Ministerio La Luz, Perry

First United Methodist Church in Perry has supported the development of a Latino ministry to create new places for new people in their region. Ministerio La Luz began in 2010. Its current ministries include worship, Sunday school, Vacation Bible School, and Bible study. “The existence of this ministry opens new possibilities for an entire population” to become disciples of Jesus Christ who transform the world, wrote co-pastor Paul Burrow.

A Matthew 25 grant from the Central District has helped members attend leadership training opportunities, including the Mission U event in Marshalltown sponsored by the Iowa Conference United Methodist Women. The funds, which are made available because of apportionment gifts from the United Methodist churches of Iowa, also purchased Disciple Bible Study materials in Spanish for use by the congregation.

Leadership development has been an important aspect of their ministry. One leader serves as a participant in the Healthy Church Initiative process, and another sits on the Hispanic/Latino Ministries Standing Committee of the Iowa Conference Board of Global Ministries. Three more members have been leading worship, Sunday school, and Bible study activities. In addition, several members of Ministerio La Luz are looking forward to taking Lay Servant classes that will be taught to speakers of Spanish this coming March.

Bread for Life Ministries, Epworth

Epworth United Methodist Church sponsors outreach to alleviate hunger and build relationships in collaboration with other organizations in their area. Their Bread for Life Ministries receives bread from a local Hy-Vee grocery store, which is picked up by the Knights of Columbus and delivered to their church.

Every Monday and Tuesday volunteers scatter to deliver the bread to people in the surrounding communities. They also have a Food Pantry to provide additional nutrition beyond the bakery items for those in need. Any surplus goes to the local Head Start program. The congregation also hosts a weekly meal every Friday, including deliveries to homebound participants.

Two years ago the community center in town closed, putting in jeopardy the bread distribution. The congregation’s outreach committee prayerfully discussed taking on the project, Pastor Stephanie Schlimm wrote. “We felt a strong calling to continue these ministries and incorporate them into the life of our church.” Since the program has moved to the church they have seen a steady increase in participants coming through the church’s door.

A Matthew 25 grant from the East Central District, supported with apportionment dollars from the local churches of Iowa, has helped Epworth UMC add a paid cook to the team in order to manage the meals and the volunteers as the ministry has grown.

Early-Out Ministry in Shenandoah

First United Methodist Church in Shenandoah provides a safe place for children to gather after being dismissed from school two hours early in the middle of the week. Their Early-Out Wednesday After-School Program was designed to respond to the needs of children in their community who previously were going home alone or simply walking the streets.

Matthew 25 funds from the Southwest District helped them purchase games, books, and art supplies as well as care for utilities and staffing needs to assure a welcoming environment. Because of this conference support, they have been able to maintain the ministry with no cost to participants.

The ministry has been recognized as a great blessing for the children and their families. A number of volunteers from the community, ranging from high school students to senior citizens, have come to read to the children or help with crafts.

Cindy Nelson writes, “We have worked with our county extension offices and presented programs to the children (on their level) about the importance of recycling” and other topics as another way of connecting the shared concerns of the church and the community.

Children and Family Urban Movement, Des Moines

A teen-aged poet from Des Moines has been nurtured through the Children and Family Urban Movement (CFUM) in Des Moines. Recently featured in a January 3rd article in The Des Moines Register, Lorena San Elias said, “I enjoy writing poetry because it’s a different type of music.”

The article celebrates a new book of poetry written by Ms. San Elias. “I hope to inspire more poets and younger poets to keep on writing.” She received support and encouragement herself from a noted poet in the area, Joyce Rupp.

CFUM recently announced a name change from Children and Family Urban Ministries. The language reflects the movement “driven by the ideals of the worth and potential of each and of all, the abundance intended for each and for all, the draw of justice within and beyond us, the power in community.” CFUM remains a partner in ministry with its founding organization, Trinity United Methodist Church in Des Moines.

“The mission of CFUM,” as noted on their website, “is to create a community to support the potential of children, youth, and families through educational success, healthy living, and community engagement.” CFUM is a mission agency of the Iowa Conference of the United Methodist Church.