Iowa Conference is ‘World Transforming;’ New Focus to be Children and Poverty

November 06, 2014

Click here to listen to Rev. Robert Burkhart talk about the focus on children and poverty in a conversation with Dr. Art McClanahan

Through individual and community generosity, the Iowa Conference is making a difference.  The support of Imagine No Malaria and an upcoming focus on children and poverty is “world transforming.”

There was a “grand celebration” at the 2014 Iowa Annual Conference session at the announcement that the Conference has exceeded the goal of raising $2 million for Imagine No Malaria.  In response to the question, “what’s next,” Rev. Robert Burkhart, said, “Bishop Trimble and I have been thinking the same thing, separately.  It’s time now to transition from this specific program.”  Burkhart, who was the Assistant to the Bishop for Administration prior to his 2013 retirement, reported that other Conferences continue to work toward the denomination’s $75 million goal, “and we’ll get there.”

Through the work to support Imagine No Malaria  “We’ve created a network of giving and working together,” he said.  “This really opened a door for people to believe that they can help the rest of the world,” Burkhart added.

“Now we can focus on a bit broader task, and that’s children and poverty, which is one of the Four Areas of Focus for the Council of Bishops and the church…it will engage churches and individuals who worked together to now focus on this whole issue of children and poverty.”

Noting that many people did a lot of things together over the past two years to support the Imagine No Malaria effort Rev. Burkhart said that the highlight, for him, was that fact that, “While we did have two large gifts - $500,000 and $250,000, more than $1.25 million was raised from small gifts from local churches and individuals and fundraisers where churches worked together on pancake breakfasts.”  He was impressed that “several youth rode across the State of Iowa and others ran to raise money for Imagine No Malaria.”  

“There are examples of local churches working with school systems to raise money,” he reported, “something that had never happened before.  People who aren’t affiliated with churches or are member of other denominations worked with United Methodists to raise money. “ 

The value of all of that?  “There’s now a network…People really wanted to participate.”

Rev. Burkhart believes that the commitment to Imagine No Malaria and its resulting network, and a new focus on children and poverty, “is transforming.  Bishop Trimble shared that during a trip to Nigeria he asked someone why there were so many people becoming United Methodists in Nigeria.  That person said, ‘Because of the schools that United Methodists started, because of the wells, because of the health care that’s being provided through United Methodists from Iowa…that’s why’…they know about the Iowa Conference, and The United Methodist Church as a whole, throughout Nigeria.  That’s transforming the world!”