A thank you from Hamburg UMC

A thank you from Hamburg UMC

published 7/11/2019

We recently received a letter from Hamburg Methodist Church thanking all who donated to help the town recover from the flooding. You can still donate to Iowa Disaster Recovery by visiting:

The letter reads:

"Our Hamburg, Iowa church family is very grateful for your donation to aid us in our recovery from the recent flood that affected much of our community. We were fortunate that our sanctuary was not flooded and that we only have a flooded basement to contend with.

We were blessed with volunteers from the United Methodist Church, Shenandoah, IA that arrived with supplies and equipment and encouraging words.

We are still without gas and water as many underground lines and pipes in the community were affected and are being replaced. Four of the churches in our community were affected by the flood but the remaining church opened their doors and hearts to all of us for worship and meetings that we might all continue to thank God for his blessings and goodness.

Please continue to keep our church and town in your prayers as we go forward...and again, thank you for your gift that will be a great help in getting us on our feed and back to the work of helping others."

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

Hymnals Needed!

Griswold UMC has a "satellite campus" at the Griswold Rehabilitation and Health Care Center where a two-person team leads worship each Sunday evening using a flash drive recording of the morning service.  Some of our PM Sunday worshippers prefer to read the music and words of the hymns from a print hymnal.   While the care center does have a supply of UM hymnals, they are the mid-1960's edition and the page numbers do not correspond to the AM Sunday bulletin we use--as well some hymns do not appear in the 1964 edition. 


Does any church have up to 20 of the late 1980's print edition of the UM Hymnal to donate or sell at minimal cost?  It would be a bonus if there were also a loose-leaf edition such as used by keyboard musicians with the set.  One of the residents at our facility is a fine pianist and accompanies sing-a-longs and similar activities.  


If hymnals are available, we will be glad to assume responsibility for transportation, perhaps with one of our students attending Buena Vista University. 


Thank you for considering my request.


Jan Brown

Griswold United Methodist Church

member of PM Worship Outreach team