Delegates from the East Michigan, Illinois, North Michigan and West Michigan districts met at Central Wesleyan Church in Holland, Michigan, on Friday, August 24, to complete their merger, forming the new Great Lakes District.

The new district elected Rev. Chris Conrad to a four-year call as their district superintendent by a vote of 424-32. Rev. Conrad has been superintendent of the West Michigan District since 2010. Rev. Richard Meeks, superintendent of the East Michigan District since 2007, will continue to serve as a regional specialist in the new district, focusing on revisioning (refocusing), coaching initiatives and urban engagement. Rev. Thomas Schmidt, superintendent of the North Michigan District since 2005, will also serve as a regional specialist, focusing on district board of ministerial development, pastoral care and special projects. Rev. Alan Goracke, superintendent of the Illinois District since 2012, will continue to serve as senior pastor of Hope Wesleyan Church in Blaine, Minnesota.

The merging conference also celebrated each former district and the work the Holy Spirit has uniquely done over their collective histories. The conference then elected officials and took care of regional/district business.

Rev. Conrad said, “The inaugural conference of the Great Lakes District was a wonderful celebration of unity and mission focus. The conference ended with a vision time focused on how best to reach the 22 million individuals in our midst who are presently outside a relationship with Jesus Christ, by raising up apostolic multipliers, encouraging each church and pastor to be involved in the multiplication of believers, leaders and churches, taking risks for the Kingdom’s sake. We look forward with great anticipation to putting the collective strengths of four former districts together to more effectively accomplish our mission.”

The newly formed district includes the states of Illinois and Michigan, with 164 churches and a combined worship attendance of more than 34,000.