The United Methodist Church in Raymond hosts a senior dining ministry in collaboration with the Northeast Iowa Area Agency on Aging. The church basement is filled every Wednesday at noon to serve the physical and spiritual needs of the community.
Participants in the meals can linger to talk or play a game of cards. Free groceries are also available for persons in need.
The church is located in a small community just east of Waterloo. The weekly gatherings for meals provide opportunities to learn practical information about taxes and Medicare, especially for persons who find it difficult to travel.
Members who help with the ministry find joy in serving others. One remarked, “It’s never a burden to do this.”
The ministry grew out of the participation of church leaders in the Healthy Church Initiative. HCI is an intentional process designed to enhance the skills of pastors and laity to lead growing, vibrant, spirit-filled congregations.
Apportionment gifts from the United Methodist churches of Iowa help to underwrite expenses related to the HCI process.
Osceola is a hub for Hispanic ministry development in the South Central District. Pastor Rosa Maria Rodriquez has focused her energy in three ways, through worship opportunities, pastoral care, and small group events, in order to reach the growing Spanish-speaking population living in the area.
Small group activities have included Wednesday evening gatherings of children and youth. A choir has formed, and Bible studies have been offered to respond to spiritual needs. Other groups include a guitar class and a United Methodist Women’s circle.
Worship attendance in 2014 averaged about 22. By the close of 2015 attendance was ranging from 30 to 35 most Sundays.
Now ministry is expanding to other parts of the district. Pastor Rodriquez began a Bible study group in Creston on Saturdays. Monthly shared meals have given members of the United Methodist Church there a chance to get acquainted with their Latino neighbors.
This year in Ottumwa Pastor Rodriquez will be meeting people at Wesley United Methodist Church during monthly legal clinics sponsored by Justice for Our Neighbors.
Two conference standing committees, Parish Development and Hispanic Ministries, provided $51,000 in 2015 to allow Pastor Rodriquez to focus full time on her work. These gifts were made possible with apportionment contributions from United Methodist churches throughout the state of Iowa.
In January of 2009 Iowa Justice For Our Neighbors (JFON) opened a free legal clinic at the Storm Lake United Methodist Church, extending its ministry into another area of the state. The new site was made necessary by a growing need among residents of Iowa for legal assistance to assure that their immigration paperwork was in order.
Iowa JFON is a faith-based ministry, welcoming immigrants into our churches and communities by providing free, high-quality immigration legal services, education, and advocacy.
Iowa Justice For Our Neighbors has been serving clients in our communities since 1999. Established by the United Methodist Committee on Relief in 1999, Iowa JFON helps people from all over the world. Their services are available to all without regard to race, gender, or religion. Clinics are located in Cedar Rapids, Columbus Junction, Decorah, Des Moines, Ottumwa, and Storm Lake.
Each clinic relies on volunteers to welcome visitors and help them with paperwork, childcare, or translation, depending on their interest and skills. A attorney who specializes in immigration law helps persons review their immigration status and make application for permanent residency, among other potential services.
A Matthew 25 grant from the Northwest District has helped to support this ministry with funds made possible by the apportionment gifts of United Methodist churches throughout Iowa.
Women at the Well United Methodist Church is helping prisoners in Mitchellville return to life on the outside. Pastor Lee Schott is “excited for Alicia who just completed a year with her reentry team.”
She was released from the Iowa Correctional Facility for Women in December of 2013. Almost immediately, however, she was sent back to prison because of parole violations.
Alicia came to Pastor Schott to talk about how things had gone wrong during her release. In the process she continued deepening her walk with Jesus Christ.
When she was approaching her release in December 2014, she was asked about working with a reentry team again. She looked surprised. “I thought I had burned that bridge,” she said. But through a special consultation process she was given the opportunity to work with a team.
She has done very well in this most recent parole. She wrote back last March expressing her thanks for “the possibility of a second chance” and the support of her great reentry team.
Women at the Well United Methodist Church receives Matthew 25 grants from several districts in the Iowa Conference, including $1,650 from the South Central District last year, thanks to apportionment gifts from our local churches across the state. Visit their website www.womenatthewellumc.org or find them on Facebook to learn more.
The University of Iowa Wesley Foundation is developing leaders for service in and beyond the local church. One of their students, Jannalee Nieuwenhuis, is a new Campus Ministry Associate.
Jannalee is pursuing a call to ordained ministry. Her studies are introducing her to skills in a variety of areas important to the future of the church: spiritual formation, leadership development, vocational discernment, community building, social justice engagement, and hospitality and outreach.
Each semester is a fresh start at the Wesley Center. They cope with constant change as students arrive on campus for the first time or leave for pursuits in other places.
After moving to Iowa City from Michigan, for example, Jannalee found her way to the Wesley Center via the Internet. She began attending their monthly Theology on Tap—a program she is now leading!
Jannalee’s evangelical spirit is a great asset to ministry in Iowa City. She is passionate about praise and worship as well as small group ministry. The Rev. Anna Blaedel, the campus minister at the Wesley Center, says that Jannalee’s “passion for ministry, community, and transformative faith is delightfully contagious.”
The Iowa Conference has budgeted $237,164 in 2016 from the apportionment gifts of the United Methodist churches of Iowa to support the UIowa Wesley Center.