2013 Northern Illinois Annual Conference
Northern Illinois Annual Conference
June 5-8, 2013
Pheasant Run Resort, St. Charles, Ill.
Theme: Who is My Neighbor?
The Mister Roger's Neighborhood television theme song, "Won't you be my Neighbor," opened the 174th session of the Northern Illinois Annual Conference. Annual conference members reflected on the question, "Who is My Neighbor?" as the theme was carried out through worship, break-out sessions, Bible study and the Bishop's Episcopal address over the four days.
In her first State of the Church address with the NIC, presiding Bishop Sally Dyck said while it's not quite been a year, she already feels likes she's been a part of the Northern Illinois Annual Conference neighborhood for a long time. In the wake of the Newtown and Boston Marathon tragedies, natural disasters and continued violence on the streets of Chicago, now more than ever she said "the world needs good neighbors."
"Who is my neighbor? This is the salient question of our time as it challenges us in how we live as followers of Jesus," said Bishop Dyck.
Bishop Dyck set several goals for the coming year: 100 churches participating in Spanish as a second language courses offered by the conference; 100 churches to begin the process of becoming Immigrant Welcoming Congregations; raise $1 million dollars for Imagine No Malaria, which a resolution from the floor to do so passed.
She praised the work of Harvest 2020 and introduced Harvest 2.0., a strategy to continue the work of starting and supporting new faith communities while revitalizing existing churches and engaging in our communities. "It is so that we have vital Christians, in vital churches, changing our communities," she said.
On legislative action, annual conference members approved nearly two dozen resolutions which included: divesting from the coal industry; affirming clergy and congregations who support marriage equality; establishing a conference-wide property & liability insurance program; supporting comprehensive immigration reform; and establishing a task force advocating the prevention of gun violence. The annual conference also amended the standing rules to allow for elections of General and Jurisdictional delegates in 2014 two years before the next General Conference. The 2012 General Conference Constitutional amendments passed by a wide margin.
The Annual Conference also set aside time to begin Acts of Repentance to Native American and Indigenous people with future events and book studies planned in the coming year.
The conference received a thank you for paying 100 percent of its General Church apportionments for the third year in a row and the ninth time since 2000. A budget of $8,024,211 exclusive of pensions and health benefits passed.$1,239,267 of this total is directed to support new faith community work of the annual conference.A modest increase of apportionment giving of 1 percent is assumed.
Four special offerings were received. The first conference-wide Bishop's Appeal offering brought on a healthy competition between Districts to raise money for Harvest 2020 and new church starts. Nearly $80,000 was donated with 138 churches and 164 individuals participating, including The United Methodist Foundation which gave $3,000. The Chicago Northwestern District raised the most per capita and took home the coveted Bishop's Appeal traveling trophy. Other offerings included: the Ministerial Education Fund (M.E.F.) which supports United Methodist seminaries, local seminary scholarships, continuing education grants, and developing continuing education events, $2,390; the Central Conference Pension Initiative, $3,424 and Imagine No Malaria $1,802.
Volunteers assembled 1,178 health and hygiene kits for Church World Service and UMCOR. Districts went above and beyond the challenge donating enough items to make a total of 3,000 kits which the remaining will be assembled by volunteers at the Midwest Distribution Center in Chatham, Ill. Volunteers also packed nearly 5,500 pounds of food at the Northern Illinois Food Bank during an afternoon mission opportunity. Their efforts will provide about 4,600 meals to our hungry neighbors in northern Illinois.
Bishop Dyck ordained seven elders and two deacons, and commissioned ten provisional elders, three provisional deacons and one provisional recognition. Twenty-four Hispanic/Latino Lay Missioners were recognized.
Bishop Robert T. Hoshibata from the Desert Southwest Conference delivered the message for the ordination service. "After today, your life should never be the same. On this day God touched your life and sent you on a direction like you've never known before," he said to those being ordained and commissioned.
Other guests throughout the session, included Bishop Rodolfo A. Juan from the Manila Episcopal Area who delivered the message during a spirit-filled celebration of 100 years of Filipino-Methodists in the United States. Retired Elder in the NIC, the Rev. Larry Hilkemann gave a moving message during the Memorial Service. Bill Mefford from the General Board of Church and Society led bible study challenging each of us to open our eyes and hear the stories of our immigrant neighbors. Cynthia Wilson led us in worship through music and praise.
The average weekly attendance of the Northern Illinois Conference was 34,717 in 2012, a decrease of 3.2 percent from 2011. Total NIC membership decreased by 1.6 percent to 92,620 in 2012. Meanwhile, average weekly attendance for all Christian formation classes decreased by 6.4 percent to 11,660. New Faith Communities average 2,000 worshippers. The 175th Session of the Northern Illinois Annual Conference will be held June 8-10, 2014.
--Anne Marie Gerhardt, director of communications, Northern Illinois Annual Conference