MacMurray College’s community will get a chance to say good-bye in a special United Methodist Church ceremony next week. MacMurray has ties with the UMC since its founding when the Illinois Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church established the Illinois Conference Female Academy in Jacksonville in 1846. The college later became an archive for the Illinois Great Rivers Conference. Reverend Beth Fender has been a go-between for the college and the conference on getting the archive transferred to another location after the college announced its closure. She says she’s not sure what’s in the archive but she’s certain there is some significant local history that is going to be moved. “I know in the Conference’s part of the archives there tends to be historical documents relating to our local churches throughout the southern two-thirds of Illinois, as well as the history related to the area involving Peter Cartwright and all the way back to the founding of the college. I could not tell you what all is in the archive.”
Fender says that the Great Rivers Conference is preparing an online Service of Leave-Taking for Annie Merner Chapel at MacMurray College at 7 p.m., Thursday, June 4th. She says the service is a way for those in the Methodist faith to decommission the college and for the community to say goodbye. “We didn’t want to let this moment pass without marking this through the lens of our faith. The hope is that there will some day be an opportunity to do such a service, a leave-taking service in person, but until it’s safe to do that, we wanted to put this video service together. A couple of us on the staff at the Great Rivers Conference have been working with alumni, staff of the college, the president of the college, the Office of Communication and Marketing has provided some valuable assistance there at MacMurray helping us with some of the filming of the service. We also had some folks that are participating that are located all over the country. They have been videoing their pieces from wherever they are located and sending them to us.”
The leave-taking service will act as an online worship service. Music recorded in the chapel by 1992 MacMurray graduate and MacMurray staff member 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. Persons wishing to watch the service can watch on Facebook Live at the Illinois Great Rivers Conference’s Student Ministries Facebook Page. Audio of the service will be broadcast on AM1180 WLDS at 7PM. The service’s audio will also be streamed through WLDS.com’s live stream. You can use this link to download a program of the service to follow along.
Reverend Fender says it’s a way to grieve the closure of the school for the community. “If this is something that is helpful to the community and will be meaningful not just to alumni and folks from the United Methodist Church but to the whole community, faculty, staff, students; that’s all the better.”
MacMurray College was one of three United Methodist institutions of higher education that was still in operation within the boundaries of the Illinois Great Rivers Conference before its closure at the end of May.