Iowa-Nigeria Partnership

The Iowa-Nigeria Partnership helped to connect a dentist to people in need of free dental care. Dr. Albert Ahidenor, a Nigerian dentist, found out about the Iowa-Nigeria Partnership on the Internet and expressed interest in holding a dental clinic. The first clinic was in June, 2012 with over 75 persons being seen and treated. This year Dr. Ahidenor once again is providing a free clinic with the support of Iowa team members.

Conference apportionments help to support the Iowa-Nigerian Partnership (INP), which works with Nigerian church leaders as they plant new congregations in new places where villagers have not heard the word of God. From verbal witness to our Nigerian partners and non-verbal acts of expressing Christian love, we work to develop relationships and share in ministries to develop spiritual maturity in Nigerian United Methodist congregations.

Teams regularly travel from Iowa to Nigeria to maintain personal connections. Often on these trips various ministry supplies are delivered, including dental equipment donated by dentists who practice in Iowa. Advance Special gifts are also welcome to supplement what the conference budget can do. Contributions can come through your local church to the Conference Treasurer designated: INP, #230, Dental Clinic.

New City Ministries, Waterloo

New City Ministries, an agency for racial equality and economic opportunity in the Waterloo area, closed as of June 1st. Previously known as the Waterloo Urban Ministry, the agency has served for over forty years in the area.

Their director, the Rev. Maureen Doherty, writes that they have been “the heartbeat, the hands, the prayers and the dollars of United Methodist people in ministry. They have provided transportation, meals, rental assistance, gas and electric, new bike tires, prescriptions, flood relief, personal and household hygiene items, emergency nights in motels” and much more.

She continues, “The doors may be locked but the message of the Gospel continues to be the same.” She emphasizes the importance of continuing to contribute to the missions of our churches, inviting United Methodist Iowans in the Northeast District “perhaps take a fresh look at the work of Jubilee and St. Paul’s United Methodist Churches.”

Her farewell letter to the district expresses grateful thanks for the support of apportioned gifts that have sustained the ministry these many years. The spirit of her message invites the entire Iowa Conference to embrace in fresh ways our commitment in our strategic priorities to work “alongside poor and marginalized persons in [our] communities to explore the conditions that create their circumstances and to address the possibilities for transformation by advocating for peace and justice.”

Diversity Service Center of Iowa

Rosa Mendoza, the executive director of the Diversity Service Center of Iowa, recently received the Peace and Justice Award from the Congregation of the Humility of Mary in Davenport. The award is given to a woman who shares with them “a commitment to the service of the less fortunate among us.”

An active member of the San Pablo United Methodist Church in Muscatine, Rosa Mendoza has “witnessed the suffering of many individuals in my office and have cried with them. The separation of families – of parents from children – has been the greatest agony I have seen,” she acknowledged. “The most beautiful reward in this field is making a difference in someone’s life. To me it is priceless!”

She and her staff have worked with clients from forty different nations who live in communities in eastern Iowa and neighboring Illinois from the Diversity Service Center office in Muscatine. DSCI provides educational outreach services to guide individuals, organizations and employers through the immigration process.

The agency is a recipient of a Matthew 25 grant from the Southeast District, which is made possible with apportionment gifts from local churches of the Iowa Conference. Visit the Diversity Service Center of Iowa on Facebook for more information about their ministry.

Multi-Staff Training Event

Clergy and laity will be equipped as transformational leaders in a multi-staff training event later this month. Being part of a multi-staff church certainly has its own opportunities and struggles. Sometimes pastors find themselves more in the role of boss than as pastor. This event will provide an opportunity to hone skills to be dynamic, compassionate leaders in the local church.

Paid and volunteer staff members also will be attending this training. They are an important part of the dimensions the ministries of our congregations. When we learn how to best work together, God’s ministry grows!

Bill Selby, creator of the Center for Pastoral Effectiveness of the Rockies, will lead the training. He has served a small country church, a church in a county seat community, and First United Methodist Church in Casper, Wyoming. St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Highlands Ranch, Colorado—Bill’s last church assignment, in 1987—was a new church “re-start.” It was there that he integrated most fully Family Systems into his ministry as he worked to grow a church that was dealing with heavy financial debt, economic downturns, and church families under tremendous stress.

The event will be on Saturday, July 20, 2013 at the Iowa Conference Center in Des Moines. The training is sponsored by the Iowa Board of Ordained Ministry and the Appointive Cabinet with support from apportionment gifts from local churches throughout the state.

Missional Transformation Process

The Missional Transformation Process equips churches to respond to the challenges of ministry in the 21st century.

First United Methodist Church in Centerville is one of three congregations in Iowa that completed the process last year. Leaders in the church participated in Bible study, evaluated their current organizational structures, and designed missional strategies for the future of their ministry in the community. Their homepage proclaims God’s call on their lives: “Open hearts, open minds, open doors – with us it’s not just a slogan, it’s a way of life.”

The Missional Transformation Process, or “Co-Missioned,” recognizes that God has a mission, and God’s mission needs a church. Congregations involved in the process embark on a learning journey of spiritual depth and significance to discern and embody God’s mission anew. They are partners with God, living into the vision of world-transforming United Methodist communities of faith throughout the Iowa Conference.

This ministry, which was originally conceived by the Center for Parish Development, is partially underwritten with apportioned funds from local churches. On their website First United Methodist Church includes a reference from 1 Corinthians 10:31, which summarizes our shared witness: “Whatever you do, do for the glory of God.”

Commission on the Status and Role of Women

At 98-years-old, Fern Underwood received the Ambassador Award from the Commission on the Status and Role of Women at Annual Conference.

The Ambassador Award was created to recognize individuals who are committed to the full inclusion of women, especially those who are on the margins of the church and society. The award honors advocates who stand with women in the midst of their pain and joy, catalysts who inspire women to become leaders, and monitors who act to promote the involvement of women in every aspect of the Church.

Fern Underwood has served in her local church in Osceola as a Sunday school teacher for many years. She has taken her concern for children in poverty to a local trailer park to teach a Bible class beyond the walls of the church building.

She has been a frequent author throughout her life, including for the local newspaper. Her books have ranged in subject matter from biographies of local individuals to Christian stewardship and United Methodist history. Her women’s Bible study, The King’s Daughters, is meant to change the world for Jesus.

Her life has been an inspiration and encouragement for many, women and men alike. Fern Underwood embodies the ideals of COSROW’s Ambassador Award.