38th Annual Thanksgiving Ingathering site information

38th Annual Thanksgiving Ingathering site information

published 10/12/2017

38th Annual
Thanksgiving Ingathering

Saturday - November 4, 2017

Projects supported by Thanksgiving Ingathering donations include:

Click here for more information about the Thanksgiving InGathering.

NO cash, NO checks, and NO Remittance forms in the kit boxes.
Make checks payable to THANKSGIVING INGATHERING.

Any UMCOR Clean-up buckets and Hygiene Kits that didn't go on the shipments for Hurricane Harvey Disaster Response will go on trailers that will be at all of the In-Gathering sites. Hurricane Harvey disaster response information from September 2, 2017, click here.

Site Information:


Iowa Wesleyan College
Howe Student Activity Center
Broadway & North Main Streets
Mt. Pleasant, Iowa

Judy Brotherton, Chair, 563-264-5372,
Lucas Van Tol, Treasurer, 319-621-1933,
Jason Collier, Youth Event, 563.343.3390,

8:00 - 9:30 am: Check-in of bazaar and auction items
8:00 - 10:00 am: Check-in of kits outside Student Activity Center
9:00 - 11:00 am: Bazaar and mission displays open, coffee and rolls available
10:45 am: Praise Band Music
11:15 am: Celebration and Communion – music by IWU music students
12:30 pm: Professionally-called quilt auction

Lunch is available in the Iowa Wesleyan cafeteria beginning at 11:00 am. The cafeteria is located on the upper level of the Student Union.


Asbury United Methodist Church
921 Des Moines St.
Webster City, Iowa

Scott & Cathi Griswold, Chairs, 515-543-8165,
Tami Hejlik, Treasurer, 515-571-7858,
Jennifer Peterson, Youth Retreat contact, 515-832-5369 (Asbury Church)

Friday evening: Youth Retreat, grades 6-12. Join us for fellowship, swimming, and games at Fuller Hall. Food, fun, and rewarding hard work Saturday morning. Watch District newsletter for information or contact Asbury UMC.

8:00 - 10:30 am: Registration, check-in kits, funds and in-kind gifts Coffee and rolls available
SORRY, NO LATE KITS – the truck leaves at 11:00 am
8:30 am: Mission displays open outside the sanctuary
10:30 am: Worship Service
11:45 am: Luncheon


First United Methodist Church
718 Clay Street
Cedar Falls, Iowa

Jan Benson, Chair,, 319-268-9111
Kris Rash,, 319-984-5608
Chuck Norman, Youth Event,, 319-230-9489

7:30 - 10:30 am: Check-in kits, quilts, bazaar, and bake sale items
         Fellowship time with coffee and rolls
         VOUCHER room open
NOTE: All kits must be turned in by 10:30. The truck leaves promptly at 11:00.
8:30 - 10:00 am: Self-guided tours of kit packing area
          Mission Presentations in library
9:00 - 12:30 pm: Bazaar in Parlor
10:00 - 11:00 am: Worship with Communion, various mission speakers
11:00 - 2:45 pm: Hot meat sandwich lunch ($6-adults; $3-age 5-12, under 5 free)
1:00 pm: Quilt auction-large & baby quilts, wall hangings, table runners


Western Iowa Technical Convention Center
200 Victory Drive (Highway 59, across from McDonalds)
Cherokee, Iowa

Arlene Roemmich, Site Chair, 712-446-3352,
Sally Wilkie, Site Chair, 712-437-2519,
Pam Mitchell, Treasurer, 712-256-0001,
Judi Calhoon, Youth Retreat Contact, 712-732-0812,

8:00 - 10:00 am: Check-in of kits, quilts, bazaar items (NO FOOD ITEMS)    
          Coffee and rolls
7:30 - 10:30 am: Loading trucks
8:00 - 12:15 pm: Silent quilt and woodcraft auction
10:00 am: Program
11:30 am: Lunch
12:30 pm: Live quilt auction


Greenfield United Methodist Church
108 SW 5th St. or PO Box 92 641-743-2715 
Greenfield, Iowa

Jim McIntosh, Co-Chair,, 641-347-8863
Jim Tussey, Co-Chair,, 641-782-8704 
Marilyn Jensen, Treasurer,, 641-745-2923
Crystal Ellis, Youth Retreat Coordinator,, 515-981-4252

Youth Retreat registration 7 to 8 pm Friday. Please return registration forms so we can plan. Please send at least one adult per 10 youth; both a male & female adult, if both youth are in your group. Registration fee is $10 for grades 7-12. 

8:00 am: Kits, Bazaar, and Auction Check-in begins
8:30 am: Handmade Rolls & Coffee
9:00 am: Handmade Items & Baked Goods Bazaar begins
9:05 am: Mission Project Talks begin
10:30 am: Worship Service with CWS speaker, Chantal Boyd
(Lunch begins immediately following worship)
1:00 pm: Quilt Auction

Make checks payable to Thanksgiving Ingathering. Churches sending “CASH ONLY” (no kits) to the Greenfield Ingathering are requested to mail checks early the week of November 4th to Marilyn Jensen, Site Treasurer, 2706 Fallow Ave., Fontanelle, IA 50846.

Retreat lays fresh foundation

Retreat lays fresh foundation

published 9/13/2017
On September 8 and 9, a group of Iowa Conference of The United Methodist Church leaders gathered at Honey Creek Resort in Moravia, Iowa to spend time reflecting and recreating together as a team. The mission of the Leadership Team Collaboration was to engage leadership staff in discernment and planning that builds trust and enables completion of important tasks while other healthy conference processes are underway.
In attendance were Bishop Laurie Haller; Bill Poland, Assistant to the Bishop for Administration; Karen Dungan, Assistant to the Bishop  for Connectional Ministries; Joni Mardesen, Director of Human Resources and Conference Benefits Officer; Maggie Biggs, Treasurer and Director of Administrative Services; Liz Winders, Associate Director of Communications; Bruce Wittern, Chair of the Standing Committee on Parish Development; Margaret Borgen, Iowa Conference Lay Leader; Dr. Mary Bellon, Director of the Office of Pastoral Care and Counseling; Bryan Johnson, Leadership Development Minister for Camping and Christian Formation; all of the District Superintendents and Field Outreach Ministers.
Bishop Laurie opened with devotions on Friday afternoon using scripture from 2 Kings 6:8-23. In the story, Elisha thwarts an attack on Israel by the army of the King of Aram. When the king of Israel saw that they were surrounded by the army of Aram, he asked Elisha, “Father, shall I kill them? Shall I kill them?” Elisha answered, “’No! Did you capture with your sword and your bow those whom you want to kill? Set food and water before them so that may eat and drink, and let them go to their master.’ So he prepared for them a great feast; after they ate and drank, he sent them on their way, and they went to their master. And Arameans no longer came raiding into the land of Israel.” Elisha knew that the solution was in allowing God to lead them. Bishop Laurie’s emphasis was that now is the time to be adaptive in our leadership so we, with God’s help, can lead the change that is needed and invite all people to the table.
Revs. Bill and Sheri Daylong led the group on both days during times of contemplative worship and prayer that allowed everyone time to breathe and rest in God’s presence.
Bryan Johnson facilitated the group in a fun afternoon of reconnecting and “getting-to-know-you” activities using games and small prizes. Each activity was simple and showed attendees ways they can become more effective leaders by using icebreakers and creative games for small and large groups at the conference and in churches.
Saturday morning began with a time of centering and prayers and then Joni Mardesen and Karen Dungan moved into discussing the issues and tasks at hand.
The first topic was the Field Outreach Ministry team, now that it consists of six members instead of eight, and how to restructure that in the coming months. This included discussing how the Healthy Church Initiative process and churches will be affected by the restructuring of the FOMs. The group used the Six Thinking Hats method, developed by Edward De Bono, to help move quickly through the discussion. One of the benefits named in the group discussion was that ultimately leaving two FOM positions vacant has given the conference the opportunity to rethink and restructure that position.
The next topic discussed was the Director of New Faith Communities Director position that is currently being advertised. Joni Mardesen shared how the interviews were going and talked about how the newly created position would be structured.
Lastly, the group went over ways to integrate the Wildly Important Goal (WIG) conference-wide—that every church in the Iowa Annual Conference will develop a process for intentionally forming disciples of Jesus Christ by the year 2020. Ideas were formed on communication strategies for the WIG and looking into how other conferences carry out their goals.
The retreat concluded with communion and prayers led by Bill and Sheri. Collectively, as leaders in the Iowa Annual Conference there is plenty of challenging work yet to be done. The retreat laid a fresh foundation on how to work together as a team to accomplish the conference’s mission and vision.

Calvary UMC living Nativity reflects true meaning of Christmas

Calvary UMC living Nativity reflects true meaning of Christmas

published 12/22/2016
By Roxanne Strike

Since St. Francis of Assisi first displayed a Nativity scene, or crèche, in 1223, these depictions of the Christmas story have been a popular part of the Advent season across the world. United Methodist churches in Iowa have gladly been a part of that tradition for years, often making it an annual tradition.
Calvary United Methodist Church in Ames has hosted it annual living Nativity scene for more than a decade, said church member Dennis Toft, who has been involved with the program for 10 years.
“Pastor Lynn Elrod came up with the idea and promoted it,” said Toft. “He and a family in the church supported that and built the barn with wood from a farm in Prairie City.”
The annual display includes church members who sign up for 30-minute shifts to play the roles of Joseph, Mary, shepherds and wise men; a manger, a large barn structure and live animals. Inside the church, several volunteers prepare a hot meal for the actors for between their shifts. Women from the church sewed the costumes and continue upkeep on the costumes.
The scene is set up in front of the church so families and visitors can drive past or park to come visit the animals and actors. When all is said and done, anywhere from 20 to 40 volunteers help pull off the annual event said current Pastor Steve Campbell.

Enriching the experience 

After Elrod left Calvary in 2008, the Rev. Dr. Emmanuel Dass took the reigns and continued the annual tradition, while overseeing updates to create a more fulfilling experience.
In 2011, Toft and other church members redesigned the barn. The original barn was very large and extremely heavy, making storage and set up difficult. Toft drafted the design of the barn and utilized the original lumber. The barn could now be set up by only two people in less than two hours.
“We saw a need and it made the process much easier, “ said Toft. “It helps so we can focus on our efforts on other planning.”
Dass and Toft oversaw an addition to the actual portrayal of the Nativity. Church members and Nativity actors Gary and Jami Mirka thought to read the Christmas story from the Gospels as people stopped by.
“It helped enrich the experience,” said Dass. “Not only were people seeing the story in flesh and blood, but they are hearing it as well from the Gospel.”
Toft said he and volunteers are always thinking of new ways to add to the experience. Toft said he’s thought about using some kind of animatronics in addition to the live animals and volunteers.
“I haven’t done anything with the idea yet, but there are always ways we can improve the event,” he said.

Connecting with the community

“The tradition is a good way to connect with the community,” said Dass. “People really enjoy coming out there to see it.”
This year, due to bad weather, between 40 and 60 attended. Last year, though, on Friday night, 70 people visited and 100 people came the following night.
“The scene is a very deeply moving experience,” said Campbell, who has not participated in a live Nativity before coming to Calvary. “The meaning of the Incarnation comes to life.”
Just like St. Francis hoped to bring the true meaning of Christmas to followers, so do modern day churches. Through the years, the members of Calvary have seen the way community members have connected with the spirit of Christmas.
One year, a woman was brought to tears as she looked on the scene. She then prayed together with church members. Another year, a woman asked what the church was doing. She left, but shortly came back with a van full of people wanting to make donations.
For the members of Calvary, though, it isn’t about receiving donations or what they can get in return, it’s about giving back to their community.
“We want to keep the money out of it,” said Toft. “It’s our gift to the community.”

Glory Sightings

Glory Sightings

published 7/25/2016

By: Rev. Katharine Yarnell, Field Outreach Minister North Central District

Swaledale UMC lets their bells ring

Swaledale United Methodist Church participated in the Healthy Small Church Initiative this year, and Pastor Travis Stevick invited longtime church member, Don Hanson, to preach. 

To Hanson, this was a bold step out in faith, and it was immensely appreciated! 

During Hanson's childhood, the Swaledale church would ring their bell to call the town to worship. Over the years, that tradition had gradually stopped. Hanson encouraged the Swaledale congregation to continue their tradition of ringing the church bell.

Since Swaledale United Methodist Church is the only congregation still open in the area, they can let the bells ring out to the entire town now!

Thank you for your witness!

Gowrie UMC shows how the church helps those in need

The second “Glory Sighting” is Gowrie United Methodist Church, which this year held its 128th annual Chicken Dinner during the Fourth of July Festival in town. 

This event is so popular (and the chicken so tasty) that people need to wait in the sanctuary before it is their turn to go to the fellowship hall to eat. In previous years, bands would play entertaining music, but people usually talked over the music, so eventually they discontinued the music. 

This year, however, Gary Vosberg thought it would be a good idea to have mission videos playing (sound off, closed captioning on) for people to watch while they waited. 

Vosberg was able to play the mission videos from and under the Resources tab where there are several choices. 

To play them using the closed captioning, click on the small black square marked "CC" on the bottom right corner of the YouTube video (about 80% of the videos have this button).

For the first time, while people waited, there was silence in the sanctuary as people watched how United Methodist's mission support and apportionment partnership funds are helping those in need. 

As the United Methodist Mission Statement says, “Making disciples of Jesus Christ for the Transformation of the World.”  

Thank you for this wonderful idea!


Renwick UMC will host Special Hair Donation Event

Renwick UMC will host Special Hair Donation Event

published 5/5/2016

Pastor Lynn Gardner will be cutting at least 12 inches of her long white hair and donating it to "Pantene Beautiful Lengths" for cancer patients, as part of a Special Spring Fundraiser at Renwick United Methodist Church.  

On Sunday, May 22nd, the Renwick United Methodist Church will host this special Hair Donation Event that will begin at 6:00 PM with a pot luck supper and the community is invited to join in the fun of the evening.  

Following the community pot-luck supper in the Fellowship Hall at Renwick United Methodist church, 610 Kelling Street, Renwick Iowa, Pastor Lynn's hair will be cut by Linda Lane.

If the donation goal of $7,500.00 or more is raised, Pastor Lynn's hair could be as short as Nate Huntley's. Renwick Fire & Ambulance has been designated to receive 10% of the total cash collected. Another 10% of the cash collected will be given to help support Dr. Ashley & Mike McCurry who are serving at Kapsowar Hospital in Kenya, East Africa.

First United Methodist in Ames welcomes new associate pastor

First United Methodist in Ames welcomes new associate pastor

published 1/11/2016
By Grayson Schmidt, Staff Writer, Ames Tribune 

The Rev. J. Cephas Davis’ faith is stronger than most people’s. That is because he was tested at an early age, growing up in war-torn West Africa.

“That experience completely shaped my thinking and belief in God,” Davis said. “By the grace of God I have come this far, from growing up in a civil war. Children my age (and younger) lost their lives and I’m still here today.”

Davis, 39, is the new associate pastor at First United Methodist Church in Ames. He hopes his story can bring a different perspective on faith and the world to people in central Iowa. He will officially join the church during services on Sunday.

“When I talk about hunger, I know what it is like to be actually hungry. I’ve been hungry before,” Davis said. “I remember walking for days without food, just water.”

Born in the coastal country of Liberia in 1977, Davis said he lived in a peaceful country until civil war broke out when he was 12 years old. During that 14-year time span, death, war and starvation became an everyday occurrence. He said bombs would get dropped daily, and he became accustomed to seeing dead bodies in the street when he would walk home. By the time the war ended, Davis said approximately 300,000 people lost their lives. That period could have caused him to abandon his beliefs, but instead, Davis said they grew stronger.

“Coming to the U.S., I hear people talking about war, especially the Iraq War, and I just get sick to my stomach, because I have lived in a war-torn country,” Davis said. “I grew up in the church, and I think that is what really helped me.”

Davis became more involved with the church, eventually becoming a youth president in his home church, vice president of the district church school, campus minister and, finally, a deacon and elder in the United Methodist Church. He also began doing missionary work around the world and in his home country, where he worked with orphans, child soldiers and other children from broken homes.

He eventually immigrated to the U.S. in April 2005, where he became a volunteer youth pastor in Coon Rapids, Minn. (where he met his wife Phyllis), and then in various cities around Texas.

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