First United Methodist Church in Sioux City began hosting worship in an African context at 3 p.m. on Sunday afternoons last September. Over 1,000 Africans live in the area.
About three years ago one young man was drawn to worship at First UMC because of a cross and flame logo he knew from his experience growing up in Africa. Derrick Okine, who moved to Iowa from Ghana, leads worship now in a style familiar to the people of his homeland.
Nineteen people attended the first event on September 14, 2014. As the ministry develops, Roger Madden, the pastor at First UMC, hopes to partner “with other United Methodist churches in Sioux City as well as Wesley UMC in Akron, which has had a history of ministry in Nigeria” in conjunction with the Iowa-Nigeria Partnership of the Iowa Conference.
A new Matthew 25 grant from the Northwest District, which is made possible by apportionment gifts from local United Methodist churches across the state, will help this ministry develop in 2015. The worship service gives African immigrants a place to gather and develop relationships with others, Pastor Madden added, while worshipping in a context dear to them because “it was how they were raised.”