'Underway replenishment' marriage and ministry retreat in Elsah

published 12/5/2017
ELSAH -- In their 30 years of ministry in the Navy chaplaincy, Bob and Christy Phillips led numerous marriage retreats for couples (and single spouses where the partner could not be present). The intense commitments and total claims of the military parallel the realities of marriage for those in ministry. This weekend marriage self-care retreat is the product of facing the challenges, realities and possibilities of being married and in ministry. The dates are Thursday, March 1, beginning with ...

How did you learn to express gratitude?

published 11/27/2017
Rev. Matthew Filicsky and retired pastor, Rev. Beth Tickner tell of how they learned gratitude in a We Asked/You Answered column in Interpreter magazine.

Jacksonville Brooklyn UMC closing after 151 years

published 11/27/2017
Aging demographics, along with multiple generations that haven’t re-filled the pews — an all-too-familiar tale, said pastor Jean Hembrough — have taken their toll on Brooklyn UMC. The retirement of another part-time pastor, the Rev. Nancy Wood, earlier in the summer, and a shrinking pool of pastors to dip from, made the congregation take a more serious look at closing, said Hembrough, who also is retiring next summer.

Living in Gratitude

published 11/27/2017
What might sound like a platitude can actually redirect one's life, say United Methodists who have joined a quiet movement of people emphasizing gratitude in personal and community life. Churches turn to the praises present in so many of the psalms to stress gratitude in worship. Individual Christians keep gratitude journals. Clergy teach and preach the value of gratitude in a confusing, sometimes less than soulful world.

Technology is part of our history

published 11/27/2017
Technology is deep in our DNA as United Methodists. John Wesley used cutting-edge printing technology to do more than make copies of the Bible. He printed everything from hymnbooks to texts filled with home remedies by the thousands. With the world at our fingertips, United Methodists are continuing to do the same thing we always have: leverage technology for personal spiritual growth.

UMC road tour aims to unwrap Christmas, Champaign one of 21 stops

published 11/27/2017
The United Methodist Church is hitting the road in 16 states throughout December on “The True Meaning of Christmas Tour.” Champaign-area United Methodist churches will host the come-and-go event during The Nutcracker performance on December 10 from noon until 4 p.m. outside the Tryon Festival Theater, located at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts at Illinois, 500 S. Goodwin Avenue in Urbana. An easy-to-find, bedecked tour truck will be the centerpiece of the festivities and the whole community is invited.

Equalization members to annual conference announced

published 10/31/2017
Equalization members to annual conference announced Editor’s Note: the list published in the November issue of The Current was incorrect.  Please see the list below for the most up to date information.    By Paul Black SPRINGFIELD – Annual Conference Secretary Joy Caschetta has announced that 161 additional lay delegates from Illinois Great Rivers Conference churches will be needed in 2018 to equalize the number of clergy and lay delegates at annual conference.   According to the conference ...

Local disaster relief center sends supplies to Puerto Rico, but more help is needed

published 10/27/2017
MIDWEST MISSION DISTRIBUTION CENTER warehouse supervisor BRAD WALTON told a group of volunteers Friday who witnessed the loading of a container with supplies to Puerto Rico for Hurricane Maria relief that the island is “devastated.”

Cantrall UMC celebrates 130 years despite devastating tornado

published 10/23/2017
For some 10 years within the 130-year life of Cantrall United Methodist Church, current member Dixie Kelso tried looking beyond her church home for a congregation she thought would be bigger and thus better to fit her needs.

But a disaster that struck Cantrall United Methodist’s building on May 9, 1995, brought Kelso back to her church “home.”

Bissell UMC's bell missing as 100 years of service celebrated

published 10/8/2017
On the same day members of Bissell United Methodist Church celebrated 100 years of service, a piece of the church’s history went missing.

Pawnee UMC celebrates 165 years

published 10/6/2017
Heartfelt fellowship in the congregation of about 100 members is among things helping it survive 165 years despite struggles common to small-town churches, such as dwindling membership, said Pastor Chuck Kurfman, pastor of The United Methodist Churches of Divernon, Pawnee and Thayer.

A new beginning at Spero Family Services

published 7/28/2017
It’s a new beginning for the former United Methodist Children’s Home – recently renamed Spero Family Services.

Let's get fired up!: Answering the call to ministry

published 6/10/2017
The Service of Ordination and Commissioning on Saturday morning capped off the 2017 Annual Conference on Saturday morning – a morning devoted to celebrating those that have been recommended for ministry and the giving and receiving of appointments deployed for service throughout the 87 counties in the southern two-thirds of Illinois for the upcoming year.

Let's Get Fired Up...For Kids

published 6/10/2017
Summary story of the highlights of the 2017 Annual Conference June 8-10, 2017, at the Peoria Civic Center.

Burned out? or Fired Up?

published 6/9/2017
This sense of boredom, futility, melancholy, and tiredness that settles on the human spirit is a tragic characteristic of life to our hectic, frenzied, stressful modern world. The sad truth is that while we have done so well and have been so creative in so many dimensions of life, we have all too often missed the main thing. Life does not have to be boring or monotonous or tiresome. I don’t think that God intended life to be that way. I think that God meant life to be celebrated, zestful, meaningful, and joyful. God wants us to be fired up on life not burned out.

How are the kids?

published 6/9/2017
A common inquiry for folks who haven’t spoken in a while, she proposed “How are the kids?” is one of the most important questions any conference can ask and a key measure by which all conferences should be judged.

How are the kids? Well, the United Methodists of this part of Illinois are about to raise $2.5 million to permanently endow the care of their souls and the sharing of God’s love through Jesus Christ at five child-serving agencies until Christ returns.
You do the math.

Our continuing journey

published 6/9/2017
Every one of us, in one way or another, says “Thank you” -  to God, the Bishops and cabinets, present or past, spouses, children, parents, congregations whom we have served, colleagues with whom we have served, and to the annual conference -  or some combination of these. In all things, we are grateful, because, it has all been a gift. Our vocation and whatever talents, we have to exercise – gifts. The church and its mission – gifts -  The life we are living – a gift.

The changing landscape of finding, recruiting and nurturing leadership

published 6/9/2017
The Cabinet has been blessed in witnessing what God is doing in IGRC!  Yes, we grieve when individuals and congregations struggle, but your Cabinet continues to rejoice as you take risks in working to build God’s Kingdom, moving outside your comfort zones and adapting to the ever-changing multi-cultural world around us. 
However, what has surprised me in these six years is the rapidly changing landscape of finding, recruiting and nurturing leadership --- both lay and clergy --- in The United Methodist Church.

This is how you pray: 'In Jesus' name' and I want to know about it

published 6/9/2017
The Rev. Dr. Terry Teykl has found great power in the name of Jesus.

“If you get a group of people praying on the same scripture, there is power when you pray in the name of Jesus,” he said during Friday’s Morning Manna. “When you are agreeing about it and are on the same page, inviting the Holy Spirit to take charge, great things happen.”

Watkins, Hayes named Denman evangelism award winners

published 6/9/2017
By Paul Black PEORIA – Elmwood journalist Jeff Lampe recalls his nervousness when news circulated in spring 2013 of an East St. Louis pastor being appointed to the local United Methodist Church. “My initial response was that Elmwood seemed like the wrong fit for Pastor Brad Watkins,” Lampe said. “I’ve been very pleased to have been wrong.” For his work in the area of evangelism, Watkins is the 2017 Denman Evangelism Award winner for clergy. And for the first time since the award began in the ...

Fire that lasts: the antidote for fear, faking and failure

published 6/8/2017
Bishop Frank J. Beard, using the stories of Lazarus and Elisha, reminded those gathered for Thursday evening’s Memorial Service that God’s fire can and will sustain us beyond the grave.

Palmer honored with Cramer-Heuerman Award

published 6/8/2017
Retired IGRC pastor, the Rev. Miley Palmer has been named the 2017 Cramer-Heuerman Social Justice Award winner. The award was announced at Thursday’s Social Justice Dinner during Annual Conference.

Statement on Baby Fold closing of its residential treatment center

published 6/7/2017
The State of Illinois has neglected to invest what is necessary to pay providers who offer the specialized, intensive treatment required for children in residential care. Rates paid to The Baby Fold for these services have not increased in over 10 years. Even after the downsizing, The Baby Fold was forced to subsidize $1.6 million over the past two years to compensate for the lack of adequate State funding. Additionally, the budget impasse has created an atmosphere of uncertainty about the levels of funding that may be available for this type of programming in the future.

2017 Annual Conference overview

published 5/23/2017
The Illinois Great Rivers Conference of The United Methodist Church will be meeting in Peoria for the 16th consecutive year June 8-10. 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 Let’s Get Fired Up for Kids, and will be the official launch of the $2.5 million Our Conference, Our Kids campaign. Funds generated by the campaign will endow the spiritual life ministries at the five children’s welfare agencies – The Baby Fold, Chaddock, Cunningham Children’s Home, Lessie Bates Davis Neighborhood House and Spero Family Services (formerly the United Methodist Children’s Home).

Five constitutional amendments head to annual conferences

published 5/23/2017
General Conference delegates had their say last year. Now, it’s up to annual conference voters to determine whether five amendments will become part of The United Methodist Church’s constitution.

In the coming months, the voters will consider changes that address matters of gender equality, inclusiveness in membership, delegate and bishop elections, as well as bishop accountability.

To be ratified, a constitutional amendment first requires at least a two-thirds vote at General Conference, which happened in May 2016. Then, it must win at least a two-thirds majority of the total voters at annual conferences around the world.

Order of St. Luke provides assistance at Annual Conference

published 5/23/2017
Each year at Annual Conference, you may see people in albs (white or flax colored wrap-around robes) with bright red scapulars (aprons), especially during a worship service which includes Holy Communion. These helpers are members of the IGRC Chapter of the Order of Saint Luke (OSL). OSL was founded in 1946 by members of the Methodist Church (a predecessor body to The United Methodist Church) and continues today as a religious order dedicated to sacramental and liturgical scholarship, education, and practice. The moving and sustaining force of OSL is the vision of John and Charles Wesley who sought to bring about a revival within the Church that was sacramental as well as evangelical.

Stay Connected at Annual Conference

published 5/23/2017
IGRC Communications will be working to keep you connected during the 2017 Annual Conference through its Sched app, The Daily Current, Web streaming and the post-Annual Conference issue of The Current.

Island Grove UMC marks 195th anniversary

published 5/16/2017
The church’s official date from 1822 is tied to the founding of the Island Grove Society, and, like many early rural Illinois churches, services and religious classes were held in homes or other public buildings conducted by circuit-riding preachers.

Island Grove’s founding, coming just four years after Illinois became a state, makes it one of the area’s oldest churches, though at least two other churches in the conference — Murrayville UMC (1820) and Centenary UMC in Jacksonville (1821) — precede it, according to a church archivist.

Health insurance proposal coming to Annual Conference

published 5/4/2017
Recognizing the financial hardship that the current health insurance environment has placed on some of our pastors, the Conference Board of Pensions will present a group health insurance plan alternative to the 2017 Session of Annual Conference.

UM Day at the Ballpark June 24

published 5/3/2017
United Methodist Family Day at Busch Stadium is Saturday, June 24, when the Cardinals take on the Pittsburgh Pirates. Game time is 6:15 p.m.

The IGRC United Methodist Men have a block of tickets in the left field pavilion for the game which they are selling for $27 (regularly $73). The first 30,000 fans ages 16 and older will receive a Bob Gibson Bobblehead inspired by the 1967 World Series.

Boards of Ministry must review all clergy qualifications

published 4/28/2017
United Methodist boards of ordained ministry must look at all qualifications to determine whether a ministerial candidate is a fitting applicant — including adherence to the church’s position on homosexuality.

That is the ruling of the Judicial Council, the denomination’s top court, in petitions related to the New York and Northern Illinois conferences, where those boards had publicly declared they would not consider issues of sexuality when evaluating a candidate.

Consecration of gay bishop violates church law

published 4/28/2017
The consecration of a gay bishop violates church law, the top court of The United Methodist Church has ruled.

However, the bishop “remains in good standing,” the Judicial Council said in Decision 1341, until an administrative or judicial process is completed.

“Under the long-standing principle of legality, no individual member or entity may violate, ignore or negate church law,” said the decision, made public April 28. “It is not lawful for the college of bishops of any jurisdictional or central conference to consecrate a self-avowed practicing homosexual bishop.”

United Methodist Children's Home undergoes rebranding, name change

published 4/24/2017
The United Methodist Children’s Home (UMCH) formally announced its new name March 30 at the ‘Breakfast with a View’ event.

The agency will now be known as Spero Family Services. For more than 100 years this agency has operated children’s homes. However, in recent years, the organization has expanded to include nine other programs in 10 counties, serving 1,000 people annually.

Bishop invites baptisms during Ordination Service

published 3/27/2017
Bishop Frank J. Beard has announced there will be an opportunity for clergy families to have children baptized at Annual Conference during Saturday's Service of Ordination and Commissioning.

Families need to contact the Area Office at 217-529-3820 no later than Monday, April 17, in order to be included in the worship service. The Bishop will need the name of the child as well as parents and those that will be witnesses to the baptism so that they can be included in the bulletin materials.

Granadosin appointed as Spoon River District superintendent

published 3/23/2017
SPRINGFIELD -- Bishop Frank J. Beard announced the appointment of the Rev. Stephen Granadosin, pastor of Industry and Vermont UMC's as Spoon River District superintendent, effective July 1. "Steve was an easy pick for DS," Beard said in making the announcement. He is a man of integrity that has the respect of his peers and is a prayer warrior." Born in the Philippines, Granadosin is no stranger to The United Methodist Church as his father, Paul Locke A. Granadosin, served as a bishop of the ...

IGRC Communications wins six awards

published 3/23/2017
IGRC Communications won six awards in the 2017 United Methodist Association of Communicators awards for communication in 2016.

Graphic designer Kim Halusan won three awards, including a first place award for newsletters among conferences and local churches. The award was for the newsletter Where Miracles Happen for the IGRC Camping program.

Halusan also garnered a third-place award for her design of a booklet for the Office of Pastoral Care and Counseling and shared with IGRC Director of Communication Ministries Paul Black a third-place award for The Current among conference and local church magazines. Due to the changeover in format in mid-2015, The Current is now classified as a magazine and not a newspaper.

Importance of self-care

published 3/23/2017
Importance of self-care (Editor’s note: The Office of Pastoral Care and Counseling is hosting a Self-Care Retreat April 21-22 at the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows in Belleville. Registration continues through April 5 at:   By Curt Keller A few years ago, my wife and I were in Florida for a little vacation trip and for a one-day conference. We rented a car after arriving and as we were leaving the hotel to go to the conference the tire pressure light was ...

Mt. Carmel hosts Prentice Sermon April 23

published 3/23/2017
Mt. Carmel Trinity UMC will host the annual Prentice Sermon, sponsored by the IGRC Commission on Archives and History on Sunday, April 23, at the church's 9 a.m. worship service.

Dr. Paul Stroble, chair of the Commission on Archives and History, will be the preacher.

Grimmett appointed to Springfield First

published 3/7/2017
Bishop Frank J. Beard, in consultation with the IGRC Cabinet, announces the appointment of Rev. Dr. Roger Grimmett as senior pastor of Springfield First UMC, effective July 1.

Beard has also announced the assignment of Rose Booker-Jones, currently superintendent of the Iroquois River District as the new Mississippi River District superintendent. Booker-Jones is in her third year as conference superintendent. Rev. Angie Eunjoo Lee, previously appointed to the Cabinet will assume duties in the Iroquois River District.

The only vacancy on the Cabinet is in the Spoon River District where Beard said he would be announcing a new superintendent in the near future.

27 conference pay 100 percent in general church apportionments

published 2/20/2017
The General Council on Finance and Administration (GCFA), working with the 56 annual conferences in the United States, reports that 27 annual conferences have paid 100% of their 2016 apportionments to the seven general Church funds. This is a slight increase over the previous year during which 26 annual conferences reached this milestone. The 2016 payout rate of 91.8% is the highest it has been.

The news follows a record payment in apportionments at the conference level within the Illinois Great Rivers Conference – one of the 27 conferences to remit 100 percent. This is the 15th consecutive year of 100 percent giving to general church apportionments by the IGRC.

Austin's Place: Providing winter shelter for women

published 2/20/2017
In the span of the last decade, Austin’s Place ministry at Champaign First UMC has provided a safe and comfortable shelter to single, homeless women during the winter months from Dec. 15 to March 15. Austin’s Place is unique in that it is operated entirely by volunteers. Each evening and morning a volunteer driver transports guests. Two volunteers stay all night every night that the shelter is open. Additional volunteers do laundry, solicit and retrieve donations, help with advertising, pray, and spread the word through the community.

Church Mutual offering 50 $5,000 scholarships

published 2/20/2017
The CM CARES Religious Scholars Program is offering 50 scholarships of $5,000 each for a total of $250,000 for the 2017-18 academic year. The scholarship is for religious scholars to use toward the completion of their academic year. Applications will be accepted from January 3 until April 15, 2017. The 50 scholarship recipients will be announced in May 2017.

Conference staff rallies around colleague

published 2/20/2017
Members of the Conference staff gathered Feb.16 to greet their colleague Jeffrey Burton for a #TeamJeffrey rally following Jeffrey's first chemotherapy treatment. Staff have been walking with him on the journey and the gathering was both inspiring and heartwarming.

GBHEM introduces new Excellence in Clergy Leadership scholarship

published 2/20/2017
The Office of Loans and Scholarships at the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) announced the creation of a new scholarship that launched Jan. 3, 2017, for students enrolled in United Methodist seminaries. Deadline for applying is March 1. For more information, visit:

Grant Park tries contemporary worship service

published 2/20/2017
Grant Park UMC took a leap of faith and tried a contemporary worship service Jan. 29. The service took place in the church’s fellowship hall. The congregation utilized the video monitoring system for singing contemporary praise songs and highlighting the sermon notes. Rev. Alberto Ramirez is the pastor at Grant Park UMC. He was leading bible study on “Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations” where the idea came to fruition. The feedback from the service was favorable; future contemporary ...

Judge rules Conference has cause of action against breakaway congregation

published 2/20/2017
A Pulaski County Circuit Judge has ruled in part that the Illinois Great Rivers Conference has a cause of action to recover the property occupied by Ohio Chapel UMC, but ruled the Conference has yet to show a cause of action for personal property related to the breakaway congregation.

New Sunday School class growing its relationship with God

published 2/20/2017
The name of the class, The Covenant Group, reflects the ability to build relationships among the group members as well as a stronger relationship with God. It is a very diverse group and everyone gets a chance to discuss their interpretation and opinion on the subject matter. For several in the group, it is the first venture of reading through the Bible.

PCC sponsors Self-Care Retreat April 21-22

published 2/20/2017
The office of Pastoral Care and Counseling will host a Self-Care Retreat for IGRC clergy and/or spouses (ie: individual clergy, clergy groups, individual spouses, groups of spouses) April 21-22 at the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows in Belleville. Friday dinner is provided with event registration and Saturday breakfast is provided with Friday night hotel stay (rate is $75.85 before tax).

Plan now for Annual Conference

published 2/20/2017
Several items related to the 2017 Annual Conference which will be June 8-10, at the Peoria Civic Center has been posted to the IGRC website.
The Annual Conference schedule is still being finalized. However, the starting time for the Annual Conference will be at 10 a.m. Thursday, June 8, with clergy and laity sessions running simultaneously. Adjournment will be following Ordination and Commissioning service on Saturday, June 10, at noon.

Prejudice and purging: World War I and the demise of the German Methodist Church

published 2/20/2017
The end of the German Methodist Church was inevitable as immigration slowed and English spread, but World War I severely shortened the length of time and the influence of the German Methodist branch of the Methodist Church. The war’s effect in increasing nativism and engendering anti-German hysteria seriously affected the Methodist Church. The Church, internalizing the values of Americanization attacked and persecuted its German Methodist branch. The end of the German Methodist conferences reveal the way religious institution can be shaped by society and public opinion as well as showing how any institution is vulnerable to prejudice and bias toward the other, the alien.

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