PEORIA – 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: www.igrc.org/ac2014registration. Pre-conference materials should be arriving in the mail and will be available around April 7 at: www.igrc.org/ac2014.
For the fifth consecutive year, the plenary and worship sessions of the annual conference will be broadcast over the internet. Persons wishing to view the webstream may visit www.igrc.org/ac2014live. The Twitter hashtag for the 2014 Annual Conference is: #IGRC2014.
The theme of the conference is Ministry of the Laity, which will focus on the role of laity in the life of the church. Bishop Jonathan D. Keaton, presiding in his second IGRC annual session, has invited Barbara Boigegrain, general secretary and chief executive officer of the General Board of Pensions and Dr. Colleen Hester, president of MacMurray College, to be the morning speakers, each sharing their story of God’s call into ministry as laity.
Following opening worship on Wednesday evening with Bishop Keaton preaching, the Conference will take part in a celebration of the Conference’s completion of its $2.5 million Imagine No Malaria campaign. Rev. Larry Hollon, general secretary for United Methodist Communications, will be present to join in the celebration. UM Communications was the lead agency in the Nothing But Nets campaign and has been a critical partner in the denomination’s global health initiative.
Thursday morning will include a Service of Recognition of Retirees, in which 30 retirees will be recognized – 28 retiring in 2014 and two that retired in 2013. Rev. Cynthia Jones, Kaskaskia River District Superintedent and member of the Class of 2014, will be preaching.
The initial presentation of the Conference budget, along with legislation on health insurance, pensions and the Preacher’s Aid Society and Benefit Fund report will be part of the 1:30 to 3 p.m. block on Thursday along with the Africa University Report and offering which will be embarking on its $1 million Making Dreams Possible Scholarship campaign.
At 5 p.m. Thursday, the annual Memorial Service will remember pastors, spouses and lay members to annual conference that have died in the past year. Bishop Keaton will be preaching.
Thursday evening’s All-Conference Dinner will be a celebration of 145th anniversary of the Preachers’ Aid Society and Benefit Fund, which was founded in 1869. The night’s theme is Endless Line of Splendor.
Friday morning will include reports from the Conference Board of Trustees, Director of Connectional Ministries Kent Lolling and the Cabinet Address. Friday afternoon includes the Laity Address by Conference Lay Leader Ken Miller, a Celebration of New Church Starts, and mission reports from Liberia and Honduras.
Friday evening will include the Service of Ordination and Commissioning in which three elders will be ordained and five provisional members commissioned. Bishop John Hopkins, leader of the Ohio East Area, will preach the Ordination message. He and Bishop Keaton will be joined by Rev. Gary McCants, presiding elder of the Fourth Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
Saturday morning will include a visit from the children of the annual conference, the Conference Foundation and greetings form the Lina H. McCord Intern on behalf of the Black College Fund. Final approval will also be given to the conference budget and nominations report.
In addition to monetary offerings, the Mission Distribution Center will be collecting items for UMCOR layette or birthing kits. The items list for both kits are found at: www.midwestmissiondc.org. click on Projects tab and select UMCOR Kits.
Laity in all 10 districts of the IGRC are asked to participate in a Prayer Vigil during Annual Conference. Time blocks have been assigned to each district:
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. This will be a space where one can lift the annual conference in prayer, as well as lift up your own prayer requests. In addition, there will be interactive prayer stations to lead you in prayer for our church and world.
“It is our hope that at least one person will be in the room praying during every moment the annual conference is in session,” said organizer Paige Roberts. “We are inviting anyone and everyone to commit to praying in the room for 30 minutes or more. The room is large enough that multiple people can pray at the same time.”
An online signup will be available very soon. Contact Roberts at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.