IGRC walkers win Elite Eight Conference Challenge

published 10/27/2010
Walkers from the Illinois Great Rivers Conference combined to finish in first place during the Elite Eight Conference Challenge, sponsored by Virgin Health Miles. The IGRC team total finished with an average of 302,074 steps per team member. In second place was the Detroit Conference with a 293,503 step average followed by: Arkansas (289,811); East Ohio (280,033); East Pennsylvania (279,508); Iowa (266,343); Peninsula-Delaware (246,839); and California-Pacific (228,793). In all more than 264 ...

43 students receive scholarships, loans

published 10/22/2010
NASHVILLE – A total of 43 college, university and seminary students received $65,550 in loan and scholarship funding as part of more than $5 million awarded by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry for the 2010-2011 school year. The recipients include the following:   Special Seminary Scholarships Leanne Noland from O’Fallon First UMC, attending Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. Noland also received $750 Conference Merit Award. Alexander Thompson from Pawnee UMC, attending ...

Bishop Jones keynote speaker at Covenant Keepers 2011

published 10/22/2010
Bishop Scott Jones, resident bishop of the Kansas Area, will be the keynote speaker for Covenant Keepers 2011, to be held Feb. 28-March 1, at the Pere Marquette Hotel in Peoria. Australian native and Dove Award-winning artist Grant Norsworthy will lead the worship.   The theme of the two-day gathering will be The Evangelistic Love of God and Neighbor: Growing Evangelistically Effective Congregations. Online registration is now open at:   During Covenant Keepers, Shane...

Haiti Response Plan approved for three additional years

published 10/22/2010

Haiti volunteers




Members of an UMVIM Team from Southwest Texas Conference work

with a Haitian construction worker to clear debris and rubble from the back

courtyard and inside of the District Superintendent’s home in the Carrefour

District in September. Photo courtesy Lara Whitley.

Hustedt named to General Commission on Communications

published 10/22/2010
PHOENIX, Ariz. – Former IGRC Communications staff writer and editor Stephen J. Hustedt has been appointed to serve on the General Commission on Communications. The appointment came from the Western Jurisdiction College of Bishops and was announced Oct. 6. The General Commission on Communications provides oversight to United Methodist Communications in Nashville and is responsible for sharing the story of the people of The United Methodist Church both within the church and with the world.   “I ...

Parish nurse retreat a time of networking, renewal

published 10/22/2010
SPRINGFIELD --Parish nurses working in churches throughout the Illinois Great Rivers Conference met together Aug. 6-7 for a weekend of renewal, networking, worship and celebrating a shared heritage of healing established by Florence Nightingale. Retreat leader for the second annual parish nurse retreat was Helen Chigaros, co-founder of the Parish Nurse Network of the Kankakee River Valley and Executive Director of the Azzarelli Outreach Clinic in Kankakee, a faith-based free health care clinic....

United Methodist students disappointed as giving shrinks

published 10/22/2010

Churches are encouraged to observe Student Day on Nov. 28 or any other day that this is convenient for the church. In addition, individuals can now contribute online with a credit card at any time at, where you can also order free promotional resources, video presentations, and worship resources. Or call United Methodist Communications at 888-346-3862 to order resources.

Links to give online for all three Special Sundays with Offerings in support of scholarships can be found at


To learn more about loans and scholarships, visit

Mentoring for effective clergy leadership

published 9/22/2010
As a seminarian, I served as a student pastor in a very large church for three years. There were several full-time “real” pastors on that staff, and one of them became a mentor for me. He was there to listen when I was unsure about some aspect of my ministry, he provided suggestions about how to move ministry forward, he encouraged me, and he taught me a lot of important lessons that I still apply in my ministry today.   Good mentoring is vital in the journey toward becoming a clergyperson. In ...

Vehicles needed in Liberia for IGRC mission teams

published 9/22/2010
Two four-wheel-drive vehicles capable of eight people are needed as soon as possible for the IGRC mission teams traveling in Liberia. A special fund is now established to raise funds to purchase two four wheel drive vehicles for IGRC mission teams use in Liberia. The need is simply for safe, dependable vehicles to help us continue to reach destinations in Liberia to further our partnership. These vehicles do not need to be new vehicles – only in good repair and capable of traversing very poor ...

Bishop Palmer: The First Two Years

published 9/16/2010

(Editor’s note: On Sept. 1, Bishop Gregory V. Palmer had served two years as resident bishop of the Illinois Area of The United Methodist Church. Bishop Palmer sat down with Director of Communication Ministries Paul Black for this two-year retrospective.)

Council of Bishops issue September 11 pastoral letter

published 9/9/2010
The following pastoral letter was issued on Sept. 9 by the Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church: As we approach yet another September 11, we are reminded that the world we live in continues to be fragile place where emotions and tensions run high. There are not many of us who will ever forget where we were on that September morning nine years ago. We should never forget those whose lives were taken away in the horror of just a few hours.   September 11 should be, for all of us, a ...

Flexible Spending Account changes coming in 2011

published 9/8/2010
Active pastors who participate in the IGRC FLEX plan (also called Section 125 Plan, Cafeteria Plan, Flexible Medical Spending Plan, FSA Plan) will notice a change in the rules regarding the purchase of over-the-counter (OTC) medications with the FLEX plan beginning in 2011. The recent Health Care Reform Act (PPACA)  vastly reduces your ability to claim reimbursements for OTC medications. Pastors should consider these changes in making plans for their salary-reduction amounts in 2011. Beginning ...

Shane Bishop named 2010 Distinguished Evangelist

published 9/7/2010
LAKE JUNALUSKA, N.C. -- Rev. Shane Bishop of Fairview Heights Christ UMC encourages his congregation to be evangelists when he says, "We exist to connect people with Jesus Christ; that is all we do here." He practices Wesleyan Evangelism in every aspect of his leadership, which is why he has been named the 2010 Distinguished Evangelist of The United Methodist Church by the Foundation for Evangelism.. Rev. Bishop has been the senior pastor at Christ UMC since 1997. Under his leadership the...

Arson suspected in Midland UMC fire

published 9/2/2010
KINCAID – Arson is suspected in an Aug. 1 fire that damaged the Midland UMC and community leaders have called in federal authorities to investigate the matter. The church, located in this Christian County community, sustained damage throughout the building and sidelined the community food pantry. The fire was discovered about 4:45 a.m. as firefighters and deputies had just put out a fire of a van located not far from the church. That fire has also been termed “suspicious.”   Despite the damage, ...

Bishop Hill designated historic site

published 9/2/2010

Bishop Hill UMC became the most recent congregation to be designated as a United Methodist historic site. Dedication of the historical marker took place Aug. 22.

Pictured from left are Jonathan Dixon, chair of the IGRC Commission on Archives and History; Rev. Dr. Donald Jones, member of the Conference commission and a former pastor at Bishop Hill; Rev. Richard Chrisman, conference historian; Cheryl Dowell, local church historian; and Rev. Ann Champion, current pastor of Bishop Hill UMC.


Photo courtesy of Don Jones

Compassionate care: diverse group of parish nurses graduate

published 9/2/2010

SIH Health Ministry Coordinator Jo Sanders smiles during a ceremony marking the completion of the 2010 Parish Nurse Basic Preperation class on Wednesday, Aug. 4, at John A. Logan College.

Photo by Paul Newton, The Southern

Cunningham Home celebrates 115 years of ministry

published 9/2/2010
URBANA -- Cunningham Children’s Home alumni representing every decade from the 1930’s to the early 2000’s came home to reminisce and reconnect on July 25, 2010. In celebration of the Home’s 115th Anniversary, Cunningham opened its campus to more than 300 former residents, staff, and guests. Visitors were invited to tour the schools, cottages, recreational facility, and most other buildings. The Heritage Room was filled with photo albums for alumni to sift through memories of the past. ...

First Thursdays: Cabinet's call resonates with IGRC United Methodists

published 9/2/2010

Members of the Virden and Girard UMC’s assemble more than 200 goodie bags for all the employees of the newly-formed North Mac District 34, which began its first year of operation as a merged district Aug. 16. As a follow up of August’s "First Thursday," church members wanted to show their support for the newly formed school and also tell the district employees they will be praying for them and the students throughout the year. Each bag included an apple, small school supplies, sweet treats and a card of encouragement.

Photo courtesy of Mary Alice Cunningham

O'Fallon First UMC partners with Polish congregation

published 9/2/2010
If you have ever met Pastor Janusz Daszuta you would never forget his big booming voice, his energy, or his visionary spirit. There is no doubt he is a “Man of God” by his actions and his speech. Pastor Daszuta is the lead pastor of  Kielce UMC in Kielce, Poland and conducts a huge   Vacation Bible School Day Camp in the rural community of Zaborze, Poland.   In June seven members from O’Fallon, First UMC departed for Poland full of enthusiasm and anticipation. Several members of the team have ...

Advocacy for Lessie Bates Davis Neighborhood House

published 7/30/2010

Lessie Bates Neighborhood House is asking every person or church in the Illinois Great Rivers Conference to write a letter to the Governor and ask that he take the necessary steps to assure the Lessie Bates Davis Neighborhood House receives at least part of the payments that are owed to the agency. Please let the Governor know that the Neighborhood House, as one of the oldest and largest faith-based organizations in the greater East St. Louis community, works with some of the poorest and most isolated children and families in the community. Emergency Services, Homeless Youth Services, In Home Health Care Services and Employment Services that Neighborhood House provides are extremely important. The Neighborhood House operates the largest Food Pantry in the entire St. Clair County area serving more than 4,700 people every month.

Beulah Holiness campers tackle Habitat projects during Mission Blitz 2010

published 7/29/2010

Campers from Beulah Holiness Camp's Mission Blitz worked on two Habitat for Humanity houses in Saline County as well as some smaller projects on the campground during their stay July 23-30. (Photo by Carolyn Black)

Conference approves 2011 budget with less than 1 percent increase

published 6/9/2010
PEORIA -- Members of the annual conference approved a budget for 2011, created a committee to address disability concerns, amended a resolution concerning immigration reform prior to its approval and while voting not to recommend shortening the annual conference session by a day, recommended that budgetary matters be put on the front burner and dealt with earlier. 2011 budget The 2011 conference budget (LI 103) approved by the 2010 Annual Conference will have a different impact for different ...

Cabinet calls for streamlined assessments, day of prayer and fasting

published 6/4/2010
Listen to the Cabinet Address Download and read the Cabinet Address PEORIA – While the 2010 Cabinet address may have resembled a coach’s speech, it was also a call for renewed commitment to the vision and mission of the church. Cabinet co-chairs Randy Reese and Janice Griffith shared reflections of the past year and challenged those gathered for the 2010 Annual Conference to a time of prayer and fasting.   “Over the past several years, the Cabinet and conference leadership team have been calling...

Commission on Religion and Race Monitoriing Report

published 6/4/2010
The Commission team has attempted to offer some sense of the inclusivity of our annual conference attendees. Indeed, every event has not been monitored, thus we offer this summary as a snapshot. Did you know that? The Conference Nominations Report reflects that ·         581 members across are serving on Conference level committees and among these 75 ethnic members are represented. ·         The District level has 314 members serving and 14 members are ethnic. ·         The eight educational ...

Friday's legislative update

published 6/4/2010
A proposal to recommend shortening annual conference by a day (LI 202) was defeated following a lengthy discussion during Friday’s session of the 2010 annual conference. The measure, offered by Sangamon River District Lay Leader Pete Paulson, sought to make it easier for younger persons and persons who are actively employed to attend by requiring less time away from home.   But others, such as retired pastor Stan Haxton noted that clergy have their only membership in the annual conference.   “...

God's call: being trustworthy prophets

published 6/4/2010
Listen to Bishop Palmer's sermon PEORIA – Bishop Gregory V. Palmer said the call to be trustworthy prophets is not exclusive to clergy but is a call to “get with God’s program.” Palmer said that such prophets learn to listen, develop skills to deeply listen and tell the truth.   “May it be said that when God looks for trustworthy prophets, God will say, ‘I found them in central and southern Illinois,” Palmer said. “God doesn’t need a lot and if a few will be obedient, God can rock this world. In...

Worship: it's about what we're giving

published 6/4/2010
Listen to the Laity Address PEORIA – Conference Lay Leader Rhonda Whitaker had a confession to make.   “For six years now, I’ve been preaching the partnership of laity and clergy,” Whitaker said. “But I didn’t mean it. Oh, I knew the clergy couldn’t do it all without us, but to be honest, I’ve always thought the laity really could do it without them.”   Whitaker proposed that a new term be used – claity – to describe the partnership of laity and clergy for the purpose of fulfilling the mission ...

Bishop outlines four major initiatives

published 6/3/2010
Listen to the Episcopal Address PEORIA – Bishop Gregory V. Palmer called on United Methodists in southern and central Illinois to join in a revival movement that involves four major initiatives – a means of getting back to the Why while paying attention to the What and How. “Will you join me? Let’s get in the revival,” Palmer urged at the conclusion of his 45- minute episcopal address, which was greeted with a standing ovation by the nearly 2,000 in attendance.   Palmer noted that in each of ...

The privilege of serving God

published 6/3/2010
PEORIA – To Dr. John Hamilton, ministry has been a great privilege of serving God. And he used the commissioning service and retirees recognition to recall that privilege to fellow retirees and to provide guidance to two who are just beginning their ministry. In litany fashion, Hamilton listed the nature of the privilege.   “We have had the privilege of serving the interested and the bored, the committed and half-committed (including ourselves); of seeing thousands who have faith in Jesus ...

Thursday's Legislative Action

published 6/3/2010
As part of the first full day of annual conference, lay and clergy members acted upon a number of legislative matters. The item that drew the most discussion as well as the closest vote was a resolution offered by Sangamon River District Lay Leader Pete Paulson which sought to consolidate the legislative business of the annual conference into a single day.   Paulson said his motivation for the legislation was to make it possible for more persons to attend annual conference and participate in the...

Annual Conference begins today

published 6/2/2010
PEORIA – The Illinois Great Rivers Conference of The United Methodist Church will meet in Peoria for the ninth consecutive year, beginning today and running through Saturday, June 5. The Peoria Civic Center will serve as the conference’s central location for the more than 2,400 expected to attend. The theme of the conference is Lost in Wonder, Love and Praise, which will focus on passionate worship.   Rev. Taylor Burton-Edwards, director of worship resources for the denomination’s General Board...

Passionate attitude of gratitude leads to passionate worship

published 6/2/2010
Listen to the sermon  PEORIA – When Martin Luther was asked about the truest form of worship, he looked to the Parable of the Ten Lepers in Luke 17 as the best example.   “It has both an inward and outward focus,” recalled Dr. Karen Westerfield Tucker. “Inward in that it expressed love for the One who first loved use and makes us open to receive what God has for us. It is outward in that the extent of human love for God must well up in speech and song.”   Tucker spoke at the annual conference ...

Dunlap Prospect UMC shares God's love

published 5/6/2010
When Mike Crawford, the Director of Congregational Development for the Illinois Great Rivers Conference, visited with the Administrative Council at Prospect United Methodist Church in Dunlap, he told them about his own church’s free—completely free—car wash. They were intrigued by his words and began to consider the possibilities. When the Change the World event was shared with them only a few weeks later, it all started coming together. There was no question about their participation in the...

Baby Fold CEO named Administrator of the Year

published 4/28/2010
The United Methodist Association (UMA) recently named The Baby Fold’s President and CEO Dale Strassheim as Child, Youth, and Family Services Administrator of the Year. The award was announced on March 6 during the UMA’s 70th National Convention in Burlingame, Calif. The UMA, a national body which oversees the health and welfare ministries of the United Methodist Church, cited Strassheim’s resourcefulness and consistent dedication to the well-being of children and families. The award ...

Woman's heart reaches out to Romania's children

published 4/28/2010
(Editor’s note: Melissa Melvin is a member of Saunemin UMC and has made several trips to Romania. She has cerebral palsy and walks with the aid of two canes). Abandoned, abused, forgotten, neglected, malnourished and unwanted. These are the themes the run through the life stories of more than 160,000 children living on the streets, in the sewers, and in hundreds of placement centers throughout the small, poor, spiritually dark country of Romania. For so many of these children hope is not ...

Speakers announced for memorial, retirees service

published 4/21/2010
Dr. Karen Westerfield Tucker, an IGRC elder, will be preaching the opening worship of the 2010 Annual Conference to be held in Peoria June 2-5. Rev. John Hamilton, pastor of Springfield Laurel UMC, will be preaching at the Thursday afternoon Service of Commissioning and Retirees Recognition. Hamilton is one of 15 clergy members that comprise the retiree class of 2010. Tucker is professor of worship at Boston University School of Theology and has done extensive work in the area of liturgical ...

WIU Wesley Foundation announces new director

published 4/19/2010
The Board of Directors at the Wesley Foundation at Western Illinois University, Macomb, announces that Nathan Hopping has been hired to serve as the director beginning July 1, 2010. Nate is a graduate of WIU and will graduate from Garrett-Evangelical Divinity School in May. Previously, Nate has served in the IGRC summer camping program and as a student pastor while in seminary. Nate’s wife, Meredith, is the daughter of Rev. Ray and Susan Owens (Pontiac First). The Board would also like to ...

IGRC selected for scouting pilot project

published 4/13/2010
The United Methodist Office of Scouting Ministries is looking for advocates to help Illinois Great Rivers Conference churches establish and expand scouting ministry opportunities. The National Office of Scouting Ministries has selected the area as a pilot conference to test the effectiveness of “scouting ministry specialists.”  Volunteer specialists will provide neighboring churches with information about the Programs of Religious Activities with Youth (PRAY), training opportunities, ...

Rayson to lead worship at annual conference

published 3/15/2010
Evangelist Mike Rayson will be leading worship during the 2010 Annual Conference, Bishop Gregory V. Palmer announced. Rayson, of Pleasant View, Tenn., is a native of Australia and no stranger to the Illinois Great Rivers Conference, as he has ministered in a number of local congregations and most recently, served as worship leader for Covenant Keepers 2009. After completing his education in tiny rural Australian schools, Rayson went on to a career in the media. After hosting number 1 rated ...

Burton-Edwards conference speaker

published 3/11/2010
The Rev. Taylor Burton-Edwards will be the guest speaker at the 2010 Annual Conference, Bishop Gregory V. Palmer has announced. Burton-Edwards serves as Director of Worship Resources for the General Board of Discipleship of The United Methodist Church. The 2010 Annual Conference theme is Passionate Worship: Lost in Wonder, Love and Praise. An elder in the North Indiana Conference of The United Methodist Church, Burton-Edwards was Director of Community Impact with United Way of Madison County...

CCFA forwards 2011 budget plan to annual conference session

published 3/11/2010
The conference Council on Finance and Administration approved an $11.5 million budget plan for 2011, which will be forwarded to the 2010 Annual Conference session for action. The budget plan provides a plan to fund an additional $2.9 million in payments to the General Board of Pensions and Health Benefits due to the downturn in the economic markets in 2008 and early 2009. The $2.9 million in additional payment is over and above the $3.2 million already paid annually for pensions. At the same ...

Acts Bible Study to be released for post-Easter use

published 2/26/2010
A six-week Bible Study on the Book of Acts, which brings together scripture, the teachings of John Wesley and the Four Areas of Focus, will be released online March 1 for IGRC congregations to use in the 50 days leading up to Pentecost. The Acts of the Apostles: Hearts Afire and the Four Areas of Focus is a collaborative effort that has involved a team of writers and resource people across the United Methodist connection. “Following last year’s Annual Conference, Bishop Palmer came to me with ...

Pastoral counselors are available

published 2/24/2010
David Wence, Decatur, Linda Horrell, St.Louis area, and Steve Busick, Champaign, have all been providing therapy for clergy, spouses, and family members this past year. The first three visits are free with additional sessions provided by insurance. Presently the Board of Pastoral Care and Counseling is evaluation and revising the service but therapy continues to be available. Contact David Wence at 217-872-1700 or ; Linda Horrell at 636-527-7615 or ; or Steve Busick at 217-363-1700.  

By Paul Black The year 2016 has certainly been busy for New Testament scholar and IGRC Elder Craig Hill. In July, Hill was named Dean of Perkins School of Theology, succeeding the retiring William Lawrence. It was during this time that Hill was completing the manuscript for Servant of All: Status, Ambition and the Way of Jesus (2016, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 203 pages, available through Cokesbury).  And Hill said that much of the material for the book came from hard-won lessons in ...

Stolen bell returned to Bissell UMC

A piece of history stolen from Bissell United Methodist Church has been recovered.

The Rev. Don Goodenow said the church’s 100-year-old bell, which went missing Oct. 8, was returned Wednesday (Oct. 11) by a local antique dealer.

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