This fall the Northwest District churches are handling their annual charge conferences in a new way. Their district superintendent, Tom Carver, says that “charge conferences are one of the ways we support the mission and vision of the local church.”
However, the business of the charge conference can be handled rather briefly during the course of congregation’s regular church council meeting. Elders in the area, therefore, have been asked to preside over these events, which frees up the superintendent to pursue a more intentional focus on future plans for ministry with each local church.
Working with Ryan Christenson, the field outreach minister in the northwest part of Iowa, the superintendent is encouraging each local church to answer one question: What is God asking of us now? The discussion that emerges from this question helps the leaders in each congregation address for themselves how they are “helping each other seek Jesus and become more like him.”
The Northwest District website has an archive of the training videos they have used to prepare their leaders for this charge conference season. The effort is underwritten in part with a district ministry budget of $8,100 for 2017. These funds are provided through the apportionment gifts of the United Methodist churches of Iowa.
The Breakfast Club, a ministry of the Children and Family Urban Movement, is a year-round breakfast program for children. Housed in the Trinity/Las Americas United Methodist Church, the program serves a daily average of 80 children during the school year, and an average of 60 children during the summer months.
Recognizing that a hungry child does not learn, that many working families cannot afford before-school care, and that families need a place to take their children before the school opens, The Breakfast Club was established in 1968. The Breakfast Club creates community and supportive relationships while providing a meal, and a safe environment for children and youth, most of whom attend Moulton Elementary School across the street from the church.
The Breakfast Club has expanded in recent years to include more support for learning inside and outside the classroom. For instance, during the month of February, poetry month, activities focus on reading, writing and memorizing poetry.
“CFUM is making such a difference in the lives of the children and families,” says volunteer Judy Porter. “I think you’re most likely rerouting their direction in life to a more positive and productive one.”
CFUM was supported in part last year with an $8,000 grant from the Central District’s Matthew 25 fund, which was provided by the apportionment gifts of United Methodist churches across the state of Iowa.
Dr. Mary Lautzenhiser Bellon is the Director of the Office of Pastoral Care and Counseling. Her ministry provides confidential counseling and consultation for clergy and ministerial professionals of the Iowa Conference of The United Methodist Church and their families.
She provides approximately 1200 hours of direct counseling and consultation to over 250 pastors annually. Her office is in Urbandale, and once each month she travels to satellite locations in Waterloo, Mount Vernon and Atlantic.
Dr. Bellon teaches about ethics and care and nurture at the School for Lay Ministry and in the Course of Study and provides consultation and support at the School for Ministry. She leads staff days apart and district support days for groups desiring coaching and leadership development.
She employs a range of mental health techniques, such as mindfulness, humor, spirituality and listening, to help people strengthen personal practices of wellness, contemplation and relaxation. Her ministry also gives people opportunities to address issues from spiritual growth, depression or burn out to anxiety or concerns with family relationships.
The Iowa Conference is investing $162,164 in the work of the Office of Pastoral Care and Counseling in 2017. These funds are made possible through the apportionment gifts of the United Methodist churches of Iowa.
First United Methodist Church in Webster City hosted one of a series workshops last week to help local church leaders develop discipleship pathways. Ken Willard led the events, which were designed to further the “Wildly Important Goal” of the Iowa Conference to see every community of faith develop a discipleship pathway by 2020. Willard is a published author, certified ministry coach, certified church consultant, and owner of Leadership4Transformation.
A pathway, he explains, is an intentional process to help people grow in faith and develop deeper and deeper spiritual disciplines as they move through life’s journey from childhood into adolescence and continuing throughout adulthood.
Willard outlines four key areas of discipleship. Invitation refers to the ways we help people enter into the life of the church. Community describes the supportive relationships we develop with other disciples. Learn reminds us of the need to continually grow in our faith through Bible study and other educational opportunities. Serve identifies how our gifts and passions are applied to ministry for the benefit of our community and world as disciples of Jesus Christ.
Apportionment gifts from the local United Methodist churches of Iowa helped to underwrite the expenses for bringing Ken Willard to Iowa for these seminars.
On Saturday, Sept 16, 2017, San Pablo United Methodist Church in Muscatine hosted a great fiesta in conjunction with Mexican Independence Day. The gathering attracted nearly 100 people.
Participants had a wonderful opportunity to see the Quad City Folkloric Ballet with their dancers composed of Caucasian, African American and Mexican children and adults. They enjoyed catered food of tacos, Spanish rice, beans and salsa. They also played a few games outside, and children received helium balloons.
“It was a fun way to let the neighborhood and all the people of Muscatine know we are here,” said Cecilia La Roché. The congregation shares a building on the south side of Muscatine with the Musserville United Methodist Church, which is located in a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood. Her husband, Eduardo, is a preacher at the church. We are “energized and excited to the Lord as we serve the community,” she exclaimed.
In 2016 the Standing Committee on Community and Institutional Ministries of the Iowa Conference Board of Global Ministries provided $12,500 to support the ministries of the San Pablo United Methodist Church. These funds were made possible with the apportionment gifts of the United Methodist churches of Iowa in fulfillment of our conference mission to mobilize the church at local, district and conference levels to be in ministry with Latino/Hispanic people in areas of significant concentration.