PEORIA – Bishop Gregory V. Palmer invited members of the Illinois Great Rivers Conference to enter into open, honest and heartfelt conversations about difficult issues without discounting those to whom one disagrees.
Palmer used the rest of his address to report on several items of concern. Reflecting on his involvement in the work of the Call to Action report, which sought to bring fundamental change to the church, Palmer noted the General Conference's rejection of a major restructuring proposal that would have streamlined processes and shrunk the size of the general church.
"A lot of light was thrown on the legislation (on restructuring), but it was just a small part to what we were inviting the church," Palmer said. "Until we pay attention to relationship we will continue to have outcomes different than we desire."
Palmer also reported that the IGRC campaign for Imagine No Malaria, now in its second year, has surpassed the $1.9 million mark -- just $400,000 short of the goal.
"All of the lemonade stands and car washes have saturated the conference with the confidence of knowing we can make a difference in the world by eliminating malaria by 2015," Palmer said.
The bishop also reported of a number of initiatives which have begun and funded through a $100,000 line-item in the conference budget identified as "Bishops' Initiatives." Palmer said the funds have centered on leadership development and have included an incubator group of young pastors from the conference; multi-cultural training and work on cross-cultural and cross-racial appointments.
"It's not how do we invest in risk-taking mission and service, but more a question of how are we able to create conditions where we see risk-taking mission bubble up within our conference," Palmer said.
Palmer invited every congregation to be involved in a Change the World project on one of two Saturdays in September -- Sept. 22 or Sept. 29.
"This is not a top-down type of initiative, but asking each church to find within its community the places where they can take a risk in mission and service," Palmer said, noting that districts may choose to structure the event district-wide or in sub-district areas. More information will be shared as plans develop.