In June 2017 the Illinois Great Rivers Annual Conference took up the challenge to raise $2.5 million to endow the spiritual life programs at each of the conference’s five child welfare agencies. It has been named the Our Conference, Our Kids campaign. This effort is critical as payment delays from the state have impacted services they can provide. As budgets get tighter, tough fiscal decisions must be made in order for the agencies to stay afloat. By endowing the spiritual life programs we are taking them “off the table” when cuts are being considered.
As Lori Bultemeier of The Baby Fold wrote, our children and families need spiritual care “Because hope lies in our spirit. Because love, courage and peace reside there. Because God resides in our spirit and waits to be activated in our lives…When we offer pastoral care to children and families we give them hope that is beyond their circumstances. Our excellent services can help, but only God can bring healing to a heart. When Christ is at the center, the Holy Spirit can do His work in the lives of each parent or child.”
Our Nurture and Outreach Team felt that we all need to know more about the work of these agencies, how they transform lives and communities through their work, and make connections with their ministries. To that end, over the course of this campaign designed to end in June of 2020 we will be having guest speakers in worship to tell the stories of God working in and through their agencies. We had Lori Bultemeier of The Baby Fold (Normal) last November. This month, on April 22, we will hear from a member of the staff at Chaddock in Quincy. In coming months we will also arrange to hear about the ministries of Cunningham Children’s Home (Urbana), Lessie Bates Davis Neighborhood House (East St. Louis) and Spero Family Services (Mt. Vernon–formerly the United Methodist Children’s Home).
You can make a gift to Our Conference, Our Kids any time. Simply write a check to the church and mark the memo line with the name of the campaign or OCOK for short. Gifts have already been sent from individual donors and our mission line item of our annual budget. Be praying for these agencies, their ministries, their staff, and those whom they serve directly as the hands and feet of Christ.