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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.

Food-Faith-Climate Workshop

October 4, 2017

The Washington United Methodist Church will be hosting a workshop that shows how food choices can affect climate. Participants will learn how our food choices contribute to climate change, and they will discover healthy, economical and delicious ways to reduce our impact on the environment.


The workshop is schedule for Sunday, October 8 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. in collaboration with Iowa Interfaith Power & Light. Sarah Paulos, the Iowa IPL Program and Outreach Coordinator, will lead the workshop.

She reminds us that our food choices can make a big difference not only for our personal health but for the health of the planet. “When we sit down to dinner, we may not think about global warming, but as much as one-third of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions are connected to our food system,” she says. “Each of us, at every meal, can make a real difference that ensures a more climate-friendly food system. Fortunately, the ethical choices are also pleasurable choices.”

Workshop participants will reflect on what religious faith traditions have to say about sustainable food systems, examine household food practices and create a plan to make more climate-friendly food choices.

Registration is free because of the sponsorship of the Iowa Conference Board of Church and Society of The United Methodist Church. Participants receive pocket guides for sustainable eating, tips and resources for climate-friendly food choices. Also a taste of climate friendly snacks will be provided. For more information and to register, go to and click Upcoming Events. Pre-registration required.

Tattoos Put Churches in the Spotlight

September 27, 2017

The Hawk Eye, a newspaper in Burlington, recently published a news article about a new pastor in town who sports tattoos. Elizabeth Bell, our pastor serving the Asbury and West Burlington United Methodist Churches, received her appointment to the area three months ago.


Her forearms bear witness to her Christian faith. Her right arm reads, ”Χαíρω,” which is New Testament Greek for “rejoice.” Her left arm shows a brightly colored communion cup.

Asbury United Methodist Church is located on the bluffs above the Mississippi River on South Main Street in Burlington. They have an active Facebook presence that offers a snapshot of the ways their ministry connects with the people of their neighborhood and their community. Among other things, September featured notices about the 9/11 service of remembrance at the local fire station and their bake sale and rummage sale.

The West Burlington United Methodist Church, which was established 125 years ago, also has a Facebook page as well as its own website. The homepage welcomes people, saying they are a community “where fellowship, family, and faith meet.” Their vision is to be “a church that has the ability to serve the community’s spiritual, emotional, and physical needs through volunteers, charity, and community resourcing.”

Together, these two churches, working with their pastor, hope to be sharing the love of God with their communities for years to come.

Great Beginnings Preschool

September 20, 2017

The Columbus Junction United Methodist Church plays host to the Great Beginnings Preschool, which offers quality care and education to children from ages three to five in their community and the surrounding area. Kids from all walks of life share the benefits of their safe and learning-enriched environment. The ministry even offers transportation to and from the preschool for families needing that service.

cjumc2Students from four different cultural backgrounds fill their classroom, and they all learn from each other as they learn together. “Many of our students are refugees or immigrants and all are learning to adjust to a new culture with new surroundings,” says Marsha Gerot. “Our preschool helps these families feel safe and comfortable in their surroundings.”

The church provides the facilities for the ministry as well as electricity, janitorial services and heat.  They also provide paper for the preschool’s newsletters and correspondence. Their commitment to serving a diverse community of people is a special emphasis of this program, which is in line with the mission of the United Methodist Church around the world.

Great Beginnings Preschool received a Matthew 25 grant of $2,000 in 2017 from the Southeast District. These funds are made possible through the apportionment gifts of the United Methodist churches of Iowa.

Unfair Deportation Averted

September 13, 2017

Ann Naffier, an attorney for Justice for Our Neighbors (JFON), has been working with a couple from Central America in the last few years.  They came to the United States more than 15 years ago. Their three children were born here, and the husband works hard in a factory in eastern Iowa.ann.naffier.2017

Unfortunately, the couple fell prey to an attorney from California who was helping people apply for political asylum even though they were not qualified, and they ended up in deportation proceedings.

They came to Ann at the JFON clinic in Cedar Rapids in 2015 to assist them in preparing for a fairly complicated legal procedure to grant them a work permit and temporary protection from deportation. This legal procedure, once quite rare, had become more common in the last few years, but in recent months radically different immigration policies have been threatening its use.

She met early this year with a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) supervisor to discuss the case. It was quickly approved and presented to an Immigration Judge to get the official order closing their deportation cases just days before President Trump’s inauguration.  The couple is now in temporary, but stable and indefinite, legal status. This experience, Ann reported, “redeemed my faith in the goodness of all people.”

JFON is one of seven District Askings supported by the United Methodist churches in southeast Iowa.

Local Church Experimentation

September 6, 2017

“If you have something new you want to try,” says Pam Kranzler, the pastor at the Wapello United Methodist Church, “find two or three other people and let’s talk.”

That’s the spirit of experimentation that attracted the attention of the Southeast District Operational Team recently when they visited with leaders on a Sunday afternoon in August. Wapello8.27.17The SLI team, a part of the Healthy Conference Initiative in Iowa, is learning about ways our churches can develop new ministries to reach new people for Christ.

Soul Sisters is a group of working women who began meeting out of a need for fellowship. They couldn’t meet during the day with other groups, said Crystal Wiley, so they started meeting on Monday evenings for about an hour to “chat about life.”

The group’s ministry to each other has grown to include a shared devotional life together and community service projects. This experiment in ministry has blossomed. “We’ve become a tight-knit group,” said Katie Walker.

During the congregation’s Healthy Church Initiative (HCI) consultation in 2015, their pastor’s leadership was identified as a strength for cultivating new forms of outreach. Her “gifts for building relationships both within the church and in the community,” the report noted, “have helped the congregation cultivate a new appreciation for the church’s ministry potential into the future.”

Disciple-Making in the Gospels

August 30, 2017

The Sigourney United Methodist Church hosted a training event on August 19th for church leaders exploring the development of a discipleship pathway for their members.

wigThe 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.”

Lilian Gallo Seagren, the conference superintendent for the Southeast District, first introduced a new study that she and her brother Gideon Gallo, our United Methodist pastor in Missouri Valley, are developing during our District Conference last April 29th. They presented their study of the four Gospels and the disciple-making practices espoused in each.

A disciple, she offered, 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.

The Sigourney church is one of the first churches in the district to request the event for their leaders. Participants learned about disciple-making practices in the morning, and in the afternoon they spent time beginning to develop ministry action plans for their church to implement their own.

We anticipate replicating this event in other parts of the Southeast District in the coming year. Be watching for more information and announcements.