Story and photos by Daniel R. Gangler
More than 300 annual conference members and guests representing 201 United Methodist congregations from across the state, crowd on to the stage to sign up for the 100 New Points of Light campaign.
Bishop Coyner explains the 100 New Points of Light campaign holding a light saber.
With a light in one hand and a lighted smart phone in the other hand, Bishop Coyner celebrates the beginning of the 100 New Points of Light campaign surrounded by conference members and guests.
INDIANAPOLIS – More than 300 Indiana Annual Conference members and guests crowded onto the stage at the Indiana Convention Center responding to Bishop Mike Coyner’s plea to add a worship service or other ministry in their local church to help fulfill the mission of the church.
Coyner invited all 1,120 Indiana congregations at the May 30 plenary session to consider establishing a “New Point of Light” – a worship service, Bible study or other organized effort, to reach new people with the light of Christ. He said he expects many of these new faith communities will be “off-site” in a location outside existing church buildings, while others will be at “off-times” to reach new people beyond our typical worship services.
Coyner had hoped for 100 congregations to respond to the “100 New Points of Light” campaign and was overwhelmed when more than 300 conference members and guests responded. They represented 201 congregations, as they sang and waved miniature lights in celebration of their commitment. Running out of lights, respondents without lights were asked to wave their lighted smart phones.
The enthusiastic response was twice what Coyner and conference leaders had anticipated, causing them to revamp plans to accommodate twice as many churches to be involved.
Those who came forward were led into a separate room where they received packets of information, including a voucher to request $500 in seed money from the conference for their new ministry efforts.
Since then, the conference directors have scrambled to raise more funds, because they had only set aside $50,000 from the Discontinued Church fund for each of these new projects to receive $500 of seed money.
According to Coyner, “That is a very appropriate use of the legacy funds from congregations which have completed their ministry, but we had only anticipated needing $50,000. Now the conference needs twice that amount of money.
“That is a good problem, and I am sure we will find the funds. In fact two different persons came to me and offered $1,000 each to help support these New Points of Light,” Coyner said.
Values undergirding this vision include:
- Reach the un-churched,
- Reach the de-churched,
- Follow Wesleyan Theology,
- Be lay-driven,
- Empower laity,
- Focus outwardly,
- Engage with an entrepreneurial spirit and innovation, and
- Accept failure and learn from it, because this is a pilot program.
The 100 New Points of Light year-long campaign will be administered by the conference directors and district superintendents. The Rev. Cindy Reynolds, executive assistant to Bishop Coyner, will lead the campaign. The Rev. Bev Perry of Columbus, Superintendent of the Southeast District, will coordinate the activities of the cabinet during the campaign.
The conference will assign an advisor to each of the 200 congregations. Each advisor will be given a handful of churches to oversee and assist as each congregation moves forward to establish a new form of worship or outreach ministry. The goal is to reach beyond existing congregations to a new population to make disciples. The advisors will be contacting their assigned congregations for the first time during the month of July.
The Rev. Dave Neckers, Conference Director of Church Development, will continue to train new advisors as they are recruited to cover all 200 churches involved in the campaign.
The campaign will be resourced through the conference website at www.inumc.org/100lights. On that site, participants will find a directory of churches involved in the campaign, the contents of the informational packet distributed at the annual conference session, a picture gallery for placing pictures of new worship and ministry opportunities, a place to send and read short stories from local churches, a place to make online donations to the campaign and other news and information to support the campaign and the churches involved in it.
The campaign also has a Facebook presence for sharing information and stories by the New Points of Light churches at “100 New Points of Light” and on Twitter @inumconference #100lights.
Each church committing itself to the campaign will be given $500 to assist them in establishing a new worship service or ministry. Some churches either said a new worship service or other ministry was already in their plans and they already were covering the expenses. Other churches have declined the grant saying they can do it on their own.
According to Jennifer Gallagher, Indiana Conference Treasurer, the Conference Council on Finance and Administration will be considering places they can pull the needed dollars. There are specific conference funds for church development.
In the meantime, those wishing to contribute to this outreach ministry can do so by sending individual contributions to the 100 New Points of Light campaign at Indiana Conference Center.
Gangler serves as director of communication for the Indiana Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church based in Indianapolis.