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Ministries of Prayer

March 21, 2018

The Lenten season has provided an opportunity for the United Methodist churches in Sperry and Mediapolis to highlight their ministries of prayer. Both congregations have regular prayer meetings that are open to anyone who would like to attend.

vital.signs.mepoParticipants pray for the members of their church and community who have indicated needs. They also welcome guests who wish to be present to receive prayers in response to the circumstances of their lives.

As we prepare our hearts to celebrate Christ’s resurrection, “I like to take some time during Lent to highlight the ministries of prayer within our churches,” says Tracey Burgus, their director of lay visitation.

The churches distribute a weekly prayer update to all who wish to receive it. Prayer requests and email information to receive updates can placed in the offering plate during Sunday services, or members may contact the church office to be included in emergency prayer requests.

The prayer teams maintain a list of the needs of others so that participants can add them to their daily devotions between formal meetings. “Please remember our shut-ins and those in care facilities in the coming weeks,” he reminds us. “I know they would be encouraged by a note or a quick visit to brighten their day and our own!”


Lenten Devotions

March 14, 2018

The United Methodist Church of Wilton is posting daily devotions for the 2018 season of Lent on their Facebook page. This ministry is an extension of their mission: “As loving Christian disciples who experience God’s presence and power through prayerful worship, we share our gifts, nurture all ages to grow in faith, and spread the Gospel through missions at home and beyond.”

devotions+2018+iaumc.orgDuring Lent, United Methodist people around the world enter into a season of preparation, self-reflection, and repentance. The word, “repent,” literally means to “turn around.” Lent is a time when we seek to realign our lives and focus toward God more intentionally.

Many people give up things as one form of this practice. Others take on new life-giving disciplines that help to rid them of distractions and their own selfish desires. By doing so, however we choose to respond to Lent, we seek to live and love as more faithful disciples of Jesus Christ.

The congregation even has a link to their Facebook page on their website, so that visitors may have an opportunity to join them in their daily devotions throughout the season. “Through our actions,” the church reminds its members and its community, “we care, love, and serve.”

Night to Shine

March 7, 2018

The Washington United Methodist Church hosted a “Night to Shine” on Friday, February 9th. “Over 70 guests and 190 volunteers,” their newsletter reported to members, “enjoyed an evening filled with flowers, red carpet, paparazzi, hair, make up, shoe shines, dinner, karaoke, face painting, limo rides, and dancing!” Night to Shine, Washington

The eyes of their guests were filled with tears of joy as they received their crown or tiara. “It was a night to remember for a lifetime,” one volunteer said, “as God’s light shone bright!”

Night to Shine events are sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation. It is an unforgettable prom night experience, centered on God’s love, for people with special needs ages 14 and older. On the same Friday night last month, 537 churches from around the world came together to host Night to Shine for approximately 90,000 honored guests through the support of 175,000 volunteers.

The “Washington United Methodist Church is for everyone,” they say to the people of their community on their homepage, “and that includes you and your family.” The Night to Shine experience is just one way they show their hospitality as they are in mission as ambassadors for Christ in their area. “When you visit” the church, they reminds their guests, “it’s important to us that you feel right at home, right away.”

Clergy Day Apart

February 28, 2018

More than 30 pastors across the Southeast District gathered last week to get better acquainted with colleagues and worship together in a time of relaxation and renewal. They were attending a Clergy Day Apart at Iowa Wesleyan University on Thursday, February 22nd.

day.apart.Feb. 2018At the event the Parish/Leadership Development Committee introduced a way for church leaders to share worship ideas. By using the search hashtag #worshipthatworksumc, people can share how they are creating inspiring worship events in churches of any size.

Several participants posted ideas on Twitter that very morning. They shared sermon ideas and visual displays for various seasons of the year.

Melanie Greengo, the chair of the committee, said, “We all have different strengths in worship leadership. Let’s share our ideas with each other” and help us all make our worship strong and vital.

The Southeast District Operational Team reminded participants of the Iowa Conference’s WIG (Wildly Important Goal) to develop a discipleship pathway in every local church by 2020. Kerrin Kirkpatrick, their spokesperson, also reviewed a Ministry Action Plan, or MAP, being used by church leaders across the state to assist them in setting goals for the year.

Lilian Gallo Seagren, the Southeast District’s superintendent, distributed a resource book called Surprise the World! The Five Habits of Highly Missional People by Michael Frost and offered closing words of encouragement at the end of the event.

Worship for Young People

February 21, 2018

A young man from Cedar Valley, a small church located in the country between West Liberty and Muscatine, has helped to launch a new praise service. Kyler Meyers agreed to lead the congregation’s outreach committee. As he dreamed about options, he felt led to work on starting the new service.

He made recommendations for a new laptop computer and television for projecting lyrics. He also enlisted support to create a video to invite people to the new service, which is called “Living Faith.” The event is offered on Sunday evenings at 5:30. It features worship songs, prayers, and a message with time for discussion in small groups. Refreshments are provided afterwards to build community.

Things are off to a slow start, primarily because of recent inclement weather. However, Kyler’s pastor, Mary Timmermann, said, “He is very excited about the potential for reaching people his age who have graduated but have not found a church home.”

growing.youngThe book Growing Young has reinforced their thinking. “We are discovering,” she said, “that younger people, even up to age 60 and older, felt much more connected to the church when they are invited to become involved.” The book is based on extensive research among churches of many denominations and features “six essential strategies to help young people discover and love your church.”

Winter Homeless Kits

February 14, 2018

Since 2014 the people of St. John’s United Methodist Church in Davenport have been out to Change the World. Don Buser invited the St. John’s family to participate in a winter Change the World project last December. “We are putting together winter kits for the homeless,” he said, “because the winter weather approaches, and we want to help our homeless friends be ready.”

st.johns.kitsAt the first of the year, they had a team of volunteers gather and ended up assembling 50 kits. They supplemented donations with monetary gifts for purchasing items that were needed to complete each kit, which included hand and foot warmers, hats, gloves, earmuffs, lip balm, small hand lotion, and 1-gallon Ziploc bags.

This effort was in conjunction with the Homeless Outreach of The Center, a mission site across the street from the church. Their goal “is to be a light in dark places, serving the needs of our community through the empowering love of Jesus.” They strive to create a sense of belonging through relationships with others through radical love and servanthood.

The Center is on the front lines daily ministering to the homeless and underprivileged communities. District Askings from the United Methodist churches of southeast Iowa help to support the ministries of The Center.


The Christmas Store

February 7, 2018

The What Cheer United Methodist Church served over 90 families, representing over 200 individuals, at their annual Christmas Store. The event was held on Saturday morning, December 9th at the church during their food pantry’s open house.

Parents were invited to purchase two gifts per child per household for only a dollar. Children could get a gift for each parent. Grandparents were able to buy one gift for up to five of their grandchildren. All money from sales went back into the program. Over 350 gifts were sold and remaining items were made available for a free-will donation to families in need. “This year was a huge success,” said Vince Homan, the pastor of the church. “We had the most donations in—and the most gifts out—the door we’ve ever had.”

New gifts with a retail value of $5 to $8 were gathered in preparation for the event. Many residents and churches in the area provided support for the ministry. The Christmas Store was a way for the people of the community to celebration God’s love in their lives and extend that love to others.

“We offer our deep thanks to all our generous donors and those who volunteered at the store,” said Pastor Homan. “And we’re thankful God has put this precious ministry in our hands.”

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