News

Marshalltown JFON clinic truly a team effort

Marshalltown JFON clinic truly a team effort

published 8/2/2017
The vision for a Justice for Our Neighbors clinic began years ago when Judy Kading lived in Marshalltown. As you are well aware, this has long been a passion for Judy. She led study groups among United Methodists and others, eventually making an application for a Marshalltown clinic. However, that application was denied. I believe, Cedar Rapids received the new clinic at that time. The thought was that persons from Marshalltown could seek assistance from the already established and growing Des Moines clinic. Judy's vision and hope for a clinic in Marshalltown never died.
 
Approximately two years ago, we began dreaming of a clinic in Marshalltown once again. Our community's population has continued to grow as we have welcomed new immigrants. We learned that their number one need is quality legal assistance and hospitality. Immigrant Allies, a community organization, helped bring people together to write and submit a new application. Because of our increased need and a greater staffing presence by JFON in Iowa, our application was approved. 
 
Joa LaVille, who works with immigration issues almost every day as Children/Youth Librarian at the Marshalltown library, is our clinic director. She works tirelessly as an advocate for immigrants and their families within our community and the state of Iowa. She has surrounded herself with many people who share her passion and vision.
 
We have held three clinics in our community. Many faith-based groups and service clubs are behind this effort. Volunteers from many sections of our community are involved under the capable leadership of Sue Martin, former director of the Martha Ellen Tye Foundation. Several churches and many individuals are giving financial resources toward this ministry. First United Methodist Church is providing space and office equipment/supplies. Hope United Methodist Church cares for the financial concerns. Our clinic is truly a team effort. 
 
We wish to thank both the national JFON organization and the Iowa board of directors for their support of our new clinic. The many donors in our community and across the state, we thank you. We also express our gratitude to the attorneys and other staff of JFON of Iowa, who are helping many families in our community and the surrounding area. The work of JFON helps make Marshalltown a better place and builds beloved community. 
 
From Rev. Scott Lothe on July 26, 2017 pastor at Laurel UMC

Altoona UMC mission-minded

Altoona UMC mission-minded

published 7/26/2017
The Altoona United Methodist Church has a tag line that reads "your place to connect." The church is doing just that by sharing their love and resources with others through missional giving.
 
“Unlike most United Methodist churches we have a special emphasis on missions,” said Pastor John Gaulke. “We do a Thanksgiving dinner every year and give all the proceeds away to missions.”
 
Barely paying bills to helping others
Altoona UMC did not always have the funds to help others. More than 20 years ago, the congregation had just enough money to pay the bills from their fundraisers.
 
“For 25 years, the church was financially unstable, so they started to use the money to pay the bills,” said Gaulke. “Then, when the finances started improving, we really felt a calling that we should give it all away.”
 
The congregation eventually decided not to charge money for the Thanksgiving meal and ask for a freewill donation for missions instead. Common sense would predict the congregation would lose money providing the meal without asking for funds to cover the cost but just the opposite happened.
 
“It brought in $25,000 by simply saying we’re going to give it all away and we’re not going to charge,” said Gaulke. “In 2016, the same meal brought in $130,000 and we gave it all away.”
 
Where does the money go? It goes to local, national and international missions. In the past, the Altoona UMC congregation gave money to new mattresses and bedding at Hope Bethel Mission, large projects at Teen Challenge of the Midlands in Colfax, building of wells for fresh water in Peru and Africa and sending seeds to Bolivia through Heifer International. They have also contributed to Meals for the Heartland and built three homes for Habitat for Humanity right in the church parking lot.
 
Helping other Iowa churches
Altoona UMC contributed a van to another Iowa United Methodist congregation. Pastor Aaron Limmo heads the Southern Sudanese (Mabaan) United Methodist congregation. He met Gaulke, former District Superintendent Dave Wessner and former outreach minister Rev. Dr. Karen Nelson.
 
Through Nelson, Gaulke learned of the Southern Sudanese congregation’s need for a van. Sudanese refugees who come to Iowa are given a stipend for a short amount of time, during which they need to find employment and get back on their feet. Often times, they do not have reliable transportation to assist with that.
 
“(We needed the van) to make transportation easy for everyone who doesn't have access to a car,” said Limmo. “The van (is used) for church activities: youth ministry, children ministry, women ministry and visiting other churches.”
 
They also used the van to go to Nebraska for Christmas and New Years celebrations with other Southern Sudanese.
 
After the congregation of Altoona UMC learned of the need, they made it their goal during the 2015 Thanksgiving fundraiser to raise the money to purchase a van. And they did just that and more.
 
“We were able to give a van to the Southern Sudanese congregation and Freedom for Youth ministry in Iowa,” said Gaulke. “Both of these van can be used to transport young people and adults.”
 
Limmo said the van has helped his spread out congregation become more unified with each other and the conference as a whole.
 
“This van means a lot to us and it simplified everything,” he said. “We look forward to a deeper partnership (together) and also to other United Methodist churches as they open their hearts to us as people who are so new in this land.”
 

Our Gift to You is a Gift for Mission

Our Gift to You is a Gift for Mission

published 6/29/2017
Detailed in the graphics with this article is the extent to which the Iowa Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church is reaching out every day to help immigrants and refugees through the service of a hard-working staff at Justice for Our Neighbors.  

The team of four attorneys: Brynne Howard, Ann Naffier, April Palma and Emily Sohn Rebelskey, augmented by the two BIA-accredited reps Grisell Herrera and Laura Mendoza, along with the able efforts of legal assistant Racheal Duang is bringing transformation to the lives of our new neighbors.

In Decorah, in Storm Lake, in Ottumwa, in Columbus Junction, in Cedar Rapids, in Des Moines and in our newest site at Marshalltown, there are United Methodist Churches opening their doors on a monthly basis to help immigrants and refugees.  Our main focus is families--we keep families from being separated.  We help to reunite families that have been separated. We help families torn apart by violence to achieve peace and stability.  We help families that need stable income by obtaining employment authorizations.  We help families to transform their lives so they can achieve brighter futures in the U.S. 

You can read many stories of our clients at www.iaumc.org/jfon. However, there are times when numbers are important, too.  For the size of our staff, it is amazing that they have touched the lives of so many refugees and immigrants here in Iowa.  There are clients from 49 countries represented. The first circle graph entitled TOTAL cases includes those that rolled over from 2016.  NEW Cases are those that began after January 1, 2017. 

We offer to you, those of you who pray for this ministry, those of you who donate to this  ministry and those of you who volunteer for this ministry, the fruits of our labor. 

Click here to view Iowa JFON Case data charts.