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DYK: Rolling with the changes

Posted: December 7 2021 at 04:09 PM
Author: Rev. Arlene Christopherson, Ass't to the Bishop/Dir. of Connectional Ministries


The NIC Cabinet takes a tailgate break outside First UMC in DeKalb during one of their-person meetings across the conference.

As I write this reflection, we are in an in-between time. In-between fall and winter. In-between Advent and Christmas. In-between the current year and the New Year. In-between a sense that we are on the other side of COVID-19 but also facing another variant circling the globe; its impact is yet to be determined. 

2021 has been filled with ups and downs, adjustments, and compromise. While we cling to some semblance of normality, we are also aware of the fragile state of our day-to-day existence. Most churches are gathering for worship and preparing for the first in-person Christmas Eve Service since 2019 while also growing in their skill and capacity to livestream. Most congregations are moving cautiously, one step at a time into their futures, knowing that contingencies are now necessary for all our planning. 

The Northern Illinois Conference Cabinet has also been adjusting and readjusting over these past two years. In 2020 we quickly learned how to work as a team on Zoom. In 2021, we welcomed Bishop Hopkins to our Zoom table and tentatively met in person a few times into the summer. 

This fall, as we reacquaint ourselves with in-person meetings and introduce Bishop Hopkins to the geography of the conference, we have been alternating between Zoom and in-person meetings while traveling to churches across the conference. At each site, we have respected the guidelines of our host church as a guest in their space. 

In May, we met in Schaumburg at Our Saviour's (Prairie Central). In June, we met in Chicago at African Community (Lake North) and enjoyed a feast of African foods. In August, we met at Starved Rock in Utica, Ill., for a three-day retreat. In September, South Suburban Korean in Flossmoor (Lake South) graciously hosted us. In October, we met at DeKalb: First (Prairie South) and held a tailgate break in the church parking lot because of food restrictions inside the building. In November, we met at Belvidere: First (Prairie North) and in December, we met at Elgin: First (Prairie Central). Everywhere we gathered, the churches welcomed and treated us with outstanding hospitality. Come January, the cabinet will meet for our annual appointment retreat in Northbrook (Lake North). 

It has been good to reacquaint ourselves with the depth and breadth of the conference, showing off our churches, their ministries and leadership to Bishop Hopkins at each site. It has been good to refamiliarize ourselves with working in person while we celebrate the communities we serve. 

In late 2020 we all looked toward the New Year with hope as a vaccine was on the horizon, and we thought the pandemic would subside. 2021 wasn't what we envisioned; we needed to remain cautious throughout the year. It isn't easy these days to understand what might be in store for 2022. What we can count on is the grace of God, the faithfulness of Christ's disciples, and the ageless commitment of the church to be in mission and ministry no matter the challenges, bringing hope and comfort to our world. 

I am grateful for that spirit that sustains and nurtures us into the unknown.

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