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DYK: The Power of Connecting

Posted: January 2 2024 at 09:01 AM
Author: Rev. Arlene Christopherson, NIC Assistant to the Bishop

When I was in seminary, Pope John Paul II visited Chicago. I went to great lengths to be part of the moment: skipping class, walking miles from the train station, standing for hours with a crushing crowd at Grant Park. That gathering still holds the record as the largest Mass ever celebrated in Chicago.  In the end, I only saw a glimpse of Pope John Paul II. He was a white dot far from where I stood. The day was hot, the wait was long, but I do not regret being part of that moment. I wasn’t Roman Catholic, but I was encouraged by the witness of so many faithful Christians. I experienced a crowd that was polite, overjoyed and drawn together by a common bond that gave them a sense of hope.

One of the strengths of the United Methodist Church is our connectional nature. We are a denomination that values the strength of the whole, knowing we can do more to the glory of God when we combine our prayers and resources then we could ever do alone. That sense of community, support, and strength for the mission is part of our ethos. As a conference we come together with members from our congregations each summer for annual conference, but we have few opportunities to gather outside that setting to feel the joy and energy of our community.

2024 Bishops Days On The District Banner 1

Lake North - Thurs., February 1

Prairie South - Wed., February 7

Prairie North - Thurs., February 8

Lake South - Mon., February 12

Prairie Central - Tues., February 13

  • Clergy Conversation (9:30 a.m. - lunch)
  • Laity Conversation (6:30 to 8 p.m.)

Click here for further details.

This year we continue to give witness to the connectional identity of United Methodism as Bishop Schwerin offers “Days on the District.” From Feb. 1 through 13, the bishop will schedule a day with clergy and an evening with laity on each district. (Click here for more information).  These gatherings are a time to fellowship with others, hear from the bishop, and remember our common bonds and our call to make disciples. These gatherings give us an opportunity to learn more about our bishop, share our joys and concerns, and remember that we are not alone as we work to build God’s kin-dom. 

Our conference’s relationship with an episcopal leader is changing. In mid-January the North Central Jurisdiction will hold a special meeting to determine how annual conferences will be yoked in sharing bishops. Northern Illinois and Wisconsin are two of the conferences that will be voted on to become one episcopal area. Our conferences are not merging but may be sharing a bishop by fall

As we move further and further into a conversation about sharing a bishop beginning in September 2024, our “Days on the District” are a precious moment to get to know our episcopal leader and for Bishop Schwerin to continue learning about us. 

If you cannot make the date that the bishop will be in your district you are invited to attend any one of the five events so you too can be a part of our Methodist movement and the energy of claiming Christ in our communities. 

I look forward to seeing many of you in the months ahead. 

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