The Rev. Lee A. Schott, pastor of Women at the Well United Methodist Church at the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women in Mitchellville, ministers to the inmates with supportive and compassionate care to help restore these women to wholeness and community. Many of the women are mothers separated from their children and may struggle with drug addiction or mental illness. She offers grace and love to each person, enabling them to find healing and hope during the most stressful times of their lives.
Pastor Schott received two awards at the 2017 Iowa Annual Conference. The Harry Denman Evangelism Award from the Board of Discipleship honors exceptional ministry of evangelism that brings people into a life-transforming relationship with Jesus Christ. In her tenure as chaplain, weekly worship attendance often averages around 75 people, and seventy women have been baptized and an additional 83 have reaffirmed their baptisms.
The Beje Clark Award of the Board of Church and Society recognizes her work in restorative justice. She takes her ministry beyond the prison walls to challenge the injustices many of these women are facing. She urges United Methodist churches to join in the struggle by changing their attitudes about these women—from criminals to victims and children of God.
Apportionment gifts of nearly $11,000 from the local United Methodist churches of Iowa are helping to support the work of the two awarding agencies in 2017.
A third grader from Colo saved pennies for an entire year to support Change a Child’s Story. Seaton participates in the church‘s education ministry, called WOW, on Wednesday nights. The program provides a meal, music and a Bible lesson for about forty to fifty children and youth each week.
Last year, working with his grandmother, Seaton began saving pennies. On the first day he saved one penny. The second day he set aside two pennies, and so on. He kept this up for the entire year, saving 365 pennies on the last day!
As you can imagine, at the end of the year he had a pile of pennies, and he decided he wanted to give some to the church. He approached his pastor and told him that he had $60 he wanted to give to a project that would help third graders like himself.
“I asked if he liked to read,” pastor Douglas Harding reported. “He did, so I suggested he use his money to buy books for children.” The photo shows Seaton giving money to buy books for Change a Child’s Story one night at WOW.
Change a Child’s Story is a literacy initiative of the Iowa Conference that is giving books—and spending time reading—to children in poverty. Patty Link has been serving as a part-time advocate for this ministry for the last year. Apportionment gifts from United Methodist churches across the state have helped to support her work.
A personal passion for fitness helped to inspire Brady and Maddie Tubaugh to develop an outreach ministry in their southwest Iowa community. The Carson United Methodist Church was featured in the January/February 2017 edition of the United Methodist Interpreter.
In the last few years, a Healthy Church Initiative (HCI) team from Carson has been learning and praying about ministry in the 21st century. They are responding to God’s call for ministry in a variety of ways, building on the passions of church members as they share the love of Christ with the people of their community.
Brady, the church’s pastor, says that “being physically active is our way of being stewards of what God has given us so that we can better serve God in the world.” One member reported in the Interpreter article that he lost 65 pounds as a participant in the workout group during Lent last year.
United Methodist Communications is the agency responsible for the publication of the Interpreter magazine and other resources to extend the reach of the Church throughout the world. Just over 20% of the Iowa Conference budget, made possible through the apportionment gifts of United Methodist churches across the state, helps to support the General Church ministries whose stories are told in the Interpreter.
Iowa Religious Media Services (IRMS) recently added some great new resources to their collection of adult Bible studies. Among the DVDs and related print materials are the newest Adam Hamilton study, Moses: In the Footsteps of the Reluctant Prophet, and a new women’s study, Listen, Love, Repeat, by Karen Ehman. IRMS Director Sharon Strohmaier reminds local church leaders that periodic announcements about new resources is a “personal service we provide to churches wanting to do advance planning” in their educational ministries.
IRMS is an ecumenical lending library with over 10,000 DVD, VHS, audio, book, and other resources available for use by subscribers and renters. The ministry provides religious media resources to assist with faith formation and growth of the whole person, including exploration of the Bible and contemporary religious issues.
IRMS staff can provide guidance to you and others in your congregation when you have questions about the various resources they have to offer. Their experience and expertise can significantly increase your satisfaction with the resources you receive. They are there for you to facilitate a successful use of every product they have in their library.
Apportionment gifts of $75,000 from the local United Methodist churches of Iowa helped to support IRMS in 2016. Visit their website to learn how your church can become a subscriber.
Members of the Solon United Methodist Church gathered last month to celebrate the movement of the Holy Spirit in their outreach to the community. Two years had passed since their Healthy Church Initiative (HCI) consultation, during which they discerned God’s direction for their future ministry.
They expressed a hunger to help people encounter “the power of a life-changing faith experience.” The resulting focus on building relationships with their community has produced significant fruit.
The number of children in faith formation groups nearly doubled in the last two years. They are especially pleased with the increased involvement of middle school and high school youth.
At the end of April they confirmed thirteen youth as new members of their community of faith, and three new families are joining the church in May. Easter Sunday they enjoyed a 12% increase in attendance from 401 in the previous year to 452 persons in 2017.
“From its beginnings over 175 years ago,” they explain on their website, “our congregation has shared the love of Christ with the world and supported one another in our journey of faith.” Recently, for example, twice as many people are engaging in mission activities than in the previous year.
HCI consultations are supported in part with the apportionment gifts of United Methodist churches around the state of Iowa. This year $15,000 is earmarked for this purpose in the Iowa Conference budget.
A team of six people from the Iowa State Wesley Foundation took a trip to Chicago during their spring break to experience God in a new way. Five students and one staff member volunteered through a ministry called the DOOR Network, a faith-based network of cities that provides opportunities for service, learning, and leadership development within the urban context.
The Iowa team helped make and serve meals at a food program, assisted a local gardening organization, packed meals in a warehouse for senior citizens, and joined in a food pantry ministry called Vital Bridges.
“We saw God in numerous ways,” one participant explained as they gained a deeper awareness “about similarities between people.”
They showed God’s love during the week by helping others and choosing to do something meaningful for spring break. “We are so thankful for the chance to go on this trip to Chicago. The relationships we built were marvelous, and we most certainly saw the face of God in the city.”
Apportionment gifts from the United Methodist churches of Iowa are directing $577,000 toward the ministries of our four Wesley Foundations in the state this year at Iowa State University, the University of Iowa, Drake University and the University of Northern Iowa.
In September of 2015 the Manning United Methodist Church began a new worship service for people in recovery called “The Source.” Now more than 40 people are gathering at the church on Fridays at 6 p.m. to sing praise music and hear a message. Pizza is served at 6:35. A Recovery Bible Study begins at 7 p.m., and Al-Anon and A.A. meetings follow at 8:30 p.m.
“Recovery,” they explain on their website, “can be from illness, to loss of a job or a loved one, to every type of addiction you can come up with! Live in the spirit of love with us as we hold each other up in Christ!”
Inspired by a visit to a similar service at First United Methodist Church in Ankeny, church leaders in Manning are encouraging others to begin a second worship service. They joined several other churches teams for an HCI (Healthy Church Initiative) retreat at the Lake Okoboji United Methodist Camp and Retreat Center at the end of March.
They shared their experiences of getting started with other teams that are just beginning to consider ideas. “We had to grow into it,” said their pastor, Vicki Fisher. They didn’t have everything perfected when they began.
Retreat participants plan to meet together again in a few months for further encouragement. HCI is budgeting $60,000 in 2017 to support these kinds of events. The funds are made possible through apportionment gifts from the United Methodist churches of Iowa.