Awesome Summer Days

Elementary students in the River Bend neighborhood just north of downtown Des Moines are benefiting this summer from educational experiences during their summer break. Children and Family Urban Movement (CFUM) offers reading, writing, computer, and math activities each morning.cfum2

A variety of experiences in the afternoons, including art, cultural activities, field trips, and recreation time, connect each student’s learning to life. For example, this summer’s participants will enjoy a field trip to Benton Arboretum, swimming lessons, a range of ethnic foods, and an Olympics-styled competition.

“Without the programming at CFUM, we would not be able to do what we do with our students,” said Cheri Dixon, the principal of the Moulton Extended Learning Center. “Our parents rely on their programming to provide support during our various breaks throughout the year and during the summer. Our students talk about the great experiences they have with CFUM with enthusiasm! That’s what it’s all about: happy kids that want to make learning a priority.”

CFUM shares space with Trinity United Methodist Church located on the corner of 8th and College in Des Moines directly across the street from the Moulton Extended Learning Center. Apportionment gifts from the United Methodist churches of Iowa help to support this ministry.

Homeless Ministry

The Street Team is a homeless ministry of The Center at St. John’s United Methodist Church in Davenport. Designed to meet the basic needs of homeless people in their area, they collect and pass out health kits, hygiene kits, blankets, and packaged food.street.team

Last year a local study by Community Health Care, Inc. of the Quad Cities found that shelters in Scott County are housing 220 people, including families, each month. Even with 210 shelter beds available, ten to twelve people per month are turned away because the facilities have reached their capacity. An estimated 47 homeless persons are not receiving any services at all.

The unsheltered clients of the Street Team live in parks, under bridges, on the riverfront, in cars, behind dumpsters, and in building nooks and crannies. Because many people struggle with addictions or mental illness, homeless outreach is often the only way some will consider seeking shelter services.

The personal contact of ministry participants makes a huge difference in the lives of homeless individuals. George, for instance, in a video interview on the ministry’s website said, “If they weren’t around, I guarantee I wouldn’t be surviving out here.” Apportionment gifts from United Methodist churches throughout Iowa help to support this homeless ministry.

One Matters Discipleship Awards

Three Iowa churches were recognized last week at the 2015 Iowa Annual Conference for achievement in making disciples of Jesus Christ. Created this year by Discipleship Ministries (formerly the General Board of Discipleship), the One Matters Discipleship Awards include a $1,000 grant to further the ministries of these congregations in nurturing disciples.

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First United Methodist Church in Mount Ayr has received 77 new members received since 2009. Fifty of them were marginal or new Christians and about a third were newly baptized. In addition, worship attendance has grown from 70 to 110 on average.

St. Paul’s United Methodist Church is located in a working-class neighborhood on the north side of Waterloo that includes a significant population of African immigrants and Burmese refugees. Many new and diverse people have helped to boost their average worship attendance from 80 to 95, and they have baptized 9 people and received 21 new members by professions of faith.

The Quad Cities Korean UMC increased their professions of faith from zero in 2012 to eight in 2014. New small groups were created to focus on bi-racial marriages and families, and they have continued a long-standing ministry to American families who have adopted Korean children through an annual fall picnic.

Discipleship Ministries are supported in part with apportionment gifts from the United Methodist churches of Iowa.

One Hundred Years of Camping Ministry

The Lake Okoboji United Methodist Camp and Retreat Center is celebrating 100 years of ministry in 2015. Their mission is “to provide sacred space where Jesus Christ transforms lives, persons grow in Christian discipleship, and leaders are developed to empower their local churches in the world.”okoboji

Last month Ken Barringer stopped by the campgrounds when he and his wife Joan were visiting Iowa from their home in Florida. He recalled growing up in Graettinger. Heber Miller shared the love of Christ with him as a youth when Rev. Miller was his camp counselor. Ken said that as a soldier in WWII his faith in God was the only thing that got him through some of the difficult times.

The Barringers rested for a few minutes on the Heber Swings that are in memory of his friend and mentor in the faith. Ken’s camping experience and love of Christ has stayed with him his entire life as a youth, veteran, professor, and mental health counselor. He said that while many things have changed at Camp Okoboji, the positive impact that camping makes on the lives of youth and adults is still the same.

Apportionment gifts from the United Methodist churches of Iowa help to support this ministry.

Annual Conference

This week marks the yearly gathering of United Methodist leaders across the state of Iowa. Formally, it is called the 2015 Iowa Annual Conference. But for clergy and many laity who have studied and served together over the years, the event often has the spirit of a family reunion.Cross and Flame

“The purpose of the annual conference,” according to The Discipline of The United Methodist Church, “is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world by equipping its local churches for ministry and by providing a connection for ministry beyond the local church; all to the glory of God.”

Budgets, policies, and practices that support local church ministry and the Church’s witness to the world are the primary topics for discussion each year. We will recognize educational achievements of laity and clergy, highlight mission emphases shared by the churches of Iowa, participate in inspirational worship events, and confirm our plans for ministry in the coming year.

This annual meeting is made possible through apportionment gifts from the local United Methodist churches of Iowa. Guests and observers are welcome at the event. More information about the agenda and schedule for the 2015 Iowa Annual Conference can be found at http://www.iaumc.org/2015iowaannualconferencesession.