Appanoose County Summer Lunch Program

First and Faith United Methodist Churches in Centerville joined with their ecumenical partners to respond to hunger needs in their community during the break from school this summer. The Appanoose County Summer Lunch Program provided free lunch at the Drake Avenue Christian Church weekdays from June 9 to August 8.

Facebook has been used to share meal menus and announcements about their activities. Janice Bolger, a member at Faith United Methodist Church and a volunteer with the ministry, indicated that they “have learned how many of our clients rely on this for communication.”

Area churches arranged for volunteers on a rotating basis to prepare and serve the meals each day. The United States Department of Agriculture was a participating sponsor, reimbursing the program for children ages 1 to 19 who ate a lunch. This ministry also received a Matthew 25 Grant from the South Central District, which was made possible by apportionment gifts from local United Methodist churches throughout Iowa.

Malcom Food Pantry

The Malcom United Methodist Church is home to the Malcom Food Pantry. The pantry opened on September 11, 2012 in response to growing concern about hungry people in their area. Many of their potential guests had limited access for traveling to other towns for assistance.

The Northeast Iowa Food Bank estimates that over 2,300 individuals are food insecure in Poweshiek County. Linda Massengale, director of the pantry, recognizes the church’s ministry as a way to be disciples of Jesus Christ. “By caring for the needs of those in this community, we are able to improve the quality of life in our portion of the world.”

The pantry is open on Tuesday’s from 4 -6 p.m. every week or by appointment. Last year a Matthew 25 grant from the Central District, which is supported by apportionment gifts from United Methodist churches throughout Iowa, provided funds for purchasing food for the pantry from the Northeast Iowa Food Bank.

Ministry Internship

The Bloomfield United Methodist Church in Des Moines and Simpson College collaborated last fall to help a student experience pastoral ministry. Mara Bailey, the chaplain at Simpson, identified Brian Williams for this internship opportunity.

Brian was a sophomore on the Indianola campus when he worked with the Bloomfield congregation from September through December last fall. He served as a worship leader and even had an opportunity to preach twice. He also learned about a variety of topics from worship planning to evangelism in his work with Cindy Hickman, the pastor of Bloomfield.

She described him as “a solid theologian.” His friendliness helped him to be “well-received by the people of Bloomfield.”

The congregation also learned a lot from Brian’s presence with them.  For instance, “even though Brian has spent a lot of time in the church, he had not sung traditional music” – and his repertoire of contemporary songs were just as unfamiliar to church members.

Parish Development funds from the Board of Global Ministries, which were provided through apportionment gifts from United Methodist churches in Iowa, helped to support this ministry intern program.

Adair-Casey Food Pantry

A food pantry began last year to serve the communities of Adair and Casey with the help of a Matthew 25 grant from the Southwest District (which is supported through apportionments). “After becoming aware of the need for food in our communities,” Cindy Lundy wrote, the United Methodist churches “decided to open a food pantry to serve the hungry in our communities.”

Their biggest challenge has been to keep the shelves and freezers stocked with nutritious food. Although they became affiliated with the Iowa Food Bank in December, they “still need to purchase other items in stores, such as fresh meats, personal hygiene supplies, bread, and milk.”

A number of people from the churches and the broader community are eager and willing volunteers with the food pantry. They have learned not to judge the people who walk through their doors. We now “realize the courage it takes to admit” when you need help.