James and Greg are best friends. They have been chronically homeless for the last fifteen years. Both have struggled with drinking, and they have chosen to “camp.”
The two men have been living outside for the last three years. They have been coming to The Center, a ministry of St. John’s United Methodist Church in Davenport, each day for showers, meals, and work. Greg’s job is the windows and James does the dishes.
A few months ago Greg decided he “felt valued enough to go into housing.” He currently has a small apartment but still comes to visit The Center everyday to do his job.
James got housing more recently. His first purchase for his new house was a shovel. Pennie Kellenberger, the director of The Center, said to him, “A shovel? But you need so much more.” He told her, “Pennie, I haven’t shoveled my own sidewalk since I was a kid. I want my neighbors to see me! I live somewhere.”
The Center’s goal “is to be a light in dark places, serving the needs of our community through the empowering love of Jesus.” They strive to love people where they are in community until healthy change happens.
The Iowa Conference is investing $17,000 in The Center this year. These funds are made possible with the apportionment gifts of the United Methodist churches of Iowa.
The Southwest District is celebrating Difference Makers in their part of the state. Two of their disciples from First United Methodist Church in Carroll were featured recently.
Sara and Lisa are a mother/daughter team who feel God’s call to help children. They are active in UM Kids on Wednesdays after school, and they teach Sunday school. In addition, they invest in community ministries that affect the lives of children. Here are just two examples.
Lisa is one of two people working with the Carroll Community Schools to find volunteers through the Parent School Cooperative. PSC volunteers help with many different things from picture days and health checks to classroom support, book fairs, and fundraisers. And the list just goes on and on.
Sara has started a program called Carroll Cares, a community toy drive that assures that children have a good Christmas. Donations of money or gift items can be dropped off at the church, and Sara will help take care of the rest. Last year, for example, this ministry collected games, balls, sweatshirts, dolls, trucks, and more that were split between different community services that could get them to children in need.
The Iowa Conference is investing $10,749 in the ministries of the Southwest District to develop leaders and celebrate Difference Makers like Sara and Lisa. These funds are made available from the apportionment gifts of United Methodist churches throughout the state.
Bruno Rwayitare made his way to Iowa from Rwanda in 2004. He had a good friend who was already living here, and he hoped to find a college where he could pursue his education.
Iowa Wesleyan University is the place he landed. “My first year was really difficult,” he said at a Founders Day luncheon last year. “I was far away from everything and everyone (I knew) and I was wondering if this was the right place to be for me.”
Four years later he completed his degree with the help of the Iowa Wesleyan community. He now works in Cedar Rapids and builds avionics for aircraft.
Iowa Wesleyan University is a Difference Maker in the lives of many international students. They come from 29 different countries, and they are among the 60% of students who embody the racial ethnic diversity of the campus.
Faith and Service are among the values of the school. “We honor spiritual values, social justice, and the welfare of the human community through civic engagement and service to one another.” Their campus ministries provide a variety of ways for students to express and practice their faith.
Iowa Wesleyan University is receiving $20,000 in 2018 to support their educational initiatives. These funds are made possible through the apportionment gifts of the United Methodist churches of Iowa.
About thirty people gathered in the shadow of the Iowa State Capitol to meet with legislators and their staff to discuss issues of importance to The United Methodist Church.
The 2018 Legislative Advocacy Day was hosted by the Iowa United Methodist Women on January 17th at Wesley United Methodist Church in cooperation with the Iowa Annual Conference’s Advocacy Team. “It was an energizing day,” said Brian Carter, “with many thoughtful, compassionate, and justice-seeking United Methodists in dialogue with legislators.”
Participants addressed several topics, including prison reform through community-based corrections and rehabilitation; responses to the criminalization of communities of color; quality, affordable primary and preventive health care to underserved people in Iowa, especially women and children; and compassionate immigration reform.
The day concluded with a conversation on the Commission on a Way Forward, which is preparing a proposal help The United Methodist Church address disagreements on human sexuality and explore options that help to maintain and strengthen the unity of the church.
The Legislative Advocacy Team is supported in 2018 with $1,000 grant to cover the costs of educating the laity and clergy of the conference on issues of justice coming before the Iowa General Assembly and the United States Congress. These funds are made possible through the apportionment gifts of United Methodist churches across the state of Iowa.