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UMF Celebrates 70th anniversary

Posted: October 17 2019 at 05:40 PM

Past and present UM Foundation presidents gather to celebrate the Foundation’s 70th Anniversary. From left to right: Rev. John Peterson, Rev. Chris Walters, Rev. Harry Nicol, and Rev. Richard Heiss. Photo by Tom Nicol.

The United Methodist Foundation (UMF) of the Northern Illinois Conference celebrated 70 years of “encouraging lifelong generosity with God’s abundance” on Sunday, October 13 at the DoubleTree Conference Center in Downers Grove. Approximately 200 UMF supporters gathered to connect with each other, honor former Foundation presidents and board members, hear the testimony of a UMF covenant group, and enjoy the stories of UMF’s special 70th Anniversary grantees.

As supporters registered for the event, many reflected on their involvement with UMF. “I’ve served as a board member and enjoyed working closely with Harry [Nicol], Chris [Walters], Carolyn [Cook] and each of the board members,” noted Jon McCoy (Northbrook: North Northfield). “I’ve witnessed the tremendous impact of the Foundation’s grants upon the ministries of churches and agencies throughout the conference, providing the seeds for ministries that have blessed far more lives than can be easily calculated.” 

Steven Brundridge (Orland Park: Faith) agreed. “The advice and support of UMF have been instrumental to our purpose and mission,” he added. 

“Through the generosity of the UMF, countless ministries have been planted throughout the Northern Illinois Conference. Lives have been touched, minds have been opened and hearts have been filled with the love of Christ. To God be the Glory!” added Jeanine Wang (Rockford: Christ).


UM Foundation President Chris Walters presents Bishop Dyck with new running shoes to give thanks for her ongoing support.

During the event, the Foundation presented a special gift of a pair of purple Hoka running shoes to Bishop Sally Dyck for her service to the Foundation board. Former Foundation presidents John Peterson (2014-2016), Harry Nicol (2003-2014), and Richard Heiss (1976-2003) spoke, reflecting on their experience serving the Foundation board and encouraging attendees to continue living lives of service and generosity. That kind of life was illustrated during the compelling testimony of Phyllis Tholin, whose covenant group Sisbro has pledged 2% of their collective annual income to causes the group selects each year. 

After dinner, the Foundation recognized the 70th Anniversary grant recipients. More than 100 organizations beyond the local church applied for the grants; seven were selected for their unique ministries to people with disabilities, underserved children and youth, healthcare workers, people experiencing homelessness, and seniors in rural areas. 

Representatives from the grant recipients, MOMENTA, I Am Abel Foundation, Inspired Youth Inc., Mobile Care Chicago, Almost Home Chicago Inc., Mendota Area Senior Services Inc. and National Organizations of Black Law Enforcement Executives, rose to present their inspiring stories and thanked UMF for their prayerful and financial support of their work. 

“We are honored that we were chosen among so many deserving agencies to receive this award,” said Rayanne Sester of Mendota Area Senior Services, Inc. “The ministry of the Foundation will carry on through our services to assist many needy and deserving seniors and disabled clients throughout our rural communities.” 

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Carolyn Cook receives a surprise certificate for her 40 years of faithful service as the executive assistant. Photo courtesy Tom Nicol

“Your kindness and generosity will be long remembered,” noted LaMenta Conway of I Am Abel Foundation. “Thank you for your powerful advocacy for so many and for believing in our mission to raise up our next generation of healthcare heroes.”

To cap off the evening, UMF Board Chair George Gill and President Chris Walters recognized Carolyn Cook for her 40 years of service to the Foundation as Executive Assistant. Attendees left with logo beanie caps to warm heads during the upcoming winter and warm their thoughts for another 70 years of Christian faith expressed through generosity. 

Visit to learn more about the grant recipients and UM Foundation resources.

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