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Eric Reed/Illinois Baptist

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Summit goers unhindered by ice storm

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (BP) – Two days of snow turned to rain and ice threatened, but the weather failed to stop those headed to the 2024 Midwest Leadership Summit in Springfield. With 1,000 people from nine Baptist conventions covering 12 states signed up for the three-day conference, registration was brisk at the Crowne Plaza Hotel on Tuesday (Jan 23). The biennial event brings church leaders from the region together for leadership training and encouragement for ministry as Southern Baptists outside the South.

Illinois DR volunteer killed in accident

STREATOR, Ill. (BP) – An Illinois Baptist Disaster Relief volunteer working at Streator Baptist Camp was killed Tuesday, May 9, when a tree he was cutting down fell on him. Wayne Laechelt of Sugar Grove was working with a fellow IBDR volunteer to cut the tree when it fell across his path. Laechelt was treated on the scene by emergency medical personnel for almost an hour. Further examination will be conducted to determine the exact cause of death.

Missions commitment links Ukrainian refugees with Illinois church

O'FALLON, Ill. (BP) -- Donn and Joni Schaefer have organized 10 mission trips to Russia 1since 2008. They taught English in Siberia as a way to open discussions about the Gospel. But when the invasion of Ukraine shut down trips into Russia for Americans, the Schaefers looked for other avenues to use their unique skills.

Illinois Baptists aid after shooting spree

HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. (BP) – “When you ask if [someone was] a victim of the parade shooting, you get several different responses,” said Bev Laechelt, a volunteer with Illinois Baptist Disaster Relief (IBDR). “Some people are very angry and they say ‘I-am-not-a-victim; I’m a survivor.’ Or they start crying because it’s the first time they’ve talked about it, and I have to get them to a counselor right away.”

Midwest leaders to convene in Illinois

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (BP) – More than 1,000 leaders from SBC churches in the Midwest are registered for a leadership gathering in Illinois next week. The Midwest Leadership Summit convenes in Springfield Jan. 18-20, bringing together representatives from 12 states and nine Baptist state conventions.

FIRST-PERSON: After the ‘three-year pandemic’

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (BP) – The stories we hear right now are anecdotal – churches here and there witnessing something of a revival after months of closure and privation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some pundits warned that it may take years for all the regulars to return to church services, if they ever do. But more recent polls show people are growing eager to return to the normal things in life, including church attendance.

FIRST-PERSON: Heard from the kids lately?

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (BP) – The first time I recall feeling old I was only 34.

FIRST-PERSON: Learning from 1918’s quiet Christmas

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (BP) – They called the holiday of December 1918 “the peace Christmas.” A truce had been declared. With the armistice announced, the shooting had stopped at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11.

FIRST-PERSON: Video games & violence

WHEATON, Ill. (BP) -- A man described to me a game his teenage son played at church. It's an electronic version of paintball, where kids wired up in battle gear shoot each other with beams of light. "We're going to give him all the equipment for Christmas," the dad said. "It's kind of expensive, but he's a good kid. He doesn't ask for much. I think he deserves it."