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?

Beardstown UMC builds new parsonage

published 8/22/2016
Beardstown First UMC had an Open House for new church recently. The parsonage, which conforms to The Book of Discipline, was constructed utilizing local vendors who had opportunity to showcase their skills.

Beulah Camp builds new dormitory

published 8/22/2016
The shell of a new dormitory has been erected at Beulah Camp where the former 65-year-old dormitory was demolished. The stone blocks were used for the footings of the building as well as being used for pillars for 14 new cabins. The second-story floor of the old dormitory was cut into sections to provide flooring for the new 16 x 20 foot cabins and the roofs are also sections of the old dormitory roofs. These new buildings are being used for classrooms and some are available for purchase. ...

Chaddock cuts ribbon on new Education Center

published 8/22/2016
As hundreds of friends, supporters and staff looked on, the ribbon was cut and the doors officially opened Aug. 14 on the newly-constructed Chaddock Education Center. Built in response to a dramatic increase in demand for the specialized services Chaddock offers, the $11 million project provides the therapeutic and emotional environment their students require for optimal learning and therapy. It replaces the former school building, which was built in the late 1950s and designed for about 45 students. Chaddock’s current student enrollment is 90 students, and is expected to climb.

Community gardening resources

published 8/22/2016
For more information on community gardening, check out the following resources

Disability Awareness Sunday Sept. 25

published 8/22/2016
Churches in the Illinois Great Rivers Conference observe Disability Awareness Sunday on the fourth Sunday of September or another date convenient to the congregation. Churches are encouraged to receive a special offering, which is remitted to the conference (IGRC # 0020 - Disability Awareness Sunday) for use in supporting congregations seeking to increase their architectural or attitudinal accessibility to people with disabilities

Kreeb honored for 35 years of service

published 8/22/2016
Bill Kreeb, former executive director of the Lessie Bates Davis Neighborhood House was honored for his 35 years of service to the agency with an Aug. 20 celebration at the Gateway Convention Center. Kreeb, who retired May 1, saw the agency grow from a community center serving several hundred residents to serving more than 18,000.

Monument stands as reminder of Methodist scandal

published 8/22/2016
One of the most prominent monuments in Oak Ridge Cemetery serves as a reminder of a thoroughly unconventional religious sect that got its start in Williamsville.

Neighborhood House ministry continues to give back to God

published 8/22/2016
As a United Methodist Community Center, and Golden Cross ministry, Lessie Bates Davis Neighborhood House strives to bring God’s Love to all people. We believe God has truly hidden Himself within the many faces of individuals and families seeking help. There are thousands of children and families in our community, who are suffering tremendous hardships, who often have no one to turn to, and have given up hope. As a Mission of the United Methodist Church, the Neighborhood House believes that “in God’s Name all things are possible.”

Profiles of IGRC community gardens

published 8/22/2016
Profiles of IGRC churches that have community gardens.

Ripe for the harvest: Community gardens in the IGRC

published 8/22/2016
United Methodists around the world are called to steward the land and care for one another as a reflection of our love of God. And the Illinois Great Rivers Conference is answering that call in amazing ways: by hosting community gardens.

Saluki Food Pantry result of IGRC Leadership Grant

published 8/22/2016
Concerns about students having enough to eat led SIU student Loran Morris to secure a Leadership Grant through the Board of Higher Education and Campus Ministry of the Illinois Great Rivers Conference of The United Methodist Church and work with SIU’s Wesley Council, a registered student organization and campus ministry, to establish the Wesley Foundation Food Pantry in early 2012. Morris, a Steeleville native, earned her bachelor’s degree in human nutrition and dietetics that year and two years later received her master’s degree in nutrition at SIU. She is now a registered dietitian.

Shirley annouces retirement Jan. 1

published 8/22/2016
IGRC Coordinator of Camping Alice J. Shirley has announced that she will retire on Jan. 1, 2017. A search is already underway for a new coordinator of camping and retreat ministries that will be able to build on the strong foundation Shirley has laid in her five years of leading the conference camping program.

Shreve selected as higher education coordinator

published 8/22/2016
Amy Shreve of Owensboro, Ky., has been named as the IGRC Coordinator of Higher Education and Campus Ministry. Shreve, who will begin her duties Sept. 1, is the first to hold this part-time position which previously was filled with a contracting consultant. Many of her responsibilities will center around resourcing Wesley Foundation boards and campus ministries in the areas of goal setting, fundraising, board development, and accountability.

The UMC is a disaster denomination

published 8/22/2016
We come together from the left and right, from the top to the bottom. We act as one solid body. We put aside our differences. We put away our issues. We let go of our grudges to work side by side with one another. There is not another denomination that does more than the United Methodists do. I remember report after report during the recovery from Hurricane Katrina and Rita. As we were mucking out a house, a person said that she was Roman Catholic but she had seen more Methodists working than any other denomination. Another person remarked that the United Methodists are not usually the first people to arrive at a disaster, but they are always the very last people to leave. We stay longer and help more in recovery after a crisis.

Ways to assist Louisiana

published 8/22/2016
There are a number of ways to assist in disaster response in the Louisiana Annual Conference. IGRC Coordinator of Missions Bunny Wolfe provides the various ways to connect.

What does a hospital chaplain do?

published 8/22/2016
Through the Golden Cross Offering, the chaplain at Methodist Hospital in Peoria and at Alton Memorial Hospital in Alton, along with the eight other Health and Welfare ministries within the boundaries of the IGRC receive funds to extend the grace and love of Jesus Christ to the communities we serve.

Litigation in Ohio Chapel trust clause case continues

published 7/22/2016
MOUND CITY -- A decision is expected some time in September from a Pulaski County judge on whether the Conference's case against a breakaway congregation can proceed. Counsel for the conference and for the former Ohio Chapel UMC will submit briefs summarizing their arguments for a decision by Judge James Thurston. A two-hour hearing was held in Pulaski County Circuit Court Thursday concerning a motion to dismiss the complaint made by the church. During the hearing, testimony was offered by two...

Deaf/Hard of Hearing Committee needs your help

published 7/18/2016
What is the sweetest sound to your ears?  Can you imagine how much you might miss it if you could not hear it clearly?  Or not at all?  Are you, and/or someone you care about, already struggling to understand others when they talk?  Is the volume of your TV and/or set up higher than most people’s comfort level?  Have you ever missed an appointment or gotten something wrong because you didn’t hear the instructions clearly? If any of these situations “sound” familiar, you and/or a loved one may ...

Evenglow wellness gym, physical therapy enhances senior ministry

published 7/18/2016
Natural lighting abounds in the wellness gym. Residents who do not require specialized therapy are frequent users of the cardiovascular and strength training equipment. Silver Sneakers circuit classes also meet here. Fresh towels, refreshing water, and wood laminate flooring add to the spa atmosphere. In addition to wellness, physical therapy is an important component of Evenglow’s ministry of providing services for older adults. Updates are now complete for that area, too.

15 new bishops to take office Sept. 1

published 7/16/2016
Delegates and alternates to the five U.S. jurisdictional conferences elected 15 new bishops, including four African-American women in balloting conducted July 13-16.

Married lesbian consecrated United Methodist bishop

published 7/16/2016
The first time she stood and faced a packed church as the newest bishop of the Western Jurisdiction, Karen Phyllis Oliveto was blessed with a resounding standing ovation.

On July 16, the pews at Paradise Valley United Methodist Church were filled with family, friends and supporters who cheered and danced with her to the recessional hymn, “Somos el Cuerpo de Christo, We Are the Body of Christ.”

As the first out lesbian to be elected a bishop, she is not receiving the same affirmation from across the denomination.

Our new bishop: Frank J. Beard

published 7/16/2016
Bishop Frank Beard served as the senior pastor of Castleton United Methodist Church prior to being elected to the Episcopacy.  He has been elected five times to serve as a delegate to General Conference, and six times to represent the conference at Jurisdictional Conference.  He served as the chairperson of the Indiana delegation this year. Delegation member and World Methodist Evangelism Institute Executive Director the Rev. Dr. Kim Reisman said, “I’ve worked with Frank in a variety of ...

SCJ appeals to Judicial Council: What happens now?

published 7/16/2016
The United Methodist Council of Bishops will meet July 19-20 in Chicago and will discuss “A Way Forward,” a proposal adopted by the General Conference 2016 calling for the council to appoint a commission to review all portions of the church’s law book dealing with human sexuality.

What will happen with any challenge to the election, such as the South Central Jurisdiction appeal to the Judicial Council for a declaratory judgment,
is unclear.

Council of Bishops President's statement on Oliveto's election

published 7/15/2016
Bishop Bruce R. Ough, president of the United Methodist Council of Bishops, issued the following statement regarding the results of today’s Episcopal election at the Western Jurisdictional Conference of The United Methodist Church, meeting in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Delegates listen, pray, approve budget and resolution

published 7/15/2016
By Christa Meland PEORIA – NCJ Delegates spent their last full day of Jurisdictional Conference, praying and listening, and they approved a resolution related to human sexuality as well as a budget and a new budget process for the next four years Deep listening, prayer around violence and race The day’s business session began with 90 minutes of prayer and deep listening in response to recent violence and racial tensions in our country. Delegates on Wednesday approved a special North Central ...

2016 North Central Jurisdiction -- Balloting for Bishop

published 7/14/2016
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 Total Ballots Cast 184 184 182 184 184 184 183 184 184 184 179 179 176 Valid Ballots 176 181 177 180 175 180 178 179 183 180 179 179 176 Ballots Needed to Elect 106 109 106 108 105 108 107 108 110 108 108 108 106                             Tracy Smith Malone 76 95 95 100 102 120E               Frank Beard 77 87 86 92 95 109E               David Bard 55 66 73 84 84 85 80 92 107 117E       Laurie Haller 58 74 84 87 88 81 73 85 91 89 94 102 132E ...

NEJ passes resolution urging jurisdictional adaptability

published 7/14/2016
The Northeastern Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church approved a restructuring resolution recommending the bishops’ study commission on sexuality include a plan to allow regional bodies — such as jurisdictions — to decide for themselves to adapt the Book of Discipline within their own ministry context.

Delegates approved that and two other resolutions to show disagreement with church law on sexuality issues. One of those, a petition for “non-conformity” to denominational church law, was later ruled out of order by the presiding bishop.

North Central Jurisdiction elects Laurie Haller

published 7/14/2016
The Rev. Laurie Haller of the West Michigan Conference was elected by the North Central Jurisdictional Conference on July 14.

Haller currently serves as the senior pastor of Birmingham First United Methodist Church, Detroit Conference. She was elected on the 13th ballot with 132 votes.

“I am the first bishop ever to be elected with a visible black eye,” she said, addressing the body after election. “I got it from a stray piece of airplane luggage and decided not to cover it up. It reminds me that I offer myself in utter transparency, honesty and vulnerability. It reminds me of all who live under oppression and those with wounds so deep that no one knows they exist.”

Frank Beard elected bishop by North Central Jurisdiction

published 7/13/2016
The Rev. Frank Beard, pastor of Castleton United Methodist Church in Indianapolis, has been elected as a United Methodist bishop by delegates at the North Central Jurisdictional Conference. Beard was elected July 13 at the jurisdiction’s quadrennial meeting in Peoria, Illinois. On the sixth ballot, he received 109 votes, one more than the 108 needed for election.

Beard told delegates that in 1968, he was a “snotty-nosed” kid playing around a United Methodist church when its members invited him for cookies and Kool-Aid — and then provided a scholarship so he could attend United Methodist Church camp.

Keaton issues plea for unity

published 7/13/2016
“Love your neighbor as yourself. And who is my neighbor; everybody,” said Bishop Jonathan D. Keaton, resident bishop, Illinois Area during the message, “A Plea for Unity.” “Can we all get along is another side of Jesus’ command to ‘love for God and love of neighbor?’ The behavioral question plagues our communion.“

North Central Jurisdiction elects David Bard as bishop

published 7/13/2016
The third time was the charm for the Rev. David Bard. He was an episcopal nominee in both 2004 and 2008, but this year the North Central Jurisdiction elected him as a bishop for The United Methodist Church. He was also the third bishop elected by the jurisdiction on July 13.

Bard was elected during the 10th round of voting with 117 votes; 108 were needed for election. He’s the first bishop to be elected from Minnesota in more than four decades.

SEJ bishops decry non-conformity plans as 'divisive and disruptive'

published 7/13/2016
Bishops in the U.S. Southeast denounced as “divisive and disruptive” the public refusal by some conferences to conform with church restrictions related to LGBTQ individuals.

“We recognize the pain felt both by those advocating for and those opposing change,” the Southeastern Jurisdiction College of Bishops said in a pastoral letter. “We also view the acts of nonconformity as a violation of our covenant and as divisive and disruptive.”

Tracy Smith Malone elected in North Central

published 7/13/2016
The Rev. Tracy Smith Malone of the Northern Illinois Conference was the first bishop elected by the North Central Jurisdictional Conference on July 13.

Malone, who has been serving as the Chicago Southern district superintendent since 2011, was elected on the sixth ballot with 120 votes. The same ballot elected the Rev. Frank Beard from the Indiana Conference with 109 votes. The Rev. David Bard was elected during the 10th round of voting with 117 votes. North Central must elect one more bishop and will continue voting on July 14.

MacMurray president views probation as 'unjust sanction'

published 7/12/2016
The organization that accredits approximately 1,000 institutions of higher learning in 19 states has placed MacMurray College on probation over concerns related to "strategic planning and systematic improvement." That doesn't sit well with MacMurray President Mark Tierno, who has been on the job for just one year and feels the school has made tremendous progress on issues the Higher Learning Commission identified last October.

NCJ gathers in Peoria to elect four bishops

published 7/7/2016
When delegates from the 11 annual conferences of the North Central Jurisdiction gather in Peoria, Ill., July 13-16, they become part of a 76-year tradition. In the United States, The United Methodist Church is divided into five areas known as jurisdictions -- Northeastern, Southeastern, North Central, South Central and Western. In some jurisdictions, program and leadership training events to support the annual conferences are present. Every four years the jurisdictional conferences meet simultaneously to elect new bishops and select members of general boards and agencies.

Welcome to NCJ2016!

published 7/7/2016
Welcome to the 2016 North Central Jurisdictional Conference. Our 2016 Conference theme is Living Together: In Unity…Amid Diversity…for Ministry, based upon Ephesians 4: 1-16. Conference communicators from the NCJ are working collaboratively to provide news and information about the quadrennial gathering, which will get underway on at 10 a.m. July 13, with Opening Worship and is tentatively scheduled to adjourn at 6 p.m. July 16. A Consecration Service for the four newly-elected bishops will be at 10 a.m. July 16 at Peoria First UMC, 116 NE Perry Ave.

Bishop Keaton with IGRC UMW

published 6/26/2016
Pictured are those from the IGRC United Methodist Women who attended the North Central Jurisdictional meeting in Grand Rapids, Mich., June 23-26.

Bishops at NCJ UMW gathering

published 6/26/2016
Six bishops from the North Central Jurisdiction share a moment of levity during the NCJ United Methodist Women’s Gathering June 23-26 in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Crowded field vies for four College of Bishop vacancies

published 6/13/2016
A field of 17 candidates will be offered for election to jurisdictional delegates when the North Central Jurisdiction gathers July 13-16 at the Peoria Civic Center.

Annual Conference focuses on The Harvest

published 6/12/2016
By Paul Black PEORIA -- The Illinois Great Rivers Annual Conference gathered around the theme, The Fields are Ripe for the Harvest June 8-11, 2016 at the Peoria Civic Center. This year’s conference celebrated the 46 years of ministry of Bishop Jonathan D. Keaton, who will be retiring Aug. 31 after 20 years as bishop in the North Central Jurisdiction. IGRC Communications produced five video vignettes entitled, Bishop Keaton: In His Own Words, as he shared about his life and ministry. As part of...

Ettinger receives Scouting's Torch Award

published 6/11/2016
Bill Ettinger, a member of Springfield Laurel UMC received the Torch Award recently during a Court of Honor at the church. He has been involved in the Scouting ministries of his church for most of his life. He was a Cub Scout and Boy Scout at his home church in Taylorville, attaining the rank of Eagle Scout. After college, Bill became involved with the BSA in the Abraham Lincoln Council by serving as an adult advisor to the Order of the Arrow, and began serving as an Assistant Scoutmaster.

Rivers of Life donation to AU

published 6/11/2016
The Rivers of Life Clergy Band presented Bishop Jonathan Keaton a $2,647 check for Africa University’s Making Dreams Possible campaign prior to the band leading worship at Annual Conference.

Churches can become involved in disability outreach

published 6/10/2016
The Rev. H. Russell Ewell gave a challenge to the churches of the Illinois Great Rivers Conference in becoming more aware of people with disabilities – Get Started!

“When you consider that about 20 percent of the U.S. population are persons with disabilities, that is a large audience that many are writing off,” Ewell said. “A larger share of persons with disabilities do not participate in weekly worship because the message is they are not invited.”

Congregational development video shows creative edge in reaping harvest

published 6/10/2016
When it comes to church development, the possibilities are endless and IGRC Coordinator of Congregational Development pushed that creative thinking with a humorous video entitled Dreaming New Places for New Faces. “Not every dream of new places is the right idea for a new church, but many can be great ideas of new places to connect with people in small groups or other new ministries,” Crawford said in his part of the Connectional Ministries report. “So keep dreaming!”

Crawford, Harrison, Fox win Denman, Keaton honored with Cartwright Award

published 6/10/2016
IGRC Coordinator of Congregational Development Mike Crawford was selected as the Denman Evangelism Award for clergy, while young adult Madeline Harrison of Canton Wesley UMC and Ean Fox of Kinmundy UMC were selected as the laity and youth recipients of the evangelism awards. Bishop Jonathan D. Keaton was awarded the Peter Cartwright Lifetime Achievement Award and all four were recognized on Friday as part of the Connectional Ministries report.

DCM urges change to include more of the family

published 6/10/2016
Our churches are full of broken people – old gray mares and stallions who “ain’t what they used to be” but are filled with passion, gifts, skills for ministry honed over a lifetime that they can still use to build up the body of Christ. Some of them have handicapping conditions they were born with or developed through age, accident, or illness.

They and I are children of God and can and should be contributing members to the Body of Christ, but are often overlooked because we lack the vision to see them.

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