Sunday afternoon was devoted to “Sampling Diversity” on the Central District of the Iowa Conference. Hundreds gathered at the Christian Life Center of Ankeny First UMC to sample food, view art, experience cultural dance, sing in multiple languages, talk with each other about diversity, be introduced to the new Superintendent and Field Outreach Minister, and hear the Scripture read in three languages.
Click to see photos from the event
Beginning the afternoon, Rev. Paul Burrow welcomed the multi-ethnic, multi-generational group. He presented Rev. Dr. Heecheon Jeon as the new Superintendent for the Central District. Dr. Jeon began his tenure on July 1, 2016, having most recently served as pastor of the Mt. Vernon UMC.
Beverly Nolte was recognized for her long-standing involvement with the Iowa-Nigeria Partnership. She then introduced Naomi Sea Young Wittstruck, who is the new Field Outreach Minister for the Central District.
Click to listen to Dr. Heecheon Jeon's Iowa Conference Conversations podcast with Dr. Art McClanahan
The program followed an hour during which people had the opportunity to taste foods of the Hispanic heritage, prepared by the Amor y Paz community. Grape juice, flan, tomatoes, yak bap – a Korean item containing rice, chestnuts, dates, peanuts, soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, and salt, and other snacks offered another way of “Sampling Diversity.”
Rev. Kiboko Kiboko, Superintendent of the East Central District, presented an interactive meditation during which he invited Heecheon and Naomi Sea Young to reflect on the diversity they’ve experienced in their own lives, as well as share with the community what they’d like others to know about them.
Representatives from Amor Y Paz, Des Moines Korean, and the Des Moines Southern Sudanese Ministry read scripture in their own first languages. Following each of the readings, ensembles from the three congregations provided special music and the Des Moines Korean UMC and Southern Sudanese Ministry had additional drum accompaniment of the singers.
“I’m so excited about ‘Sampling Diversity’,” Dr. Jeon said. “It’s a learning opportunity for all of us that will help us to understand that diversity is a sign of God’s blessing for all of us.”
Great thanks to the people of Rev. Scott Hibben and the Ankeny First UMC community for hosting the event at the Christian Life Center and to District Administrative Assistant Wendy Lubkeman for her attention to detail and monitoring the logistics of the day.