The students and staff at Collegiate United Methodist Church and Wesley Student Center in Ames are extensions of our local churches on the campus of Iowa State University. Citing 1 Thessalonians 5:11, they affirm their role as God’s people “to ‘lift one another up,’ to provide support in difficult times, to help get one another moving.”
In a recent article they compare themselves to the sponsons that were used to retrieve the luxury cruise ship, the Consta Concordia, that ran aground off the coast of Italy in January 2012. “Salvage crews sank 30 steel boxes, or sponsons, next to the wreck, attached them with huge chains, then pumped out the water in the sponsons and pumped them full of air. The now bouyant sponsons began to rise to the surface, bringing the ship with them.”
Just as the sponsons lifted up the ship, “communities of faith such as local churches and Wesley Foundation campus ministries” lift up people, connecting them with God, fostering their discipleship as followers of Jesus, and sending them out to transform the world.
Apportionment gifts from local churches across the state act as sponsons for campus ministries as they engage in the “holy work of lifting and supporting students, faculty, and staff at our universities. . . . Thank you for being our sponsons and helping us do the same for others.”
A dozen laity and clergy gathered in Keokuk earlier this month to discuss techniques for developing youth ministry through their local churches. Nate Mason, the Leadership Development Minister for Young Adult and Generational Ministries for the Iowa Annual Conference, guided the conversation.
His work, which is supported by apportionment gifts from United Methodist congregations throughout the state, is to be a roving listener to discover where ministries are connecting to young people and discipling them to Jesus Christ. As a result, Nate has many opportunities for networking the people and ministries he visits with one another.
One of the ideas he shared in the workshop was abbreviated as 54321. Five unrelated adults are invited to serve as mentors for each young person in the church. Each month they commit to writing three handwritten notes of encouragement, initiating two conversations or phone calls, and finding face time with the young person outside of church activities at least once.
This approach emphasizes the need for adults to develop relationships with young people to help them grow in their faith. If you would like to explore these ideas in further depth, contact Nate by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 515.745.0108.
The Iowa-Nigeria Partnership (INP) links the ministries of the United Methodist Church in both regions. INP works with Nigerian church leaders as they plant new congregations in new places where villagers have not heard the word of God. Both verbal witness to our Nigerian partners and non-verbal acts that express Christian love work to develop relationships and share in ministries to develop spiritual maturity in Nigerian United Methodist congregations.
Several students from Nigerian are studying in Iowa because of relationships that have developed through the church. Paul Johnson just completed his junior year at Morningside College in Sioux City. Ishaya David, a sophomore at Simpson College in Indianola, is working as a camp counselor at Wesley Woods this summer. Adams Davidson is taking three information technology (IT) classes at Western Iowa Tech Community College in Sioux City.
Iowa conference apportionment gifts help to support the Iowa-Nigeria Partnership. Advance Special gifts are also welcome to supplement what the conference budget can do. Contributions can come through your local church to the Conference Treasurer designated: INP, #230. Learn more at https://nc.iaumc.org/inp.
Beverly Nolte, a longtime advocate for INP, invites our prayers in the light of recent violence in Nigeria. “Our Nigerian church friends live with insecurity and a sense of fear not knowing where, when, or why an incident might take place. Let us raise our prayers to God for their safety and ability to continue the Lord’s work in their land. Pray that the kidnapped girls be found and returned to their homes. Keep the church leaders in your prayers as they seek unity among themselves.”
Jesus is your BFF (Best Friend Forever). That’s the message kids hear from the people of the Thurman United Methodist Church at their after-school program.
Preschool children through 6th graders come to the BFF After School Club for snacks, worship, Bible lessons, meal preparation, prayer, and sharing a meal with the adult volunteers. The full meaning of BFF in their ministry title stands for “Be Filled Forever with Jesus, your Best Friend Forever.”
Joni Hickey, a member of the Thurman congregation, says, “Positive relationships are in the making!” At the end of April, for example, the children invited their parents to a “Be Our Guest” banquet. The kids made table decorations, prepared the food, and served their families. After the meal, the children cleared the tables and presented a brief program with music and a picture video that was shared with the guests. The BFF Club even had an entry in the Tabor Farmers Merchants Picnic Parade at the end of June.
A Matthew 25 grant from the Southwest District, which is made possible through apportionment gifts from the United Methodist churches of Iowa, helps to support this ministry.