The latest information and inspiration.Subscribe
December 3, 2021
Even before Iowa became a state on December 28, 1846, the Methodist movement was established in what would soon become the Iowa Territory. In Between the Rivers: A History of the United Methodist Church in Iowa, author Rev. John Nye tells the story of the rise of Methodism that began for early pioneers in “1833 when Baron Randle of the Illinois Conference crossed the Mississippi River to the cluster of cabins that was to become Dubuque, and preached to whoever would listen.”(i) From the Mighty Mississippi to the Meandering Missouri, Methodist people have been leading the way in Iowa for nearly two centuries by establishing churches, hospitals, and schools; engaging in ministries of formation, witness, justice and advocacy; and, by sharing our stories and experiences as we live out our faith in Jesus. We continue in this tradition of leadership today.
While there is no way to fully weigh the impact of the Methodist movement on Iowa historically, we know that our beloved church, grounded in personal piety and social holiness, has impacted our communities, state, and world for the better. This is evidenced in the ways in which we do life with one another and take part in our connectional relationships. For the past 188 years, Iowa United Methodists (including our predecessor denominations) have been engaged in ministry that is: relevant to the spiritual and temporal needs of the people and grounded in the Great Commandment and Great Commission.
Part of what it means to live and serve in Iowa includes engaging in the diversity of our communities, be it cultural, political, racial-ethnic, geographic, etc. Iowans have a set of core values that incorporate loving our neighbors in ways that respect differing views. We believe in providing compassionate care in times of need and celebrating diversity. We advocate for justice and peace and allow space for each other to live out our personal convictions faithfully and contextually. We seek to do no harm, do good, and attend upon the ordinances of God (in the contemporary church, we say: stay in love with God).
This land between two rivers, named after the indigenous Ioway tribe, is where present-day United Methodists continue to live out our mission and ministry despite a pandemic that we are only midway through; a delayed General Conference that may not yet happen in 2022; and as economic, political, and racial divides, as well as day-to-day struggles continue to impact our communities. It is this contextual reality that prompted the Appointive Cabinet to say we need to find a better way.
This decision by the Appointive Cabinet grants contextual permissions not for the sake of taking a side, but as a way for us to move through the impasse and invite us all into a way forward together. Our statement is grounded in the primary desire to live now in a manner that allows every church and every pastor in the Iowa United Methodist Conference to serve God and their communities and honor their deeply held convictions as we continue to share the Good News in this age when bad news can feel so overwhelming. This statement from the Cabinet makes way for United Methodist clergy and laity to live into our heritage of personal piety and social holiness, being faithful to who God calls us to be in Christ Jesus, and witnessing to Iowa that there is room for everyone who wants a home in the Iowa Conference of The United Methodist Church.
[i] John A Nye, Between the Rivers: A History of the United Methodist Church in Iowa, Published by the Commission on Archives and History, Iowa Annual Conference of the Untied Methodist Church. 1986.