News

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 office@greenfieldumc.org

Johnson, Plambeck named directors

Johnson, Plambeck named directors

published 3/20/2018
In a move to align resources and talent in the Iowa Annual Conference, Bishop Laurie Haller has appointed Rev. Dr. Jaye Johnson as the Director of Congregational Excellence, and Rev. Dr. Lanette Plambeck as the Director for Clergy and Leadership Excellence.
 
Johnson, the South Central District Field Outreach Minister since 2013, has effectively served congregations in Iowa through the Healthy Church Initiative (HCI).
 
“I can’t wait to work collaborative with the other directors, the cabinet, and our hundreds of already excellent congregations to discover God’s dream for the next phase of our journey as a conference,” Johnson said. “I will forever be deeply grateful to Rev. Paul Smith, who I have come to trust and admire as a leader with a heart of gold, and to the people of the South Central District who have encouraged me, challenged me, and loved me as their Field Outreach Minster. I look forward to knowing and loving the rest of the annual conference.”
 
His experience in the District has tended a passion for helping churches become the faith communities the Iowa Conference needs.
 
“Jaye is a lead consultant for HCI and is an Affiliate Professor of Church Leadership at the University of Dubuque, where he is currently leading a Doctor of Ministry Cohort,” Bishop Laurie said. “His areas of specialty include staff development, DISC Profile, single board governance, leadership covenants, and church size-transition. Jaye’s passion for creating world transforming communities of faith by equipping congregations for fruitful ministry will enhance the Iowa Annual Conference’s ability to be difference makers around the world.”
 
Plambeck is currently serving as Lead Pastor of Broadway U.M. Church in Council Bluffs. She has a long history of fruitful and innovative ministry, which Bishop Laurie says will play into her new role as Director for Clergy and Leadership Excellence.
 
“At the core of Lanette’s ministry is her conviction that the effectiveness of a congregation’s ability to connect with, witness to, and serve their community is directly related to their level of lay and clergy leadership development,” Bishop Laurie said. “As a ministry coach and strategic thinker, Lanette has a unique ability to develop leaders who are equipped to guide congregations in fulfilling their mission and strategic priorities.”
 
With twenty years of ministry experience, Plambeck has come to understand the level of leadership effectiveness needed in the church.
 
“I am certain that innovative, strategic leadership development can benefit individuals or groups to hone their ministry and leadership skills and bring new disciples to Christ,” Plambeck said. “The United Methodist Church in Iowa needs leaders in worshipping communities to be hope for the world; I believe this can be achieved more effectively as we align our leadership processes and resources to the Mission, Vision, Strategic Priorities and Wildly Important Goal of the Iowa Conference.”
 
Both Plambeck and Johnson will begin their new roles on July 1, 2018. They will be joining Rev. Bill Poland, Director of New Communities of Faith, in formulating a strategy for clergy and congregational excellence that aligns with the new mission, vision,  "wildly important goal", and strategic priorities.