Newly renamed Iowa Wesleyan University in Mount Pleasant hosted a school last May for licensing pastors who have not completed seminary training. The license grants authority for pastors to preach, teach, perform the sacraments of baptism and communion, and serve in other standard ministerial roles. These responsibilities are limited to each pastor’s appointment setting, but not beyond it, under the direct supervision of the superintendent.
Students spent several days in classes, studying such topics as worship, Christian education, pastoral care, and church administration. Once appointed and licensed, pastors are expected to continue pursuing their educational requirements with guidance from their district committee on ministry.
This year for the first time in the United States licensing classes were offered in French and Swahili. Deborah Coble Wise indicated that the courses were taught in English with French and Swahili translation, “giving everyone a wonderful and enriching cross-cultural experience during our week together.” The students are serving African immigrant communities in the East Central District. The Rev. Dr. Okitakoyi (Michel) Lundula and the Rev. Dr. Emmanuel Naweji, ordained elders in the Iowa Conference, served as translators.
The conference board of ordained ministry underwrites some of the costs for the licensing school with apportionment gifts from the United Methodist churches of Iowa.
One of the 2015 ministry goals for the Clear Lake United Methodist Church was to establish a food pantry. In a community study prompted by their participation in the Healthy Church Initiative, they learned that a food pantry ranked as one of the area’s highest needs.
Although Clear Lake is a resort area, approximately 1,200 people in Clear Lake live at or below the poverty level. The church provided space in their building and covered start-up costs for the food pantry initially. They also held a Lenten food drive to stock the shelves.
The ministry has grown into a community project. Fresh produce from a local community garden supplements other items like peanut butter, cereal, and canned meat. Potential clients previously have had to travel to neighboring towns for similar services. The opening of the pantry was featured in an article in the Mason City Globe Gazette last April.
The congregation’s vision for the future is to be “united in worship, growth, and service.” The Healthy Church Initiative is a ministry of the Iowa Conference that helps local churches, like the United Methodist Church in Clear Lake, develop outwardly focused ministries in their communities. HCI is made possible in part through apportionment gifts from United Methodist churches throughout the state of Iowa.
Katharine Yarnell, the Field Outreach Minister in the North Central District, is a featured author in the current edition of the Circuit Rider magazine. Her article, “Get Your Money’s Worth: Stories Drive Apportionments,” is written for pastors and other leaders of local churches.
She describes “two rules of thumb [that] apply to teaching financial stewardship.” First, include numbers with a narrative. Tell the story of ministry in conjunction with the dollar figures in budget proposals. Second, make sure to connect money with a mission. Tell about the benefits of donations to a particular cause. Her article addresses both practical ideas and the theological foundation of our Christian giving.
The eight Field Outreach Ministers serve on our district ministry teams, working with local churches in pursuit of the United Methodist mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Their work is supported with apportionment gifts from our congregations through the state of Iowa.
The FOMs brings a range of expertise to their ministry. Among Katharine Yarnell’s specialties is her work in financial stewardship. She earned a Doctor of Ministry degree from the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago. She is also a certified fund-raising executive (CFRE) and a certified counselor in philanthropy (FCEP).
Johnston River of Life (JROL) is a new United Methodist church serving the northwestern suburbs of Des Moines. They put their faith into action by “Being Christ in Community.”
One of their guiding scriptures is James 2:17, “Faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” They put faith into action with their hands and feet to benefit others. They host events for the community to strengthen faith and family and “serve wherever we can find a need.”
They follow two key teachings of Christ, the Great Commandment to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself” and the Great Commission to “go and make disciples of all nations.”
Worship, service projects, and other activities are designed to be relevant to today. They are a casual and caring church, “where people feel at home and comfortable no matter how they show up.”
New Hope United Methodist Church in Des Moines has been an important partner in the development of JROL. In addition, apportionment gifts from the United Methodist churches of Iowa have helped to support this new ministry through the Standing Committee on Parish Development of the Iowa Conference Board of Global Ministries.