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Our visitor from National Justice for Our Neighbors, a ministry receiving grants from UMCOR, came to annual conference bearing gifts. Rob Rutland-Brown, Executive Director in the national office that supports our Iowa Justice for Our Neighbors, announced a matching grant of up to $5,000 starting on July 1.
Rob was with us less than 24 hours, but was able to meet with four different groups to tell the story of the valuable work of this ministry that has long been associated with UMCOR, the United Methodist Committee on Relief.
Rob began his time with us on Friday, June 5, by visiting at length with our immigration attorneys Ann Naffier, April Palma and Brynne Howard, our Church and Community Worker (missionary of the General Board of Global Ministries). It was his first chance to see our new office in West Des Moines. From there he went to a meeting of the Iowa JFON standing committee. There were a dozen folks from around the state to carry on business and hear from Rob. (See article about our chairperson, Frank Camp.)
The following morning we had him up early to meet with a group of United Methodist Women, led by conference president Rita Vallery and vice-president Gladys Alvarez and UMW friends. Gladys offered breakfast at her church Gatchel UMC . Rob thanked the UMW for their support of Iowa JFON. He explained the significance of the $15,000 grant given by national UMW in January for the work of Iowa JFON. An important reason for that grant is the support of Iowa UMW members.
Finally, Rob addressed about 75 friends of JFON and the Conference Board of Global Ministries when he spoke at the luncheon at Trinity UMC on Saturday, June 6. As has become the custom, a delicious meal was prepared by ladies of Las Americas Faith Community and Amor y Paz UMC. See some of the stories that he shared about the important work of “welcoming the stranger,” which is so strongly supported by churches, districts and individuals of the Iowa Annual Conference at www.iaumc.org/jfon and click on Client’s Stories. We passed out postcards calling on President Obama to close the detention centers at Dilley and Karnes, Texas, where mothers and their children are locked up as they seek asylum to escape violence in Central America.
Many thanks to all of those who turned out to welcome Rob Rutland-Brown. We are grateful to him for inspiring us to continue with our ministry to immigrants and refugees that Justice for Our Neighbors, nationally and in Iowa, carries out through the support of UMCOR and dedicated United Methodists in our annual conference.