"Let Us Build a House..."
The lyrics of the opening lines of Marty Haugen’s beautiful hymn “All Are Welcome” reverberate in my mind as I still feel the afterglow of the 2021 Indiana Annual Conference of United Methodists that took place on June 11th and 12th. I keep humming this line over and over to myself, “Let us build a house where love can dwell and all can safely live…”
Friends we are rebuilding a house.
A few days prior to Annual Conference, Room For All offered a couple ‘get ready’ sessions for folk who were participating as members to Annual Conference. As we began those meetings, I offered the analogy that our work this year may not seem like there is a lot happening, but it is building toward a new church for the future, and we all need to pitch in and join the work. I shared a story about how, after a fire, I remembered the slow, methodical rebuilding of Broadway UMC, the church I previously served. I remembered the slow process as we repaired and rebuilt what was damaged by the fire in our beautiful sanctuary. Yes, we repaired it, but it wasn’t exactly the same as it had been before, we rebuilt it better for the future with a new plan that equipped it with what it needed to serve future generations.
I am so pleased this year's Annual Conference demonstrated how together we are methodically rebuilding this future church to make Room For All. We made decisions, commissioned and ordained new clergy, celebrated our saints who have gone on to glory, and made commitments to shared ministries.
It was a good two days for Room For All Coalition Indiana laity and clergy who continue to join in building a more inclusive and inviting church. We are making a difference and our conference leadership is hearing us. At Annual Conference we learned that the leadership has created a new initiative called “There Is A Place For You.” It sure sounds an awful lot like what Room For All Coalition Indiana has been saying all along! The special initiative’s description goes on to say “It doesn’t matter who you are. There is a place for you.”
I am so happy we’re all starting to sing from the same hymnal!
So, I want to say thank you! Thank you to all the Room For All Coalition Indiana supporters who prayed for our Indiana work. Thank you to the many people who organized conversations, made calls, helped people register and gave their time to help others understand the work we would be doing. And especially, I want to say thank you to the folk who showed up on the Annual Conference Zoom meeting! Thank you for being willing to offer your time as lay and clergy members and for your thoughtful decision-making on the various questions in front of our Annual Conference. You approved reports, supported initiatives to put children first, and committed to learning how be a more anti-racist church. Thank you for asking our General and Jurisdictional Conference Delegates to represent Indiana in a manner consistent with our Christian Conferencing Guidelines approved and adopted at the 2015 Annual Conference. Thank you for rejecting a problematic resolution that attempted to revise the selection process for Annual Conference equalizing lay members and would have undone our work from last year.
Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Indeed, we are “building a house where love can dwell” and we are doing this so that we can truly say, “All are welcome! All are welcome! All are welcome in this place!”
Rev. Duane Carlisle and the entire Room for All Coalition Indiana Leadership Team