RESCHEDULED: Northwest and Southwest Vision 2032 follow up sessions

RESCHEDULED: Northwest and Southwest Vision 2032 follow up sessions

published 1/16/2020

Due to the predicted winter storm, we have made the decision to reschedule the Northwest and Southwest District Vision 2032 follow up sessions. The new dates and times are:

Northwest District:
Saturday, January 25 at Sioux City First UMC 10 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

Southwest District:
Saturday, January 25 at Council Bluffs Broadway UMC 2:30 p.m. - 4 p.m.

The South Central District will still be holding its session on Sunday, January 19 at Osceola UMC 4 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.

Thank you for your patience and understanding as we strive to keep everyone safe this winter! If you have further questions, feel free to reach out to us by emailing or visit


Bishop Laurie Haller

Vision 2032 II conversations begin January 11th

Vision 2032 II conversations begin January 11th

published 1/15/2020

You are invited to Vision 2032 II a follow-up conversation on what was heard during the Fall of 2019 at Vision 2032: All In Visioning Sessions with Bishop Laurie. It will begin with introductory remarks from Bishop Laurie and continue with ideas on plans for the Iowa Annual Conference to move forward in mission and ministry. Your participation is encouraged and you will be able to share in dialogue with those presenting.

During the Fall of 2019, Vision 2032: All In gatherings were held throughout Iowa where attendees were able to share ideas on how to build a future together as Iowa United Methodists.

The sessions were broken into three sections: Visioning, Context and Framing. In the Vision section, Bishop Laurie shared her hope for the United Methodist Church in 2032. The date, 12 years from now, comes from a presentation she gave to the Church of the Resurrection’s Leadership Institute. Read Bishop Laurie’s Vision 2032. In the Context section participants heard about Iowa Annual Conference's challenges and in the Framing section ideas were shared on how to reduce the Iowa Annual Conference's budget through staff realignments, adaptive, and structural changes. After the presentation, participants broke into small groups and were asked to answer the following questions: 

  • What concerns do you have for our future as United Methodists?
  • What excites you for our future as Iowa United Methodists?
  • With God’s guidance, what kind of better, faster, stronger Iowa Conference can we build with a $6 - 8 million budget?
  • What specific recommendations do you have around staffing and ministry needs?

Each table group wrote their answers on a sheet and presented to the full group. Those responses were been gathered and recorded. Read responses from each district.

The first two Vision 2032 II sessions begin on Saturday, January 11, in the North Central District (Story City Grace) at 10:00 am and following that in the North East District (Cedar Falls First) at 2:30 pm. See below for a full list of dates and locations for the remaining January sessions. 

North Central District - 10:00 am - 11:30 am
Saturday, January 11
Story City Grace  

North East District - 2:30 pm - 4:00 pm
Saturday, January 11 
Cedar Falls First

South Central District - 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Sunday, January 19

East Central District - 10:00 am - 11:30 am
Saturday, January 25

UPDATE: Northwest District - 10:00 am - 11:30 am
Saturday, January 25
Sioux City First

Southeast District - 2:30 pm - 4:00 pm
Saturday, January 25 

UPDATE: Southwest District - 2:30 pm - 4:00 pm
Saturday, January 25
Council Bluffs Broadway 

Central District - 2:30 pm - 4:00 pm
Sunday, January 26
Walnut Hills

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 

Hamburg UMC receives $30,000 from Iowa Disaster Ministries

Hamburg UMC receives $30,000 from Iowa Disaster Ministries

published 11/8/2019

Prayer for Continued Recovery in Hamburg, Iowa from Iowa Annual Conference on Vimeo.

Prayers, hard work, and donations have poured into Hamburg, Iowa since the spring floods, and United Methodists were able to give church members some extra encouragement this week. Through giving across the connection, $30,000 from the Iowa Disaster Ministries Advance Special #223 was gifted to the church community for recovery.
“We came to support you, to love you, to care for you,” said Pastor Catie Newman, Iowa Conference Disaster Response Coordinator, during the check presentation.
Pastor Luke Fillmore and several church members gathered in the sanctuary of Hamburg First United Methodist Church to receive the gift from Newman, Assistant to the Bishop, Harlan Gillespie, and Southwest District Superintendent Terra Amundson.

“I felt strongly that we needed to make a big deal (of this gift) so that people understand the connection and our care,” said Newman.
That connection goes far beyond Iowa. Support for flood relief and recovery has poured in from communities from all over the country, and not all of them United Methodist.
Jim Nahkunst talked about shipments of bottled water and hay bales for livestock that the community arranged by a Farm Service Agency (FSA) office in Central Ohio. “We keep asking them ‘how can we repay you?’ and they answer ‘pass it on’, so we will.”
Church members also reminisced about when they made several hundred flood buckets for another community in Iowa during a previous flood, and what it was like to have received them back.
“On behalf of all the church family members, thank you so much,” said Judy Holliman when church members accepted the check from the conference.
You can still donate to Iowa Disaster Ministries Advance Special #223 to help flood recovery by mailing a check to the Iowa Conference Office, 2301 Rittenhouse Street, Des Moines, Iowa 50321 with Advance #223 in the memo, or by giving online here.

Catching up with church members
Last April, Iowa Conference Communicators were able to speak with several church and community members. Read the original news report with their video stories here. This November, we caught up with a few of them to hear how they were doing.
  • Jim Nahkunst replied “short” when asked how the harvest was going this fall. He was able to get crops planted in all but about 500 acres, roughly one-fourth of the land he cares for. He’s hopeful for next season and thankful to everyone who has helped care for the farmers and the community.
  • Gary Barrett was working away in The Center, a community gathering place in downtown Hamburg, with another church member. He is thankful for the churches and other groups that came in to tear out and put in new drywall. “I think we have a paint crew in next week,” he said with a smile.
  • Virginia Lynn is still traveling and living with family in Oklahoma and Virginia. Church members told us that the low-rent apartments where she was living at the time of the flooding haven’t seen much progress yet. She still wants to come back to live in Hamburg as soon as she can.

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