The Peace and Justice Ministry team of the Mount Vernon United Methodist Church supported a family through the immigration process with the help of Iowa Justice for Our Neighbors (JFON).
Gabriel, a native of El Salvador, and Amy, his American wife, were facing a risky return to El Salvador for his visa interview. Ann Naffier, a JFON attorney, worked with them to prepare a host of documents for the application process. When all of the paperwork was completed, the couple traveled to El Salvador. Despite many delays, on August 12th, Gabriel successfully obtained his visa and returned home to Iowa.
Throughout this process, the members of the church provided support for the couple and their children, giving the family encouragement when frustrations arose. They shared meals together and sponsored events for Gabriel to share his story with others. The church also helped the couple buy a home and raised money for their trip to El Salvador.
Kay Graber, a member of the church, reports that Gabriel “now has his legal status, a full-time job in an automobile body shop in Mount Vernon” and “in four more years, he can seek citizenship.” In 2017 the Iowa Conference is contributing $45,000 toward JFON’s ministry with apportionment funds from United Methodist churches across the state.
The Conference Center in Des Moines played host to a national gathering of United Methodist leaders earlier this month. Route 122 is a network of practitioners directly involved in local church development. Participants meet annually to share resources and explore best practices for the future of transformation in the United Methodist connection.
This year’s event, for instance, featured a workshop on Fresh Expressions, a movement to create new or different forms of church in this time of tremendous cultural change. The Rev. Paul Brunstetter, the Director of New Church Development in the Kentucky Conference, shared more than a dozen examples of creative ministry, ranging from youth groups and house churches to retirement centers and midnight discussion groups for young adults.
Jaye Johnson, the Field Outreach Minister for the South Central District, serves on the coordinating team for Route 122. He expressed appreciation for the ministry of hospitality offered by the Iowa Conference through both its facility and staff. “I am so please to be part of this Iowa Annual Conference team who know how to welcome people in Christ’s name.”
The Iowa Conference is budgeting $432,119 to cover operational costs and mortgage payments for the conference center in 2017. These funds are made possible from the apportionment gifts of United Methodist churches across the state.
The Center, a ministry of St. John’s United Methodist Church in Davenport, hosted a visit by Bishop Laurie Haller last month. She has set a goal to spend “at least a day in each district before Christmas” in order to get acquainted with the people in her new ministry setting. She arrived in Iowa in September after being elected to the episcopacy at the North Central Jurisdictional Conference last July in Peoria.
The bishop was especially taken with the Skate Church ministry at The Center. The effort began some years ago to reach at-risk students who do not feel comfortable in a traditional church setting.
Middle School and High School skaters and bikers are welcome to bring their bikes and boards and skate in The Center’s three-level indoor skate park. When they come, they can expect to enjoy loud music and an age-appropriate Bible lesson in the company of other young people who share their interests.
Bishop Haller is pictured on one of the indoor ramps between senior pastor Anne Lippincott on her left and director Penny Kellenberger on her right. The Center received a grant of $14,000 last year, which was made possible with apportionment gifts from the United Methodist churches of the Iowa Conference.
The Hampton United Methodist Church engages in a variety of ministries to serve people within and outside their community. Their Clean-Up Closet is a recent addition to these outreach activities.
The closet is open on the first Saturday and the third Tuesday each month from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. The service is for families who are in need of personal hygiene items and cleaning items for the home.
The closet was begun through a Matthew 25 grant of $2,500 from the North Central District. These funds were made possible with the apportionment gifts of United Methodist churches throughout the Iowa Annual Conference.
For more than 150 years the Hampton congregation has played a vital role in making and maturing disciples of Jesus Christ who transform the world as bearers of God’s good news. Building on their vibrant past, they strive to be a dynamic and welcoming place of worship for the sake of future generations of Christians.
They believe that, like all United Methodist people, they have calling to live as faithful followers of Jesus Christ. “To fulfill this obligation,” they note on their website, “we reflect critically on our biblical and theological inheritance, striving to express faithfully the witness we make in our own time.”