Happy New Year!
January 5, 2022
Bishop Hopkins' New Year Devotional
"Carry Christ into the New Year"
As the calendar turns to 2022, we look back with grief and gratitude for all that has happened in this past year. We also look to the future with uncertainty and hope. How do you face uncertainty? What gives you peace?
As a young Christian, I became aware that when I remembered what Jesus had done for me, I felt close to him. Of course, when I became busy, it was easy to forget that Jesus was present in my life. When I was afraid or sick, I would turn to God, remember Jesus, and sense the Holy Spirit was with me. With the “Trinity” surrounding me, I may not have been invincible, but I certainly knew I was not alone...

Read Bishop Hopkins' full message and start your year with monthly online devotionals and community prayers from the NIC Discipleship Task Force's Prayer Network at umcnic.org/prayernetwork.

Download a print-friendly version of the Bishop's devotional by clicking here.
Monitoring Rise in COVID Cases and
Omicron Variant
As we move into a new year, we continue to do so with caution and concern. Thank you all for making good decisions throughout this pandemic, exercising caution, and caring for the health and wellbeing of your congregation and community. 

The last few weeks have seen a marked increase in COVID infections. While the new variant, Omicron, has not been as severe as last summer’s Delta variant, especially for those who are vaccinated, the State of Illinois is struggling with increased numbers of infections, and our hospitals are once again strained to the limit.  

We urge you to continue to follow the guidelines of our state and your local county health departments as you exercise caution in your congregations’ gatherings. Work with your local church health team to make decisions that are best for your context as you take into account the wellbeing of your members. 

Please know that we support you as you discern the best actions for your church and community. 

Our prayers continue with those who have lost loved ones to COVID and those who have been impacted by the virus. We pray for those who work on the front lines providing us with care and essential services in this challenging time.

Let us continue to be vigilant as we move forward. 

For updated information from the Illinois Department of Public Health, visit dph.illinois.gov/covid19

~Bishop John L. Hopkins
~Rev. Arlene Christopherson, Ass't to the Bishop/Dir. of Connectional Ministries
Clergy Day of Call
The NIC Board of Ordained Ministry Recruitment Team is working to highlight God’s persistent calling of all servants to lives of holiness and ministry, and some servants to the set-apart ministry of the ordained.

This year they're highlighting the season of Epiphany and offering resources that could be used in worship. Clergy are encouraged to share your own call story, reflecting on the call of Mary, Elizabeth, John the Baptist and the Magi, or the joyful response of the shepherds to the angels’ proclamation and their experience of the good news of Christmas. While Jan. 2 and Jan. 9 were selected Sundays, clergy may choose another day of their choice.

If you would like to review liturgical resources (prayer, call to worship, Scripture, song), or need a video resource that could be played during live or virtual worship, please reply to srpastor@fumcbelvidere.com.

For more information, visit umcnic.org/dayofcall2022.

Communicator's Corner

Scholarships Available for UM Students
The United Methodist Higher Education Foundation (UMHEF) is accepting scholarship applications for the 2022-2023 academic year between January 1 – March 1, 2022. Students who are members of The United Methodist Church and planning to attend a United Methodist-related school, college, university, or seminary full-time are eligible to apply. More information on eligibility criteria, the application process, and FAQs can be found at umhef.org/scholarships. Applications and supporting materials must be submitted/postmarked no later than March 1, 2022. Download the flyer.

Apportionment Deadline
A friendly reminder that the deadline to pay apportionments is approaching quickly. Be sure to check your Prosper account at app.prosperumc.com for statements. Payments must be postmarked by Jan. 14. As United Methodists, we are committed to connectional giving, and our primary way of doing that is through apportioned giving. By being a faithful 100% church, you help spread our ministry and mission at home and around the world. Find more information about apportionments at umcnic.org/apportionments.

NIC Town and Rural Committee Grant Celebration
In 2021 the NIC Keagy/Town and Rural Committee awarded 14 grants totaling $13,400 to small-town and rural congregations for ministry and outreach purposes. These churches used their grants to provide fire safety education and detector batteries, VBS programs, feeding ministries, art programs, accessibility remodels, community improvement projects, emotional processing awareness for children and so much more. The committee thanks all who helped make these grants possible and all the vital and vibrant rural ministries! Due to the high rate of COVID-19 cases and an expected high rate of flu, the Keagy/Town and rural committee cancelled this year's in-person Town and Rural festival. Instead, they created a presentation of photos, videos, and stories of the ministries.
Click on graphic to register!
Mark your calendar
Around the Conference

  • NIC UMW Mission u - (Jan. 21 - 23) at Rockford: Christ. “There’s Far More Than Meets the Eye." Mission u is presented by United Methodist Women for all (children, youth, men and women). Organizers will offer several adult classes, hybrid (in person & online). Fees are $45 for an in-person adult (lunch included), $15 for each virtual adult, $5 for each child or youth with a maximum of $15 for children and youth per family. Another session will be held Feb. 4 -5 at Hinsdale UMC. Click here for details.
  • 2022 District Leadership Training Events: Click dates for details and registration. (Check back for changes as the leadership monitors rise in COVID cases).

Around the Connection

  • Human Relations Day - (Jan. 16) You are invited to be a part of building beloved community with your gifts on Human Relations Day, January 16, or a day of your choosing. Your contributions spark hope, develop skills and reimagine neighborhoods. Please give generously! Find resources to help your church celebrate this Special Sunday in the Pastor and Leader's Kit. Download resources.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day - (Jan. 17) Download Prayers of Remembrance resources from Discipleship Ministries.

United Media Resource Center
Click here for a list of resources relating to Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. that can be mailed to your church or home address.

Go to igrc.org/umrc to access the online catalog.

The UMRC will be closed Jan. 17 in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Questions, comments? Contact UMRC Director Jill Stone at umrc@igrc.org.
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