Melissa Drake, the Field Outreach Minister in the Southwest District, invites churches to make connections with local leaders for the sake of ministry to the entire community.
In a recent newsletter article, she asked each congregation to identify one ministry focus outside the walls of the church that could be shared with other congregations for inspiration and encouragement. How “have our disciples been out transforming the world in a real, tangible way? Is it good news for the town that the church exists?”
She invited churches to seek out leaders in their area, “the volunteer fire department, the school superintendent and teachers, city council, local pre-schools, the county sheriff’s office, social workers, librarians” and others, to learn about their hopes and dreams for the community. “Imagine what kinds of relationships might spring up,” she continued, if we “went intentionally out of our way to become partners with our communities. Imagine what kinds of good news we might share” by noticing how God is already at work in our midst.
Field Outreach Ministers are a part of the Iowa Conference staff assigned to work with local communities of faith in each of our eight districts “to live into the mission of making disciples and transforming the world.”
Iowa leaders are honored for their evangelistic efforts annually by the Board of Discipleship. The Denman Evangelism Awards are presented to both laity and clergy each year. In 2013 Glen Hanson received the clergy award and Betty Smallen received the laity award.
Glen Hanson is the founding pastor of Cross Point United Methodist Church in Bondurant. With the support of Oakwood United Methodist Church in Pleasant Hill, Cross Point was established in 2008. Their mission is “Pointing to the Cross by Reflecting God’s Love.” Ann Chalfant, a member at Cross Point, said that her pastor “is always reminding our congregation that many people are ready to give their lives to Christ if someone would show them how.”
Betty Smallen is a member of Salem United Methodist Church in Council Bluffs. She was the founding visionary for the congregation’s Lake Manawa Outreach Community. She preaches, teaches, supervises after-care for children, provides meals and arranges activities, her pastor Les Green said, “all so that more people can experience God’s transforming love through Jesus . . . especially those on the fringes of society.”
The awards are presented in partnership with the Foundation for Evangelism to honor their founder, Harry Denman, “in order for a new generation of leaders with a passion for evangelism to emerge.”
Students returning to Morningside College this fall, or coming for the very first time, will find ways to connect to God through the campus ministries at the school. The mission of campus ministries at Morningside, which is an extension of our Iowa Conference priority of developing principled Christian leaders, is “to make possible relationship-based spiritual growth: upward (in relationship to God), inward (in relationship to self), and outward (in relationship to others).”
Bailee Keizer, a Religious Studies Major, first got involved with the praise and worship team. “It has really helped me to grow, both spiritually and emotionally.” The experience has given her friendships that feel like family. She has gotten involved in service projects and strengthened her relationship with God. By being involved, Bailee said, “I now have the perfect people in my life to help with my walk with Christ.”
Morningside College Campus Ministries engages students in faith-based opportunities such as worship, Bible study, and prayer groups. It also promotes awareness of peace and justice initiatives through organizations such as Bread for the World, Habitat for Humanity, Amnesty International, Church World Service, and the United Methodist Board of Church and Society.
Apportionment gifts from local churches help to support this ministry at Morningside College. Learn more at their website www.morningside.edu.
A refugee sought help from Justice for Our Neighbors (JFON) in northwest Iowa to navigate complex immigration laws. Josue came to the United States in 1989 to escape the civil war in El Salvador and applied for asylum in 1993. In 2007 he finally received an asylum interview. He came to JFON for assistance.
Justice for Our Neighbors offers free, professional legal services to low-income immigrants. It is one of the refugee services affiliated with the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) and supported through the Board of Global Ministries of the Iowa Conference. Legal clinics are offered throughout the state by JFON lawyers with the help of local volunteers. Apportionment gifts for Iowa United Methodist churches partially fund their efforts. Donations can be made using their Iowa Advance Special #375. Learn more at their website www.iajfon.org.
Josue’s asylum case was denied because the civil war in El Salvador had ended. JFON helped him apply for late registration for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). In response to violent volcanoes and earthquakes in El Salvador in 2000, Congress authorized TPS to allow certain Salvadorans who lived in the United States before the natural disaster to remain in the U.S. legally until El Salvador recovers. Josue was granted TPS and now is able to remain in the U.S. until the TPS program ends.