Over the past several years, we have been discerning a new future for The United Methodist Church in Iowa. In order to better address the adaptive challenges of the Iowa Annual Conference and our call to reach out to our communities with grace and hope, we have been developing a significant structural realignment of resources, both human and financial. Our goal is to be better equipped to lead, equip, and serve in a rapidly changing world.
Clergy and laity from across the Conference were invited to participate in Vision 2032 listening sessions
in the closing months of 2019. The gatherings were an opportunity to talk about current challenges, share what’s exciting, and dream into the future. After considering all suggestions from the first round of the Vision 2032 series in the fall
, the Bishop's Operational Team
proposed some changes, which were discussed during a second round of Vision 2032 conversations
. Connecting Iowa Conference congregations in circuit ministries, seen as “opportunities to be a church in new and creative ways, by revitalizing churches and empowering leaders,” was the primary proposal.
Circuit ministry “will bring groups of clergy and lay leaders together on a regular basis to grow in their faith,” noted Rev. Bill Poland in a recent conversation
. “We want to be able to rediscover a sense of connection on the local level while we [recommit] together to making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”
Supporting the circuits
To offer intentional support to the development of circuits, Rev. Paul Wilcox and Rev. Kiboko Kiboko will become “transitional superintendents” during the 2020-2021 conference year. Currently serving the Northeast District and the East Central District, Wilcox and Kiboko will collaborate with the three directors – Rev. Dr. Jaye Johnson, Director of Congregational Excellence, Rev. Dr. Lanette Plambeck, Director of Leadership Excellence, and Rev. Bill Poland, Director of New Communities of Faith – to “help spark a transformation in the church,” Poland said. Each circuit’s pastoral and laity leaders will meet monthly to focus on leadership development and discover ways in which they can work together in a mutually supportive way that will strengthen each congregation. “This will be a way to [empower] growing, gifted leadership,” Poland added.
The transitional superintendents will work alongside the three directors to provide leadership through which the number of circuits will multiply. One circuit is already in existence in Delaware County. Six or seven more are planned for the next several months. It’s anticipated that the number of circuits will grow significantly between July 1, 2020, and July 1, 2021, and that circuit ministry is how the Iowa Conference will move forward into the future.
District and leadership impact
Legislation will be introduced at the 2020 Annual Conference session to reduce the number of districts from eight to five effective July 1, 2021. The boundaries of the districts are to be determined based upon the circuits that they are designed to support. Poland adds, “This is a way for us to help determine our structure from the ground up based on missional needs of local congregations.”
With the change in the number of districts, there will be adjustments in the leadership of the ministry areas.
- Rev. Terra Amundson, who has served the Southwest district for six years, will become pastor of Mount Vernon United Methodist Church as of July 1, 2020.
- Rev. Carol Kress, who has been serving the current North Central district, will become pastor of Mason City First United Methodist Church as of July 1, 2020.
Regions of the Conference, comprised of the current districts as well as some areas of adjacent currently existing districts, will be covered by the following Superintendents, effective July 1, 2020.
- Rev. Ron Carlson, Northwest region
- Rev. Moody Colorado, Northeast region
- Rev. Doug Cue, Southeast region
- Rev. Heecheon Jeon, Central region
- Rev. Melissa Drake, Southwest region
In addition to the superintendents, the District Administrative Assistants – Sue Booth, Judi Calhoon, Alanna Warren, and Ann Zeal – will continue to support the work of the Superintendents across the Conference.
Rev. Ryan Christenson and Rev. Melissa Drake currently serve as Associate Directors of Congregational Excellence. Christenson will continue in his position, and a coaching coordinator will join the Congregational Excellence team instead of naming a second Associate Director to replace Drake.
According to Poland, the staffing adjustments and organizational realignment will help churches “to be able to better work together to identify ministries or missions that are important to them in their locality,” and leadership will be strengthened for the “sake of the mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”