News

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.

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: www.igrc.org/CK2017. 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.

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