This booklet contains guidelines which reflect traditions and practices of the Illinois Great Rivers Conference of The United Methodist Church. This booklet has been approved by the Bishop and Cabinet of the Illinois Great Rivers Conference for use in local churches.
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If you are wondering about your future as a congregation, you are not alone. In these changing times, many congregations wonder because of financial struggle. Many wonder because of shrinking membership. Some wonder because they are beginning to notice decline in their capacity for mission and ministry. Some wonder because members are aging, or because there are no children. Some wonder because they are wandering in a wilderness and have lost sight of where God is calling them to go.
This booklet is written to restore hope for the future and to offer some possibilities which need to be prayerfully explored.
The Illinois Great Rivers Annual Conference is, like every other annual conference in The United Methodist Church, a legal entity. It owns certain properties which are used for annual conference mission and ministry (offices, staff parsonages, and camps, for example). It does not, however, own local churches.
The United Methodist system of itinerant ministry is rooted in John Wesley’s vision of spreading scriptural holiness across the land and utilizing both clergy and laity in the fulfillment of this mission. Itinerant ministry in the earliest days required pastors to travel continually on horseback around defined circuits, and then after a year or two be assigned to a different circuit.