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.

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, 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.

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