I was grateful for the opportunity as annual conference Lay Member from Sherman United Methodist Church to attend the 2013 Northern Illinois Annual Conference. According to the Book of Discipline, ¶ 251.2, local church Lay Members “…shall report to the local church council on actions of the annual conference as soon as possible, but not later than three months after the close of conference.” In keeping with this responsibility, I submit the following summary of my attendance at annual conference during the first two days of the conference.
On Wednesday, June 5, 2013 the conference began with an opening worship service during which Bishop Dyck delivered her Episcopal Address—“Who Is My Neighbor?” from the Biblical parable of the Good Samaritan found in Luke 10: 25-37. She challenged the conference to be in ministry with both our local immigrant communities and global neighbors. In her address she provided sobering statistics about deaths of children due to malaria. “In 2006, a child died of malaria every 30 seconds but now it’s up to one child every 60 seconds; still too many children are dying...but we can save lives.” The bishop urged Northern Illinois Annual Conference churches to join the effort to raise $1 million dollars over the next three years for the Imagine No Malaria Campaign to eradicate the disease.
Health/Hygiene Kits for Missions-I delivered 50 hand towels as Sherman’s contribution to the Northwestern District goal of 500 hand towels donated by various churches in the district. The hand towels along with other items such as tooth brushes and soap were assembled into individual kits during the annual conference for distribution to those in need after weather disasters such as the tornadoes in Oklahoma.
On Thursday, June 6th the conference attendees participated in Bible Study that was led by Bill Mefford who is on staff at the General Board of Church and Society in Washington, DC. The study was based on passages of scripture from the Book of Esther with a focus on historical and current immigration issues. He challenged churches in the conference to learn about the Justice For Our Neighbor (JFON) ministry that has two clinics in Chicago and Aurora and suggested that each church should have a line-item in its budget for JFON. JFON is a faith-based ministry welcoming immigrants into churches and communities by providing free, high-quality immigration legal services, education and advocacy www.jfonnic.org.
I have served as a member from Sherman to the Northern Illinois Annual Conference United Methodist Foundation board of directors for the past twelve years. During the conference my three, four- year terms were acknowledged. The executive director of the foundation reported that for the first time in 2012 the foundation’s assets surpassed $50 million. The foundation has a proud history, when investment returns are favorable, of making monetary grants available to local churches for ministry projects.
A representative from the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits provided a brief presentation on the Clergy Retirement Security Program (CRSP) that is changing effective January 1, 2014.
During the conference, lay persons met in session separately from clergy and heard Lay Leader Arnold Rivera address the laity. In his speech he provided examples of the many ways that lay persons participate in ministry to their neighbors in the annual conference. The Laity Session also included a worship and communion service.
I became aware of a number of upcoming conference events:
- Safe Sanctuaries, Conference-wide Training on internet and social media safety, Saturday, August 24, 2013, 9 AM-3 PM at 1st UMC, 216 E. Highland Ave., Elgin, IL. Registration fee is $25.
- Summer Summit on Stewardship, Saturday, July 20, 9 AM-3 PM the event will be available via live-stream at Park Ridge: 1st UMC, 418 Touhy Avenue, Park Ridge, registration fee is $25 per person or $70 for 3 or more persons from the same church
- United Methodist Men’s 2013 Men’s Spiritual Congress, September 13-15, 2013, Williams Bay, Wisconsin.
- Northern Illinois Annual Conference School of Evangelism-“Holiness of Heart, Life and Witness” Saturday, October 19, 2013 at Barrington UMC, 98 Algonquin Road, Barrington, IL 60010
- Turnaround Church Boot Camp, October 26-27, 2013, Crowne Plaza Hotel, Northbrook, IL, registration fee $60 per person until October 1st
- Natural Church Development, September 27-28, 2013, 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM, St. Charles, IL, cost $60.
I have always found attendance at previous annual conferences to be inspirational and motivational. This session of annual conference was no exception. I urge other Sherman Church leaders to personally experience this important annual event in the United Methodist Church.
Vidette Bullock MixonJune 11, 2013