Neighborhood House seeking grant, needs your help

published 7/23/2014
The Lessie Bates Davis Neighborhood House's Continuum of Life Homeless Outreach Center needs your support to win a grant from the Monsanto Grow St. Louis program in 2014.

2014 Liberia Partners Summit dates announced

published 7/22/2014
The 2014 Liberia Partners' Summit will be Nov. 13-14 at Nardin Park UMC in Farmington Hills, Mich.

Liberia Partnership launches new scholarship initiative

published 7/22/2014
Please consider making a difference in the life of a child and that child’s family in Liberia. Only $175 per year will not only provide the tuition, but also provide a school uniform, shoes and school supplies. This amounts to less than $15 per month and is much lower than the current sponsorship of children through other organizations.

McKendree University named 'College of Distinction'

published 7/22/2014
McKendree University has been honored as a College of Distinction for the 2014-2015 school year. It is among a select group of colleges to earn this prestigious designation, based on excellence in four distinctions: engaged students, great teaching, vibrant campus communities and successful outcomes.

Africa University scholars graduate, begin their careers

published 7/21/2014
Two recipients of graduate-level scholarships have finished their studies at Africa University and are beginning their professional careers.
Melvin Nye Payekar of Liberia and Ivan Milosi of the Democratic Republic of the Congo have been recipients of two graduate study scholarships where one of the recipients is from Liberia and the other from another African nation. Both biographies have similarities and both saw their dreams fulfilled for an education met through the generosity of offerings within the IGRC. Both graduated from Africa University's Institute of Peace, Leadership and Governance, the newest of Faculties (Schools) at Africa University, which seeks to train students to return to their country and assist in ways to bring about peace and reconciliation.

Gifford churches host Camp Noah

published 7/21/2014
Funds from the Conference Disaster Fund were used to finance Camp Noah, a week-long camp helping children in Gifford cope with the aftermath of a Nov. 17 tornado. The camp focused on where children were at and their needs. Providing a safe space to tell their story, leaders helped the children process the disaster and assist in a week of healing that enabled the children to move forward and a new a perspective for the future. Working cooperatively with the Gifford United Methodist and ...

Making Dreams Possible...Africa University Scholarship Campaign launches, aims to raise $1 million in two years' time

published 7/21/2014
Since the groundbreaking of Africa University took place in 1991 at Old Mutare this Illinois Great Rivers Conference and its predecessor conferences have been involved in “The Dream” of making Africa University possible. Mr. Jim Salley, Associate Vice Chancellor for Institutional Advancement for Africa University made comments in his 2014 IGRC Annual Conference address saying, “The Illinois Great Rivers Conference is in the DNA of Africa University.”

Building relationships and hope ... one swing set at a time

published 7/18/2014
Youth groups throughout the United States have been coming to Washington, Ill., for Hope Swings in Washington, a seven-week mission blitz that is builiding realtionships, hope and 100 swing sets in 42 days. In all, more than 300 will rotate in for a week and build swing sets before the work is completed July 25.

IGRC youth equipped to challenge a culture of violence

published 7/18/2014
It says something about our youth today that spiritual formation through Christian conversation, worship, and acts of mercy trumped the nightlife in Times Square, a visit to The Top of the Rock, Fourth of July fireworks, and even the cute guy in the hostel café.

2014 Annual Conference Special Offerings Report

published 6/9/2014
Summary report of the special offerings collected at the 2014 Annual Conference.

2014 Annual Conference Wrap-Up

published 6/9/2014
The Illinois Great Rivers Annual Conference was held in Peoria, June 4-7, under the theme of Ministry of the Laity. The 2014 session is the first of a three-year celebration focused on ministry.

Don't Table That Motion! Walking Challege Results

published 6/9/2014
Results of the Top 21 finishers of the Don't Table that Motion! walking challenge during the 2014 Annual Conference.

Health insurance, Connectional Table proposals among legislation approved

published 6/9/2014
Lay and clergy members approved a proposal to change clergy health insurance and a new, streamlined Connectional Table during the 2014 Annual Conference session.

Listening: a generous, powerful gift

published 6/7/2014
In conversations and meetings, more often people clamor to be heard, to prepare pithy statements that others will be impressed by or remember. Yet, when actively or empathically listening to others, in other words, being in the moment and paying attention to what the other person is saying or emotionally reflecting, a person can find his or her voice by knowing that there is an attentive and caring person who will listen.

A call to serve in higher education

published 6/6/2014
“When we speak of ministry of the laity, we are speaking of the ministry of the people of God,” said MacMurray College President Colleen Hester said. “All members of the Church can be called to serve in love.” While one’s calling may be service outside one’s employment, it can also be a vocation. “Vocation talks of a deeper response to God’s call. It, is, a response to God’s summons,” Hester said.

Congregational development celebrates new church starts

published 6/6/2014
Exciting things are happening throughout the Illinois Great Rivers Conference as the Office of Congregational Development has had opportunity to partner with local churches in ministry.

Growing into your call as disciples

published 6/6/2014
Jessica Davenport, the campus minister/associate director of the Illinois State University Wesley Foundation shares her faith story at Friday's Morning Manna service.

IGRC's Honduras Initiative: An invitation to serve...and learn

published 6/6/2014
The United Methodist Church has had a significant presence in Honduras following the devastation of Hurricane Mitch in 1998. After 16 years of "relief" as we traditionally know it, the Honduran Mission is in place and overseeing the growth of 18 United Methodist church plants throughout the country...many in the true spirit of Wesley's movement.

Laity address offers glimpse into disaster response

published 6/6/2014
When two dozen tornadoes blazed a trail of destruction across Illinois last Nov. 17, no one could imagine the enormity of the challenge and the way in which pastors and laity in the Illinois Great Rivers Conference would respond.

Liberia Partnership rolls out new scholarship initiative

published 6/6/2014
The Liberia Partnership announced a new scholarship initiative during its report to the 2014 Annual Conference in which church or individuals can sponsor a Liberian child's education.

Recognizing greatness

published 6/6/2014
In a world that confuses success with significance, Bishop John Hopkins asked those attending this year's ordination service, "Can we recognize greatness?"

Annual conference homecoming for Army chaplain

published 6/5/2014
Chaplain Capt. John Read shares how his call to the chaplaincy was shaped by laypersons from his home church, Granite City Good Shepherd UMC and how their prayers and support have sustained him throughout his ministry.

Connectional ministries: It's all about focus...

published 6/5/2014
When it comes to making disciples, it's all about focus. And for the connectional ministries of the annual conference, it is about equipping the local church for ministry and providing a connection to ministry beyond the local church.

Home is a relationship

published 6/5/2014
"I have often found it difficult to answer where home is,” said the Rev. Cynthia Jones during her sermon at the retiree recognition service. “The easy answer is the address to where mail is sent and where I presently live. But home is also the rooms of my family of origin….We know deep inside us home is not a place, but a relationship!”

Ministry of the Laity seen in 2014 Denman Award winners

published 6/5/2014
By Paul Black PEORIA – While the 2014 Annual Conference theme was Ministry of the Laity, the selection of this year’s Denman Evangelism Awards underscores the significance an empowered laity can have on the life of the church.   The IGRC Evangelism Committee has announced the awarding of the clergy Denman Award to the Rev. Nancy Ribes, pastor of Mt. Olive and Sorento UMC’s and the laity Denman Award to Jon and Robyn Clark, who are a part of the Maryville Campus of Fairview Heights Christ UMC. ...

The power of resurrection hope...through tears

published 6/5/2014
“Jesus’ love for Lazarus tells me something about your loved ones,” Bishop Jonathan Keaton told family members who gathered for the 2014 Memorial Service at annual conference. “Our Lord has the same love for your loved one as he had for Lazarus….Weep Jesus, weep on till we learn from your tears again and again, till we see again and again that you love us with a perfect love, a ‘love that will not let us go.’”

Gifted Saints: builders of unity

published 6/4/2014
Bishop Jonathan D. Keaton used his opening night message of the 2014 Annual Conference to underscore the challenge of staying united in the midst of differences -- an issue that is facing the United Methodist denomination, while also reporting on congregations within the Illinois Great Rivers Conference and how they are finding vitality.

Over the Top: IGRC's opening night offering pushes campaign past $2.5 million

published 6/4/2014
Members of the Illinois Great Rivers Conference celebrated on opening night of Annual Conference as an offering of more than $39,000 for Imagine No Malaria pushed the campaign past its $2.5 million goal.

A call to prayer during Annual Conference

published 5/29/2014
Come and shower the Annual Conference meeting with prayer. A prayer room in Room 134 of the Peoria Civic Center will be open when the conference is in session. If not traveling to Annual Conference, participate in your District's Prayer Vigil while Annual Conference is in session.

Campaign nears $2.5 million mark

published 5/29/2014
As of May 28, the Illinois Great Rivers Conference is within $14,153 of its $2.5 million goal for Imagine No Malaria.

Health insurance among Annual Conference legislation

published 5/29/2014
Lay and clergy members will gather June 4-7 for the 2014 Illinois Great Rivers Annual Conference around the theme Ministry of the Laity, but clergy health insurance and the way it is provided will be one of the major pieces of legislation that will be discussed. A proposal by the Conference Board of Pensions will be presented Thursday afternoon. The proposal, which would take effect Jan. 1, 2015, would move the clergy currently covered by a self-insured plan to purchasing insurance from the exchanges under provisions of the Affordable Care Act. A $12,000 health insurance allowance is being proposed by the Committee on Equitable Compensation to be added to full-time clergy salaries by their congregations. Currently, local congregations pay $17,520 per full-time pastor for insurance coverage while pastors pay $65 per month for individual coverage and $320 per month for spousal coverage. The actual cost to the pastor would depend upon the plan which the pastor chooses.

Health Miles Challenge during Annual Conference

published 5/29/2014
Active or retired clergy and spouses along with conference staff have received an email from Todd Creviston of the General Board of Pensions, inviting them to accept the challenge. The challenge has been set up by Rick Van Giesen, IGRC Director of Administrative Services and Pension and Benefits officer.

Lessie Bates Davis Neighborhood House to sponsor Bookbag Giveaway

published 5/29/2014
Lessie Bates Davis Neighborhood House, in cooperation with Catholic Urban Programs, will host the 6th Annual Bookbag Giveaway on Saturday, Aug. 9, at the Family Development Center on State Street, next to the East St. Louis School District 189 offices.

The Back to School Event will feature all of the following at no charge:
• Bookbags and school supplies
• Medical and dental professionals providing back-to-school physicals and dental checkups
• District 189 representatives to help parents complete school registration
• Stylists offering haircuts

Stay Connected during Annual Conference

published 5/29/2014
Whether in attendance or at home, you can stay connected to the 2014 Annual Conference in Peoria June 4-7. A new app in Android and Apple versions, live streaming, Facebook, Twitter, or through electronic newsletters or a wrap-up edition of The Current, IGRC Communications will keep you "in the loop."

UM Children's Home reaccredited

published 5/29/2014
The EAGLE Accreditation Commission has confirmed re-accreditation for United Methodist Children’s Home in Mt. Vernon. There are only 38 health and welfare institutions nationwide that have achieved EAGLE status in recognition of their efforts toward excellence.

Annual Conference Clergy-Laity Choir will sing for the Retiree Service

published 5/7/2014
The Annual Conference Clergy-Laity Choir will sing for the Retiree Service.

Logsdon appointed IGRC Director of Connectional Ministries

published 5/4/2014
Bishop Jonathan D. Keaton has announced the appointment of the Rev. Dr. Thomas R. Logsdon as IGRC Director of Connectional Ministries, effective July 1, 2014.

2015 Holy Land Pilgrimage dates announced

published 4/24/2014
Bishop Jonathan Keaton has announced that the 2015 Holy Pilgrimage will be Feb. 10-19, 2015. Educational Opportunities will be hosting a complimentary informational luncheon Thursday, June 5 during Annual Conference

Baby Fold celebrates Strassheim's leadership

published 4/24/2014
The Baby Fold used its annual Founders Day banquet as an opportunity to honor retiring CEO Dale Strassheim for his dedication and contributions to the ministry April 10.

Golden Cross Sunday May 11

published 4/24/2014
The Illinois Great Rivers Conference will celebrate Golden Cross Sunday on May 11.   Envelopes for the special offering have already been mailed. Bulletin inserts may be downloaded from the IGRC website at:   Proceeds of the offering support conference ministries as they care for God’s Family. The IGRC Golden Cross agencies are: Evenglow Lodge, Sunset Home, United Methodist Village, Wesley Village, pastoral care ministries at Alton Memorial Hospital and Methodist ...

Hisey new Associate Coordinator of Congregational Development

published 4/24/2014
Peggy Hisey has been hired as the new Associate Coordinator of Congregational Development, effective June 1.

Schultz selected to lead Baby Fold

published 4/24/2014
The Baby Fold Board of Directors announced April 2 the appointment of Dianne Schultz as the new President and CEO replacing Dale Strassheim who is retiring effective July 1. Schultz is the current Director of Academic Services for The Baby Fold and has been with the organization since 1992.

Youth at Annual Conference information

published 4/24/2014
If your congregation is sending a youth (age 12-18) to annual conference as a church representative, district member-at-large, or even tag-along, contact the Office of Camping, Retreat, and Youth Ministries know as soon as possible so we can connect him/her with other youth and resources at annual conference. You may email Alice Shirley at or phone her at 217-529-2646 with the information.

Grimmett appointed Mississippi River District Superintendent

published 4/20/2014
Bishop Jonathan D. Keaton has announced the appointment of Rev. Dr. Roger Grimmett as superintendent of the Mississippi River District, effective July 1.

The announcement was made April 20 at Vandalia First UMC, where Grimmett has been pastor for the past six years. Grimmett succeeds the Rev. Gary Wilson, who has been appointed pastor of Peoria Bethel UMC. Wilson has served as Mississippi River District Superintendent since April 1, 2009.

Imagine No Malaria: Approaching the Finish Line

published 4/2/2014
As of Feb. 28, IGRC had collected $2,365,443 – which included $1,927,868 in contributions received along with $437,575 in pledge payments received. The total did not include the $17,832 received by the Conference office and remitted in the first week of March. That leaves the conference $116,725 short of the $2.5 million goal.

Raysons raising funds for Imagine No Malaria

published 4/2/2014
Revs. Mike and Amy Rayson are raising funds for Imagine No Malaria in memory of their late son's 18th birthday and what would have been his high school graduation year.

Who were the United Brethren?

published 4/2/2014
Now that it's been 46 years since the Evangelical United Brethren Church and The Methodist Church united to form The United Methodist Church, and 68 years since the United Brethren in Christ joined the Evangelical Church to form the Evangelical United Brethren Church, there are relatively few people who are able to remember the United Brethren Church.

Annual Conference to meet in Peoria June 4-7

published 4/1/2014
The Illinois Great Rivers Conference of The United Methodist Church will be meeting in Peoria for the 13th consecutive year June 4-7. The Peoria Civic Center will serve as the conference’s central location for the more than 1,600 expected to attend.

Online registration began April 1 and will continue through May 12 at: Pre-conference materials should be arriving in the mail and will be available around April 7 at:

Booker-Jones, Grulke, Eastin new conference superintendents

published 4/1/2014
Bishop Jonathan D. Keaton has announced the appointment of Rev. Dr. Rose Booker-Jones as Iroquois River District Superintendent, Rev. Dr. Scott Grulke as Embarras River District Superintendent and the Rev. Carol Lakota Eastin as Kaskaskia River District Superintendent, effective July 1.

Ebola virus reaches Liberia

published 4/1/2014
A suspected Ebola virus that began in neighboring Guinea has reached Liberia with two confirmed cases in an outbreak that has claimed a suspected 70 lives across west Africa and IGRC officials are monitoring the situation to assess whether a scheduled July mission trip is possible.

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