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.”