Miller United Methodist Church on the east side of Des Moines held it’s final service in its 114-year history on Sunday, June 10, 2012. At the same time it celebrated the beginning of a new chapter of ministry in that location by giving the church to the Hispanic-Latino outreach of Las Americas Comunidad de Fe. Amor y Paz (Love and Peace) is supported with apportionment gifts from United Methodist churches across the state of Iowa as a part of our strategic priority of creating new communities of faith.
Enrique and Saúl arrived in Des Moines from Guatemala at the end of 2013. Without any family in the city, they found themselves with friends who were bad influences on their lives. They worked minimum wage jobs and struggled to make ends meet as they were coping with addictions to alcohol.
Slowly, the great affection they received from Amor y Paz helped them overcome their addictions. They now “testify to the abundance that God has placed in their lives” and have connected again with their estranged father. Both young men are leaders in the church. Their pastor, Manuel Catalan, says that “Saúl and Enrique are the example of love that Christ has for each of us.”
It’s not a collection of fruit preserves or a series of traffic snarls that attracts kids to church. It’s all about the music.
After School JAMS (Jesus And Music Service) is a ministry of Salem United Methodist Church in Van Horne. Children from the elementary school next door come to the church on Wednesdays after school for singing and dancing to hymns and popular Christian music.
The idea came from a discussion during a prayer group meeting, when some women were expressing concern that kids didn’t know Christmas carols. JAMS was born to teach the hymns to the children. They eat a snack when they first arrive at the church followed by some music time.
In recent years, they have added time for service projects. The children have tied fleece blankets for persons who are ill and made cookies for persons who are shut in during the winter months, among other examples. Stacie Gorkow explained that they “want to show kids that Jesus loves each one of them and that they need to share that love with others.”
A Matthew 25 grant from the East Central District, which is made possible with apportionment gifts from United Methodist churches throughout the state of Iowa, has helped to support the After School JAMS.
Trinity United Methodist Church in Keokuk is hosting a Camp Preview Day on Saturday, April 25th. Children and youth from ages 7 to 14 are being invited to “experience some of the fun camp has to offer and to learn about all that is happening this summer” at Iowa United Methodist camps.
As a long-time advocate for camping ministry, Missy Brown, the pastor at Trinity UMC, was excited to help coordinate this event. The slogan on the poster for the event summarizes her hope for the summer camp experiences her youth will have: “Best. Week. Ever.”
The preview day is a free event that will last from 9:30 in the morning until 4:00 that afternoon. Participants will enjoy games, archery, s’mores, crafts, nature, Bible exploration, team challenge, and more.
Patric Newton (pictured), the site director for Pictured Rocks United Methodist Camp and Retreat Center outside of Monticello in northeast Iowa, has been helping to organize the event. Pictured Rocks “has been blessed to partner with churches, families, and organizations for over 50 years to provide sacred space away from the daily grind.”
The camping ministries of Iowa are supported by apportionment gifts from United Methodist churches throughout the state. This preview day is one way communities in southeast Iowa can become acquainted with the opportunities available through our United Methodist camps.
Two teen-aged sisters have been reaching out to young people in the children’s ministry of Thrive United Methodist Church. Thrive, “a growing new community in West Des Moines that is trying to bring people together to live like Jesus,” was begun with the support of First United Methodist Church in Ankeny and conference apportionment gifts from local United Methodist churches throughout Iowa.
Jeremy Poland, their appointed pastor, launched the church’s weekly worship service last fall. He has been moved by the two sisters, “who have been inspired to share their powerful gifts with our humble congregation.”
These young women are leaders in Thrive’s children’s ministries every week, sharing “Christ’s love with our littlest disciples.” As the sisters teach lessons from the Bible, they encourage the children and share lots of laughs. By investing themselves in those younger than them, they offer “a perfect example of what it looks like to love like Jesus does.”
The sisters are also the reason their parents attend worship at Thrive United Methodist Church. Their simple message of invitation is, “This is where we really feel close to God.”
Omar Paz is the new Bilingual Service Coordinator for First United Methodist Church in North Liberty. Their bilingual worship service features both English and Spanish to help connect new people to God through their community of faith.
The roots for this ministry began a few years ago when members of San Pablo United Methodist Church in Muscatine began exploring ways to provide worship for participants who had been traveling 50 miles from the Iowa City area to join them. Several churches eventually became involved in the initiative, including the North Liberty church.
Behind the scenes, the Southeast District Latino Task Force provided funds for leaders to travel back and forth from the two cities and seed money, in partnership with the East Central District, for the ministry to develop. Mike Biklen, who chairs the task force, describes their work as a collaboration of organizations who “encourage creative, innovative ministries that reach out to, and advocate for, the fastest-growing ethnic group in the state.”
The Southeast District Latino Task Force receives funding support from a Matthew 25 grant, which is made possible with the apportionment gifts of United Methodist churches throughout the state of Iowa.