First United Methodist Church in Mechanicsville is the home of the Mechanicsville Community Cupboard (MCC). The food pantry is an all-volunteer, non-profit organization that provides confidential food assistance. Their facilities are open on the second and fourth Thursday evenings and fourth Saturday mornings of each month.
They strive to treat “all persons with dignity and respect” and to distribute “quality products and services.” MCC was created in 2009. A Matthew 25 grant from the East Central District, which is made possible with the apportionment gifts of the United Methodist churches of Iowa, has been providing support for this ministry.
The church is also the site of Eastern Iowa Sharing Closet. This district-sponsored project gathers used and donated Christian Education materials for use by area churches, including Vacation Bible School kits, Sunday School curriculum for all ages, and Bible study resources.
Their mission statement explains why these ministries are important to them: “We, the people of the First United Methodist Church of Mechanicsville, in celebration of all that God has done for us, seek to open our hearts and hands, to welcome all people, to praise God, to discover and preach God’s Love, and to share in the fellowship and service of our community.”
The food pantry at Bidwell Riverside Center was featured last week in a Des Moines Register story on hunger in Iowa. Mike Kilen’s article featured pictures from Bidwell and reported some alarming trends.
Food pantries in Des Moines experienced a 20% increase in visitors in 2014, including about 41,000 who came for the first time. However, the Des Moines Area Religious Council, which supplies Bidwell’s pantry, has had to reduce the amount of food per household from a four-day supply to a three-day supply each month.
Statistics from the Food Bank of Iowa indicate that nearly two-thirds of the people they serve work at least 31 hours per week. One father of a Burmese refugee family, for example, cuts meat at a factory. His income is “not enough” for their family of six, said his daughter to the Register, but “it helps if we come here” to Bidwell.
Located on the south side of Des Moines, Bidwell “envisions a future where no one lives in poverty and every person has the opportunity for a positive future.” Apportionment gifts from the United Methodist churches of Iowa contribute to the ministries of Bidwell Riverside Center through the Community and Institutional Ministries fund of the Iowa Board of Global Ministries.
The United Methodist churches of the Northwest District were invited to observe a Vision Day on Sunday, September 27. The event had two main purposes: (1) to focus on a shared vision for the churches of the district, and (2) to help congregations develop a vision for their own ministry.
Tom Carver, the Conference Superintendent for the district, narrated a video produced with the assistance of the Iowa Conference Director of Communications, Art McClanahan, to explain the hopes for Vision Day. The video, entitled “God’s Vision: A Preferred Future,” takes a journey from Storm Lake, where the district office is located, to Hawkeye Point, the highest elevation in the state of Iowa. Along the way, the 11-minute video explores the importance of vision in helping our churches thrive.
Ryan Christenson, the Field Outreach Minister of the Northwest District, prepared worship resources for Vision Day, including suggested scriptures, songs, and prayers. In addition, churches received a bulletin insert with highlights of the video message, a core values survey, and other vision resources for working with local church leaders.
Apportionment gifts from the United Methodist churches of Iowa helped to fund this effort to equip the churches of the Northwest District in making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
Church members from Sheldahl and Slater joined together recently to initiate outreach to residents living in a local trailer court. Both churches had identified serving the community as an important focus for their ministry after completing consultations with the Healthy Church Initiative, a ministry supported by apportionment gifts from the United Methodist churches of Iowa.
With a firm foundation in prayer, they put flyers on all of the trailers and talked with people they met along the way, inviting residents to a free meal. Their pastor, Emily Peasley, said, “Those who came were very appreciative, and one even called later to say thanks!”
This ministry team, now organized as a community group in partnership with Bethlehem Lutheran Church and others, is called Helping Hands. “The reason we did it was we know there are some hungry kids and families there.” It also just gave participants a chance to get acquainted with people. Residents were able to meet others they didn’t know who lived in the mobile home park.
They put contact information on the bags of cookies they gave away. They plan to stay in touch with the park manager, who also attended the event. They want to do another meal sometime on site again.