James and Greg are best friends. They have been chronically homeless for the last fifteen years. Both have struggled with drinking, and they have chosen to “camp.”
The two men have been living outside for the last three years. They have been coming to The Center, a ministry of St. John’s United Methodist Church in Davenport, each day for showers, meals, and work. Greg’s job is the windows and James does the dishes.
A few months ago Greg decided he “felt valued enough to go into housing.” He currently has a small apartment but still comes to visit The Center everyday to do his job.
James got housing more recently. His first purchase for his new house was a shovel. Pennie Kellenberger, the director of The Center, said to him, “A shovel? But you need so much more.” He told her, “Pennie, I haven’t shoveled my own sidewalk since I was a kid. I want my neighbors to see me! I live somewhere.”
The Center’s goal “is to be a light in dark places, serving the needs of our community through the empowering love of Jesus.” They strive to love people where they are in community until healthy change happens.
The Iowa Conference is investing $17,000 in The Center this year. These funds are made possible with the apportionment gifts of the United Methodist churches of Iowa.
The Southwest District is celebrating Difference Makers in their part of the state. Two of their disciples from First United Methodist Church in Carroll were featured recently.
Sara and Lisa are a mother/daughter team who feel God’s call to help children. They are active in UM Kids on Wednesdays after school, and they teach Sunday school. In addition, they invest in community ministries that affect the lives of children. Here are just two examples.
Lisa is one of two people working with the Carroll Community Schools to find volunteers through the Parent School Cooperative. PSC volunteers help with many different things from picture days and health checks to classroom support, book fairs, and fundraisers. And the list just goes on and on.
Sara has started a program called Carroll Cares, a community toy drive that assures that children have a good Christmas. Donations of money or gift items can be dropped off at the church, and Sara will help take care of the rest. Last year, for example, this ministry collected games, balls, sweatshirts, dolls, trucks, and more that were split between different community services that could get them to children in need.
The Iowa Conference is investing $10,749 in the ministries of the Southwest District to develop leaders and celebrate Difference Makers like Sara and Lisa. These funds are made available from the apportionment gifts of United Methodist churches throughout the state.
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.
Iowa 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.
About thirty people gathered in the shadow of the Iowa State Capitol to meet with legislators and their staff to discuss issues of importance to The United Methodist Church.
The 2018 Legislative Advocacy Day was hosted by the Iowa United Methodist Women on January 17th at Wesley United Methodist Church in cooperation with the Iowa Annual Conference’s Advocacy Team. “It was an energizing day,” said Brian Carter, “with many thoughtful, compassionate, and justice-seeking United Methodists in dialogue with legislators.”
Participants addressed several topics, including prison reform through community-based corrections and rehabilitation; responses to the criminalization of communities of color; quality, affordable primary and preventive health care to underserved people in Iowa, especially women and children; and compassionate immigration reform.
The day concluded with a conversation on the Commission on a Way Forward, which is preparing a proposal help The United Methodist Church address disagreements on human sexuality and explore options that help to maintain and strengthen the unity of the church.
The Legislative Advocacy Team is supported in 2018 with $1,000 grant to cover the costs of educating the laity and clergy of the conference on issues of justice coming before the Iowa General Assembly and the United States Congress. These funds are made possible through the apportionment gifts of United Methodist churches across the state of Iowa.
A PBS special, “We’ll Meet Again,” hosted by Ann Curry recently featured the story of a United Methodist chaplain in an episode entitled, “Heroes of 9/11.”
Captain Doug Waite, a retired Navy chaplain, was at the site of the plane crash at the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001. The television special tells the story of Capt. Waite ministering to the needs of Col. Timothy Mallard, an Army chaplain. Until recently, Col. Mallard had never learned the name of the man who had stopped to pray for him in the midst of the chaos of that tragic day.
The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry works with chaplains to assure proper credentialing and benefits. The GBHEM “invites, equips and supports faithful and effective clergy and lay leaders for congregations and the world.”
Their United Methodist Endorsing Agency (UMEA) has responsibility for recruitment, endorsement, and support of clergy in extension ministries. The vision of the UMEA is “that United Methodist ordained chaplains and pastoral counselors will be active and visible in connectional ministry and mission to persons, institutions, and systems in multi-cultural and multi-disciplinary settings.”
The Iowa Conference is contributing $427,863 in 2018 toward the Ministerial Education Fund, which underwrites GBHEM programming. These resources are made possible through the gifts of the United Methodist churches of Iowa.
Hawthorn Hill’s ministry in Des Moines helped 38 adults and their 101 children achieve economic self-sustainability in 2017. The Home Connection provides supportive housing for homeless families with children to help families attain financial independence through employment and education.
Juanita arrived with her children from Texas in 2013 to flee the negative influences in her life. She entered and successfully completed the 5-step residential chemical dependency treatment program and joined The Home Connection in 2015.
The Home Connection owns 28 housing units that they make available to homeless families. To be eligible, at least one adult must be working or actively looking for employment, and parents must be involved in their children’s education and development.
Each family pays a minimum of $400 or 30% of their income, whichever is greater, to The Home Connection. Five percent of these funds is set aside in an escrow account established for the family, which is returned to them to use as a down payment on a home, rent, and/or rent deposit.
Juanita enrolled in the social worker program at Des Moines Area Community College and waited tables part-time while attending classes. She graduated in 2015 and began studying for her chemical dependency counselor degree at Grandview University. She was hired full-time as a counselor at Bridges of Iowa, where she interned while going to school.
Hawthorn Hill received an $18,000 grant in 2017 made possible through the apportionment gifts of the United Methodist churches of Iowa.
Last month many new members from Africa joined St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Cedar Rapids, the result of the work of Pastor Daniel Niyonzima. He was appointed in 2016 as a full-time pastor through a $90,000 grant from the Iowa Annual Conference made possible with apportionment gifts from United Methodist churches across the state.
The new members of the church come from several countries including Burundi, Kenya, Tanzania, and Democratic Republic of the Congo. St. Paul’s UMC has responded to the growing population of African National immigrants in their community by developing worship services and other ministries in which the principal languages are Swahili and Kirundi. These ministries are intended to help these new residents from Africa grow in their faith and retain their heritage while becoming American citizens.
In 2007 Pastors Carol Sundberg and Harlan Gillespie received a call from a St. Luke’s Hospital social worker requesting a pastoral visit for Daniel Niyonzima and his wife, Perpetua, who had just given birth to their eighth child. Daniel explained to the hospital staff that he and his family were immigrants from Burundi and a refugee camp in Tanzania. In his homeland he was trained as a pastor by United Methodist missionaries. A close relationship developed and within a year an African National (AN) congregation of 130 was worshiping at St. Paul’s.