You are invited to Be a Part of theĀ Vision 2032 ConversationĀ on Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019

You are invited to Be a Part of the Vision 2032 Conversation on Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019

published 11/18/2019

The Central District Vision 2032 session will be livestreamed and you will be able to watch it online by going to the Iowa Conference of The United Methodist Church's homepage at The livestream will begin at 6:30 p.m. and should wrap up around 8:00 p.m. 

The session will be divided in to three parts:

  1. A presentation of Vision 2032

  2. A presentation of the current context of the Iowa Conference

  3. A presentation framing the conversation

There will be two times during the presentation when you will be asked to engage in small group discussions. During the session or when the session is over, feel free to email your responses to Your observations and ideas will be added to what has been expressed in other sessions to help inform and guide the future directions for the Iowa United Methodists.

If you would like to lead a Vision 2032 session in your own congregation, resources and videos are available online.

All of the feedback gathered at during the Vision 2032 sessions will be collected and added when available here.

Follow up sessions will begin in January. Times and locations will be announced soon.

District Office Transitions

District Office Transitions

published 11/8/2019

Friends in Christ, 
I give thanks to God for your faithful and effective ministries led by the Holy Spirit for the sake of Jesus Christ. You continue to find ways each day to share the love of God in Jesus Christ with your neighbors here and around the world encouraging growth in discipleship. 
By December 30th of this year, the physical office spaces that have been used for district superintendents and district administrative assistants will be closed. This transition is taking place to lower administrative costs that require Apportionment funding.
District Superintendents and District Administrative Assistants will continue to have their regular phone number and email addresses as well as access to all the technology to support you in your ongoing mission and ministry for the sake of Jesus Christ. This transition will include some new way of supporting you electronically. We invite your patience and your helpful comments as we continue to improve together.
We expect that the transition to the virtual offices for the district superintendents and district administrative assistants to happen around the first of December.
The virtual offices for the district superintendents will also be mobile offices. Bishop Laurie Haller expects the superintendents to make regular and frequent visits with clusters of pastors and churches on their districts so they may fulfill their role as district missional strategists. This will provide your district superintendent intentional time and effort to connect pastors and churches with each other for prayer, mutual support, encouragement, and sharing best practices for connective ministry. Please contact your superintendent directly for messages, questions, and setting up an appointment with her or him: 

Southwest District
Terra Amundson: 712-227-1126 |

Northwest District
Ron Carlson: 712-227-1351 |

South Central District
Moody Colorado: 641-328-5814 |

Southeast District 
Doug Cue: 319-382-0621 |

Central District
Heecheon Jeon: 515-974-8910 |

East Central District
Kiboko Kiboko: 319-382-0072 |

North Central District
Carol Kress: 515-297-8580 |

Northeast District
Paul Wilcox: 319-382-0079 | 

District administrative assistants are, as required by Federal Law, hourly employees. Traveling would unnecessarily restrict their work hours for administrative support of the districts. Their virtual office hours will be Monday through Thursday and average 10 hours per day. This will provide focused time for district administrative assistants to work together as a team to connect superintendents, pastors, and lay leadership for effective ministry. Please contact them with any messages, questions, or information that pertains to their work with you; and remember, they will be available by phone or email to assist with all of their pastors’ and churches’ needs.

Central District and South Central District                
Sue Booth: 515-207-8709 |

Northwest District and Southwest District                
Judi Calhoon: 712-732-0812 |

North Central District and Northeast District            
Alanna Warren: 515-832-2784 |

East Central District and Southeast District               
Ann Zeal: 319-365-6273 |
What does this mean for clergy, laity, churches, and the ministries of the districts? 

Much of what is happening now will continue with intended improvements:

  • District communications through calendars and websites; and
  • Support for charge/church conference profile records of clergy persons and churches.

These two functions make up most of the work of the district administrative assistants and are the major pieces of record keeping that directly affect appointment making, church revitalization, and starts of new communities of faith.  

Clergy and laity are key partners with your district administrative assistants to make sure that these records, along with pastoral evaluation forms, salary forms (Form I), and local church ministry plans are completed in full, accurate, and turned in on time with no delays. This, along with the face-to-face visits of district superintendents and the directors of new faith communities, clergy and leadership excellence, and congregational excellence, has the greatest potential to resource the mission and ministry of the local church in partnership with area United Methodist churches and their communities. 
There will be some changes to strengthen leadership. 

  • The annual church/charge conference forms will be reviewed and updated so that only the essential information for the success of the local church/charge and the pastor is required.
  • District committee chairpersons will need to be the primary connector for their district committee functions (such as meetings and reports) and for their relationship to their Conference committees, boards, and agencies. 
  • District chairpersons and/or the district committee secretaries will need, as you always have been expected, to send your committee minutes in a timely fashion following your meetings to your district administrative assistant for the district files.
  • We will be working with the appropriate boards and agencies to streamline the grant application process so that more of the information is shared directly between the granting agency and those applying for grants rather than going through the district administrative assistants.

Life, as well as the church as the body of Christ, is always full of transitions. Transitions can be seen as interruptions to cherished routines; yet, the simple and profound transition of the act of breathing is essential for our personal lives, like the transitional “breathing” that is prayer is essential for our lives in Christ, personally and as the church.
Jesus encouraged his followers and us with a ready way to transition in daily faith: Ask, Seek, and Knock (Matthew 7:7-12). Jesus taught us to be curious rather than curt, search rather than subvert, and knock to open the door of communication. 
I invite your comments and questions. Please email me at or call at 515-974-8903. I am sure that there will be adjustments to what I have written in this note that will provide for more improvements and corrections. 
Thank you for your faithfulness to Jesus Christ and the mission and ministry we share.
Harlan Gillespie
Assistant to the Bishop for Administration and Connectional Ministries 

Two-day event brought pastoral leaders together

Two-day event brought pastoral leaders together

published 10/7/2019
Rev. Dr. Lillian Daniel was the featured presenter at the fall 2019 gathering of the Order of Elders, Order of Deacons, and Fellowship of Local Pastors and Associate Members of the Iowa Annual Conference.  

The event, held at the Christian Life Center of Ankeny First United Methodist Church, brought together nearly two hundred pastoral leaders of the Conference for two days of thought-provoking reflection and earnest dialogue.

During the opening worship, Rev. Heather Dorr asked, “When was the last time that you were quiet and took a day off from your work” and gave space to God’s prominence and promises in your life?  Ancestors in the faith “recognized the need for a day off and a day to glorify God.” Jesus saw the Sabbath “as a day to be set free and to be healed.” She advised her pastoral colleagues, “We need to take a day off, for our own health – physical and emotional.”

“In a culture that no longer believes in the Sabbath…our worth is determined by our productivity…But that’s not true!”  She added, “The Sabbath is made for healing and freedom-giving and reconciling power…your worth is determined by the grace offered to you by Jesus Christ.”
Read more about Rev. Lillian Daniel's presentation at the 2019 Fall Gathering.

As the featured presenter, Rev. Lillian Daniel spoke on Tuesday morning and afternoon, and again on Wednesday morning and afternoon. Daniel is the pastor of First Congregational Church in Dubuque. An internationally renowned preacher, teacher, and author, her recent writing has been addressed to the laity and people who aren’t yet attached to a faith community.  

Great thanks to the pastors and community of Ankeny First United Methodist Church for the hospitality and to Educational Opportunities for providing Tuesday’s lunch.

Simpson RLC and Indianola First serve RAGBRAI XLVII Riders

Simpson RLC and Indianola First serve RAGBRAI XLVII Riders

published 7/26/2019

What do live music, dancing chickens and iced coffee have in common? RAGBRAI and United Methodists of course! Simpson College Chaplain Mara Bailey chats with us about the space the Holy Grounds Coffee Shop provided riders to get away, and the team at Indianola First UMC talked about how RAGBRAI brings the congregation together.

Simpson RLC and Indianola First serve RAGBRAI XLVII Riders from Iowa Annual Conference on Vimeo.


A New Way to Support Camping

A New Way to Support Camping

published 5/15/2019

A New Way to Support Camping

Iowa United Methodist Camps are excited to launch the Kindling Club, a new way to ensure the sustainability of camping across the state for the next generation of youth and adults.

Okoboji, Pictured Rocks and Wesley Woods United Methodist Camps have impacted hundreds of thousands of lives over the past 100+ years. Many people, myself included, look at their time at camp as the single most formational faith experience of their lives. If you weren’t already aware, let me tell you that camping is a powerful experience for both youth and adults.

In my role as Director of Camps and Retreats for the Iowa United Methodist Church, I am tasked with guiding the Camping Ministry across the state in conjunction with the Board of Conference Camp and Retreat Ministries. One of our biggest challenges is how to effectively steer the camping program through a divided United Methodist Church not just from a theological standpoint, but a financial one. 

How Camp Budgets Work

As explained in the video above, no non-profit residential camping program that I am aware of makes enough money through registrations and usage alone to sustain itself. To most people this is surprising. However, after staffing, utility, insurance, upkeep, maintenance and marketing costs, it’s easy to see how expenses outweigh revenue. United Methodist Camps are not unique in this way. This is true for other non-profit residential camping programs as well, including YMCA, Boy Scout, Girl Scout and other Religiously Affiliated Camps. Most camping programs generate approximately 1/3rd of their revenue through summer events, 1/3rd of their revenue through year-round retreats/rentals and the remaining 1/3rd comes from partners and donors. 

Why Do Our Camps Need Financial Support?

Due to diminished apportionment receipts, we are already seeing changes to how ministries are financially supported in the Iowa Annual Conference. In 2015, Iowa United Methodist Camps received nearly $800,000 through the apportionment system. In 2020 it is scheduled to be just over $600,000. We anticipate that number continuing to decrease, putting greater stress on the Iowa Board of Camps to appropriately fund camping in this conference. The bulk of our donor funding as a camping ministry comes directly from the Iowa Annual Conference Apportionment System and we are finding that system to be too strained to adequately support Residential Camping Ministry.

This is causing a variety of changes within Iowa Camps, see the adjacent article entitled FAQ’s about a sale of Pictured Rocks United Methodist Camp, but mostly it is a case study of the risk associated with what is called a “single donor model”. In a single donor model, the bulk of the funding comes from one person or entity. It is a risky model because if the single donor were to be unable to fully fund a ministry, the ministry would quickly experience financial problems. The single donor of the Iowa United Methodist Camping Ministry is the Iowa Annual Conference. While grateful and supportive of camping, the Iowa Annual Conference is unable to support it financially in the way that is necessary to reach its full potential.
How Can We Afford a Ministry We Can’t Afford to Lose?

What we are proposing is changing the Iowa United Methodist Camping Program from a Single Donor Model to a “Diversified Donor Model”. The way we do this is by engaging our churches, former campers, former staff and general camp supporters directly and asking them to give a small amount, on a sustainable monthly basis, as a way to help Okoboji, Pictured Rocks and Wesley Woods reach new heights as we work to decrease our apportionment footprint. To do so, we are inviting supporters to become members of the Kindling Club. The Kindling Club allows you, a camp supporter, to contribute directly to a camping ministry of your choice. 

Why is it called the Kindling Club? Campfires are a tradition in any camping program. Songs are sung, S’Mores are eaten, skits are performed and Christ’s love is shared. What many people forget, is that to build a roaring fire it is important to start with small sticks, twigs and paper. We call those small pieces Kindling. Not everyone can give thousands of dollars, but most of us can give $10 per month. Some can give $20 per month. A few can give even more. With enough Kindling Club members, the financial future of Iowa United Methodist Camping is secure. 

There is a tremendous amount of change happening in our denomination. While change can be scary, it doesn’t always have to be. What if 5,000 people across our United Methodist System in Iowa become direct camping partners through the Kindling Club? What if our partner churches and church members say they will step up individually, contributing to a campsite directly? I think that we would find camps better positioned to sustain their operations, retire debt and ultimately impact more people in the name of Jesus Christ.

How Do I Sign Up?

If you haven’t watched the video above yet, please take a few minutes to do so. To sign up for the Kindling Club, feel free to find information online or via paper copy on Or, contact your favorite Campsite and the friendly staff will happily guide you through getting on board.

Happy Camping, Friends! We are blessed to have your support!

Bryan Johnson
Lake Okoboji UM Camp – 712-336-2936
Pictured Rocks UM Camp – 319-465-4194
Wesley Woods UM Camp – 515-961-4523
Director of Camps and Retreats – 515-974-8913

Big changes for 2019 Ingathering

Big changes for 2019 Ingathering

published 2/1/2019
The 40th Annual Mission Ingathering will be held on Saturday, November 2, 2019.

Reverend Eric Schubert, Greenfield UMC Pastor, spoke at the December task force meeting about what Ingathering says versus what it does. As a result, there is now a new vision: To show God's love in a practical way so people can meet Jesus Christ; a new mission: Mission Ingathering is a way for Iowa United Methodists to address humanitarian problems locally and around the world, including hunger, poverty, and disaster; and a new purpose: To show the love of Christ to the world's people by ministering to their needs. To align with the new statements, the name was changed from Thanksgiving Ingathering to Mission Ingathering. The 2019 book will include these changes.

Due to the many changes at the UMCOR Sager Brown warehouse, Chantel Corrie, the director of Midwest Mission Distribution Center, was invited to the meeting to discuss having kits sent there for processing. Following discussion, a decision was made to send the items brought to Ingathering to Midwest Mission which opened for ministry in 2000. The Board of Directors is made up of two delegates from each conference of the North Central Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church and up to three delegates from neighboring conferences.

Midwest Mission collects, makes, assembles, and restores supplies for humanitarian and disaster relief. The work is done by volunteers who come from all over the U.S. to serve. The 30,000 square-foot facility is located on a 10-acre campus 4 miles south of Springfield, Illinois. It is the second largest of the cooperating depots in the UMCOR Relief Supply Network, and partners with Food for the Poor, Franciscan Mission Warehouse, Christians in Mission, and U.S. South Command donating supplies to humanitarian aid missions.  

Click here to download the 2019 Ingathering book.  |  Click here to go to Midwest Mission kits and patterns.