“Healthy Clergy, Healthy Connection” was the theme of this year’s Iowa United Methodist School for Ministry. The annual continuing education event was held on the shores of Lake Rathbun in Appanoose County last week.
Dr. Peter L. Steinke, a pastor, therapist, educator, and church consultant, addressed the changing times of our culture and the church’s response. “About 85% of churches agree that they need to change (to reach new people for Jesus Christ), but only 5% have taken any action.”
Healthy churches can take the problems they face and turn them into opportunities, he asserted. We are much more resilient when we know our purpose. When disagreements and conflicts arise—as they always will—our purpose becomes a tool for making healthy decisions that serves God’s mission in the world.
Two other lecturers participated in the event. Dr. Kirk Byron Jones, affectionately referred to as “The Preacher’s Teacher,” addressed the need for balance between the personal lives and ministry roles of church leaders. Dr. W. Craig Gilliam, the Coordinator of Congregational Services for JustPeace, offered his expertise in conflict transformation in congregations, leadership education, team building, and group process.
Richard and Trish Bruxvoort Colligan of Strawberry Point served as worship leaders for the week. This year $10,000 in apportionment gifts from the United Methodist churches of Iowa helped to support the Iowa School for Ministry.
A new director will be welcoming campers this summer at the Pictured Rocks Camp and Retreat Center near Monticello in northeast Iowa. Gabe Dorrell joined the staff at the camp last November.
A native of Newton, Iowa, his love for camp started when he attended Pine Lake Camp as a youth in Eldora, Iowa. He later worked on the Pine Lake Camp ministry team. His experience also includes serving as the Director of Youth and Family Ministry in Platteville, Wisconsin. In addition, for three years when he was growing up, he lived in Africa when his parents served as missionaries in Kenya and Uganda.
Pictured Rocks hosted 555 campers through the summer season of 2015 with the support of 40 volunteers and staff. During the remainder of the year, the facility hosted 2,335 retreat guests. The camp’s ministries are designed to nurture the spiritual development of young people, youth and adults to transform, renew and grow their lives through faith in Jesus Christ. Pictured Rocks is being supported in part with $131,364 in apportionment gifts from the United Methodist churches of Iowa in 2016.
The camp offers visitors a variety of recreational opportunities, including real-rock climbing, a challenge course, geo-caching, mountain boarding and Frisbee golf. The nearby Maquoketa River serves as a site for canoeing, kayaking and tubing. Indoor swimming is available across the road at the Camp Courageous pool complex where people of all ages enjoy the water.
A new congregation of immigrants from Southern Sudan is worshiping at the Epworth United Methodist Church in Des Moines. Their gatherings feature amazing singing, syncopated drumming, and powerful witness to the ways God has brought them together after many years of hardship.
The Mabaan people are refugees from South Sudan, who have escaped fighting, persecution, rape and death. Many have lived in refugee camps under very difficult conditions. They built their own makeshift shelters of bamboo and grass. Water was available from wells dug by humanitarian groups, and basic sanitation was lacking as were other services in the camp.
At least 125 to perhaps 250 persons now live in the Des Moines area after traveling through many countries to get here. This April 30th the congregation will gather for a service of baptism to welcome new members into the church. As they are preparing for this special day, one member remarked, “I never thought this would happen in my lifetime.”
This new community of faith has received $106,000 in financial support from the apportionment gifts of the United Methodist churches of Iowa. Additional gifts can be made to the South Sudanese community through Iowa Advance Special #267. Learn more about the Mabaan United Methodist Church on our Iowa Conference website.
The Rev. Mara Bailey, our United Methodist chaplain at Simpson College, has been helping the school connect more directly with the United Methodist churches of Iowa.
Simpson Sunday is a program she designed at the suggestion of Simpson’s president, Jay Simmons. Students and faculty are traveling throughout the state to visit with the people of our local churches. They are presenting sermons, showing videos, and visiting with Sunday school classes as a part of the effort.
“For me,” she writes, “it goes back to John Wesley, who felt so strongly that educational institutions should exist alongside the church.”
The 2016 Spring edition of Simpson: The Magazine highlights the partnership of the college with our local churches in two separate articles. In her Chaplain’s Message entitled, “A Blessed Connection,” she quotes John Wesley describing to his brother Charles the importance of the relationship between the heart and the mind. “Let us unite the two so long divided, knowledge and vital piety.”
The mission statement of Simpson College reflects this same idea when it asserts a commitment to “drawing upon our relationship with the United Methodist Church and our religious traditions that guide us on issues of personal integrity, moral responsibility, social justice and global citizenship.”