Religious Studies

Students at Morningside College are being prepared for vocations in ministry, counseling, teaching, youth work and administration to strengthen the future of The United Methodist Church and its engagement with the world.

religious-studiesThe Religious Studies program provides personal attention to tailor studies to each student’s specific interests. The curriculum addresses such topics as biblical studies, ethics, theology, world religions, religious history, Native American religions and African American religions.

The courses deepen the knowledge and understanding students have of a variety of religious traditions as well as their own. The classes build a strong personal framework of ethics and principles while building spiritual maturity.

Morningside College also serves as the host for the Upper Midwest Course of Study School in order to train part-time local pastors from Iowa, the Dakotas and Minnesota. In addition, the campus is one of the sites for the Iowa School for Lay Ministry, which equips laity for leadership and service in their local churches and communities.

The college is accredited by a number of academic institutions, including the University Senate of The United Methodist Church, to meet the highest educational standards. Local churches in the Iowa Conference are contributing $71,000 to the ministries of Morningside College through their annual apportionment gifts.


HCI for Parishes

The churches of Christ Community United Methodist Parish have been involved in a pilot project to expand the impact of the Healthy Church Initiative in Iowa. HCI is an intentional development process designed to enhance the skills of church leaders to grow vibrant, spirit-filled congregations.


Pastors and laity from Allerton, Lineville, New Zion, Millerton, and Corydon met with other church leaders in their area of south central Iowa for a series of classes over the course of the last year. They studied the nature and mission of Church and explored ways to practice ministry in the 21st Century.

Upon completing their studies, the parish was invited to schedule a consultation weekend on October 7-9. A single church typically participates in such a consultation. However, in this case, all of the churches of the parish were involved. Leaders were interviewed about God’s hopes and dreams for their ministries. On Sunday morning the consultation team presented a report of strengths, opportunities and prescriptions for the parish to pursue together.

HCI addresses one of our conference’s strategic priorities: “Creating World-Transforming Communities of Faith.” In particular, HCI is designed to increase vitality in our existing churches. Apportionment gifts of more than $40,000 from United Methodist churches across the state are being invested in 2016 for consultation weekends to support local church ministries in Iowa.

Intentional Community

Threehouse, our Wesley Foundation at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, opened a house in their neighborhood last August for students to live in intentional community together. The GreenHouse is “a new adventure of living and growing with others in faith,” says their campus minister, David Glenn-Burns.

Current students were joined by alumni, staff and community members for several work days during the summer to prepare the facility for students. Now that the house is inhabited, however, work still needs to be done in the house. Matt and Liz German, for example, delivered a couch late in September to provide for a more comfortable living space. Others are contributing additional household items for the benefit of student residents.

“Living in the GreenHouse has been a great experience,” said Jordan Derhammer. “Yes, there are times that it can be challenging, just like any family. I’m looking forward to see where God is going to move in the house and community.”

Threehouse continues in a long tradition of the Methodist movement when John Wesley was a campus minister at Oxford University. Apportionment gifts from local churches across the state are providing $202,754 to support the ministries of the UNI Wesley Foundation, a leadership development effort of the Iowa Conference of The United Methodist Church.

Laity Sunday

Many Lay Servants around the state will be leading worship on October 16th, which is designated as Laity Sunday in The United Methodist Church. This year’s theme is “Disciples Called to Action: Living Vital Worship.”

laitysunday2016Living our lives is an act of worship—and we are not merely passive spectators, but active participants. We worship in response to the Great Commandment (Matthew 22:37-39), loving God and neighbor above all else. We worship as we embody God’s love by using our gifts for ministry as we follow Jesus (Matthew 16:24). We worship by enacting God’s justice through our advocacy for the rights and dignity of others (Micah 6:8). We worship as we shared God’s Good News with the world in response to the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20).

The Board of Laity is receiving $14,650 in 2017 apportionment gifts from the United Methodist churches of Iowa. These funds help to train lay servants and others through School for Lay Ministry classes, a Laity Day with the bishop held each spring, and the Laity Session at Annual Conference.

Discipleship Ministries is an agency of the general church with offices in Nashville, Tennessee that also promotes and supports the ministry of the laity in local churches and communities as well as in specialized ministries throughout the world.

VBS in Bonaparte

Allison Engel is one of the summer staff for Mobile United Methodist Missionaries (MUMM), which serves mostly rural communities in the Southeast, Southwest and South Central Districts of the United Methodist Church in Iowa.

Vacation Bible School is the focus of Allison’s work. She brings her skills as a teacher to ministry with children each summer to help local churches reach out beyond the members of their congregations to share God’s love with their communities.

In June, for example, she was in the village of Bonaparte in Van Buren County. She was casting a Bible story skit and asked one boy, “Would you be Jesus for me?” The nine-year-old youngster replied, “Of course. It would be an honor to be Jesus this morning.” In a child’s simple answer was a profound statement about the impact that faith has on our lives and those we reach as servants of God.

Allison reflected on the moment in her blog. “Rarely do (the children) use those words, but the request is real and you can see it in their eyes. May I always respond as gracefully as this little boy did.”

Apportionment gifts of $45,000 in 2017 from the United Methodist churches of Iowa will help MUMM continue their work in the coming year.