News

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: www.igrc.org/selfcare2017)   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: www.gbhem.org

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.

Scholarship information

published 2/20/2017
A variety of scholarship opportunities are available to IGRC students.

'Hidden Figures' mathematician raised Methodist

published 2/14/2017
United Methodists in White Sulphur Springs remember Katherine Coleman Goble Johnson — the main character in the movie “Hidden Figures” — counting steps as a child.

Sara Carter and Carolyn Bond, members of St. James United Methodist Church, recalled that Johnson grew up near the church. Johnson attended St. James Methodist, which was then an African American church and was the predecessor of the current St. James.

Showalter, Lee appointed to the Cabinet

published 2/13/2017
By Paul Black SPRINGFIELD -- Bishop Frank J. Beard has announced the appointment of Rev. Nic Showalter and Rev. Eunjoo "Angie" Lee as conference superintendents, effective July 1. "Both Rev. Showalter and Rev. Lee have the leadership gifts and graces that are respected and noted by their clergy peers," Beard said in making the announcement. "They also have strong connections with the laity that have served." Beard has appointed Showalter to the LaMoine River District, succeeding the Rev. C. ...

Historic civil rights voices still speak on faith-based website

published 2/3/2017
A courageous and creative radio program of the United Methodist Church preserved those voices, and a current collaboration digitizes those old audio tapes, making the prophetic voices heard again. Ralph Abernathy, Muhammad Ali, James Baldwin, and Julian Bond can be heard anytime on SoundTheology.org, the website that makes these programs available to all.

You can hear the contemporaneous thoughts of Stokely Carmichael, Shirley Chisholm, Eldridge Cleaver, and Ruby Dee – thanks to a radio program called Night Call that United Methodist Communications created and ran in 1968-69. Night Call originated at a studio at Riverside Church in New York City.

Bishop visits Peoria First UMC

published 2/1/2017
Bishop Frank J. Beard preached at Peoria First UMC on Jan. 22 and was presented with a flak jacket by the church’s senior pastor, Robert J. Phillips. It was the first time Bishop Beard had returned to Peoria First UMC since July when he was consecrated bishop and assigned to the Illinois Area following his election to the episcopacy by the North Central Jurisdictional Conference.

Missouri Conference selects Ross as Director of Center of Congregational Excellence

published 1/27/2017
Bishop Robert Farr announced Jan. 26 his intent to appoint the Rev. Dr. Roger Ross as Director for the Center of Congregational Excellence. Ross is currently serving as senior pastor of First UMC in Springfield, Illinois in the Illinois Great Rivers Conference. The cross-conference appointment comes with the blessing of Bishop Frank J. Beard.

Africa University endowment goes over the top

published 1/25/2017
The Bishop Jonathan and Beverly Keaton Endowment from the Making Dreams Possible Campaign has surpassed the $1 million goal with a total of $1,003,907. Prior to the $1 million campaign, the Illinois Great Rivers Conference provided four endowed scholarships and two additional scholarships to Africa University. With the completion of the campaign, the conference now will endow 12 scholarships in perpetuity.

Dickey’s roots go back to Methodist Protestant Church

published 1/23/2017
Rev. Dickey, at age 101, was the last surviving clergy member of the former Methodist Protestant denomination, which, with the Methodist Episcopal Church, North and the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, united in 1939 to form The Methodist Church.

Methodism roots run deep in Mt. Carmel

published 1/23/2017
There may not be an Illinois community whose history is more interwoven with frontier Methodism than that of Mt. Carmel. Three Methodist ministers – Rev. Thomas Hinde, Rev. William McDowell and Rev. William Beauchamp were instrumental in the community’s founding “at the confluence of the Wabash, White and Patoka rivers."

Multiple streams of Methodism contribute to Alton's history

published 1/23/2017
ALTON -- In 1817, a group of six Methodist people met together and formed the first Methodist fellowship in Upper Alton. The first services were held in the cabin of Ebenezer Hodges at the corner of College Avenue and Seminary Street. In 1818, Samuel H. Thompson was appointed as the first pastor of the church that would be known as Wesley Chapel Methodist Episcopal Church.   Like the great Mississippi River on which Alton is located, Methodism in the community has been the product of several ...

Nine former UMW presidents honored

published 1/23/2017
Nine former Conference UMW presidents were honored at the 20th Annual Meeting of the conference United Methodist Women at Decatur Grace UMC.

Richard ‘Dick’ Chrisman left large footprint on conference

published 1/23/2017
(Editor’s note: The following is from remarks given by Rev. Don Jones at the Jan. 20 funeral of the Rev. Richard “Dick” Chrisman, who died Jan. 13 Parts of remarks by Lauretta Scheller, conference archivist, who gave a tribute at the IGRC Historical Society luncheon at the 2015 annual conference are included in Jones’ remarks. The luncheon was celebrating the 31 years of service Chrisman gave as conference historian). By Don Jones DANVILLE – This morning, we have come to this sanctuary, and ...

McKendree coach nominated to Hall of Fame

published 1/21/2017
McKendree University men's basketball coach Harry Statham, the all-time wins leader in college basketball history, is among the eligible candidates for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The complete list of eligible candidates for the Class of 2017 was announced Dec. 21.

Weatherall appointed superintendent of Sangamon River District

published 1/20/2017
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.

Bishop White's Letter to Martin Luther King -- 2017

published 1/16/2017
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.

Newton selected as Camping Coordinator

published 12/23/2016
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 Beard visits Cache River District

published 12/12/2016
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.

Mission trip to Liberia planned for July 2017

published 12/12/2016
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.

Self-care retreat April 21-22

published 12/12/2016
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.

Baby Fold draws 10,000 to Festival of Trees

published 12/9/2016
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.

In the mood: Festival raises money for Baby Fold

published 12/9/2016
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 Beard visits LaMoine River District

published 12/5/2016
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

Hill confronts status, ambition and the way of Jesus in new book

published 12/5/2016
“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."

Overtime rules won't change...for now

published 12/5/2016
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

Retired clergy asked to pray for active clergy during the 12 Days of Christmas

published 12/5/2016
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.

Conference ban on divorced bishops could be tested

published 11/28/2016
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.

Council of Bishops president addresses division, discord

published 11/22/2016
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.

Savoy UMC holds 'reverse offering'

published 11/19/2016

Board of Pensions approves navigator help for pastors

published 11/14/2016
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 vaccines declared safe in Liberia

published 11/14/2016
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.

Fish and Loaves celebrate 22nd anniversary

published 11/13/2016
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.

Springfield Laurel hosts post-election unity service

published 11/10/2016
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 ...

Pontiac First UMC completes nursery upgrade

published 11/9/2016
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.

27 IGRC students benefit from United Methodist scholarships

published 11/7/2016
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.

Church leaders challenged to lead with courage

published 11/7/2016
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.

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