Before heading off to the Kankakee area tomorrow, last week had me tip-toeing through far southern Illinois, near the Kentucky border to small communities called Ware and Wolf Lake, before making my way toward Mt. Vernon again and eventually landing the farthest north I could get in our Illinois Great Rivers Conference: a small community called Hillsdale (near Saint Claire which is north of the Quad Cities). Next was a jaunt through Galesburg to Fairview Center UMC, in the middle of corn fields outside of Monmouth, and then a 5-hour drive over the Mississippi river into Missouri for a ladies luncheon at Bluff Springs UMC, a country church near Canton.
That 5-hour drive actually had me passing through Avon, Illinois, where my grandfather was the pastor of the Unitarian Universalist church there. I stopped to take a few pictures for my mom and dad, who remembered visiting during their dating years when they were in college together at Western Illinois University.
I’d recount more tales but as there isn’t enough time for that, I’ll just post the pictures here.
I will say I did have a couple of quiet days in Galesburg, waiting in between my talks, which was just what I needed. I even managed to get in my swimming time at the Galesburg YMCA, at their morning lap swims from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. Yes, as one addicted to my water sport, I’ll always find a pool anywhere I might be, and that definitely included Galesburg.
Pool time at 6 a.m. I’ve already had 2 cups of coffee so watch out for those in my lane!
Next week, I’ll land for about 4 days in my home town where I plan to finish my summer newsletter and have that in the mail by August 1. Time is slipping away rather quickly so it’s best I do as much as possible before my next journeys send me back onto the interstates for more presentations.
Enjoy the photos! And thanks to all who are in them for making my visits enjoyable, fun and worthwhile.
Ping An! (Peace)
Tip-toeing to the far south: Ware UMC’s evening potluck
My overnight with John and Megan Walden (John is Ware’s pastor) gave their kitty the luxury of sleeping in my bed. Meooowww!!!
The beauty of southern Illinois is breathtaking.
That beauty included the wildlife. Seen here, a family of deer dashing into the woods
I had just enough ime to stop by my alma mater, Southern Illinois University, and catch up on the gossip with Diane, our Linguistics Department office manager.
At Hillsdale, in the pastor’s home (the Rutledge family), the dog rules the roost.
At Hillsdale UMC, the men know exactly where to hang out before worship: next to the full coffee pot and donuts.
A few at Hillsdale UMC attending our luncheon after church
I couldn’t resist this darling little girl at Hillsdale. So cute!
Fairview UMC, in the middle of cornfields, built this picnic shelter for special outdoor events.
Our Fairview group, enjoying rootbeer floats.
Pastor Gabe Wank leading us in a few hymns before my turn to speak.
Fairview UMC church members
I’m presented with a handmade prayer quilt. Perfect to keep me warm on those chilly Sichuan evenings.
Gabe and his selfies!
A trip through Avon, Illinois, where my grandfather was a pastor in the 1950s
Surprise! At the entrance to Avon, a camel farm.
Our Missouri UMW gathering.
The Bluff Springs UMW, our hostesses, and me.
Was the luncheon gathering worth the long drive?
Absolutely! Best spread I’ve ever had.
Yet another young lady in our midst. Grandma brought her along for the gathering.
Returning to Illinois, my mom and I were able to participate in a UMW event at my home church in Marshall. What a great way to end all my travels– a little special time with my mom.
I have been in the Asia region for 30 years as an English language teacher. 28 of those have been spent with the Amity Foundation, a Chinese NGO that works in all areas of development for the Chinese people. Amity teachers are placed at small colleges throughout China as instructors of English language majors in the education field. In other words, my students will one day be English teachers themselves in their small villages or towns once they graduate. Currently, this is my 13th year in Luzhou Vocational and Technical College. The college is located in Luzhou city (loo-joe), Sichuan Province, a metropolis of 5 million people located next to the Yangtze River .
Connie, so glad you are getting to be out in the countryside to enjoy the beauty of nature. The shelter at Fairview seems like a delightful creation for a community. Know you will enjoy the quilt and it’s messages this coming winter. Safe travels as you continue your stateside offerings. Kate
Greetings! While I was searching for other things on the internet, I stumbled upon this post in your blog. I live in Avon, Illinois and I am the pastor (for over 26 years) of the Avon Federated Church. The church is a part of the United Church of Christ (the Avon church comes from the Congregationalist branch of the UCC) . The Federated Church is also affiliated with the Unitarian-Universalist Association of Churches. (The Avon church having Universalist roots). I am a UCC pastor. I began my duties in Avon on September 1, 1991.
I see that you have ties to the United Methodist faith. I did an undergraduate ministry internship at a UMC church in Ripon, Wisconsin in the early 1980s and I worked for a brief time as a youth director at another Wisconsin UMC church prior to going to seminary.
In your blog, you reported that your grandfather had served as pastor of the Avon Federated Church (Unitarian-Universalist Church) in the 1950s. Who was your grandfather? Is there anything that I can do in order to help you “connect” to his time in Avon? Our records are a bit scant from that time period–but I can look and see what we have. I can also provide you with photos of the interior and exterior of the church. If you ever come through Avon again (and I am here and not out-of-town) I could easily let you explore the church building.
My email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org Feel free to contact me at any time.
Blessings to you as you do your teaching.
Rev. Jon Prain