Hawthorn Hill’s ministry in Des Moines helped 38 adults and their 101 children achieve economic self-sustainability in 2017. The Home Connection provides supportive housing for homeless families with children to help families attain financial independence through employment and education.
Juanita arrived with her children from Texas in 2013 to flee the negative influences in her life. She entered and successfully completed the 5-step residential chemical dependency treatment program and joined The Home Connection in 2015.
The Home Connection owns 28 housing units that they make available to homeless families. To be eligible, at least one adult must be working or actively looking for employment, and parents must be involved in their children’s education and development.
Each family pays a minimum of $400 or 30% of their income, whichever is greater, to The Home Connection. Five percent of these funds is set aside in an escrow account established for the family, which is returned to them to use as a down payment on a home, rent, and/or rent deposit.
Juanita enrolled in the social worker program at Des Moines Area Community College and waited tables part-time while attending classes. She graduated in 2015 and began studying for her chemical dependency counselor degree at Grandview University. She was hired full-time as a counselor at Bridges of Iowa, where she interned while going to school.
Hawthorn Hill received an $18,000 grant in 2017 made possible through the apportionment gifts of the United Methodist churches of Iowa.
Last month many new members from Africa joined St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Cedar Rapids, the result of the work of Pastor Daniel Niyonzima. He was appointed in 2016 as a full-time pastor through a $90,000 grant from the Iowa Annual Conference made possible with apportionment gifts from United Methodist churches across the state.
The new members of the church come from several countries including Burundi, Kenya, Tanzania, and Democratic Republic of the Congo. St. Paul’s UMC has responded to the growing population of African National immigrants in their community by developing worship services and other ministries in which the principal languages are Swahili and Kirundi. These ministries are intended to help these new residents from Africa grow in their faith and retain their heritage while becoming American citizens.
In 2007 Pastors Carol Sundberg and Harlan Gillespie received a call from a St. Luke’s Hospital social worker requesting a pastoral visit for Daniel Niyonzima and his wife, Perpetua, who had just given birth to their eighth child. Daniel explained to the hospital staff that he and his family were immigrants from Burundi and a refugee camp in Tanzania. In his homeland he was trained as a pastor by United Methodist missionaries. A close relationship developed and within a year an African National (AN) congregation of 130 was worshiping at St. Paul’s.
Forty-three people from a dozen Iowa churches gathered for the Healthy Church Initiative Next: Discipleship Pathways Retreat at the end of January. Led by the Field Outreach Ministers of the Iowa Conference, the event focused on helping pastors and laity understand more clearly what a discipleship pathway is and how to develop and implement one in their local churches.
The Iowa Conference has a Wildly Important Goal for every church to develop a process for intentionally forming disciples of Jesus Christ by the year 2020. We want disciples to know and become more like Jesus.
Retreat participants reviewed how we can help followers of Jesus deepen their relationships with God, no matter their ages or stages of life. A four-step framework was offered for churches to adapt in their context to help people intentionally develop faith.
“The presentations were excellent,” one participant said, “but I would say the encouragement of having action steps” to follow up on what we’ve learned was the most important aspect of the weekend.
The event was held at the Wesley Woods Camp and Retreat Center outside of Indianola. Additional retreats and workshops are being planned throughout the state in the coming months.
The Healthy Church Initiative is supported in 2018 with a Parish Development grant of $70,000. These funds are made possible through the apportionment gifts of United Methodist churches across the state.