Lay General Conference candidates

Bonnie Abel #2001

Church/Date of Membership: O’Fallon First UMC; 1994

Relevant Leadership Roles: Annual Conference Delegate at Large, Annual Conference Youth Delegate, Now Committee Chairperson, Ad Council Member

Experience: Background in Social Work, Church Administration and UMC District Administration.

Gifts and Passions: I am gifted in the areas of Administration, Mercy and Hospitality.

Personal Statement: Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior! My name is Bonnie Abel and I am humbly applying to be a laity candidate for the 2020 General Conference Sessions. I am blessed in life to be a mother of my beautiful 3-year-old son Micah and my nine-year-old fur-baby Jude. I have a Bachelor’s in Social Work from Greenville College and a Master’s in Intercultural Studies from Asbury Theological Seminary.  I am a seminary student at Eden Theological Seminary where I am just finishing up my first year in the M.DIV... program.  I am an employee of the Illinois Great Rivers Conference at the Mississippi River District office as the Administrative Assistant to the District Superintendent. I love my family; I love to learn; and I love my church family! I made the decision to apply to be a laity candidate for the General Conference following attendance of the Special Sessions of the General Conference that was held in St. Louis in February of this year. My heart calls for compassion, grace and mercy as we work together towards the future of the United Methodist Church.

Clarke BarnesClarke Barnes #2002

Church/Date of Membership: Rock Island First UMC; 1973

Relevant Leadership Roles: I started teaching Sunday School, and became active with Youth Fellowship in 1973. Initially serving Youth in Rock Island' First Methodist Church and eventually moved to adult classes. I was Chairman of the Administrative Board in 1979 when our family moved to Geneseo, IL.  I served on administrative committees at both Methodist Churches to include Chairman of Administrative Council, Staff Parish Council, Finance, Education, and served 16 years as delegate to the IGRC while at Grace UMC.

Experience: I served as a Lay Speaker for more than 10 years.

Gifts and Passions: I believe the Lord has granted me the gift of teaching, but also endowed me with gifts of the spirit - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  My passion is to help people find Jesus and to serve Him daily.

Other: I completed my formal education with a Juris Doctor Degree earned at the University of Iowa.  I served 5 years on active duty in the United States Marine Corps including 13 months in Vietnam in 1968-1969, followed by 25 years in the USMC Reserve. The last 12 years I served as a General Court-Martial Judge and Judge of the Navy-Marine Corps Court of Military Appeals ... In 1972 I began my career as a lawyer in Illinois. That included courtroom advocacy as a prosecutor then public defender in Rock Island County. My next challenge was serving as a Judge of the 14th Judicial Circuit from 1976 to 2000...I was recalled by the Illinois Supreme Court to again serve as a Circuit Judge in Rockford in the 17th Judicial Circuit in 2008 & 2009. In 2002 I was certified as a Veterans Service Officer and have stayed busy representing veterans "pro bono" in their quest for VA compensation and pension to the present day

Personal Statement: I am very concerned about the Methodist Church remaining true to its Wesleyan history, roots and teaching. I would uphold the list of Chargeable Offenses listed in Paragraph 2702 published in the 2016 Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church.

Hunter Barnett #2003

Church/Date of Membership: Pinckneyville UMC; 2009

Relevant Leadership Roles: xx

Experience: Annual Conference, Mission Trips, Preaching

Gifts and Passions: Communication skills and work ethic

Personal Statement: None submitted

David Bell #2004

Church/Date of Membership: New Bethel UMC; May 2008

Relevant Leadership Roles: Annual Conference At Large Delegate, Administrative Council Member at Member Church, Youth Group Leadership, Wesley Foundation Leadership Team during College, President of Social Group in College.

Experience: I have served as a delegate to annual conference for the previous 10 years. I have served as a delegate to another organization's international conferences as well. I have a deep understanding of Robert's Rules of Order, due to leading a social organization in college.

Gifts and Passions: Gifts - Strong Speaker, social attitude, and disposition, discussion and debate in a respectful setting. Passions - Ministry of the Methodist Church and IGRC, parliamentary procedure

Personal Statement: Hello and God’s Peace. I have grown up in the Methodist Church and the situation before the UMC now has left me saddened and broken hearted. Too often, in the last few years, we have seen personal agendas take precedence over representing the district that the delegate is from and this only leads to more arguments and more hurt on all sides. Therefore, I am running for the delegation to 2020 to change that and truly represent the Laity of the IGRC at the meeting. I want to do my best, while working alongside my fellow delegates, to fully represent the values and standards that you all want to uphold. If elected I will hold open discussions around the conference with lay members from all districts in order to better understand what the laity wishes to see at General Conference 2020. In essence I aim to sacrifice my own personal beliefs to instead make sure that my representation is only for the Laity of the Illinois Great Rivers Conference and not a personal political agenda or bias. If elected I will be a voice not for myself but for the entirety of the laity within the Illinois Great Rivers Conference.

Paul Black #2005

Church/Date of Membership: Springfield Jerome UMC; July 2002

Relevant Leadership Roles: IGRC Director of Communication Ministries, 2006-present, Assistant to the Bishop, 1997-2006, Delegate to General and Jurisdictional Conference, 2004, 2008, 2012, Lay supply pastor to small churches throughout the IGRC, 1983-2016, President, Beulah Holiness Camp Association, 2004-2006

Experience: Congressional Staff Assistant for five years; news reporter for 11 years; working in public government administration for four years. These skills have developed in following fast-moving legislation, being able to synthesize a lot of verbiage into the essential parts and being able to cast informed votes on the issues that emerge at General Conference.

Gifts and Passions: My passion in centered on the unique giftedness that God has given to every person. Much of my ministry has been equipping local churches with news, information and resources aimed at assisting them in their disciple-making task

Personal Statement: I am running again because I feel my gifts and skills can be used effectively to address the issues facing the Church. The Church has a crisis of trust. As a result, every idea offered by one side or the other is viewed with skepticism and at worst, cynicism. I have seen the church become tribal, in that we only congregate with people that think like us and look like us. We receive a confirmation bias. Social media has only accelerated the problem. Holiness, when taken to an extreme, becomes legalism (that is, the solution is centered in legislation and litigation. Likewise, when things like covenant are quickly dismissed, chaos ensues. Both become distractions to the core mission of "making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world." I offer myself as a voice for finding common ground, guided by Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer “that all may be one.” (John 17). Should General Conference deal with legislation, I have experience. If we are bold enough to see visions and dream dreams and chart a new course for Methodism, I think my experience in the church as well as outside the church can provide a thoughtful and reasoned voice.

E. Allan BoehmE. Allan Boehm #2006

Church/Date of Membership: Champaign First UMC; 1954

Relevant Leadership Roles: Board of Trustee and Pastor/Parish Committee

Experience: 2 years as director of transportation

Personal Statement: I believe the church is a democracy and should be governed by a representative form of governance. I would like to represent the majority of the church membership.


Julie Boesen Higgins #2007

Church/Date of Membership: Hope UMC; Fall 2001

Relevant Leadership Roles: I have been actively involved in the United Methodist Church since I was a young girl. Following my confirmation in Spring of 2001, I became a leader in my church in many ways. I have led worship as lay leader, provided special music, and participated in plays, community caroling, and food drive collection. I have actively volunteered with many local and nationwide groups including soup kitchens, re-sale shops, and Habitat for Humanity. I have participated in and been a part of the leadership team for many mission trips, including college mission trips with Habitat for Humanity. I was a member of the Leadership Team of the ISU Wesley Foundation from 2008-2011. As a part of ISU Wesley, we went on a spiritual retreat to England to retrace the steps of John Wesley and Wesleyan Heritage. I have continued my participation and leadership within a faith community as I have begun my career and started my family. I am an active member, small group leader, and the Director of Operations of Hope United Methodist Church. As the Director of Operations, I am responsible for all communications, including our social media pages, designing our website, our newsletters, bulletins, and emails, and community outreach. I am the Administrative Assistant of IGRC for Unity. IGRC for Unity is a group of United Methodist clergy and lay people, primarily in the Illinois Great Rivers Conference, who believe that our United Methodist family needs the diversity of our ideas united under the big-tent of God’s gracious love. We are working to foster conversations, relationships, and actions to build up one another and find a way to stay together in midst of our differences. As the Administrative Assistant, I am responsible for our web design, social media pages, emails, communications, and branding/messaging. I strongly believe in the Unity of the United Methodist Church, specifically in IGRC, and am proud to be a part of such a loving community.

Experience: I have always had a passion for building community and caring for others. Growing up, I would often be found “teaching” my sister or friends, helping them learn and grow as we played together. That passion has grown as I pursued my undergraduate and master’s degree in Music Education. As a teacher, I strongly believe in the education of the whole child; my job as an educator is to help the students reach their true potential, not only as a musician in my classroom but as an incredibly amazing individual learning to lead a Christ-centered life. I am always seeking new ways to become a better person and educator. I have initiated and led committees in my district including: a Standards Based Reporting report card creation committee for elementary band, a committee that evaluated our current method book, and a band curriculum committee.

Gifts and Passions: I am passionate about music, family, faith and fellowship around the table. I started playing piano at the age of 4 and joined band in 4th grade. Once I joined band, I never left – I am now a band director and love teaching others about the power and beauty of music. My favorite days are filled with time playing with my boys, Erik (3) and Brendan (1), watching them grow and learn from the world around them. We often find ourselves in the kitchen, bonding as a family, as we make dinner, bake cupcakes, or decorate cookies. While it may make a (giant) mess at times, it is so fun to see them experience and enjoy life.

Other: xx

Personal Statement: I grew up in many United Methodist Churches all over Illinois. Each church was incredibly different and unique, but they all had one exceptionally unifying characteristic; every church I attended believes in God’s limitless grace, Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice, and sharing Their love with everyone. I am a proud PK; Pastor Kevin Boesen is my dad. I grew up in a church that would love anyone that walked through its doors, a church that did not believe in judging others but in showing Jesus’ love to all. I grew up in a church that stood, and still stands, on the foundation of God’s grace and love. I am committed to the missions of the global UMC, its uniqueness and diversity, and how every gift fits into the Body of Christ. As a mother of two young boys, I want them to experience the church I know, a church that will love and teach them of God’s unconditional love and to become disciples of Jesus Christ. Growing up in the UMC, I have learned the value of maintaining and growing in relationship with God through personal growth, conversation, prayer, and ministry. I am passionate about sharing God’s love and grace with everyone.

John Cooper #2008

Church/Date of Membership: Hillsboro UMC; 1978

Relevant Leadership Roles: Chairman of Hillsboro Staff Relations, Co-Chair of NOW team with my wife Peggy, Member of Good Shepherd PPRC, Father of three and grandfather of three, Retired Major from IDOC May 2018, Coached boys and girls basketball Hillsboro School District (2 trips to state championship), Radio announcer WSMI 106.1, Instructor for Lake Land College

Experience: Attendee of United Methodist churches since 1967, son of the late Reverend “Bill” Cooper, member of UMC since 1978, experienced Holy Spirit 1981, graduate of Wesclin High School, Trenton IL. In 1985, graduate of McKendree University in 1990, began career with IDOC IN 1992, committed my life to Christ in 2001, became member of Hillsboro UMC in 2010, retired IDOC in 2018 after working as Counselor, Officer, Sergeant, Lieutenant, and Major

Gifts and Passions: Leader, Teacher, Motivator, Compassionate, Communicator, Counselor, Unifier

Personal Statement: I can fondly remember attending Pleasant Grove UMC with my grandmother as a boy and feeling the excitement as churches enjoyed becoming “United Methodists”. During that time my dad the late Rev. Bill Cooper made a commitment to become a UMC pastor and I was drafted into the service of preacher’s kid. In the fall of 2001, I got on my knee, committed my life to doing Christʼs  will and not my own. Christ began putting me in places where I could begin the learning process of being an effective Leader, teacher, motivator, and communicator. There have been many difficult experiences where He has conquered my fears and weaknesses and has shown me that through Him many things are possible. Christ has prepared me for this moment in order that I might help bring unity and a spirit of healing to the UMC at a time when it is so greatly needed. Many members in the UMC remember the excitement following the formation of the new denomination in 1968. I pray that we can gain back that excitement, open our hearts to those who are suffering, and through the UMC, lead many to Christ in the future!

Steven Davis #2009

Church/Date of Membership: Elmwood UMC; 1964

Relevant Leadership Roles: Spoon River District Lay Leader, conference delegate, servant, & maker of coffee

Experience: I grew up on a farm and in a small country church. We were doers of things. We relied on ourselves and our neighbors. I suppose some viewed our work as hard work, but it was just doing the job. I developed IT skills, wrote an Ag software program. I owned an ISP and acquired some network knowledge. I have always been active in the United Methodist Church in Smithshire and since 1998 in Elmwood. I am a person who wants to be a part of making on Earth as in Heaven a fulfilled statement.

Gifts and Passions: I have an ability to learn things. I am an empathetic and passionate person but try to restrain myself. I believe respect for each God created soul is the key to transforming our world. I possess a wide array of mediocre talents singing, writing, IT, and carpentry. I believe the United Methodist Church should be the unifying force to preserve all of God's Creation and make Spirit manifest in the world.

Other: Coffee addict (grind whole beans only), Star Trek lover, history, Civil War buff, hiker of national parks -- My occupational roles have required me to be a resolver of conflicts and frustrations. In my IT jobs and as an assessment official I have learned to listen first, then react.

Personal Statement: I am heartbroken over the schism we have created. We must turn from blame to solution. I have always believed the United Methodist Church was an organization to be a united voice for a moral world. We were out front in bringing science and Spirit in unity. We were the actuators of God presence in the world. I am resolved to being of one voice in the current world, although like a choir we all sing our part. The fullest harmonies are heard when everyone does their part well. I try to start my prayers with gratitude and to listen. I try to avoid petition; I believe God knows my needs more than I do. I must be grateful for my church family, the community I lived in, my wife, and sons. In a world of ills, I would be remiss not be grateful for health and strength. I think Jesus gave us the two greatest commandments and all our theology must descend from these starting points. May all of you find the blessings in your life and may we all continue our walk with Jesus.

Anna FenderAnna Fender #2010

Church/Date of Membership: Jacksonville Grace; May 2013

Relevant Leadership Roles: Co-Chair of the Conference Committee on Youth Ministry, member of the NOW Conference Youth Retreat planning team, formerly a member of the YAR planning team, Co-President of Ohio Wesleyan University’s Methodist Student Movement

Experience: Lay Delegate to Annual Conference (2014-2017; 2019)

Gifts and Passions: Double majoring in Comparative Literature and Social Justice with a minor in Women and Gender Studies. Top 5 Strengths from the Clifton Strengthsfinder: Input, Empathy, Individualization, Intellection, and Harmony. I am passionate about Social Justice, issues affecting PKs, the Unity of the United Methodist Church, and searching for solutions to the issues that divide our church and our world.

Other: Being raised by two United Methodist Clergy and 4+ UM congregations has led me to have a unique understanding of the issues and strengths of the United Methodist Church.

Personal Statement: Growing up as the daughter of an Elder and a Deacon on Conference staff, I had the unique experience of learning about the structure and issues that exist within the UMC. I have also learned that, at our best, we are a diverse and inclusive denomination. We have members from many different nations, generations, political ideologies, socioeconomic backgrounds, gender identities, and sexual orientations. This community represents the diversity of the people God created. While we are each unique, I believe that what unites us is more important than what separates us. Each of us is a beloved child of God. The United Methodist Church draws its strength from the diversity of its people.            As our world becomes increasingly divided, I believe the one place in society people should be able to turn to for unity and acceptance is the church. I want to be a delegate to General Conference because I stand between Millennials and Gen Z and I am part of the church of the future and right now. I want to help decide what our future will look like. I would be honored to be in this conversation, and I believe my generation deserves the chance to participate.

Tom FinleyThomas Finley #2007

Church/Date of Membership: Edwardsville St. John’s UMC; Sept. 2006

Relevant Leadership Roles: IGRC Lay Delegate 3 years, Certified Lay Servant since 2009, Church Finance Council -3 terms, Assistant Treasurer-St John's, Lay Leadership Committee-3 years, Chair of Worship-4 years, member 10 years, Jr UMY Sunday School Asst. Teacher-2 years

Experience: I have a wide variety of church leadership experience as noted in leadership roles.  In my professional career, I am in front of people presenting and speaking every day. 

Gifts and Passions: Prayer Warrior, Gift of Hospitality, Gift of Service, Helping people grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ, creating opportunities for fellowship and building relationships among congregation members, singing in choir

Other: Homeowner's Association President for 10 years, Certified Public Accountant and Senior Auditor, Department of Defense

Personal Statement: I have been a United Methodist for over 12 years and love our denomination!  The nature of our connection needs to be emphasized as an advantage.  How many wonderful Methodists are you pleased to know outside your local church, conference, country and world?  We are blessed with a rich heritage of grounded faith, great service and justice ministries, and people passionate in wanting to share their faith in Christ for the transformation of the world.  As such, we have a bright future and our best days need not be behind us. I was confirmed in 8th grade in the Free Methodist Church and attempt to serve God with the gifts He has given me.  While the United Methodist Church faces many challenges, we are all doing good work in our local churches and need to not lose sight of the bigger picture. God is in control, and His church will grow and prosper, if His people are obedient, pray, and faint not.  My extensive experience in the local church and as a professional accountant would serve me well in representing the great laity of our conference.  It is a privilege to serve Jesus!

Rachel FrederickRachel Frederick #2012

Church/Date of Membership: Sumner UMC; 2004

Relevant Leadership Roles: Kaskaskia River District - 2018-2019 District Revival Ministry Team, 2017-2018 District Ministry Team, 2018 District Youth Coordinator

Experience: I have been a delegate to the Annual Conference from either my local church or the district since 2011 (Kentucky Conference 2011-2016, IGRC 2017-2019).

Gifts and Passions: Youth, children, worship through music, young adult ministry, evangelism, community outreach, feeding the hungry, mental health ministries.

Other: I am passionate about sharing Jesus.

Personal Statement: I believe we as the United Methodist Church are at a crossroads. My heart longs for all of us as a church to remember who we are as a church body: we are followers of Christ called to reach out to the lost and broken by sharing God's love. Sharing God's love through the gospel requires a strong commitment and dedication to Christ while caring for the needs of others. I want to be a delegate who is transparent and willing to listen to the hearts and the hurts of those I would represent. I believe through strong prayer and a willingness to trust the Lord our best days are ahead of us, not behind us. As a mental health therapist, I have dedicated my life to helping persons and groups rise above their difficulties and distress as well as their hurts and hardships to become more whole and transformed versions of whom God has made them be. Jesus can do the same with our beloved church. Pray for me as I pray for you.

Renee GageRen’ee Gage #2013

Church/Date of Membership: Canton Wesley UMC; May 2003

Relevant Leadership Roles: I have been an active staff member of Wesley UMC of Canton for the last 71/2 years. I served as the Children's Director for 4 years until transitioning into a new position at Wesley.  I presently fill the role as Director of Nurturing Ministries. I have served on the United Way Board, the Red Cross Board, the K.A.R.E. Board and the YWCA Board. I currently serve as a member of the IGRC Board of African University.

Experience: I was involved with our after-school program and VBS for 15 years as a volunteer at Wesley UMC. I have experienced 2 trips to Liberia and have traveled to the African University in Zimbabwe.

Gifts and Passions: I have a passion for supporting the trust and belief of my Christian brothers and sisters globally. I am a task-oriented person that is driven by my heart. I am sensitive to the physical needs of many and am personally strengthened by their passionate trust and belief in the love of our Heavenly Father!

Personal Statement: Who am I? I felt the calling to be used in ministry in the middle part of my life very unexpectedly. My husband and I had owned and operated a business for 15 years until his retirement in 2012. So, I thought now what! God how ever had a plan and opened an unexpected door in ministry for me and so my journey began. We changed our mission statement at Wesley last year to say, “To love God with all your heart and love the world as Jesus does.”  This statement couldn’t be any truer to my faith and to how I feel. I have been given the blessing and opportunity to build very close relationships with my Liberian friends whom I consider to be my family.  I have felt and seen the pain and suffering of a third world country in need.  I have traveled to Liberia twice and I am planning to return back in 2020 hosting a team.  God has given me a voice to be heard and to make a difference. I have given serious thought to what it means to serve as a delegate on the UMC Conference Committee if chosen.

Brittney Gilleland #2014

Church/Date of Membership: Edwardsville Immanuel UMC; Spring 1997

Relevant Leadership Roles: Student chaplain at Greenville University in Greenville, Illinois; Thursday evening worship executive staff at Greenville University in Greenville, Illinois; student pastor at Immanuel UMC in Edwardsville, Illinois; student pastor at Ravenswood Fellowship UMC in Ravenswood, Illinois.

Experience: I have been a member of the UMC since I was 5 years old. I’ve sat on several committees over the past 10 years including SPPRC, financial, and trustees. Along with local church responsibilities I have been attending annual conference for years now. Most of the time as a voting delegate, but as a lover of doctrine, polity and order, I have attended conference as a guest when there wasn’t an open position for me to be a voting member. Along with my love for the local church, I have a deep passion for the episcopal leadership and the higher workings within the United Methodist Church. Because of this passion, I have been sent by my home congregation to gain a higher education at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary to chase a dream of following a calling that will eventually lead me into the full connection of ordained clergy.

Gifts and Passions: I have been preaching since I was 12 years old and have fallen in love with the pulpit and the transformation that the communion table holds for all people. I deeply see my role as a seminary student as one that will transform the future of the church and the church of today. This is a driving passion and devotion to finish my seminary coursework to continue on in the process towards commissioning and eventually ordination. I am gifted in ways that create space for children and youth to exist in our churches. Creating sustainable and positive spaces for the youngest among us to experience transformation that comes from knowing Jesus. I deeply believe in the inclusion of all persons into the full connection of elders and deacons within the United Methodist Church. Along with those who seek to lead within our churches, I believe it is important for us to extend our hand to those who are of different races, ethnicities, sexual orientation or gender expressions. This has been a passion of mine that has only developed and flourished since being in seminary.

Other: As a seminary student, I watched with an anxious heart the decisions that were made at special general conference 2019. My best friends and I were gathered around an iPad in our kitchen as we made dinner together. As the rulings were announced, we held on to one another as we wept for the church that has sent us to seminary. These tears have been used to fuel my passion to see the unity within my beloved United Methodist Church. As I have spent time in prayer and reflection alone and with my community, I deeply feel moved to represent my conference at the 2020 General Conference.

Personal Statement: My name is Brittney Gilleland and I am a third-year seminary student at Garrett-Evangelical in Evanston, Illinois. I have grown up in the United Methodist Church and have been discerning a call since I first stepped into the pulpit at age 12. I love the UMC and have felt a sense of responsibility to respond to Special General Conference 2019. I have prayed and reflected with mentors, professors and colleagues and have felt a desire to represent IGRC in the next General Conference in 2020. God is not finished with the United Methodist Church. I hope to be a part of keeping hearts strangely warmed and seeking unity within the United Methodist Church. As I have learned more about the polity and doctrine of The United Methodist Church in seminary, I have only fallen more in love with the church that has raised me. I am hopeful that as we continue to find a way forward as a denomination, we will rest in the fact that we are all children of God and The Spirit is leading us into the future.

Pamela Hammond-McDavidPamela Hammond-McDavid #2015

Church/Date of Membership: Springfield Grace UMC; 1960

Relevant Leadership Roles: Local Church: Liturgist, Member Pastor Parish Relations '14, Chairperson Finance '16, Chairperson Administrative Council '19. Conference: Chairperson Higher Education and Campus Ministry '04; Commission on Religion and Race '12, Nominations Committee '16; Vice Chairperson Sessions Committee' 16; UMW Conference Education and Interpretation Mission Coordinator; Board member Cunningham Children's Home. General Church: Board Member, General Commission on Religion and Race '04-'08.  I also served on the IGRC Episcopacy Committee '03, Ethnic Local Church Concerns Committee, Bishop's Taskforce on Cross Cultural/Cross Racial Appointments and the District Committee of the District Superintendent.

Experience: I believe the positions I’ve held served to develop me into a skilled Servant Leader. I have gained tremendous insight into the operational aspects of the Church, as well as, gained an understanding of church polity. I currently chair the NCJ Commission on Religion and Race and was a GCOSRW/GCORR monitor for Global Ministries Legislative Committee at the 2012 General Conference. I've served as Lay Delegate to Annual Conference for multiple years and was elected to serve as an IGRC jurisdictional delegate in '08.  This year I served as a Hospitality Volunteer at the Special Session GC'19.

Gifts and Passions: Conducted educational and informational programs on cultural competency. I work with groups around social, racial and economic justice issues. My skill set includes communication skills - active, empathetic listener and sound oral skills developing through public speaking and conducting workshops. Results oriented administrator.

Other: I've earned advanced degrees from Southern Illinois University. Received the Francis Asbury Award '06.  Sangamon County Voter Registrar; Hearing Panel Member-Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Board. My interest and love of travel has motivated me to visit countries in Asia, Africa, Europe and Canada. This exposure to varied cultures and 30+ years’ experience working in the university setting has offered opportunities for extensive exposure to international students which has broadened my worldview.

Personal Statement: My religious training and spiritual journey has been formulated through my membership and connection in the United Methodist Church. Indeed, the UMC has nurtured, often inspired, as well as, challenged me; but most of all the Church has consistently taught me to LOVE.  Love my Lord, my neighbor and serve others in and with LOVE. As a retired university administrator and counselor, I possess the requisite communication skills to engage and encourage personal growth. That's to say, I'm versed in and committed to Holy Conversations that provide an opportunity for each of us to have voice. Indeed, the past 10 years has been devoted to cultural competency training across our conference. My international experiences have afforded an additional, first-hand lens to enrich these cross-cultural discussions. Moreover, UMW has added depth and dimension to the discussion of justice issues we face as Methodists.  I humbly ask for your support to serve as a 2020 Delegate on the IGRC team.  I come to the task with the skills, temperament, experience and patience to be an integral member of the delegation. I commit to reading and understanding the conference materials, listening and discerning the essence of the concern and to prayerfully vote.

Julia Henderson-Kalb #2016

Church/Date of Membership: St. John’s UMC; 1990

Relevant Leadership Roles: Stephen Minister (2003-2005), Education Committee Chairperson (2006-2008), Children and Family Ministry Team Chairperson (2008-2014), Blessing Bags Coordinator (2014-2016), JustPeace Liaison (2017-2018), Children and Family Ministry Team Member (2014-2017), Vision Team Committee Member (2018-Present), Youth Team Member (2017-Present).

Experience: The most recent and relevant church experience I have is as a JustPeace Liaison. When our local church was in turmoil over a variety of issues, I agreed to be a member of the team whose job it was to help guide the congregation to find a peaceful understanding and steps towards a better future.  

Gifts and Passions: The Spiritual Gifts Survey that I recently completed for my church found my gifts to be Administration, Service, Mercy, Teaching, Knowledge, and Leadership. I believe I also have a gift of creativity.

Other: When it comes to any topic, I feel that it is important to engage in respectful debate and hear all opinions. We may not come to an agreement, but it does allow for understanding and a greater potential for building relationships.

Personal Statement: The United Methodist Church has always been a part of my life. I was baptized as a newborn at St. John’s UMC and was an active participant in its children and youth programs until college. When I moved back to Edwardsville, I again began attending St. John’s, becoming involved in multiple small groups and holding several leadership positions. My husband and I have raised our two daughters in the church, and they feel like it’s their second home. I’m an Associate Professor of Occupational Therapy at Saint Louis University where I’m the Master’s Program Coordinator and a member of our College Faculty Council. I have experience in strategic planning, curriculum redesign, and Robert’s Rules of Order. Through my work as an occupational therapist, I have had a strong focus on both social and occupational justice. The UMC has a long history of promoting social justice, and I want to be a part of continuing that focus into the future.  I believe that this includes the basic principles of loving God completely and loving all our neighbors as ourselves in order to fulfill the mission of the Church-to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. 

Anish HermonAnish Hermon #2017

Church/Date of Membership: Bloomington Hope UMC; 1993

Relevant Leadership Roles: IGRC Committee on Congregational Development, Director of Technology - Hope UMC, President of ISU Wesley Foundation Board of Directors

Experience: General Conference first reserve delegate 2019. Jurisdictional Delegate 2016. Founding member of Hope UMC - new church start Bloomington reaching millennials

Gifts and Passions: Bass Player in multiple worship bands; passionate concerning reaching young adults; Technology, Church unity

Personal Statement: I was born in Chicago Illinois in 1979 as the oldest son of two recently immigrated doctors from India. My father’s family had been members of the Methodist church in India. My mother’s family is Hindu, yet my parents met in a Christian Medical College in Vellore, India.  After graduation they spent time as medical missionaries before coming to the US. I was raised in the Methodist Church; however, before completing confirmation I chose to read the complete Bible and Bhagavad-Gita (Hindu holy book) to ensure I was making an informed decision concerning my faith. Since that time, I have been passionate about finding ways to help young adults, including college students, connect with their faith, as well as, helping the Methodist church reach young adults in a method that is relevant to their generation. I served on the 2016/2019 delegation and believe I have the experience and skills to be a great contribution to the delegation.

Megan HoenigMegan Hoenig #2018

Church/Date of Membership: Galesburg First UMC; May 2008

Relevant Leadership Roles: I have previously served as a laity delegate at three annual conferences, was on the student leadership team at Western Illinois University's Wesley foundation, and served as a parish secretary at Good Hope UMC for two years.

Experience: I have completed two pastoral ministry summer internships in the IGRC, have been involved in my home church and current church in Kentucky in multiple capacities, and have been involved with community development at Asbury.

Gifts and Passions: I am called to pastoral ministry in the local church and am currently working on my M. Div. to be able to live out that calling in the UMC. My spiritual gifts include mercy, hospitality, pastoring, and teaching. I am passionate about sharing the gospel with those around me and living into what that means. I am passionate about developing strategies to get new and young people to encounter Christ and find their place in the church, developing systems of real relationships and discipleship groups within the body, and leading in student ministries.

Personal Statement: Hello! I am Megan Hoenig. I am 24 years old and a candidate of ordination on the Elder track in the Spoon River District. I am in my second year at Asbury Theological Seminary and am working on my Master of Divinity. I grew up in the UMC, and plan to continue into ministry in the IGRC upon graduation. My favorite parts of ministry include student ministries, worship, facilitating relationship development within the church, and providing pastoral care. I feel called to be a laity delegate at General Conference in order to be a representative of my generation, and as a future leader in ministry.

Melinda HuisengaMelinda Huisenga #2019

Church/Date of Membership: Peoria First UMC; Sept. 1992

Relevant Leadership Roles: Chair - Committee on Finance; Chair - Missions Committee; Chair - Church Council; Lay Leader; Lay Director, Illinois Heartland Women's Walk to Emmaus #80

Experience: Retired accountant and deeply engaged lay member of the UMC, growing through worship, Bible study, prayer, accountability groups, mission trips and service within my local church.

Gifts and Passions: My spiritual gifts include giving, encouragement, helps, leadership & administration. My passion includes glorifying God through music and trying to live my life more and more aware of the Holy Spirit's presence to guide, direct and empower me as I go about my day. (This is my desireto which I admittedly fall short.)

Personal Statement: I've observed our church in turmoil over the last several years, and believe we've lost what it is to love one another despite our disagreements, which harms our witness for Christ and our ability to be in ministry to one another and the world. As your delegate, I will prayerfully seek to discern God's will for His church; to speak and act in a spirit of love for others, not as the world defines it, but as a child of God open, surrendered and empowered by His Spirit; and to act in mercy as a sinner who, saved by grace, has received mercy. I will pray for courage to do what is right in His eyes and ask all of you, whom I represent, to be in prayer for me in that endeavor. For without Him, I can do nothing.

Christina KrostChristina Krost #2020

Church/Date of Membership: Neoga Grace UMC; 2003

Relevant Leadership Experiences: IGRC clergy spouse, IGRC Pastoral Care and Counseling committee

IGRC COSROW committee, IGRC Sessions committee, United Methodist Women’s Climate Justice Guide for North Central Jurisdiction Outreach for Faith in Place (IL Affiliate of Interfaith Power & Light) in central and southern Illinois

Experience: Helping start clergy spouse fellowship groups around IGRC to support clergy spouses and children, Writing and building coalition to support the Commitment to Creation Care resolution at Annual Conference 2018, Monitoring IGRC for gender parity as part of COSROW, Connecting with and educating UMWs around the NCJ about UMWs Climate Justice priorities, including testifying at the EPA/NHTSA hearing on Clean Car Standards and delivering a petition to Ford on UMW’s behalf, Assisting to administrate Pastoral Care and Counseling Facebook pages, Coaching IGRC churches to form green teams and have energy audits to save money and preserve our shared land, air, and water, Writing articles for The Current as asked to communicate the exciting work that’s happening in the churches of the IGRC, Doing interfaith outreach for a creation care nonprofit

Gifts and Passions: Advocating for women and children, Supporting and empowering female clergy and laity, Building coalitions to work together toward a common goal, Educating and connecting people of faith with  creation care resources ,Teaching people of faith that caring for creation is a reflection of our love of God and neighbor, and that our consumption habits do harm to others, Working to build healthy families and communities, Communication in written and spoken word to inform, encourage, and inspire

Personal Statement: As female, under-40-years old, active lay member of the UMC I want to help shape the future of the denomination and the IGRC into something my children can be proud of and participate in fully. Through my work in various IGRC committees I’ve demonstrated my ability to work with others, communicate well, take leadership, and support others. I hope to use my gifts, graces, and experience to represent the laity of the IGRC at General Conference 2020.

Christine LippertChristine Lippert #2021

Church/Date of Membership: Belleville Journey UMC; Nov. 2015

Relevant Leadership Roles: Last winter I took over as children's ministries at Journey Church. I plan and set up weekly lessons and coordinate teachers.  In May of 2018 I was voted lay leader of Journey Church. At that point I pursued classes to become a certified lay servant. I completed that in November. I am currently on track to be a certified lay speaker and minister. In October I volunteered to be chairperson for our hospitality and new member committee. I have made new training material and opportunities for greeters. I am also a member of the nurturing team and I coordinated our first memorial service this past December. I coordinate our resource center. I organize books, DVDs, and Bible study resources to congregants. I coordinate small group membership. I have planned our last two community events. I was worship leader for 4 months while my pastor was on maternity leave. In every way I stepped up into a leadership position for our members.

Experience: Two years ago, I returned to college to finish my bachelor’s degree. I will graduate in May with a bachelors in Pastoral Leadership and Biblical Studies. During this past year I have also completed UMC classes to become a Certified Lay Servant. I am still attending classes for Certified Lay Speaker and Certified Lay Minister. In the fall of 2019, I enter Eden Seminary. I will be pursuing my Master of Divinity. It is my wish, if it is also God's wish, to become an ordained elder. I would like to lead my own congregation one day. I want to help fulfill God's great commission to make disciples of all people. I want to share God's Word with as many people as possible. It is my wish to reach those who are struggling in life and faith and to instill an excitement in youth for faith in God. I have done a few sermons for classes and start our worship each Sunday. While my pastor was on maternity leave, I led worship each Sunday and was looked at as a leader. I have been an elementary school secretary for 20 years and lead staff meetings and negotiations with our Union.

Gifts and Passions: My passion is my faith. I have a passion for anything that helps me to spiritually mature: daily devotionals, bible studies, planning youth lessons, leading worship...This past Sunday I presented on Compassion International and have 2 more churches to present at. I love the organization and how it helps children in need. I have a gift of helping others with my care and compassion. I am a leader and an organizer. If I believe something is right, I fight for it with a passion. I am on fire for God. I also love school. I cannot wait to start seminary in the fall. I love the constant learning through literature and better understanding of the Bible. I truly learn something new or understand something better or in a new way each year. In two weeks, I start and after school program in Belleville with 4th-6th grade girls that is about self-love and self-esteem in God's eyes.

Other: I was raised in the United Church of Christ. However, in 2015 my family was invited to Journey Church in Freeburg. It in a contemporary United Methodist Church. I immediately felt at home. The messages resonated like none I had heard before. No one pretended to be perfect. Everyone was real. Those people have become family. I absolutely love what our church stands for. John, Charles, Suzanna Wesley...they all mean a great deal to me. I love seeing those same teachings and methods used today. Suzanne was a strong, faith-based woman and mother. John and Charles are an inspiration. Just like John, he had faith, but was not spiritually mature till quite later...I felt like I had the same path in life. Through the Methodist church I am spiritually maturing like I have never been moved before. I am on fire for God. It cannot be quenched. I grow through small groups and a lay lead church. This is nothing I experienced in the Protestant denomination. 

Personal Statement: I start seminary in August and want to lead my own church. I want to share God’s Word. I want to serve others. I want to encourage others to use their gifts and talents to grow God’s church. I have been an elementary school secretary for 18 years. My school has a rate of 85% poverty. In my own way I have ministered to the students and families here for years. My job gives me a daily chance to use my communication and leadership skills. I am organized and great at planning. I take the initiative when something needs done or planned. My heart is on fire for God and for others to know what faith in God can do for their peace. God placed a call in my heart for ministry. I feel compelled to share His Word and my story to inspire others. Everyone in my life sees how my faith and spiritual journey has transformed me and my family and our lives.  People who look at my life want to know my confidence, content and peace. It comes from God. I gave all aspects of my life over to God and the peace in that is priceless.

Ron LogsdonRon Logsdon #2022

Church/ of Membership: Chatham UMC; 1995

Relevant Leadership Roles: Long-time annual conference techie; Director of Technology for nearly 10 years.

Experience: None submitted

Gifts and Passions: None submitted

Personal Statement: None submitted

Camille McCaskillCamille McCaskill #2023

Church/Date of Membership: Trinity UMC; 1971

Relevant Leadership Roles: Conference: Member of the IGRC Connectional Table, Sessions, and Accessibility Committees as well as the Board of Global Ministries; IGRC President of United Methodist Women; Lay member of the IGRC Annual Conference.  Community: Member of the Board and Executive Committee of Cunningham Children's Home; Vice-President of Board of Directors of Lessie Bates Davis Neighborhood House; and, Vice Chairman of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville's Governance Group for the Head Start and Early Head Start grants. Local Church: Member Staff/Pastor-Parish Relations Committee; Small Study Group Leaders; former chair of Board of Trustees and member of Administrative Council.   

Experience: Certified lay servant of the United Methodist Church; and candidate for certified lay speaker of the United Methodist Church.

Gifts and Passions: Administration; discernment; faith; knowledge; leadership and wisdom.  My passions are reading and learning.  These gifts and passions serve me well in my faith journey to put faith, hope and love into action.

Other: Camille holds a Bachelor of Science Degree and Master of Social Work Degree from St. Louis University; Southern Illinois University Edwardsville retiree; over thirty years of experience as an educator, administrator, manager and workshop presenter. 

Personal Statement: Delegates make decisions about the United Methodist Church. I would deem it an honor to serve as one of your delegates helping to guide the future of our denomination making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world; and, turning faith, hope and love into action for everyone as well. It would be a privilege to serve you with God's help.

Valerie MoehleValerie Moehle #2024

Church/Date of Membership: Pekin First UMC; May 1973

Relevant Leadership Roles: I have served as for the ROCKids Ministry and other leadership roles.  I currently serve as the coordinator for the worship ministry at a retirement community and as part of the planning team for our annual leadership Lay Leader, Ad Board and Finance Chair, Treasurer, Chair of the Intentional Faith Development Team, Coordinator training.

Experience: I have been a delegate to annual conference and had the privilege of serving as a volunteer at GC2019.  I have significant experience in financial, legislative, policy and procedure work as a school board member, chair or board member of several community organizations and as a legal adviser to government entities and for-profit and not-for-profit organizations.

Gifts and Passions: I have a passion and gift and for consensus building, policy and procedure in organizational contexts and visioning and impacting cultural change within an organization.  In the worship context I have a passion and gift for developing and planning an integrated worship experience that impacts those present in a way that is meaningful, using diverse ways of relating to people, such as music, liturgy, reading, space, art, humor, prayer, dance,  communal activities and responsive participation.  I take very seriously the planning of worship so that each piece -- from start to finish -- is integrated and brings a cohesive and transformative message to the participants. 

Other: xx

Personal Statement: There will always be a broad range of issues presented at a General Conference and it is important that delegates come without a narrow agenda so that they can respond to all issues with wisdom and contemplation. Having attended and served in both large and small churches, big cities and small towns, integrated and not so well integrated churches, rich and poor, and having a heart for peoples of different countries and cultures, I believe that I have the ability to bring a perspective that sees well and honors the needs and views of others.  I believe in fighting for principal when appropriate, but in seeking consensus and compromise where that meets the greater good of the entire United Methodist Church.  I am very attentive to the long-term policy implications of decisions and the importance of consistency in policy and procedure. There are many churches who are seeking to do God’s will in the bringing of people to Christ and transforming the world for God’s glory.  I find that I am most at home in doing God’s will within the structure and polity and doctrines of the United Methodist Church and have been blessed to be a member.

Sydney PappasSydney Jane Pappas #2025

Church/Date of Membership: Springfield First UMC; 2014

Relevant Leadership Roles: Associate Student Life Director at Springfield First UMC, Administrative Specialist for the Illinois Air National Guard, Part of the IGRC Youth Workers Group (assisting in leadership development for IGRC camp) , Part of the IGRC for Unity Group, Part of the IGRC Collegiate Group, Lay Delegate for Annual Conference from the Sangamon River District, finishing my bachelors in Spiritual Formation from Lincoln Christian University.

Experience: I have been attending the IGRC Annual Conference as either a guest or voting delegate since I was in 7th grade (2012). I am strongly passionate about topics within this denomination. I have been identified was a leader within my church. I understand clearly the intentions of the Annual Conference and the General Conference within our denomination. I have also been a clear voice for the United Methodist Church at the college I commute to. I have also been involved in the IGRC Camping and Retreat Ministry both as an attender of camps and volunteer as a camp counselor and emcee for Jr. HIGH NOW. I have also been in intern through the IGRC Intern Program.

Gifts and Passions: I am passionate about the following MINISTRIES: youth and young adults, Spiritual Formation (individual's discipleship/ relationship with God), and Discipleship pathways, prayer ministries. I am also passionate about the following TOPICS: administration, organization, problem solving. The following are my GIFTS & STRENGTHS: discernment, prayer, futuristic, music (vocal), connection, administrative and organizational tasks.

Other: The United Methodist Church has allowed me to have an authentic relationship with God. I want to use my experience, gifts and passions toward my role as General Conference Lay Delegate.

Personal Statement: My name is Sydney Pappas. I am a member and staff person of the Springfield First United Methodist Church. I am passionate, motivated, and feel called by God to run as a Lay Delegate for the Illinois Great Rivers Conference. Many years ago, during an Annual Conference, Bishop Palmer addressed the congregation and asked anyone that feels called to ministry be bold and come forward to be prayed over. I felt the Holy Spirit prompt me to go forward. I was affirmed by a clergy member and lay member that they too felt God was speaking to me. In that moment, I knew something about my life was about to change in a powerful way. I have never turned back since. I have grown to be more passionate for my Church, my denomination. I feel called to be a voice for the people of the Illinois Great Rivers Conference. I will represent the power that Jesus Christ can have in a person’s life, the beauty of the Holy Spirit and how He moves people, and finally want to represent the glory of God, our Creator, amongst all people. Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.

Peter PaulsonPeter Paulson #2026

Church/Date of Membership: Decatur Grace; Fall 1979

Relevant Leadership Roles: Past-Lay Leader Sangamon River District (8 years), Delegate to North Central Jurisdictional Conference (2008), Alternate Delegate to General Conference (2008), Lay Person Representative of IGRC to the "Imagine No Malaria" Campaign" to Sierra Leone (2010), Past-Chair Evangelism Committee (8 years), Past-Chair Staff Parish Committee, Student at Asbury Theological Seminary - Master of Arts in Theological Studies (Graduate in May, 2019), Sunday school teacher (35 years), Church Choir member

Experience: I have served as Delegate to the North Central Jurisdictional Conference (2008) and was Alternate Delegate to General Conference. Student at Asbury Theological Seminary in Master of Art in Theological Studies (Graduate May 2019)

Gifts and Passions: I love serving the Lord in many areas of the church, and where ever I am called. I am passionate work with others. Upon graduation from Asbury Theological Seminary, in May 2019, I look forward to getting to work in my home conference and throughout the United Methodist Church as a whole. I am a passionate, dedicated worker who become thoroughly educated in every facet of the work in front of me in order to be the best delegate as I represent the UMC.

Personal Statement: I loved traveling, at Bishop Gregory Palmer's behest, as Lay Member Liaison in the Imagine No Malaria campaign to Sierra Leone in 2010. I was able to witness, firsthand, the joy of the Lord in remote villages from residents who had so very little. It was remarkable to be part of the United Methodist Church in a country where the UMC is respected for the work that the church does on the part of its community!

Jessica PennJessica Penn #2027

Church/Date of Membership: Marshall Armstrong UMC; Feb 2016

Relevant Leadership Roles: Lay Delegate to Annual Conference, 2018 to present; Mothers of Preschoolers Director at Armstrong UMC

Experience: Clergy Spouse; Lay Delegate to Annual Conference

Gifts and Passions: Discernment; Hospitality; Administration; Discipleship; Children’s Ministry; Music Ministry; Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Ministry

Other: Married to Adam for almost 8 years; mama of two beautiful boys: Levi (3) and Judah (1)

Personal Statement: I am a young adult lay person who is also the spouse of a United Methodist Pastor. I was raised in the Baptist Church, but recently joined the United Methodist Church, because I have grown to love our Wesleyan heritage and inclusive stance toward women in ministry. I am grieved by how we handled our conflict over human sexuality at GC 2019, and feel that God is calling me to represent the IGRC at GC 2020. I affirm our Book of Discipline’s current language concerning human sexuality, and believe that we will need to work together in 2020 to restructure our church for the future, forming a plan that allows us to faithfully pursue our divergent understandings of ministry, while still maintaining unity in our service to the world. I believe the greatest strengths I bring to the table are the ability to listen compassionately, and organizational abilities.

Skyler PrzygodaSkyler Przygoda #2028

Church/Date of Membership: Charleston Wesley UMC; May 2009

Relevant Leadership Roles: I was one of the youth group leaders while in high school, I taught Youth Group lessons in college, I was a conference intern for 2 summers  (at Waverly, Illinois and Urbana, Illinois), I am currently working as a Campus Ministry Intern during my gap year at Wesley Foundation at the U of I, I have helped lead worship since high school, I have served as a trustee of the church I attended while in college.

Experience: For three summers, I was an intern in two different churches, leading, preaching, and teaching congregants of all ages; I have attended three annual conferences and have learned a lot about our Wesleyan processes; I attended GC 2019 as an audience member and learned a lot from younger delegates about what it’s like on the floor.

Gifts and Passions: I am very outgoing and love to meet new people. I love to share about why I still love the church. I have a passion for being a young voice and leader in the church which has taught me so much. I care about the future of our denomination because I have a call to pastoral ministry which propels me to build a community for younger generations.

Other: I will be attending Vanderbilt Divinity School next year to earn a Master of Divinity. I am currently working on my candidacy and am on the Elder track.

Personal Statement: I am running as a lay delegate for General Conference 2020 because I have felt the need to help my church. As a young observer at General Conference 2019, I was shocked at how little young people were represented, but yet so motivated by their actions and love. As I talked with the young adult delegates, they put a passion in my heart to step up and help lead. If we as a denomination have an urge to grow our church, we must be reaching out to the young people to be leaders. As a young woman who is being called into ordained ministry, and attending divinity school in the fall, I want to represent my church, and the young voices I serve as a campus ministry intern. I would love to be part of General Conference 2020, to show that I am not just a future pastor, but that as a young person, my voice matters in our church. I would love help represent over 15,000 young people under the age of 35 who signed the statement of unity and support in 13 hours. I would love to serve my church, as a delegate to General Conference 2020.

Dana Saal #2029

Church/Date of Membership: Springfield Laurel; 1986

Relevant Leadership Experiences: At my current church, where I've been a member for 33 years: SPRC chair, two terms (for two pastor transitions); COA chair, one term; Covenant Group leader, two groups; strategic planning coordinator, twice; capital campaign committee member, twice; plus others I can't recall. As a life-long United Methodist, I have actively contributed to the life of each church I joined.

Experience: My career is in association management, which has many parallels to church governance, including partnering with people of differing perspectives to reach consensus, leading teams of volunteers to accomplish goals (e.g. convention planning), and marketing messages to educate and inform members of key issues.

Gifts and Passions: My gifts are teaching, diplomacy, organization, and the ability to quickly assess see big picture issues and devise an appropriate response. My spiritual gifts are exhortation, mercy, and serving, with administration and teaching close behind. My passion is making and exemplifying discerning choices in all parts of my life to ensure that I am contributing to the health, growth, and sustainability of myself, my family, my church, my community, and our world.

Other: I volunteered at GC 2019 and was energized and moved by the experience. I would be honored to have the opportunity to contribute inside the rails.

Personal Statement: The United Methodist Church did not make this decision. Some United Methodists made the decision — and by a very slim margin. The majority of US representatives disagree with the decision. They are disappointed and hurt. The decision bans ordination and marriage of homosexuals. As unacceptable as that is, we cannot lose sight of the fact that it does not ban loving homosexuals and all LGBTQI+ people. We also must consider that the final vote is yet to come, following assessment of the plan by the Judicial Council. The world is watching, and disappointed progressives are the ones who can set the tone for how United Methodists will be perceived — now and following the 2020 vote. Our local churches and members who have lovingly welcomed LGBTQI+ people into their congregations have not changed because of this decision. We will continue to welcome them, expressing our radical hospitality and unconditional love. It is our obligation to remain with our churches and join our brothers and sisters in our beloved denomination to work through this distressing and uncertain time. As we process this painful decision, I know that God was the first one who cried.

Steven Schonert #2030

Church/Date of Membership: Olney First UMC; 1971

Relevant Leadership Experiences: 2016 & 2019 GC delegate, 2012 Jurisdictional Delegate, past CCFA board member, past Congregational Development board member, Church lay delegate, Church Trustee Chairperson, Former Church Council Chairperson, former Church Treasurer, Local Bank Board Member, former Partner in Charge of regional CPA office.

Experience: In addition to the leadership roles, including being one of your 2016 GC lay delegates, I have been raised in and part of the Methodist Church all of my life.

Gifts and Passions: In addition to loving my two grandsons and working for my local church, I enjoy traveling, including my travels to Haiti, where I am working with Bethesda Medical Clinic, a Haitian medical clinic with One Mission Society, in setting up a new board, Healthcare in Haiti Inc.,  that will assist in fundraising, consultation and education.     

Other: I am a member of the IGR-WCA.  

Personal Statement: I believe in upholding traditional values as defined in the current Discipline.  However, I recognize that not all view traditional values in the same way. We must find a way to stop arguing over our disagreements or our witness to the world will continue to suffer.  Much like when Paul and Barnabas disagreed and went their separate ways, it appears that we must go our separate ways so as not to further hurt our ministries.  However, I hope and will support ways that we can continue to share in certain ministries, such as UMCOR, where there is agreement as to its purpose and goals. I believe we must continue to support our global ministries and assist where the Holy Spirit is moving in a powerful way. We must stay relevant to the youth of today that is the Church tomorrow, while not compromising our values.   We must be a place for healing for those who are spiritually lost.  Left or right, traditional or progressive, we must continue to pray for peace in our Church.   Finally, we must never lose focus that we are a Church whose primary goal is to makes disciples for Jesus for the transformation of the world.

Frankie SchrimpsemaFrankie Ann Schripsema #2031

Church/Date of Membership: Bradley Wesley UMC; Aug 2015

Relevant Leadership Experiences: Children's Choir Leader, Confirmation Mentor, Wesley's Table Food Pantry Assistant Coordinator

Experience: 2 Years of being an at large lay delegate, 12+ years of attending annual conference, summer staff at Little Grassy UMC 2 summers

Gifts and Passions: Passion for advocating for the youth

Personal Statement: I am running to be a Laity Delegate for the 2020 General Conference because I believe the youth of the United Methodist Church have gone underrepresented for too long. I have grown up within the Illinois Great Rivers Conference all my life as both a regular member and a pastor’s child. I have been able to see the great things that the church does for people, but I have also witnessed the church be discriminatory and un-Christian like as well. I love my church family and I love the United Methodist Church; it has been a key aspect of my life and will remain important in my life. Right now, and these past years, I believe the church has moved backwards, neglecting the youth and other minorities within the UMC. There is a reason churches are experiencing lower and lower numbers and even smaller numbers of youth. We have closed our hearts, have closed our minds, closed out doors to the rest of the world. And to see the church, you grew up with cast you aside as less than as well as others due to ignorant fear discourages me, but I will not go down without a fight.

Evan SherarEvan Sherar #2032

Church/Date of Membership: Asbury UMC; Dec 2011

Relevant Leadership Experiences: Certified Lay Speaker in the Indiana Annual Conference, Student Mentor, Power House Teen Center for At-Risk Youth, Co-Leader of Save Our Streets Homeless Ministry, ONU Spiritual Life Council, Supply Pastor, Trinity UM Parish, Vermilion River District

Experience: Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Studies, Olivet Nazarene University (class of 2017), Young Preacher at various National Festivals of Young Preachers, Academy of Preachers (class of 2012, most years since), Student Mentor, Southwest Indiana Power House Teen Center (2012-2013), Summer Guest Services Coordinator, Camp Indicoso (2014-2016), Certified Lay Speaker, Southwest District, Indiana Annual Conference (2011-2017), Co-Leader, Save Our Streets Homeless Ministry, ONU Spiritual Life Council (2015-2017), Supply Pastor, Trinity UM Parish, Vermilion River District, IGRC (2017-present).

Gifts and Passions: Community outreach, building relationships with people in poverty, supporting mental and spiritual health, historical theology, biblical exegesis, ecumenical dialogue and shared Christian practice.

Other: Certified Candidate for Ordained Ministry (Deacon), MDiv Student at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary

Personal Statement: My name is Evan Sherar and I would like to be one of your delegates representing the Illinois Great Rivers Conference in Minneapolis for General Conference 2020! Since I began attending a United Methodist church during high school, God had assured me over and over again through the UMC just how much God loves me. You have truly welcomed me into your family! When I moved here from Indiana to attend Olivet Nazarene University, I quickly found a loving community that completely accepted me for who I am at Asbury United Methodist Church in Kankakee. United Methodists throughout Kankakee County and the Vermillion River District continue to support me in prayer as I further my studies at Garrett-Evangelical on path to ordination. From hearing God’s call to ministry in a United Methodist camping ministry to pastoring three rural churches, the United Methodist Church has created space for God’s grace to form me into who I am today. My hope is that we can continue to create welcoming spaces like this together! I look forward to representing my whole United Methodist family, in all our diverse perspectives, at General Conference 2020.

Erik SlingerlandErik Slingerland #2033

Church/Date of Membership: Bloomington Wesley-ISU Wesley Foundation; August 2013

Relevant Leadership Experiences: Various leadership positions throughout my time at Eureka High School, including Treasurer of our Student Council and President of our National Honor Society

Leader in Missions, Director of Discipleship, and Student Co-President of the ISU Wesley Foundation throughout my time as an undergraduate. Student Representative on the IGRC BHECM (2017-2018)

Experience: AC lay representative for ISU Wesley Foundation for several years, IGRC Intern at the Prairieview Parish, pulpit supply at the Three Rivers Parish, intern at the ISU Wesley Foundation

Gifts and Passions: Gifts: organization, compassion, patience, flexibility; passions: connecting to God through the arts (especially music), preaching, including all people in the life of the church, ecumenism, peacemaking

Personal Statement: I was born and raised in the United Methodist Church; the first 19 years of my life were spent attending Wesley UMC in Bloomington. I then joined the Wesley Foundation at Illinois State as soon as I began my classes there. During my time in college, I discerned a call to ministry, which brings me to today: I’m 24 years old and beginning my Master of Divinity studies at a United Methodist seminary this fall. As I’ve been pursuing my call, I’ve learned even more about the United Methodist Church. I’ve learned about the incredible organization that is UMCOR and experienced how apportionment dollars from throughout the denomination help young people like me get started in ministry. Our connections to siblings in Christ all over the world and the democratic nature by which we have organized our denomination to handle our differences are just two of the things I love about the UMC. I am passionate about the church and want to help the church continue for many years to come. I humbly ask for your vote so that young voices can have a say in how the church will be shaped during this crucial time in the church’s history.

Katherine SmithKatherine Smith #2034

Church/Date of Membership: Effingham Centenary, April 2012

Relevant Leadership Roles:  Leadership team at SIUC Wesley Foundation, 1 year serving on church council, 2 years serving on youth council

Experience: Running worship slides and audio, camp photographer/counselor at Little Grassy, 3 mission trips to Henderson Settlement; I have also worked in the fast food industry and on a horse farm.

Gifts and Passions: My gifts lie in photography and art as well as technology and science. I am passionate about helping people and protecting creation.

Personal Statement: As a life-long United Methodist, I am running for election to General Conference to be a voice in the future of my denomination. I want to represent young adults and the ideas many of us have about the church. I am from Effingham and am I member of Centenary UMC. I served on the Church Council and went on several mission trips while in high school. I attended Epworth camp for 2 years and Little Grassy camp for 6. I also worked at Little Grassy for 2 years as a counselor and photographer. I have worked on a horse farm for the past 9 years, doing nearly every dirty job. I also teach riding. I’ve also worked in fast food, where I applied my ability to think in stressful, fast paced environments. I love animals and I’m studying to be a veterinarian. I currently attend SIU-C and am part of the leadership team at the Wesley Foundation. I care deeply about my Church, in which I was born, baptized, confirmed and choose to be a member.

Mark SoudersMark Souders #2035

Church/Date of Membership: Metropolis First UMC; May 1968

Relevant Leadership Experiences: Delegate to Annual Conference, 2015 to present, Sunday school Teacher, Lay Leader, Metropolis 1st, United Methodist Men's President, Metropolis 1st, Bus Ministry Leader, Member of Security Team (Sheep Dog), Member of SPRC, Ad Council and Finance, Metropolis 1st

Experience: Massac Co. School Board President (2016 to present), Massac Co. Board Member (2015 to present), Illinois Department of Corrections Employee (1984-2009) --Sift Supervisor for 14 years of that time. Massac Co. Housing Authority (1988-1998), Massac Co. Fire Department Member (1984-2004)

Asst. Scout Master for Troop 101 for 10 Years, Cub Master for Pack 101 for 4 Years

Gifts and Passions: I am an upbeat and positive person.  I want all people to know the love of Jesus.

Personal Statement: I love the United Methodist Church--having been raised in the Brookport UMC and now attending Metropolis First.  I've been blessed to be a part of a Godly family--from my dad and mom to the support of my Uncle, Rev. Bob Souders.  The United Methodist Church is my family--both literally and figuratively.  And I would be honored to serve the IGRC as a delegate to General Conference in 2020.

Geneva StuartGeneva Stuart #2036

Church/Date of Membership: Port Byron UMC; Spring 2014

Relevant Leadership Roles: Annual Conference Delegate (2018 & 2019), Counselor-in-Training (East Bay)

Experience: Counselor-in-Training (East Bay), Chrysalis Board (2018), Nominations Committee (2018)

Gifts and Passions: Leadership, listening, advocating, service, creative writing, music, pursuing my dreams

Other: Youth Group, National Honor Society, Rotary Interact, Gender Sexuality Alliance (G.S.A.), Book Club, Writing Club, Soccer (2016), Marching Band/Pep Band/Concert Band, Choir, Ukulele Ensemble, F.F.A., Musical/Play, Chrysalis

Personal Statement:  I was brought up in the Port Byron First United Methodist Church and accepted as a member there in the spring of 2014. The following year, I asked to go through confirmation classes again because I felt I needed further understanding of what it meant to be a United Methodist Christian. I reaffirmed my faith in the Spring of 2015. I have attended more youth retreats than I can count, one of them being YAR which is currently known as NOW. It was at NOW where the idea of youth being the church NOW was introduced to me. With this new belief, I jumped at the chance to be a Youth Delegate to Annual Conference 2018 and 2019. Knowing what has occurred at Annual Conference and at General Conference 2019, it has spurred my desire to become an advocate. Not just as a voice for the youth of the church but also the LGBT+ community, which I am a part of, who are struggling and healing after the choices that were made. I would love to have to opportunity to represent IGRC and be an advocate for the church of NOW at the General Conference Meeting in 2020.

Andrea StubyAndrea Stuby #2037

Church/Date of Membership: Main Street UMC Alton, IL, 1999

Relevant Leadership Experiences: Past Little Grassy UM Camp Summer Program Manager where I worked with clergy and laity, including young adults, youth, and children, from all around our conference; certified candidate on the deacon track; Annual Conference delegate at large; children and youth ministry student intern

Experience: IGRC young adult mission trip to Liberia, Africa where we were able to meet with young adults in Liberia to have fruitful conversations about each of our perspectives, as well as talk about our hopes for the future of the UMC; Mission trips to Honduras; Seminary graduate from a school that instilled in me to recognize what lens I view the world from and to learn with others who view the world from a lens different from my own.

Gifts and Passions: Listening, Compassion, Children's ministry, Camping ministry, Service, Social justice

Personal Statement: I am a young adult who was baptized and confirmed in the UMC. The UMC is my home, and the people in it, regardless of their beliefs, are like a family. While family doesn't always agree or want the same things, they are still strongly connected to one another. I equate this family connection to the bond formed through the UM connection, which is one of the things I love about the UMC. In many places around the world, people live alongside one another, despite their differences. I believe the UMC can also find a new way of living with one another. I believe that telling people who they can and cannot love should not be a decision that a faith tradition has a right to make. I do not want people who believe differently than me to force me to change my belief, nor do I want to change their belief. As a GC delegate, I would work towards listening and understanding viewpoints different from my own in order to create a new way of being in the world for the UMC, where everyone has a seat at the table, and no one is left out.

Dean SuttonDean Sutton #2038

Church/Date of Membership: East Moline Christ UMC; 1973

Relevant Leadership Roles: Current Team Leader of Adult Discipleship/Evangelism; Lifetree Cafe, an outreach ministry meeting in a local coffee shop; Christ's Peacemakers, a conflict resolution ministry.  Past Chair of Church Council.  Past Chair of Board of Directors of Churches United of the Quad Cities; Past Lay Director of Walk to Emmaus.

Experience: Member of IGRC Conflict Transformation Team and have worked with several churches in the Conference to resolve conflicts.  Legal Adviser to churches and non-for-profits.  Served as Arbitrator for Institute of Christian Conciliation.  Musician in praise band.  Youth Worker in local church.  Volunteer attorney at Prairie Sta

Gifts and Passions: Spiritual Gifts are Teaching, Exhortation and Knowledge.  Passions are piano and helping the local church.

Other: Retired attorney after 38 years of practice   Wife is Darcie Sutton, 2 children and 5 grandchildren. 

Personal Statement: I have been a disciple of Jesus Christ for my entire life with some space for wandering during college.  I am inspired to apply for this position as lay delegate to General Conference by my passion for Christ and the local church.  I attended the 2019 Special General Conference in St. Louis as an observer and it is evident to me that the long-standing conflicts in the denomination will continue into the 2020 General Conference.   I have training and experience in handling individual and church conflicts.  I believe that my gifts and experience outlined in this application will assist our delegation and the Conference in remaining united.  It is my prayer that unity will prevail; however, if division comes, my experience as adviser to churches and to our conference as well as experience as an arbitrator of denominational disputes will be valuable.  

Ann WagleAnn Wagle #2039

Church/Date of Membership: Danville St. James UMC; 1986

Relevant Leadership Experiences: Local church: Christian Education Chair past 6 years. Missions Chair previous 3 years. Small group organization and leadership. Worship/Music Chair; church organist 45 years. Church staff 7 years. Education: Retired Nursing Administrator and Educator, I earned a PhD in Nursing with a minor in Adult Education at Indiana Univ. Research with NIH grant included development of a “Religiousness” tool and application of change theory. Professional: 15 years in Nursing Administration at Dept. of Veterans Affairs, including teaching for Univ. of Illinois College of Nursing; 15 years as Administrator at Danville Area Community College, School of Nursing.

Experience: Delegate to IGRC Annual Conference, 2018 & 2019. Observer at Jurisdictional Conference, 2016. Hospitality Volunteer at GC2019 in St. Louis with a role of registration of delegates. During this time, I met numerous international delegates and was impressed by the distance they traveled and their commitment to long hours of preparation and transportation to meet with their brothers and sisters in The United Methodist Church. I felt a true quest for unity as they dealt with the matters of the GC, as well as a sense of somber frustration at the outcome of the Conference.

Gifts and Passions: Teaching/learning, process analysis, acknowledging the individualism of each person, yet the connectedness and commonalities shared.

Other: International mission experience includes Liberia VIM (x2), Honduras VIM (x3), Guatemala, Mexico.

Personal Statement: As a disciple of Jesus Christ, I am genuinely interested in intentional faith development through the works of grace and individual and small group study. In addition, my spirit is fed through the global perspective of missions and service as well as music and worship. I believe that God’s grace is extended to all people and see myself as a centrist with the goal of inclusion and harmony within the body of Christ. The essence of the church is to make God’s love known to all people at all stages and levels of life. My prayer for the international and local church is that although believers are different and have unique needs, we will be able to practice our beliefs in the spirit of unity within The United Methodist Church.

Larry WeberLarry Weber #2040

Church/Date of Membership: Fairview Heights Christ UMC; Oct 1970

Relevant Leadership Experiences: North Central Jurisdiction Committee on Episcopacy Bishop's Assessment Subcommittee Chairperson; Local Church Finance Committee; Local Church PPRC Chairperson: Local Church Administrative Council; Senior Staff of largest UMC in NCJ; Served on the Bishop's Path1 Audit Team and co-author of the Reach 1,000 initiative; Mississippi River District Congregational Development Committee Chairperson; Retired Public School Supt and Principal

Experience: Lay Delegate to IGRC Annual Conference; General Conference Delegate 2019; General Conference Alternate Delegate 2016; North Central Jurisdictional Delegate; NCJ Committee on Episcopacy; NCJ Committee on Episcopacy Assessment Committee Chairperson; IGRC Committee on Episcopacy

Gifts and Passions: Church Growth; Multi-site Church Development and Growth; Church Finance

Other: I have been married since 1970 to my high school sweetheart, Nancy. We are the parents of 7 adult children and 10 grandchildren.

Personal Statement: It has been my honor to serve the IGRC and UM General Conference as well as the North Central Jurisdiction. Since my retirement from public school administration, I have been an integral part of the Christ Church staff currently serving as the Director of Campus Development. I have been actively engaged in growing the congregation I have been a member of since 2002 as well as a leader in IGRC helping to grow congregations in the Mississippi River District through my role as chairperson of the Congregational Development Team for the District.

Kimberly WoodsKimberly Woods #2041

Church/Date of Membership: Industry UMC; 2009

Relevant Leadership Experiences: Delegate to General Conference (2016, 2019); Delegate to Jurisdictional Conference (2016); At-large lay member of Annual conference (multiple years); Christian Educator at Vermont Street UMC in Quincy; Chair of Conference Committee on Youth Ministry; Wesley Foundation leadership scholar.

Experience: Served as at-large lay member of Annual conference for multiple years under various districts, member of IGRC Connectional Table, co-director of VBS at local church, youth ministry intern through conference and seminary, Christian Educator at VSUMC, graduate from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary (M.A. in Christian Ed.)

Gifts and Passions: Youth ministry, writing, communications, social justice, reading, listening, service, sign language.

Personal Statement: My relationship with the United Methodist Church began when I was in college, where I was drawn to the radical hospitality and extravagant generosity of the local church. I feel called to the ministry of the deacon, which I have been living out through my work with children and youth and serving on Connectional Table. I have a strong passion for social justice issues, and I strive to be a listening presence as well as a vocal advocate for those who may not have a voice at the table. Such empowerment is a vital part of our call to embody Christ and share God's love with the world. As a young adult, I have appreciated the opportunity to witness and be a part of the legislative process at multiple levels of our connection, especially the ways we have been able to come together for ministry in the midst of our differences. Through our connection, I have been exposed to different aspects of ministry, polity, and practice. I would ask for the opportunity to once again serve as a delegate to General Conference on your behalf, as we continue to seek out new ways of being in mission and ministry together.

Rodney WoodworthRodney Woodworth #2042

Church/Date of Membership: Champaign Faith; 1966

Relevant Leadership Experiences: Chair Worship Committee; Chair Outreach Committee; Lead Liturgist & Liturgist scheduler for Contemporary Service; Drama Team Lead

Experience: I have taught Sunday School, VBS; youth and adult Bible studies; led adult, youth, gospel, and children's choirs, and contemporary and worship bands; served as Bible Camp counselor; served as Liturgist; assisted in all aspects of worship; and given message at services in multiple churches over 50 years.

Gifts and Passions: Ministry through Drama and Music; reading scripture in dramatic settings; teaching how to read scripture for public or personal edification.

Other: I am a professional actor, singer, and Santa Claus. I provide Santa services for local not-for-profit agencies every year as part of my ministry and giving back to my community.

Personal Statement: I grew up in a small town and attended a rural United Methodist Church where I sang in the choirs, belonged to youth groups, studied at Bible camps, participated in mission trips, read scripture and even preached occasionally.  I felt the call on my life at a very early age. Throughout my life I continued to serve in many capacities in various local churches; during my military career, while pursuing a career as a professional actor, and most recently in my current congregation.  I feel that my next step is to serve the church family and denomination as a whole by sharing my personal experiences and bringing my unique perspective to the larger church body. I would welcome the opportunity to be a part of our journey as we navigate the waters before us, bringing the Living Water that is our Lord Jesus, the Light and Love of the World, not only to our own struggling church, but also to the world.  I prayerfully submit this statement as a declaration of my candidacy for lay delegate to the General Conference.

Carolyn YockeyCarolyn Yockey #2043

Church/Date of Membership: Normal First UMC since May 12, 1963

Relevant Leadership Roles: Past: Conference President of UMW, Director of Women's Division, Director of GBGM, Director of GBCS. Currently Conference Secretary of Global Ministries, local UMW treasurer, treasurer of NCJ UMVIM.

Experience: General Conference Delegate 2000, 2004, 2008, Jurisdictional Delegate 2012, alternate 1996, 2016. I feel I have a connection with the larger church through the many roles I have held.

Gifts and Passions: Christ is the center of my life. I love our United Methodist Church. I lead and organize well. Mission to women and children is vitally important to me.

Personal Statement: I ache as I live through the challenges our church shares at this point in history. Watching people at our special General Conference was very painful. I would like to do my part to enable us to live together with Christ as our focus. We can accomplish more together than we can by disagreeing. I would like to be an active part of moving us forward as a United Methodist Church, one showing love to the world. We need to be gathering more people to Jesus Christ. Many have no desire to join a group that shows their differences more than their love.