Three faith communities were lifted up as examples of the first of the Iowa Conference’s strategic priorities – “world transforming communities of faith.”
The strategic priorities, adopted at the 2013 Annual Conference Session, are: “creating world-transforming communities of faith,” “equipping ourselves and others as transformational leaders,” and “directing our resources to our common goals.”
According to Rev. Bill Poland, Assistant to the Bishop for Administration, the three priorities “are in reality a single priority supported by the two others.” He noted, “we have been working as a Conference to implement these priorities in all that we do. Each District has a Ministry Plan derived from the Priorities for their context and team with the Healthy/Small Church Initiative as a central focus.”
Descrbing the working that has taken place since the 2014 Annual Conference session, he added, :The Communications Advisory Team is working with the Rev. Dr. Arthur McClanahan as they move forward on a more effective communications ministry. Terry Montgomery will share more information on increasing the financial health of our Conference.”
Of the three video presentations, “their stories are stories of hope, encouragement, and making a difference with the love of Jesus Christ,” Rev. Poland added.
Rev. Katharine Yarnell, Field Outreach Minister of the North Central District, introduced the story of the Colo United Methodist Church “under the leadership of Pastor Lewis Flanigan. Colo has a special relationship with the school district.”
Colo UMC partnered with the local school district, supporting the teachers in the school, filling backpacks, and providing a discretionary fund that, at the direction of a teacher ,sensing a student’s need, could provide essential emergency assistance.
Rev. Jaye Johnson described the ministries of the North Liberty and New Horizons United Methodist churches. “North Liberty and New Horizons are allowing the Spirit of God to guide them and are living boldly into what they are called to be,” he said. “North Liberty is reaching out to the Latino community in radical ways creating a bilingual worship experience, feeding the hungry with an exceptional community food pantry, and they are cooperating with Coralville New Horizons in a vital partnership.”
Rev. Melissa Drake, Field Outreach Minister for the Southwest District, noted that “real change, real transformation happens when we are in relationship with Jesus Christ and in relationship with each other.” “Our priority of world-transforming communities of faith includes an emphasis on equipping transformational leaders. These are not leaders who keep the story that God is telling quiet and contained within the walls of the church buildings, but leaders who are committed to finding ways for all of the children of God to find their part in this story.
“The Road” to Recovery at Ankeny First UMC “started as an ide on a sticky note by a leader shoes life was deeply changed because of this relationship with God and the faith communities that built him up.”
Following the three video stories the three Field Outreach Ministers concluded the report on the Strategic Priorities by saying, “We believe God is calling all of our faith communities to be living stories of Christ’s love.”