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Transitions to new districts beginning

Posted: March 1 2021 at 06:24 PM


NIC District Superintendents have already started the transition process from six to five districts that will go into effect July 1, 2021. Each of the new five districts will have a transition team with laity and clergy and will look different in each district.

District Superintendents began reaching out to the District Committees on Ordained Ministry, United Methodist Women and United Methodist Men leaders, as well as churches and pastors who they will be overseeing early in the year. More ways to get to know each other will become available in the next few months.

Get to Know your District Name

The five new District names are Prairie North, Prairie Central, Prairie South, Lake North and Lake South. The NIC Cabinet researched and discerned different factors when choosing the names. They looked at other conferences and found many identify their districts with some geographical maker.

“We debated various ideas such as names of United Methodist historic figures, cities, rivers and other landmarks and tested them all for feedback,” said Rev. Arlene Christopherson, Assistant to the Bishop and Dir. of Connectional Ministries. “Being that Illinois is the ‘prairie state’ and the eastern part of the conference is on the shores of one of the Great Lakes, we pinned down the names ‘prairie’ and ‘lake’. Through our research, we determined geographical identity was the greatest value so people in mind’s eye could picture locations.”

While the Cabinet says the names honor our land and water that bring us life, we can’t forget our Native American/Indigenous forbearers who lived on Illinois’ prairies for centuries upon centuries.

NIC Committee on Native American Ministries Co-Chair Michelle Oberwsie Lacock reminds us of the words of Black Hawk (Mahkate:wi-mesi-ke:hke:hkwa)-Sauk Nation, when he said, “We thank the Great Spirit for all the benefits He has conferred upon us. For myself, I never take a drink of water from a spring without being mindful of His goodness” (Indian Spirit-edited by Michael Fitzgerald, pg. 43, 2003 World Wisdom, Bloomington, Indiana).

Oberwise Lacock says this is a good educational opportunity to remember the Conference’s commitment to the Acts of Repentance toward Healing Relationships with Indigenous Peoples, which calls for conversation and learning the history of Native American tribes who lived on the land we call the Northern Illinois Conference.

“Taking moments to educate about the history of our prairie lands and lakes and what was done in the name of ‘progress’ could have a positive impact and honor Native Americans,” said Oberwise Lacock. “Let us remember the Great Spirit’s goodness of the beautiful prairie and water that gives us sustenance and all the native nations that lived and still live in northern Illinois.”

As we move into this new identity for our district remapping, as a conference let us be proud to bring awareness of the past into the work of our future.

Click here to learn more about the redistricting plans and to find your church’s district.

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