News

2021 Annual Conference meets virtually

published 6/14/2021
The Illinois Great Rivers Annual Conference gathered online for its second virtual annual conference session June 11-12. The theme of the two-day gathering with a two-hour clergy session and a four-hour plenary session was A Time for Healing, the first of four themes focusing on a quadrennial theme of God Has Made Everything Beautiful in His Time, based upon Ecclesiastes 3.

The start of Annual Conference came with the announcement by the State of Illinois that it was lifting masking and social distancing requirements for fully vaccinated people. Conference leadership, which has provided guidance for the past 15 months through the pandemic, is now returning such decisions to the local church in consultation with local health officials. Despite the limitations brought about by the pandemic, conferees were able to worship and gather for Christian conferencing. IGRC Communications collaborated to produce a hybrid, part-live, part-recorded Annual Conference. Attendees gathered virtually via Zoom web conferencing or by attending one of the eight remote locations throughout the annual conference. Slightly more than 930 attended annual conference from home and another 90 attended through one of the remote sites and voted manually with marshals reporting vote totals via a roll call vote once voting was completed in the Zoom room. Annual Conference secretarial staff aggregated the vote totals.

Fairview Heights Christ Leaves The United Methodist Church

published 5/18/2021
The Illinois Great Rivers Conference of The United Methodist Church and the former Christ United Methodist Church of Fairview Heights, Illinois, announce that they have reached an amicable financial and property disposition agreement whereby Christ Church will retain its property in its four campuses and will pay an undisclosed sum to the Conference who will relinquish its claim to the real and personal property of the Church through the United Methodist Trust Clause.  The money received by the ...

Newton Stepping Down as IGRC Camping Leader

published 5/17/2021
Springfield-Patric Newton has announced his resignation as the Illinois Great Rivers Conference Coordinator of Camping, Retreat, and Youth Ministries effective June 18, 2021. Newton has served in this role since 2017 and has led a strategic renewal of the IGRC camping programs, consolidation into two improved year-round sites, recruitment of new program and site staff, and implementation of new fiscal management and accountability practices. Newton will continue to work in church camping and has...

Bishop Palmer to provide interim leadership to IGRC

published 5/13/2021
A familiar face will be providing interim leadership to the Illinois Great Rivers Conference during Bishop Frank J. Beard’s medical leave.

Bishop Beard going on medical leave July 1

published 4/30/2021
Bishop Frank J. Beard has applied for and has been granted a request for a personal Medical Leave, effective July 1, to care for his eyesight.

Interim DS's announced for transition to eight districts

published 4/13/2021
Bishop Frank J. Beard has announced the appointments of Rev. Mary Kathryn Pearce and Rev. Carol Lakota Eastin to the position of Interim District Superintendent of the Illinois and Kaskaskia River districts, effective July 1 through Dec. 31, 2021.

Annual Conference plans announced for June 11-12

published 3/25/2021
Bishop Frank J. Beard, in consultation with the Cabinet and Sessions Committee Executive Team, has announced the 2021 Annual Conference will be June 11-12 and will be conducted virtually.
 
The theme for the 2021 Annual Conference is A Time to Heal, based upon Ecclesiastes 3
 
Utilizing the knowledge gained from the virtual 2020 Annual Conference, participants will be able to offer speeches for and against and ask questions during the plenary session, slated for Saturday, June 12 from 10 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 4 p.m. The Annual Conference will be using the Zoom platform, utilizing the polling feature for voting (the same as last year) and the Q & A feature for posting questions or asking for recognition to speak for or against the motion.
 
No amendments or changes to the legislation will be possible. However, the Sessions Committee will be holding Pre-Conference meetings to address both technological issues as well as answer questions on the legislation.
 
Registration will open April 6 on the Zoom platform and because of needing secure access to the room, persons will register and receive two log-ins – one for either the clergy or laity session on Friday, and one for the joint plenary session on Saturday. These registrations will be cross-checked and verified prior to issuing the unique access code to the participant.

Bishop tackles various issues in Pre-Easter meetings

published 3/25/2021
Bishop Frank J. Beard updated lay and clergy on a variety of issues during seven virtual pre-Easter gatherings March 21-25.

In all, more than 600 persons attended the virtual meetings over the five-day span.
 
“My hope is to lower anxiety, provide you with clear, direct communications, offer guidance, direction and to share with you my expectations as we move forward together,” Bishop Beard said to those in attendance.
 
The 90-minute sessions – designed to be instructional, informational and inspirational – were not intended to debate or discuss “hot button issues,” but to provide the community with up-to-date information.
 
“I truly believe that God has placed each of you in a prime spot for a special purpose but God will not force you to do anything,” Bishop Beard said. “Mordecai reminded Esther that God always has a Plan B.”

BMCR Good Friday service

published 3/25/2021
Members of the IGRC chapter of Black Methodists for Church Renewal gather March 5 at East St. Louis Trinity UMC to record the Seven Last Words of Jesus from the Cross service for broadcast on Good Friday.

The chapter, in cooperation with IGRC Communications, is producing a Good Friday service built around the Seven Last Words of Jesus from the Cross.

The virtual service will air on Good Friday (April 2) at 6 p.m.

Links will be found on the IGRC homepage, the IGRC Black Methodists for Church Renewal homepages, as well as the IGRC Online Worship Facebook group and Bishop Frank J. Beard's Facebook group.

Titan Fuel: Kingdom Building through local church, community

published 3/25/2021
What began as a ministry of the Chatham UMC six years ago has grown into a community-wide effort totally operated by volunteers. And they have assisted five other communities and three churches in establishing similar ministries.

Fair Hope Children's Ministry receives grant funding

published 3/24/2021
Fair Hope Children’s Ministry is a faith-based mission program created with the specific goal of giving assistance to children of Vermilion County, Illinois. Our ministry helps low income families regardless of their religion or ethnic background or level of disability.

Galesburg Faith UMC receives funding from the Larson Trust

published 3/24/2021
Galesburg Faith UMC has been blessed to be the recipient of funds from the Larson Trust to help further our mission of making disciples of Christ. With these funds, we have: Built new youth programs such as Discovery Kids and Faith Youth Club.  These programs provide fun, wholesome activities for our youth that serve as fun ways to learn about the Bible. Average weekly attendance is 30 and a meal is provided!  Activities include: VBS, small day trips, Winter Jam, Summer Camping, move nights, ...

Speakers for Prentice, Cartwright sermons announced

published 2/25/2021
The IGRC Commission on Archives and History has announced the speakers for the 2021 Prentice Sermon and the 2021 Peter Cartwright Memorial Sermon.
 
Paul Black, IGRC Director of Communications, has been selected to deliver this year’s Prentice Sermon which will be Sunday, April 11, at Astoria UMC in the LaMoine River District. Rev. Jim Clayton, pastor of the Colchester-Hills Grove UMC’s, will be the 2021 Cartwright Sermon speaker on Sunday, Oct. 17 at Peter Cartwright UMC in Pleasant Plains.

Chaddock pool renovation project is a GO!

published 2/22/2021
Thanks to the generosity of individuals and churches throughout the IGRC, the United Methodist Foundation, The Fellheimer Trust, and a host of Quincy area individuals and foundations, Chaddock will soon begin renovating their on campus, in-ground swimming pool.

Island Grove UMC addressing food insecurity

published 2/22/2021
Island Grove UMC received initial start-up funding of $1,000 from the Larsen Trust Fund in 2020 to begin assisting the children in the New Berlin School District who were struggling with food insecurity. Once Covid-19 reached the community and surrounding areas, and children were no longer in school, a portion of the Larsen Grant funds was used to assist the Pretzel (New Berlin) FEEDS Program that reached 30 families in the district targeted as food insecure.

Wooden It Be Lovely celebrates 5 years

published 2/22/2021
Wooden It Be Lovely, a ministry of Springfield Douglas Ave. UMC celebrates five years of assisting young women in getting back on track in life.

Conference ends 2020 in the black

published 1/29/2021
The Illinois Great Rivers Conference finished the calendar year 2020 with a budget surplus, thanks in large part by the generous, sacrificial giving of local churches paying their apportionments.

Total apportionment collection through Jan. 8 finished at 90.21 percent – a increase of 2.51 percent from 2019.  Pre-audited revenue was $10,902,846 to fund a $12,086,196 budget. The increase resulted in $271,156 in additional dollars to fund ministry.

IGRC students receive $110,350 in scholarships

published 1/29/2021
Thirty-five students from the Illinois Great Rivers Conference were awarded $110,350 in scholarships to assist in their undergraduate and graduate studies, the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry announced recently.

IGRC embarks on reorganization process

published 1/15/2021
Bishop Frank J. Beard announced today that conference leadership has embarked on a reorganization process for the Illinois Great Rivers Conference – the result of positioning the church for a post-pandemic world.
 
Consultants from the General Council on Finance and Administration are working with conference leadership in this process.
 
“Just like local congregations have had to employ new practices and methods during the past 10 months, conference leadership has had to do so as well,” Bishop Beard said. “This process is not driven by finances, dwindling numbers nor the possibility of a future split in The United Methodist Church.”

United Church of Altona leaves UMC, purchases the property

published 1/15/2021
The Illinois Great Rivers Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church reached a financial and property settlement with the former United Church of Altona United Methodist Church. UCA was a United Methodist congregation, originally organized in 1855. The former United Methodist members have organized a new congregation known as The Grove Community Church. Under the terms of the settlement, the Illinois Great Rivers Conference will relinquish its interest in the real estate located at 212 N. Depot Street, Altona, to the non-denominational Grove Community Church.

Guidelines issued for 2020 year-end reporting

published 1/13/2021
The IGRC Finance office has sent the following email to appointed pastors and local church treasurers concerning the Ezra statistical reports for 2020. A link can be found on the IGRC Homepage at the top. Deadline for filing is Feb. 28.

IGRC lift suspension on worship, returns to mitigation tiers

published 1/12/2021
Bishop Frank J. Beard and members of the Illinois Great Rivers Conference Extended Cabinet are announcing today the lifting of suspension of in-person worship in churches and moving back to regional mitigation based upon four metrics:
 
--Test positivity rate of less than 12 percent, based upon a 7-day rolling average
--Hospital bed availability of more than 20 percent in Intensive Care Units, based upon a 3-day rolling average
--Hospital medical and surgical bed availability of more than 20 percent, based upon a 3-day rolling average
--A decrease in Covid-19 patients in the hospital, based upon a 7-day rolling average
 
As a result, based upon today’s metrics in these four areas, Regions 2, 3 and 7 will move from Tier 3 mitigations to Tier 2 effective immediately. Regions 4, 5 and 6 remain in Tier 3 mitigations until the metrics meet guidelines outlined in the IGRC Pressing On document found at: https://www.igrc.org/coronavirus

Bishop issues statement on DC rioting

published 1/6/2021
Bishop Frank J. Beard has released the following statement regarding the situation unfolding at the U.S. Capitol today.

Error found in Annual Conference equalization members for 2021

published 12/4/2020
An error has been discovered in churches that were notified they were entitled to an additional lay member to the 2021 Annual Conference. In all, 10 churches are affected by the revised list. The Annual Conference Secretary has issued the following letter.

Champaign First, UM Foundation supports students, teachers

published 11/13/2020
Funding from The United Methodist Foundation of the Illinois Great Rivers Annual Conference, Inc., an UMC Emerging Ministries grant, and donations from the Champaign First congregation have allowed the Student Support Fund to respond quickly to the needs of the students and teachers.  It’s all about showing LOVE, FIRST!

Appeal made for Philippine typhoon relief

published 11/6/2020
Our brothers and sisters in the Mindanao Episcopal Area of the United Methodist Church in the Philippines and the people in their mission field have recently been devasted by two typhoons.  Typhoon Goni (Rolly), which was the second of the two, was a Category 5 super typhoon which hit the already damaged and flooded regions of eastern Philippines.  Goni is purported to be the strongest typhoon on record to make landfall.  Goni’s 225 kph (140 mph) with sustained winds gusted up to 280 kph (175 ...

Entire IGRC enters mitigation

published 10/27/2020
Due to increased regional transmission of COVID-19 the Illinois Department of Public Health announced increased mitigation guidance for the entire IGRC.

Extended Cabinet provides guidance on political activities

published 10/9/2020
The IGRC Extended Cabinet has issued guidance on political activities as the Nov. 3 election nears. The memo came in response to several inquiries as to what can and cannot be done by pastors and churches.

The memo has been signed by Bishop Frank J. Beard, Rev. Janice Griffith, executive assistant to Bishop Beard; the 10 district superintendents; the three directors and by the Rev. Mike Crawford, coordinator of congregational development which comprises the IGRC Extended Cabinet.

Equalization members announced for 2021 annual conference

published 10/7/2020
Annual Conference Secretary Ethan Carnes has announced that 186 churches will receive an additional lay member to the 2021 annual conference. The announcement was made today.

The 186 additional lay delegates will be needed to equalize the number of clergy and lay delegates at the 2021 annual conference.  The equalization formula is set by the Standing Rules of the Annual Conference III.C.   The purpose of equalization is to ensure an equal number of laity and clergy at the annual conference.

Memo on online and remote meetings issued

published 10/6/2020
Conference leadership has issued guidance concerning remote and online meetings for Conference committees, board and agencies today with the Lifesize web conferencing system utilized by the Conference being available to these groups. The memo was signed by Rev. Janice Griffith, executive assistant to Bishop Frank J. Beard; Director of Connectional Ministries, the Rev. Dr. Curtis Brown; Director of Administrative Services, the Rev. Mike Potts and Director of Communication Ministries Paul Black,

Annual Conference meets virtually

published 8/15/2020
The Illinois Great Rivers Annual Conference gathered online for its first ever virtual annual conference session on Aug. 15. The theme of the single-day gathering with a two-hour clergy session and a three-hour plenary session was Let’s Get Fired Up: On Holy Ground.
 
Despite the limitations brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, conferees were able to worship and gather for Christian conferencing. IGRC Communications collaborated to produce a hybrid, part-live, part-recorded Annual Conference. Worship leader Cynthia Wilson provided music for both the opening and closing worship. Music was also provided by several music groups of Pekin Grace UMC. Attendees gathered virtually via Zoom web conferencing or by attending one of the 13 remote locations throughout the annual conference. Slightly more than 1,022 attended annual conference from home and another 166 attended through one of the remote sites and voted manually with marshals reporting vote totals via text messaging to the Annual Conference secretarial staff who aggregated the vote totals.

Conference communicator honored with Epi Award

published 8/15/2020
Paul Black, Director of Communication Ministries for the Illinois Great Rivers Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church, has been named a 2020 recipient of United Methodist Communication’s Epi Award. The announcement was made during the Illinois Great Rivers Annual Conference’s virtual session  Aug. 15.

Extended Cabinet and Conference Staff issue statement on racism

published 6/15/2020
We are committed to leading the Conference in its call to eradicate racism in any form. We stand on the Biblical foundation that all persons are created by God and all persons are to live without the bondage of fear and alienation as they seek to fully develop their God given gifts.

2020 Annual Conference going online

published 6/1/2020
Bishop Frank J. Beard, all 10 district superintendents, the extended cabinet and the Annual Conference Sessions Committee announce that the 2020 Annual Conference will be held online on Saturday, Aug. 15.

IGRC hosting a virtual remembrance of MacMurray College

published 6/1/2020
The Illinois Great Rivers Conference of The United Methodist Church is hosting an online Service of Leave-Taking for MacMurray College on Thursday, June 4 at 7 p.m. Persons wishing to attend the leave taking can access the stream at: https://www.facebook.com/IGRCCollegeStudentMinistries/

Update from Annual Conference Sessions Committee

published 4/29/2020
As we continue to make plans for the Aug. 14-15, 2020, Session of the Illinois Great Rivers Conference, we are focusing on the safety and health of our members. With this in mind, we are trying to limit the exposure of people to each other during the Annual Conference session. This has led us to two decisions: We will not be having Displays during the Session. Initially, we had hoped to be able to accommodate this meaningful part of our gathering. However, as we continued to explore the ...

2020 Camping program cancelled for the summer

published 4/28/2020
On April 25, the Camp Leadership Team and The Commission of Camping and Retreat Ministries (CCRM) unanimously voted to cancel all physical IGRC programs and guest rentals until August 1st due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes all East Bay, Little Grassy, Epworth, Beulah, and all other IGRC Camping in-person programs. Beulah Camp leaders made the decision to cancel their summer programming last week, and the CCRM Committee affirmed and supported their decision.

Food Assistance Grants offered to local churches

published 4/27/2020
The Board of Global Ministries will provide a $500 grant to any IGRC United Methodist Church that is operating or partnering with a food pantry, food bank, or feeding ministry.

Annual Conference postponed until Aug. 14-15

published 4/17/2020
Out of abundance of caution, Bishop Frank J. Beard is announcing new dates and rescheduling our Illinois Great Rivers Annual Conference Session to be held on August 14-15, 2020 at the Peoria Convention Center.

Mac Murray College closing at the end of Spring 2020 term

published 3/27/2020
The Board of Trustees of MacMurray College announced March 27 it will close at the end of the spring semester in May 2020, ending a 174-year history in higher education.

Charles O’Connell, chair of the Board of Trustees, said the Board voted unanimously to close after extensive analysis and consideration, reaching the conclusion that the school “had no viable financial path forward,” with declining enrollments, rising competitive costs and a small endowment. He noted that alumni had been generous in a recent fundraising drive, but that it was not sufficient to reverse trends.

IGRC launches online offering plate for local churches

published 3/26/2020
By Mike Potts IGRC Director of Administrative Services and Conference Treasurer   We Are Here to Serve Our Conference Staff is striving to help our local churches in this difficult time. I am concerned about the financial health of the church. Having served as an executive pastor, I understand the financial implications of not having an in-person worshipping body. Online giving can help the local church in financial giving.   Online Giving Option Not all our churches are setup for online ...

Weatherall announces candidacy for episcopacy

published 3/4/2020
Sylvester Weatherall becomes the fifth announced candidate for bishop. Delegates from the North Central Jurisdictional Conference will meet July 15-18 in Fort Wayne, Ind. Although two bishops -- Bruce Ough and Sally Dyck -- have announced their retirements, the NCJ Committee on Episcopacy and the NCJ College of Bishops are jointly recommending that only one bishop be elected as shrinking membership will mean the jurisdiction will shrink from nine to eight episcopal areas beginning in the 2020-24 quadrennium.

Delegation holding General Conference briefings

published 2/26/2020
Members of the IGRC General Conference delegation are available to visit churches and present information about legislation coming before the General Conference May 5-15 in Minneapolis. The delegation's one request is that if a meeting is scheduled, that an invitation be shared with neighboring churches so they might be able to attend as well. Currently, the following sessions have been scheduled. When completed, we will have at least one briefing in each district and persons are free to attend ...

Onarga UMC's Barber Education Trust

published 2/10/2020
Onarga UMC's Barber Education Trust is seeking applicants for its 2020-21 school year. Scholarships from the Trust are for persons seeking to become full-time workers in Christ's church. Scholarships are at a minimum $500. Full-time work includes those pursuing ordained ministry, Christian Education, youth ministry and other specialized ministries within the church. Preference is given to those applicants within the Iroquois West School District, or raised in the boundaries of the Iroquois ...

Annual Conference going paperless in 2020

published 2/3/2020
Beginning in 2020, all materials will be provided online at: www.igrc.org/ac2020 for download and for persons who wish to print the materials. Persons may also view the Pre-Conference Workbook, the Supplemental legislation and worship bulletins through the Sched app which has been used for the past two years.

NCJ recommends one election in 2020

published 1/31/2020
CHICAGO — In a meeting last week in Chicago, During the fall of 2019, the report of the Jurisdictional Study Committee was also released, containing a recommendation to maintain the current number of bishops in each jurisdiction through the 2020-2024 quadrennium. The NCJ College of Bishops has been in conversation with the NCJ Committee on the Episcopacy, chaired by the Rev. Sara Isbell, Illinois Great Rivers Conference, since the release of both recommendations. More recently, the release of ...

Hisey leaving conference staff

published 11/18/2019
By Paul Black SPRINGFIELD – Associate Coordinator of Congregational Development Peggy Hisey will be leaving the conference staff Dec. 31 to accept a new position in Florida. The announcement was made to conference staff Nov. 13. Hisey, who has family in Florida, has accepted a position as the executive director of Hyde Park UMC in Tampa, Fla. The new position will enable Hisey to be close to her mother and other family members. “With the transition of (husband) Tim’s job, we have decided to ...

Watkins new Sangamon River District Superintendent

published 11/18/2019
By Paul Black SPRINGFIELD – Bishop Frank J. Beard announced Nov. 15 that the Rev. Bradley Watkins II has been appointed Sangamon River District superintendent effective Jan. 1, 2020. Watkins succeeds the Rev. Sylvester Weatherall who begins his ministry as lead pastor of Normal Calvary UMC after 7 ½ years as superintendent. Watkins is currently pastor of Willow Hill UMC in East Peoria in the Illinois River District. In making the announcement, Beard said Watkins will continue as pastor at ...

Conference victim of 'spoofing' scam

published 10/29/2019
A $98,500 invoice owed to a Bloomington construction company was used to scam the Illinois Great Rivers Conference out of funds in late September, conference officials disclosed Oct. 29.
 
A payment via wire transfer was executed as payment on the invoice where the money was fraudulently diverted to an unidentified third-party. Reports of the incident were filed with Springfield police, the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center and with Church Mutual, the conference’s insurance carrier.
 
Church Mutual provides cyber fraud coverage through Beazley Breach Services, an industry leader in privacy and security coverage. The cyber fraud coverage is part of the conference’s multi-peril liability policy with Church Mutual. The maximum deductible which the conference will assume is $5,000.

MacGibbon accepts position with State of Illinois

published 10/4/2019
IGRC Director of Administrative Services Mike Potts announced that conference controller Angel MacGibbon has accepted a position with the State of Illinois and will be leaving the conference staff Oct. 31.

Potts made the announcement to conference staff on Sept. 30.

Potts said that he would be in consultation with the Conference Council on Finance and Administration on how to address the financial needs beginning Nov. 1.

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