Bishop Frank J. Beard has announced that Spoon River District Superintendent Sylvester Weatherall is being appointed Superintendent of the Sangamon River District, effective July 1. Weatherall, who is in his fifth year of superintendency, succeeds the Rev. Dr. Terry Harter, who is retiring July 1. The move means that Beard will have two superintendent vacancies to fill – in the Spoon River District and the LaMoine River District, where the current superintendent and co-dean of the Cabinet, the Rev. C. Douglas Rorex, has announced his retirement July 1.
Each year, retired United Methodist Bishop Woodie W. White writes a "birthday letter" to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in which he offers his perspective on the state of race relations, particularly in the United States. The first general secretary of the General Commission on Religion and Race of The United Methodist Church, he held that post until his election to the episcopacy in 1984. Retiring in 2004 after serving the Indiana Area and Illinois Area, he was bishop-in-residence at Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta until May 2016.
The Commission on Camping and Retreat Ministries has announced that Patric Newton has been selected as the new IGRC Coordinator of Camping and Retreat Ministries, effective Jan. 16.
Bishop Frank J. Beard visited the Cache River District recently, visiting Jesus es el Senor UMC in Cobden and the Hispanic Ministries’ Joe’s Mall and the Bald Knob Cross near Alto Pass.
Plans are underway for a mission trip experience to Liberia in July 2017. While the initial focus was on training school teachers in Liberia, IGRC Missions and Outreach Coordinator Bunny Wolfe has said the trip is open to anyone.
The office of Pastoral Care and Counseling will host a Self-Care Retreat for IGRC clergy and spouses April 21-22 at the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows in Belleville.
The Baby Fold’s Festival of Trees was truly “A Gift of Love” from our donors who chose to partner with us in our mission to help children and families heal, connect, and grow.
The 23rd annual Christmas fundraiser helps The Baby Fold to deliver exceptional, quality programs and services to families all over Illinois. It was the perfect way to welcome the holiday season with over 100 beautifully decorated Christmas trees, dozens of wreaths and centerpieces, music, food, and family fun.
Sylvia Arbuckle, Jaxon Hill and NaShyla McQuirter built snowmen, decorated Christmas trees and threw snowballs on Friday.
But the snowmen, trees and decorations were made of felt and the snowballs were made of quilt matting.
No matter. The children were laughing and getting inspired in The Interstate Center's Mini Expo and West Expo buildings.
Bishop Frank Beard stopped by Jensen Woods Camp during his visit to the LaMoine River District. The camp is one of two for sale by the Illinois Great Rivers Conference
“As I read the New Testament, I am struck by the effort its authors expended to create communities within which social barriers could be overcome, social hierarchies transcended, and the social marginalized accepted. They attempted to manage spaces in which existing social distinctions would not only be overcome; they would become irrelevant, made obsolete by the knowledge of God’s perfect love,” he writes. “It takes effort today, as well. ‘Being Christian' is a corporate exercise. We experience God’s love – and with it our own salvation, our own justification – together. Where that happens, there is the church as the apostles intended it."
The regulations, which were set to take effect on Dec. 1, would have made millions of employees eligible for overtime pay, including some church lay employees. However, it's still true that some churches have classified some employees as "self-employed contractors" who are not actually self-employed contractors. The commotion about employment practices should serve as an opportunity to clean up the mis-classification of employees - which is a serious IRS violation
Prayer is one activity retired clergy and spouses can do and do well. And perhaps, all of the retired clergy and spouses in the IGRC could participate in this time of prayer so that every active clergy would know that they are being lifted up. Using the Twelve Days of Christmas as the baseline for the retirees' time of commitment to pray.
The firm intention of Liberian United Methodists not to have a bishop who has been divorced could be tested at the West Africa Central Conference, set to meet in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, December 14-18.
In a pre-holiday, post-election letter to the people of The United Methodist Church, Bishop Bruce R. Ough, president of the Council of Bishops, called upon all Christians to “remember who we are” in this time of tension and anxiety and work to overcome hatred and discrimination.
Cost Stewardship has partnered with the Gravie company. I like to call them “Navigators on Steroids.” The Gravie company (www.gravie.com) specializes in empowering employees to make good decisions with their benefits dollars. The fit of what they do with what we felt we needed was unmistakable.
Right now, this program is only available to full-time pastors of local churches who receive the health insurance allowance in addition to salary. This is because the Conference Board of Pensions is paying for the service with health insurance dollars that remain from the former plan. Since the money was originally received for and by full-time pastors, it makes sense that they should enjoy the benefit. However, the program could be expanded if another source of funding is found.
Ebola trial vaccines that were first administered in February 2015 have been declared safe and could soon be ready for use to prevent the spread of Ebola in any new outbreak of the deadly virus in Liberia.
Dr. Francis Kateh, a former administrator at Ganta United Methodist Hospital who participated in the trial, declared that the vaccines are safe. “The vaccines are good — that is why I am here and well,” he said. He considers the Ebola vaccine trial the biggest contribution Liberia has made to the world in terms of health.
For the last 22 years, Loaves and Fish have served members of the Peoria community. Beginning as a feeding ministry, it has grown to include a free health clinic, a clothing pantry, a food take home table, worship service and a program for children and youth.
By Paul Black SPRINGFIELD – Rev. Dr. Kent Lolling, directing pastor of Springfield Laurel UMC, noted the irony as he welcomed more than 100 people to a post-Election Day Service of Unity. “On 9/11, people of our country reached out to one another, drew strength and hope from one another, and from their individual faith experience,” Lolling said. “We are here on 11/9 to seek healing and peace for our nation following a divisive and polarizing election. Once again we come together to draw ...
For a congregation that believes the youth are its future, the newly-renovated and relocated nursery at First United Methodist Church, Pontiac, is a nearly $300,000 step in the right direction. Since 1924, when it was built, a long room at the end of the hallway in the church’s basement has served as its nursery. However, convenience, age and safety-related issues brought about the discussion for moving and renovating the nursery.
A total of 27 students have been awarded a combined total of $44,000 to further their education with scholarships from General Board of Higher Education and Ministry.
Funds for the scholarships are derived from the United Methodist Student Sunday offering which will be observed on Sunday, Nov. 27 this year.
Bishop Grant Hagiya told the 750 church leaders gathered at the Council of Bishops’ Extended Cabinet Summit to lead with courage for the sake of the future of The United Methodist Church.
Hagiya, who leads the California-Pacific Conference, was one of the keynote speakers at a summit that focused on cultivating vital congregations to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
Sunset Home is a non-profit Golden Cross ministry delivering all levels of senior care in a Christian environment including Skilled Nursing, Intermediate Care, Short-Term Rehabilitation, two Independent Living communities, plus has the largest State Certified Alzheimer’s Unit in Southern Illinois. As we continue to serve in faith, over half of our residents are financially unable to pay the full cost of their care.
The United Media Resource Center, housed in the Illinois Great Rivers Conference office, will be expanding its service area Jan. 1.
Persons and churches in the Northern Illinois Conference will be offered the opportunity to use the UMRC in an agreement reached between the Northern Illinois Conference and the Illinois Great Rivers Conference.
Currently, Northern Illinois Conference has had its own resource center but due to the recent retirement of staff, an opportunity presented itself to work in partnership.
Bishop Frank J. Beard is asking that the Illinois Great Rivers Conference set aside the week of Jan. 22-28, 2017, as a Week of Prayer for the Way Forward Commission and its work.
The Council of Bishops said it intends to call a special General Conference in 2019, but stopped short of actually making the call — expected after the Commission on a Way Forward begins looking at the church’s teachings on homosexuality and church unity.
The conference would be in February or March, and the council asked the business manager of the General Conference to move forward with exploring venues and a bid search. The 2020 General Conference is already scheduled for May 5-15 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Albion UMC held a service to honor its area first responders. In all, 22 active duty fire, police and EMS personnel attended with their families. A new banner was hung in the sanctuary as a permanent fixture representing the armed forces and first responders. The church’s United Methodist Men donated $300 for the purchase of Strength for Service to God and Community books, which were given to the first responders. Photos courtesy of Bryan Hart
United Methodist Women from Decatur Christ UMC completed 24 sleep mats and presented them to Jerry Pelz, director of Northeast Community Fund.
Sharon UMC recognized 50-year members of its congregation in a special Heritage Sunday worship service Oct. 30.
Online registration is now open for Covenant Keepers 2017 which will be Jan. 30-31 at the Holiday Inn and Convention Center in East Peoria.
Registration and more information can be found at: www.igrc.org/CK2017. Registration is $30 per person and includes a Monday noon luncheon.
The theme for this event is: CK2017: Keepers of the Covenant.
Keynote speakers for the event are Dr. Jay Carter and Dr. Sandra Whitacre Herron.
Mark your calendars!
UMC #GivingTuesday is Nov. 29. Last year, thanks to the extravagant generosity of United Methodists, $2.8 million was raised on UMC #GivingTuesday.
UMC #GivingTuesday is part of an international movement to extend the spirit of giving thanks into the Advent season. It offers an opportunity to start off the holiday season by giving instead of receiving.
Bishops must answer all questions of law that are properly before them, The United Methodist Church’s top court said in two cases stemming from the ordination of gay clergy.
Two cases, from the New York and Northern Illinois annual conferences, centered on a bishop’s decision of law regarding the conference board of ordained ministry and qualifications for candidacy and ordination.
How penalties imposed by trial courts were handled in two cases involving clergy was the subject of separate oral hearings Oct. 25 before the United Methodist Judicial Council.
In a case from the Illinois Great Rivers Annual Conference related to a trial court penalty imposed on a clergyperson, the Judicial Council referred to earlier rulings that a bishop has no authority to make substantive rulings on judicial or administrative matters.
This fall marks the 50th Anniversary that Marcia Hishman has served as the organist of Bloomington Wesley UMC. Marcia and her husband, Richard, arrived in Bloomington in 1966. The couple had been living on the East Coast, when Marcia’s husband accepted a position to teach at Illinois Wesleyan University. During the summer of 1966, Wesley had been looking for an organist and after receiving Marcia’s resume, recommendations, and tapes, the church offered her the job before the couple even arrived in Bloomington. And 50 years later, she is still inspiring and delighting the members of Wesley UMC.
Retired pastor, the Rev. Mary Erwin celebrated her 100th birthday Oct. 3 at the care facility where she lives in Marion. While the 100th birthday is a milestone in and of itself, Erwin was a trailblazer for women in ministry as the Illinois Great Rivers Conference found out when she was presented a Certificate of Completion for the Five-Year Course of Study in 2006. What makes this trailblazing was that she completed the Course of Study 51 years earlier – in 1955 – a year before women were granted ordination rights by the General Conference.
Two health facilities of The United Methodist Church in Liberia have confirmed that most of the Ebola survivors seeking care have complaints about their sight and general body weakness. Authorities at these facilities — Ganta United Methodist Hospital in Nimba County and Weala United Methodist Clinic in Margibi County — said most of the sight problems reported by their patients are a lingering result of suffering from the Ebola virus.
Bishop Frank J. Beard, in consultation with the Executive Team of the Annual Conference Sessions committee has announced that the 2017 Annual Conference will be held June 8-10 at the Peoria Civic Center.
Plans are to have the clergy and laity sessions begin at 10 a.m. Thursday with the opening worship set for 1:30 p.m. Thursday afternoon with the Service of Ordination and Commissioning being held on Saturday morning.
It appears that another round of scam threatening letters is going around regarding employment posters. These letters look very "official" and threaten the church with dire consequences if you don't buy their posters. Churches are not exempt from posting requirements, but ALL the posters you need are available for FREE download from the Illinois Department of Labor.
The general secretary of the General Council on Finance and Administration has sent out a follow-up letter in an attempt to clarify matters for local churches as it relates to insurance coverage.
Karter Brachear, a 17-year-old student at Taylorville High School, inducted Grace Herschelman into the Gold Medal Team just before the start of the Hillsboro High School football game Sept. 2. Grace, her parents and grandparents are members and active participants in the Hillsboro UMC.
Clergy salary and benefits costs for 2017 have been posted on the IGRC webpage at www.igrc.org/numbersfor2016. These will be helpful to you as you prepare 2017 budgets and Charge Conference forms.
Mt. Vernon UMC, located in east central Champaign County, marked its 142nd anniversary of the dedication of its building Aug. 14. However, members recently found old records that date the congregation back 175 years. The first service of the Methodist Episcopal Church was held in Hezekiah Phillippe’s log home in 1841. Those early pioneers met in each other’s homes until 1874, when the current building was erected on land donated by the Phillippe family; their descendants are still members.
The 2017 Philippines VIM Team is in need of generous donors and outreach partners to help empower the ministries and church workers in that region to help bring the Good News of the Kingdom of God in that part of the world. Individuals who are interested in joining the 2017 Philippines VIM Team may do so through Bunny Wolfe, IGRC Coordinator of Missions and Outreach or the team leaders: Rev. Steve Granadosin (Industry/Vermont UMC) or Rev. Cecilia Granadosin (Mt. Sterling, Columbus UMC.)
TROY -- The Well, a seminar for youth workers, will be hosted in several locations around Illinois in October. Hal Hamilton, youth and college ministry team leader for Tulsa First UMC in Tulsa, Okla., will be the presenter (either live or video, depending on the site). Additional presenters include Clint Benesh, Tim Price and other guests depending on the site. The registration fee covers the program and meal. Bring members of your team with you and the registration is about half the cost ...
The Office of Congregational Development is offering training grants for the remainder of 2016. The grants are being offered to church teams which include non-paid lay people.
Grant monies are not limited to United Methodist-sponsored workshops. The deadline for the requests is Oct. 15.
General Board of Global Ministries missionary Jacques Umembudi will be itinerating in the Illinois Great Rivers Conference Oct. 24-Nov. 7.
Umembudi, program director of Wings of Caring aviation ministry in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is supported by six IGRC churches and will be open to additional engagements while in the IGRC.
Vera Madlem, the eldest member of Geneseo First UMC, passed a milestone Sept. 26 when she celebrated 90 years of church membership.
Vera is 99 years old and joined the church as a girl. She is currently a resident at Hammond Henry Extended Care.
Bishop Frank Beard stopped by Hammond Henry facility Sept. 24 when he was in town to speak at Geneseo First UMC. He congratulated Vera on her incredible anniversary of church membership.
Waynesville UMC celebrates its building's 100-year anniversary with a special worship and rededication Aug. 21.
The IGRC Committee on Native American Ministries is calling for prayer for a standoff on the Standing Rock Reservation and has donated $1,500 in humanitarian aid to the encampment.
I stand with my Lakota and Dakota brothers and sisters because I believe the central question of the creation story is at the heart of their lament and their protest: What will we do with the blessing of power God has given us? This is a particularly poignant God-question for those of us who have the power of privilege in our country and the world. I urge all Dakotas United Methodists to wrestle with this question so central to our faith and witness.