United Methodist Women of the Iowa Conference
had their annual meeting on Saturday, October 8, 2016. Held at First UMC, Decorah under the banner of “A Fresh Wind Blowing – Come Soar with Us,” women from across the conference welcomed Bishop Laurie Haller, met for breakout groups, conducted the business of an annual meeting, and endorsed their leaders for the coming year.
Car parkers, hot coffee and treats, and greeters were just a part of the hospitality offered by men and women of First UMC and other UMW units. That warm greeting welcomed some 36 women who were first-time attendees of the annual meeting.
Bishop Laurie Haller, who was also experiencing her first Iowa UMW annual meeting, spoke to the group, asking, “Are You Living in the Overlap?” “The purpose of United Methodist Women,” she said, “is mission, but that mission is also right here, among each other and in your local churches as well as around the world. You have touched more lives than you will ever know. Thank you for being United Methodist Women.”
“You and I share something in common,” she told the group. “We have restless spirits. Our spirits are restless because the Holy Spirit moves in us, calling us to action and empowering us to soar. A fresh wind is continually blowing, and we cannot rest until all people in this world have food, shelter, clothing, and safety and experience the fullness of God’s shalom.”
“United Methodist Women have been organized for 147 years to bring healing to a wounded and broken world. Almost one million United Methodist Women work directly with two million women, children and youth every year. United Methodist Women have literally saved the lives and brought healing and wholeness to millions of our brothers and sisters around the globe. United Methodist Women have a spirit of restlessness because we see the needs and cannot remain silent.”
Bishop Laurie concluded, “Serve faithfully in God’s kingdom. Share the good news. Make disciples for the transformation of the world. Take the authority of the staff. Work together. And don’t let anyone or anything separate you from your mission to change the world.”
Sally Stromseth who gave some background on each hymn and Barb Dale’s accompaniment on the organ led the gathering in singing. Gladys Alvarez, Conference Vice President introduced Decorah's President, Pam Ransom who officially welcomed us and Pastor John Caldwell who was so glad that an Annual Meeting was being held in the Northeast part of the state also welcomed us with some humor.
Linda Stauffer, Spiritual Growth presented thoughtful devotions. Rita Vallery, President of Iowa Conference United Methodist Women, who had introduced Bishop Laurie, presented her a sheet signed by women who attended summer Mission u welcoming her to Iowa. District Superintendents, Pastors, and Past and Present Officers in Iowa and those who have served on the Jurisdiction and National United Methodist Women were also introduced.
President Rita Vallery called the Business Meeting to order. Minutes were presented by Secretary Becky Heeren and placed on file. Treasurer Ritzanna Seaton presented the pledge to Mission for 2017, which was voted to be $500,000.
In other actions,
- Cheryl Weesner presented the Nominations Report and an election was held.
- Shirley Pfeifer invited the Iowa Conference of United Methodist Women to hold their Annual Meeting in Washington, Iowa in 2017.
- Marcia Young presented the Legacy fund; women were encouraged to make a contribution between now and our 150 anniversary in 2019.
- Mary Taeger gave the Reading Program recognition in the absence of Judy Beckler. We had 764 women participating in the reading program led by the Northwest District having 202 readers.
- Rita Carter gave social Action report. She announced that in 2017 there would be four gatherings in the state on the topic of “Race: The Power of an Illusion”
- Shirley Pfeifer presented the Mission Today Recognitions. There wee 78 Platinum awards, 85 Gold 34 Silver and 19 Special Recognitions. On top of Mission u there were 262 studies around the state in 2016. This includes the district and individual unit studies.
- Linda Peters gave mission u presentation – it will be held in Marshalltown on October 21 – 23.
- Gladys Alvarez presented a first person drama presentation on Martha emphasizing the North Central Jurisdiction meeting, which was held in Grand Rapids Michigan in June.
- Becky Heeren and Cleo Farris presented a skit emphasizing the Inter-generational Mission Trip to Costa Rico in March of 2017. Women must be signed up by November 2016. An offering was taken to help meet the Pledge to Mission from Iowa for 2016.
- New Officers installed were Lynn Calvert as President, Becky Heeren as Secretary, Mary Taeger as Program Resource Chair, Kathi Mitchell as Social Action Chair and Dee Ann Wilson on the Nominations Committee.
- Professor Jill Phillips presented special Music from Luther College.
Following lunch women could choose between four breakouts. Barb Dale presented Climate Justice,, Unaccompanied Minors was presented by Kathi Mitchell with six young people present who had fled oppression and shared their stories. Gladys Alvarez and Rita Vallery presented my Privilege Bead Experience and Emily Johnson presented a breakout on Maternal and Infant Health. Superintendent, Jackie Bradford presented Special Mission Recognition pins to women who have completed their terms on the Conference organization..
The day concluded with Pastor John Caldwell and Bishop Laurie leading the Communion Service.