“Thank the Annual Conference for our church,” said Melissa, a member of Women at the Well United Methodist Church inside the walls of the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women in Mitchellville. She was speaking to Bishop Julius Calvin Trimble on a Thursday evening early in September of 2009 about the ways in which the ministry had met her spiritual needs.
Bishop Julius Calvin Trimble shared the conversation at a Conference Connectional Ministries Council meeting later that month. It inspired the group to discuss some new ways that they could strengthen local church awareness in Iowa about the life-changing ways that apportionments were being invested in ministry. And it became the first featured story in our Thank You Notes series.
This blog is coming to a close with this final post. Phil Carver, who has been collecting and editing these stories over the last decade, will be transitioning from his role as a Field Outreach Minister in the Southeast District to a new set of responsibilities, although in a similar capacity, as an Associate for Congregational Excellence in the eastern third of Iowa.
This realignment of duties, however, does not mean that apportionment resources will no longer be available. We invite you to visit the Stewardship and Apportionment Interpretation webpage for further information and links, including Mission Moments, Six Special Sundays, Special Sundays Offerings, and United Methodist Giving videos.
More than 1300 members of the 2018 Iowa Annual Conference gathered in downtown Des Moines last week. The Connectional Ministries Council staff were among the many conference staff members who were working behind the scenes to help assure that the event went smoothly. They devoted days both before and after the event moving furniture and equipment from the Conference Center to Hy-Vee Hall to enable them to have remote offices to care for the business of the conference.
Even more important, however, was the impact of their work on the ministries of Difference Makers who were recognized at the Celebration of Ministry on June 9th. The School for Lay Ministry honored 27 new graduates. The Board of Church and Society announced three recipients of Peace with Justice scholarships and recognized Doris Knight with the Beje Clark Restorative Justice Award. The Commission on the Status and Role of Women presented their Ambassador Award posthumously to Eileen McPherson. The Academy for Spiritual Formation announced their four graduates. Sixteen churches were recognized for completing the Healthy Church Initiative process.
The Connectional Ministries team provides administrative support throughout the year for several conference agencies and their related ministries. Their 2018 budget of $937,321 supports the work of the Leadership Development Minister for Camping and Christian Formation plus four administrative staff persons. These funds are made possible through the apportionment gifts of the United Methodist churches of Iowa.
The three staff members of the Communications Ministry Team are working behind the scenes at the Iowa Annual Conference this week. Director Arthur McClanahan works alongside his associate director, Liz Winders, and staff writer, Courtney Glienke, to tell the story of United Methodist ministry in Iowa and around the world.
For this week’s conference in Des Moines, they have assembled a team of media and communications specialists who help with videos, slides, graphics, and a host of other responsibilities for sharing information with the assembly in a timely fashion.
Throughout the year they gather stories which are shared on social media and the conference website as well as in weekly emails with news and updates about the activities of United Methodist servant leaders. These efforts are a part of a larger vision to “connect persons and communities of faith so that they live out their discipleship in their own contexts and share their experiences with others, enabling self-resourcing and building partnerships.”
They are rising to the challenges of our contemporary society where social media presents new, ever-expanding and ever-changing opportunities. The team works every day to help our churches use technology, media, and messaging effectively and efficiently.
Their budget line for 2018 is $383,850. These funds are made possible through the apportionment gifts of United Methodist churches across the state of Iowa.
Friday, June 1st, was the first day for the 2018 Sheldon Summer Lunch Program. This ministry is beginning its fifth year of serving meals in the basement of the Sheldon United Methodist Church. The program offers food each Monday through Friday from the day after Sheldon’s school year ends until the day before the next school year begins.
Originally developed for children receiving free or reduced-price lunches at school, the program has grown each year. Tricia Meendering, the Summer Lunch Program Coordinator and the Children’s Ministry Coordinator for the United Methodist Church, said, “We feed kids with a hungry belly or a hungry soul. Sometimes people just don’t want to be alone. We don’t turn anybody away.”
Volunteers help with baking, shopping, serving, and other related tasks that keep the program going throughout the summer. Teachers, parents, and kids all appreciate the importance of this ministry for the health and welfare of the entire community.
Financial support comes from businesses, churches, and individuals who want to make a positive difference for the children and families of Sheldon. Last year the Northwest District provided a grant for the Summer Lunch Program of $5,200 from their Matthew 25 fund, which was made possible through the apportionment gifts of the United Methodist churches of Iowa.
Mobile United Methodist Missionaries is using the latest Cokesbury curriculum, Rolling River Rampage, for their summer Bible school season. MUMM’s staff hosted some VBS fairs in Chariton, Atlantic, and Mount Pleasant earlier this year to introduce church leaders in the southern districts of the conference to the material.
Romper, the puppet, helps kids have fun as they learn five different Bible stories about Jesus, the disciples, Mary, Martha, and Zacchaeus in five sessions. The children enjoy “a white-water rafting adventure to experience the ride of a lifetime with God!”
Life with God, they will find, is an adventure full of wonder and surprise, and they can trust God to be with them through anything. The theme Bible verse is “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you” from Isaiah 43:2 (CEB), riding the rapids of amazing grace!
These Bible school events help MUMM’s participants fulfill their mission to make disciples of Christ in rural southern Iowa. Visit them on Facebook to follow the ways they are helping small rural churches reach out and share God’s love in their communities, especially youth.
Apportionment gifts of $35,000 from the United Methodist churches of Iowa are budgeted in 2018 to support Mobile United Methodist Missionaries.
The Shalom Spirituality Center in Dubuque played host to students attending licensing school last week. All persons who are not ordained as elders are required to have a license for pastoral ministry to preach and perform the duties of a pastor in a local church.
This week of concentrated learning meets the eighty hours of course work and classroom instruction required by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry. Students are introduced to a variety of resources for ministry on topics such as public worship, preaching, pastoral care, mission, spiritual formation, Christian education, evangelism, and United Methodist history and distinctiveness.
The Iowa licensing school offers classes in French, using translators who are pastors in the Iowa Annual Conference. This is in response to the need across the United Methodist connection for licensed local pastors to serve our brothers and sisters who are immigrants to the United States. This is not an unusual request, as thirty percent of all United Methodists worldwide speak French.
The Iowa Board of Ordained Ministry’s budget of $91,345 for 2018 helps to underwrite the cost of the licensing school with a $500 tuition credit for persons requesting financial assistance. These funds are made possible through the apportionment gifts of United Methodist churches throughout the state.
Threehouse, the Wesley Foundation of the United Methodist Church at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, offered free breakfasts to students during finals week at the beginning of May.
“Too busy cramming for finals to cook?” they said. “We’ve got you covered!” The breakfasts were available from 8 a.m. to noon each day. “Let us take some of the stress off your plate as the semester winds down. All are welcome!”
They served a different menu item each day, including a breakfast casserole, French toast, assorted baked goods, and paninis.
Threehouse is combination of three ideas. First, the Trinity, “our belief in a relational God that wants us to grow in compassion with God.” Second, Third Places, “not school, not work, but that other place where community happens.” Third, Tree Houses, which are “playful, creative, safe, and green.”
“John Wesley, the Founder of the Methodist movement,” their website reminds us, “was himself a campus minister at Oxford University. Methodism has a rich tradition of social activism and personal growth.” They are “Rooted in Faith, Free to Branch Out.”
The Iowa Conference is investing $131,542 in apportionment gifts in 2018 from United Methodist churches across the state to support the ministries of Threehouse.