Joe Marnin of Anita, Iowa, is a difference maker who was featured in the Southwest District newsletter earlier this fall. Some years ago, he met Mel West, the founder of the P.E.T. (Personal Energy Transportation) Organization, and his life was transformed.
The faith-based, volunteer-driven ministry, recently renamed Mobility Worldwide, builds and distributes hand-cranked wheelchairs with solid rubber tires for persons who suffer from mobility issues due to polio, landmine explosions or other afflictions.
Joe converted an old hog house on his farm into a workshop where he and his volunteers sort, cut and make eleven different wooden shapes and parts for the vehicle. He purchases 10′ pieces of 1’x6′ treated yellow pine. It takes 512 of these 10′ boards to make 35 P.E.T.’s for one shipment.
When all of these pieces are ready, Joe hauls them to Hawarden where another crew assembles the cart. The Mobility Worldwide program is a United Methodist Church Advance Special: #982665. It is an Iowa Advance Special (in the Blue Spectrum): #386, with funds going to the Hawarden affiliate.
The Southwest District shares monthly stories of mission like this one to help our churches be more aware of the impact we have together in meeting the needs of our world. In 2017 their district ministry budget of $12,749 is funded through the apportionment gifts of United Methodist churches of Iowa.
St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Iowa City has just completed a series of workshops as participants in the Healthy Church Initiative. They received support for this purpose from the East Central District, which has earmarked funds in their annual budget to purchase books for such studies.
The congregation’s leaders have committed to continuing their monthly studies together as they pursue God’s mission in their community. Now they are offering their gently used books to other potential HCI groups as a way of paying the ministry of their district forward.
The East Central District is pleased to have piloted HCI in the Iowa Conference. They are seeing the fruits of their labors as congregations and individuals are enlivened for Christ and engaging their communities and growing disciples.
District leaders are also working together to strengthen a variety of ethnic communities of faith in their area and to guide new and existing churches towards health and vitality through spiritual leadership and organizational transformation. They are encouraging all clergy and laity to practice healthful leadership through fellowship, spiritual guidance and attention to self-care.
The Iowa Conference has earmarked $19,500 for the ministries of the East Central District in 2017. These funds are made possible through the apportionment gifts of the United Methodist churches across the state.
The Northeast District sponsored a training event last month at First United Methodist Church in Jesup. Jackie Bradford, the superintendent, announced that Dr. Lilian Gallo Seagren and Dr. Gideon Gallo, a sister and brother team, would be coming to the district on Saturday, October 14 to “help us explore the Gospels to discover what we can learn about making disciples.”
The Iowa Conference has embraced a Wildly Important Goal (WIG) to see that “All United Methodist churches in Iowa will have a process of intentionally forming disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world by the year 2020.”
Fifteen leaders attended the event in Jesup. They focused on what a disciple is, in order to help their churches design a process for developing their members more and more into the likeness of Jesus. A disciple, their presenters noted, is a learner who has a confession and conviction about who Jesus Christ is and a commitment to the mission of the church in a community of faith shaped by the example of Jesus.
Leadership development is a major focus of the Northeast District budget in 2017. Apportionment gifts of $13,400 are dedicated to the district from the apportionment gifts of the United Methodist churches of Iowa.
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.”
In 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.
This fall the Northwest District churches are handling their annual charge conferences in a new way. Their district superintendent, Tom Carver, says that “charge conferences are one of the ways we support the mission and vision of the local church.”
However, the business of the charge conference can be handled rather briefly during the course of congregation’s regular church council meeting. Elders in the area, therefore, have been asked to preside over these events, which frees up the superintendent to pursue a more intentional focus on future plans for ministry with each local church.
Working with Ryan Christenson, the field outreach minister in the northwest part of Iowa, the superintendent is encouraging each local church to answer one question: What is God asking of us now? The discussion that emerges from this question helps the leaders in each congregation address for themselves how they are “helping each other seek Jesus and become more like him.”
The Northwest District website has an archive of the training videos they have used to prepare their leaders for this charge conference season. The effort is underwritten in part with a district ministry budget of $8,100 for 2017. These funds are provided through the apportionment gifts of the United Methodist churches of Iowa.
The Breakfast Club, a ministry of the Children and Family Urban Movement, is a year-round breakfast program for children. Housed in the Trinity/Las Americas United Methodist Church, the program serves a daily average of 80 children during the school year, and an average of 60 children during the summer months.
Recognizing that a hungry child does not learn, that many working families cannot afford before-school care, and that families need a place to take their children before the school opens, The Breakfast Club was established in 1968. The Breakfast Club creates community and supportive relationships while providing a meal, and a safe environment for children and youth, most of whom attend Moulton Elementary School across the street from the church.
The Breakfast Club has expanded in recent years to include more support for learning inside and outside the classroom. For instance, during the month of February, poetry month, activities focus on reading, writing and memorizing poetry.
“CFUM is making such a difference in the lives of the children and families,” says volunteer Judy Porter. “I think you’re most likely rerouting their direction in life to a more positive and productive one.”
CFUM was supported in part last year with an $8,000 grant from the Central District’s Matthew 25 fund, which was provided by the apportionment gifts of United Methodist churches across the state of Iowa.
Dr. Mary Lautzenhiser Bellon is the Director of the Office of Pastoral Care and Counseling. Her ministry provides confidential counseling and consultation for clergy and ministerial professionals of the Iowa Conference of The United Methodist Church and their families.
She provides approximately 1200 hours of direct counseling and consultation to over 250 pastors annually. Her office is in Urbandale, and once each month she travels to satellite locations in Waterloo, Mount Vernon and Atlantic.
Dr. Bellon teaches about ethics and care and nurture at the School for Lay Ministry and in the Course of Study and provides consultation and support at the School for Ministry. She leads staff days apart and district support days for groups desiring coaching and leadership development.
She employs a range of mental health techniques, such as mindfulness, humor, spirituality and listening, to help people strengthen personal practices of wellness, contemplation and relaxation. Her ministry also gives people opportunities to address issues from spiritual growth, depression or burn out to anxiety or concerns with family relationships.
The Iowa Conference is investing $162,164 in the work of the Office of Pastoral Care and Counseling in 2017. These funds are made possible through the apportionment gifts of the United Methodist churches of Iowa.