Francis Asbury Award

Kathy Martin received the Francis Asbury Award this summer in recognition of her service to and support for campus ministry as chaplain and director of church relations at Morningside College. The Board of Higher Education and Campus Ministry of the Iowa Conference highlighted her deep care for the students, faculty and staff with whom she worked. She is known as a mentor and a compassionate advisor that they can trust.


During her tenure, she expanded the number of campus ministry events and opportunities for students. She led mission trips to Gulf Coast communities devastated by hurricanes and assisted residents in many other areas. She also invested in collegial relationships and advocated for strong connections between United Methodist-related colleges and local churches.

Although she retired from full-time ministry in 2014, she willingly stepped back into service as interim chaplain at the college for the 2016-2017 school year. She continued her work seamlessly and passionately, raising up leaders for the church and providing ways for students to engage in the needs of the world through service and mission opportunities.

The Board of Higher Education and Campus Ministry has a budget of $632,000 in 2017 to support ministries throughout the state, including $20,000 for Morningside College. These funds are made possible with apportionment gifts from the United Methodist churches of Iowa.


Summer Residency at Simpson

The Simpson Youth Academy successfully completed it’s first Summer Residency from June 24 through July 2, 2017 at Simpson College for seventeen rising high school juniors and seniors from Iowa. The students, thirteen of whom were from United Methodist churches, joined college-aged mentors, Simpson professors and guest teachers from two United Methodist seminaries for a challenging experience of worship, service and reflection.

Participants explored the central question of what God might be calling them to do in the world: “Where does my deep joy meet the world’s deep need?” The students engaged with twelve churches and social service agencies and learned from sixteen guest practitioners, including eight Methodist clergy.

“The students will now return to their home churches,” says Eric Rucker, the program direction, “where they will continue in a mentoring relationship with their pastor.” The goal is for each student to plan and implement a worship or service project based on their gifts and passions.

The Simpson Youth Academy is looking for high school students who might find this experience intriguing next year. Please contact Eric Rucker at to get more information about the program.

Simpson College is receiving $20,000 in apportionment gifts from the United Methodist churches of Iowa to support their ongoing efforts to develop a new generation of leaders.

Posting Worship Videos

The Compass is a contemporary worship service that welcomes everyone, no matter where they are in their faith journey. The Casey United Methodist Church began this new ministry less than a year ago, and now they have expanded its reach through their Facebook page.

“It’s phenomenal,” exclaimed their pastor, Melodee Carstens. “We decided to begin posting videos a couple of weeks ago when some folks really wanted to hear the message, but were unable to attend The Compass.” Their first worship video appeared on June 21 and received 982 views—in a town of just over 400 people!

Their decision to post the videos felt a little risky. “It made us a bit nervous, because we wondered what it would do to attendance, but so far it hasn’t had an effect.” The feedback has been positive, often because the videos can be watched whenever a person’s busy schedule allows.

Church leaders decided to pursue their Wednesday evening service during their discernment of God’s vision through the Healthy Church Initiative process. Apportionment gifts of $60,000 from the United Methodist churches of Iowa in 2017 support the workshops, consultations and coaching associated with HCI. The Healthy Church Initiative is an intentional leadership development process designed to enhance the skills of pastors and laity to lead growing, vibrant, spirit-filled congregations.

Marshalltown Clinic of JFON

An immigrant nearing retirement is receiving legal support from Justice for Our Neighbors at their Marshalltown clinic to obtain benefits she has earned. Emily Sohn Rebelsky, an immigration attorney with Iowa JFON, tells her story.iajfon

Carmen currently works as a bilingual tutor with the Marshalltown school district and hopes to retire soon. In order to collect the retirement benefits she has earned, she needs to apply for naturalization.

Carmen first got her lawful permanent residence in the United States in 1978. Her permanent resident card is so old that it has no expiration date.

She meets all the qualifications for citizenship. She has lived continuously in the U.S. for nearly 40 years. She speaks fluent English and she is a person of upstanding moral character. She never naturalized because she did not know what the requirements were and could not afford a lawyer to help her through the process. And JFON “is happy to help Carmen through her citizenship journey!”

JFON is a faith-driven ministry, welcoming immigrants into our churches and communities by providing free, high-quality immigration legal services, education and advocacy. Apportionment gifts of $45,000 from the United Methodist churches of Iowa are helping to support JFON in 2017, but individuals, corporations and churches which contribute to Iowa Advance Special #375 are funding the majority of JFON’s annual budget.

Disaster Response


Volunteers from United Methodist churches were in Prairieburg last week to help residents following a devastating tornado. Keith Pitts, an associate pastor from St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Cedar Rapids, organized a chainsaw response team to clean up fallen trees. prairieburg.cleanup.2017June

Pastor Pitts is the disaster response coordinator for the East Central District. He serves as a part of the network of support available from United Methodist churches in Iowa for people in need.

The Iowa Conference Standing Committee on Disaster Preparedness and Response strives “to be a caring, Christian presence in the midst of disaster.” Beyond organizing clean-up efforts, like they did recently in Prairieburg, they offer resources like their handbook to help church leaders know what steps to take in preparation for and in response to disasters. The committee also stewards donations to the Disaster Relief Fund, Advance Special #223, and sees that financial support is distributed to communities in need.

The committee’s work is supported with $6,000 in apportionment gifts from United Methodist churches throughout the state. The funds provide for maintenance of Tool and Response Trailers, including license, registration and insurance, as well as storage expenses for clean-up buckets in several locations in Iowa and training costs for disaster response coordinators and volunteers.