2012 Annual Conference explores, celebrates risk-taking mission


PEORIA -- The Illinois Great Rivers Annual Conference was held in Peoria, Ill., June 6-9, under the theme of Risk-Taking Mission.

Conference speaker was Rev. Jorge Acevedo, pastor of Grace Church, Cape Coral, Fla., who led sessions on utilizing teams for effective ministry and Turbo-Charging the Wesleyan Tradition for the 21st Century.
Bishop Gregory V. Palmer, in his episcopal address, reported on several front, including a report that the Imagine No Malaria campaign has surpassed the $1.9 million mark in the second of a three-year campaign to raise $2.3 million. Shannon Trilli, Director of Global Health Initiatives for the United Methodist Committee on Relief was the guest speaker at an All-Conference Dinner which undergirded the risk-taking mission theme. Palmer also invited IGRC congregations to engage in risk-taking mission on Sept. 22 or 29 in a conference-wide Change the World effort. Congregations will choose their venue for ministry. Palmer also invited the session to a time of holy conferencing in which members of the IGRC General Conference delegation told of their own conversation around the issue of human sexuality during General Conference in Tampa, Fla., after the larger small group sessions failed to achieve the desired result. Palmer noted that the hour-long session was a model that could be replicated in every congregation on a wide range of difficult issues.
Rev. Moses Kumar, General Secretary for the General Council on Finance and Administration, was present to present an award to the conference for its 100 percent payment of general church apportionments for the ninth year in a row. The Illinois Great Rivers Conference was one of 15 U.S. annual conferences to pay 100 percent in general church apportionments. Rev. Tom Hazelwood, head of U.S. disaster response for the United Methodist Committee on Relief, was also present to represent the agency and the Advance.
Legislatively, the session approved a Higher Education Strategic Ministry Plan, which will have a new half-time Coordinator of Campus Ministry position, who will work with the Director of Connectional Ministries, Conference Board of Higher Education and Campus Ministry, local boards and the Cabinet. On a related matter, the conference celebrated the planting of three new churches – a satellite campuses of Fairview Heights Christ UMC in Millstadt, Ill.; a second campus of Springfield Kumler UMC in the former Springfield Trinity UMC; and a new church start in Bloomington-Normal with much of the leadership coming from alumni of the Wesley Foundation at Illinois State University who have made Bloomington-Normal their home following graduation.
Special offerings were received for the following: the furnishing of the recently-completed John Kofi Asmah School in Monrovia, Liberia, $14,569; the New Hope UMC in Liberia, $11,459; Africa University, providing scholarships for students, $8,757; the Tom Brown Scholarship at Wiley College, one of the church’s historic Black Colleges, $6,240; and funds for a mission trip experience for newly ordained clergy, $3,593. The conference also collected school supplies for the Midwest Mission Distribution Center to assemble school kits.
Bishop Palmer ordained one elders and two deacons in full connection. Palmer commissioned one provisional elder. A total of 25 pastors, celebrating 615 years, retired. Bishop Janice Huie of the Houston Episcopal Area, was the guest preacher for Ordination.
Attendance stands at 64,838, down 0.95 percent from the previous year. Membership is at 138,795, down 1.03 percent from 2010. Sunday School attendance stands at 23,244, a decrease of 1.42 percent from 2010.