The Iowa Conference archives collects and preserves historically significant records of the United Methodist Church in Iowa and its agencies as well as our local churches across the state. Located in Chadwick Library on the Iowa Wesleyan University campus in Mount Pleasant, the archives collection includes historical data, books, literature, and relics related to the Iowa Conference.
Esther Wonderlich serves as the conference archivist. She provides recommendations for local churches about the length of time to keep records and other historical documents and materials. She can be contacted with your questions by calling the archives office at 319-385-6321 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Commission on Archives and History is the conference agency that works with Iowa Wesleyan to maintain a fire-safe archival depository, and they are in the process of developing an electronic one. Records are kept representing the ministries of all United Methodist Churches and predecessor organizations, including former Evangelical United Brethren, Methodist Episcopal, and Methodist Protestant churches. This year $23,000 is budgeted for the commission’s ministry. The funds are made possible from the apportionment gifts of United Methodist churches across the state of Iowa.
In 2004 the Iowa Conference began a District Matthew 25 Initiative to support hands-on ministries that respond to basic human needs in our communities. Every year our districts receive apportionment dollars provided by the United Methodist churches of Iowa. This year a total of $144,000 will be distributed among the eight districts.
The funds are allocated to the districts based on a formula that takes into account the number of families living in poverty, the number of seniors, and the percentage of the population that is non-English-speaking within each district. The formula is reviewed, revised and adopted annually by the Conference Connectional Ministries Council.
Jesus told a parable that inspired this initiative. In it the king describes how people can inherit the kingdom: “I was hungry and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me. I was naked and you gave me clothes to wear. I was sick and you took care of me. I was in prison and you visited me” (Matt. 25:35-36).
These Matthew 25 grants help us align our resources with our historic commitment to mission and the strategic priorities of the Iowa Conference as we reach out “to persons living on the margins of society.”
The Conference Center of the United Methodist Church of Iowa is located at 2301 Rittenhouse Street just south of the Des Moines airport. The building provides office space for 24 staff members, all of whom work to support the ministries of local churches and agencies of the Iowa Annual Conference.
Various groups use the facilities to gather from across the state in a central location. Last Saturday, for instance, both the Iowa-Nigeria Partnership coordinating team and the delegation to the General and Jurisdictional Conferences met in the building. Other examples include a Healthy Church Initiative training event in two weeks and an extended meeting for Program Review, a committee of the Connectional Ministries Council (CCMC), at the end of the month.
The Iowa Conference Board of Trustees has responsibility for maintaining the building and grounds. The Trustees in partnership with the Conference Treasurer has dramatically reduced the annual expenses of the Conference Center. In 2015 the facility was refinanced to significantly reduce annual expenses, and building services have all been evaluated and “right-sized” to reflect a significant cost savings to the Iowa Conference.
The operating budget for the Conference Center is $193,000 in 2016, and an additional $95,000 goes toward the loan. Apportionment gifts from the United Methodist churches of Iowa provide these financial resources.
The Sioux City Journal published an article last week, featuring a mission project begun by St. John’s United Methodist Church in Mapleton.
God’s Little House was originally a donated property next to the church building. Members had planned to tear down the structure to build a parking lot until a vision emerged for a different purpose.
The two-story house has been used as a rent-free, temporary shelter for people in need. The Journal article reports that guests have stayed there for a variety of reasons from just passing through the area to recovering from tornado-damaged homes.
The ministry has grown into an ecumenical effort involving all five churches in town who each have representatives on the governing board for God’s Little House. The whole community has come together with donations to keep the house furnished with bedding and dishes. The city has even covered utilities when the house has been vacant.
A significant renovation project in 2010 was funded in part with a Matthew 25 grant from the Northwest District, which was made possible by apportionment gifts from the United Methodist churches of Iowa. At that time the gift provided for the replacement of an old furnace with a new heat-pump furnace and air conditioning unit.