Illinois Great Rivers Conference hosting a virtual remembrance of MacMurray College

May 29, 2020

The Illinois Great Rivers Conference of The United Methodist Church is hosting an online Service of Leave-Taking for Annie Merner Chapel at MacMurray College at 7 p.m., Thursday, June 4.

Persons wishing to attend the leave-taking can access the stream at:

A leave-taking is a service of farewell usually used when a local Methodist church has completed its mission. Closing, grieving and celebrating this historic institution is difficult in the best of times. In an effort to mark this closing, as well as to celebrate and remember the mission and ministry of MacMurray College, Trustee Beth Fender, 1991 graduate of MacMurray, and IGRC Coordinator for Higher Education Amy Shreve invite students, staff, faculty, alumni and the community to participate in an online closing worship for the leave-taking of MacMurray College and the de-consecration of Annie Merner Chapel.

Music recorded in the chapel by 1992 MacMurray graduate Christine Smith will be accompanied by pictures of campus, alumni and worship. Video reflections, scripture reading, greetings and a litany of thanksgiving will precede the declaration of de-consecration.

Participants include Rev. Beth Fender; Rev. Michael Fender, 1983 graduate; Kevin Hinkle, 2005 graduate; Chris Douglas, head football coach; Mark Hanshaw, Associate General Secretary, United Methodist General Board of Higher Education and Ministry;  Beverly Rodgers, MacMurray College president; Judah Renfro, 2020 graduate, Rev. Camilla Pierce Hempstead, 1984 graduate; Hope Marquardt, Class of 2023; William Stanton, 1972 graduate; John Nicolay, 1990 graduate; Lucaas Secrist, 2020 graduate, Rev. Curt Lindquist, former chaplain; Rev. Deborah Talbott, 1993 graduate; Rev. Nic Showalter, IGRC superintendent assigned to the LaMoine River District; and Todd Sweatman, current chaplain.

The Illinois Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church established the Illinois Conference Female Academy in Jacksonville in 1846. The institution provided "for the intellectual and moral education" of women in the interests of government and society. 

The Board of Trustees of MacMurray College voted unanimously in March to close the 174-year-old institution at the end of the spring semester in May 2020.

The Illinois Great Rivers Conference is the regional body of The United Methodist Church encompassing 85 counties in the southern two-thirds of Illinois. It is comprised of 800 local congregations with a combined membership of 119,000. MacMurray College was one of three United Methodist institutions of higher education within its boundaries.

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