First United Methodist Church in Webster City hosted one of a series workshops last week to help local church leaders develop discipleship pathways. Ken Willard led the events, which were designed to further the “Wildly Important Goal” of the Iowa Conference to see every community of faith develop a discipleship pathway by 2020. Willard is a published author, certified ministry coach, certified church consultant, and owner of Leadership4Transformation.
A pathway, he explains, is an intentional process to help people grow in faith and develop deeper and deeper spiritual disciplines as they move through life’s journey from childhood into adolescence and continuing throughout adulthood.
Willard outlines four key areas of discipleship. Invitation refers to the ways we help people enter into the life of the church. Community describes the supportive relationships we develop with other disciples. Learn reminds us of the need to continually grow in our faith through Bible study and other educational opportunities. Serve identifies how our gifts and passions are applied to ministry for the benefit of our community and world as disciples of Jesus Christ.
Apportionment gifts from the local United Methodist churches of Iowa helped to underwrite the expenses for bringing Ken Willard to Iowa for these seminars.
On Saturday, Sept 16, 2017, San Pablo United Methodist Church in Muscatine hosted a great fiesta in conjunction with Mexican Independence Day. The gathering attracted nearly 100 people.
Participants had a wonderful opportunity to see the Quad City Folkloric Ballet with their dancers composed of Caucasian, African American and Mexican children and adults. They enjoyed catered food of tacos, Spanish rice, beans and salsa. They also played a few games outside, and children received helium balloons.
“It was a fun way to let the neighborhood and all the people of Muscatine know we are here,” said Cecilia La Roché. The congregation shares a building on the south side of Muscatine with the Musserville United Methodist Church, which is located in a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood. Her husband, Eduardo, is a preacher at the church. We are “energized and excited to the Lord as we serve the community,” she exclaimed.
In 2016 the Standing Committee on Community and Institutional Ministries of the Iowa Conference Board of Global Ministries provided $12,500 to support the ministries of the San Pablo United Methodist Church. These funds were made possible with the apportionment gifts of the United Methodist churches of Iowa in fulfillment of our conference mission to mobilize the church at local, district and conference levels to be in ministry with Latino/Hispanic people in areas of significant concentration.
The Columbus Junction United Methodist Church plays host to the Great Beginnings Preschool, which offers quality care and education to children from ages three to five in their community and the surrounding area. Kids from all walks of life share the benefits of their safe and learning-enriched environment. The ministry even offers transportation to and from the preschool for families needing that service.
Students from four different cultural backgrounds fill their classroom, and they all learn from each other as they learn together. “Many of our students are refugees or immigrants and all are learning to adjust to a new culture with new surroundings,” says Marsha Gerot. “Our preschool helps these families feel safe and comfortable in their surroundings.”
The church provides the facilities for the ministry as well as electricity, janitorial services and heat. They also provide paper for the preschool’s newsletters and correspondence. Their commitment to serving a diverse community of people is a special emphasis of this program, which is in line with the mission of the United Methodist Church around the world.
Great Beginnings Preschool received a Matthew 25 grant of $2,000 in 2017 from the Southeast District. These funds are made possible through the apportionment gifts of the United Methodist churches of Iowa.
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.
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.
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?”
A 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.
The Commission on the Status and Role of Women (COSROW) honored Rita Carter during the Iowa Annual Conference in June. She was the recipient of the 2017 Ambassador Award, which recognizes the efforts of a United Methodist person who exemplifies the goals and values of COSROW. A Difference Maker in many ways, Rita is a catalyst and monitor who empowers women and transforms the Church through her ministry.
Rita has been serving as Social Action Coordinator for United Methodist Women in Iowa. In addition, she advocates for legislation related to social justice issues through the Legislative Action Alerts for individuals and the Methodist Federation for Social Action.
One avenue for her witness is in organizing the Legislative Advocacy Day to provide training for people to contact legislators and visit with them at the State Capitol. The immigration ministries of Justice for Our Neighbors and legislation to end human trafficking are among the many topics of concern she addresses with government leaders.
Rita has always led with a positive attitude in challenging women and men to become involved in social justice issues as people of faith. “Let’s do what we can,” she says, “to shine some light.”
COSROW is receiving $1,500 this year to support their ministries as inclusive people of God reaching out to care for a hungering and hurting world. These funds are made possible with the apportionment gifts of the United Methodist churches of Iowa.
The St. Charles Parish raised nearly $2,000 at their Old Settlers Reunion food stand in July to support ministries for children. Half of it was used to purchase school supplies for students in the Interstate 35 Community School District.
Amy Reyes went shopping with a friend on behalf of the church to get items from the class supply lists. They divided everything up according to each grade and delivered it all to the school in time for registration.
She also sent an email to every teacher in the elementary school to let them know of the church’s ongoing support. Some have responded with requests already, so she is picking up additional items for the teachers using the remaining funds from this summer.
Grandmas broke down in tears and mothers gave out hugs when they saw the school supplies. They were fearful of the financial burden that purchasing school supplies would bring and were relieved by the donations.
The generosity of the church has spurred even more giving. “A teacher that was moved by your generosity bought a backpack and all the supplies for an elementary student,” said Deann Strange, a secretary at the high school, “and I purchased all of the supplies for a high school student.”
Leaders in the St. Charles Parish are participating in the Healthy Church Initiative with support from the apportionment gifts of the United Methodist churches of Iowa.