Upcoming COWF gatherings

Upcoming COWF gatherings

published 9/5/2018
Bishop Laurie's Update on the Commission on a Way Forward

Dear Friends,

Grace and peace! I hope that you are enjoying this beautiful summer here in Iowa. At the same time, I would ask for your prayers for those parts of our state that experienced significant property damage as a result of severe storms over the past month, including United Methodist churches and parsonages. If you wish to make a contribution toward the relief effort, process, please click here.

I also want to give you an update on the work of the Council of Bishops and the Commission on a Way Forward, in preparation for the Special Session of the General Conference of The United Methodist Church (UMC) to be held February 23-26, 2019 in St. Louis, Missouri. In response to Judicial Council Decision 1360, which was announced on May 25, 2018, the Council of Bishops issued an amended call. According to COB President Ken Carter, “The purpose of this Special Session of the General Conference shall be limited to receiving and acting upon a report from the Commission on a Way Forward and recommendations of the Council of the Bishops.” In the original call issued in April last year, the bishops stated that the purpose of the 2019 Special Session of the General Conference is to be “limited to receiving and acting on a report from the Council of Bishops based on the recommendations of the Commission on a Way Forward.” 

Bishop Carter explained that the amended call in response to the Judicial Council decision was made “out of a great sense of caution and the desire to help delegates to the Special Session of General Conference 2019 do their best work.”  

Then, on July 12, The Council of Bishops requested that the Judicial Council issue declaratory decisions on the constitutionality of the petitions submitted by the Commission on a Way Forward to the 2019 Special Session of General Conference. COB President Carter said, “We are asking for this so that we can gain greater clarity about constitutional issues within the three plans, and in service to and support of the delegations, who will do extremely important work in a very limited amount of time.” The Proposed Legislation includes the One Church Model, the Connectional Conference Plan, and the Traditional Plan.

On July 31, the final report of the Commission on a Way Forward was released in all four official languages of the General Conference: English, Portuguese, French, and Swahili. The report will be presented to the 2019 Special Session of General Conference. Subject to final copy editing, the report will be printed in the Advance Daily Christian Advocate (ADCA) in November. Please click to read the Commission on a Way Final Report and Plans in: I encourage you to take the time to read the entire Commission on a Way Forward report because there is much to take in. Starting in September, gatherings will be held around the conference where I and our General Conference delegates will be present to worship, answer questions, and be in dialogue together around the pros and cons of each plan. This report will be received by the gathered delegates in St. Louis, Missouri, on February 23-26, 2019.

2018 Fall Gatherings – Commission on the Way Forward Also, don’t forget our denomination-wide Praying It Forward initiative. I invite you to join me and the Iowa Annual Conference in prayer daily from 2:23-2:26 a.m. or p.m., the numbers of which correspond to the February 23-26 dates of the special General Conference. Praying at another, more convenient time is fine. Please pray for our delegates, the called General Conference, and for our future as The United Methodist Church. 

Bishop Laurie

Building Relationships to End Poverty

Building Relationships to End Poverty

published 5/24/2018
Food pantries, free clinics, and education opportunities are just a few of the things the congregation of Greenfield United Methodist Church has its hands in after a Rural Poverty Workshop held in November 2017 at the church. It has joined forces with other churches, the school, and local Crisis Intervention and Community Action services to begin relationship building with those struggling in the community.
“Many people in our community have been transformed in their thinking toward those who are in poverty, and especially the children of those in poverty,” said Pastor Eric Schubert of Greenfield U.M. Church. “They are able to see others in a much more compassionate light than before.”
More than 90 people came to the workshop that day from at least 25 churches in six different denominations, schools, and non-profit groups from six different counties. The six-hour workshop focused on the difference between the middle-class mindset and poverty, relationship building, poverty in Iowa and across the United States, and how past programs have worked or didn’t work.
The workshop was led by Susan Pennock, a layperson who currently guides United Methodist Churches in the Western North Carolina Conference through Congregation 4 Children, a non-profit that helps churches build relationships with children in generational poverty.
“Through her passion, as well as through her own experience, Susan helped us see persons in poverty through their eyes,” said Terra Amundson, Southwest District Superintendent. “Her message will help us be in ministry with, rather than to, those in our communities for whom poverty is their lived reality.”
“God's presence was so much a part of the of workshop, and people are still talking about it,” said Schubert. “Susan was an incredible blessing to us, and as we switch gears and rethink our approach to people in poverty God has been guiding and prodding us along.”
Part of switching gears is figuring out how to help people in the long-term and also building new relationships outside of the church walls.
“Before we were basically seeing how we can quick fix things – pick up the yard, mow the lawn, make the community look nicer,” said Schubert. “We have for several years been talking to and building relationships with those who are using our food pantry, but now we are looking to help people in the community make real connections with their neighbors.”
Schubert said this is a long process that is based on trust, and once that happens they can begin the work of solving problems within the community.
“I'll be honest – it was a lot to take in, and we are still trying to figure out how and where we go forward from here,” said Schubert. “We are working hard to break down the silos of people only knowing the thing they do, working at cooperation throughout our community, getting as many volunteers in the school as we can, and working on building relationships first. We will not be able to solve problems at this point, we are working toward that, but relationships and a sense of trust must come first.”
For more information or to get involved, contact the Greenfield United Methodist church by calling 641-743-2715 or emailing