This year’s class of retirees is comprised of 50 men and 19 women from all corners of Indiana. The youngest is 57, while the oldest is 72. Our 69 retirees represent a combined total of nearly 900 years of service to the Indiana Conference of The United Methodist Church. Read on as they share about some of their experiences serving Christ and the Church.

When the oldest members of our retiring class were ordained, women were not allowed to be clergy. African Americans were not allowed to vote, and there was no internet. Truly, it was a different world.

Despite the world’s drastic changes, one thing has remained the same: our clergy’s focus on making disciples for Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. They continue to walk with people during the best and worst times of their lives—saying goodbye to loved ones at funerals, baptizing babies, counseling and marrying engaged couples. There is a healthy weight that comes with bearing the responsibility of a group of people and their spiritual growth.

But it hasn’t all been serious. Life’s pivotal moments have a funny way of interjecting some humor, as our retirees reflect on…

-“A son went up to the podium at a funeral. After he said some words, he took a glass from a bag and placed it on the podium. From his vest he pulled a flask and proceeded to pour liquor in the glass. He picked it up and said, “This one’s for you, Dad” as he drank the contents.” -Perry Richards

“As the pre-service calling was winding down, four brothers brought in a shotgun they wanted to put in the casket.” -Chris Newman-Jacobs

-”I used the wrong name at a funeral. I referred to the deceased church member as “Zesta.” Her son kindly approached me after the service and said, ‘Mom’s name was Vesta, but she sure had a lot of zesta.’” -Mark Fenstermacher

-”My 5-year old granddaughter, taking my hand to lead me to the baptismal font, said, ‘Look, Grandma, this is where they vaporize the babies!’” -Cyndi Alte

-”We had an outdoor baptism at a parishoner’s pond. One of our new believers was a former college basketball player that was 6’7”. It was in August after a summer drought, so the water level was quite low. My assistant and I could not get him under the water for a full submersion until the third attempt.” -Tim Helm

“I did a baptism of the sweetest little baby. After I applied the water and gave the blessing, she turned her head right into my lapel microphone and released the loudest belch I have ever heard from a baby!” -Ken Wells

-”At the rehearsal for a wedding, the flower girl and ring bearer, both of whom were only about one-and-a-half years old, would be coming forward in a two-seated wagon pulled by an adult. When they finally came in, I was surprised to see them both enrolled in their cell phones playing some sort of game. Less than 2 years old and already using their cell phones while driving!” -Dave Marty

-”A husband and wife had met while working as custodians at Expo Bowl and the wedding was on lane 6. I stood with my heels at the foul line, and the bride came down from the pin setting machines. You could hear the bowling from the other side of the bowling alley.” -John Young

As some of our retirees prepare to step away from their formal ministerial duties, they offered words of encouragement for the Indiana Conference as we press on into the future:

Some words of advice and encouragement
-”Be kind. Do no harm. Do good. Keep in love with God. And be kind.” -Cyndi Alte

-“I would encourage the Indiana Conference to remain longer in the water and marinate in the Spirit before we even begin to try to witness to a broken world.” -Randall McQueen

-”Continue to focus on being disciples of Jesus, making disciples of Jesus, sharing the amazing grace of God who is far bigger and loving than any of us can imagine SO THAT our communities and our world will someday reflect the kingdom of heaven here on earth.” -Chris Newman-Jacobs

-”Remain focused on the call of God in all ministries.” -Mike Dixon

-”Focus on following Jesus the risen Christ by welcoming everyone and serving everyone as Jesus loved and served everyone.” -John Young

-”Keep it simple and real: Love God, love one another, love the stranger, devote yourselves to the apostles’ teaching, the breaking of bread, give to those who are in need. Get small, love big, and stay as close to Jesus as you can.” -Mark Fenstermacher

-”Being the risen Christ’s presence wherever you are. Live with hope for in all places and at all times. This best news is God with us!” -Cindy Reynolds

-”Learn to trust one another again. Stay focused on the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. Be a church that expects a lot from one another but is rich in grace, love, and support all along the way. Learn to laugh, sing, and dance together through life with Christ.” -Ken Wells.