Lake Okoboji Camp and Retreat Center

New outreach is being developed by using social media at the Lake Okoboji United Methodist Camp and Retreat Center.

Courtney Glienke, a ministry assistant for the camp, tells about the new Okoboji Campcast. The project is being produced by camp staff “interviewing people in ministry, friends of Okoboji, and important professionals in the camp community.” Through the podcast they are able to reach out to share what is happening at the camp with long-time supporters as well as people who are hearing about their ministry for the first time. “If you’d like to listen to it,” says Countney, “go to the iTunes Store and search for Okoboji Campcast.”

Facebook provides another venue for the camp to reach new people. The site has contact information, a map of how to find their facilities, and pictures and videos of activities there throughout the year. A search for Lake Okoboji U.M. Camp will link you to the page. Visitors are invited to “like” their page to get updates regularly about the ministry.

Apportionment gifts from United Methodist congregations across the state of Iowa help to support this camping ministry, one of three located in the Iowa Conference. As Courtney recently wrote in the Northwest District newsletter, “We’re definitely blessed to have such wonderful churches and friends!”

The Center, Davenport

An outreach ministry of St. John’s United Methodist Church in Davenport has been a lifeline for a homeless woman.

“Sue” heard about The Center on the streets. The 47-year-old homeless woman first arrived at their doorstep for a cup of coffee. Behaviors stemming from her mental illness resulted in her being banned from every social service agency in the area, including meal sites.

Pennie Kellenberger, the director of The Center, learned that Sue had been living in a car. “Even though it has been a difficult road, we have been able to help her find an apartment. . . She comes in every day to volunteer. She is learning to have positivie interactions with people. . . She is even attending church with us!”

The Center is a remodeled furniture store just across the street to the north of St. John’s United Methodist Church in downtown Davenport. Several agencies are housed in the building, along with a food pantry, a thrift store, a café, and a Skatechurch ministry for at-risk teenagers, among other avenues of outreach.

They receive a Matthew 25 grant from the Southeast District funded through Iowa apportionment gifts from local churches. “Serving a vulnerable population can sometimes be taxing, however knowing we are not alone makes the journey easier.”

Central District Leadership Training

Laity and clergy gathered in Newton to reflect on the qualities of effective leaders with keynote speaker Dave Busiek.

The news director for KCCI-TV (and a member of Grace United Methodist Church in Des Moines) emphasized that “everyone is a leader.” Our attitudes, whether at work or in our churches, help to create a positive or negative atmosphere that affects others for good or ill. “You have the power to make this a miserable place,” he said, “but why not be a force for good.”

Busiek also highlighted the growing secularization, or perhaps disillusionment, in our society. Statistically, more than 15% of the population in the United States are “nones,” people who espouse no faith affiliation. “We need to figure out how to talk with people who aren’t coming to church.”

Following the keynote address, participants met in small groups sessions to discuss a variety of leadership opportunities and challenges in local churches. Topics included transforming a church meal into a mission, forming a faith group for persons struggling with addictions, and using social media as an outreach tool, among others.

The staff of the Central District, superintendent David Weesner, field outreach minister Karen Nelson, and district administrative secretary Wendy Lubkeman, were instrumental in planning the event, which was held on January 13, 2013 at First United Methodist Church in Newton.

Youth Events at Wesley Woods

The third Sunday of every month is being set aside at Camp Wesley Woods in 2013 to nurture young people in their faith.

Ignition is a Christian gathering of youth from 12- to 18-years-old. The monthly events are starting January 20th from 3-5:30 pm at the United Methodist camping facility just southwest of Indianola. Deke Rider, the director at Wesley Woods, envisions that this new initiative will be an intentional way to develop the spiritual lives of teenagers, especially when they don’t have a large youth group in their own churches.

These events will provide opportunities for creative worship, faith sharing, mission outreach, and team building. A nominal fee is charged for participants, but their adult chaperones may participate without cost. Share their flyer with youth, parents, and others in your congregation who may have interest in this innovative ministry.

Ignition is supported in part with apportionment gifts from local churches around the state of Iowa. Thank you for your part in this shared ministry of the Iowa Conference of the United Methodist Church.