Dear Sisters and Brothers:
I greet you in the strong and matchless name of Jesus Christ. Once again I want to express my great joy in joining you in the mission and ministry of Making Disciples of Jesus Christ for the Transformation of the world. You have generously and hospitably received me and Cynthia as we have come among you. I would be remiss in not saying thank you for every sign of welcome, kind word, note or call, gifts and the offers and execution of help.
In joining you it is very clear to me that the Illinois Great Rivers Conference of the United Methodist Church is richly gifted in many ways. Of special note for me are the profound ways in which you are wonderfully aligned around the mission of the church. I have observed that alignment in depth of spirituality, staffing and articulation of the mission. Early on in the transition period following Jurisdictional Conference I was introduced to a document entitled An Ongoing Discernment: Vision, Mission and Strategies. This document is the fruit of work that you have been doing as an Annual Conference across the last twelve years. I am humbled by your labors. Please find it in abbreviated form below. (Please go to the conference website to view the entire document and the detail for each strategy).
Vision: All the physically and spiritually hungry people of our world feasting on God’s abundant grace at God’s table so that they experience God’s unconditional love for them, are formed in that love, and are sent to live and share that love with the individuals and institutions of our world.
Mission: The purpose of the annual conference is to form disciples of Jesus Christ by equipping its local churches for ministry and by providing a connection for ministry beyond the local church, all to the glory of God (The Book of Discipline, 2004)
• Strategy One: Following Jesus as faithful and obedient servants.
• Strategy Two: Positioning the United Methodist Church of the Illinois Great Rivers Conference for effective ministry for the rest of the 21st century.
• Strategy Three: Forming Wesleyan spiritual leaders to live in Christian community.
• Strategy Four: Connecting the Connection.
• Strategy Five: Journeying to wholeness and holiness of mind, body, and spirit.
I hope when you read the document in its entirety that you will understand why I am excited and energized to be with you. In fact when the Connectional Table met recently I asked that they formally adopt An Ongoing Discernment as our working, functional roadmap for continuing to align all that we are and all that we have with our mission as United Methodists to: Make Disciples of Jesus Christ for the Transformation of the World. The Connectional Table supported my request.
I believe that in many ways United Methodists in IGRC are already living out these strategies and we must celebrate that and learn from each other. I am convinced that this strategic roadmap offers a place for every one to buy in. So buy in where you can and you will be amazed at how the parts connect to the whole. You can expect that you will hear from me regularly about the Vision, Mission and Strategies. I hope we will all be talking to one another about this good work until it’s fully a part of who we are and how we live.
Your servant for the sake of the gospel,
†Gregory V. Palmer