Growing Into the Full Measure of Jesus Christ


PEORIA – The Illinois Great Rivers Conference of The United Methodist Church will be meeting in Peoria for the 10th consecutive year June 1-4. The Peoria Civic Center will serve as the conference’s central location for the more than 2,400 expected to attend.

The theme of the conference is Intentional Faith Development: Growing Into the Full Measure of Jesus Christ, which will focus on discipleship systems.
For the second consecutive year, the plenary and worship sessions of the annual conference will be broadcast over the internet. Persons wishing to view the web stream may click the “Live from Conference” button on the new Annual Conference page at: The annual session page will be a one-stop shop for stories, videos and photos from the 2011 Annual Conference. The Twitter hashtag for Annual Conference is #igrc2011.

Conference Speakers

Dr. Paul Chilcote, Professor of Historical Theology and Wesleyan Studies at Ashland Theological Seminary, and Dr. Kenda Creasy Dean, Professor of Youth, Church and Culture at Princeton Theological Seminary, will be speaking on Thursday and Friday mornings respectively and serve as the annual conference’s theologians in residence.  
Thursday evening’s All-Conference Dinner will be a celebration around the conference’s Imagine No Malaria campaign in which between $2.3 and $3.5 million is being raised over the course of three years to assist in the eradication of the disease by 2015. IGRC congregations will bring their special offerings to the all-conference dinner where they will be collected. United Methodist layman and former Clinton press secretary Mike McCurry will be the featured speaker that evening. McCurry is deeply involved in the denomination’s global health initiative of which the Imagine No Malaria campaign is a part.
The 2011 conference will also be a homecoming for retired Bishop Woodie W. White, who served as the Illinois Area episcopal leader from 1984 to 1992. White, currently Bishop-in-Residence at Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, Ga., will be preaching Wednesday night’s opening Memorial Service and Friday evening’s Service of Ordination.
Rev. Lori Bultemeier, Christian Life Coordinator for The Baby Fold in Normal, will be the preacher for the Retiree Recognition and Commission Service on Thursday afternoon.
The 2011 conference will be the third for Bishop Gregory V. Palmer as presiding bishop of the Illinois Area. Palmer was assigned to the Illinois Area in September 2008. Bishop Palmer will open each morning of the conference with a short devotional time called Morning Manna.

Election of Delegates

Throughout the four days of the conference, lay and clergy members will be electing delegates to the 2012 General Conference, a global gathering of the church which will take place in April 2012. Six lay members and six clergy members will be elected to be a part of the 1,000 member assembly which will meet in Tampa, Fla. An additional six lay members and six clergy will be elected and will join the General Conference delegates as the conference’s delegation to the church’s North Central Jurisdictional Conference, which will be held in July 2012 in Akron, Ohio.

Special guests and offerings

Rudolph Merab, lay leader to the Liberia Annual Conference, will be among the special guests of the conference Friday afternoon as part of the conference’s celebration of its partnership with the west African country which is still recovering from a 14-year civil war. The conference has focused on four critical areas: educational scholarships for children; pastoral salary support; funds to rebuild churches and schools; and funds to provide bed nets to combat malaria.
Conferees will be collecting special offerings will include funding for construction of the John Kofi Asmah School in Monrovia, Liberia; an offering for Africa University; the Tom Brown Scholarship at Wiley College, one of the denomination’s Black Colleges; and one for this year’s class of ordinands who will be going as a group to engage in mission work.
The conference is also collecting hand towels and cleaning supplies for flood buckets to assist with the aftermath of flooding in southern Illinois. These supplies will be given to the Midwest Mission Distribution Center in Chatham and sent as part of the United Methodist disaster response to the area.