Re-Membering Community

Broadway United Methodist Church in Indianapolis is a Christian community that “seeks, welcomes, and values all people.” Two of their leaders, including pastor Mike Mather, spent time in Iowa over the weekend to share their approach to creative community ministry. The visit was sponsored by the Southeast and South Central Districts with apportionment gifts from local United Methodist churches throughout the state.

De’Amon Harges is the congregation’s Roving Listener. His work takes him house to house and block by block in the neighborhood of the church to discover what each person has to offer. He is a part of the church’s asset-based, rather than needs-based, approach to ministry.

He asserts that his work is not so much about building community as re-membering it. God has already made us community by placing us in the proximity of each other. How can we discover or put back together, that is “re-member,” who God has already created us to be?

He wore a purple t-shirt during his presentation that read, “I am more than what you see.” To practice this philosophy, he invited the group to share a Zulu greeting with each other, “Sawubona,” which means, “We see you.” He wanted participants to notice each other in order to know one another more deeply.

Transformation from Jail to Home Ownership

Christine found herself wondering what her future was going to be while sitting in jail in Waterloo. A young adult with two small children, she had been using meth since her father introduced her to the drug when she was 12. She knew if she continued this path, she would lose custody of her children.

Once released from jail, Christine left all her bad influences in Waterloo and went to Des Moines. She completed an inpatient program at the House of Mercy and entered Hawthorn Hill’s Home Connection program. She paid off all her debts, began saving, and developed budgeting skills with help from her Home Connection case manager.

Christine received training and obtained her first full-time job with benefits at Methodist Hospital as a Sterile Technician. Habitat for Humanity also was a partner in supporting Christine’s personal transformation, and she became a homeowner in December 2011!

Hawthorn Hill works with homeless families with children that help them obtain permanent housing and to provide services to help families achieve economic self-sufficiency. Apportionment gifts from United Methodist churches throughout the state help to support their ministry with funding from the Iowa Conference Board of Global Ministries.

Grand View UMC led to reach out

Tom Shinkle, the pastor of Grand View United Methodist Church in Dubuque, was the recipient of the 2014 Harry Denman Evangelism Award for clergy.

When he arrived at Grand View UMC in 2009 approximately 150 people were engaged in the ministries of the church. Today over 400 people are active, including approximately 150 people in small groups.

He has guided the congregation to embrace their mission to “Love God, Love Others, and Serve the World.” After praying for a year about God’s desire to reach “the least of these,” challenged the church to care for the great needs of a remote village in Nigeria. “I’m going to Damka. Who wants to go with me?”

He continues to cast the vision for the church to become mindful of its mission. He proposed that they spend 50% of their time, efforts, energy, and prayers focused outside the walls of the church.

Kim Maiers, Ministry Assistant at Grand View, said, “It created a big awakening for many of us.” With “a greater appreciation for our blessings,” we have been encouraged “to go outside our comfort zone and serve the world!”

The Iowa Board of Discipleship, whose ministry is supported with apportionment gifts from the United Methodist churches of Iowa, partners with the United Methodist Foundation for Evangelism in presenting this annual award.

Free Clinic, Boone

First United Methodist Church in Boone is home to a free health clinic that is a part of a network throughout the state. “Because we believe every person deserves access to basic healthcare services,” the mission statement for Free Clinics of Iowa maintains, their organization “facilitates the initiation, operation and collaboration of free clinics in the State of Iowa.”

The church opens the lower level of their facility on the first and third Tuesdays of each month from 6-8 p.m. The clinic’s ministry  focuses on serving people who fall through the gaps of our changing national healthcare system. They provide compassionate and appropriate basic healthcare services, education about health for their patients, and referrals to accessible and affordable health homes.

A variety of volunteers make this ministry possible, including doctors, nurses, and pharmacists, among other health professionals. The clinics also relies on friendly greeters, receptionists who are comfortable with paperwork, and interpreters to help with translation needs. Learn more about Free Clinics of Iowa online at www.freeclinicsofiowa.org.

A Matthew 25 grant from the North Central District has provided financial support for the free clinic in Boone. Grant funds are made possible by the apportionment gifts of United Methodist churches throughout the state of Iowa.

The Club, Park View

A summer ministry in Park View called The Club cared for the physical and spiritual needs of low-income children and their families. More than a dozen children gathered each week at the elementary school in this Scott County community north of Davenport. The experience was in the style of a sidewalk Sunday school with Bible lessons, games, and crafts for the kids to enjoy.

The Eldridge United Methodist Church, in partnership with two Lutheran churches and one Baptist church in the area, provided much of the volunteer support for the initiative. Joyce Orcutt, one of the coordinators of the ministry, said, “I am so blessed by the kids—and the adults and teenagers helping kids know God loves them.”

Apartment children in Park View were the target audience. Their local elementary school has the highest free and reduced lunch program among the five schools in the North Scott School District. Non-perishable foods were given to the children to extend the impact of the ministry to their families throughout the week.

This ecumenical outreach was supported in part by a Matthew 25 grant from the Southeast District made possible with apportionment gifts from United Methodist churches in Iowa.