Dr. Mary Lautzenhiser Bellon is the Director of the Office of Pastoral Care and Counseling. Her ministry provides confidential counseling and consultation for clergy and ministerial professionals of the Iowa Conference of The United Methodist Church and their families.
She provides approximately 1200 hours of direct counseling and consultation to over 250 pastors annually. Her office is in Urbandale, and once each month she travels to satellite locations in Waterloo, Mount Vernon and Atlantic.
Dr. Bellon teaches about ethics and care and nurture at the School for Lay Ministry and in the Course of Study and provides consultation and support at the School for Ministry. She leads staff days apart and district support days for groups desiring coaching and leadership development.
She employs a range of mental health techniques, such as mindfulness, humor, spirituality and listening, to help people strengthen personal practices of wellness, contemplation and relaxation. Her ministry also gives people opportunities to address issues from spiritual growth, depression or burn out to anxiety or concerns with family relationships.
The Iowa Conference is investing $162,164 in the work of the Office of Pastoral Care and Counseling in 2017. These funds are made possible through the apportionment gifts of the United Methodist churches of Iowa.
First United Methodist Church in Webster City hosted one of a series workshops last week to help local church leaders develop discipleship pathways. Ken Willard led the events, which were designed to further the “Wildly Important Goal” of the Iowa Conference to see every community of faith develop a discipleship pathway by 2020. Willard is a published author, certified ministry coach, certified church consultant, and owner of Leadership4Transformation.
A pathway, he explains, is an intentional process to help people grow in faith and develop deeper and deeper spiritual disciplines as they move through life’s journey from childhood into adolescence and continuing throughout adulthood.
Willard outlines four key areas of discipleship. Invitation refers to the ways we help people enter into the life of the church. Community describes the supportive relationships we develop with other disciples. Learn reminds us of the need to continually grow in our faith through Bible study and other educational opportunities. Serve identifies how our gifts and passions are applied to ministry for the benefit of our community and world as disciples of Jesus Christ.
Apportionment gifts from the local United Methodist churches of Iowa helped to underwrite the expenses for bringing Ken Willard to Iowa for these seminars.
On Saturday, Sept 16, 2017, San Pablo United Methodist Church in Muscatine hosted a great fiesta in conjunction with Mexican Independence Day. The gathering attracted nearly 100 people.
Participants had a wonderful opportunity to see the Quad City Folkloric Ballet with their dancers composed of Caucasian, African American and Mexican children and adults. They enjoyed catered food of tacos, Spanish rice, beans and salsa. They also played a few games outside, and children received helium balloons.
“It was a fun way to let the neighborhood and all the people of Muscatine know we are here,” said Cecilia La Roché. The congregation shares a building on the south side of Muscatine with the Musserville United Methodist Church, which is located in a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood. Her husband, Eduardo, is a preacher at the church. We are “energized and excited to the Lord as we serve the community,” she exclaimed.
In 2016 the Standing Committee on Community and Institutional Ministries of the Iowa Conference Board of Global Ministries provided $12,500 to support the ministries of the San Pablo United Methodist Church. These funds were made possible with the apportionment gifts of the United Methodist churches of Iowa in fulfillment of our conference mission to mobilize the church at local, district and conference levels to be in ministry with Latino/Hispanic people in areas of significant concentration.
The Columbus Junction United Methodist Church plays host to the Great Beginnings Preschool, which offers quality care and education to children from ages three to five in their community and the surrounding area. Kids from all walks of life share the benefits of their safe and learning-enriched environment. The ministry even offers transportation to and from the preschool for families needing that service.
Students from four different cultural backgrounds fill their classroom, and they all learn from each other as they learn together. “Many of our students are refugees or immigrants and all are learning to adjust to a new culture with new surroundings,” says Marsha Gerot. “Our preschool helps these families feel safe and comfortable in their surroundings.”
The church provides the facilities for the ministry as well as electricity, janitorial services and heat. They also provide paper for the preschool’s newsletters and correspondence. Their commitment to serving a diverse community of people is a special emphasis of this program, which is in line with the mission of the United Methodist Church around the world.
Great Beginnings Preschool received a Matthew 25 grant of $2,000 in 2017 from the Southeast District. These funds are made possible through the apportionment gifts of the United Methodist churches of Iowa.
The Greenfield United Methodist Church launched a new worship service earlier this month. Previously, the church had a service at 9 a.m. followed by a time of fellowship and Sunday school at 10:30. Now they are offering worship at 9 and 11 a.m. with Sunday school in between at 10 o’clock.
Church leaders have been engaged for the last two years in prayer and discernment about their future through the Healthy Church Initiative. First, a team of their leaders studied ministry in the 21st century. A consultation weekend followed to help them determine their future plans based on their gifts and graces as a church. They determined that God was calling them to experiment with ways to connect new people to God.
On the first Sunday the new service was offered, the church netted 17 new people in church attendance. “We welcome with open arms those seeking to understand what Christianity is about,” they say on their website, “as well as those who are yearning to deepen their discipleship and grow into the likeness of Christ.”
The ministries of the Healthy Church Initiative are supported in part with $60,000 from the Parish Development Standing Committee of the Iowa Board of Global Ministries. The funds are made possible through the apportionment gifts of local United Methodist churches throughout the state.
A narrative budget reflecting the ministries of the Iowa Annual Conference for 2018 is now available on our website. This collaboration of the Council on Finance and Administration (CFA) and the Communications Ministry Team was recently completed and published to help the members of our local churches know more about how we are investing in ministry across the state. The 24-page document describes conference missions and ministries as well as general church apportionments, which are invested in outreach efforts around the world.
The CFA is responsible for overseeing the financial health of the Iowa Annual Conference. Working with the Conference Treasurer and the Administrative Services staff, budget proposals from all boards and agencies are reviewed and recommendations for annual budgets and apportionment formulas are presented to each Annual Conference. Since the approval of the budget at the 2017 Iowa Annual Conference, the CFA has worked with the communications team of the conference to prepare a narrative budget that reflects all of the decisions related to our shared ministries throughout the state of Iowa and in the global United Methodist connection.
This year’s budget for the work of the CFA and related conference staff is $792,097. These funds are made possible through the apportionment gifts of United Methodist churches of the Iowa Conference.
Jaymee Glenn-Burns, the Field Outreach Minister serving the Northeast District, has begun a new blog for United Methodist leaders called Bread and Wisdom: Seeking the Way of Jesus. “The United Methodist Church in Iowa,” she explains, “has set the ambitious goal of every congregation implementing an intentional discipleship pathway by 2020. This blog is an invitation to think, pray, discuss, and experiment our way to that goal.”
Each weekly blog centers on a discipleship question. The first installment asked, “Why all the fuss?” More recently, she posed the question, “What is a disciple?”
A Quote of the Week on the Northeast District’s Facebook page supplements the blog. One recent installment was from a new initiative called See All the People.
“For too long,” the website contends, “The United Methodist Church has looked for a quick fix to help guide our discipleship efforts.” We must nurture relationships “with the communities that surround our churches.”
All of this is offered to spur the imaginations of churches and their leaders to fulfill our shared mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
The Iowa Conference is investing $13,400 in the ministries of the Northeast District in 2017. These funds are made possible through the apportionment gifts of United Methodist churches across the state.