eNews - January 25, 2023
The February Reporter is now available to read online and will be delivered to mailboxes soon.

In this issue, we focus on how we can be welcoming. Get to know Bishop Dan Schwerin and learn about his first few weeks in our conference. Come to the table and find out more about 2023 Annual Conference.

Also, read about how we can practice hospitality and create spaces that are safer and more welcoming with Safe Sanctuaries (and find out which 143 churches met the high level of commitment). Plus, read about how two churches are continuing a toy ministry legacy. Get more information on events in the new year and read how your churches can be more welcoming.

Clergy will gather with their district for fellowship at 9:30 am, with the program beginning at 10:00 am. Concluding with lunch. Laity will gather with their district for an evening conversation from 7:00 to 8:30 pm (unless otherwise noted).
  • Prairie North - Wed., Feb. 8 - Clergy: Rockford UMC: Christ, Laity: Freeport: Harmony UMC (6:00 pm)
  • Prairie Central - Thurs., Feb. 9 - Clergy: Naperville: GraceUMC, Laity: Elgin: Journey of Hope UMC
  • Lake North - Mon., Feb. 13 - Clergy: Chicago: St Matthew UMC*, Laity: Glenview UMC
  • Prairie South - Wed., Feb. 15 - Clergy and Laity: Sycamore UMC
  • Lake South - Thurs., Feb. 16 - Clergy: Hinsdale UMC, Laity: Morgan Park UMC *
* New Location
Thank you from the Bishop
We have been overwhelmed by your welcome, the cards, notes, poems, and your prayers as we orient to ministry among you in Northern Illinois. It has been humbling to hear you share your hopes and passion for ministry. We feel blessed and beyond grateful. Thank you for the cards and prayers. We look forward to meeting you during our day in the districts. May grace and peace be in our steps.

Gratefully,
Bishop Dan & Julie Schwerin
On Sunday, January 15th, Julian Davis Reid presented one of his spiritual retreats, Notes of Rest, specifically tailored for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day at First United Methodist Church of Oak Park. The event, sponsored by the Northern Illinois Conference and the United Methodist Foundation, focused on the importance of rest in fueling the continued pursuit of justice for all and Dr. King’s dream of the Beloved Community. Read more and see photos from the event here.
Registration closes Fri., Feb. 3
Communicator's Corner
Lent and Easter Resources
Lent starts on February 22. There are many resources available around from around the denomination. Check out the links below:
Since 1979, Northern Illinois congregations have provided more than $1 million to support United Voices for Children’s affiliated agenciesKids Above All, MYSI, and Rosecrance—through the Fifth Sunday Appeal. Through this collaborative giving effort, United Methodist congregations of all sizes can make a real difference in the lives of at-risk children, youth, and families. The next Firth Sunday is Sun., Jan. 29. Click here to learn more.
We have seen an increase in email scams with people pretending to be the new Bishop. If you receive emails from the conference that are not from @umcnic.org, it is a spam email. To be clear, the conference will NOT contact you or solicit anything via generic email. All financial gifts always go through the conference's regular collections process. If you ever get an email or phone call that seems strange or odd, contact your district administrative assistant to check it out before responding to such a request.
NIC Discipleship Task Force is pleased to share that Discipleship Ministries’ 2023 Wesley Pilgrimage is now open for registration. Join United Methodist travelers worldwide on this 10-day pilgrimage (July 10-20, 2023). Click here for details. Scholarships are available, but the deadline is January 30, 2023. We are interested in hearing from you if you decide to go on this pilgrimage. Please email Amania Drane at adrane@umcnic.org.
Deadline for Disaffiliation Inquiries in the NIC
There are a handful of congregations in the Northern Illinois Conference that have started to explore the Disaffiliation process as they come to a crossroads in their theological identity. Paul reminds us that: “when one part of the body hurts, we all hurt together.” We prayerfully hold these congregations in our hearts.

We are United Methodist and remain United Methodist. No congregation needs to make any decisions concerning their identity. The United Methodist Church will always be theologically diverse. John Wesley said: “Though we may not think alike, may we not love alike? May we not be of one heart, though we are not of one mind?”

The process to disaffiliate is a thoughtful journey requiring extensive time to explore. Should the congregation choose to pursue disaffiliation, the culmination of this process is a vote of the annual conference during the session in June.

Due to the intense work needed to move toward disaffiliation, the NIC Cabinet has named February 1, 2023, as the deadline for a Church Council to initiate exploration of disaffiliation. This process begins with a formal letter of request to their District Superintendent from the Church Council.

If you have further questions, please be in touch with your District Superintendent.
Mission Around the Denomination
Continued United Methodist Support for Ukraine
The destruction of the energy supply throughout Ukraine impacts water, heating, public transportation and communication. United Methodists have responded by providing generators, as well as winterized accommodations for refugees seeking shelter. Also, an ambulance, fully loaded with medical goods, was recently sent to Ukraine from the Central Conference of Central and Southern Europe of The United Methodist Church. Learn more about the support here.
Before the war, a day in the life of a Ukrainian child would likely include watching or playing in a soccer (called football in Ukraine) match. As the war continues on, many have found solace away from their homes, their belongings, and their friends. Children had to experience unthinkable trauma, and their lives are nowhere near back to normal. But, there is at least one piece of normalcy that is possible: soccer. Paul Layton and the staff at Underdog Sports knew that being able to play soccer would allow these children who have experienced high levels of trauma to just feel like kids. On Wednesday, January 18, Underdog Sports donated 31 pairs of soccer cleats to the Midwest Mission that will be sent to Ukraine in their next shipment. Learn more about the Midwest Mission's support in their newsletter here.
The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) has been actively supporting Ukrainians in crisis since February 2022. Find out about this work and how you can join the effort by making a donation.
Mark your calendar
  • Bishop's Days on the District - Clergy 10:00 am, Laity 7:00 pm unless otherwise noted. Click here for locations and more details.
  • Prairie North - Wed., Feb. 8 (Laity at 6:00 pm)
  • Prairie Central - Thurs., Feb. 9
  • Lake North - Mon., Feb. 13
  • Prairie South - Wed., Feb. 15
  • Lake South - Thurs., Feb. 16
  • Laity Convocation - Sat., Feb. 11 from 9 am - 12:30 pm Available online and at three in-person locations (Barrington UMC, Disciples UMC in Mt. Morris, IL, and Faith UMC in Orland Park, IL *Location Change). This year's theme is Thinking outside the Church, Making Community Ministry Happen. The guest speaker is David Teel, Director of Laity & Leadership at Discipleship Ministries. Registration is now open! Click here for details and to register.
  • Order of Elders - Tues., Feb. 28, 9:30 am - 1:00 pm at Sycamore UMC, 160 Johnson Ave, Sycamore. Pastoral colleagues will speak in a TED Talk platform (short presentations) to share their ministry, followed by group conversations with a couple of questions. The Bishop will share a message about his vision with a short Q&A afterward. Cost $15. Click here for details and to register.
  • Black Healing Collective Workshop - Sat., March 11 from 9 am - 1 pm at St. Mark UMC, 8441 S. St. Lawrence Ave., Chicago. This 4-hour workshop is for people of Black African descent and will define racial trauma, discuss the significant impact that racial trauma has historically had and continues to have within the Black community, including the UMC, and discuss coping strategies that have been used within the Black community for healing our trauma. Cost: $25 (includes lunch). Learn more and register here.
  • NIC 2023 Civil Rights Pilgrimage - Wed., April 26 - Mon., May 1 A historical and educational tour designed with intent and discernment to help journey-goers take action against racism. Each day will include a debriefing session, and advocacy training sessions will be conducted. The cost will is $999 for a single room ($599 per person for double occupancy) for an inclusive 6-day, 5-night trip that will cover transportation, accommodations, entrance fees, and meals as we visit Nashville, Birmingham, Montgomery, Selma, and Memphis sites. Other occupancy options are available. Please contact Amania Drane at adrane@umcnic.org for questions and more information. Pre-registrations are being accepted now. Click here to find out more and fill out an interest form

Around the Connection
  • Deaconess and Home Missioner Virtual Discernment Event - Thurs., Feb. 2 at 7:00 pm online. The Office of Deaconess and Home Missioner invites those who are discerning a call to ministry to attend a virtual discernment event. This event is for laity in the United Methodist Church who feel called to full-time vocational ministries in diverse contexts. Click here to learn more and register.
  • United Methodist Rural Advocates Webinar - Sat., Feb. 11 at 11:00 am online. The United Methodist Rural Advocates (UMRA) is a United Methodist lay and clergy association that deals directly with issues that relate to small membership churches, rural communities, and local pastors. The UMRA Grant recipients have been invited to participate in a webinar in which they will offer information on the ministry/outreach they are doing within their communities.NIC's own Dakota-Rock Grove UMC will talk about how they help low-income families in their community with basic hygiene and household needs. Click here to learn more and register.
Lent is coming quickly. The United Media Resource Center has several book titles to help our churches study. Check out this listing of over 40 titles!

Resources include:

  • Luke: Jesus and the Outsiders, Outcasts, and Outlaws - Author: Hamilton, Adam
  • Finding Jesus In the Psalms: A Lenten Journey - Author: Roose, Barb
  • Witness at the Cross: A Beginner's Guide to Holy Friday - Author: Levine, Amy-Jill
  • Grace of Les Miserables - Author: Rawle, Matt
  • Seven Words: Listening to Christ from the Cross - Author: Robb, Susan


Find the online catalog here. The UMRC email address is umrc@igrc.org. 
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