Open Kitchen, Sibley UMC

The Sibley United Methodist Church has created a bridge to their community with their Open Kitchen. On the second Saturday of each month a free noon meal is provided at the church. The meal is made from scratch and includes a main dish, vegetables, and dessert.

The congregation goes out of its way to make their guests feel at home. Many participants are elderly and living alone with limited income. The meal provides an opportunity for them to be together, which perhaps is even more important that the nutritious food that is served. Kris Roelfs writes that it gives people “a place to belong.”

The Open Kitchen currently serves about a dozen people each month. The church hopes to expand the reach of the free meal to more people. To that end they are focusing more on advertising. They also aim to increase the number of persons from the church who help with preparing, serving, and cleaning up after each meal.

Funds for this project were provided by a Matthew 25 grant from the Northwest District. This is one of many shared ministries made possible through apportionment gifts from local churches across the Iowa Annual Conference.

South Central District Hispanic Coordinator

The Rev. Rosa Marie Rodriguez was appointed last September to be the new Hispanic Ministry Coordinator in the South Central District. She has moved from Des Moines to Osceola to begin her work. In October she started holding Spanish-language services at the Osceola United Methodist Church on Sunday afternoons. Twelve people attended worship on the very first Sunday.

Once she becomes established in Osceola, she hopes to begin new outreach in another community in the district. Paul Smith, the conference superintendent for the South Central District, thanked the Osceola congregation for their hospitality to this ministry, including the use of their facilities. “I am excited about welcoming our neighbors. I am excited about new people and communities of faith where people can experience the love of Jesus Christ. I am excited that we all get to be involved in something that has eternal blessings.”

The South Central District Hispanic Coordinator’s ministry is made possible with South Central District Askings contributions from local churches. Additional financial support is provided from conference apportionments through the Standing Committee on Hispanic Ministries of the Iowa Board of Global Ministries.

Iowa State University Wesley Foundation

The Wesley Foundation at Iowa State University adjusts its approach to ministry with students in preparation for finals week. In additional to the four regular weekly worship experiences, students could participate in “Dead Week Stress Relievers.” They provided opportunities to take students’ minds off their studies, such as Board Game Night; Craft, Cocoa, Cookies and Carols Night; Decadent Baking Night; and an evening of games – the crowd-favorite – Sardines and Nerf Battle Night! They also held their last Midnight Breakfast of the semester.

“Finals Week Breakfasts” are the grand conclusion to the school term. Campus Ministry Associate Megan Henson and Campus Pastor Jim Shirbroun rise early to offer students hearty breakfasts to help them endure the rigorous week of exams. Monday is pancakes, Tuesday is custom-made omelets, Wednesday is French toast, Thursday is biscuits and gravy, and Friday is “Bagel and Donut Bonanza!”

Apportionment gifts from local churches across Iowa help to support this ministry. Learn more about the Iowa State University Wesley Foundation and Collegiate United Methodist Church, the congregation that shares facilities and ministries with them, by visiting their website at www.cumc-wf.org.

Van Buren County Cooperative Ministries

The United Methodist churches of Van Buren County have joined together to feed hungry children. Their “Snacks in a Sack” ministry began last year in an effort to provide shelf-stable, healthy snacks for two weekends each month to fifty elementary school students.

The ministry is in partnership with the Van Buren and Harmony school districts in the county. They receive both cash and food throughout the year to sustain the program. Non-perishable items, such as peanut butter, granola bars, and fruit snacks, are included on their sample list of donations.

Currently, eleven United Methodist congregations dot the landscape of the county. The purpose of the Van Buren County Cooperative Ministry “is to enable our several congregations to do ministry more effectively than each can do alone.” Their organization has been active in the region for decades.

Southeast District Matthew 25 funds, which are made possible through apportionment gifts from local churches throughout the Iowa Conference, provide partial support for this ministry. Through these funds organizations like the Van Buren County Cooperative Ministries serve as living examples of the words of Jesus, “I was hungry, and you gave me food to eat,” from Matthew 25:35 (CEB).

Board of Pension

Local church pastors are working with the Iowa Conference Board of Pension as they enroll for health care coverage in 2014.

The Conference Board of Pension (CBOP) is to “have charge of the interests and work of providing for and contributing to the support, relief, assistance, and pensioning of clergy and their families, other church workers, and lay employees of The United Methodist Church, its institutions, organizations, and agencies within the Annual Conference.”

The Board’s Committee on Health Insurance works to provide health care coverage to active clergy and lay staff through Wellmark Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Iowa and contracted services through ExtendHealth to manage the retiree Medicare insurance program. The Board continues to monitor the health insurance plans for active clergy and to promote wellness within our conference and are taking steps to broaden these programs.

The cost of maintaining these various plans as well as audit and legal fees, fiduciary insurance cost, meeting costs, bank fees, contract with Conference offices for services and other normal administrative costs are funded through apportionment gifts from local churches throughout the Iowa Conference.