Budget Team hears suggestions

Budget Team hears suggestions

published 12/11/2018
Iowa Conference boards and agencies had the opportunity to come and offer suggestions to the Budget Review Team on the newly released recommendations to cut approximately $1.3 million from the 2020 budget. About 16 members from various boards and agencies came to the Conference Office for the discussion."

"We've been entrusted by Jesus with a mission to make disciples throughout the world," said Rev. Bill Poland, chairperson of the Budget Team, "so that we - us, in our congregations, and around the world, can reflect the reality of God's reign."  "Sometimes we confine our understanding of resources just to the financial ones that we have as a conference through our apportionments," he added.  

"Right now we're being asked to cut the funding of some very very dear and important ministries...It's more than the cutting of our budget," Poland continued.  "How can we shape our budget so that we're facilitating those things happening on the local level...because that's the primary place where disciples are made," he asked.
Budget team recommendations

The recommendations of the Budget Team include reducing the number of district offices and district administrative assistants from eight to four; ending support of the Iowa Religious Media Association; and cutting the Board of Higher Education and Campus Ministry (BHECM) budget from about $540,000 to $44,000.

Budget Review Team Listening Session from Iowa Annual Conference on Vimeo.

The most well-represented agency during the meeting was BHECM, who raised many questions and concerns to the group.
“How is what wasn’t cut related more to the strategic priorities than what was?” said Rev. Mara Bailey, Simpson College Chaplain. “In my work and my estimation, a lot of what we are cutting significantly is how we are living out our strategic priorities.”

“It was more than just budget cuts," said Poland. "We’ve already noted that there are places in immediate proximity to young adults that are not actively engaging in ministry with them. Missionally, according to the Strategic Priorities, we have to get better at that. We really believe that the partnership between our student ministries with local ministries can improve that.”  The suggestion from the Budget Review Team was looking at how churches in the same communities as the Wesley Foundations and United Methodist Colleges are interacting with each other.
The three strategic priorities, adopted at the 2013 Iowa Annual Conference Session, are creating world-transforming communities of faith; equipping ourselves and others as transformational leaders; and directing our resources to our common goals.
Other suggestions that were raised during the meeting included not paying 100 percent of our General Conference Apportionments but instead paying them at the level received by Annual Conference receipts, and working with churches who are not currently paying 100 percent to increase their wider mission giving. 
“I don’t know that it’s really fair for all of this cutting and suffering to result when people haven’t been held accountable to promises that they’ve made to this connectional system,” Bailey said. “Because of that, our connectional system is suffering. Without the financial means, I don’t see the connection.”
“There are efforts done by district superintendents to address apportionments and there’s a wide variety of reasons why the giving is limited,” Poland said. Further, he wondered aloud about the potential inconsistency of not supporting 100 percent of General Church apportionments in the annual conference budget while at the same time advising local churches that they do need to fully support United Methodist missions and ministries.   

Upcoming listening sessions

The December 8 listening session was the first of four scheduled gatherings.  Upcoming events include:
  • Jan. 13, 2019 at North Liberty United Methodist Church from 2:45 – 4:15 p.m.; 
  • Jan. 20, 2019 at Carroll First United Methodist Church from 2:00 – 3:30 p.m.; and 
  • Jan. 26, 2019 at Ames First United Methodist Church from 10:30 – 12:00 p.m.
The Budget Review Team includes Bill Poland, Harlan Gillespie, Margaret Biggs, Jon Disburg, Paul Burrow, Lillian Gallo-Seagren, Lynne Calvert and Duane Daby. Pastors and church members are encouraged to send suggestions to, which the entire review team receives.

Response to Budget Team Proposal

Response to Budget Team Proposal

published 12/6/2018
Ryan Risdal
Board of Higher Education and Campus Ministries
Iowa Conference, United Methodist Church
Dear Friends:
As Chair of the Iowa Conference Board of Higher Education and Campus Ministries I am truly saddened to have received the finding proposal to dramatically defund the BHECM in 2020. This proposal will severely impact the BHECM and the important ministries we support across Iowa.

This is a tough situation. The BHECM has been preparing for financial uncertainty but this dramatic reduction does leave our Campus Ministries in jeopardy. 

I believe this is the time for us to understand reflect on the impact the next few months have on all connectional ministries in the Iowa Annual Conference.  I do believe the proposed funding cuts are simply a leading indicator to larger situations.  Poor rural economy, elderly congregations, division over human sexuality, saving money for the potential church split are all contributors to these circumstances.  These are clear issues preventing the church from receiving adequate income to support the current structure. 

I urge all Methodists to engage in an internal reflection to understand our connectional relevance in the current social environment.  As Boomers, Gen X, Y, Z and Alpha emerge and retreat from society, our ministries must remain current in the social environment.  The simple fact remains, there is not enough mass(people)to support the churches approach and reflection should take the Iowa Annual Conference to focus on the ones that are not here and understand how to engage these persons and help them start their spiritual journey, while respecting the ones who are here.  Times like these provide an opportunity for persons to honor tradition by asking hard questions to build a church for tomorrow.

In 2019 you will have the opportunity to directly support campus ministry on your own.  The BHECM encourages you to connect with your Campus Ministry of choice and learn how you can support these ministries, building the next generations of spiritual leaders who will transform the world.
Ryan Risdal
The Board of Higher Education and Campus Ministry (BHECM) equips young persons to grow as disciples of Jesus Christ toward becoming spiritual leaders who will transform the church and the world.

The Methodist movement was started on a campus; it was there that John and Charles Wesley formed a campus ministry(theHoly Club) to empower students to develop a relationship with Christ, grow as disciples and combine their Christian service with their vocation in a life-long witness of faith. Though the details have changed due to the needs and demands of each succeeding generation, this process continues to be the primary model through which campus ministries operate in what has now become the United Methodist Church.

In The Book of Discipline,  ¶601 reads,“The purpose of the annual conference is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world by equipping its local churches and by providing a connection for ministry beyond the local churches, all for the glory of God.”

The Board of Higher Education and Campus Ministry is the primary organizing entity and connection to the Annual Conference for the conference’s Wesley Foundations, the United Methodist (UM) campus ministries on selected non-UM-related campuses. In the Iowa Conference, there are four: 
Drake University in Des Moines 
The University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls (
Iowa State University in Ames (
The University of Iowa in Iowa City (

The BHECM also maintains and oversees the relationship between the Annual Conference and its four historically-related United Methodist colleges in Iowa: 
Cornell College in Mt. Vernon (
Iowa Wesleyan College in Mt. Pleasant (
Morningside College in Sioux City (
Simpson College in Indianola (

Budget Team update from Bill Poland

Budget Team update from Bill Poland

published 11/30/2018
In the most recent episode of Iowa Conference Conversations, Rev. Bill Poland describes the work of the Budget Review team and its proposals. The Budget Team has been tasked to recommend a 2020 budget that is missionally-directed by the three Strategic Priorities adopted by the Annual Conference (2013). The Team has also been tasked to propose expense reductions by $1 million.

District Fundraising Challenge

District Fundraising Challenge

published 11/12/2018


 Several weeks ago, a group of eleven clergy and laity from Iowa visited Africa University in Old Mutare, Zimbabwe. Africa University (AU) was founded in 1992 as a United Methodist-related university and draws students from countries all over the African continent. Several of our Iowa clergy are graduates of AU.

We stayed at the Ubuntu Retreat Centre, which was completed several years ago and was funded by United Methodists in the West Michigan (now Michigan) Conference. The Ubuntu Centre houses visiting professors, mission teams, AU board members, conference attendees, and other visitors. 

Upon our arrival, our team noticed that the room designated as the kitchen in the Ubuntu Centre was not finished, which means that all meals have to be transported from the main university kitchen to the Ubuntu Centre. We were so impressed and blessed by our time at Africa University and the hospitality of the Ubuntu Centre that we decided to challenge our eight districts in Iowa to help raise money to furnish the kitchen at an estimated cost of $40,000. We are inviting each district to raise $5,000 by the time of the Iowa Annual Conference in June. We will then offer our gifts together at one of our worship services. 

Please feel free to be creative in your fundraising! To begin our challenge, Gary and I have donated $1,000, which will be split across the eight districts. Thank you for your continuing support for AU.
Bishop Laurie and Rev. Gary Haller
Rev. Darline Balm-Demmel
Rev. Ron and Beth Carlson
Rev. Lilian Gallo-Seagren
Rev. Kiboko Kiboko 
Rev. Carol Kress
Rev. Ben Wedeking
Rev. Paul and Rev. Gayle Wilcox