Betsy Piette was recognized at the 2015 Iowa Annual Conference for her work to empower women and create a more inclusive church. The Commission on the Status and Role of Women (COSROW) gave her this year’s Ambassador Award, which was created to recognize individuals who are committed to the full inclusion of women, especially those who are on the margins of the church and society.
Betsy is most well known for her work a pastor in Parkersburg and neighboring New Hartford after a devastating tornado struck that area in 2008. Her ministry has included studies in the two-year Academy for New Ministry Development. She has also served as the chairperson of COSROW for the Iowa Conference.
“Her faithful ministering to those around her,” her award highlighted, “has included an abiding concern to be inclusive in liturgy and the overall worship experience.” This tribute was a fitting way to mark her retirement at the end of 2014.
The Ambassador Award honors advocates who stand with women in the midst of their pain and joy, catalysts who inspire women to become leaders, and monitors who act to promote the involvement of women in every aspect of the United Methodist Church. Apportionment gifts from the United Methodist churches of Iowa help to support the ministry of COSROW.
A young man in Thurman was inspired to learn more about faith when he helped with Vacation Bible School. Mobile United Methodist Missionaries (MUMMS) works with local church leaders in support of outreach to children primarily in rural parts of southern Iowa. MUMMS, which is supported by apportionment gifts from the United Methodist churches of Iowa, is well known for its summer ministry of Vacation Bible Schools. Their director, Cherie Miner, was in Thurman in southwest Iowa for one such event early in June.
One 8th-grade boy served as their puppeteer for the experience. The puppets provided an engaging way to share the love of Jesus with the children who were participating in the VBS. The young man also exhibited leadership during recreation time by playing with the younger kids and pushing the park merry-go-round for them.
On the final morning of VBS, he asked Pastor Jan Phillips, “What’s confirmation?” When she explained, he said, “I’d be interested in that.” And that was the beginning. All that morning, he peppered Pastor Jan with theological questions, including about the Trinity. By the time lunch was finished, Pastor Jan had a confirmation class organized for this fall.
For more information about how your congregation can get involved with and be supported by MUMMS activities, visit their website at www.iaumc.org/mumms.
A street repair project in front of Calvary United Methodist Church in Ames has created a new opportunity for ministry. When 24th Street, the major artery right in front of their church property, was scheduled for months of repair this summer, the residents in that neighborhood had no place to park their cars.
Church members reached out in love and wrote a letter to everyone living on that street. They announced a time when they would hand out special parking cards that could be placed on the windshield of the car. During these months, their neighbors’ vehicles would be welcome to park in Calvary’s spacious lot.
When the repairs are finally completed this fall, the church is planning to host a grand celebration with food and entertainment. Everyone from the neighborhood will be invited to attend. The congregation hopes that this experience will help them nurture relationships with the people of their community.
Pastor Emmanuel Dass and leaders of the congregation have recently completed a series of leadership training workshops offered through the Healthy Church Initiative process, which is sponsored in part with apportionment gifts from the United Methodist churches of Iowa. Calvary is preparing for a church consultation this September, when they will explore additional ways to grow as a vibrant, spirit-filled congregation.
Trinity United Methodist Church has embarked on a new ministry in their community. “We pull people together to help out the residents of Hazleton,” writes Ronda McAllister, and “our enthusiasm is contagious.”
The outreach was an idea that emerged during a Healthy Church Initiative workshop that leaders attended last year. As they considered various ways to connect more intentionally with people outside the church, United Neighbors was born.
They attended a city council meeting to introduce themselves and heard numerous complaints about two vacant lots at the edge of town. So they made the two lots a clean up project! “Now a new home stands where the eyesore once was.” They were even featured in an article in the Oelwein Daily Register.
The group has hosted potluck dinners, provided food and games in the park for kids of all ages, assisted with a community garden, sung at area care centers, and much more. “People walking by ask who we are and often pitch in to lend a helping hand.”
A Matthew 25 grant from the Northeast District, which is made possible through apportionment gifts from United Methodist churches all over Iowa, provided financial support for the United Neighbors ministry.