Letter from Bishop Palmer

published 4/29/2011
Over the last ten days we have been witnesses to life changing disruptions from flood and tornados. In the last few days we have watched the damage, injury and loss of human life across a wide region of the United States but especially Alabama. I have already felt us praying together in behalf of our sisters and brothers most acutely affected by the havoc. Thank you. I also feel you mobilizing your physical energies and financial resources to do what we do which is to help and heal. You are ...

About Methodist Mission in Cambodia

published 4/26/2011
The Methodist Mission in Cambodia represents the combined efforts of Methodists and United Methodists in the U.S., Europe, Singapore, Korea and Malaysia working to engage in ministry and missions with the people of Cambodia. Some of the programs sponsored by the United Methodist Church include:   Community Health and Agriculture Development (CHAD): Focuses on food security, health care, leadership development and entrepreneurship, including creating rice and cow banks to ensure stable food ...

Festival of Quilts raises $34,000 for Cunningham Home

published 4/26/2011
URBANA – More than 100 handcrafted quilts were on display recently at Cunningham Children’s Home for the 7th Annual Festival of Quilts in the Spiritual Life Center on the Cunningham campus. More than 1,000 people attended the Festival April 8-9. The annual event benefits Cunningham children and youth and this year the net proceeds were $34,000. “We are so pleased that the Festival of Quilts has been so warmly received by the community and our friends throughout Illinois,” said Cloydia Hill ...

Former Gov. Ryan: It Was the Right Thing To Do

published 4/26/2011
Editor’s note: The following was taken from a speech delivered by Gov. George Ryan to University of Chicago Divinity School on June 3, 2002. The speech was part of a forum sponsored by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, in which Gov. Ryan was asked to speak upon how his religious and personal views have impacted his actions on the issue of the death penalty. The complete speech can be viewed at: ...

Gov. Pat Quinn's Signing Statement on Repeal of Death Penalty

published 4/26/2011
Today I have signed Senate Bill 3539, which abolishes the death penalty in Illinois. For me, this was a difficult decision, quite literally the choice between life and death. This was not a decision to be made lightly, or a decision that I came to without deep personal reflection.   Since the General Assembly passed this bill, I have met or heard from a wide variety of people on both sides of the issue. I have talked with prosecutors, judges, elected officials, religious leaders from around the ...

Illinois abolishes the death penalty

published 4/26/2011
SPRINGFIELD (UMNS) -- On Ash Wednesday, March 9, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn abolished the death penalty, making it the 16th state to choose life over death. United Methodists have been working to get the death penalty abolished worldwide since they first adopted a resolution at the 1956 Methodist General Conference officially stating the church’s opposition to the death penalty. General Conference is the denomination’s top legislative gathering that meets every four years to consider changes to...

Missionary storyteller: Effingham reporter spending year in Cambodia

published 4/26/2011
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia -- The evening was unseasonably temperate, even for Cambodia’s dry season, and as the sun crept closer to the palm-tree-studded horizon, it was almost chilly. I had my camera trained away from the impending sunset, taking advantage of the golden sheen it was throwing across a very quaint village and its inhabitants — the men with kromas wrapped around their waists, women with babies bouncing on their hips and children eyeing me curiously from their perch atop a nearby fence....

Prosecutor: Death Penalty Has Place in Legal System

published 4/26/2011
CHARLESTON – On June 12, 2001, Eastern Illinois University student Shannon McNamara was found dead in her Charleston apartment. The crime scene revealed that McNamara was sexually assaulted, choked to death with a washcloth and her body was slashed several times before her body was drug from the apartment’s bathroom and “put on display” for whoever found her as prosecution witnesses would testify at trial.   Piecing together physical evidence, including blood DNA, Coles County State’s Attorney ...

United Methodist Position on the Death Penalty

published 4/26/2011
We believe the death penalty denies the power of Christ to redeem, restore and transform all human beings. …We believe all human life is sacred and created by God and therefore, we must see all human life as significant and valuable. When governments implement the death penalty (capital punishment), then the life of the convicted person is devalued and all possibility of change in that person’s life ends. We believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ and that the possibility of reconciliation ...

Westerfield Tucker honored by Emory & Henry College

published 4/26/2011
IGRC clergy member Karen Westerfield Tucker was recently honored by Emory & Henry College for significant contributions to the college and the region. Westerfield Tucker was one of several honored during the school’s Charter Day celebration March 24. A member of the Class of 1976, Tucker received the Distinguished Achievement Award.   A professor of worship for the School of Theology at Boston University, Westerfield Tucker currently serves as president of Societas Liturgica and is ...

Girard UMC Gives Thanks After the Storm

published 4/25/2011
GIRARD – The Easter service at Girard UMC had a different feeling April 23. Five days after an EF-3 tornado – winds of 136 to 165 mph – struck portions of Girard, members of the congregation said the destruction and disruption of lives still weigh heavily on their minds. The storm damaged 22 structures and destroyed five homes.   During the April 24 service, several members spoke out, saying they were thankful there had been no deaths and that the damage wasn’t greater.   The Rev. Mary Alice ...

Keeping the Tradition Alive

published 4/17/2011

Elizabeth Montgomery of Coulterville UMC

Elizabeth Montgomery has been a member of the Coulterville United Methodist Church for more than 70 years. She has been a longtime volunteer and helped start the church's live Last Supper presentations 20 years ago. Recently, she donated a handcrafted crochet of the Last Supper to the church, which has honored her by commemorating this year's living display in her honor.

Photo by Adam Testa, The Southern





Connections: Patton featured in national magazine

published 4/14/2011
RCMA Profile: Nancy Patton, event coordinator, Illinois Great Rivers Conference of the United Methodist Church This year, the Illinois Great Rivers Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church takes on added significance for event coordinator Nancy Patton. That’s because part of the conference will be dedicated to raising money for a cause that could save thousands of lives.   The cause is called Imagine No Malaria and its goal is to eradicate malaria by 2015. It is a program launched by The...

NBC special on malaria to air beginning May 1

published 3/31/2011
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - On both sides of the ocean, people are working to end a disease that takes the life of a child every 45 seconds. An NBC special TV program, A Killer in the Dark: An Extraordinary Effort to Combat Malaria, discusses efforts being undertaken by United Methodists and others to achieve this goal. Presented by the National Council of Churches and produced by United Methodist Communications, the program will be available to local NBC affiliates starting May 1. RCC member ...

The Current Wins Two RCC Awards

published 3/31/2011
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- The Current, the conference newspaper, won two awards, including an Award of Excellence at the 2011 DeRose-Hinkhouse Memorial Awards, sponsored by the Religion Communicators Council. The awards were announced at the organization's annual meeting March 31. IGRC Director of Communication Ministries Paul Black won top honors among single-issue local or regional newspapers with the November 2010 issue of The Current, which featured the cover story Running Green in a Red and Blue...

17,000 Health Kits needed for Japan Relief

published 3/17/2011
The Midwest Mission Distribution Center has been contacted by its disaster relief partners to provide emergency relief to Japan. The first shipment goal is 17,000 health kits and help is needed to reach that goal. The Center is looking for supplies and/or monetary donations to reach the target goal. If you choose to send a monetary donation, please indicate health kit/Japan relief on your check. MMDC will keep you up to date on the progress and what the needs are in the coming days. In addition ...

Conference Communications repeats as Constant Contact All-Star

published 3/17/2011
The Illinois Great Rivers Conference Communications team has received the 2010 All Star Award from Constant Contact®, Inc., the trusted marketing advisor to more than 400,000 small organizations worldwide. IGRC is one of Constant Contact' 2010 top performers and most prolific user of its tools, whether within Constant Contact's email marketing event marketing, social media marketing, or survey products or a combination of all four. "For the past four years, we have utilized Constant Contact for ...

Evenglow Lodge gets high marks from U.S. News and World Report

published 3/3/2011
WASHINGTON – U.S. News Media Group has released the 2011 Best Nursing Homes rankings and Evenglow Lodge in Pontiac is among the group highlighted for high quality service.   The ratings are based on data from Nursing Home Compare, a consumer website run by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The magazine reports that only 18 nursing homes received four straight quarters of perfect five-star ratings from CMS.      U.S. News' report for ranking nursing homes across the country based on...

Seminary Debt Reduction Grants available

published 3/3/2011
The Board of Ordained Ministry of the Illinois Great Rivers Conference has been concerned with the growing debt load many of ministerial candidates have accumulated as they have prepared themselves for full-time ordained ministry.  As financial resources become available, the Board has worked to provide one-time cash disbursements in the hope that it will relieve some of the weight of summary debt.   The Illinois Great Rivers Board of Ordained Ministry is offering Seminary Debt Reduction ...

'It's different when you come'

published 2/25/2011

Five years later, the Illinois Great Rivers Conference's risk-taking mission with Liberia grows deeper

LaMoine River District, Canton Wesley works in Tubmanburg on second mission trip

published 2/25/2011

More photos can be found with the related story

Pogemiller, Rorex, Russell named superintendents

published 2/25/2011
Two superintendents are returning to familiar geographic territory while a third finds his assignment as being very compatible to his ministry, as Bishop Gregory V. Palmer has announced the appointment of three superintendents to the IGRC Cabinet, effective July 1. Revs. Leah Pogemiller, C. Douglas Rorex and Roger Russell will assume superintending responsibilities in the Vermilion, LaMoine and Cache River districts respectively. Pogemiller will succeed the Rev. J. Keith Zimmerman, who has ...

2011 Camping catalog available online

published 2/17/2011
The 2011 Camping catalog was a part of the February issue of The Current and has been mailed to those who registered for a camp in 2010. Additional copies of the catalog may be downloaded from the IGRC website.   Here’s a rundown on things to consider when registering for camp: Register online and save Register online and take $25 off of the registration fee up to three weeks before the camp begins. If mailing registrations, full payment must be sent before April 13 in order to receive the ...

Conference scholarship applications available through March 31

published 2/17/2011
The Illinois Great Rivers Conference Board of Higher Education and Campus Ministry is offering two types of scholarship opportunities for the 2011-2012 school year. Forms and applications are available by visiting the Higher Education page on the IGRC website. For more information or if you have questions, contact Christy Blickensderfer. Applications must be received at the United Methodist Center by 4:30 PM, March 31. Illinois Great Rivers Conference Merit Awards   From the United Methodist ...

Disaster Response Training slated

published 2/17/2011
Two disaster response training events have been scheduled in preparation for tornado season this spring. Pekin First UMC will host the first training on Saturday, March 12 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Registration is available online until March 7. Trainers for the session at Pekin are Ken Miner and Steve Schoeffel. Bonfield Evangelical UMC will host the second training session on Saturday, April 2, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Registration is available online until March 28. Trainers for the session is Steve...

IGRC one of 15 conferences to pay 100 percent in 2010

published 2/17/2011
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The General Council on Finance and Administration (GCFA) reports that 15 annual conferences paid 100 percent of their apportioned funds in 2010, with seven of those conferences being from the North Central Jurisdiction. The conferences are Alaska, Baltimore-Washington, Dakotas, East Ohio, Greater New Jersey, Illinois Great Rivers, Iowa, New York, North Carolina, Northern Illinois, Oklahoma Indian Missionary, Peninsula-Delaware, Red Bird Missionary, West Michigan, and ...

Imagine No Malaria -- a 'Nets-plus' approach

published 2/17/2011
The United Methodist Church’s ambitious goal for Imagine No Malaria is to eradicate malaria by 2015 in sub-Saharan Africa, which has 90 percent of worldwide deaths from malaria. In 2010, the Illinois Great Rivers Conference joined this commitment. Bishop Gregory V. Palmer challenged the conference to raise between $2.3 and 3.5 million over a three-year period. Training for this initiative began in the Spoon River District last year and other districts have or are launching their efforts in early...

Mission trip opportunities, UM Volunteers in Mission response

published 1/28/2011
Rev. Matt Henson of Living the Adventure Ministries has made several trips to Haiti and has four trips scheduled for 2011: “On my most recent trip to Haiti, we went up to an overlook area above Port au Prince. The bird’s eye view was very moving, as our group could see the destruction and need for many workers,” Henson said. “We found ourselves pointing to tent cities, homes without roofs, and homes that were in great need of repair. The overlook gave me an opportunity to see Port au Prince in a...

Change in Five Star Mission Program for 2011

published 1/27/2011
A change has been made to the Five Star Mission program for 2011. The change involves the support level of a congregation's support of a missionary.  In addition to paying all conference apportionments in full and contributing to a General Advance Special, a Conference Advance Special and an UMCOR Advance Special, a church must have a covenant relationship with a United Methodist missionary.   To be in a "Covenant Relationship," a congregation needs to give a minimum of $5 per member of $2,500, ...

Fairview Heights Christ UMC announces launch of second site

published 1/27/2011

Fairview Heights Christ UMC sanctuary -- Easter 2010


A capacity crowd fills the sanctuary at Fairview Heights Christ UMC on Easter Sunday. Capacity issues are one of the main reasons for the church’s announcement of launching a second site in the Collinsville/Maryville area.



Photo courtesy of Fairview Heights Christ UMC

Fountain of Life struggles after $160,000 theft

published 1/27/2011
An employee of a Springfield-area United Methodist Church has been charged with four counts of theft following her arrest Jan. 20. The Buffalo-Mechanicsburg Police Department and U.S. Marshal’s Fugitive Task Force arrested Deborah A. Moore, 46, charging her with theft of more than $160,000 from Fountain of Life UMC, located in Buffalo.   The charges allege that Moore took the money between October 2009 and December 2010, making checks payable to herself with forged church leaders’ signatures and...

Haiti: One Year Later

published 1/27/2011

Champaign New Horizon UMC doubles its efforts to assist in rebuilding of Haiti following earthquake

Hoffman to be honored by Iliff School of Theology

published 1/27/2011
DENVER, Colo. -- Rev. Vaughn Hoffman, pastor of Bloomington Wesley UMC, has been selected as one of six alumni from Iliff School of Theology to be honored for their contributions to Iliff and the greater community. Hoffman is being honored for his Outstanding Contribution to Parish Ministry at the school’s annual awards banquet Feb. 3.   Hoffman, a native of central Illinois and 1984 Iliff M.Div. graduate, served appointments in the Illinois Great Rivers Conference for 28 years and student ...

MacMurray professor honored as exemplary teacher for 2010

published 1/27/2011
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A MacMurray College professor is one among 14 professors at United Methodist-related schools, colleges and universities to be honored as an exemplary teacher for 2010 by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry.   Robert Seufert, professor of English at MacMurray, was selected for the award during the fall semester.   This program, an important partnership with United Methodist-related educational institutions, expresses the church’s support of and appreciation for ...

Register online for childcare for Covenant Keepers

published 1/27/2011
Child care is available at no cost during Covenant Keepers 2011 which will be held Feb. 28-March 1 at the Pere Marquette Hotel. However, parents must register their children by Monday, Feb. 21. Child care requests will be handled on a first-come, first-served basis to the first 10 registrants.   Parents may register at: (there is an underscore between the two sets of words).   Registration for Covenant Keepers continues through Feb. 21 at:   ...

Social Principles bulletin inserts available for download

published 1/27/2011
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The General Board of Church & Society (GBCS) has developed bulletin inserts featuring individual United Methodist Social Principles. The new resource, designed to be included in church worship bulletins, can be downloaded for free from the agency’s Web site. It is located under Social Principles Resources in the Leadership Development section of the website at: The bulletin inserts are designed in two colors that reproduce excellently in black and white. They ...

Social Security tax break creates UMPIP opportunity

published 1/27/2011
On Dec. 17, President Obama approved a tax relief package that includes a Social Security tax break. The tax break goes into effect in January 2011 and will result in higher take-home pay for many employed individuals who pay into Social Security. The new law decreases the percentage of annual earnings* that employees pay into Social Security (the OASDI portion of FICA taxes) in 2011 from 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent. This is for 2011 only.    If you are a clergyperson, the new law also applies to...

The Multi-Site Church Movement

published 1/27/2011
A new report by the Leadership Network reports on the current state of churches having more than one site. Below are some of the findings from Multisite Is Multiplying by Warren Bird and Kristin Walters. There are an estimated 3,000 multisite churches in 46 U.S. states, plus D.C., and six Canadian provinces. Two-thirds of multisites are denominationally connected, with the most represented being Baptist, United Methodist, Christian Church, and Lutheran.     Overview of the Multisite Church ...

Zimmerman announces retirement

published 1/27/2011
It is often said that pastors never really retire and the Rev. Dr. J. Keith Zimmerman seems to be making sure of that. In an announcement shared with pastors of the Vermilion River District Jan. 3, Zimmerman announced he will enter retired relationship with the conference effective July 1.   For Zimmerman, retirement will mark the end of a 7 ½ year tenure as superintendent of the Vermilion River District. The Book of Discipline sets a term of six years as the length of time a superintendent ...

Scholarship opportunity for daughters of clergy

published 1/6/2011
A Distinguished Alumnus of MacMurray College is providing a one-time scholarship opportunity for the daughter of a Christian clergyman to receive a MacMurray education. Lila Underwood Judkins, who graduated from MacMurray in 1936, is endowing the scholarship as she attended MacMurray in part because of scholarships, loans and a position in the school's Pfeiffer Library. Recognizing the support that made her education possible and wanting to affirm her commitment to the College, Judkins, herself ...

Society of St. Andrew offers Lenten devotionals

published 1/6/2011
In keeping with the traditions of Lent, the Society of St. Andrew invites your congregation to participate in a program of spiritual reflection, prayer, and giving. Our Lenten devotion program challenges readers to take seriously the scriptural injunction to care for the poor, while it also provides an opportunity to feed our hungry brothers and sisters. Each day during Lent, one of our gifted writers, using the theme We’ve a Story to Tell, describes how knowing Jesus has made a difference in ...

IGRC opens hands, hearts and pocketbooks in 2010

published 12/16/2010

Rescue workers search the rubble of building following earthquake in Haiti





Members of Fairfax County Urban Search and Rescue conduct a rescue operation in a collapsed section of the Hotel Montana in Port-au-Prince, Haiti during a search for survivors of a 7.0 magnitude earthquake. The unit was activated by the U.S. Agency for International Development. Eight people, including 7 Americans, have been rescued from the rubble of the hotel. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Joshua Lee Kelsey/Released)

Year In Review, page 3

published 12/16/2010
Click here to return to Page 1 Click here to return to Page 2 Developing new congregations and revitalizing existing ones The Office of Congregational Development embarked on a new concept in 2010 aimed at assisting churches in their core processes.   The Fruitful Congregations Leadership Institute, based upon the best-selling book by Bishop Robert Schnase, began its initial offering with a workshop on Passionate Worship in Normal in September.   FCLI is designed to bring new life and ...

2011 Program Calendar available for download

published 12/9/2010
Utilizing the theme of Imagine No Malaria, the 2011 IGRC Program Calendar is now available for download at: Due to rising production costs, the 2011 program calendar was not printed but is available for download. Persons can download the entire document and print it out. The PDF file will not be updated throughout the year. Changes to the calendar will be updated on the conference calendar, located at:   Groups are reminded that as ...

IGRC Launches Imagine No Malaria Campaign

published 12/9/2010
The Illinois Great Rivers Conference has begun its campaign to raise between $2.3 and $3.5 million over the next three years as part of the denomination’s Imagine No Malaria campaign. The campaign will launch in the Spoon River District with a Celebration to Save Lives on Sunday, Dec. 12 at Monmouth UMC. District events will be scheduled in the near future and the IGRC Communications Team, working in cooperation with Imagine No Malaria, have developed a number of resources to keep you informed. ...

New Streams to post Bible studies online, offers re-designed e-newsletter

published 12/9/2010
Church leaders will have a new tool to help people deepen their understanding of a variety of spiritual disciplines beginning in January. Best of all, there is no book or DVD to purchase – these new resources will be available as a free download from the conference website. The New Streams Team will be posting a series of short Bible studies, each focusing on one specific spiritual practice. Disciplines covered will include both acts of piety, such as prayer, fasting, and searching the ...

Technology Replaces Phone Cards

published 12/9/2010
NASHVILLE -- The world back in 2003 was quite different from the world today. No Facebook or Twitter. No one had yet heard of Lady Gaga or “The Situation.” People used phones exclusively for placing calls. Plenty of things were not as they are now, but one fact has endured: The people of The United Methodist Church have always reached out to those who are in need. Thus, on Veteran’s Day 2003, the long-running Phone Cards for Military program began as the result of an initiative that began in the...

ELCA seeking mutual ministry partners

published 11/29/2010
The Central/Southern Illinois Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is seeking mutual ministry partnerships with IGRC congregations. One of the upcoming opportunities is formation of a cluster of 12 to 15 congregations to participate in a congregation revitalization process called Partnership for Missional Church (PMC).   “PMC has been used successfully in a number of places and is a structured process that leads congregations on a journey of spiritual discernment where they ...

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