For the past thirty years Iowa Religious Media Services has been providing resources for Christian education in partnership with the United Methodist Church and other Christian denominations in Iowa.
IRMS is an ecumenical lending library with over 10,000 DVD, VHS, audio, book, and other resources available for use by subscribers and renters. Executive Director Sharon E. Strohmaier says that IRMS is “committed to providing religious media resources to assist with faith formation and growth of the whole person, including exploration of the Bible and religious issues.”
Their staff members are available to help borrowers through the process of resource selection and use. They can significantly increase customer satisfaction with the resources provided for Sunday school classes, Bible studies, and other groups of the local church. IRMS continues to build the library of religious media to serve their subscribers with up-to-date, high quality resources.
Subscribing churches pay a nominal yearly fee and then borrow resources free of charge as often as they like. Those who do not choose to subscribe may rent resources for a weekly fee.
The Iowa Conference most recently contributed an annual gift of $69,000 to the ministry of IRMS, which was made possible with apportionment contributions from United Methodist churches across the state.
Hillcrest Family Services in Dubuque is sponsoring its 21st lights festival in celebration of Christmas this season. Reflections in the Park offers a wide array of displays, including the very popular Tunnel of Lights, to delight children and adults of all ages. The festival in Louis Murphy Park will be open to the public from 5:00 to 10 p.m. through January 3, 2016.
Upwards to 50,000 visitors view the massive Reflections in the Park event each year. One of those visitors, Santa Claus, has been at the park every Monday in December. Tonight from 5 to 8 p.m. will be his last appearance before Christmas.
Approximately 500 community volunteers put in over 3,500 hours to make Reflections in the Park possible. Show sponsors cover the cost of the event, and dollars raised support more than thirty programs of Hillcrest Family Services.
Hillcrest serves the spiritual needs of approximately 71 residential youth who have been abused, neglected, and abandoned and 66 residential adults who are not able to live independently due to mental, emotional, or behavioral health needs.
Several districts support Hillcrest with Matthew 25 grants. In addition, the Conference Connectional Ministries Council (CCMC) provided a $687 grant to help support this fundraising effort at Hillcrest last year. All of these funds are made possible with apportionment gifts of United Methodist churches across the state of Iowa.
St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Cedar Rapids has responded to the growing population of African National immigrants in their community.
Daniel Niyonzima, who immigrated to Iowa with his family from Burundi and a refugee camp in Tanzania, was originally trained as a pastor in his homeland by United Methodist missionaries. By June of 2012 he had developed a new congregation of 79 persons as a part of the ministries of St. Paul’s UMC.
This African National ministry is one of five new communities of faith receiving priority funding from the Standing Committee on Parish Development in 2016 from the apportionment gifts of the United Methodist churches of Iowa.
A farming partnership with Matthew 25 and Burundian immigrants from the congregation has resulted in native African crops being grown and distributed to other refugees in the metropolitan area. Produce like a central African eggplant had only been available previously in Des Moines.
We hope to “grow 300 eggplants, give to friends and have some to sell to people who asked,” said Bucumi Ferdinand. Other produce has included corn, watermelon, cabbage, cucumbers, broccoli, and tomatoes.
In a recent newsletter, Matthew 25 leaders stated their goal “that this partnership will allow Burundian immigrants to develop a small agriculture business where they can sell their produce to other Africans.”
Uzajja Dauda Adamu will be completing his work in 2016 on a Master’s Degree at Africa University thanks in part to generous support from Iowa donors. He is one of several school teachers being trained for leadership as a part of the Iowa Nigeria Partnership.
He is a faculty member at Banyam Theological Seminary. Nestled in the lush, green hills of east-central Nigeria, BTS trains pastors and other leaders in education, health, agriculture, water well projects, microfinancing, and village partnerships.
This year Uzajja Dauda also participated in an internship at the Development Exchange Center in Bauchi, Nigeria. He focused on four areas in the organization: education, good governance, peace building, and sustainable community development.
The Iowa Nigeria Partnership celebrated 25 years of service and collaboration in 2015. Over the years INP has supported the education of many Nigerian students at Africa University with the expectation that these students will return to Nigeria to take leadership roles in the United Methodist Church there.
Africa University is one of the General Church apportionments of the global United Methodist connection. In 2016 the Iowa Conference has committed $37,556 to Africa University. These funds are made possible from the generous apportionment gifts of the United Methodist churches of Iowa.