News

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.

Weatherall appointed to Normal Calvary UMC

published 10/3/2019
Bishop Frank J. Beard has announced the appointment of the Rev. Sylvester Weatherall as directing pastor of Normal Calvary UMC, effective Jan. 1, 2020. The announcement was made Sept. 30.
 
“Rev. Sylvester Weatherall has been a key leader in the IGRC and will continue to serve in leadership as the senior pastor of one of our largest congregations,” Beard said. “He is the first African-American pastor appointed as lead pastor of Normal Calvary UMC. His gifts and graces match the expressed needs of the church and community. I am blessed to have such an experienced and well qualified pastor to appoint to this high-profile church.”
 
Weatherall was in the eighth and final year of service as Conference Superintendent – serving five years in the Spoon River District and the past 2 ½ years as superintendent of the Sangamon River District. Conference superintendents have a tenure of a maximum six years but may be extended two years at the discretion of the bishop, in consultation with the cabinet and the district committee on superintendency. He is also the current Dean of the Cabinet.
 
Beard said he will be working with the Cabinet and with the Sangamon District Committee on Superintendency to address this vacancy in the near future.

Forms available for Episcopal candidates

published 9/4/2019
Candidates who wish to be considered for election to the episcopacy by the 2020 North Central Jurisdictional Conference may download the forms off the IGRC website.

Delegates to the North Central Jurisdiction will gather July 15-18 in Fort Wayne, Ind. One of the tasks of the delegates will be to elect two new bishops to replace Bishops Sally Dyck and Bruce Ough, who will be retiring in 2020.

UMCOR at work in Dorian disaster response

published 9/4/2019
UMCOR has awarded a solidarity grant to Bahamas Methodist Habitat, the Disaster Ministry of the Bahamas Conference of the Methodist Church. This grant provides immediate, emergency short-term funding to address the basic human needs of those affected by this catastrophic storm. You can join with UMCOR by donating to its disaster response and recovery funds. Thank you for your continued prayers and support.

WIU Wesley Foundation announces new director

published 9/2/2019
 President, WIU Wesley Foundation Board MACOMB – The Wesley Foundation at Western Illinois University has announced that the Rev. Janice Serafinca has been selected as the new campus minister/director of the WIU Wesley Foundation. Serafinca is an ordained elder who has served in the Philippians for more than 20 years in both church and school contexts. She brings a wealth of experience recently serving as faculty at Harris Memorial College teaching both biology and Old Testament courses. With ...

Forrest takes front seat in effort to curtail school violence

published 8/30/2019
High school students across the country are mobilizing in an effort to combat the seemingly never-ending rash of violence in their schools. Deer Creek-Mackinaw High School senior Garrett Forrest has joined the crusade. The 17-year-old is the new national director of events and philanthropy for Students on Safety, a Texasbased student-run and -led not-for-profit organization formed in February that has more than 70 chapters across the country. Forrest said about 300 students applied for the ...

New Little Grassy site manager

published 8/30/2019
The IGRC Camping and Retreat Ministries announced in May that Cassie Leitzen has been hired as the site manager of Little Grassy Camp. Leitzen was raised in small town Iowa, in towns near Dubuque. She received her B.S.S. in Kinesiology and Secondary Education from Cornell College in 2008. After spending time substitute teaching, she was encouraged to consider working at a local summer camp, which she did, and found a place where her passion and calling combined. Cassie spent several years at ...

Eight Year Old Releases Second Book

published 8/29/2019
Eight-year-old Joby Nelson, a member of Edwardsville St. John’s UMC, released the second book titled, The Class Pet, in his book series, The Underdog Gang. He is also the author of The Playground Adventures which is the first book in the book series Joby wrote and illustrated when he was in first grade. Joby has loved to read and draw pictures since he was five years old. When he was in kindergarten, Joby started making illustrated books using notebook paper and #2 pencils. In first grade, Joby...

McKendree Chapel presents symposium on the history of Methodism in the U.S.

published 8/29/2019
 The McKendree Chapel Memorial Association invites you to join us September 21-22, to celebrate 200 years of Methodism west of the Mississippi. We are celebrating because the faithful from your conference entered the Western Frontier in the early 1800’s, establishing camp meetings and classes in order to study and worship. McKendree Chapel, constructed in 1819, hosted the first Missouri Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church west of the Mississippi River. The Chapel remains the oldest ...

EIU Wesley Foundation celebrating 60 years of ministry

published 8/28/2019
Mark your calendars now to join us for our 60th anniversary celebration during Homecoming weekend, Oct. 25-26. An Open House at the EIU Wesley Foundation is planned for Friday, Oct. 25, from 7 to 9 p.m. You are also invited to fellowship and food during the university tailgate from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday. Attend a special celebration dinner is also planned at Charleston Wesley UMC, starting at 6 p.m. Saturday. Contact Betzy Elifrits Warren, Campus Minister/Director at: betzy@eiuwesley.org for ...

Equalization member churches announced for 2020 Annual Conference

published 8/23/2019
Annual Conference Secretary Rev. Alice Shirley has announced that 174 additional lay delegates from Illinois Great Rivers Conference churches will be needed in 2020 to equalize the number of clergy and lay delegates at annual conference.
 
According to the Conference Standing Rules, churches which paid 100 percent of their apportionments in the previous year (in this case, 2018) are potentially eligible to be granted an "equalization member." Inclusion in the final list depends on a church's membership and the number of additional laity needed to balance clergy. This year, eligibility is granted to the 174 apportionment-paying congregations with the largest membership.

MacMurray college names Rodgers president

published 8/23/2019
The MacMurray College Board of Trustees announced Aug. 21 that Dr. Beverly Rodgers has accepted the role of MacMurray College’s president, the 17th in the institution’s 173-year history. Rodgers has spent the past two months as acting president, previously serving as provost and vice president of academic affairs and has agreed to serve a two-year term. A formal presidential search will resume in 2020. “MacMurray has undergone an expansion of its curriculum, countless infrastructure ...

Conference elects delegates, generous in giving

published 6/8/2019
The Illinois Great Rivers Annual Conference gathered around the theme, Let’s Get Fired Up: Hearts Strangely Warmed by the Blaze of the Holy Spirit, June 6-8 at the Peoria Civic Center.

Prayer breakfast a time of support for Our Conference, Our Kids

published 6/8/2019
After the testimonies, attendees gathered around the staff to pray. Together they prayed for their ministries that they might touch the hearts and minds of each person that they meet, but they also prayed for each volunteer individually. At each table in the room, agency staff sat while a group of United Methodists huddled around them and laid hands on them. The room echoed with prayers as roughly 15 were prayed over several times each.

The Spirit moved in the attendees that morning, and tears welled up in the eyes of persons prayed for as they felt each prayer.

The power of the Spirit: restoration and revival

published 6/8/2019
Bishop Beard told several stories about how he and others had witnessed the Holy Spirit worked miracles through prayers. When he was stationed as a pastor in Indiana, Beard was a witness to two separate occasions of miraculous medical recoveries spurred by the power of prayer.

The disciples needed to get their spiritual clothes on, so they met together in that room to do both corporate and personal prayer. The Holy Spirit responds to prayer and it responded to them.

“They argued about who was gonna sit on the right and the left of Jesus before,” said Beard, “but they came together that day in unity and prayed, and they received the Spirit because they didn’t want to keep it to themselves. When the Spirit comes restoration follows and revival is the result. The wind came into the room and they were pushed out into the street. Lord, do it again.”

Melgreen, Howell honored as Denman Award recipients

published 6/7/2019
The Denman Evangelism Award is named for the late Dr. Harry Denman, distinguished lay evangelist, who the late Dr. Billy Graham called, "my mentor in evangelism." The award is made possible by the Foundation for Evangelism, which was founded in 1949 by Dr. Denman, who felt it was the business of every Christian to be an evangelist. Today, annual conferences honor United Methodist lay, youth and clergy persons who carry out the spirit of Harry Denman.

Never give up on God...speak with authority

published 6/7/2019
“When the harvest doesn’t look good. when you wonder if anything matters, when your reputation is damaged, when waiting on God seems endless, don’t give up! God will renew your strength! God’s grace will renew you every time you need it. Though we may have signed on the dotted line and changed from active to retired clergy; there is no retirement with God. We are called to speak the word of God to its fullest potential. We speak for tomorrow, and when we speak God heals. Jesus is still on the throne. He is our savior, and he is our shepherd.”

Our Conference, Our Kids: removing obstacles to reach potential

published 6/7/2019
The children from Matthew could reach heaven without Jesus’ help, but he chose to let them come to him anyways. He didn’t just let them live their lives; he removed obstacles in order to allow them to come to him more easily. In the same way, (Amanda) Richards’s flower could grow without her help, but in order to thrive and reach its fullest potential all she had to do was put forth a little bit of effort. The programs supported by OCOK will provide love and service without the support of the IGRC, but removing obstacles by giving our time and money will help these programs to reach their fullest potential.

Pinkstaff, Harmony garner One Matters Awards, church growth awards also presented

published 6/7/2019
Now in its fifth year, the One Matters Discipleship Award is an effort for annual conferences to renew their focus on discipleship, especially at congregations in the United Methodist connection where annual baptisms and professions of faith too often are nonexistent, by honoring churches with the new One Matters Discipleship Award.

Discipleship Ministries of The United Methodist Church is urging each conference to use the award to recognize one church that is turning zeros into positive numbers with a renewed focus on discipleship. The Illinois Great Rivers Conference has annually recognized two congregations.

Something is about to happen

published 6/7/2019
Anything that you do that comes to you easy without struggle, be wary of it. Because sometimes, you have to have a struggle so big that only God can step in and intervene to solve the problem. The good news is this: when God is on your side, that's more than the whole world against you.

We may never ever see the Promised Land of a unified, uniform church, not in the Protestant Church, not in the Catholic Church, not in the Jewish church. But the good news is there is a place that we preach about every single Sunday. There is a place where God has promised where the servant will never end, where the wicked will cease from troubling. There is a place where the weary will find rest. There is a place where faith will become sight, where mansions are awaiting all of us, where you've got to robe, I've got a robe, and all of God's children will be under a big tent called Children of God.

The secret of their success

published 6/7/2019
It changed the lives of the disciples who were gathered there that day, and they went to every corner of the world to share the good news of Jesus Christ with every person they could find. Now, the early church had none of the things that we think are necessary for success today. They didn't have buildings, they didn't have money, they didn't have political influence, they didn't have social status, and yet the church, became multitudes through Christ in the Roman Empire, because they had the power of the Holy Spirit and it was energizing their ministry. The good news, brothers and sisters, is that we have that same spirit available to us today. We just have to step out in faith and use that power.

Turning the old ship around

published 6/7/2019
Now, it will take the power of God to hold our denomination together. I'm aware of that. My prayer continues to be for the Illinois Great Rivers, yea even in my personal life, my prayer is this. You've heard it many times. “Lord, send the gentle wind of Holy Spirit. Blow upon the embers of my heart and fan me into flames for Jesus once again.”
 
We can determine what type of annual conference we want to be. I don't know about you, but my hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus' name, on Christ the solid rock I stand. All other ground is sinking sand.
 
When we stand for Christ and with Christ and we're motivated to move in Christ, I believe the old ship will turn around. God bless you.

IGRC General and Jurisdictional Conference delegation

published 6/6/2019
Here are the results of delegate elections in the Illinois Great Rivers Conference for the 2020 General Conference and the 2020 North Central Jurisdictional Conference

Joy comes in the morning

published 6/6/2019
The “morning” might not always be tomorrow, and your suffering may not disappear overnight, but joy will come. “There is no night so dark that morning fails to come,” Sims said.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego told King Nebuchhadnezzar had faith that God could save them from the furnace, but they told him that even if God didn’t, they would still never worship another God.

“This was not the hedging of a bet, but an incredible statement of faith,” Sims said. “Even when the vote doesn’t go our way or when someone that we love dies, we worship God anyway. We know that God can change these things, but we are called to love and worship Him regardless of whether we get what we want.

Message of Pentecost draws people together to get past division

published 6/6/2019
The Rev. Dr. Safiyah Fosua, assistant professor of spiritual formation at Wesley Seminary at Indiana Wesleyan University noted that there can’t be a Pentecost without the crucifixion or the resurrection.

“Even before the stone was rolled away God was speaking to us,” Fosua said. “When Jesus told Mary and John to treat each other as mother and son following Jesus’ death, he was also telling us that the people around us aren’t strangers, they’re family. This family is one that can band together to get past our division and one that God can make a difference to people of every tribe, color, and nation.”

Additional voting numbers for General Conference elections

published 4/29/2019
Annual Conference Secretary Alice Shirley has announced the assignment of voting numbers for additional clergy and the numbers for lay delegate candidates for the 2020 General Conference.

Due to an oversight, numbers were not assigned among clergy for deacons in full connection -- which are eligible for election as a General Conference delegate. The error was discovered last week and Shirley announced those numbers today. In addition, seven probationary elders have also been assigned number pending their election as full members at the 2019 Clergy Session. Upon election, they, too, are eligible to be elected as General Conference delegates.

Among laity, candidates were still completing the application process when printing deadline for the Pre-Conference workbook occurred. In all, 43 lay candidates which met the qualifications will be among the field in which lay members to annual conference will vote. Additional nominations may be made from the floor and upon certifying their eligibility, will be assigned a number for voting.

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