A church that began with only five people on its first Sunday a few years ago as a ministry of Broadway United Methodist Church in Council Bluffs has grown to a worshiping congregation of more than 75.
The church, called Fe y Esperanza, serves a wide region, including people from the Southwest District in Iowa as well as Omaha and Lincoln in Nebraska. “Fe y Esperanza,” their pastor, the Rev. Ruben Mendoza, explains, means faith and hope. “Every time people gather they come with faith, and . . . the hope of God is present in church.”
The congregation recently gathered for a celebration to mark their move from Broadway UMC across town to Epworth United Methodist Church. Their new home is located in a growing neighborhood of the city, where Latino residents make up more that 65% of the population. An entire floor of Epworth UMC will be dedicated to the ministries of Fe y Esperanza, including Bible studies and community outreach.
This congregation is one of five new communities of faith that are receiving priority support from the Iowa Conference in 2016. The Standing Committee on Hispanic Ministries of the Iowa Conference is contributing $13,000 toward Fe y Esperanza in 2016. These funds are made available from the apportionment gifts of the United Methodist churches of Iowa.
The United Methodist Church in Danville has a goal in 2016 to get better acquainted with their neighbors. Earlier this month members went door-to-door to invite people to a special St. Patrick’s Day event at the local community center. They were warmly greeted by persons they found at home. Visitors from the church left notes of invitation to the event if residents were away when they stopped by.
Twenty-two members and friends of the church attended the event. In addition, Pastor Kathy Moore exclaimed, “Thirty-three guests came to meet, eat, and enjoy the festivities!” Members took breaks from working in the kitchen to mingle with their guests and get to know them.
The outreach effort emerged during their studies with the Healthy Church Initiative, an intentional leadership development process of the Iowa Conference designed to enhance the skills of pastors and laity to lead growing, vibrant, spirit-filled congregations. United Methodist leaders in Mediapolis and Sperry are participating in HCI workshops with the Danville church this year.
Each church team determines what goals to pursue as a part of the HCI process. HCI workshops, consultations, and coaching are supported this year in part with $50,000 in apportionment gifts from the United Methodist churches of Iowa.
Yesterday four students completed studies with the School for Lay Ministry at Morningside College. They joined eleven other students in a weekend course on worship led by the Rev. Linda Butler of Dysart and Phil Carver, the Field Outreach Minister in the Southeast District.
Jason Bush of Carroll, Nelva Petersen of Aurelia, Gina Rassel of Marcus, and Tylene Woods of Hinton were recognized during closing worship on Sunday morning. The Rev. Tom Carver, the District Superintendent of the Northwest District, presided over communion during the special commissioning service.
The Morningside College site has been experimenting recently by combining classes for a better educational experience. The four graduates began their studies in 2013, but they were joined by two other classes of students who started in 2014 and 2015 respectively.
All of the same courses are offered at Morningside as they are at Cornell College and Simpson College, the other two sites for the School for Lay Ministry. At Morningside, however, the students from the three difference classes study the same topic together.
In 2016 apportionment gifts from the United Methodist churches of Iowa are providing $12,797 to support the leadership development work of the Iowa Conference Board of Laity, including scholarships for students attending the School for Lay Ministry.
Students from Iowa Wesleyan University participated last fall in a new after-school ministry at the United Methodist Church in Columbus Junction.
The students were first introduced to the people of Columbus Junction through a Global Issues class last year. They volunteered at a monthly clinic sponsored by Justice for Our Neighbors (JFON) at the United Methodist Church. The clinic provides legal services to help people navigate the complicated immigration laws of the United States.
Dr. Joy Lapp, Associate Professor of Religion, wanted her students to learn more about immigrants living in Iowa. Columbus Junction is home to both Hispanic and Burmese immigrants. Students were able to “connect on a personal level to the stories and struggles of these immigrants who are building a new life for themselves in the United States.”
Although the students had completed their class work in the spring, they expressed interest in volunteering last fall with a new after-school program at the church. As a result, seven to nine Iowa Wesleyan students made weekly trips to work with the children of Columbus Junction.
Both Iowa Wesleyan University and Justice for Our Neighbors are supported in part with apportionment gifts from the United Methodist churches of Iowa.