First United Methodist Church in North Liberty offers an English class for speakers of Spanish with the help of a Matthew 25 grant from the East Central District. The ministry was developed when a family resource worker at a local elementary school expressed concern about the isolation Hispanic adults were experiencing. Many of the class participants are recent immigrants whose children have many opportunities to develop their skills in English. Parents however often have limited exposure to the language, especially the mothers who are not employed.
The goals for the project are to help adults learn English, to provide a place for participants to socialize with each other and church volunteers, and to assist children in developing their literacy readiness. This reflects the congregation’s vision for its ministry, which says in part, “We must first listen to those around us including those who are commonly unheard. God can be known to others through the actions of God’s people. . . . For even Jesus did not come to be served but to serve.”
North Liberty is located in a rapidly growing part of the state. Nearly 500 residents are of Hispanic descent. The church has recently expanded their outreach to Latinos by offering a bilingual worship service. Their Matthew 25 grant was made possible from the apportionment gifts of local United Methodist churches throughout the state of Iowa.
Love INC of the Cedar Valley is a multi-denominational organization whose mission is to “mobilize the church to transform lives and communities In the Name of Christ.” Twenty partner churches support this ministry, believing that Christian congregations can accomplish more by working together than by working separately.
Their call center refers persons to churches, agencies, and volunteers who can help meet their needs. St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Waterloo, for instance, was assisted in starting their food ministry. Love INC keeps a record of all ministries offered by local churches and verifies potential clients’ needs in order to free the churches to concentrate on developing the relationship with the client rather than having to vet the request themselves.
Love INC’s transformational ministry helps people who are struggling get back on their feet. One of their first participants was a young woman who found herself pregnant and unmarried without a job. Over the last year she has taken classes, received a mentor, given birth, and gone from being a recipient of their clearinghouse to a regular volunteer. She recently got a full time job, supporting herself and her child independently. She also has developed into a confident Christian.
Love INC of the Cedar Valley is partially supported by a Matthew 25 grant from the Northeast District, which is made possible by apportionment gifts from local churches across the state of Iowa.
The basement of the Mondamin United Methodist Church serves as the home for a food pantry in western Iowa. The United Methodist congregations in Little Sioux and Pisgah are among several partner churches involved in the ministry. Other organizations in the area help to support the food pantry, too, including FCCLA (Family, Career and Community Leaders of America), 4‐H, Boy Scouts, and the West Harrison Community Schools.
The Matthew’s House Food Pantry was created in response to the teaching of Jesus in Matthew 25:35, “When I was hungry you gave me food.” By opening the food pantry in Mondamin, residents of Harrison and Monona Counties receive nutritional support a little closer to home. Transportation can be among the many challenges of people living in poverty.
Kathy Winn, who heads the Food Pantry Committee, was quoted in a Missouri Valley Times article, “We are so thankful for all our volunteers. It was wonderful to see our community come together” in support of this shared ministry. The regular hours of operation for the food pantry are from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. on Wednesdays and from noon to 2:00 p.m. on Sundays. Partial support for the Matthew’s House Food Pantry is made possible by a Matthew 25 grant from the Southwest District, which is funded with apportionment gifts from local churches across the state.
Our Brother’s Keeper is an outreach ministry sponsored by Trinity United Methodist Church in Charles City. The ministry helps people who have slipped through the cracks of our welfare system by providing for basic needs such as rental assistance, utility assistance, food, and gas vouchers for medical necessity.
Begun in the mid-1980s under the leadership of their pastor at the time, the Rev. Delbert Dawes, the program has increased at an unbelievable rate in the last few years. Last year 99 families were served, and by the end of August in 2013 they had helped 53 clients. They “met with a record number of people in July,” wrote Jeannine Mills, a member of the Our Brother’s Keeper committee.
The organization treats all of their clients with respect, compassion, and confidentiality. Many people in the area have low-paying jobs, and often their hours amount to only 24 hours a week. The poverty rate within a 3-mile radius of the church is at 13.8%, nearly double the average across the state of Iowa.
Our Brother’s Keeper is a supported in part through a Northeast District Matthew 25 grant from Iowa Conference apportionment contributions of local churches. “We try to treat everyone’s problems as Jesus would want us to.”