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Blessing Box in Muscatine

August 16, 2017

Lisa Nichols is a Difference Maker. She has enlisted the support of the people of the Musserville United Methodist Church to erect a Blessing Box to benefit the church’s neighbors on the south side of Muscatine. The new ministry provides food and toiletries for people in need.

BlessingBoxThe Blessing Box itself is just a few steps from the Little Library that the church put in their yard several months earlier. The Little Library holds books that are available for passersby to pick up and read. There’s even a bench beside it for readers to use while they are visiting. Some people bring their own books to share with others in exchange for the ones they take home the Little Library.

The Blessing Box idea is similar to the Little Library movement. It has caught on throughout the United States. Like the Little Library, people are encouraged to drop off what they can share and take what they need.

Lisa first heard about the idea on a Today Show broadcast last year. Now she checks the Blessing Box each day to be sure it remains clean and tidy. Her efforts were acknowledged in a recent story published in the Muscatine Journal.


Overcoming shyness

August 9, 2017

Cherie Miner, director of Mobile United Methodist Missionaries, has been busy helping local churches throughout the southern half of Iowa on Vacation Bible Schools this summer. She tells the story of a little boy whose life was change by his experience.


On our first night of our first VBS this summer in Randolph, Iowa, we met a young man about 8 years old. He is very shy, so his mother stayed each night to help with VBS. Paige Jensen, our summer assistant, immediately began talking with him and drawing him out.

The next night, I sat with him at dinner and talked with him. His mother was amazed at the conversation. Then on the final night, we celebrated with a short program followed by ice cream.

The boy’s mother came up afterwards to share that her son was so shy, he had melted into tears at every other program, whether at school or elsewhere. But that night, you would never have known. He was just one of the kids. She was thrilled! Time and attention—love actually—does amazing things.

MUMMS is one of seven ministries supported by District Askings gifts from the local United Methodist churches in southeast Iowa. Thank you for your support!

Appalachia Service Project

August 2, 2017

Ten persons (three adults and seven youth) from the Webster United Methodist Church went on a mission trip to Kentucky last month through the Appalachia Service Project.

ASP provides one of the most rewarding structured service opportunities in the nation—bringing thousands of volunteers from around the country to rural Central Appalachia to repair homes for low-income families.asp “For 48 years,” their website explains, “we’ve made homes warmersafer, and drier for families and provided transformational service experiences for volunteers.”

The team from Keokuk County joined up with a mission group from First United Methodist Church in Iowa City to make the trip together. “This 2-year effort has been well received and supported,” explained their pastor, Charles Klink, “by both the Keswick and Webster churches as well as the communities.”

This mission trip is the first such mission trip in memory that they have undertaken as a congregation. The team worked hard getting prepared for this trip. They received personal financial commitments from the participants. They raised funds with food events and by gathering up cans and bottles from the people of the community to recycle for deposit money. Most importantly, they provided personal mission clean-up and repairs for persons and families of the community in the spirit of the ASP experience in Kentucky.

Transitional Ministry for Women

July 26, 2017

W.I.S.H. (Women in Spiritual Hope) ministries at St. John’s United Methodist Church in Davenport is moving in God’s time. Their mission, says co-founder Lynn Johnson, is “to provide a safe faith-based nurturing transition for women from prison or jail, and to equip former inmates to return to society and live productive and happy lives.”


They have put a bid on a house that they plan to develop into a residence for women in transition—and the bid has been accepted! They are working with the city’s zoning commission to make sure that they are meeting the standards of existing ordinances. They are hoping to have everything finalized and running by this fall.

W.I.S.H. ministries is a recipient of a $3,000 Emerging Ministries grant from the Southeast District. Our District Askings gifts from local United Methodist churches in our part of the state help to support these sorts of new opportunities for outreach in our communities.

If you or your church would like to offer additional financial support for establishing their new residence, you can visit their GoFundMe webpage online. In their fundraiser description they summarize the need succinctly: “This is a second chance for women who never really had a first chance in life.”

What Is Pentecost?

July 19, 2017

The Fort Madison United Methodist Church wanted to help their community know more about a very important day in the life of the church. Pentecost, sometimes called the birthday of the church, is explained in an amusing Chuck Knows Church video, which they linked to their Facebook page from YouTube.

The video explores some of the basic symbols of this holy day, particularly light, fire and the Holy Spirit. Church leaders in Fort Madison simply posted the video link on June 1, just a few days before Pentecost Sunday, as teaser for morning worship and to give anyone who was interested some background about the festive occasion.

Chuck Knows Church videos are provided by Discipleship Ministries, an international agency of The United Methodist Church. The apportionment gifts of United Methodist churches around the world to The World Service Fund helps support Chuck Knows Church. The videos are offered on several different websites, including Chuck Knows Church, as well as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

All Chuck Knows Church videos may be viewed anywhere, posted anywhere, duplicated and given away as a part of our outreach in our communities. Changing the length, or in any way altering the content is strictly prohibited, and Discipleship Ministries of The United Methodist Church holds all copyrights to all Chuck Knows Church videos.

Cowboy Church in Richland

July 12, 2017

Cowboy Church is a monthly community outreach ministry of the Richland United Methodist Church. People gather in “the pasture,” a lot next to the church building, for an outdoor service with a decidedly western

The service on Sunday, July 2nd at 6:30 was their special Fourth of July celebration. “The cowboys have lots of thoughts on freedom,” they wrote on their Facebook page.

Tim Schoepf, their pastor in Richland, built on the theme of freedom that day. Freedom is very important to our national heritage. But even more important, he said, is our freedom in Christ, citing Paul’s letter to the Galatians.

“You were called to freedom, brothers and sisters,” we read in Galatians 5:13, “only don’t let this freedom be an opportunity to indulge your selfish impulses, but serve each other through love.”

Cowboy Church began as an experiment to reach new people for the sake of Jesus Christ in Richland. Organizers drew from community interest in cowboys and country music. They also chose to meet outside so that participants who might be intimated by a church building could be more comfortable.

The effort has taken hold and now is a regular part of their ministry to the people of Richland and the surrounding area.

Expectation Workshops

July 5, 2017

More than a dozen churches in the Southeast District are receiving new pastors this summer. To help support good transitions in leadership, our district superintendent, Lilian Gallo Seagren, is meeting with the staff-/pastor-parish relations committees (SPPRCs) in these local

The agenda for these meetings is designed to help committee members and their new pastors get better acquainted with each other and develop positive working relationships. They discuss what they value most about pastoral ministry and begin to establish a focus to their partnership in making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world in collaboration with the entire congregation.

They spend time reviewing the basic responsibilities of the pastor and the committee in nurturing faithful, fruitful practices in all church members to deepen their discipleship as followers of Jesus Christ and to be difference makers in their communities that Make Hope Real.

The final portion of each meeting is to summarize the conversation in a Ministry Action Plan (MAP) that highlights values, mission, vision and strategies for pursuing the preferred future that God has placed before them. Committee members also review a suggested monthly meeting structure and their practices for communicating the work of the SPPRC to the entire congregation.