Volunteers from United Methodist churches were in Prairieburg last week to help residents following a devastating tornado. Keith Pitts, an associate pastor from St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Cedar Rapids, organized a chainsaw response team to clean up fallen trees.
Pastor Pitts is the disaster response coordinator for the East Central District. He serves as a part of the network of support available from United Methodist churches in Iowa for people in need.
The Iowa Conference Standing Committee on Disaster Preparedness and Response strives “to be a caring, Christian presence in the midst of disaster.” Beyond organizing clean-up efforts, like they did recently in Prairieburg, they offer resources like their handbook to help church leaders know what steps to take in preparation for and in response to disasters. The committee also stewards donations to the Disaster Relief Fund, Advance Special #223, and sees that financial support is distributed to communities in need.
The committee’s work is supported with $6,000 in apportionment gifts from United Methodist churches throughout the state. The funds provide for maintenance of Tool and Response Trailers, including license, registration and insurance, as well as storage expenses for clean-up buckets in several locations in Iowa and training costs for disaster response coordinators and volunteers.
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.
The first seven graduates in the Spanish-language classes of the School for Lay Ministry were recognized earlier this month at the 2017 Iowa Annual Conference.
In response to the growing number of Hispanic residents in Iowa, the specialized course was initiated to help our churches reach new people for the sake of Christ. Students attend a series of twelve classes over the course of three years to explore a wide range of topics on faith and leadership in the United Methodist Church.
Students come from many places around the state, and most are already active leaders in their local churches. The graduating class includes Norma Cabezas, Eileen McPherson, Alfredo Mendoza, Rosa Mendoza, Martha Olague, Omar Paz, and Maria Roldan.
The program takes its inspiration from John 15:5, where Jesus says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, then you will produce much fruit.” The ministry is a part of our strategic priority to “equip ourselves and others as transformational leaders.”
The School for Lay Ministry is sponsored by the Board of Laity in partnership with several other agencies of the conference. For example, the Commission on Religion and Race provided $5,000 in seed money in 2015 for the new Hispanic class with apportionment gifts from the United Methodist churches of Iowa.
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.
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.
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.