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.

Iowa Wesleyan University

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.

bruno.rwayitareIowa 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.

Advocacy Day

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.

Advocacy2018janThe 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.

Chaplaincy Support

A PBS special, “We’ll Meet Again,” hosted by Ann Curry recently featured the story of a United Methodist chaplain in an episode entitled, “Heroes of 9/11.”

chaplain.doug.waiteCaptain Doug Waite, a retired Navy chaplain, was at the site of the plane crash at the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001. The television special tells the story of Capt. Waite ministering to the needs of Col. Timothy Mallard, an Army chaplain. Until recently, Col. Mallard had never learned the name of the man who had stopped to pray for him in the midst of the chaos of that tragic day.

The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry works with chaplains to assure proper credentialing and benefits. The GBHEM “invites, equips and supports faithful and effective clergy and lay leaders for congregations and the world.”

Their United Methodist Endorsing Agency (UMEA) has responsibility for recruitment, endorsement, and support of clergy in extension ministries. The vision of the UMEA is “that United Methodist ordained chaplains and pastoral counselors will be active and visible in connectional ministry and mission to persons, institutions, and systems in multi-cultural and multi-disciplinary settings.”

The Iowa Conference is contributing $427,863 in 2018 toward the Ministerial Education Fund, which underwrites GBHEM programming. These resources are made possible through the gifts of the United Methodist churches of Iowa.

Africa University

Okitakoyi “Michel” Lundula, the pastor of the United Methodist Church of Le Mars, is originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo. He has served three other churches in Iowa communities, including Nashua, Ionia and Dubuque. His passion for ministry is “to proclaim Christ to all God’s people, meet people in their context of life, celebrate with those who celebrate and cry with those who cry.”

lundula-okitakoyiBefore completing his Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois, he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture and Natural Resources from Africa University in Mutare, Zimbabwe.

The United Methodist churches of the Iowa Conference are supporting Africa University in 2018 with a $38,195 general church apportionment gift. This helps the university pursue its mission “to provide quality education within a Pan-African context through which persons can acquire general and professional knowledge and skills, grow in spiritual maturity, develop sound moral values, ethics and leadership qualities.”

Another Iowa connection to Africa University is Larry Kies, a United Methodist missionary supported by many of our churches, who is serving as technical advisor to the Africa University Farm. The farm operation recently made news with an upgraded water system that minimizes water loses from irregular and inefficient methods of irrigation.

 

 

Ministry Experimentation

“If you have something new you want to try,” says Pam Kranzler, the pastor at the Wapello United Methodist Church, “find two or three other people and let’s talk.”

The church has been cultivating a spirit of ministry experimentation since their involvement in a Healthy Church Initiative study group in 2014. During that time, they learned about a community meal that the neighboring Letts United Methodist Church had started. The Wapello church had recently built a new social hall that was ideal for starting a similar ministry. Now several other groups in town participate as hosts and sponsors of the monthly meals.

wapello8-27-17-e1514387699812.jpgSoul Sisters is another example of this spirit of experimentation. A group of working women began meeting out of a need for fellowship. They couldn’t meet during the day with other groups, said Crystal Wiley, so they started meeting on Monday evenings for about an hour to “chat about life.”

The group’s ministry to each other has grown to include a shared devotional life together and community service projects. This experiment in ministry has blossomed. “We’ve become a tight-knit group,” said Katie Walker.

The Iowa Conference is investing $70,000 in the Healthy Church Initiative in 2018. These funds are made possible from the apportionment gifts of United Methodist churches across the state.

Student Day Merit Scholarships

Three students received $1,000 Student Day Merit Scholarship awards presented by the Board of Higher Education and Campus Ministry (BHECM) in 2017.

Jonathan Cox is a member of Salem United Methodist Church in Council Bluffs and plans to prepare for a career in youth ministry while a student at Simpson College.

Leandra Martins from Cedar Rapids and a member of First United Methodist Church in Marion is a second-year divinity student at Duke.

Annika Wasson is a member of St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Iowa City,  majoring in elementary education at Simpson College.

Awards are for merit in terms of academic performance; church, campus, high school and community involvement; financial need; and special vocational preparation for ministry or other service. The most recent Student Day Offering was on November 25, 2017. The board will use 10% of the total amount raised for 2018 awards in Iowa. The other 90% supports scholarships across the United Methodist connection.

BHECM helps to promote higher education and campus ministry throughout our conference and around the world, including Africa University and the Black College Fund. In 2017 the board has received $635,000 to support the campus ministries at our colleges and universities in Iowa. These funds are made possible with the apportionment gifts of United Methodist churches throughout the state.