“Thank the Annual Conference for our church,” said Melissa, a member of Women at the Well United Methodist Church inside the walls of the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women in Mitchellville. She was speaking to Bishop Julius Calvin Trimble on a Thursday evening early in September of 2009 about the ways in which the ministry had met her spiritual needs.
Bishop Julius Calvin Trimble shared the conversation at a Conference Connectional Ministries Council meeting later that month. It inspired the group to discuss some new ways that they could strengthen local church awareness in Iowa about the life-changing ways that apportionments were being invested in ministry. And it became the first featured story in our Thank You Notes series.
This blog is coming to a close with this final post. Phil Carver, who has been collecting and editing these stories over the last decade, will be transitioning from his role as a Field Outreach Minister in the Southeast District to a new set of responsibilities, although in a similar capacity, as an Associate for Congregational Excellence in the eastern third of Iowa.
This realignment of duties, however, does not mean that apportionment resources will no longer be available. We invite you to visit the Stewardship and Apportionment Interpretation webpage for further information and links, including Mission Moments, Six Special Sundays, Special Sundays Offerings, and United Methodist Giving videos.
The three staff members of the Communications Ministry Team are working behind the scenes at the Iowa Annual Conference this week. Director Arthur McClanahan works alongside his associate director, Liz Winders, and staff writer, Courtney Glienke, to tell the story of United Methodist ministry in Iowa and around the world.
For this week’s conference in Des Moines, they have assembled a team of media and communications specialists who help with videos, slides, graphics, and a host of other responsibilities for sharing information with the assembly in a timely fashion.
Throughout the year they gather stories which are shared on social media and the conference website as well as in weekly emails with news and updates about the activities of United Methodist servant leaders. These efforts are a part of a larger vision to “connect persons and communities of faith so that they live out their discipleship in their own contexts and share their experiences with others, enabling self-resourcing and building partnerships.”
They are rising to the challenges of our contemporary society where social media presents new, ever-expanding and ever-changing opportunities. The team works every day to help our churches use technology, media, and messaging effectively and efficiently.
Their budget line for 2018 is $383,850. These funds are made possible through the apportionment gifts of United Methodist churches across the state of Iowa.
Several staffing changes are taking place this year in response to the Iowa Conference’s strategic priority of directing our resources to our common goals. The Healthy Conference Initiative is guiding the implementation process to equip our leaders and our local churches to adapt and thrive in our current and ever-changing ministry environment.
Joni Mardesen, the Director of Human Resources, plays a key role in helping to align the Iowa Conference’s organizational structures and staffing resources for the sake of our mission and vision. Her work has included consulting with a variety of conference leaders to develop job descriptions for three Directors in New Communities of Faith, Congregational Excellence, and Clergy and Leadership Excellence.
Her office and the Human Resources Committee of the Iowa Conference continues to support alignment efforts by encouraging staff covenants to guide working relationships, especially as job roles are adjusted. The team also facilitates recruitment and hiring, compensation planning, performance management, and training and development practices for staff across the state.
In 2018 the office is receiving $102,380 in apportionment gifts from the United Methodist churches of Iowa. Additional monies for their ministries are provided by the Conference Board of Pension for the administration of the benefit plans of employees.
St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Iowa City recently hosted one of several events being held throughout the state with Bishop Laurie Haller. She is exploring options with lay and clergy leaders to maintain and strengthen the unity of The United Methodist Church in light of our differences regarding human sexuality.
Participants discussed the most important values and convictions of their faith in Christ. They also learned about two proposals that are being developed for consideration at a special global gathering of church leaders in St. Louis next February. Although a final proposal is not yet completed, information about its development through the work of the Commission on a Way Forward is available and updated online regularly.
United Methodist bishops all around the world are pursuing these same conversations in their conferences to help the Church determine how we may remain united for the sake of our shared mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. The Episcopal Fund, which pays bishops’ salaries, covers their office and travel expenses, and provides their pension and health-benefit coverage, is made possible with the support of each annual conference of our global Church. In 2018 the Iowa Conference is contributing $375,148 toward these purposes in apportionment gifts from United Methodist churches throughout the state.
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.
The newly formed church council for 2018 of Wesley United Methodist Church in Vinton gathered last week for a leaders’ orientation and visioning session. Phil Carver, the field outreach minister in the southeast part of the state, was there to talk with them about their ministry plans.
He shared the L3 process that is being used more and more across the state by conference, district, and local church leaders. Loving, learning, and leading are three practices to nurture and develop spiritual leaders in our churches. This process comes to us from Spiritual Leadership, Inc., an organization that has been coaching Iowa Conference leaders throughout our Healthy Conference Initiative.
Loving God and Neighbor involves accountability, sharing, prayer, and worship at the opening of every gathering.
Learning in Community may include lectures, videos, discussions, and exercises to help leaders discover personal gifts and abilities, investigate the current reality of their context for ministry, and reveal God’s direction for the future.
Leading Together offers teams an intentional way to design and implement ministry action plans for living into God’s vision for their church and community.
The Iowa Conference is investing more than $100,000 this year in training, coaching, and resources related to the Healthy Conference Initiative and the L3 process.
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.