A newly formed cooperative parish is adding energy to the ministry of New Horizons United Methodist Church in Coralville. The congregation formed about twenty years ago as a new church start of the Iowa Conference. Over the years they have struggled to reach out to their neighbors in an affluent subdivision of the city.
This spring they were pleased with the response to an Easter mailer that was sent out to their neighbors. Their pastor, Josh Rath, who also serves as the associate pastor at First United Methodist Church in nearby North Liberty, reported that 84 people attended worship, “which was the biggest Easter Sunday in many years here at New Horizons.” Empowered by this success, they anticipate a Vacation Bible School and a neighborhood cookout planned for late July.
“One of the biggest challenges we have encountered is people within the neighborhood knowing we are here.” Their current street sign, which will soon be replaced, sits along a busy corridor in the city but is not visible from both sides of the road. Passersby “are aware of the building, but have no idea that it is a church.” A grant for this ministry was provided by the Standing Committee on Parish Development of the Iowa Conference Board of Global Ministries with apportionment gifts from United Methodist churches across the state.
Emerging ministries funds from the Conference Connectional Ministries Council have supported the start of a new summer lunch program in Oskaloosa.
Martha Comfort, a member of Central United Methodist Church in Oskaloosa, was studying Justice for the Poor, a book by Jim Wallis, with her Christ Connection Sunday school class a year ago last spring. By October she and other class members “had this nagging feeling that we were supposed to do something about hunger in our community.”
She began making connections with other organizations in town and discovered that the United Way wanted to start a summer feeding program for children. This summer they are serving an average of 100 children per day at three sites. “Our community has really stepped up to help with volunteering.” The high school, the public library, and First Christian Reformed Church are among many organizations and more than 130 volunteers who have joined the effort.
Joey’s story is an example of how this new ministry continues to expand and grow. The very undernourished little boy came to a meal site on the very first day. He struggled to eat the ham and cheese sandwich he was given, so he was offered yogurt instead. Working with his family, connections are being made to provide him with the dental care Joey so desperately needs.
One of the ways we cultivate new leaders for both local churches and regional shared ministries is through our lay servant ministries. Lay servants, according to ¶ 266 in the 2012 United Methodist Church Discipline, are to serve “in any way in which their witness or leadership and service inspires the laity to deeper commitment to Christ and more effective discipleship, including the interpretation of the Scriptures, doctrine, organization, and ministries of the church.”
Laity are trained as lay servants with the support of apportionment gifts from local churches through their districts. Lorene W. Dykstra, for instance, chairs the committee in the North Central District. She helps to coordinate training events for about ten local lay servants and an additional fifty certified lay servants each year. Lay servants, she explained, “serve in capacities ranging from filling pulpits to doing committee work or visiting shut-ins.”
The story of Jesus washing the feet of the disciples in John 13 was the inspiration for selecting the term “servant.” Recent changes in our use of language in the United Methodist connection now emphasizes the broad range of ways that laity can engage in ministry with—and even beyond—the church. Contact your district office for more information.
Jorge Lockward, the Global Praise Program Director for the General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM), was the guest worship leader at the 2014 Annual Conference over the weekend. Supported by a 10-piece house band of Iowans from United Methodist churches around the state, he led the members of the conference in singing favorite hymns and praise songs, interspersing music from faith communities around the world.
He was invited by Bishop Julius C. Trimble to act as a spiritual guide for the conference. So, in addition to leading our formal times of worship, he provided opportunities for prayer, recreation, and celebration in response to the activities of the Annual Conference as the Holy Spirit led.
An employee of the GBGM, Jorge Lockward is an example of our General Church apportionments at work. He travels the world to work with church leaders and to learn from them. His teaching ministry extends to Union Theological Seminary where he lectures on worship. Born and raised in the Dominican Republic, he now lives in New York City. He has been a contributor to and editor of several collections of Global Praise music and supplementary resources.
Mobile United Methodist Missionaries (MUMMS) is ready for another dynamic summer of spreading the gospel message throughout southern Iowa. Vacation Bible Schools and JOY (Jesus, Others, and You) Camp have been staples of this rural ministry of the Iowa Conference, which is supported in part throughout apportionment gifts and a host of volunteers primarily from small churches.
In the last year the founding director of MUMMS, Peg Egbert, has retired. Now Cherie Miner is serving as their full-time director, bringing a passion for children and the gospel of Jesus Christ to her work that we hope will lead to many more stories like Peyton’s.
Peyton attended a MUMMS-sponsored camp the first time at the age of nine. Although initially shy, he had so much fun that he became a repeat camper for several years. Camp became a refuge for Peyton from the struggles of his life, including the divorce of his parents when he was young. As a teenager, he confided, “I asked Jesus to come into my heart at camp and ever since then my life has been better.” Now, twelve years later, he has been accepted into seminary. He is excited to being called by God to offer Christ’s love to this broken world.