Graduation Celebration

Wesley United Methodist Church in Vinton is supporting about a dozen high school graduates with special needs this year. As participants in the Community Partnership for Protecting Children initiative for Benton and Iowa Counties, they are helping students who are aging out of foster care or living on their own.

The Graduation Celebration, recently featured on KCRG-TV9, is hosting parties for these youth to enjoy their school achievements in ways that are not readily available to them. They arrange for graduation photo packages from volunteer photographers. Dishes, bedding, and other supplies have been donated from the people of their community to help the students set up their own households. The group is also collecting funds with a goal of $1,000 for each student.

Leaders at Wesley UMC have been working on their vision to be “A Church for All God’s Children” this year. They are developing more intentional ways to reach out to children, youth, and their families. The Graduation Celebration is just one example of their ongoing commitment to this vision.

HCIlogo2016Their visioning process emerged during their studies through the Healthy Church Initiative. HCI is supported this year in part with a $60,000 grant from Parish Development. These funds are made possible through the apportionment gifts of United Methodist churches throughout the state of Iowa.

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Ministry Alignment

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.mardesenJoni 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.

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.

JOY Camp

Mobile United Methodist Missionaries (MUMM) finished its summer season with JOY Camp at Wesley Woods during the last week of July. JOY stands for “Jesus, Others & You.”

mumm.2017In her blog, Allison Engel, the Senior Summer Assistant for MUMM, tells about a tradition at the camp that keeps the schedule a mystery each day. Campers are puzzled to learn that everything starts at 7:47!

Alison was feeling rather glum in the middle of the week until she found a camper who was searching through his Bible to find 7:47. Another curious camper came over, and they wound up reading Matthew 6:34.

“So do not worry about tomorrow; it will have enough worries of its own. There is no need to add to the troubles each day brings.” Or as The Message paraphrases the same passage, “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now.”

Alison wrote, “So what was God doing right then?” Her post continued, “Using two middle school boys to remind me that there is still good in the world, that’s what.”

Fifty at-risk young people attended JOY camp this year, and their camping fees were covered through scholarships. In 2017 MUMM is receiving $37,000 in conference grants from the apportionment gifts of the United Methodist churches of Iowa to support its outreach throughout the southern half of the state.