Club Hollywood is a brand new event in 2016 at Lake Okoboji United Methodist Camp and Retreat Center. Youth from age nine to sixteen can attend this Adventure Camp on July 18-23. The movie-themed week will enable young people to meet new friends and “enjoy the latest Hollywood Blockbuster!”
Adventure Camps are offered each year with exciting themes. Campers stay together in cabins and have access to a variety of summer activities from crafts and games to swimming.
Upgrades provide “super-charged additions” that take Adventure Camp “to the next level!” Available for an additional fee, campers who choose an upgrade will have access to the aerial course and a trip to a local amusement park beyond normal camp programming.
The mission of the camp is “to provide sacred space where Jesus Christ transforms lives, persons grow in Christian discipleship and leaders are developed to empower their local churches in the world; and to facilitate this mission through Christian hospitality.”
Parents can rest assured that the camp’s facilities and programming are accredited by the American Camp Association. Financial aid is also available for campers.
The Iowa Conference is investing $100,000 in 2016 for the ministry of Camp Okoboji. These funds are made possible by the apportionment gifts of local United Methodist churches throughout the state.
Sompong and his four children have moved from a life of turmoil to one of tranquility thanks to Hawthorn Hill. His former wife’s abusive behavior led to their children being removed from the home and put in foster care. After one long year of parenting classes and counseling, Sompong was finally awarded full custody of his kids.
In September of 2009 the family entered The Home Connection, a ministry of Hawthorn Hill, which has been providing supportive housing for Iowa homeless families with children since 1986. The Home Connection’s goal is “to move families with children from homelessness to permanent housing with an emphasis on financial independence.”
In the five years since being placed in their Home Connection house, the family has exhibited dedication and resilience. Two of his children are college students pursuing careers in medicine and business, respectively. Their younger siblings are in high school and middle school.
Sompong was able to pay off all of his debts and save money for a house. In October of 2014 he made a down payment on a three-bedroom Habitat for Humanity home supported with Home Connection escrow funds. Now he and his children have moved into their own home.
The United Methodist churches of Iowa have contributed $18,000 in the last year to Hawthorn Hill through their apportionment gifts.
Today marks the midpoint of the international gathering of United Methodist leaders in Portland, Oregon. Twelve lay and clergy delegates, plus several reserve delegates and a variety of observers, are attending the General Conference from Iowa.
The purpose of the conference, which happens every four years, is to celebrate the work of the Church across the globe. Prayer and worship are central to each day of the gathering from May 10-20, 2016.
The legislative process of the General Conference resembles that of the U.S. Congress. Much of the first week is spent in legislative committees where delegates discuss ministry proposals for 2017-2020. During the second week each committee presents their recommendations to the plenary session of the General Conference for final approval.
Delegates revise church law in The Discipline of The United Methodist Church. They also adopt resolutions on current moral, social, public policy and economic issues. In addition, delegates approve ministry plans of general agencies like the General Board of Global Ministries and set budgets for church-wide programs to serve the mission of the Church for the next quadrennium.
The Iowa Conference budgeted $23,600 to defray expenses for delegates to attend the General Conference. These funds are made possible by the apportionment gifts of local United Methodist churches throughout the state of Iowa.
The United Methodist Church in Mount Ayr has seen tremendous growth in the last few years. Seventy people in worship was the norm only seven years ago. Now, however, their attendance is regularly 120.
The small congregation in rural southern Iowa was founded in 1856. When several of their leaders began participating in Healthy Church Initiative (HCI) workshops, exciting things began to happen.
Our laity began to dream dreams and recognize that “all things are possible in Christ,” said their pastor, the Rev. Charles “Skip” Rushing.
During a weekend consultation, the second step of the HCI process, the church explored their hopes for future. A team of consultants presented a report to the congregation after talking with church leaders, which included “prescriptions,” or action steps, that they could pursue in response to the gifts that God had already given them for ministry.
A Wednesday after-school program has developed as a result of their engagement with HCI, and their youth group is growing. “It’s allowing people to have energy and a positive feeling about what can happen,” said Rushing. Their mission support has improved, and they are more intentionally nurturing relationships in the community, including the school.
HCI is supported in part with $30,000 in Parish Development funds made possible through the apportionment gifts of the United Methodist churches of Iowa.
Volunteers contributed 10,000 hours in 2015 to the North Liberty Community Pantry. These 140 unpaid servants worked the equivalent of five full-time employees in pursuit of their mission “to engage our community in feeding and clothing our neighbors.”
Last year they distributed 299,000 pounds of food and toiletries. An additional 11,000 items of clothing were given away.
The pantry is an outreach ministry of First United Methodist Church in partnership with a variety of businesses and non-profit organizations. Their primary focus is North Liberty and surrounding rural areas of northern Johnson County.
The pantry was created in 1985 as a response to requests from persons in need in their community. Initially, the pantry was a small project that served fifteen to twenty families each month. But because of tremendous population growth in North Liberty and increasing economic strains on residents, leaders expanded the pantry’s ministry in 2004.
Their new Growing Together Garden is one example of a recent expansion of their outreach. The effort provides a sustainable source of fresh fruits and vegetables for hundreds of pantry guests. Produce is being shared with the city’s free summer lunch program for kids and the pantry’s new farmer’s market.
Last year the pantry received $10,000 of support from the apportionment gifts of United Methodist churches throughout Iowa.