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 ( 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.

Sunset Home -- a Golden Cross Ministry

published 11/7/2016
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.

United Media Resource Center expands service area

published 11/7/2016
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 calls IGRC to prayer Jan. 22-28

published 11/4/2016
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.

Bishops planning for 2019 General Conference

published 11/2/2016
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 honors first responders

published 11/1/2016
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

Decatur Christ UMW completes mat project

published 11/1/2016
United Methodist Women from Decatur Christ UMC completed 24 sleep mats and presented them to Jerry Pelz, director of Northeast Community Fund.

Decatur Sharon UMC celebrates Heritage Sunday, honors 50-year members

published 11/1/2016
Sharon UMC recognized 50-year members of its congregation in a special Heritage Sunday worship service Oct. 30.

Registration for Covenant Keepers now open

published 11/1/2016
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: 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.

UMC #GivingTuesday set for Nov. 29

published 11/1/2016
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.

Court to bishops: Rule on 'proper' questions of law

published 10/30/2016
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.

Judicial Council looks at clergy penalty questions

published 10/30/2016
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.

50 years at the console: celebrating organist Marcia Hishman

published 10/24/2016
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.

Trailblazing pastor celebrates 100th birthday

published 10/24/2016
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.

Liberian Ebola survivors report sight problems

published 10/19/2016
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.

2017 Annual Conference to be shortened by half day

published 9/26/2016
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.

Beware of employment poster scam

published 9/26/2016
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.

GCFA clarifies insurance letter

published 9/26/2016
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.

Grace joins Brachear's gold medal team

published 9/26/2016
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.

Important numbers for 2017

published 9/26/2016
Clergy salary and benefits costs for 2017 have been posted on the IGRC webpage at These will be helpful to you as you prepare 2017 budgets and Charge Conference forms.

Mt. Vernon UMC celebrates 142 years of ministry

published 9/26/2016
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.

Second VIM trip to the Philippines underway

published 9/26/2016
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.)

The Well for youth workers

published 9/26/2016
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 ...

Training grants applicants sought

published 9/26/2016
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.

Umembudi to itinerate in IGRC Oct. 24-Nov. 7

published 9/26/2016
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 celebrates 90 years of church membership

published 9/26/2016
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's church building marks a century

published 9/26/2016
Waynesville UMC celebrates its building's 100-year anniversary with a special worship and rededication Aug. 21.

CONAM donates humanitarian aid to Standing Rock

published 9/15/2016
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.

A message on Standing Rock from Bishop Bruce Ough

published 9/12/2016
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.

United Methodists stand with Standing Rock

published 9/12/2016
Shortly after a federal judge’s decision was released, the US Army Corps of Engineers, Justice and Interior departments jointly announced they would stop, at least temporarily, pipeline work under Lake Oahe. The government agencies asked the pipeline company to voluntarily halt construction within 20 miles of Lake Oahe while the Army reconsiders the decision to proceed under the National Environmental Policy Act or other federal laws.

A thumb's up for education

published 8/22/2016
Now is the time to think about the next school year. As we begin school in August, schools in Liberia will also begin. A donation of $175 to IGRC Advance # 6995 - Liberia Scholarships will help children as well as older students attend school in Liberia. This small amount will make a huge difference in the life of a student and that student’s family. Will you consider sponsoring a student in one of the Liberian United Methodist Schools?

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