By Mickey Foley, Associate State Pastor
Fall has already proven to be an enjoyable season for our family. We had the pleasure of taking Noah, our three-year-old son, to a pumpkin patch where he picked out a pumpkin to carve. We also enjoyed an old- fashioned hayride, picking apples from an orchard, and indulging in all the homemade treats popular this time of year.
As the season transitions from summer to fall, the first weekend in October has become a time of celebration for our pastors, congregations, lay leaders, and the team at Indiana Ministries. It’s our family reunion, known as the Annual State Meeting of the Church of God and Ordination Weekend.
This year’s Ordination Service and Annual Meeting held special significance for me as I’ve stepped into the role of Associate State Pastor at Indiana Ministries. I’m incredibly grateful for the team, which has truly become family. They worked diligently to cover every detail over the course of two days, and I’m immensely proud to serve alongside them.
There is much to celebrate as a family of brothers and sisters in Christ. Allow me a moment to share my reflections from our time together at our annual gathering.
The Ordination Service is always a time of celebration, witnessing 10 individuals completing their journey through the process to become ordained ministers in the Church of God. One of the most sacred moments of the evening is when each ordinand stands in a designated area of the sanctuary to be anointed and prayed over as they step into this call of ministry. Each one is anointed and prayed over by a mentor in ministry, someone who has invested, encouraged, challenged, and help refine their calling in ministry. The theme of family was strongly evident as I watched a father anoint his daughter, a mother anoint her son, a husband pray over his wife, and a Thrive pastor be anointed and prayed over by his Thrive mentor. It was a moment I won’t soon forget!
The Annual Meeting on Monday is always a day filled with a long list of agenda items that need to be covered as we gather together as one body and one family. There are announcements to be made, information to share, guest speakers to glean insights from, ministry partners to give updates, and the actual business meeting of the state ministry. Amidst all these particulars, I found myself taking a step back throughout the day and observing the interactions within our family. I witnessed hugs and handshakes, smiles and laughter, and many deep conversations. It was a time to simply say, “Thank you, Lord, for this family.” There is always a strong sense of community and commitment to the call of ministry when we gather as a family at the Annual Meeting.
Our guest speaker for the day, Karl Vaters, provided incredible tools and insights into what it means to be an effective church. The response to Karl’s presentation was overwhelmingly positive. He set the stage by sharing a statistic that I’ve heard him mention before: over 90% of all churches have fewer than 200 as a part of their congregation, and 80% have fewer than 100. Our family of churches in Indiana mirrors these statistics. Karl states, “Small churches are not a problem to be fixed but are a part of God’s plan to expand the Kingdom.” He has a passion to see small churches thrive and have influence and impact for the kingdom as God intended. He brought much wisdom and encouragement to our gathering. I could fill several pages with notes and insights that I took from our time with him. If you didn’t get a chance to hear him, please click on the link below. We have also included his presentation notes in a link.
Session 1: https://youtu.be/1V0CktFbXTM
Session 2: https://youtu.be/2Sgk3JceDLM
Session 3: https://youtu.be/a0FdRz4tfu8
Presentation Notes: https://karlvaters.com/incog23/
As we enter the final months of 2023, and as you continue to engage with your congregations and communities, I hope you realize how grateful we are for your leadership, your faithfulness, and your participation in our annual gathering. It takes the whole family!