three-fourths of the delegates.

The action approved the formation of a task force using an online platform for dialogue initiated by staff and leadership of the Northern Illinois and Indiana conferences with assistance from across the NCJ. The action would then establish a task force consisting of two people (lay and clergy) from each conference of NCJ plus up to five more individuals to balance the task force racially and ethnically.

The task they have been assigned to will examine a zero-based approach to the structure of jurisdictions, place conclusions in the context of other discussions of changes with the UMC, provide updates to annual conferences beginning in 2014 and make recommendations to conferences for the 2016 General Conference of the denomination.

In the Indiana proposal submitted by Reynolds and the 36-member Indiana delegation, the ultimate goal of the task is “prayerfully and with diligence discern the purpose, vision and role of the Jurisdictional System in fulfilling the mission of the church to Make Disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world in the 21st century…”

In other business:

MMDC – Pat Wright, executive director, reported on the Midwest Mission Distribution Center is located south of Springfield, Ill. in Chatham. The center is self-funded and related to the UMC, Great Rivers Conference and United Methodist Committee On Relief. JMMCD most recently shipped 3,600 cleaning buckets to northern Wisconsin and Minnesota for flood relief. The center provides disaster response supplies as well as makes school desks, reconditions sewing machines and bikes and ships to places all over the world. The center has a 32-bed dormitory for volunteers as well as 13 RV sites. More than 1,100 volunteers helped run the center this past year. NJC budgets $5,000.

Imagine NO Malaria – Bishop Sally Dyck of the Minnesota Area reported that the NCJ leads the UMC in the Imagine NO Malaria campaign. NCJ is generous and mission oriented. In addition to the malaria-preventing mosquito nets, the campaign also does diagnostic work, education and communication about malaria. The ultimate goal is to eliminate death by malaria. The United Nations Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are partners in this fight. The UMC total goal is to raise $75 million and has already raised more than $20 million. UMC members in Africa pick up the road in the campaign. More than 3,500 volunteers in Liberia work with the campaign. We need to help UMs in American to realize the importance of eliminating this disease. The Minnesota Conference raised $2.5 million already with a goal of $8 million. We had the help of field coordinators to help us raise these funds. What we can do? Raise significant money to raise the UMC goal. We can do it! she exclaimed.

Native American Ministry – Carol Lakota Eatin reported that the Act of Repentance at General Conference was a monumental event. NCJ has two primary educational programs to connect with one another across conference lines to meet together. One is the course of study for Native Americans for clergy leadership. The Flying Eagle Youth Leadership Program is another program of this ministry. The Act of Repentance was the launching of a process to be in dialogue to meet in healing relationships with indigenous people. A DVD about Native American Ministry was sent to all bishops’ offices. The NCJ Native American Ministry requested that an Act of Repentance be performed in each annual conference session.

Treasurer – The NCJ Conference approved a 2013-2016 budget of $1.1 million, an increase of $196,060 over the 2009-2012 conference budget of $921.240. Indiana’s share is nearly 20 percent of the whole budget.

2016 NCJ – The 2016 North Central Jurisdictional conference will be hosted by the Illinois Great Rivers Conference in Peoria, Ill.

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