Conversations with Bishop Haller

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.

cowf4.7.18Participants 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.

Discipleship Pathways Retreat

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.

HCI.ww.jan2018The 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.

L3 Process

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.leading 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.

Charge Conferences

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.”

northwest.districtHowever, 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.

Narrative Budget

A narrative budget reflecting the ministries of the Iowa Annual Conference for 2018 is now available on our website. This collaboration of the Council on Finance and Administration (CFA) and the Communications Ministry Team was recently completed and published to help the members of our local churches know more about how we are investing in ministry across the state. The 24-page document describes conference missions and ministries as well as general church apportionments, which are invested in outreach efforts around the world.

Narrative Budget

The CFA is responsible for overseeing the financial health of the Iowa Annual Conference. Working with the Conference Treasurer and the Administrative Services staff, budget proposals from all boards and agencies are reviewed and recommendations for annual budgets and apportionment formulas are presented to each Annual Conference. Since the approval of the budget at the 2017 Iowa Annual Conference, the CFA has worked with the communications team of the conference to prepare a narrative budget that reflects all of the decisions related to our shared ministries throughout the state of Iowa and in the global United Methodist connection.

This year’s budget for the work of the CFA and related conference staff is $792,097. These funds are made possible through the apportionment gifts of United Methodist churches of the Iowa Conference.

Blog on Discipleship Pathways

Jaymee Glenn-Burns, the Field Outreach Minister serving the Northeast District, has begun a new blog for United Methodist leaders called Bread and Wisdom: Seeking the Way of Jesus. “The United Methodist Church in Iowa,” she explains, “has set the ambitious goal of every congregation implementing an intentional discipleship pathway by 2020.  This blog is an invitation to think, pray, discuss, and experiment our way to that goal.”

Each weekly blog centers on a discipleship question. The first installment asked, “Why all the fuss?” More recently, she posed the question, “What is a disciple?”

discipleship.relationshipA Quote of the Week on the Northeast District’s Facebook page supplements the blog. One recent installment was from a new initiative called See All the People.

“For too long,” the website contends, “The United Methodist Church has looked for a quick fix to help guide our discipleship efforts.” We must nurture relationships “with the communities that surround our churches.”

All of this is offered to spur the imaginations of churches and their leaders to fulfill our shared mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

The Iowa Conference is investing $13,400 in the ministries of the Northeast District in 2017. These funds are made possible through the apportionment gifts of United Methodist churches across the state.

2017 Annual Conference

Today marks the closing day of the 174th Annual Conference Session of the United Methodist churches of Iowa and their predecessor bodies. Clergy and laity from across the state have come together at Hy-Vee Hall in downtown Des Moines to worship God, celebrate ministry and make plans for the future.difference.makers

The theme for the session is “Creating Difference-Makers!” Every day, God calls each of us to use our God-given gifts to make a positive difference in our world. This theme directly relates to our shared mission with United Methodist people around the globe to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

A number of ministry decisions are addressed each year during the Annual Conference Session. Budgets are confirmed, clergy are ordained and agency nominations are approved. This year a major simplification and update of the Conference Rules of Order is being finalized.

The Iowa Conference is investing $265,206 in this year’s three-day event with the support of apportionment gifts from United Methodist churches across the state. The Annual Conference Session Committee cares for a wide range of expenses to coordinate the event, including rental of the meeting space, travel costs and honoraria for guest speakers as well as preparation and publication of an official record of actions in the Annual Conference Journal.