2018 Annual Indiana Annual Conference Episcopal Address

Please click on the link above if you prefer to watch the video version of this Episcopal Address.

The first business of the church is to pray.

This spiritual discipline brings us closer to God. We honor and glorify God, we engage the world, and we invite healing in our own soul through prayer. We have witnessed the countenance of people young and old, blessed while on their jobs because we pray.

Little prayer, little power. Much prayer, much power. No prayer, no power.

Dear God, Your will, nothing more, nothing less, nothing else. Amen!

Thank you for being here with your extended family at Annual Conference. O, yes, we are family. If you are here – you are a part of the big family. If there are those not here – tell them we missed them at the episcopal address and the family reunion. And yes, you are expected to report back home about the family reunion!

If the first business of the church is prayer and we want to see all the people and communicate and encourage. How does this relate to our conference goal of being shaped by God in order to be more fully missional? Well I’m glad you asked that question.

Let me ask you a question? Where is your mission field? The Bible says the harvest is plentiful but the workers are too few. Bishop, we are just trying to survive.

Get Their Name, Grow Your Church by Building New Relationships by Bob Farr, Doug Anderson and Kay Kotan. “Every church has two mission fields.” Mission field number one are the people who are inside the church coming for worship and bible studies. If you don’t pay attention to the first mission field, you will ignore the second mission field. The second mission field are the people who are outside of the church.

Tom was a seminary classmate. We both played basketball, both were married and lived in the same married-student apartments with our families. I later came to know him because he is a pastor in Iowa and I became his bishop. After serving as a district superintendent, he is returning to a local church. At his celebration he was given a plaque – “Relationships are everything!” – that is his mantra. But he is not the author of that belief. Love the Lord with all your heart, being, strength, and mind – and – somebody say “AND” love your neighbors. It’s ALL About Relationships!

What happens if we take Jesus at his word?

What happens if we make more commitments than excuses?

What happens if we take discipleship to a whole new level of missional commitment and became more serious about loving people as Jesus loves people?

What happens if we bring to every relationship a heart of peace, a love of God, and a gift of grace!

What happens if we unapologetically embrace a respect of diversity, no fear of adversity, and a commitment to persistent prayer. What happens if we choose to “See All the People!”

Indiana trails most U.S. cities in metrics regarding health.

According to the latest data on drug deaths, deaths have increased in the past five years.

Indiana ranks 42nd of the 50 in infant mortality rate.

Indiana ranks:

  • 37th in overall population health
  • 13th in heart disease
  • 9th in cancer
  • 6th in diabetes

Of the 50 states, 36 ranked higher as healthier than Indiana.

Drug overdose – overdose deaths have passed automobile deaths as the leading cause of accidental deaths in the U.S.

The opioid crisis claims more than 30,000 lives annually in the U.S. combined with other substance abuse. A 28% increase in Indiana since 2012. We have a crisis!

Let me tell you a story about a recent flight (to Virginia) when I was seated in an emergency exit seat. The flight attendant asked, “Are you aware you are in an emergency exit seat? Are you willing to assist in the case of an emergency? I must hear a verbal yes!”

Laity – We have an emergency! There are two million people without a church home.

We have an opioid crisis begging for a statewide intervention.

We have an emergency! The infant mortality rate crisis. Hoosier babies are 24% more likely to die before their first birthday. (2018 Kids Count data, Indiana Youth Institute)

There are nearly four million people who do not know Christ or claim any church affiliation in the state of Indiana. We have an emergency!

Let me close by asking you the question the flight attendant asked me. “In the case of an emergency, are you willing to assist?”