WOW, what a ride!
We’ve only just begun but the ride thus far has been great. It has not taken me long to discover three reasons why the Illinois Great Rivers Conference (IGRC) is a wonderful place to be. I’m sure that by the end of the year I will have discovered a dozen or more reasons but for one month, here are my observations:
- IGRC folks are great at hospitality.
- IGRC people are genuinely friendly.
- IGRC members are extremely generous.
I was first exposed to the great hospitality at the North Central Jurisdictional (NCJ) Conference held in Peoria. IGRC served as the hosts for this regional event. It was one of the best organized and most welcoming conferences I have ever attended. IGRC members went above and beyond the call of duty to show warmth and welcoming.
Shortly after being assigned to IGRC as a newly elected Bishop I started becoming acquainted with my new area. As I have travelled back and forth between Indianapolis and Springfield it has not taken long to discover folks that are genuinely friendly. Folks at the gas stations, restaurants, hotels, shopping centers, and of course the people in our churches have all been so gracious, kind, and helpful.
My wife and I have been blown away by the extreme generosity of folks representing all ten of our Districts. Each District presented us with welcome baskets filled with items that shared a bit of their personal uniqueness. Thank you for your kindness and for your many special gifts.
The District Superintendents, Conference Staff, Clergy and Laity of the IGRC have all made us feel more like family than two new strangers. We are especially grateful for your open hearts, open doors and open minds.
The first part of our new journey together has been hectic, but fun-filled. We have moved into the beautiful Episcopal Residence and are starting to get settled in. I have already worshipped in six of our churches and have an ambitious schedule that will culminate with a visit in each of the Ten Districts before Thanksgiving. I invite you to come meet and greet me during one of the District Days or to slip across town and join in worship when I preach at one of our churches. A schedule will be printed in the Current and will also be available online.
It is great being on this ride together. I look forward to this exciting adventure. I am eager with anticipation to see and experience all that God has in store for us. I thank God for each of you, and I appreciate the excellent work done by Bishop Keaton during his ministry here. Please pray for me that I will not drop the baton, but will run the race that Christ has laid out for us to run together.
Bishop Frank J. Beard