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Year Four of “The Club”

November 22, 2017

Joyce Orcutt is a difference maker from the Eldridge United Methodist Church. She has been helping to coordinate outreach to young students in Park View, a community just a few miles northeast of Eldridge in the North Scott Community School District.

“The Club” is an after-school program at Neil Armstrong Elementary School in Park View. The devoted members of this ministry team are teaching children about God as they earn and build their trust.

Difference+Maker2017Bishop Laurie Haller, in her address to the 2017 Iowa Annual Conference, said, “Every time you show grace to someone, treat someone as a child of God, help someone in need, pray for someone, advocate for positive change in the world, or share the love of Jesus with someone—you are a difference maker.”

Joyce says, “The majority of the children who attend The Club are from lower income families. Some go home to empty homes because parents are still at work. Some are hungry because the breakfast and lunch they receive at school and the nutritious snack we give them may be all there is for them to eat that day.”

The Club received $567 in 2017 from a budget of $18,317 for the Southeast District Matthew 25 fund, which is made possible through the apportionment gifts of the United Methodist churches of Iowa.


Women at the Well

November 15, 2017

A woman we’ll call Sophie came to the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women in Mitchellville on a prostitution charge last December. “Right away after her arrival,” said Brenda Hobson, the Reentry Coordinator for the Women at the Well United Methodist Church, “Sophie got connected with our grief group and shared some incredibly personal and horrific circumstances of her early life.”

watw2Eventually, a more complete picture of her struggles came out. For the past five years a “boyfriend” arranged for her to be with other men for money, which she would then turn over to him in return for meth and what passed for affection.

“There’s just a few of you who have helped me know what love looks like,” she said to Brenda as she prepared to leave the prison. “I can count you on one hand.”

Brenda replied, “I look forward to a time when you can’t count all the people who have been that for you.”

Sophie said, “Me, too. But I’ll never forget the first ones.”

A Matthew 25 grant of $2,500 from the Southeast District helps to support the ministries of the Women at the Well United Methodist Church, a congregation within the walls of the prison. Their purpose is to “gather together to share the teachings of Jesus Christ and to experience the life transforming Spirit of God.”

Trunk or Treat

November 8, 2017

First United Methodist Church in Fairfield has a mission of “Knowing Christ, sharing His love, and helping others to know Him.” Over the Halloween weekend they had a chance to practice their mission.

fairfieldtrunkortreat2017That Sunday afternoon they gathered at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds to help pass out leaflets that quoted John 8:12.

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Many other churches in Iowa and around the country participate in various types of trunk-or-treat events. They provide a safe and fun alternative for children and their families to have a trick-or-treating experience. Often these events take place in a parking lot where kids can go from car to car to get their treats.

The church members in Fairfield adapted this idea to share a passage of scripture that offers hope to the people they met during the course of the afternoon. This simple avenue of outreach may open the door for new relationships with people in their community who do not have a church home. Thank you, First United Methodist Church, for showing us one simple, yet meaningful way to share God’s love with others!

Ministry Action Plans

November 1, 2017

The United Methodist Church in Trenton played host to a Southeast District training event last week to introduce pastors to Ministry Action Plans (MAPs). Their social hall, a recent addition to their building, provided a comfortable space for the meeting—conveniently located just northwest of Mount Pleasant in Henry County.

Screenshot (45)MAPs offer a framework for local church leaders to identify ministry goals. The process begins with a discussion of the church’s values. As leaders fill out the worksheet, they enter their values at the bottom of the page, because values provide the foundation for all the church does in its ministry.

Mission, too, is a part of the foundation for each MAP. For United Methodist churches, our mission is the same: “to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” Context is the next step up on the planning sheet as leaders take a realistic look at the gifts of their church and the needs of their community.

At this point the process jumps to the top of the page to identify God’s vision for the future of the church. Once a clear picture of the church’s preferred future is described, the remainder of the worksheet leaves room for identifying specific action steps to live into the vision.

Street Ministry Team

October 25, 2017

In the fall of 2015, Grace United Methodist Church in Davenport established a new ministry goal. “Take It to the Streets” is an outreach to persons who are homeless or living in area shelters. This effort, now beginning its third year, is an extension of their monthly clothing ministry at the church. They had been offering residents who come to the church a variety of clothing for men, women, and children.

grace.clothingNow their street ministry team goes out once a month to take the clothes where the people are.  It’s not unusual for them to serve 35 persons in one outing.

“Our church is just a few blocks too far for them to walk to get clothing when they need it,” their pastor, Linda Morris, explains, “so we have decided to go to them.”

The team offers everything from shoes, shirts, and shorts to new underwear and socks as well as toiletries. From time to time they have the opportunity to witness to their faith as people ask why they are doing this ministry. They also respond with requests for prayer from the people they meet.

This ministry has become an answer to the prayers of church members. “God has been laying it on our hearts to do more.” And the church has responded!

Celebrate Recovery in Keosauqua

October 18, 2017

Celebrate Recovery is coming to Van Buren County. The United Methodist Church in Keosauqua hosted its organizational meeting last Thursday, October 12th. The ministry, launched more than 25 years ago by Saddleback Church, is a biblical and balanced program that helps persons overcome hurts, hangups and bad habits.

Celebrate-Recovery-logoCelebrate Recovery is a Christ-centered ministry that relates the 12-step process of recovery to accompanying scriptures. Eight principles based on the Beatitudes offer participants a clear path of salvation and discipleship. They encounter hope, freedom, sobriety, healing and the opportunity to give back one day at a time through Jesus Christ. The Twelve Steps and the Eight Principles work seamlessly together, tying historical recovery to timeless biblical teaching.

Mary Hart, the church’s pastor, says that they will meet on a weekly basis and include worship testimonials as they learn about the 12 steps and 8 principles in group sessions. She is very excited about Celebrate Recovery coming to the area.

The closest programs to Van Buren County are at least 50 miles away in Fort Madison, Burlington and Ottumwa. “A group that met in Fairfield has recently disbanded,” she says, “and many of their folks are interested in coming to our new group once it is started.”

New Organ Dedicated

October 11, 2017

On September 24th the Centenary United Methodist Church in Morning Sun had a Homecoming Day to dedicate their new organ. Their organist, Michael Corey, played the new instrument and shared stories about the role of music in the church.

He invited people who attended to tell about their favorite hymns and musical memories in their faith life. And, of course, he offered his own reflections as well. “The music touches the congregation where words sometimes can’t,” Corey said.
Michael Corey

He spent two years raising the money needed to purchase the custom-built, hand-made, Johannus organ. He also spent considerable time getting to know the features and feel of the organ before scheduling last month’s special event.

The keys, pedals, buttons and dials of an organ are often very different from instrument to instrument. However, Corey has been playing since childhood, and at 14 years of age he played for a cousin’s wedding. He has been offering his musical skills to the worship life of the churches he has served ever since.

The Burlington Hawk Eye published an article celebrating the accomplishment. In addition, the church posted a video of the presentation on their Facebook page so that visitors could listen to the presentation.