Churches United of the Quad Cities served over 145,000 individuals in 2016 through their hunger ministry. They stock 25 food pantries throughout the metropolitan area of Scott County in Iowa and Rock Island County in Illinois. Over 100 churches and community organizations participate in this ministry with contributions of money, food and/or volunteers.
Rhonda Johnson, an office assistant with Churches United, says that the goal of this ministry is to serve anyone who is hungry, striving “to never have to turn anyone away for lack of food.” Someone who has a need for emergency food more than once within a 30-day period may work with a caseworker, pastor, school nurse or counselor for a referral for additional support.
Churches United also serves free hot and nourishing meals to over 28,000 hungry people each year in three different locations. Individuals and families may visit a meal site as often as every night of the week if necessary. Food is served cafeteria style. Churches United does all the scheduling and provides all the paper products (plates, bowls, cups), silverware, condiments, table coverings and trash can liners.
A $2,000 Matthew 25 grant from the Southeast District supported the hunger ministry in 2016. These funds were made possible with the apportionment gifts of United Methodist churches throughout Iowa.
In the summer of 2017, a diverse group of rising high school juniors and seniors will be gathering at Simpson College for a ten-day community experience of Christian theological education. The Simpson Youth Academy will help students explore difficult questions about God through worship, service and reflection.
Eric Rucker, the director of the academy, says, “We have hired a great group of college staff members as well as two strong faculty from United Methodist seminaries to teach the students.”
For nine months following their residency on campus this summer, students will be matched with a local pastor or community leader with whom they will meet regularly for a year. They also will be able to connect with each other online and in-person through retreats and reunions to continue growing and learning.
In the spring of 2018, the students will plan and implement a project related to worship or service, aimed at making a real impact for good in the communities in which they live. Visit the Simpson College website for more information about applying for this summer’s program.
The Iowa Conference invested $24,730 toward ministries at Simpson College in 2015. These funds were made possible with apportionment gifts from United Methodist churches throughout the state.
The Greenfield United Methodist Church is making plans to start a second worship service later this year. Their worship life has always been a focal point for ministry, and they want to expand their worship offerings to help others come to know Christ Jesus. Last fall, for instance, they installed a new audio system to that end.
The Healthy Church Initiative (HCI) process helped them sense the calling of the Holy Spirit to pursue a new service. First, a team of their leaders studied ministry in the 21st century. A consultation weekend followed to help them determine their future plans based on their gifts and graces as a church. Their coach, Melissa Drake, who serves as the Field Outreach Minister in the Southwest District, has worked closely with them on their goals.
Last month they invited Phil Carver, the Field Outreach Minister in the Southeast District, to help them begin planning for the new service. This experience is one of the growing edges of HCI in the Iowa Conference: to focus more specifically on ways to help our churches intentionally connect their ministries with new people.
These efforts are supported in part with $60,000 from the Parish Development Standing Committee of the Iowa Board of Global Ministries. The funds are made possible through the apportionment gifts of local United Methodist churches throughout the state.
Burns United Methodist Church is the oldest African-American church in the state of Iowa. It was founded in 1866 by a few black men and women in Des Moines. The church chose its name to honor Francis Burns, an American missionary to Liberia who was elected to be the first African-American bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1858.
In 1928, Burns Methodist Episcopal Church erected its first permanent building located at 811 Crocker Street. Now parishioners worship in their new location, since April of 2011, at 1909 Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway.
Historical papers about Burns UMC and our other United Methodist churches are maintained by the Iowa Conference Commission on Archives and History. Located on the campus of Iowa Wesleyan University in Mount Pleasant, the archives staff and student volunteers collect and preserve the historically significant records of the Iowa Conference, its agencies and its predecessors.
Visitors will find historical data, archives, books, literature and 154 relics related to United Methodism in Iowa. The materials are housed in a fire-safe archival depository. The commission, which is affiliated with the General Commission on Archives and History, is continuing to improve their capacity to store documents in electronic form. Apportionment gifts of $23,000 from the United Methodist churches of Iowa are earmarked for this work in 2017.