Dr. Mary L. Fraser works with clergy in both therapeutic and theological reflection to care for the souls of United Methodist people in Iowa and the communities they serve.
As the director of the Office of Pastoral Care and Counseling, Dr. Fraser provides nearly 1,000 hours annually of clinical work with clergy, retreat experiences, and training opportunities. Spiritual development, family systems, substance abuse, and trauma recovery are among many topics explored with others in her work.
Apportionment gifts from the local churches of Iowa provide primary support for this ministry. As stated in the Iowa Conference Journal, the Office of Pastoral Care and Counseling works “with clergy, and in some instances churches, to increase self awareness, develop tools for resolving issues and conflicts that inhibit ministry, and create greater strength in leading through example.”
Their action plan for ministry reminds us that to “become a disciple requires putting on the cloak of Christ and also letting go of certain behaviors and points of view that collide with creating faith communities of love and justice.” Dr. Fraser’s professional training and life of faith merge together to offer a wealth of resources to help the United Methodist Church and its leaders live into the ministry of healing that Jesus offers to us and the world.
Students at Iowa State University connected with area homeless children to share the Christmas spirit this season.
For the second year in a row the Collegiate United Methodist Church and Wesley Foundation created an Advent Workshop for kids from the Emergency Residence Project (ERP), the homeless shelter in Ames. The students helped the kids make gifts for others including candy, blankets, scarves, ornaments, and more.
Joy permeated the experience for students and children alike. Each kid had a big buddy or two that helped them with the crafts and spent some quality time with them. Other students were in charge of leading the craft tables and explaining what to do. It was a fun time for all.
In 2013 they hope to strengthen their relationship with the kids at ERP by doing activities with them once a month. Apportionment gifts from local churches across Iowa help to support this ministry. Learn more about Collegiate United Methodist Church and Wesley Foundation by visiting their website at www.cumc-wf.org.
A homeless woman and her three children received emergency housing in a local motel thanks to your apportionment giving. Janice, whose name has been changed to protect her privacy, was abused by her husband. Her appliances were destroyed in her home, and then she was robbed of her medications and food. In desperation, she had been camping in a local park with only a tent to shelter her family. The last straw was being kicked out of the park.
Since its beginning, New City Ministries has been committed to be “the hands of the Church on the streets of our community.” Your gifts helped with rent, gas and food cards, laundry money, medications, water bills, mattresses for beds, and utilities for over 100 individuals and families in the past year. New City Director, the Rev. Maureen Doherty, writes that “each story is a person needing hope, a prayer, and a hand” – like Janice.
New City Ministries works with other agencies and gathers information from clients to provide the best assistance possible. At the same time they work with neighbors, church partners, and community organizations to help resolve the underlying causes of poverty, hunger, unemployment, and substandard housing.
United Methodist Church grants from Community and Institutional Ministries and Matthew 25 funds help New City Ministries respond to each person with the love Christ.
New forms of local church outreach are the focus of a training event for lay and clergy leaders of the East Central District at the Shueyville United Methodist this January 27th.
The Rev. Christian Coon will present a address at the gathering called “Key Things That I Needed to Know about Creating New Places for New People I Learned (Growing Up) in Iowa.” He is the son of the Rev. Denny Coon, who pastors the Walnut Hills United Methodist Church in Urbandale.
Chris is one of the founding pastors of the Urban Village Church in Chicago, an experiment in outreach that looks very different from a typical congregation. He doesn’t have a church office, so he does a lot of his ministry in Chicago’s many coffee shops (more than 100 at last count).
His leadership will help participants at the training event learn how doing ministry outside their church’s walls, both literally and digitally, can help their faith communities bring the timeless Good News of God to a generation that desperately needs to hear it and know it.
Gifts from local church apportionments around the state of Iowa are helping to make this event possible.
Cultivate Hope is developing Iowa’s first urban farm, using land vacated by flood-damaged homes in 2008. The program is a part of the Matthew 25 Ministry Hub, an outreach of the United Methodist Church in Cedar Rapids.
A dozen lots of land in the city have produced over 5,000 pounds of vegetables. These locally grown crops have been distributed to persons of the Taylor and Time Check neighborhoods, other CSA (community supported agriculture) members, and local food banks.
Hundreds of volunteers have donated more than 4,000 hours this season to the project. They have used 200 cubic yards of compost and an equal amount of wood chips donated by the local Solid Waste Agency to keep the farm well fertilized.
Jerry Oakland, the Neighborhood Investment Coordinator for the Matthew 25 Ministry Hub, noted that two dozen trees and berry bushes, as well as plants that attract insects, have been introduced to the farm “in the first steps of building a food forest – possibly the first in Cedar Rapids.”
A $5,000 grant from the Iowa Annual Conference helped to underwrite this ministry. Learn more about the project at the Matthew 25 Ministry Hub website, where they “envision a thriving, connected community where people are valued and talents are multiplied.” Their mission is to “Unite, Empower, [and] Change Lives!”