2020 was a year of ups and downs, challenges and unexpected victories, prayers, and praise. As the world around us faced a tragic global pandemic, racial unrest, and an impending General Conference, local churches around the world continued the work of making disciples for the transformation of the world. Read the following stories to learn how local churches in Indiana and throughout the world served as a stronghold during a year of uncertainty.

Indiana Church Eliminates $5.9 Million of Medical Debt - INUMC

Richard “Dick” Nelson addressing the congregation at St. Andrew UMC, West Lafayette.

1. Indiana Church Eliminates $5.9 Million in Medical Debt

Churches responded to the rise in unpaid medical debt that is impacting communities around the U.S. St. Andrews UMC in West Lafayette joined the effort by working to eliminate almost $6 million of unpaid debt in a number of surrounding counties.

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2. A Community’s Response to Food Scarcity

With help from neighbors, Main Street UMC in Boonville placed three food pantry boxes around the community as a way to assist those struggling with food scarcity. Main Street, Hemenway Memorial Presbyterian Church, along with local businesses, made a commitment to each sponsor a box.

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3. Clergy Couple Works to Rebuild Haitian Economy Through Housing Development

After Rev. Jamalyn Williamson witnessed the devastation caused by the earthquakes that struck Haiti in 2010, she and her husband, David, Senior Pastor at Zionsville UMC, began the effort of rebuilding homes in the rural communities they had grown to love. To date, the organization, Zamni Fondwa, has rebuilt 17 of the 40 homes it plans to rebuild in a three-year period.

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4. Local Church Joins Effort with Pizza Hut to Feed Children

Ford Street UMC in Lapel joined efforts with Gary and Nancy Coomer, owners of Pizza Hut restaurants throughout the region, to help provide pan pizzas and breadsticks to Lapel-area students. Senior Pastor Rev. Glenn Knepp reached out to the Coomers when schools closed for spring break, leaving children without food.

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Bishop Trimble Otterbein SeniorLife Community Franklin Indiana

Bishop Trimble helps lead the celebration parade at Otterbein SeniorLife Community to honor residents and staff.


Amid an unprecedented global pandemic, our daily routines were challenged. But United Methodists throughout the world sought every opportunity to offer the light of Jesus Christ in new and unconventional ways and help those in need by giving love, resources, prayer, and gentle reminders of our call to help transform our world. Here are some of the ways we continued the mission in the face of an outbreak.

1. Celebration Parade for Otterbein Community

Bishop Trimble joined with members of local churches in the Central District on May 12 for a surprise celebration parade in honor of the residents and staff at the Otterbein Franklin SeniorLife Community — while practicing social distancing. Central District ADS Michelle Knight shares a reflection about the day’s events. “There has been so much this pandemic and its repercussions have taught us about being the Body of Christ in such a time as this.”

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2. Local Church Provides Drive-Thru Prayer and Blessing

As community members continue to seek ways to connect with neighbors and loved ones, Coalbush UMC in Mishawaka has been providing the public with an opportunity to share their needs and prayer concerns. Following his livestreamed weekly message each Sunday, Senior Pastor Rev. Grant Merrell puts on his face mask to greet and devote his attention to each vehicle that lines up outside the church to be seen, heard, and receive a prayer and blessing.

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3. Church Members Create Masks Using 3D Printing

United Methodists led the charge when it came to responding to the Coronavirus in Indiana. As the state began to open up non-essential businesses and entities, the need for personal protective equipment became significant. Church members Zack Benter, a teenager at Amo UMC, and Huntington Evangelical UMC member Tiffanney Drummond, used 3D printing to create parts that harness face masks and shields for people in need.

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4. Church Provides Relief Through Prayer Line

Barnes UMC in Indianapolis prayed with people from around Indiana every Tuesday, starting at 6:00 p.m., as a way to provide peace during this time of unrest. Rev. Charles Harrison has seen the impact of COVID-19 in his community and relates to the stress and anxiety families are enduring across the world. He stated “It’s something that has happened that most of us have not seen in our lifetime, so we’re trying to adjust to this new way of life.”

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GeorgeFloydMural - Extended Cabinet Speaks Out Against Racism and Violence - June 3, 2020 - INUMC

A mural created in honor of George Floyd located where he was killed.


The killing of George Floyd by a Minnesota Police Officer shook the world. Protesters took to the streets, the Black Lives Matter movement was re-energized, and for weeks the people of the world, and the Church, cried out against racial injustice and inequity. Read the following stories to learn about how United Methodists worked to eliminate racism and promote antiracism practices in our daily living.

1. Pastors Join Protests Against Racial Injustice

Demonstrations against police brutality, especially toward people of color, took place in regions across the U.S., including Indiana. The protests followed the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black American man at the hands of Minnesota law enforcement on May 25. Some United Methodist pastors took part in the racial protests held in Indiana.

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2. Extended Cabinet Speaks Out Against Racism and Violence

“We the Extended Cabinet of the Indiana Conference (Bishop Trimble, Conference Directors, and Conference Superintendents), collectively, speak out against all forms of racism and actions of violence.” The Extended Cabinet released a letter to United Methodists following nationwide protests launched by the killing of George Floyd.

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3. Local Leaders Share Thoughts About Improving Racial Relations

In light of recent conversations and protests around racial equality, the IndyStar asked prominent members from across an array of industries to share how our communities can work together to bring sustainable change to Indianapolis and surrounding areas. Rev. Ronnie Bell, Senior Pastor at Cumberland UMC, lent his voice: “Sharing small pieces or vulnerabilities of my racial experience with my congregation has helped to awaken the social consciousness and need for anti-racism.”

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4. ‘Service of Lament’ Challenges Church on Racism

As part of The United Methodist Church’s anti-racism initiative, church leaders shared online an unflinching “Service of Lament, Repentance, Communion and Commitment.” The hour-long video weaves in scripture, prayer, spirituals, photos of racial violence victims — and an anguished testimony from United Methodists.

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