Platform announced for Covenant Keepers 2012

published 1/17/2012
Singer, song writer and worship leader Keith Elder will be leading the worship and the Southern Gospel group, the Wanda Mountain Boys will perform an evening concert for Covenant Keepers 2012, which will be held Feb. 6-7, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Springfield. Online registration is underway... Child care will be provided free of charge to Covenant Keeper participants... Elder has spoken and performed for more than 30 years in a wide variety of church, conference, and community settings. ...

Bishops Endorse 20/20 AIDS-Free Initiative

published 1/11/2012
Bishop Gregory V. Palmer is one of 55 United Methodist bishops that has endorsed the 20/20: Visioning an AIDS-Free World initiative by lending their personal and financial support. This effort by the United Methodist Global AIDS Fund Committee seeks to mobilize the denomination to raise $5 million for HIV and AIDS education, prevention, care, and treatment around the world. Retired Bishop Fritz Mutti, Kansas City, Missouri, notes that “United Methodist episcopal leaders believe that global ...

Health Miles program announces changes, includes retirees, spouses

published 12/30/2011
For Active and Retired participants in the IGRC Group Health Insurance Plan: Changes are coming to the HealthMiles walking program: Retirees and Spouses who are in the IGRC health insurance plan can now join the program. Go to to sign up. Hint: choose "Other" for your department. The Preachers' Aid Society and Benefit Fund is paying for retirees' participation. For all members - the Rewards system is changing. It will be goal-based instead of total steps taken. ...

IRS keeps mileage rates the same for 2012

published 12/15/2011
WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service issued the 2012 optional standard mileage rates used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical or moving purposes Dec. 9. Beginning on Jan. 1, 2012, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (also vans, pickups or panel trucks) will be: 55.5 cents per mile for business miles driven 23 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable ...

HealthScope new conference health benefits administrator

published 12/1/2011
  Effective January 1, 2012, RightChoice Benefit Administrators will no longer be the third-party administrator (TPA) for the IGRC group health insurance plans.   The Conference Board of Pension and Health Benefits has approved HealthScope Benefits as our new Third Party Administrator. We are very hopeful that this change will result in a level of customer service that our participants expect and deserve.   HealthScope was chosen over several potential vendors. The main headquarters is located ...

Advanced lay speaking courses online

published 11/22/2011
The Richard and Julia Wilke Institute for Discipleship, in cooperation with the General Board of Discipleship is offering several online advanced lay speaking courses. These courses have been approved by the General Board of Discipleship as fulfillment of advanced lay speaking training. Topics for the early part of 2012 include: Multimedia Technology in Worship for the Church Volunteer 101, Growing Spiritually through Daily Discipline; Leading Worship 101 for Lay People; Bible Storytelling I, ...

IGRC launches partnership with Honduras

published 11/22/2011
Knowing that God continues to each of us to move out beyond our comfort zones and to walk our faith journey alongside Christian brothers and sisters in other cultures experience a faith journey, Illinois Great Rivers Conference will launch a partnership with the United Methodist Churches in Honduras in August 2012. The first IGRC mission trip to Honduras is scheduled Aug. 18-26, 2012. The trip brochure is posted on the IGRC website and is also available by contacting An initial ...

Liberia Election and Partnership Update

published 11/22/2011

IGRC Missions and Outreach Coordinator Bunny Wolfe and West Point pastor Sam Quarshie along with a future West Point student.






IGRC Missions and Outreach Coordinator Bunny Wolfe and West Point pastor Sam Quarshie along with a future West Point student.



Photo courtesy of Bunny Wolfe

Canteen Run offers help to some of Champaign-Urbana's neediest

published 10/27/2011

(Editor’s note: Since publication of this story, Canteen Run is now operating year-round three nights a week. Canteen Run is a five-year-old ministry of the Salvation Army and Savoy UMC is one of its partners and members volunteer regularly to staff the canteen as well as donate other items that are given away, such as blankets, underwear, socks, shirts, vitamins, toiletries, jackets, gloves, gifts, scarves, towels, backpacks, duffle bags, sleeping bags and baby food. Volunteers are also available to pray with persons they meet.)

Granite City Gains a Vision for Feeding the Hungry

published 10/27/2011
GRANITE CITY – A vision for caring for a community’s hunger during the summer by providing them a free lunch has become a partnership of church, the school district and several government entities that is growing and meeting the needs by taking ministry to them. Granite City Trinity UMC has embraced such a vision of feeding children during the summer. The congregation, which had been a student pastorate until returning to full-time status in 2009, the congregation began to see deep hunger in ...

Jacksonville Grace UMC addressing homeless problem

published 10/27/2011

Shelter Director Vanessa Tyus, a homeless advocate, discusses the ministry with Grace UMC pastor Mike Fender.


Shelter Director Vanessa Tyus, a homeless advocate, discusses the ministry with Jacksonville Grace UMC pastor Mike Fender.

Photo by Paul Black

Related story

View related story: Shelter Director a Tireless Advocate for Homeless




Society of St. Andrew offers Alternative Christmas

published 10/27/2011
While you and your family celebrate the joyous Christmas season, many Americans will experience first-hand the reality of hunger and poverty in our land of abundance. This Christmas, you can give them hope by the simple act of honoring your loved ones with a gift donation to feed the hungry. Each $12 gift donation to the Society of St. Andrew provides about 600 servings of fresh, nutritious food to America's hungry families. It's a sincere and loving way to feed the hungry and honor special ...

Springfield Woodside UMC gets vision for reaching poor, needy

published 10/27/2011

Jon Cross and Beth Brinkerhoff at Laketown Ministries


Jon Cross and Beth Brinkerhoff sort through a shopping cart full of clothes in preparation for the Grand Opening of Laketown Ministries Nov. 5. The thrift store is the newest ministry of Springfield Woodside UMC.


The storefront of Laketown Ministries is located at 2617 Stevenson Drive in Springfield, one of the busy thoroughfares in the capital city.


Photo by Paul Black

2010 Report on Illinois Poverty

published 10/26/2011

Homelessness in Illinois

Based on the January 2011 National Alliance to End Homelessness State of Homelessness report, an estimated 14,055 people experience homelessness each night in Illinois.

  • 84% were living in shelters and transitional housing, while 16% were unsheltered.

  • 53% were single adults and 47% were persons living in families.

  • 16% were chronically homeless according to HUD’s definition.

People who are homeless in Illinois have a variety of characteristics. Of the total persons who are homeless at a given point in time, sheltered and unsheltered, in Illinois:

  • 15% are veterans

  • 32% are severely mentally ill

  • 48% have chronic substance abuse issues

  • 4% are living with HIV/AIDS

  • 25% are victims of domestic violence

(The State of Homelessness in America. Prepared by National Alliance to End Homelessness. January 2011).

Illinois Poverty Levels Continue to Surge Upward, New Data Shows

published 10/26/2011
Some depressing statistics released by the U.S. Census Bureau Sept. 13 show that Illinois is currently home to more poor people than was the case nearly two decades ago. As the Chicago Sun-Times reports, more than 1.82 million people lived at or below the poverty level in Illinois last year compared to 1.69 million the year before -- percentage-wise, that's an increase of 14.1 percent from 13.2 percent in 2009.   While Illinois' poverty rate is high, it is still lower than the current national ...

McKendree honors Edwards, Souders at Awards Dinner

published 10/26/2011
LEBANON — McKendree University presented its highest alumni honor to the Rev. Robert Edwards, of Mascoutah,at an awards dinner on Oct. 22 at the Regency Conference Center in O’Fallon. The Peter Akers Alumni Award is given annually to recognize a former student’s professional success, outstanding service and loyalty to the university. It is named in honor of Rev. Peter Akers, the first McKendree degree recipient and the institution’s first president. Rev. Edwards graduated in 1957 and completed a...

Bishop Lee Announces Retirement

published 10/20/2011
SUN PRAIRIE, Wis. – Bishop Linda Lee, episcopal leader of the Wisconsin Area of The United Methodist Church, has announced her intention to retire, effective Sept. 1, 2012. Lee will be one of 13 active bishops seeking retired relationship in 2012 across the five U.S. jurisdictions. Because of legislation passed by the 2008 General Conference where each jurisdiction was to reduces its College of Bishops by one, only 10 will be elected to fill the vacancies left by retirements. Lee, who was ...

IGRC Task Force, seminaries, conferences benefit from Racial Justice grants

published 10/20/2011
WASHINGTON, D.C.  --  The IGRC Task Force on Cross-Racial and Cross-Cultural Task Force has been awarded an $8,000 Racial Justice grant by the General Commission on Religion and Race, the agency announced Oct. 18. In all, 13 recipients received awards totaling more than $300,000 for “bold and innovative programs promoting diversity within the denomination.” Seven conferences, five United Methodist seminaries, and a jurisdictional organization received the CORR Action Fund (CAF) awards (funded by...

Cunningham teacher competes in Ironman Triathlon

published 10/14/2011
URBANA – Cunningham Children’s Home Teacher Roy Riley, competed in the Ironman Triathlon World Championship Oct. 8 in Kona, Hawaii. The Ironman Triathlon consists of three parts: a 2.4-mile swim in the ocean, a 112-mile bike ride, followed by a full marathon of a 26.2 mile run.   Riley finished the course 1290th overall in a field of 1855 from 50 countries. His overall time of 11 hours, 47 minutes and 46 seconds was 85th among men ages 25-29. Riley clocked the swim in 1:13:30; the bike ride time...

Sesame Street is coming to Lessie Bates Davis Neighborhood House

published 10/12/2011
  Lessie Bates Davis Neighborhood House of East St. Louis has been selected to host a screening of Growing Hope Against Hunger, a special program in support of children and their families who are impacted by the struggle with hunger. The Sesame Street production will introduce a new character, Lily, a Hispanic child who is homeless and hungry. In the special Elmo and Rosita meet Lily. Like many others, Lily's family doesn't always have enough to eat. Along with country-western singer Brad ...

A Barber's Diary: Former Altamont Methodist recalled as African-American pioneer

published 9/28/2011

The inner mind and powerful voice of a visible man

The Barber’s Diaries is the true story of one black man’s journey in America, from the 1920s through the 1970s. A story about perseverance, commitment, family, education, and faith. Working as the sole barber in a time before the Great Depression – surrounded by racial violence in the Midwest and South – Charles Everett Ellis lived with his wife and seven children. They were the only black family in an all-white town. As the town barber, Ellis was a valuable yet low-paid asset in the white community.


Ellis cut the hair and shaved the faces of businessmen, traveling salesmen and farmers as he had done since the age of 15. He worked silently while they talked, about crops, the weather, community events, politics, and, no doubt, about race issues. In order to survive, he never openly expressed his thoughts. He was an invisible “necessity” to the whites.


In 1927, at age 40, Ellis made the decision to bring purpose to each day of his life, and to express his voice in a different way. He began writing a diary. At the same time, Ellis chose a path of higher education, to become a self-taught scholar and intellectual by reading every book he could acquire.


In his diaries, Ellis wrote about his quest for knowledge, faith, about his family, and the challenges of the world around him. On issues of racial tension, he wrote of teaching his family where to hide and how to walk through the town, without being noticed.


He would write for the remainder of his life. When he passed away in 1971 at the age of 84, his diaries contained more than 2,650 pages in six volumes spanning world events, his family, civil rights, and his own philosophical journey. In the diaries of Charles Everett Ellis, one sees and feels an American life that inspires the heart, encourages the soul and embodies the human spirit.

(From the production website,

Camping to launch Mission Illinois

published 9/28/2011
Looking for a Mission Trip where all the planning  is already done for you? Mission Illinois is designed for you!   IGRC Camping and Retreat Ministries has announced plans for the first Mission Illinois experience July 22 to 27, 2012 at Little Grassy Camp.   The week will be spent working on mission projects in southern Illinois. All of the planning is done. Youth leaders need only provide transportation to and from the mission sites and chaperones for their youth.   The cost will be $225 per ...

Eastern Europe/Balkan consultation at Alton Main Street UMC

published 9/28/2011
The General Board of Global Ministries is sponsoring the Eastern European/Balkan States Consultation Oct. 27-29 at Alton Main Street UMC. Representatives from seven European countries -- Bulgaria, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Serbia, Hungary and Macedonia – will be on hand for the consultation. Information about The United Methodist Church in Romania and Albania will also be available. This is a wonderful opportunity to visit these countries and learn about the work of our church ...

Illinois 'doubles down' on gambling expansion

published 9/28/2011

You can help in defeating gambling expansion by asking Gov. Quinn know you to VETO SB744 when it is sent to him. You can also pray for the governor as he deliberates.

How United Methodist state legislators voted on SB744. A yes vote was to approve expansion; a no vote opposed additional gambling:

State Rep. David “Dave” Winters (R-Shirland) -- YES

State Rep. Donald Moffitt (R-Gilson) -- YES

State Rep. Tom Cross (R-Oswego) -- YES

State Rep. Raymond Poe (R-Springfield) – was a House co-sponsor – due to the passage of House Amendment 5, adding slots to the racetrack at the Illinois State Fairgrounds -- YES

State Rep. Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet) -- YES

State Rep. John Bradley (R-Marion) -- NO


Peoria First plans for expansion

published 9/28/2011

Artist's drawing of Peoria First UMC's expansion

Timeline on Gambling Expansion in Illinois

published 9/28/2011
1927 – Pari-mutuel wagering on horseracing is approved by the Illinois General Assembly. 1971 – Bingo games legalized.   July 1, 1974 – Illinois Lottery launched on July 1, 1974, after Gov. Dan Walker signed legislation passed by the Illinois General Assembly. The Lottery released its first tickets by distributing to 7,000 retailers statewide. Marketed as the “cure all for state education funding for K to 12 education,” funding levels began dropping off and failing to keep pace due to the ...

Two IGRC congregations awarded Older Adult ministry grants

published 9/28/2011
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Two IGRC congregations were recently awarded grants for caregiving ministries to older adults by the General Board of Discipleship. East Alton First UMC was awarded a $1,000 grant, while Godfrey First UMC was awarded a $500 grant. The two were among 45 projects funded with the $75,000 allocation that is part of the Comprehensive Plan for Older Adult Ministries approved by the General Conference of The United Methodist Church.   “The Committee on Older Adult Ministries ...

United Methodist Student Day resources available

published 9/28/2011
United Methodist Student Day is just weeks away. Be sure to order your free offering resources for this Nov. 27 offering. United Methodist Student Day provides scholarships and loans for students attending United Methodist-related and other accredited colleges and universities. Scholarships and loans funded through United Methodist Student Day prepare leaders for The United Methodist Church and the world. The financial support students receive help keep them in school and focused on their ...

Walgreens, Express Scripts at odds over prescription benefit

published 9/28/2011
You may be aware that Walgreens and Express Scripts have not been able to come to an agreement regarding pharmacy benefits management in year 2012. While we are very hopeful that an agreement will yet be successfully negotiated between Express Scripts and Walgreens, you may wish to take proactive steps soon to ensure that you do not experience a lapse in prescription availability early next year. These provisions DO NOT AFFECT Medicare-eligible retirees, since they will all be moving to ...

McKendree University among top regional universities for 2012

published 9/13/2011
LEBANON -- U.S. News and World Report’s 2012 “Best Colleges” edition rates McKendree University’s overall score in the top 25 percent of all 626 participating institutions in the Regional Universities category nationwide. Ranked at No. 44 of 146 Best Regional Universities in the Midwest, McKendree is listed ahead of all other comparable St. Louis area institutions but one.   This year is the first time McKendree is included in the Best Regional Universities category (rather than Best Regional ...

MacMurray College places high in national ranking

published 8/30/2011
JACKSONVILLE – MacMurray College was ranked No. 14 in the Washington Monthly magazine’s 2011 annual rankings of baccalaureate colleges in the country. According to the September/October issue, which was published Aug. 29, the rankings are intended to measure how much a college or university gives back to the country. To gauge that effect, the magazine based its rankings on such criteria as social mobility, research and service. The magazine uses several measures to gauge these three criteria. ...

2012 CDLI Dates Announced

published 8/25/2011
The 2012 Congregational Development Leadership Institute promises to be another excellent equipping event for pastors who desire to learn more about their leadership style and how to lead vital ministry. The CDLI will have four workshops throughout the year. Workshop leaders will include Jim Griffith, Christie Latona, Mike Crawford, and Doug Anderson.   The dates for the workshops are:   Jan. 16-17: Launching New Ministry with Jim Griffith (UM Center, Springfield).   March 12-13: Leading a Vital...

Death of Pastor's Cousin Leads St. Joseph UMC to Joplin

published 8/25/2011
The Rev. Mark Harris, senior pastor of St. Joseph United Methodist Church, had made all the arrangements to take a mission team from the church to Manhattan, Kan., to do repair work on the campus of Kansas State University. And then, less than a month before the trip was planned, an EF5, multi-vortex tornado roared through Joplin, Missouri, cutting a one by six mile swath of utter destruction. The storm killed 159 people, including Sally Moulton, Rev. Harris’ first cousin. Sally was performing ...

Fruitful Congregations Process Workshops forming

published 8/25/2011
The series of Fruitful Congregations Process (FCP) workshops hosted by the Iroquois River District will begin on Oct. 15-16. This 2 1/2 year process is designed to bring new life and fruitfulness to congregations. The process includes five workshops, each based on one of the practices of fruitful congregations (Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations, by Bishop Robert Schnase). To participate, a congregation must send a team to each event that includes the pastor and three to five laity. ...

Online Disciple Bible Study groups forming

published 8/25/2011
Groups are beginning to take shape for the third year of Disciple Online, the online form of Disciple Bible Study.   Enrollment is now open at for individuals who wish to participate in Disciple I, Disciple II, and Disciple III in an online format with others from all over.  Participants follow the format of Disciple.  They study the Bible on their own during the week then meet with their group members through the Internet with special software at a set ...

Sims new PASBF administrative assistant

published 8/25/2011
Carol Sims is the new Administrative Assistant for Preachers’ Aid Society and Benefit Fund. Carol joins PASBF after 35 years of teaching in the Riverton School District. She also was a highly successful high school and junior high volleyball coach, earning nine state titles and 13 state trophies during her career. For the past three years, she was also co-owner and server at the Lighthouse Family Restaurant in Springfield.   “Teachers, like all of us, are life-long learners with a desire to ...

Stroble authors new six-week study

published 8/25/2011
Paul Stroble, an elder in the conference, is the principal author of the new six-week curriculum called Faithful Citizen. available from the Center for the Congregation in Public Life .  The Faith Citizen curriculum aims at helping church people recover a sense of mutual responsibility, covenant, and community. The lessons frame social issues using scripture, church tradition, and contemporary authors. The broad issues include ecology, international security, economy, globalization, health, and ...

Young adult mission interns commissioned

published 8/19/2011
NEW YORK – Two Illinois Great Rivers Conference young adults were commissioned Aug. 18 to serve in ministries of justice around the world. Rachel Rebecca Berry and Kara Johansen Crawford were among 26 individuals between the ages of 20 and 30 who became US-2 missionaries and mission interns. The commissioning service was led by Bishop Hope Morgan Ward, episcopal leader of the Mississippi Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.   Berry will be a mission intern with the General Board of ...

MacMurray College President Appeals to IGRC for Assistance

published 7/26/2011
The following letter was issued by Dr. Colleen Hester, President of MacMurray College in Jacksonville on July 25, 2011: Dear Friends of the Illinois Great Rivers Conference of the United Methodist Church, It is with sadness and urgency that I share the news of recent, devastating flooding at MacMurray College. On behalf of our students, faculty, and staff, I ask for your prayers and for your support. The MacMurray family has a strong history of support from our United Methodist community, and ...

MacMurray College seeks donations to repair flood damage

published 7/15/2011
JACKSONVILLE -- While a boil order has been lifted in this community, officials at MacMurray College are reaching out soliciting donations to make repairs sustained by the June 17-18 floods. Persons wishing to make donations to the MacMurray College Flood Relief Fund can do so online by visiting the college website, clicking on the Give Back to Mac button and noting the MacMurray College Flood Relief Fund as your designation. Donations may also be mailed to: MacMurray College, Office of ...

Partners in Prayer: When the Preacher Went to War, His Wife Stepped Up to the Pulpit

published 7/7/2011
In 1942, the Rev. C.C. Lowe was pastor of the Oblong circuit of six Methodist churches – Leeper, Stoy and Seed Chapel churches were south of state Route 33, and Dogwood, Prairie and Kirk Chapel churches were north of the highway. All were one-room buildings without indoor plumbing or running water. My family attended services at Dogwood Church. The area near our home included Dogwood School, Dogwood Grange and Dogwood Creek, which ran through the community of pastures, woods, hills and hollers ...

Lack of Health Care Claims Life of Liberian DS

published 7/2/2011
The lack of quality health care in Liberia has taken the life of a District Superintendent in the Liberia Annual Conference. Conference officials have confirmed the death of 40-year-old Fannah Tartieh, superitendent of the Grand Gedeh District in Liberia. According o reports, Tartieh was experiencing a toothache two weeks ago after returning from the Grand Gedah District where he was overseeing the survey of the property for the district center where the Flanagan UMC School is to be built. This ...

18-month Liberia Calendar on Sale

published 6/9/2011
An 18 month calendar from June 2011 through December 2012 entitled Scenes from Liberia is on sale for $10 postpaid. All of the photos have been taken by IGRC Liberia mission team participants. All proceeds above the printing cost will be donated to the John Kofi Asmah United Methodist School project in West Point.   To order your copy, contact Bunny Wolfe at or Christy Blickensderfer at at the Conference Center or call 217-529-2473.

Conference Ends Due to Lack of Quorum

published 6/9/2011
The 2011 Annual Conference ended upon an abrupt note when a quorum count revealed there was an insufficient number of persons present to conduct business. In order to conduct business, conference rules require a majority of those that answered roll call to be present. The quorum for 2011 was 681. The quorum count was answered by 592.   As a result, Bishop Gregory V. Palmer adjourned the 2011 session with several items of business not considered.   Those legislative items not considered were: ...

From St. Elmo to Sumatra: Dale and Alice Walker find new mission in retirement at Asbury Seminary

published 6/9/2011
WILMORE, Ky. – When Dale Walker left his home in St. Elmo to become a student pastor at Cypress and a student at nearby Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, he didn’t know he would, with the help of his wife Alice, someday begin a seminary in Indonesia. In fact, he didn’t yet know the former Alice Chiarello. Neither of them knew that someday Alice would publish the first hymnal of indigenous hymns in Indonesia. He also didn’t know he would author the first concordance every in the major ...

Henson Appointed General Evangelist

published 6/9/2011
Bishop Gregory Palmer has announced the appointment of the Rev. Matthew Henson as General Evangelist in the United Methodist Church. Rev. Henson founded Living the Adventure Ministries in 2007 and has served part-time as this ministry’s executive director and lead evangelist for the past three years. Living the Adventure Ministries seeks to work for the transformation of the world through the awakening of the Church, evangelistic preaching, and Christian people putting their faith into action by...

Hungry Kids Unzip Blessing-Filled Backpacks

published 6/9/2011
GENESEO -- When some kids from ''food-insecure households'' unpack their bookbags after a week of school, they find more than homework and textbooks.   They find a weekend's worth of food and a local church's blessings, too.   Needy students in the Geneseo School District earlier this year began finding one-gallon Ziploc bags containing six to eight food items, including cereal bars, cereal, canned fruit, juice boxes, instant oatmeal and canned meals such as stew, soup or pasta in their ...

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