Miller United Methodist church, Des Moines, celebrated 114 years of ministry on Sunday, June 10, 2012. At the same time it was Miller’s final Sunday and the beginning of a new era through a Hispanic-Latino outreach to the north side community.
Miller began as Miller Memorial, a United Brethren congregation in 1898. The cornerstone of the current building is dated 1912. Over the 114 years Miller became an Evangelical United Brethren community and then, in 1968, a United Methodist church. The current Pastor is Rev. Doug Amis.
Miller took a courageous and bold action in recent months, voting to gift its building and parsonage to the emerging Hispanic-Latino outreach of Las Americas Comunidad de Fe, which is at Trinity United Methodist Church. Recent Charge Conferences at Miller and Trinity, in trust for Las Americas and the outreach, formalized the agreement.
Click to hear thoughts from Pastor Humberto Gonzalez and Pastor Manuel Catalan
Click to hear reflections from Rev. David Weesner, Central District Superintendent
Click to see images from the worship service
Miller’s last Sunday was June 10. As a forerunner of things to come the sign outside the church displayed the words, “Love and Peace.” The Hispanic-Latino outreach faith community will be known as “Amor y Paz,” or “love and peace.” Amor y Paz plans to begin weekly worship in July.
The sanctuary was full, with persons in the overflow area, for the final service. Rev. Amis began by saying, “We gather together with much mixed emotion for the ending of a wonderful long ministry of Miller and we also celebrate the beginning of a new ministry that will have many years of a faithful and wonderful service.” He prayed, “Lord we give you praise and glory this morning as we celebrate a ministry of 114 years in this place. Lord, we thank you for this ministry being faithful stewards of all that they have in passing this building and its resources on to a new ministry. Lord, bless all those that are coming and all those that are going.
Pastor Amis led the congregation in prayer; “Gracious God, come among us today and restore the strength of those who call upon You…Bless us so we may be a living testimony to Your Care, Your compassion, Your justice and Your mercy.” Rev. Amis’ sermon issued the challenge to “Go,” to go and reach the community, the world for Christ, moving with Jesus’ promise that “I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age.” (Matthew 28.20, CEB)
Rev. David Weesner, Superintendent for the Central District said, “It’s good to be with you this morning.” He introduced Bishop Julius Calvin Trimble, Pastor Manuel Catalan and Pastor Humberto Gonzalez – two who have recently been appointed to the Las Americas staff and who will be leading the ministry of Amor y Paz with the support and guidance of Rev. Barb Dinnen, Las Americas’ lead pastor, former clergy, and Conference staff.
Bishop Trimble observed, “the ringing of the bell marks the end of the final service…the ringing of the bell is a comma in the transition of a faithful witness of United Methodists here, in English and in Spanish, built on the past and continuing on for many years to come.”
The order of leave taking indicated that “The time has come for this congregation of Christ’s Holy Church, known as Miller United Methodist Church, under God’s leadership, to disband and take leave of this building, which has been consecrated for the ministry of God’s Holy Word and Sacraments…This congregation…was organized as part of Christ’s Holy Church. It was God’s gift for a season. We are thankful for the many ways it has served he mission given to it by Jesus Christ.” Members of Miller then carried the Bible, cross, candle sticks and offering plates out of the sanctuary for the last time…and after the last bell sounded representatives of Amor y Paz carried the symbols right back into the sanctuary and placed them on the altar as the congregation stood and applauded.
Pastor Humberto Gonzalez said, “I want to thank you, for all of you have agreed to give your sanctuary and everything for the new ministry. I want to really thank you for your long history here and for making it possible for ministry to continue…you didn’t give up…you said yes to God who wants ministry to continue, worshiping God, working for the transformation of the world.”
Pastor Manual Catalan echoed the appreciation. He added, “We will be working together to make this ministry in this building to grow and live forever in the name of Jesus. You have made this possible.”
The congregation concluded the service by singing “How Great Thou Art” in English and Spanish.
“Go into the world, bless with the wisdom and understanding of God,” Rev. Amis prayed as a closing blessing, “filled with the gentleness and compassion of Jesus Christ, empowered by the enthusiasm and passion of the Holy Spirit…Go, love your neighbor…Amen.”