Iowa Conference Advance Specials

A Conference Advance Special is a project located within the Iowa Annual Conference and is directly related to the Conference Board of Global Ministries. Projects to be considered must reflect the mission and ministry of the Iowa Annual Conference. Conference Board of Global Ministries priorities are working with children and youth, and influencing them through assistance to men, women and families; encouraging hands-on mission; and reaching the “least of these” in the Iowa Conference. New projects are considered in March and October. 

For more information or to apply for Iowa Conference Advance Special status, please contact: 

Elizabeth Odor, Iowa Conference Mission Education Committee Chpn 

903 W 12th St, Spencer, IA 51301-3151 

712-262-5970 or email 


AWE is a multi-faceted program whose mission is to empower African refugee women to make their way in a new culture while contributing to the well-being of their families and living a healthy lifestyle. AWE teaches skills by providing physical, emotional and spiritual freedom from any oppression; and increasing mental health and stability through counseling and therapy to lessen the effects of trauma. 

AWE Shop is a micro-business begun in 2014 to help African women find employment and learn job skills like sewing, making fabric bags and clothes, and jewelry. In 2015 a community garden was planted that fed their families and was shared with others. AWE offers citizenship classes. 


Mission: Bidwell Builds Hope! Bidwell builds hope and opportunity by providing food, clothing, childcare and education to people in need. 

Vision: Bidwell envisions a future where no one lives in poverty and everyone has the opportunity for a positive future. Bidwell services include: Assistance for Homeless individuals and families; Personal Care Products, Free clothing/Household Items/Blankets and Quilts, Emergency Financial Help; Networking With and Referrals to Other Agencies. Programs include: Early Childhood Development; Christmas Sharing Day; Free Emergency Food Pantry. 

Bidwell is a covenant partner with United Methodist Women. The Bidwell property is owned by the United Methodist Women of Iowa and is an affiliate organization of the Iowa Annual Conference. It has been engaged in ministry since 1893. Website:


Gifts may be given for Camperships for Special Camps at one of the Iowa United Methodist Camp and Retreat Center-sponsored camps, i.e. Camp Hope for children of incarcerated parents and Camps for Children with special needs. Bryan Johnson, LDM Camping and Christian Formation 


The Centro Latino of Council Bluffs is a social services organization dedicated to assisting the Latino Community through providing a bridge to other organizations in the areas of healthcare, social services, education, housing, legal and immigration references, and other programs for families. These services are provided to individuals in response to their office visits or phone calls and to groups through seminars, classes, and support groups. The Centro Latino also serves as a host site to organizations serving the Latino community. In 2012, the Centro Latino moved to a site with an office and large meeting space at 600 South Main Street in Council Bluffs. 


Children and Family Urban Movement (CFUM) creates a community to support the potential of children, youth, and families through educational success, healthy living, and community engagement. Programs include the Breakfast Club (daily before school program for grades K-8); the Supper Club (a community meal served six nights a week for children and adults); The Haven (daily after school program for grades K-5); Awesome Days (ten weeks of all-day programming during school breaks in the fall, spring, and summer); the Wonder Girlz (a gender-specific program for fifth grade girls), the Backyard Boyz and Whyld Girls (year round gender specific programs for middle and high school students); Friday Fun Night (weekly arts and recreation program for K-8); community events including an annual Back-to-School Health Fair, semi-annual neighborhood talent shows, Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. Website: 


Funds are used to provide assistance to persons following a natural disaster. Having these funds available and on-hand makes them immediately available in case of a natural disaster within the state of Iowa. 

EYE OF THE NEEDLE, WATERLOO #237 NEW Iowa Advance Special in 2017 

Eye of the Needle was established in 2006 to provide services to the residents of the Cedar Valley and Northeast Iowa, as well as Katrina Survivors, 2008 Flood residents and those in need. Services include L.O.F.T. (Lunch, Learning & Activities) and free tutoring for grades K-12. Assistance includes school uniforms/supplies, clothing, diapers, car seats, furniture, bedding, household items, books, work attire, personal items, accessories. 


Free Clinics of Iowa (FCI) exists to support the initiation, operation and collaboration of free medical clinics throughout the State. FCI is a donor-supported, not-for-profit organization, consisting of an Administrative Office and 36 member free clinics. In rural and urban settings, FCI member clinics provide basic health care services through volunteer physicians, nurses and other health professionals, at no cost to patients. Services may include but are not limited to: illness and minor injury care, wellness and preventative care, immunizations, physicals for school/work/sports and referrals to other community providers. Free clinics are generally located within community centers and churches and typically operate 2-3 hours per week. Current membership provides services in the following communities: Altoona, Ames, Boone, Carroll, Clarinda, Clinton, Des Moines, Exira, Grinnell, Knoxville, Mason City, Newton, Norwalk, Oskaloosa, Ottumwa, Pella, Polk City, Spencer, Waterloo, Waukee, Wayland, Webster City and West Des Moines. Last year, over 13,000 patient visits were provided through 900+ volunteer providers and staff. Website: 


The mission of Hawthorn Hill is to establish and operate housing programs for homeless families with children that help them obtain permanent housing and to provide services to help families achieve economic self-sufficiency. Hawthorn Hill operates two programs for homeless families: New Directions Shelter (an emergency shelter for mothers with children) and The Home Connection (supportive housing for families with children). Hawthorn Hill annually provides emergency shelter and housing for over 150 homeless families. Website: 


Hillcrest Family Services is the only youth residential treatment program in Iowa that employs a United Methodist Chaplain, providing the unique benefit of spiritual care as part of the treatment process. Serving over 22,000 people each year in 66 Iowa counties and 27 states, Hillcrest Family Services seeks to enhance the lives of children, families, and adults in need by teaching skills and providing information and resources which help clients make healthy life choices. 

Hillcrest works collaboratively with local communities to provide a broad range of quality and innovative services, including Adolescent Residential Treatment, Adult Residential Homes for those with chronic mental illness, Tobacco Use Prevention, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Emergency Youth Shelter, Family Centered Services, Family/Individual Outpatient Counseling, Professional Health Clinic, Community Mental Health Centers, Hillcrest Supported Living, In-Home Supervision, Intensive Psychiatric Rehabilitation, K-12 Special Education, Mental Health program for the homeless, Adolescent Scattered Site Program, Transitional Housing for Homeless Families, Unplanned Pregnancy Counseling, Vocational Training, WIC (Women, Infants, and Children), Adoption/Options Counseling. 

Hillcrest has permanent locations in the following communities; Cedar Rapids, Clinton, Dubuque, Iowa City, Maquoketa, Monticello, Ottumwa, and Washington, Thomson, Illinois, and Platteville, Wisconsin. Hillcrest has been formally linked to the Methodist Church since 1914, the Presbyterian Church USA since 1968, and the Wisconsin Conference of the United Methodist Church since 2011.


The North Central District Hispanic Ministry, Iglesia Vida Nueva, ministers to the Spanish-speaking people of the district. It provides worship services, affirmation of Hispanic culture and traditions, material and legal assistance to Latino immigrants. The current ministry presently includes people and families from Clarion, Eagle Grove, Kanawha, Hanlontown, and Britt. They primarily meet for Worship, Bible Study, prayer and various activities at the Britt United Methodist Church, as well as small group ministry in homes. They are working towards centering their home base out of a Corwith church building, while continuing to reach out to this North Iowa area. 


Iowa JFON welcomes immigrants into our communities, without regard to race, gender or religion by providing expert, free immigration legal services, education and advocacy to low-income immigrants and refugees. Clinics are held in Cedar Rapids, Columbus Junction, Des Moines, Ottumwa, Storm Lake, Decorah, and in 2017 Marshalltown. JFON is recognized as the premier nonprofit in Iowa that provides immigration legal services to unaccompanied children. IJFON qualifies in Blue-Iowa Conference Advance Special and/or Yellow-UMCOR and/or Orange-U.S. Website: 

IOWA-NIGERIA gifts can be given to these Nigerian Projects which continue an Iowa connection

1. Village Wells #230, is NOW the only IOWA ADVANCE NUMBER still in use. Any #230 funds given will invested with IUMFoundation for drilling 7-10 wells in each area of the Nigerian Conference per year in 2018-2021 and also wells maintenance. Wells Coordinator, Iowan Linda Rowe,, will work with the Clean Water Board of Nigeria UMC  with their specific plan goals and our In Mission Together relationship. 

2. Send funds directly to Iowa UMChurches including Grandview, Dubuque & Damka; Eldora & Salaminkala; Davis County Churches (Bloomfield) & Panya; First, Cedar Falls and BTSeminary. These are already In Mission Together relationships begun during the 25+ years of the Iowa-Nigeria Partnership which ended in 2016. 

Other Nigerian GBGM projects with an Iowa connection include 

3. Banyam Theological Seminary (BTS) GBGM-Advance #10318B which provides scholarships for living & educational expenses for students of the only UMC seminary where pastors & teachers are trained for the church that is growing 15% yearly. Funds can be given directly to First, Cedar Falls for work with BTS too. 

4. North Conference Ron Wilmot Comprehensive Junior Seminary Secondary School, Jalingo, NG, GBGM Advance #3022273 - There is a huge need to provide quality education for advance learning and self-sustainability for the youth in Pero. It continues to be in need of school items and funds to build a security wall for safety against the BokoHaram terrorists in the area. 

In 2002, Iowan Ron Wilmot made his first trip to Nigeria as a UMC Volunteer in Mission which led to six years of construction projects and the introduction of solar power. To improve water quality, Ron was actively involved in the installation of water wells with solar pumps. Ron brought solar refrigerators from Iowa to medical clinics so that vaccines and other medications could be available. 

Ron was always looking to make life better for others. He located and delivered Artemisia plant seeds for treatment of malaria for Nigerians to have a cheap, accessible treatment for this devastating disease. Ron Wilmot, Akron, IA, died unexpectedly June 2008, in Jalingo, Nigeria, while on a volunteer mission trip. 

5. Undesignated gifts to Nigeria which are inadvertently sent to the Iowa Conference will automatically be gifted to the North Conference Ron Wilmot School, #3022273

6. The Bishop’s Nigerian Students Offering at any time of the year through Spring 2019, when the two students will have completed their degrees. (Iowa-Nigeria info updated 6-16-18) 

A letter was sent to all Iowa Conference UMChurches July 31, 2018 

We are reaching out today to make sure you are aware of these changes and also to let you know that some of these funds will be listed differently on your Church Remittance Statement going forward. Fund 0230, which was previously listed on your statement as INP Restricted Gifts, will now be listed as Village Wells (previously INP Restricted). The other change is that Fund 0231, which was previously listed as INP Unrestricted Gifts, will now be listed as #3022273 Ron Wilmont Secondary School (previously INP Unrestricted). We decided to list these funds in this manner to cut down on confusion. 

If you have questions about the future of our partnership with the United Methodist Church in Nigeria I would encourage you to reach out to Mary Morris,, or Jerry Oakland, If you have questions about your Remittance Statement or your church giving, you are encouraged to reach out to Kristina Merfeld, Staff Accountant, 

Thank you for your faithful support of Iowa Nigeria Partnership and the continued support of our relationship with the United Methodist Church in Nigeria. 

Kristina Merfeld, Staff Accountant Iowa Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church Direct Line (515) 974-8938 

GBGM-NIGERIA UNDESIGNATED - #00383A - Supporting mission work through Church partners wherever there is the greatest need as deemed by Nigerian Bishop 


Kidz Haven is a mission project of Epworth United Methodist Church, identified shortly after Epworth became a designated mission church in 2010. It is a Wednesday afternoon, early-out program with and for the students from Warren Harding Middle School in Des Moines. 

By working with the school, parents, local public library, neighborhood association, area churches and other youth-oriented ministries, Epworth is working to increase contact with the young people in the area so they don’t “fall through the cracks” and be better able to achieve positive outcomes. 


Las Americas Faith Community has served the Hispanic/Latino people in metro Des Moines since the mid-1990s to meet their spiritual, personal and community needs. Las Americas and Trinity UMC partner to offer bilingual worship at 10 am on Sunday, Bilingual child care, Bible studies for adults in both Spanish and English, cultural and social events and work together to create a multi-cultural community in Metro Des Moines. English, citizenship, computer classes, etc. offer opportunities for Hispanic/Latinos to learn necessary skills to succeed in life. When Las Americas was 'gifted' the Miller United Methodist Church and parsonage July 2012; Amor y Paz (Love and Peace), a second ministry site, was begun. Currently Amor y Paz offers worship in Spanish at 3:00 pm on Sunday, Bible studies, youth activities and cultural opportunities to build a 'home church' for the Hispanic/Latino Spanish speaking community. 


Linn County Correctional Chaplaincy Ministry provides services to the “least of these” in the County Jail with a unique ministry to the Juvenile detention Center serving those ages 12-18 years of age in addition to serving at the Linn County Correctional Center. Our theme is “Lighting a Candle of Hope and Spiritual Freedom” for those who find themselves in some way involved with the correctional system. We have two part-time chaplains with special gifts for the corrections ministry and a volunteer coordinator working with over 100 volunteers. We minister to the inmates, family members and corrections staff. Weekly worship services in an ecumenical setting, Bible studies, opportunity for personal counseling for the inmates and the juveniles detained, are provided. Our ministry also includes programs for Prayer Partners, AfterCare Mentors and GED preparation and testing. We are in need of prayer support, financial support and volunteer support. 


Matthew 25 works to transform core urban neighborhoods on the west side of Cedar Rapids, much of which was devastated by the Floods of 2008. Matthew 25's mission is to "unite, empower, and change lives!" Its three main ministry areas are Neighborhood Building (“Block by Block,” housing, neighborhood organizing, tool library), Youth Empowerment (tutoring, arts education, school gardens), and Cultivate Hope (urban farm, food education and advocacy). Iowa's first urban farm was begun in 2012 by Matthew 25 to bring life, food, and nutrition education in an area of the community laid bare by the Floods of 2008. 

MOBILE UNITED METHODIST MISSIONARIES #311 South Central, Southeast, Southwest Districts 

Mobile United Methodist Missionaries (MUMMS) is a rural ministry of the Iowa Conference whose goal is to take the Gospel into un-churched areas and help revitalize rural congregations within the South Central, Southeast and Southwest Districts. 2013 marks seventeen years of vacation Bible schools, after school programs, work projects, and camps for at-risk children. Statistics show that there are more children living in poverty in RURAL Iowa than in urban Iowa, thus the demand for this ministry continues to grow! 


The mission of the Native American Child Care Center is to provide childcare services and an early childhood education and development program to preschool children and their families who identify with the Native American background. A primary goal is to enhance the child’s self-esteem including pride in and knowledge of their cultural heritage. The center strives to remove many of the barriers to service that the families face – transportation, high cost of childcare and cultural differences. This Native American Child Care Center receives Iowa’s half of the annual Native American Ministries Special Offering received in Iowa on the third Sunday of Easter; the other half is sent to the national headquarters for distribution. 


Neighbor Helping Neighbor is a fund that meets emergency needs of people caught in the Iowa rural/community crisis. This is emergency assistance money and is provided in small grants to local churches or by paying a bill directly. Neighbor Helping Neighbor funds are used locally to keep families together and in their homes. Neighbor Helping Neighbor is also an Iowa Conference Special Offering. 



This project provides personal mobility for vast numbers of persons suffering from the loss or use of legs due to polio, land mines, etc., in developing countries. A PET is a practical, sturdy, maintainable three-wheeled hand-cranked wheelchair. At least 200 PET’s are produced in Hawarden, Iowa every year. The cost for material, assembling, boxing, and shipping a PET overseas is $250. PET-Iowa (Hawarden) is one of 2120 


Rick's House of Hope Center for Grieving and Traumatized Children offers grief support groups as well as family change support groups, trauma-specific intervention and other services to youth ages three and older in Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois. Rick's House of Hope also hosts two week-long summer camps; Camp Good Grief and Rollercoasters Camp for the Ups and Downs of Changing Families. Services are free of charge. For more information see the website at


Attached is a video interview with Ama, one of the main beneficiaries of this program. There is also link below to the new project that has grown out of Ama's business; please feel free to share and to copy the text for print distribution. Ama is the original beneficiary whose palm oil processing facility is now the focus of this project:

In addition, Self-Help have created a two-sided bulletin insert printed on advertising slick for UMC churches, and would be glad to send these free of charge to any church.” 



The purpose of Shesler Hall is to provide community living for women with special needs. Shesler Hall gives women of all ages the opportunity to experience personal and social growth while living in a supportive Christian environment. Most of these women have some form of chronic mental illness, frequently combined with one or more other disabilities. Some residents are also homeless. Twenty-two women can be housed at any one time. Shesler Hall opened in 1901 as a home for Methodist deaconesses. In 1985, the current mission statement was adopted and Shesler Hall became a caring home for women with special needs. 


The International Outreach Project includes these ministries with International Students at UNI: weekly worship, conversation Partner program with UNI Culture and Intensive English Program; Emergency Assistance Fund, Food Bank, Furniture Loan Program, English tutoring, Cultural Sharing, Safe Space meeting site. A large percentage of the UNI International Student enrollment at UNI has been connected to our outreach during their UNI enrollment. 


Supplemental support for Conference Advance Projects not receiving full support.