Stories of Transformation

CALVARY UNITED METHODIST CHURCH, WALCOTT

My name is Jodi Siebke, and I am serving as the Co-Missioned team leader at Calvary United Methodist Church in Walcott. I am writing this to encourage other churches in the Iowa Conference to explore the possibilities of what Co-Missioned: The Missional Transformation Process can do for your church. 
Now, I know what you are thinking: What is so special about this program created by the Center for Parish Development in Chicago? I would like to take this opportunity to share with you my experience and joys on this transformational journey with God. 
Two years ago our pastor Connie Markle, our lay leader, and I went to a “Come and See” event, which was an introduction to this transformational journey. That night changed my life so much that I would recommend this to any one who is looking to get closer to God. I was so touched that I can’t describe it in words. All three of us had a great time that night, enjoying each other’s fellowship and getting to know other people. By the end of the night we were all ready to go on this journey with God!
What I have learned from this experience is that you not only learn something new about yourself, you learn from other people. You get closer to God. One of the key points of this journey with God is that “The mission of the church starts with God’s mission.” To be honest, I had no idea what that meant! But I do now. It’s about being faithful to God. It’s God’s church, not ours. We were learning to pray together, work together, and stay together as a missional church. Every journey is different for each of us, but we are all on the same path.
My prayer is that you go on this transformational journey with God because you never know where it will lead you. I would like to invite you and your church to a “Come and See” event. It will be an experience that you will never forget! “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his footsteps” (1 Peter 2:21).

UNITED CHURCH OF FAITH, KEOTA

“My husband, James, and I lived in Keota for over seven years, and besides family I really didn't know many people in town. At a local school event in early 2009 I was approached by Tanna Huber (also my neighbor) who asked if she could visit some evening with me for a few moments. I remember being nervous when I went over to the Huber's house the following night. But after just a few moments I was at complete ease, and Tanna and I were soon visiting about everything from work to family. I knew right away that our friendship was going to be a very special one that I would cherish for years to come.
“The dictionary defines a relationship as an emotional connection between people. I truly don't know if I had every directly experienced the meaning of this word until I met Tanna and the rest of my Keota UCF church family. Tanna invited me to attend church with her and her husband Larry...and from the moment I stepped into the church, I just felt like I was home. For years I had been hiding in my house alone, not knowing how to get out and meet friends. All it took was Tanna's friendly face.  She took the time to get to know me and who I was. I truly feel that God was using her as His instrument to bring me back to the church and get involved in the community.
“I encourage everyone to get out, meet your neighbors and just lend a smile and listening ear to someone you don't know. You NEVER know what will happen and the relationships that can be created when God is at the center.”

GRACE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH, TIFFIN

As the Tiffin team began to discern a guiding vision, we kept coming back to the fact that we as a congregation are at many critical intersections. First, the city is planning to widen the street to our east and redirect traffic from the Interstate 80 right to our corner. Second, we are a small town church adjacent to rural farmland, but in a rapidly growing community. Third, our membership has a heart for the socially and economically disadvantaged, and we are actively involved in feeding ministries, support for newly released criminal offenders, and recovery ministries. Fourth, we are committed to discipleship training so that we can better serve God in our community. Finally, we see our vertical connection to God as critical to our horizontal connection with the world. Tiffin logo What emerged from our picture of a congregation at these various intersections was a logo that shows an open heart superimposed on a simple cross, and a Guiding Vision in the form of a responsive reading.

Grace United Methodist Church Guiding Vision

Leader:   We at Grace United Methodist in Tiffin imagine a church…
People:  as the cross in the heart of our community,
Leader:   where the rural highway intersects with the city streets,
People:  where people of all ages celebrate and witness God’s movement in their lives,
Leader:   where those on the margins are invited into the center of the Body of Christ,
People:  where ongoing spiritual growth provides a firm foundation for our Christian service,
Leader:   where love and mercy guide our ministry and mission,
People:  so that our connection with God in Christ shapes our caring for others.