District Administrative Team features familiar and some new faces

published 4/14/2023
In anticipation of moving from 10 district offices to five, effective July 1, a new team of District Administrative Assistants is comprised of two long-serving veterans, a familiar face that is returning to a familiar job and two newcomers that will be succeeding retiring administrative assistants. The new structure has been built both to facilitate the work on the district offices and its superintendent as well as to provide hands-on, personable service to its members and congregations.

Franklin named new Episcopal and Ministerial Services Administrator

published 4/14/2023
A Springfield native and long-time United Methodist has been selected for the Conference’s new full-time position which will serve both the Area Office and the Office of Ministerial Excellence, effective May 1. Kristin Franklin was selected from the field of candidates for this new position. A former member of Springfield: Douglas Ave. UMC, she has most recently served as Director of Children’s Ministry at Crossroads UMC in Washington for the past seven years.

2022 Journal-Yearbook at the printer

published 2/3/2023
Mail-out of both the CD's to lay and clergy members of the 2022 Annual Conference, along with books being sent to those who specifically requested a print version instead of the CD will be mailed out the week of Feb. 20 with everyone receiving them by the end of the month.

United Methodists in Washington form new congregation

published 2/3/2023
United Methodists in Washington IL are forming a new congregation. Following the vote by Crossroads United Methodist Church on Jan. 22, to disaffiliate from the denomination, about 85 people met to begin the process of continuing their discipleship and ministry as a part of The United Methodist Church. With the help of several dozen leaders, this group held a standing-room- only informational meeting and discerned a call to launch a new United Methodist congregation in their community. Just ...

Renner appointed Executive Assistant, five superintendents appointed to newly-configured districts

published 1/18/2023
By Paul Black SPRINGFIELD -- Bishop Frank J. Beard announced that the Rev. Charliam Renner has been appointed Executive Assistant to the Bishop, effective July 1.   Renner is currently in his fourth year as Embarras River District Superintendent. The announcement, along with the assignment of superintendents in the five newly-configured districts, was made Jan. 17 following a meeting between Bishop Beard and members of the District Committee on Superintendency.   “Charliam Renner ...

District office locations, names announced as reorganization continues

published 12/9/2022
The Extended Cabinet of the Illinois Great Rivers Conference will be bringing legislation to the 2023 Annual Conference formalizing new names for the five configured districts as part of its reorganization efforts.

The Cabinet announced Dec. 8 that interim names using the existing districts names together, will be used from July 1 to Dec. 31, 2023, with the new names becoming effective Jan. 1, 2024.

Registration for Covenant Keepers 2023 now open

published 12/9/2022
Registration is now open for Covenant Keepers 2023, which will be Feb. 27-28 at the Regency Convention Center in O’Fallon.

The theme for the event is Joyful Resilience, based upon Psalm 30: 11-12 and Isaiah 55:12.
After two years of holding the annual gathering of clergy online, the 2023 event returns to an in-person format. The agenda shows a 10:30 a.m. start on Feb. 27 and a end time of 12:30 p.m. Feb. 28.

Swanson to be guest preacher at 2023 Annual Conference

published 12/9/2022
Bishop Frank Beard has announced that Bishop James Swanson, resident bishop of the Mississippi Annual Conference, will be the guest preacher at the 2023 Annual Conference June 8-10 at the Peoria Civic Center.

Swanson, who will be retiring from active assignment with the Council of Bishops Dec. 31, will be participating in the Service of Ordination and Commission on June 10 and may undertake other responsibilities as a guest of the Annual Conference. Details are still being finalized for the three-day Annual Conference

Bishop Beard also announced that in continuation with the quadrennial theme of “There is a time for everything…,” the 2023 theme will be A Time to Plant and A Time to Build, as the annual conference begins focusing on the mission of the Illinois Great Rivers Conference even amid some churches disaffiliating and charting a different course for their ministries.

Two special sessions – on May 6 and on Dec. 2 – will be a part of Annual Conference sessions for 2023. These two special sessions will be held online to deal with resolutions for disaffiliating churches. The Annual Conference has the final authority on approving these resolutions as per the Book of Discipline (2016) and recent Judicial Council decisions clarifying issues that have emerged.

While the two special sessions will be virtual, the June 8-10 session will be in-person only with a live webstream available to watch but credentialed persons will not be able to vote and participate in the plenaries. The 2023 session will also include the possibility of voting for new General Conference and Jurisdictional Conference delegates during the clergy and laity sessions.

Walker announces retirement effective June 30, 2023

published 12/9/2022
Mississippi River District Superintendent Allynn Walker announced Dec. 8 that she will retire from active ministry, effective June 30, 2023.

Walker, who is in her fourth year of superintendency, said, “I have full confidence that this is God’s timing. I am grateful for the Kingdom work I have been a part of with you and the Cabinet. You all will stay in my prayers as you leave your canoes behind to scale the mountains,” in a letter to Bishop Frank J. Beard.

Bishop Beard said that Walker will be missed at the Cabinet table.

“It has been a joy to work with Rev. Walker. Her quiet demeanor and Christ-like spirit are a gift to this Cabinet,” he said.  “Allynn’s commitment to the local church and its growth has been a centering point of her ministry. She is a prayer warrior firmly rooted and grounded in God’s word. I wish her well in retirement.”

Her retirement comes at a time when the IGRC Cabinet is downsizing from 10 to five districts and from eight superintendents to five with a target date of July 1, 2023. Two retiring superintendents from 2021 were not replaced and the 10 districts have been supervised by the remaining eight superintendents.

An open letter to the Illinois Great Rivers Conference

published 10/28/2022
We write to you as leaders and delegates of the Illinois Great Rivers Conference of The United Methodist Church. We are praying for the future of our church and are committed to a thriving Wesleyan witness in Central and Southern Illinois. At the beginning of every session of the Annual Conference, we join our voices together to sing the Charles Wesley hymn, And Are We Yet Alive?
And are we yet alive
And see each other’s face?
Glory and praise to Jesus give
For His redeeming grace.
The signatures below are a resounding YES to that question. We are alive.

NCJ delegates to elect up to three bishops

published 10/28/2022
Delegates from 10 annual conferences across the Midwest will gather in Fort Wayne, Ind., Nov. 2-5 for a regular session of Jurisdictional Conference in which up to three new bishops will be elected.
In a quadrennium marked by postponement of 2020 jurisdictional conferences due to a global pandemic and a special NCJ session held in November 2021, delegates will gather for several items of business and will handle two of its major responsibilities – election of bishops and the approval of a jurisdictional budget for the quadrennium.

A live stream of the proceedings can be viewed at: Additional information can be found on the NCJ website,

Trustees announce updated disaffiliation process

published 10/28/2022
The IGRC Board of Trustees announced today a streamlined process for disaffiliation that will enable churches a much quicker means for processing requests.

The new process enables all professing members of the congregation from initial inquiry through a final church conference to participate in the process. It specifically is designed for churches requesting to disaffiliate under paragraph 2553 of The Book of Discipline (2016) and reflects best practices that have been utilized in the previous three disaffiliating congregations while addressing the needs of the present.

Bishop announces special sessions on disaffiliation

published 10/14/2022
Bishop Frank J. Beard announced this morning that there will be two special sessions in 2023 to deal with matters associated with church disaffiliations.

Bishop Beard announced that sessions will be held on the following dates:
Saturday, May 6
Saturday, Dec. 2

Bishop to host clergy sessions Nov. 7

published 10/14/2022
Bishop Beard also announced this morning that three virtual sessions for IGRC clergy will be held on Monday, Nov. 7.

The 90-minute sessions will start at 10 a.m., 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.

The sessions will be a time where questions may be asked concerning disaffiliation issues and its effect on clergy status.

Registration for the three sessions is required and the form will be live early next week.

Bishop, Cabinet announce first steps in reorganization

published 10/6/2022
Bishop Frank J. Beard and members of the Illinois Great Rivers Cabinet announced the composition of the five districts, beginning July 1, 2023, as the first step toward reorganizing the conference for its mission.
The beginning steps were hammered out at a recent Cabinet retreat focused on meeting the needs of individual districts, pastors and churches. The Oct. 6 announcement was shared via a live webcast from the Conference Center and streamed online.

Rodriguez new IGRC Director of Congregational Development

published 9/19/2022
Bishop Frank J. Beard has announced that Sam Rodriguez has been named IGRC Director of Congregational Development, effective Nov. 1.
Rodriguez succeeds the Rev. Mike Crawford as head of congregational development. Crawford, who has led congregational development efforts in the conference since 2006, was named Spoon River District Superintendent July 1.
Rodriguez comes from the West Ohio Conference where he has served as Director of Faith Formation and Community Engagement for the past 3 ½ years. A layperson, Rodriguez has more than 22 years of experience leading in local church community engagement, discipleship-making, church planting and development.

List of Equalization delegates for 2023 Annual Conference released

published 8/12/2022
Annual Conference Secretary Ethan Carnes has announced that 162 congregations will have an additional lay member to annual conference to equalize the number of clergy and laity members for the 2023 Annual Conference session. These churches need to file its equalization member with the 2022 Charge Conference paperwork.

Christy Blickensderfer Retirement

published 8/8/2022
Christy Blickensderfer has announced her plans to retire from the Illinois Great Rivers Conference staff on August 15. Christy has served as the Assistant to the Director of Connectional Ministries since the year 2000. Over those twenty-two years, Christy has been a key connection point for information about missions, scholarships, disaster response, spiritual formation, lay leadership training, and Conference committees. Rev. Dr. Curtis Brown, Director of Connectional Ministries, shared, “...

2022 Annual Conference: a celebration of generosity

published 6/14/2022
The Conference provided opportunity for celebration on a number of fronts – the 25th anniversary of the annual conference following the merger of the former Central and Southern Illinois conferences in 1996 and the approaching bicentennial of Methodism in Illinois when the first session of the antecedent Illinois Conference convened in 1824.

Conferees also celebrated the completion of the six-year Our Conference, Our Kids campaign, in which funds were raised to finance the chaplaincy programs at the five children’s health and welfare agencies in the IGRC – The Baby Fold, Chaddock, Cunningham Children’s Home, Lessie Bates Davis Neighborhood House and Spero Family Services. The $2.5 million goal was eclipsed and the Conference celebrated total giving of $3,000,130.76. The Conference also approved the naming of the endowment as the Bishop Frank J. and Melissa K. Beard Our Conference, Our Kids Endowment.

The generosity of the Annual Conference was evident as a report showed that IGRC churches contributed $6,619,996 to missions beyond apportionments through The United Methodist Church.

Special offerings during the Annual Conference included: $21,900; John Kofi Asmah School in Liberia, $3,750; Tom Brown Scholarship at Wiley College, $4,500; and funds for the 2023 Ordinands’ Trip, $4,600.

Doug, Jill Stone retire with nearly 80 years of combined service

published 5/23/2022
Doug Stone completes his ministry with the Illinois Great Rivers Conference July 1. His wife, Jill, whom he met when she started working for the Conference in 1988, is also completing nearly 34 years of service when she retires a month later on Aug. 1.

Coronavirus and impact on Annual Conference

published 5/20/2022
Because the location of our 2022 Annual Conference Session is within Peoria County, this will result in changes to our safety practices at Annual Conference. If the COVID community risk level for Peoria County remains High on June 9-11, then the Committee on Annual Conference Sessions will be asking all of our in-person participants to wear a well-fitted face mask while indoors. If this change in risk level or masking recommendations results in you deciding to change from in-person to online participation, please follow the following guidelines prior to May 27 to make this change in registration:

Persons wishing to switch their registration from being on-site to virtual as a result of the possibility of masks needing to be worn: Go back to your confirmation email that came upon registering for Annual Conference. There is a link that says VIEW CONFIRMATION where you can view or manage your registration. Click it on, select Edit Form at the top, go to the question dealing with Conference location, make your change and hit the Submit Registration button at the bottom of the screen. Any changes need to be made prior to the May 27 cutoff. Otherwise, you are locked in to your selection. Contact Paul Black if you have any difficulties in making the change.

Crawford appointed Spoon River District Superintendent

published 4/20/2022
Crawford appointed Spoon River District Superintendent By Paul Black GALESBURG – Bishop Frank J. Beard, in consultation with the Spoon River District Committee on Superintendency has appointed the Rev. Michael J. Crawford as district superintendent, effective July 1.   Crawford will succeed the Rev. Stephen Granadosin, who along with his wife, Cecilia, are planning to relocate to Texas to be near family. Both were appointed to their current sites of ministry in 2017 – Stephen to the Spoon River ...

United Methodists reach settlement in BSA bankruptcy case

published 12/21/2021
United Methodist leaders have reached a settlement in the matter of the Boy Scouts of America’s (BSA) pending bankruptcy proceedings. Upon final court approval, the settlement would absolve any claims of sexual abuse that may have occurred in congregation-sponsored Scouting programs.

List of equalization delegates for 2022 Annual Conference released

published 12/6/2021
By Paul Black SPRINGFIELD -- Annual Conference Secretary Ethan Carnes has announced that 198 congregations will have an additional lay member to annual conference to equalize the number of clergy and laity members for the 2022 Annual Conference session. 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.  Clergy members of the annual conference consist of ...

NCJ delegates name commitment to anti-racism, LGBTQIA+ inclusion

published 11/12/2021
At a virtual North Central Jurisdictional (NCJ) Conference Nov. 10-11, delegates elected by their respective annual conferences created and overwhelmingly approved a covenant naming their commitment to anti-racism work and LGBTQIA+ inclusion.

NCJ delegates talk anti-racism and future, vote to reduce bishops by 1

published 11/12/2021
Approximately 250 delegates participated in the official Zoom meeting, and others from across the 10-conference jurisdiction watched it live online. Delegates spent the majority of their time together on three big topics of conversation—dismantling racism, the future of episcopal leadership, and the future of The United Methodist Church. On Thursday, they voted 142-13 in favor of a proposal to reduce the number of active bishops in the NCJ from nine to eight to align with the membership threshold for bishops that’s set by General Conference.

Fultz Trust assists Illinois School for the Deaf

published 10/19/2021
United Methodist Foundation assists the Illinois School for the Deaf in meeting the educational needs of its students.

BSA, UMC issue joint statement, charters extended to March 31, 2022

published 10/4/2021
The Boy Scouts of America and the United Methodist Ad Hoc Committee continue to work together to resolve matters related to BSA’s financial restructuring and have agreed, in the best interest of the young people who participate in Scouting, to strongly recommend to United Methodist chartering organizations and Boy Scout Councils to extend existing charter agreements and facility use agreements in force at this time through March 31, 2022. There will be no additional fee required from those chartering organizations through March 31, 2022. This will pause new chartering, re-chartering and the use of facility use agreements with United Methodist churches. This automatic extension will allow Boy Scouts of America, United Methodist leadership, and other parties in the bankruptcy case time to resolve important issues affecting chartered organizations, including a favorable release for chartered organizations for any Scout abuse claims.

Bishop, Conference Treasurer issue letter, template for BSA bankruptcy

published 9/10/2021
September 3, 2021 To the Pastors and Administrative Councils of the United Methodist Churches who Charter Boy Scouts of America Units: Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! You may have read that the Boy Scouts of America, after filing for bankruptcy due to more than 84,000 people claiming sexual abuse while a part of scouting, announced that an $850 million settlement between the Boy Scouts of America, its Local Councils, and representatives of most of the victims had ...

From refugee settlement to disaster response, you can help!

published 9/10/2021
UMCOR is prepared to assist with refugee resettlement through its partnership with Church World Service and is currently in conversation about assisting Church World Service with temporary housing for Afghan refugees. Those interested in supporting the UMCOR-CWS partnership can make gifts online at or by checks sent to Global Ministries/UMCOR, P.O. Box 9068, New York, NY 10087-9068, with Advance #3022144 in the memo line.   If you are interested in ...

Information on Afghan refugee resettlement

published 9/3/2021
A summary of initiatives by the United Methodist Committee on Relief and Church World Service in addressing the Afghani refugee issue.

Potato Drop on Friday, September 17, 2021

published 9/1/2021
Potato Drop on Friday, September 17, 2021

King selected as Director of Ministerial Excellence

published 8/23/2021
The Rev. Dr. Jacqui King, an elder in the Texas Annual Conference, emerged as the top candidate from a nationwide search that yielded 13 applicants. She will begin her new responsibilities Sept. 16.

Lane new Coordinator of Camping & Retreat Ministries

published 8/23/2021
After an extensive search process, Rev. Nancy Folsom Lane has accepted the opportunity to serve as the Illinois Great Rivers Conference Coordinator of Camping and Retreat Ministries.

Rev. Lane will begin her service on September 1st and can be contacted through East Bay Camp after that time. Additional questions can be forwarded through the IGRC Office of Connectional Ministries.

Shreve leaving conference staff

published 8/23/2021
Amy Shreve has announced that she will be leaving the Illinois Great Rivers Conference staff at the end of August 2021. Ms. Shreve is relocating with her family out of state, but she will continue to provide some limited contract services with IGRC through the next couple of months.

Xenia leaves the denomination, purchases the property

published 8/23/2021
The Illinois Great Rivers Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church reached a financial and property settlement with the former Xenia United Methodist Church.  The Xenia UMC was originally organized in 1832.   The former United Methodist members have organized a new congregation known as Xenia Christ United Church, Inc.

Pastoral Care and Counseling leadership transitions

published 7/23/2021
(Editor's note: The following was a statement released by the Pastoral Care and Counseling Committee regarding changes in staff) SPRINGFIELD -- On July 31, Shauna Summers will finish her part-time position as the PCC Transitional Coordinator for IGRC. Her part-time duties (since Nov. 1, 2020) have mainly been managing the Clergy Assistance Program. On August 1, Rev. Dr. Curt Keller will begin managing this Clergy Assistance Program. Managing the CAP includes working with SupportLinc to oversee...

Springfield First, other churches impacted by the Harrison Revival

published 7/16/2021
A 15-week revival that spanned January to May 1886 had a major impact in the history of Springfield First UMC as well as several area churches that were present for some of the services.

The revival, which was preached by Rev. Thomas Harrison, was the result of an invitation by Springfield First’s pastor, Rev. W. H. Musgrove, who proposed a great revival for the new “stone church” at Fifth and Capitol, which had been dedicated a short time before.

Committee on Episcopacy, Our Conference, Our Kids make special September appeal to honor Bishop Beard

published 7/2/2021
Together, the Committee on Episcopacy and Our Conference Our Kids Steering Team are collaborating to underscore our appreciation for Bishop Beard’s leadership.

Please join us in celebrating his ministry by engaging in prayer and by collecting a special offering in September from Sunday, Sept. 5 to Sept. 26.

Special Session of Jurisdictional Conference slated for Nov. 11-13

published 7/1/2021
The North Central Jurisdiction College of Bishops will convene a special session of the North Central Jurisdictional Conference November 11-13, 2021 in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  We expect the conference to begin on Thursday morning and conclude by noon on Saturday. The delegates to a special session of the jurisdictional conference shall be the delegates last elected by each annual conference.  The delegates to this special session will be those who were elected to attend the regular session of the jurisdictional conference scheduled for 2020 but now postponed to 2022. No election of bishop(s) will be conducted and only the business outlined in the call shall be conducted.

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.

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