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2009 Northern Illinois Annual Conference

Northern Illinois Annual Conference
June 7-9, St. Charles, Ill.


United Methodists of the Northern Illinois Conference took bold action to grow the church by approving the launch of more than 20 new faith communities at its 2009 Annual Conference. The expansion is part of a long-term plan the conference and Bishop Hee-Soo Jung have undertaken to respond to the changing demographics and needs of the people of Northern Illinois. These efforts would expand the number of churches in the conference by nearly five percent.

Most of the new faith communities will launch in July without dedicated buildings, allowing new church planters to begin their ministries without the burden of a mortgage or facility upkeep. Instead, the new starts are using a variety of growth models, such as community service, small groups and house meetings to reach unchurched people where they are and build relationships. The new faith communities will be creatively financed with funding coming from apportionments, closed church funds, national plans, partner churches and individual donors.

The conference voted to approve apportionments in 2010 of $7.09 million, a decrease of 2.5 percent from the 2009 budget. Financial issues were addressed several times during the conference as Lonnie Chafin informed members of the "perfect storm" of bad economic factors affecting United Methodist churches: declining endowments, increasing health care costs and decreasing giving from local churches. Chafin, conference treasurer, said that national progress on health care reform would be vital in the coming years to keep the conference from being overwhelmed by health care costs.

Debate on constitutional amendments that were passed in the 2008 General Conference was lively; members spent most of the floor time discussing the worldwide nature of the church and the constitutional language regarding inclusiveness. In respect for conferences that have not voted yet, the Northern Illinois Conference will not report its results until all other conferences have voted.

The conference approved resolutions that advocated for the rights of the disabled and created new standards in environmental stewardship for conference staff and properties.

Four deacons and 10 elders were ordained on the first night of the conference. The average age of the class is 35.

Kansas Bishop Scott J. Jones led the conference in Bible study during the first and second days of the conference, while Minnesota Bishop Sally Dyck preached during the service of ordination. Bishop Wayne L. Miller of the Episcopal Lutheran Church of America celebrated communion with Bishop Jung at the ordination service.

The conference took three offerings: $3,323 for the new faith communities, $3,540 for the Ministerial Education Fund and $3,133 for a church-building project in Bolivia. The cabinet also pledged $1,000 to Nothing But Nets in the name of Bishop Jung.

Membership stands at 101,883, down 1,685 from the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 43552, down 10. Church school attendance stands at 44,251, up 378. For more information about the Northern Illinois Conference, please visit www.umcnic.org.

-Matt Kuzma Jr.