United Methodist Women Connection for December 2021

United Methodist Women Connection for December 2021

January 04, 2022

Vol. XXXI, No. 4     |     December 2021  


In All Things Give Thanks

As I finish my first year as your Conference President, I am in a reflective mood. Partly due to Thanksgiving, Advent, and the upcoming Christmas celebrations but also because I am amazed at what the Iowa Conference United Methodist Women have done this year with all kinds of obstacles and ever-changing rules, district lines and names. We have grown in our abilities to be flexible, to conduct meetings via zoom or even in ‘hybrid’ mode, and to participate in ministry for women, children, and youth.  Not all went smoothly.  There were some hiccups along the way, but we persisted in carrying out the Purpose of United Methodist Women.   We have given thanks and praise in all things and at all times, during smooth times and even during hiccups. 

We have grown in “Knowing God” through Conference Leadership virtual retreat in April, Districts’ Day Apart, joint Lenten study with West Ohio Conference UMW and the Spiritual Growth study at our virtual Mission u “Finding Peace in an Anxious World”.  It always amazes me that United Methodist Women’s studies are spot on and so timely for the world events yet planned several years in advance.  It is a God thing I am convinced! We have grown in our “experiencing freedom as whole persons” through the Charter for Racial Justice event “Why Racial Justice” with Dr. Eddie Moore Jr., Districts’ Mission Study Days, and the Mission u study “PushOut”. We have grown in our “developing creative, supportive fellowship” through the joint event with West Ohio Conference “Blessing of Play”, multiple ways of communication and small group fellowship to enable participation in virtual events, and the prayer request offered/prayers given during the difficult times for many this past year.  We have grown in our “expanding concepts of mission through participation in the global ministries of the church” by our participation in the connectional ministries of the larger church, giving to our National Mission Institutes, participating in Faith Talks, our connection with Church Women United and provided funding through Barbara Csomay grants.  

We, the Iowa Conference United Methodist Women, have grown this past year in many ways. In 2022, there are more opportunities for growth and thanksgiving.

I give thanks and praise to God for all of you,

Gladys Alvarez, President
1140 45th Street
Des Moines, Iowa 50311
(H) 515-277-7337 (W) 515-244-2267


A Message from Harriett Jane Olson


It’s my pleasure to present to you our 2020 Annual Report in this new digitized format making possible a wider distribution with a narrower environmental impact.
As always, the Annual Report preparation provides an opportunity to look back and look ahead. One of the things we see as we reflect on 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic is the faithfulness of United Methodist Women members. The pandemic changed our lives and challenged the ways we gathered and served, but we bravely answered God’s call.  We learned to gather in new ways on Zoom. We wore masks and socially distanced when serving in person. Through it all, United Methodist Women members faithfully supported one another, faithfully engaged in the social justice work, faithfully gathered around National Mission Institutions and international partners, and faithfully gave through Mission Giving and the Legacy Fund making miracles happen in the lives of women, children, and youth.

Together, we make a difference.

In this Annual Report, we share some of the impact of United Methodist Women members’ faithfulness during 2020 through the words of our members. 


Harriett Jane Olson
CEO and General Secretary
United Methodist Women

Vice Presidents
Season’s Greetings to All!


We hope everyone is doing well and enjoying the preparations for the holidays. We are approaching the end of our term on the Conference Leadership Team and we have some things we would like to share in our last article. 

First, we would like to thank the UMW unit of the Cherokee United Methodist Church and all the people there who were so helpful and kind in hosting our Conference Annual Meeting on October 2.  Your hospitality was so welcoming and we appreciate you very much.  Also, we would like to say “Thank You” to the members of the Leadership Team for stepping in and helping in various ways to make the day a success.  Whatever you did, it was appreciated more than you will ever know.  

Secondly, we would like to remind you that the two videos that the Iowa UMW commissioned for the district and conference annual meetings are now on the UMC Conference website.  We would encourage you to use them however you would like.  They are great for programs, UMW Sundays in church, guest days, and even as Sunday School lessons.  We hope the videos get shown often and are used over and over. Here is the link to the videos.

Third, we would encourage everyone to participate in your D.O.T.E. whenever your conference counterpart has it.  To the district vice presidents, we will be holding ours soon.  And, if you have any questions at any time, please feel free to contact either the district or conference people in your area.  Communication is so important and email, telephone calls, Zoom meetings etc. are so helpful in staying informed.  

Lastly, we would like to say “THANK YOU” to all the wonderful women we have worked with and met through our terms in office, both at the district and conference level.  Your insight and devotion to United Methodist Women is remarkable and something we won’t ever forget.  We will continue to uphold you in our thoughts and our prayers.  May the work of United Methodist Women continue turning faith, hope, and love into action on behalf of women, children, and youth around the world. 

Blessings to all!                                   

Myra Bowman, Co-Vice President  Barb Trulson, Co-Vice President
911 Golfview Ave. 667 6th St. SW
Britt, IA 50423 Britt, IA 50423
641-843-4086  641-843-3387




We thought 2020 was a tough year, but 2021 hasn’t been terrifically easy either. I remind you to: Rejoice in the Lord Always! Rejoice!

Along with many things to be thankful for, I’m grateful for the generosity of you, our Iowa UMW members! Even though our numbers may be down and our money-making events not as profitable as in the past, you are still cheerful givers. I’m anxious to get the donations for December so we’ll know how much of our pledge we’re able to pay. Thank you for giving!

There are just a couple of reminders that have recently been brought to my attention:

  1. Do NOT send donations to the legacy fund through your district. Send it directly to:
    National United Methodist Women Office
    475 Riverside Drive; 15th Floor, Attn: LEGACY
    New York, NY 10115 
  2. Do NOT send UMCOR donations through your district. Send it directly to:
    458 Ponce DeLeon Ave. NE, Rm 226 
    Atlanta, GA 30308-1836
Your district treasurer has a deadline for 2021 donations in the early part of December so the money can get through all the proper channels prior to the end of the year. Please pay attention to the deadline and get all your giving done early.
I am here to serve you, so if you have any questions or concerns that your district treasurer can’t help you with, be sure to contact me. 
Helen Pollock
34167 Rains Ave, Malvern, IA 51551
Committee on Nominations

Greetings to all from your Nominations committee,

We are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10

This is my last letter. It has been my honor to be your nominations chair during the last couple years. It has been trying due to circumstances of the last couple of years. I am thankful for those who have answered the call to be conference officers and for all the help of my committee.

I wish all of you a blessed Christmas and the best in the New Year.

Sandy Oswald
612 Grand Ave, C-3
Creston, IA 50801

Laity for Conference Leadership Development



For so long we have said “We have to change or...”  Friends, we are now living in the time of “or”. Our church is changing in ways we could not and did not anticipate. I encourage you to go to The Conference website, www.iaumc.org and read the articles under Leading Now and Into the Future as well as the report about the North Central Jurisdiction Conference.

Now is the time to extend much grace and real love to each other. It is a fact that many United Methodist Women units are aging and struggling to find ways to remain active. Too many churches have just given up and become inactive, others have formed “women’s groups” unrelated to UMW, and some are thriving having found ways to put faith and love into action in their churches and communities. 

At times our traditions and our ways of having always done what we do have become a roadblock to our important, relevant, and much needed ministry to women, children, and youth as UMW. I am not suggesting we give up our traditions entirely, but I am suggesting we take a realistic look at how we may be unintentionally excluding women in our churches. Consider how we are living our Purpose. Do our programs and projects reflect our Purpose? Have we become so focused on doing things our way (“the right way”) that we have discouraged those women who have another way? Have we considered there might be another way? 

This is an important conversation. UMW has always recognized the importance of relationship. We know that each woman, each unit, and each church have a story. To come to the positive side of the “or”, let us again look at our Purpose with fresh eyes. Let us live into grace as we live into change. Let us treat each other with the love Christ extends to us.

I welcome your questions, comments, and concerns. You can reach me at slmdean70@gmail.com.

Lynn Calvert, Laity for Conference Leadership Development

Education & Interpretation


Message from your Conference Mission Coordinator for Education and Interpretation (E&I)

Christmas blessings to each of you!  May we know the joy of God’s presence with us as we celebrate the amazing truth of God coming as a human one to live among us!

It is time for us to look ahead to a new year of learning and giving to support the mission projects of United Methodist Women. We are “interpreters” of that mission, so it is our job to remind our members of the “impact and importance of Mission Giving as an act of faith and commitment.” (statement from Unitedmethodistwomen.org>members and leaders> roles and responsibilities)

Two very important means of supporting the work of United Methodist Women are our Pledge to Mission and our annual Call to Prayer and Self Denial. There are meaningful and thoughtful programs included in our 2021-22 Program Resource book or on-line at unitedmethodistwomen.org. The Pledge to Mission Service 2022 is entitled “Healing Leads to Joyful Sacrificial Giving.”  Within the commitment prayer are these words – “Loving God, I give because you have given and continue to give to me…. I give out of love; I give out of joy, and I give because I am healed.”  May we continue to be moved to support with our gifts the more than 288 national and international mission projects and partners of United Methodist Women!  UMW invests approximately $20 per minute, 24/7, to support these vital projects.  How many minutes of mission work can you support with your 2022 Pledge?

The 2022 Call to Prayer and Self Denial program is entitled “Love, Justice and Service: Answering the Call.”  Through this program we will learn more about the Order of Deaconesses and Home Missioners, an important arm of United Methodist Women’s commitment to train and consecrate lay people for a “lifetime of service…to full time vocations of love, justice, and service.”  You may remember that It was Methodist Deaconesses who started the Bidwell Riverside Center and Shesler Hall.  Their work has been important throughout our mission history and continues to be relevant in places of need today.  Giving to this year’s Call to Prayer and Self Denial ensures the continuation of these vital ministries, administered by United Methodist Women.  

Have you heard that our Prayer Calendar is changing format for 2022?  We should be receiving soon our new “Prayer Guide.”  According to the unitedmethodistwomen.org website, “this new devotional resource will inspire you daily through prayers and mission reflections that testify to the impact of United Methodist Women and Global Ministries outreach in the world and how those who serve encounter God and find joy through their work and calling.”

We are on the brink of a new year – one full of challenges and opportunities.  May it bring you joy in your giving and in your living!

Barb Oakland
Conference Coordinator for Education & Interpretation
319-377-5977 (h) or 563-542-3583 (c)

Social Action

Women at the Well

Women at the Well is a church within the women's prison in Mitchellville. I listened to a sermon last week, “From Loss to Wholeness” and I immediately pictured my felon friends. The Women are at their lowest point as they enter the prison. As they walk, they are bent over by shame, regret, and fear. They are so bent over that all they see is the ground – no sky. Then they walk into church, The Women at the Well. 

Gradually, they begin to throw away some of those negative images, the verbal and emotional abuse. It slowly, very slowly, begins to fade. As they attend church, they begin to feel the love of God and the love of the women around them. And slowly they begin to stand taller and taller. There comes a day when they are seeing the sky, the sign of hope, renewal, acceptance, and love - God’s love. However, I want to make it clear that they will often live with the trauma of abuse for life. They have been totally lost, but they find themselves healing through God with the support from the Women at the Well. 

When they are discharged, they are happy but often very afraid. They ask, “Will I find a job? Will I be able to resist the pull of drugs and alcohol? Will I be able to get away from abusive relationships? 90% of women in prison were victims first - victims of verbal, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. One of my friends is such a victim. “He” twisted her arm until it broke, he intimidated her with threats of abuse and also intimidated her with a gun. 

Women at the Well also offers a volunteer program called the Reentry ministry. Small teams of people agree to meet once a week for a year with a returning citizen. In my re-entry work, I have seen the fear as they fight all the struggles and roadblocks put there by society.  Bryan Stevenson who wrote the book, Just Mercy, is a lawyer who has spent his life fighting for marginalized people – the people who have been sentenced unfairly, says, “We tend to judge people for the worst thing they have ever done in their life.” We need to look at all the good in them as well. These re-entry teams step the women through the re-entry process - through the good and the bad with their presence and caring. Bryan also said, “Simply punishing the broken - walking away from them or hiding them from sight- only ensues that they remain broken and we do, too. There it's no wholeness outside of our reciprocal humanity.”

Consider a donation, writing letters to the women, or joining a re-entry team. As I always say, “We can make a difference!”
Would you pray with me?
Our loving and accepting God,
Be with our friends who are incarcerated or who are re-entering into society. Give them the strength to face the many challenges that society places on them. 
In the Lord's name we pray. Amen!

Deb Streff
Social Action Coordinator debstreff@gmail.com

Mission u

Transformative Community

Luke 13: 29 “And people will come from east and west, and from north and south and recline at table in the kingdom of God” 

At the time of your reading this, 2021 is mostly in the history book. 2021 has been a beautifully chaotic year of continuing pandemic and venturing out to gather in our familiar United Methodist Women group. How did you find peace in an anxious world? We are stronger because of it all.

Mission u 2022 CORE team will include Linda Blazek Garvin (Dean), Nancy Stockdale (Assistant Dean), Kathy Sautter (Registrar), Jane Edwards (Assistant Registrar), Judy Wanned (Business Manager), and Judy Beane (Assistant Business Manager). At this time Mission u 2022 is being planned for in-person at Iowa Valley Community College in Marshalltown (IVCC) and either livestream or separate virtual sessions. Please save the date of either July 15-17, 2022 and/or October 14-16, 2022 for Mission u 2022. More details will be distributed after the first of the year.

An overview of Mission u 2022: We find ourselves in a period of incredible disruption and uncertainty. In the midst of a devastating pandemic, a divisive political climate, and economic turmoil, we are turning to stories of Jesus that have anchored Christian communities in challenging times for over two millennia. Some of these stories of Jesus are found in the 13th chapter of the gospel of Luke. It opens and closes with a community trying to make sense of and navigate their way through times of turmoil and tragedy. What possibilities seed and yeast might hold for us in a time of incredible disruption and uncertainty? You are invited to attend Mission u 2022 and join the conversation. The book to guide us for Mission u 2022 will be titled “Who Can We Be Together” and available in January 2022. Please purchase from the following website when released: https://www.umwmissionresources.org/

Linda Blazek Garvin 
606 Phillips Street, Polk City, IA 50226
Mission u Dean 2021-2022
Iowa Conference United Methodist Women

UMW Historian


Our Historian’s Archive is now an aqua rolling cart.  It’s almost complete! I can’t wait to show it off! I still need digital Directories for 2020 and 2021, but I’m hoping Jan will be able to provide those. Then we’ll have copies of Iowa Conference UMW Directories back to 1970. That’s not a huge history, but more than we had before. I chose to keep Directories because they accurately report our calendar, activities, and officers each year.   

Remember, I also have program books going back to 1984, thanks to Mary Morris.  These books will be recycled at the end of this year, so let me know if you want any. 
Thanks to all who have contributed thus far:  Jean Sheets, Jan Yungbluth, Barb Oakland, Sharon Boen, Becky Herron, Betty Smallen, Linda Blazek-Garvin, Mary Morris, Connie Neary, and especially Sandy Oswold, who had most of the Directories. Please contact me if you have anything else you think should go in the box. I’m anxious to be able to share our Historian’s Collection!

Judy Marnin
1100 Brookridge Circle, Apt.1H  
Atlantic, IA  50022
(Please note my apartment number has changed—we moved to the ground floor with a patio!), 

National UMW Program Advisory Board


After we have assessed and listened and dreamed in recent years, visions of a renewed and energized 2022 United Methodist Women are beginning to be seen in our New Wineskins Campaign—keep your eyes and ears open if you haven’t heard or seen something quite yet! 
Watch for new ways of reaching out to women who are not as familiar with United Methodist Women as many of us through an introductory website, an option for national membership at an entry level, a newsletter for all UMW members, Soul Care Retreats for self-care and spiritual renewal, revamped intergenerational Mission u curriculum that shares biblical and justice-oriented themes, more virtual tools, options for virtual units, the addition of an option for targeted giving to the 5 Channels of Giving for particular program interests, and more things to come! If you participate in person or virtually in the 2022 Assembly next May, you can experience some of the new things as we continue the work to influence and impact the world we live in. Register for Assembly now! 
We all experience changes throughout our lives—especially in the last two years. Tony Robbins has said “Change is inevitable. Progress is optional.” Mark 2:21-22 reminds that putting new wine into old wineskins doesn’t work—new wine needs new wineskins to fully develop (but I was recently reminded that old wine can go into new wineskins just fine). Some of us are fine, old “wine” and we are valuable! We know that we also need to make new “wine” by bringing new women and ideas into our groups—or form new groups—in order to continue into the future—to keep moving forward!
I hope you will take advantage of the two specially commissioned videos shown at UMW district and conference annual meetings. The Friends of the Groom group did an excellent job of helping us think about biblical justice using Amos 5:24 and several skits (“Me and You and Us and Them”) as well as the concept of restorative justice (“Grace Notes”). Your various UMW groupings, church classes, and perhaps other settings would all be possibilities to view and discuss as whole or in parts. Be creative! Access these through the UMW Ministries link on the Iowa Annual Conference website (www.iaumc.org/umw-videos). 
I was pleased to see about 15 Iowa UMW members involved with the November 13th collaborative event with West Ohio Conference UMW on “The Blessings of Play.” I was reminded that God’s angels announced that Jesus was a great joy for all people! Times of play and joy are important to our overall health, too! 
We must keep moving forward in our work for racial justice, and one way you can help is to contact our members of Congress telling them of your support for The Ending PUSHOUT Act of 2021 (H.R.2248). This legislation will address some of the racial disparities we read about and discussed in Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools by Dr. Monique Morris during last summer’s Mission u sessions. Call, email, or write a letter—then ask others to take action, too! For more information, go to this link—Tell Congress: Help end school pushout! (p2a.co).      
Together we can keep United Methodist Women moving forward!  Let me know if I can assist you as we face challenging changes.
Rita Carter
7218 El Rancho Ave
Windsor Heights, IA 50324



District and Conference friends,

The cold days of fall have hit us, and I just want to stay in and quilt, quilt, quilt! But of course we can’t always do what we want. I still manage to do some sewing and quilting most days. This time of year I am gathering information for the 2022 Directory. The Conference Leadership Team voted in August to send the Directory by email instead of printing it out. Each officer has the option of having it on-line, or printing their own copy. I will be assembling that in the coming months, and hope to have it by the end of the year. I still have some names to fill in.

This is the time of year to give thanks for all God has given us. My husband is very ill with the effects of COPD. I can leave him for most of the day, but not comfortable with an overnight stay. I am grateful that we can stay in our home (no stairs to climb), and Dave gets around well with his walker. Our two sons live in Iowa, one quite close, and they have been a big help. So just be thankful for family and friends, And whatever troubles you are experiencing, things could ALWAYS be worse. God is good, all the time! 

Jan Yungbluth
Conference Secretary
120 Willow Lane
Rossie, IA 51357-7609