The Illinois Great Rivers Annual Conference gathered online for its second virtual annual conference session June 11-12. The theme of the two-day gathering with a two-hour clergy session and a four-hour plenary session was A Time for Healing, the first of four themes focusing on a quadrennial theme of God Has Made Everything Beautiful in His Time, based upon Ecclesiastes 3.
The start of Annual Conference came with the announcement by the State of Illinois that it was lifting masking and social distancing requirements for fully vaccinated people. Conference leadership, which has provided guidance for the past 15 months through the pandemic, is now returning such decisions to the local church in consultation with local health officials. Despite the limitations brought about by the pandemic, conferees were able to worship and gather for Christian conferencing. IGRC Communications collaborated to produce a hybrid, part-live, part-recorded Annual Conference. Attendees gathered virtually via Zoom web conferencing or by attending one of the eight remote locations throughout the annual conference. Slightly more than 930 attended annual conference from home and another 90 attended through one of the remote sites and voted manually with marshals reporting vote totals via a roll call vote once voting was completed in the Zoom room. Annual Conference secretarial staff aggregated the vote totals.
Bishop Frank J. Beard, in consultation with the Cabinet and Sessions Committee Executive Team, has announced the 2021 Annual Conference will be June 11-12 and will be conducted virtually.
The theme for the 2021 Annual Conference is A Time to Heal, based upon Ecclesiastes 3
Utilizing the knowledge gained from the virtual 2020 Annual Conference, participants will be able to offer speeches for and against and ask questions during the plenary session, slated for Saturday, June 12 from 10 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 4 p.m. The Annual Conference will be using the Zoom platform, utilizing the polling feature for voting (the same as last year) and the Q & A feature for posting questions or asking for recognition to speak for or against the motion.
No amendments or changes to the legislation will be possible. However, the Sessions Committee will be holding Pre-Conference meetings to address both technological issues as well as answer questions on the legislation.
Registration will open April 6 on the Zoom platform and because of needing secure access to the room, persons will register and receive two log-ins – one for either the clergy or laity session on Friday, and one for the joint plenary session on Saturday. These registrations will be cross-checked and verified prior to issuing the unique access code to the participant.
Bishop Frank J. Beard updated lay and clergy on a variety of issues during seven virtual pre-Easter gatherings March 21-25.
In all, more than 600 persons attended the virtual meetings over the five-day span.
“My hope is to lower anxiety, provide you with clear, direct communications, offer guidance, direction and to share with you my expectations as we move forward together,” Bishop Beard said to those in attendance.
The 90-minute sessions – designed to be instructional, informational and inspirational – were not intended to debate or discuss “hot button issues,” but to provide the community with up-to-date information.
“I truly believe that God has placed each of you in a prime spot for a special purpose but God will not force you to do anything,” Bishop Beard said. “Mordecai reminded Esther that God always has a Plan B.”
An error has been discovered in churches that were notified they were entitled to an additional lay member to the 2021 Annual Conference. In all, 10 churches are affected by the revised list. The Annual Conference Secretary has issued the following letter.
Annual Conference Secretary Ethan Carnes has announced that 186 churches will receive an additional lay member to the 2021 annual conference. The announcement was made today.
The 186 additional lay delegates will be needed to equalize the number of clergy and lay delegates at the 2021 annual conference. The equalization formula is set by the Standing Rules of the Annual Conference III.C. The purpose of equalization is to ensure an equal number of laity and clergy at the annual conference.