September 2017 Reporter

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umcnic www.



Volume 163 | Issue 8


Northern Illinois Conference of The United Methodist Church 77 W. Washington St. Suite 1820 Chicago, IL 60602

The United Methodist Church


Reporter Northern Illinois Conference

A Red Cross volunteer stands by the hundreds of flood buckets delivered to the center in Rockford to help residents clean up after the summer floods.

Helping residents in rising waters The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) provided 600 flood “cleaning” buckets to assist those affected by flooding in northern Illinois this summer. A truck delivered the donated buckets from the Midwest Mission Distribution Center in Chatham to the Red Cross Center in Rockford on August 2 where supplies were running low. Heavy July rains swelled rivers in many areas including Lake, McHenry and Jo Daviess Counties. Homeowners were left cleaning up the damage from the floodwaters days after the storms passed. Red Cross District Director Mike O’Brien said he had been working 12 hour days since July 12 helping in the flood relief. He said the additional buckets were much appreciated. “We had 100 buckets prior to the July flooding and we sent many to the Round Lake area,” said O’Brien. “The UMCOR buckets will help replenish our supply and be distributed to residents still trying to clean up their living spaces in Rockford, Freeport, Pearl City and other flooded areas.” According to UMCOR each bucket filled with cleaning supplies is valued at $65 which adds up to a $39,000 donation. Conference Disaster Response Coordinator Rev. Christina Vosteen says “this is your UMCOR donations at work.” Vosteen coordinated with the Red Cross and UMCOR to help make the much-needed flood bucket delivery possible. Partnering also with the Salvation Army, several United Methodist area churches pitched in to help serve food and deliver supplies to those affected in the Freeport and Pearl City areas.

thus far

Rockford District Superintendent Lisa Kruse-Safford said it was heartening to see the connection at work. “It is a great web of communities coming together to offer support and care in great times of need, from the gifts of flood buckets that come together in Chatham and then are sent out to partner agencies to the hands and hearts of more United Methodists mobilized to help with distribution,” she said. “To witness how all parts of the connection are necessary to make ministry happen reminds us that everyone’s role is crucial!” If you would like to still make donations for flood relief, they may be made through your local church to UMCOR Advance #901670 or to NIC Disaster Response by mailing checks and writing in the memo line: Advance #50000148. Mail to: Northern Illinois Conference, PO Box 5646, Carol Stream, IL 60197-5646.

Volunteers from First UMC in Freeport help prepare meals for homeowners affected by the floods.

The Commission on a Way Forward released a status report following their meeting at Wespath in Glenview, Ill., at the end of July to the Council of Bishops and the entire United Methodist Church (UMC), updating the church and the leaders on the faithful work of the Commission after four meetings. The 32-member commission is accountable to the Council of Bishops, which named the members following a mandate from the 2016 General Conference. The charge from the General Conference was for the bishops to find a way forward and for unity in the UMC on issues related to human sexuality. In releasing the status report, the Commission moderators Bishops David Yemba, Sandra Steiner Ball and Ken Carter said the status report was available in video and PDF form and can be shared electronically, in worship and in print. “We encourage all United Methodists to view this, to use it in worship. We encourage you to offer us feedback and prayer,” the moderators said. The Commission has five more meetings to complete, with two of the meetings coming prior to the November meeting of the Council of Bishops. The final report will be issued to the Council of Bishops, who will then present the report to the 2019 Special Session of General Conference for action. For the full report and more information on the Commission visit




Bishop’s Column: Why I am a United Methodist. . . 2

Celebrating the Journey . . . 3

Fighting Hunger. . . 4 - 5

“Cradle to Prison” initiatives . . . 6

The Reporter is published monthly by NIC Communications. Postmaster: Send address changes to: NIC, 77 W. Washington St. Suite 1820, Chicago, IL 60062

Why I am a United Methodist

“I encourage you to think about why you are United Methodist and to talk about it with others.”

By Bishop Sally Dyck

I wasn’t raised in The United Methodist church. My family is Mennonite. While growing up, the church was the center of our lives. Through the church I was given many opportunities for leadership (usually breaking the gender bar along the way) and mission. The church shaped me in many ways. When I went to college as a nursing major, I encountered a female chaplain, Dr. Sharon Parks. It took me a while to realize that she was clergy! As I did, I knew that ministry was my calling and not nursing. Later I finished college at Boston University and applied to go to Boston University School of Theology (a United Methodist-related seminary). There I encountered United Methodism and with it, my future husband, Ken Ehrman. There was little room for women in ministry in the Mennonite church and so as I learned more about United Methodism, I joined the church. The one thing I struggled with in the UMC was baptizing infants (Mennonites baptize believers). But as I studied and learned more about United Methodist’s understanding of grace and how it relates to baptism, including babies, grace became a central part of my faith. Like Eskimos who have many words for snow, it seemed like United Methodists had many words for grace: prevenient grace, justifying grace, and sanctifying grace! Grace abounds! As I had grown into adolescence and young adulthood in the Mennonite church, relating faith and justice was important to me. So when I encountered United Methodism, social holiness along with personal holiness was very attractive to me. It put together the love of God and love of neighbor that is essential in living out our Christian faith. This has been a fundamental component of United Methodism for me. The connectionalism within United Methodism is also important to me. In the Mennonite church, we would play (and I still can) “the Mennonite game.” Within about three questions of someone who is (or was) Mennonite, we can establish a connection or relationship, even blood relationship, with each other. We know similar people, have done similar things, and have commonalities with each other. In United Methodism, connectionalism is meant to be relational, not just organizational or structural. The organization or structure of our connection (districts, conferences, jurisdiction and general conference) provides the opportunity for relationships with others. Local churches can relate to one another because of clusters or districts. We can do more together through our districts and annual conference than we can alone. And truly, we have the ability to do far more than we can imagine as a connectional church than as gaggle of independent congregations.

Of course, with connectionalism and relationships with others who are different from each other come challenges. Someone (and I can’t remember who) recently said that blessings come when we are outside our comfort zone. As I reflect on the best of connectionalism and its challenges, that is true. Connectionalism and the relationships it has produced have enriched my life but has also caused me to grow in understanding of God, the church and the world. The Mennonite USA church is small; less than 100,000 adult members. It does wonderful things in mission, outreach, evangelism (its growth is largely in non-ethnic Mennonites), and social action. But it doesn’t have the scope and scale that United Methodism has in our communities, nation and world over our historical span. The impact of The United Methodist church over the centuries in the U.S. and around the world has been tremendous. I want to be a part of something that is big enough to make a difference. One of the best ways to describe the impact of our scope and scale has been through our work in eliminating deaths by malaria—Imagine No Malaria. It all began because everywhere the United Nations Foundation went in Africa to address malaria, they encountered a United Methodist church, school, clinic or hospital. We were where they wanted to distribute (initially just) bed nets. They called us! And we responded. Since 2006, we have raised $72 million. With our partners in the effort, we have reduced mortality rates by 60%, having gone from a child in Africa dying from malaria every 30 seconds to every 2 minutes; no child should die but at least this is progress. We’ve provided over 4 million bed nets, treated over 2. 7 million people for malaria, and trained thousands of local health care workers and volunteers. The training of local health care workers was instrumental in addressing the Ebola crisis more effectively. Imagine No Malaria is just one way that we as United Methodists have impacted the world to make a difference. I encourage you to think about why you are United Methodist and to talk about it with others. Your district superintendent will lead you in conversation through some questions at your church conference that may help you articulate why you’re United Methodist and for you to hear from others. Conference Leaders and others will also be sharing why they’re United Methodist over the next several months in the pages of the Reporter. Also, on September 16, we will have conversations about how it is we can be united as a denomination around our mission rather than fragmented by our differences. Again, a focus on what it means to be United Methodist. So why are you a United Methodist?

Jessie Cunningham, NIC Co-Lay Leader

“I want to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”

“I believe that our connectionalism truly allows us to be the presence of Jesus throughout the world” 2 | The Reporter | September 2017

I am a United Methodist because the church is a home for my faith, my appreciation of grace and my calling to social justice activism. I joined The United Methodist Church as an adult. I was born in Alabama, spent my childhood as a Baptist and my teen and young adult years as a member of the Church of God In Christ. After moving to ChiJessie cago, my children joined Scout troops at a local UMC, Cunningham and soon after we all became members. In The United Methodist Church, I found clergy and mentors who walked along with me on my faith journey, who encouraged me to reexamine my relationship with Jesus Christ and who introduced me to the wonderful concepts of John Wesley’s grace.

In the United Methodist Women, I learned leadership skills and found support in its sisterhood of grace. As a lay member, the partnership between clergy and laity that I have found in The United Methodist Church has been empowering. To be invited to the table where decisions are made and have my input respected is something I love about The United Methodist Church. I am a United Methodist because it is a multicultural, multi-ethnic and diverse denomination. It’s not where it should be, but it’s trying, and it is not afraid to face the difficult issues. And The United Methodist Church has allowed me to live out Micah 6:8, to act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with my God through the Social Principles and the interconnected global church. I am a United Methodist because I want to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

Mark Manzi , Co-Lay Leader I am a lifelong United Methodist. I was baptized and confirmed at Richard Street United Methodist Church in Joliet, Illinois, and attended there through high school. After college, I began my teaching career in Carol Stream and found St. Andrew United Methodist Church where I still attend today, 41 years after that first visit. Mark Manzi Richard Street shaped my early life starting with a book on John Wesley, which was required reading for confirmation. This began an understanding of whom the founder of Methodism was and what he focused on in ministry - social holiness, love of God and love of

neighbor, the importance of small groups. I also appreciate our focus, as United Methodists, on the Wesleyan Quadrilateral- Scripture, tradition, reason, and experience. Disciple Bible study made an important impact on my life and significantly changed how I approached almost all that I did in and out of church. I have continued with a regular weekly Bible and book study since retirement that has expanded the way I put my faith into action and follow the way of Jesus. I am a United Methodist for these reasons and believe that our connectionalism truly allows us to be the presence of Jesus throughout the world in ways greater than we could be by ourselves.

New Faith Community celebrates the journey A New Faith Community in the Northern Illinois Conference has reached the end of its journey but leaves a lasting imprint on its members and those they served. Journey Community held its last worship service on June 11, 2017, nearly ten years after seeds were planted to start a new church with the hope of reaching young people and second-generation Korean-Americans in the greater Chicagoland area. The church grew out of a small group from First Korean United Methodist Church in Wheeling and after nearly two and a half years of planning, Journey Community officially launched on Palm Sunday in April 2011 with founding Pastors Daniel and Isaiah Park. The congregation worshipped in the Korean Cultural Center in Wheeling and later launched a second site inside a theater on Chicago’s Northwest Side. Most recently, Journey found a home at First UMC of Park Ridge under Pastor Kyungsu Park. After much discernment, prayers and conversations, Journey members say it was an incredibly difficult decision to discontinue the church, but say they’re ready for a new journey. “Although this decision was made with heavy hearts, God has placed a new vision and new paths for us to pursue,” members wrote in a letter to the Conference. “Although the physical doors of Journey Community Church might be closed, the disciples that God created within those walls and those who have and still call Journey “home”, will be continuing the work in our lives and strive to always seek God and His will first.” Member Peter Shin started coming to Journey Community three years ago after being invited to a potluck at the pastor’s home where he says he felt very welcomed. “Journey was a place of kindness, genuine friendship, and fellowship,” said Shin. “If there was one thing I wish people would know or remember about Journey was how we accepted everyone. Not just because each individual was kind and welcoming, but it stemmed from the gospel and just poured out of each person’s character there.” Jed Hwang was searching for a new church which had a community of people his age and who were serious about their faith. He started coming to Journey three months before the launch and stayed because he found what he needed. “Everywhere I went before, a lot of people just went to church because it was what their parents told them to do or it was just habit, but I was seeking a group of believers who really were serious about their faith and interested in growing in their own personal walk as well as a community to make a difference in the world,” said Hwang. Hwang says he wants people to remember that Journey reached many people through ministry and changed lives forever, especially second-generation Korean Americans. “The need to reach second-generation Korean Americans is real and many of my friends that grew up in the church refuse to go because of past pains,” said Hwang. “At one point, many second-generation Korean Americans came to Journey because it was a safe place to be themselves and not be judged. I grew up in the church yet I really feel like I solidified my foundation and who I am in Christ during my time at Journey. I grew in ways that I

Pastoral letter regarding racism and violence in our country On August 12 a national tragedy occurred (again) when supremacist and neo-Nazi groups went to Charlottesville, VA and gave rise to violence, destruction and death. We are grieving for the individuals involved but even more so, what these acts of racism and violence say about us as a people. I encouraged, along with most religious leaders, that every church pray for justice the next day, a Sunday. Many rewrote sermons or made statements in the service and/or held times of prayer. Did you? Did your church have prayer? I’m asking that we continue to reflect on this tragedy and have prayer about racial justice. It’s reported that there are more scheduled rallies by these hate groups in the coming weeks. We need to pray for those communities of faith that will, like in Charlottesville, seek to literally link arms and walk for justice. I can see how people develop attitudes of racism and supremacy in our culture, but I cannot understand how people who claim Christianity can harbor, nurture and promote such attitudes toward others. Hate and racism are taught to people—young and old alike—and yes, such attitudes and beliefs have become more prevalent, open and emboldened. Racial justice isn’t just a social concern; it is a gospel teaching. As followers of Jesus, we need to counter those messages of hate and racism with the teachings of Jesus. But my heart is heavy for other places in our world, too. Please continue to pray for peace with North Korea. Also remember the people of Sierra Leone who experienced a devastating mudslide on August 14 with hundreds of people missing and dead at this writing. If a stranger to Christianity walked into your church or listened to your private prayers, would the stranger be able to tell that our Christian, specifically United Methodist, faith loves the world as God does? Thank you for your faith, witness and courage!

By Anne Marie Gerhardt

could never have imagined and was challenged by the pastors about why I believed what I did.” Chicago Northwestern District Superintendent Rev. Zaki L. Zaki says Journey Community was a bold and innovative response on the part of the Northern Illinois Conference to provide outreach to a growing and emerging second-generation Korean-American community. “As I look back, I give thanks to many individuals, groups, and congregations who supported Journey Community over the years,” said Zaki. “I also give thanks for the many lives touched by Journey Community and its unique grace-filled and mission-minded expression of the Gospel.” Congregational Development and Redevelopment Director Rev. Martin Lee said when they dreamed of starting a church to reach second-generation Korean American young professionals in downtown Chicago and the greater Chicagoland area they had a clear vision and plan. While Journey Community became unsustainable, Lee says their mission and work will be remembered and serve as a great example. “Over the course of its ministry life, people were touched by God, experiencing grace personally and in community,” said Lee. I am especially thankful for South Suburban Korean United Methodist Church and Wheeling First Korean United Methodist Church for their prayer support as well as their financial support. Without the contributions of these two faithful congregations, we could never even have attempted this ministry.” Lee said other partners included the Korean Ministry Plan, the North Central Korean Mission Council as well as the Northern Illinois Conference. “I believe that God works in God’s own distinctive ways and our part is to be faithful to God’s calling,” said Lee. Rev. Zaki thanked founding Pastors Daniel and Isaiah Park for their “sacrificial and committed investment” in the creation of Journey Community, the faithful members of Journey Community who gave of their time and resources, the congregation of First Rev. Zaki L. Zaki (far right), Pastor Kyungsu Park (back left) UMC of Park Ridge who opened and members of Journey Community Church hold their final their doors and heart to welcome service on June 11, 2017. Journey Community and provided them with a place to meet and worship, and Pastor Kyungsu Park and his family for their contribution to the life and ministry of Journey during the past two years.

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.


- Romans 12:21

Go to to learn more about how you can be a force for good. Open Hearts. Open Minds. Open Doors.

The people of The United Methodist Church® For more resources to engage in conversation about race and racism visit

~Bishop Sally Dyck September 2017 | The Reporter | 3

The invisible face of hunger among our neighbors By Susan Dal Porto

Vicki Johnson tends to the community gardens on the church property which produce vegetables for the food pantry. Photo by: Anne Marie Gerhardt

Bill Richmond picks his produce, fresh bread and other staples from the “grocery” style food pantry at Roselle United Methodist Church. Photo by: Anne Marie Gerhardt.

Volunteers put in a total of 100 hours a week to prep the food and pantry for clients to shop and stock up each Saturday. Photo by: Anne Marie Gerhardt 4 | The Reporter | September 2017

In the midst of any community in the United States in 2017, hunger looms as a widespread but very often invisible problem. Data indicates that 1 in 5 children and 1 in 10 families are food insecure – wondering where their next meal might be coming from or having to choose between paying a bill, getting medical help or putting a healthy meal on the table. The federal government does provide supplemental food assistance for people living below the poverty line ($24,600 for a family of 4). But there are gaps. The loss of a job, a medical emergency, death, divorce can all create a crisis in the families and home of working people. Often at risk are seniors on fixed incomes. For these reasons, the Community Food Pantry at Roselle United Methodist Church was organized three years ago under the leadership of Vicki Johnson, a former registered nurse and insurance executive. Vicki encountered the hunger gap in a very personal way when a back injury from years of hard physical labor doing bedside nursing forced her to go on disability. Her income was dramatically slashed, challenging her to make altered means stretch to cover her expenses. “My passion to help feed the hungry grew out of my own frustrations with trying to access any services while I was on disability,” said Vicki. Vicki was tending her garden plot when another gardener encouraged her to talk with the pastor at Roselle UMC who shared the same passion. Two months later, the pantry opened. “I wanted a place that treated people with dignity and respect,” said Vicki. When clients walk in, they’re greeted with coffee and pastries. They fill out a shopping form for canned goods and a variety of choices of meat. They then walk into a bright, clean room with quaint red awnings, grocery carts and stands filled with a multitude of fresh produce, breads, milk and juices. “It’s the Cadillac of food pantries. They have everything!” said Diane, a Roselle resident who visits the pantry monthly to help feed her and her 35-year old disabled son. “There’s not a lot of income coming in so this pantry is a real relief.” The pantry, which received a 2016 NIC Creative Ministries Grant, expanded into rooms in the church that were no longer in active use and now feeds 200 individuals a month, including 60 children in the Village of Roselle. The church’s pastor, Rev. Melissa Hood has voiced an audacious vision for this ministry: “Our goal is to end hunger in Roselle.” Bill Richmond is retired on a fixed income and a cancer survivor. He says the pantry has been a Godsend. “A lot of money is going out for medical bills,” said Richmond, a Roselle resident who is now considering joining the church. “The food I receive really helps and I can’t say enough about the people here. They’ve been a real blessing in my life.” This United Methodist Church is now the focal point for feeding ministries in this community. The pantry has spun off a free community meal once a month and has also galvanized the work of nearly 70 volunteers who sort donations, work with clients, and track inventory. The congregation of Roselle United Methodist Church provides volunteers, donations and space at the church for the pantry to operate. But more broadly, the pantry has also become a rallying effort for other organizations in the area. Locally, Lutheran and Catholic churches, as well as Cub Scouts, the local police department, schools, elected government officials, and area businesses regularly donate and send teams of volunteers to help at the pantry. The church pantry, working with five local retailers, has also recovered 88,706 pounds of food or 73,921 meals so far this year. There is a stigma for many to admit they are hungry and so they struggle with hard choices and stay silent about it, sacrificing well-balanced, nutritious meals. On a recent Saturday when the Food Pantry was open, a new family with young children came for the first time. The family was nervous, and a bit embarrassed to ask for help. When they went to a room filled with many choices of fresh produce that come from area donors – Mariano’s, Jewel, Walmart as well as vegetables grown by the local garden club and master gardeners – the mother, humbled by her circumstances but overwhelmed with the bounty of food offered to her family, collapsed in tears. One of the pantry volunteers held the mother’s hand and offered to pray with her. The pantry from the beginning has sought to offer not only physical sustenance but spiritual support as well. Pastor Melissa reminds the congregation and the pantry volunteers “there is no shame in being hungry.” Growing up in Maywood, Ill., in the 60s, Vicki recalls how neighbors looked after one another and if there was a vacant lot, someone would grow a garden to share the harvest with others in need. “We didn’t wait for some governmental agency to step in. We took care of one another,” said Vicki. “That’s what I want us to be. The church that takes care of our neighbors.” September has been designated by Feeding America as well as local area Food Banks and participating pantries as Hunger Action Month. To learn more about the problem of hunger in our midst, visit For more information on the Roselle Food Pantry visit

Feeding hungry students on break

More than 50 Northwestern University students, who remain on campus during spring break when dining halls are closed, receive free groceries from a collaborative campus ministries food pantry.

By Julie Windsor Mitchell, University Christian Ministry Campus Minister

The student population at Northwestern University (NU) in Evanston is changing. NU is working toward bringing 20% of students from low-income families (family income of less than $30,000 per year). Sadly, as these changes occur, more students are experiencing hunger. Thus, Purple Pantry was born. Traditionally, dining halls are closed over Thanksgiving, winter, and spring breaks, leaving students in dorms with no access to food. Motivated by a clear moral imperative, clergy from University Christian Ministry and the campus ministry centers decided to address the issue of student hunger during breaks. Large amounts of food donations were collected exclusively from generous members of the NU community, and 54 students experiencing hunger received free groceries during spring break in 2017. Across the country, food insecurity among college students is increasingly common and can pose a significant barrier to success. Over 475 institutions are members of The College and University Food Bank Alliance, a network of campus-based food pantries seeking to alleviate hunger among college students. Many of these campus food pantries are hosted by campus ministries like UCM. To address the underlying causes of food insecurity at NU, Purple Pantry partnered with Northwestern Dining Services, Sodexo, and Student Engagement Services to examine necessary institutional changes. We are delighted that policy improvements are underway. For example, at least one dining hall will remain open during future breaks. In addition, beginning in September, all students will have unlimited visits to dining halls on their meal plans. We are thankful for receiving a 2017 grant from the Northern Illinois Conference United Methodist Foundation helping fun our anti-hunger initiative. We are overjoyed to witness major systemic changes occurring on behalf of students in need. We hope that long-term institutional improvements will reduce the need for Purple Pantry in the future. In the meantime, UCM will continue to advocate for low-income students and address hunger on campus and in Evanston. For more info on UCM visit

Hunger in Northern Illinois • The Northern Illinois Food Bank serves more than 71,500 people each week. • The Northern Illinois Food Bank works with more than 800 community feeding programs –food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and youth and senior feeding programs. • Last year the Food Bank distributed 65.5 million meals. • 23% of the food we distribute is fresh produce. • 52 food pantries provide 18,000 gallons of fresh 1% milk for their clients each month.

How you can help • Volunteer at one of our three centers in Geneva, Rockford and Park City – shift dates and times and online registration at • Do a Food and Fund drive to benefit the Food Bank – easy to follow instructions on our website www.solvehungertoday. org/fooddrive. • Do a one-time collection at services to benefit the Food Bank – for every $1 we can provide $8 worth of groceries. 97 percent of the food bank’s resources go directly to programs that feed hungry neighbors. • Host a Poverty Simulation – call the Food Bank for more information 630.443.6910.

The United Methodist Church and Church World Service have been strong partners for many years through CROP Hunger Walks, Immigration and Refugee Program, Disaster Response and more. Each year, CROP Hunger Walks raise over $10 million across the country. Of that amount, $2.5 million come back to local hunger and feeding ministries and agencies. Along with local planning committees, we appreciate your support of the CROP Hunger Walk. Go to to find a crop walk to participate in near you.

September 2017 | The Reporter | 5

Bishop names Annual Conference Shepherding Team Co-Chairs Following the approval of the restructuring plan at the 2017 Annual Conference, the first steps are being made to organize and create an Annual Conference Shepherding Team (ACST). Bishop Sally Dyck named lay representative Liz Gracie and clergy representative Rev. Myron McCoy as cochairs. The rest of the 20-member team is expected to be in place by October 1. Liz Gracie served as the chair of the Organizational Task Force and Rev. Myron McCoy is the Senior Pastor at First UMC at the Chicago Temple. Both are looking forward to getting started on the Liz Gracie and Rev. Myron McCoy, ACST work of the Shepherding Team whose primary Co-Chairs purpose is to coordinate and communicate the ministry of the NIC in order to make disciples for Jesus Christ. “I’m delighted that both Liz and Rev. McCoy have agreed to chair the Annual Conference Shepherding Team,” said Bishop Dyck. “They bring organizational skills as well as a love for the church, wanting the annual conference to be strengthened in supporting local churches to make disciples of Jesus Christ.” Gracie, a tax lawyer who grew up in The United Methodist Church and is a member of First UMC in Oak Park, first served on the Landscape Task Force in 2015 and helped coordinate the listening sessions, draft legislation and prepare the Annual Conference presentation. In 2016, Bishop Dyck asked Gracie to chair the Organizational Task Force. Gracie says while she had a better idea about what she was getting into, she didn’t fully appreciate the complexity of the Annual Conference or the magnitude of the task. “This work was even more intense than the Landscape work had been,” said Gracie who credits the entire team for contributing and making it all come together. “In serving on both task forces, there were many unexpected and meaningful experiences that could only have been the work of the Holy Spirit. I was very grateful to have had these opportunities to serve with and get to know gifted and committed, lay and clergy members of the NIC.” Like Gracie, McCoy says he agreed to join the process because the Bishop asked, but he says he’s ready to jump into “something new” and help the conference at this stage of development. “I want to help the conference live into its way of conducting business, but I’m more interested in how we live and act together,” said McCoy. “I’m hoping we model what it means to have healthy conversations which lead to living out our shared values. If we respect, love

By Anne Marie Gerhardt

and listen to people, we can make decisions in the best interest of the church.” McCoy brings broad experiences from the local to the general church to the team. He was appointed to First UMC at the Chicago Temple three years ago after serving more than 10 years as President of the St. Paul School of Theology in Kansas. Prior to that, he served as Senior Pastor at St. Mark UMC in Chicago from 1992-2003 and as Chicago Southern District Superintendent from 1988-1992. McCoy has also served on both general and jurisdictional committees. He said he first wants to get to know the team, build relationships and learn what are the pressing issues. But he hopes their work includes focusing on youth ministries. “One of the things I’m concerned about is that when we look at cutting money, what’s considered is camping, campus ministries, and other youth programs,” said McCoy. “We say we want younger people, but how do we as an annual conference seek to serve young people? If we’re not working with them, how to do we expect to see them in our churches?” Gracie says her priorities include building trust at every level, to strengthen the connection and foster clergy morale and excellence. “I believe that the more we band together, challenge and support one another, the more effective we will be in bringing about God’s kingdom on earth and the more joy we will experience in the process,” said Gracie. Gracie says “hands on” ministry remains the role of local churches and the ACST will be responsible for fostering a culture that nurtures and enhances the ministries of local churches. “With intentional learning, prayer, and input from across the Annual Conference, the ACST will lead in clarifying and communicating the ministry priorities of the Conference,” said Gracie. “With those in mind, the team will be able to assist the Council on Finance and Administration in allocating conference resources. More broadly, I hope and pray that the ACST will earn the trust and respect of the Annual Conference so that we can all feel more secure, supported, connected and, ultimately, more effective in the ministries we feel called to serve.” Both Gracie and McCoy expect to hit the ground running, setting goals as they work toward a 2019 evaluation of the team’s work. The restructuring legislation sets forth 12 responsibilities of the ACST. The most concrete will be to discern a 5-year vision plan. “I believe that should be job one, said Gracie. “I imagine that working on the vision plan will generate other initiatives along the way. Having experienced the energy and creativity of members of our Annual Conference, I am excited to see where this leads us.” The first meeting of the ACST will be November 11. To follow the ACST, visit and if you have questions for the chairs or the team send an email to

Working to end juvenile incarceration By Rev. Robert E. Biekman, NIC Urban Ministry Coordinator

The phrase “cradle to prison” pipeline is not unfamiliar to restorative justice practitioners and those familiar with the U.S. criminal justice system. The cradle to prison pipeline describes a complex array of social and economic factors, that converge to reduce the odds that poor children will grow up to be productive adults. These factors include: limited access to health and mental health services, underperforming schools, child welfare and juvenile justice systems in need of reform. The Chicago Alternative to Incarceration (ATI) Collaborative began in Spring 2015 with funding from a Public Welfare Grant by Community Connections for Youth (a Bronx New York organization serving justice involved youth). The mission of the Chicago Alternative to Incarceration (ATI) is to end juvenile incarceration by restoring community connections and village functions. The Collaborative is building a process to divert youth to neighborhood-level supports rather than the juvenile justice system. This summer the ATI Collaborative launched the Neighborhood Intern Pilot Project. By taking an asset based approach, the Neighborhood Intern Project connected a cohort of 14 to 17 year olds involved in neighborhood improvement projects within Chicago’s Greater Roseland community. The Interns with the support of their mentors, identified improvement projects they would complete. Each project was led by a “Youth Project Manager.” Some of the projects and activities the Neighborhood Interns engaged in included: • Campus Tours of Roosevelt University & Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law • Freedom United Methodist Church • Food Distribution in Roseland • House of Chloe Food Pantry

• Mural/Fence Painting at Kids Off the BlockMural Painting Training at The Port Ministry • The Passion of Pullman Organic Community Garden

The Neighborhood Interns were supported with twice weekly peace circles led by Nehemiah Trinity Rising and community organizing training. A unique aspect of this pilot is that the leaders of the project (Coordinator and Mentors) were from the Roseland community. The project culminated with a “Community Takeover” celebration where the collabo6 | The Reporter | September 2017

Chicago ATI Collaborative Members with Neighborhood Interns at The Passion of Pullman Organic Community Garden.

Neighborhood Interns prepare sandwiches to distribute in Roseland.

rators, along with the Neighborhood Interns, Mentors and community came together to celebrate the successful completion of the project. While completing an improvement project at Freedom United Methodist Church, Pastor Robert Houston remarked, “One of the mentees volunteered to bless our meal, sharing that he had never prayed out loud in a group.” Pastor Houston went on to say, “The overall desire for these youth to stay focused on positive life choices was evident in their willingness to work, and with their participation in the lunchtime ‘rap’ session.” This collaborative enterprise continues with the hope that through positive engagement and participating in diversions like this pilot, youth will in due course have their time under supervision reduced and disrupt the “cradle to prison” pipeline. The Chicago ATI Collaborative members participating in the Summer Neighborhood Intern Project Pilot included: Cook County Juvenile Probation, Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice (After Care), Chicago Police Department, Phalanx Family Services, 3C, Greenstone, Maple Park and St. Matthew United Methodist Churches, Roosevelt University and Nehemiah Trinity Rising. The Neighborhood Intern Pilot Project was made possible and funded in part from the United Methodist Development Fund, Chicago Community Trust, and Safer and Peaceful Community grants.

CALENDAR NEWS Day of Conversation

“The United Methodist Church: Into the Future” Save the Date: Saturday, September 16

Location: Grace UMC, 300 E Gartner Rd, Naperville, IL A day of conversation using the book Unity of the Church and Human Sexuality, led by retired Bishop Sharon Zimmerman Rader. As part of that conversation, we will reflect on the questions that the Council of Bishops has crafted for the church as we prepare for the Commission’s report: • In our diverse and global existence, what is the shared mission/purpose of the Church? • Is there a proactive way for us to live together in our differences that doesn’t presume that we will resolve our differences? What would it be? • What might be a form of unity that would empower us living together? • What is our witness and what can be our witness to the world in relation to our differences?

Sixty Plus Retreat

Spiritual Journey into Deeper Place Who? For those 60 and above Why? Experience spiritual growth, next chapter The theme of the Session? • Living Life to the Fullest • Exercising the Total Self • Gift of Stability • Power Within You When: September 28, 2017 (1:00 pm), until September 29, 2017 (3:00 pm) Where: Northern Illinois University Hotel, DeKalb Sponsored by the NIC Older Adult Ministries Online Registration is now open. Visit for more information. Questions? Send an email to Pastor Rosa Lee or Pong Javier or go to

World Communion Sunday October 1, 2017

Your gift makes World Communion Sunday Scholarships possible for graduate national and international students.

For registration and more information visit:

EQUIP your church for transformation Two sessions remain for TeamWorks training taking place in the Northern Illinois Conference through the Office of Congregational Development and Redevelopment with Dr. Craig Kennet Miller from Discipleship Ministries. Registration for Session 3 will open soon. During these seminars participants are introduced to the TeamWorks material written by Dr. Miller which offers an opportunity to deepen your leadership by creating a healthy, dynamic team of leaders in your congregation. In the month following the one-day experience, the pastor and one key congregational leader will present the same material to a team of seven to fifteen people in their church who will be committed to working together throughout the year. Registration is ongoing for the remaining two sessions. Each will be held at the Belvidere: First United Methodist Church, 610 Bonus Ave., Belvidere, IL. The final two sessions will be: 3rd Session: Saturday, September 23, 2017 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. TeamWorks: “Creating a Discipleship System” 4th Session: Saturday, November 11, 2017 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. TeamWorks: “Futurecasting” If you would like to register, register by contacting Laura Lopez at (312) 346-9766 x724 or You can also register online beginning one month prior to each event by going to and click on the conference calendar.

Youth Group Opportunities Are you looking for ways to connect with youth leaders and for your youth to connect with other youth? A group of NIC youth leaders have collaborated to provide the following gatherings open to all youth groups in the conference. We hope you can join us for one or all of these! September 24, 2017: Meet at Northbrook UMC, 5:00 – 7:00 p.m., for a meal and Capture the Flag. For more information and to rsvp for food contact Christine Hides at February 25, 2018: Meet at Glenview UMC, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m., for a meal, Gaga Ball and games. For more information and to rsvp for food contact Linda Duback at Spring of 2018 - Youth Ministry in a Changing Church Workshop: For youth leaders (clergy, staff, and volunteer). Planning is underway. If you would like to be put on the workshop email list or join our monthly youth leader gathering for resources, prayer, and support, please contact Christine Hides at Christine@

Your generous gift today helps promising scholars to become leaders.

Save the Date for NIJFON Champion for Justice Fundraiser October 22, 2017

Be a champion for justice and support the Northern Illinois Justice for Our Neighbors Fundraiser on October 22 from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Two Brothers Roundhouse in Aurora. Purchase tickets by going to or call Susan Yanun at 773-330-7813. General tickets are $60 each. Table and ad sponsorships are available. We are pleased to announce Bishop Sally Dyck and the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights will be our Champion for Justice Award recipients.

UMW Annual Celebration October 28

All are welcome to attend the NIC UMW Annual Celebration meeting, October 28 at Grace UMC, 300 E. Gartner Rd., Naperville, IL. “Bold Living: A Matter of Focus” being the day’s theme. Now what does that mean, come find out? Our day starts at 8:30 with registration and ends about 3:00 with worship. Shannon Priddy, our UMW national president, and daughter of our own Dottie Priddy, will be our special keynote speaker! All attendees will have a choice of three breakout focus groups for more learning: • Climate Health • Women’s Health • Racial Sensitivity Check out the NIC calendar and our website for the registration form and a flyer with more info about the day. Hope to see you there!

Why Water Matters Summit November 16-18

Registration is open for Why Water Matters, an ecumenical summit offering workshops, worship, and keynote presentations from United Methodist bishops, Native American activists, professors, and ecumenical faith leaders. The summit will be held November 16-18, 2017 at Embassy Suites Airport, Minneapolis, MN (7901 34th Ave S, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55425). This summit will provide a theological foundation for environmental action, teach faith and community leaders to engage in direct communication with government agencies and commercial companies that oversee the care of bodies of water. Register online at after September 1 is $195 and increases to $225 after October 15. Registration includes the cost of dinner on Thursday and lunch and dinner on Friday. On-site registration is available Nov. 16 from 3-5 p.m.

September 2017 | The Reporter | 7

Did You Know: Disaster Happens By Rev. Arlene Christopherson, Assistant to the Bishop/Dir. Connectional Ministries This year we have seen a number of weather related disasters across the northern part of Illinois. A tornado in Ottawa this spring and flooding across the west and northern parts of the state this summer have left devastation in their wake. And The United Methodist Church is there. Flood buckets from the Midwest Mission Distribution Center in Chatham were delivered to Rockford a few weeks ago replenishing the supplies that had been inadequate to the massive flooding in that area. Training was offered for local volunteers on “mucking” out homes that have been inundated by flooding. First volunteers and now United Methodist Committee on Relief funding have been utilized in Ottawa as the lengthy process of rebuilding begins. When a disaster strikes, our instinct as caring Christians is to rush to the scene and offer aid. This response can often lead to further confusion in an already chaotic situation, inhibit the work of the first responders and cause unintended harm. In order to be good neighbors, The United Methodist Church has devised a disaster response protocol. The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is globally know as a partner in disaster response joining with local, government and other religious and NGOs in serving those in need when the unexpected strikes. What you might not know is that the Northern Illinois Conference also has a disaster response structure designed by UMCOR, ready to give support when local challenges hit any of our communities across the conference. (See the Disaster Response plan on our website at www.umcnic. org/disasterresponse.) Led by volunteer Rev. Christina Vosteen, our Disaster Response Coordinator, each district has a volunteer coordinator working closely with their District Superintendent and

2017 APPOINTMENTS: JULY/AUGUST ANNOUNCEMENTS James Fu (District Superintendent Supply) to Elmhurst: Christ ¼ time (Elgin District). James follows Joan Patten Seaton (Local Pastor) who will end her service at Elmhurst: Christ. Effective July 15.

Dennis Langdon (Elder) to Chicago: Trinity ¼ time while remaining at Chicago: Morgan Park ¾ time (Chicago Southern District). Dennis follows Delian Stone (346.2) who is no longer appointed.

Wendy Hardin Hermann (Elder) to Mt. Prospect: Trinity (Elgin District) from Glenview (Chicago Northwestern District). Wendy follows Colleen Norman who is appointed to Oak Lawn: First (Chicago Southern District). Effective August 15.

Eric Reniva (Local Pastor License Pending) to Glenview ½ time and Melrose Park: Cosmopolitan 1/2 time. Eric follows Wendy Hardin Herman (Glenview) and fills a new position at Melrose Park: Cosmopolitan. Glenview is effective August 15.

Kye Il Hong (Elder) to Franklin Park ½ time and Elmwood Park ¼ time while remaining at Melrose Park: Cosmopolitan (1/4 time) (Chicago Northwestern District). Kye Il follows Orlando Moller (Franklin Park) who died in early June and Scort Christy (Elmwood Park) who is now pastor at Evanston: Emmanuel.

Erin Simmons (Provisional Deacon) to Chicago: First (Temple), ¾ time (Chicago Southern District). Jason Turner (Elder) to Extension Ministry with DayOne PACT, Service Coordinator, from Elmhurst: Faith Evangelical (Elgin District). Effective July 15.

Rev. Vosteen. Rev. Vosteen represents us when state and local agencies meet to strategize on roles and responsibilities in addressing a disaster. Sometimes at the beginning of a response these coordinating calls can be a daily event. From that vantage point of coordination, we learn how we can best be utilized, along with others, in caring for a devastated community. Work is done in close partnership with clergy in the affected area and the district coordinator as well. Money is often one of the first responses we can offer. UMCOR makes emergency grants available to a conference when funds are the best way to respond. Later, as first responders clear an area, trained and certified disaster response teams are sent in. Response Team training is held in Northern Illinois on a periodic basis and interested persons who complete the training and a background check can be certified. There are a few ground rules in the disaster response community. First, the work is always done in conjunction with the local agency in charge of responding. Often times, such as the flooding we have seen this summer, these regional disasters are addressed by a city or town, the township or county. We do not swoop in and take over the situation but nuance our role to enhance the overall care of a community. We also have a NIC Disaster Response Facebook page where you can find breaking news about what is needed and how resources are being mobilized. We tweet information out to those who have signed up for this service and we utilize our weekly eNews and special mailings when the need is urgent. We hope all of you will join us in being good neighbors to our communities when the unexpected happens. Get trained, give generously to UMCOR through your conference offerings, watch for special alerts and volunteer. As United Methodists we are in mission to our neighbors near and far. Through our local Disaster Response ministries we are helping to be the hands and feet of Christ to those who are overwhelmed and in need.

Outdoor Retreat Ministries Calendar

Confirmation Retreats

We have finally coordinated camp calendars and guest schedules so that we can now hold our Confirmation Retreats on the same weekend of the same month each year moving forward--at both camps.

@ Reynoldswood

Fall Confirmation will be the LAST Friday-Saturday of September: 9/29 - 9/30, 2017 Spring Confirmation will be the LAST Friday-Saturday of April: 4/27 - 4/28, 2018

@ Wesley Woods

Fall Confirmation will be the FIRST Friday-Saturday of October: 10/6 - 10/7, 2017 Spring Confirmation will be the FIRST Friday-Saturday of May: 5/4 - 5/5, 2018

Winter Ski Camps

@ Wesley Woods are scheduled for January: 1/26 - 1/28, 2018 February: 2/23 - 2/25, 2018 More details coming … check our website for more news and events at

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8 | The Reporter | September 2017

Anne Marie Gerhardt, Dir. of Communications 312-346-9766 ext. 766 77 W. Washington St. Suite 1820 Chicago, IL 60062

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