A dozen local churches across the Iowa Conference received cross-cultural appointments this summer. Pastors have come to Iowa from all over the world to serve our churches. Their presence reflects the vision of Pentecost. People “from every nation under heaven” (Acts 2:5) gathered in Jerusalem, and “we hear them declaring the mighty works of God in our own languages!” (Acts 2:11).
The Commission on Religion and Race has an ongoing ministry to encourage our churches to appreciate the blessings of diversity in having pastors of different ethnic backgrounds. This practice in the United Methodist Church testifies to our commitment to overcoming racism in our culture and our world. Racism is defined as a belief that one’s own race is superior to others.
Commission members offer workshops for local church leaders on the topic of cross-cultural appointments. The seminars highlight the particular gifts and graces of both the pastors and the local churches they serve. Participants gain a deeper understanding of each other through conversations that establishes strong ministerial relationships.
This year the Iowa Conference is investing $31,000 in the work of the Commission on Religion and Race, which includes support for cross-cultural appointment workshops. These funds are made possible with the apportionment gifts of the United Methodist churches of Iowa.
The St. Charles Parish raised nearly $2,000 at their Old Settlers Reunion food stand in July to support ministries for children. Half of it was used to purchase school supplies for students in the Interstate 35 Community School District.
Amy Reyes went shopping with a friend on behalf of the church to get items from the class supply lists. They divided everything up according to each grade and delivered it all to the school in time for registration.
She also sent an email to every teacher in the elementary school to let them know of the church’s ongoing support. Some have responded with requests already, so she is picking up additional items for the teachers using the remaining funds from this summer.
Grandmas broke down in tears and mothers gave out hugs when they saw the school supplies. They were fearful of the financial burden that purchasing school supplies would bring and were relieved by the donations.
The generosity of the church has spurred even more giving. “A teacher that was moved by your generosity bought a backpack and all the supplies for an elementary student,” said Deann Strange, a secretary at the high school, “and I purchased all of the supplies for a high school student.”
Leaders in the St. Charles Parish are participating in the Healthy Church Initiative with support from the apportionment gifts of the United Methodist churches of Iowa.
Campers at Pictured Rocks got a chance to become Difference Makers this summer. The United Methodist Camp and Retreat Center near Monticello in northeast Iowa hosted a week at the end of June for teens from twelve to eighteen years of age called IMPACT. The experience, which was new in their camp catalog in 2017, gave young people an opportunity for hands-on development of leadership and serving skills.
Participants worked with Matthew 25 in the Taylor Neighborhood of Cedar Rapids on a project called Transform Week. They joined other volunteers and area residents who were painting and siding houses, putting up decks and fences, and cleaning up debris.
IMPACT provided a chance for students to build lifelong friendships with other teens who desire to make a difference in their world. The experience also included many classic camp activities and in-depth Bible exploration. All of the ministries of Pictured Rocks support the strategic priority of equipping ourselves and others as transformational leaders and focus on the Christian spiritual formation and growth of youth and families.
The 2017 budget of the Iowa Conference earmarks $671,316 to support our three United Methodist-related camps in Iowa: Wesley Woods near Indianola, Lake Okoboji in northwest Iowa and, of course, Pictured Rocks. These funds are made possible with apportionment gifts from the United Methodist churches throughout the state of Iowa.