Ed.: Indiana Central District and Indiana North District conferences met February 20 with General Superintendent Dr. Jo Anne Lyon in special session to consider merger, and take final district votes after several years of study. At 11:00 AM, both districts voted strongly in favor of merger, in order to build a stronger foundation for greater impact in the state of Indiana. The new district, Crossroads District, will be essentially the northern half of the state of Indiana. Following the vote, the combined DBAs of the districts met with Dr. Lyon and recommended Dr. Mark Gorveatte (the current Indiana Central district superintendent) unanimously to the new district conference for leadership consideration. Presuming General Board approval of the merger in March, the organizing conference of the new district will take place in June. Great appreciation was expressed for years of leadership given by Dr. Aron Willis, the retiring district superintendent of Indiana North District. The following description of the day is reported by Dr. Gorveatte.

How can I best describe the reconvened Indiana Central District Conference on Saturday? Historic is one word that comes to mind. The meeting began in a wonderful time of worship with delegates from both the Indiana Central and Indiana North districts gathered in the main sanctuary at College Wesleyan Church in Marion, Ind. It was stirring to hear these dedicated pastors and lay delegates lifting their voices in song. Dr. JoAnne Lyon, General Superintendent, brought an inspiring devotional from Joshua 1 with the challenge to advance in faith and take new territory for God’s kingdom.

The two districts were then released to meet in their reconvened conferences for deliberation and voting. Dr. Aron Willis, district superintendent for Indiana North District, chaired the Indiana North District Conference in the main auditorium, and I chaired the Indiana Central District Conference meeting in the fellowship room.

I was encouraged by the spirit in our meeting. Everyone who wanted to speak to the question was given an opportunity. After a balanced debate with equal time for those in favor and those opposed to the merger, we prepared to cast our ballots. Those speaking on both sides were respectful and there was a growing sense that whatever the outcome of the vote, our team is more committed than ever to doing ministry together to make disciples in Indiana and around the world.

We were honored to have Rev. Ernest Batman, our distinguished retired district superintendent, lead us in prayer just before voting as we continued to seek God’s direction together. After brother Batman’s prayer, the conference delegates cast their ballots. We then adjourned back to the main auditorium to await the balloting results from both districts that were read by Dr. Lyon.

Indiana Central District voted with 72 percent in favor of the merger. As a historical footnote, the present district alignment was approved by a 62 percent vote back in 1970. I was hoping that we could be a few votes stronger than that original vote, so this positive response was encouraging. There were 156 ballots cast with 112 voting “yes” and 44 voting “no.”

Dr. Willis was gratified by the Indiana North District results. They approved the resolution with 92 percent voting in favor of the merger (197 votes cast with 176 “yes” and 15 “no”). This was an overwhelming affirmation of the wise and gracious way that Dr. Willis has led the district through this process.

The joint session adjourned with the delegates enthusiastically singing “To God Be the Glory” and the Doxology. I was reminded of the Psalmist’s words: “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1 KJV).

Special thanks to Dr. Steve DeNeff and his team at College Wesleyan Church for the gracious hosting of this special event.

Dr. Willis and I both owe a deep debt of gratitude to Mrs. Debra Levite, Mrs. Roxene Lo, and Mrs. Heather Ulrich for all the extra work that they did to pull off the “behind the scenes” details that made the conference go so smoothly.

After the conference adjourned, Dr. Lyon met in a joint session with the members of both DBA’s (District Boards of Administration) serving as the Special Committee on Nominations to commence the search process for the first district superintendent to serve the Crossroads District. The result of that meeting was a unanimous nomination. I am both honored and humbled that the team nominated me for this assignment.

The next big step in the process is approval by the General Board in its March meeting. If approved, each DBA will be appointing members to serve on teams to draft new standing rules and to develop the initial operating budget for the Crossroads District.

The last session of the Indiana Central District Conference will take place on Friday afternoon, June 24, at College Wesleyan Church. We will share in a combined ordination service with Indiana North District at 7 p.m. that day. Then on Saturday morning, June 25, the organizing session of the Crossroads District will convene to launch our ministry together.

The missional impulse in creating this new district is to build a strong foundation for great impact. There are more than three million Hoosiers who have no religious affiliation. Our challenge is to make more and better disciples. May God grant his favor and anointing as we passionately pursue this cause!

View video of delegates of Indiana North and Indiana Central districts singing “Bless the Lord.”