Building Discipleship Centers

An E-pistle From Bishop Mike Coyner

August 10, 2015

Building Discipleship Centers

The 2015 Session of the Indiana Conference approved the launching of a capital campaign to build a new $6 million center at Epworth Forest, with additional challenge goals of finishing the Buck Lodge at Epworth Forest, completing the lakes project at Camp Indi-co-so, and establishing an endowment fund for camp scholarships. I was asked to name a Campaign Committee, which I have done (see previous announcements), and they have begun their work and have established a total goal (including the challenge projects) of $9 million.

The Campaign Committee has approved calling this campaign "Building Discipleship Centers" – and the plural terminology denotes that we are building at more than one site, and it also denotes that every local church is a "discipleship center." By combining our local church efforts with our camping ministries, we can have "discipleship centers" all over the state. I like that plural terminology, because it reminds us that our mission is not about buildings, campgrounds, or even specific programs – it is about developing disciples and new leaders.

In addition to a Campaign Committee to raise these funds, we are organizing a Building Committee to help design the new Discipleship Center at Epworth Forest, the lakes project at Indi-co-so, and the Buck Lodge:

I am pleased to announce that Coach Brad Stevens, currently the head coach of the Boston Celtics in the NBA and previously the head coach of the Butler Bulldogs, is giving his support to this scholarship fund. Brad and his family are active United Methodists, and he has offered these comments about why scholarships are important:

"It's great that the UMC is focusing on raising funds to provide camp scholarships. Some of my more cherished memories came from church-sponsored activities in my youth. Whether it is a mission trip, a regularly scheduled youth group meeting, or a camp – these experiences can have such lasting impact on the kids that attend. All the best, Brad"

So how are we doing on our campaign to date? We are currently in the "quiet phase" of seeking leadership gifts to get our momentum moving. I expect that we will soon have some numbers to report which will encourage others to give to this effort. Ultimately we will need lots of gifts from individuals, groups, and perhaps even churches – although there is no plan for any kind of local church "goal" or "apportionment." We believe that special gifts from willing donors will fund this campaign. It is important to note that the Indiana Conference approved this whole campaign as a "special gifts" campaign with only gifts by individual donors, and it also approved a "cash campaign" so that we will only build these new buildings and developments when the cash is on hand to do so.

I am honored that the Conference voted this campaign as a way of honoring my legacy, and I do believe that we need what the Campaign Committee is calling a "legacy of leadership" in our efforts to develop disciples and young leaders for our Indiana Conference.

We will continue to provide updates on the Campaign as we have more news to share. Meanwhile, I echo what Coach Stevens has said: "these experiences can have such a lasting impact on the kids that attend." May it be so for generations to come.