New immigrants to Cedar Rapids have formed a new community of faith with the support of United Methodist churches. These new residents in Iowa came originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, and Rwanda. Jill Sanders, the Field Outreach Minister in the East Central District, says, “Our African National Congregation typically has anywhere from 80 to 120 folks in worship on the weekend.”
At the end of August, Salem United Methodist Church hosted an African Cultural Festival for participants to take in the sights, sounds and tastes of several African cultures represented in the congregation. The event featured crafts, food, and three choirs.
The Iowa Conference Standing Committee on Parish Development has designated $98,000 in 2016 to support this emerging ministry. These funds are made possible thanks to the apportionment gifts of United Methodist churches across the state.
The African National Congregation is one of five new communities of faith across the state that are receiving financial support from the Iowa Conference in response to our Strategic Priorities. We are “Creating World-Transforming Communities of Faith (because) God is leading us outside of our churches and into our wider communities to build relationships with new people, reaching out especially – as Jesus did – to persons living on the margins of society.”