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2012 Northern Illinois Annual Conference

Northern Illinois Annual Conference
June 6-9, 2012, St. Charles, Ill.

Members of the Northern Illinois Annual Conference (NIC) came together to "Celebrate God's Amazing Work" at the 173rd session held June 6-9, 2012, in St. Charles, Ill.

In his State of the Church Address, presiding Bishop Hee-Soo Jung spoke of the bold steps the NIC has made since the Harvest 2020 movement was announced five years ago. In that time, 30 new faith communities have been launched, attracting more than 2,000 new worshipers.

"At the five year mark we assess, continue to perfect and push forward to become a people of God's vision for the church in the 21st century," said Bishop Jung. "We can allow our changing society to shape the future for a dying church or we can embrace change and adapt the work of making disciples to address the present and future age."

A celebration was held for Bishop Jung and wife Im-Hyon s eight years of ministry with the Northern Illinois Conference with special guests, music and remarks. Uncertain of the Jurisdictional Episcopal Committee assignments in July, Bishop Jung said the first eight years of Episcopal leadership have been filled with joy and learning. "We have increased efforts and opportunities to redevelop the church. We have learned about our global nature and expanded our borders. We have fostered reconciliation in the face of conflicts and matured in our witness."

On the heels of General Conference, Bishop Jung noted change is happening in the denomination but expressed sadness by the lack of movement around sexual orientation. "God's mandate is clear, we must offer our Church and Christian fellowship to all people. Can we be Immigrant Welcoming Congregations? Can we be reconciling churches?"

On legislative action, the session approved more than a dozen resolutions which included; a call to end mass incarceration and the building of private prisons, support for raising the minimum wage in Illinois, reauthorization of the Hyatt boycott and continuing a partnership with Bolivia.

Rev. Moses Kumar, General Secretary for the General Council on Finance and Administration presented an award to the conference for paying 100% of its General Church apportionments for the second year in a row and the eighth time since 2000. "The ability to pay the general church apportionment in full is made possible by the faithful participation of the local churches many of whom have made apportionment offerings of great sacrifice and after considerable effort.Fifteen additional churches were able to pay 100% of their local church apportionment in 2011 from 2010," said Lonnie Chafin, NIC Conference treasurer. The 2012 budget of $8,445,523, a decrease from 2011 of 8% was approved.

Four special offerings were received for the following: Ministerial Education Fund (M.E.F.) which supports United Methodist seminaries, local seminary scholarships, continuing education grants, and developing continuing education events, $2,361; the Moscow UM Theological Seminary, $3321; Youth Worship Service, $1,579; and in honor of Bishop Jung and wife Im-Hyon, an offering of $7,280 will be divided among Harvest 2020 and the Academy for Spiritual Formation. More than 50 churches met the Church World Service's challenge and brought a total of 1,265 baby care, school and hygiene kits as well as emergency cleanup buckets to the mission truck. In addition, just over $1,500 was received to cover the costs of processing and shipping the kits to those in need.

Bishop Jung ordained eight elders, and commissioned twelve provisional elders and three provisional deacons. Bishop Warner H. Brown, Jr. of the California-Nevada Episcopal area was the guest preacher for the ordination service.

Other guests throughout the session included Bishop C. Joseph Sprague, who returned home to receive the Peace with Justice award and to deliver the message at the Memorial Service; Retired Bishop Sharon Rader; Bishop In-Hwan Im, Episcopal leader of the Seoul South Annual Conference; Bishop Nimrod Christian from the Methodist Church of India; Rev. Eduard Khegay, assistant to the Bishop of the Eurasian Episcopal Area; and Rev. Grace Imathiu, who led Bible study.

2011 NIC membership is 95,667 (down 2.2%), worship attendance is 37,091 (down 5.5%) and church school attendance is 12,799 (down 14% from 2010). New Faith Community church attendance stands at 2,000.

* Anne Marie Gerhardt, director of communications