Kids helping kids

Kids helping kids

published 5/25/2017

The United Methodist Church of LeMars in Northwest Iowa has a special kids group. The Kids 4 Christ program is made up of children ages 3 to those in 5th grade. The group recently raised $1,050 to donate to other children through the Children’s Miracle Network.

“We don’t want to limit our ministry only within our building,” said Rev. Okitakoyi Lundula. “We make it so we are there for the community and beyond the local church.”

Kids 4 Christ meets every Wednesday with 45 children attending weekly. Many children aren’t church members but from the LeMars community. On Sunday, many of those children also attend worship service.

Once a month, LeMars UMC’s mission committee designates a special offering to give to groups outside the church through its Noisy Money Mission. The Noisy Money Mission gets its name from special collections made up of loose change from congregants. 

“We call it noisy money because the idea is to get loose money and when they drop that money in the can, it makes noise,” said Lundula.

Noisy Money offerings have gone to local, national and international groups in the past. This Lent, though, Lundula asked for a specific group of people to raise money.

“I requested, as a pastor, if we could use the season of Lent for children to do the mission work,” he said. “The idea was to make children feel like they can also be part of somebody’s life by helping strangers and somebody beyond the local church.”

So, it made the most sense for the group to help other children. The recipient of the money raised would be St. Luke’s Unity Point Hospital in Sioux City through the Children’s Miracle Network. The idea to help St. Luke’s came from one of  LeMars UMC’s own children.

A young church member named Marcus, 8, was in the hospital for many months after he was born and was helped by the Children’s Miracle Network. Marcus and his mother shared their story and photos of his journey during children’s time one Sunday.

“That was a motivation for the kids,” said Lundula. “If we can do something for the Children’s Miracle Network, many children will be blessed, just like Marcus.”

The two weeks prior to Lent and every Sunday during Lent, the children would collect noisy money from church members after the children’s time. Some members also gave “silent money” like dollar bills.

“The kids, they like when the money is making noise,” said Lundula. “They like to run up and down the aisle collecting the money.”

After the Lent season, the church collected enough noisy and silent money to present a check to the Children’s Miracle Network for $1,050. Lundula presented the money to the organization at their annual Radiothon fundraiser. The representatives with the hospital and Children’s Miracle Network were surprised to receive such a large sum.

“We told them before we were doing a mission project,” said Lundula. “They didn’t expect us to have $1,050.”

The donation from Kids 4 Christ helped St. Luke’s raise more than $120,000, a new record for the organization.

“They are very happy that it helped push them up to their goal that they were working on this year,” said Lundula.

Community of giving
“We are doing very well in the area of mission,” said Lundula. “Doing the mission is really part of the DNA of LeMars.”

An ongoing project for the church is working with Africa University. They support missionaries at the University and other missionaries in Africa. They have also helped raise money to provide clean water in South America. Next fall the church plans to collect books to give to students at an elementary school.

The teens in the church also got involved with mission work. This lat year, a group of seventh and eighth graders collected money to buy food for the needy in the community. They also go to different nursing homes in the area to visit residents. The high schoolers of the church bought Christmas gifts for nursing home residents as well.

“Every month we have something to fit the mission of making disciples for the world,” said Lundula. “That transformation comes through the love we share through the local church.”

That transformation and passion for helping others is evident as the LeMars church is seeing more people join them in their mission. They have had 13 new confirmations and 10 new members join.

“We really feel the spirit moving and we pray that God will continue to bless us in that way,” said Lundula.

Is your church opening it's doors for RAGBRAI?

Is your church opening it's doors for RAGBRAI?

published 5/24/2017
RAGBRAI, The Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, is an annual seven-day bicycle ride across the state. Heading into its 45th year, RAGBRAI is the oldest, largest and longest recreational bicycle touring event in the world. Organizers say that this year's ride of 411 miles and 13,078 feet of climb is the third-easiest in RAGBRAI history.

RAGBRAI XLV rolls through Iowa from July 23 through July 29. This year’s week-long route will take thousands and thousands of riders and support crews from all around the world through Iowa's Northern counties. Our own Bishop Laurie Haller will be riding with a group of United Methodists in an attempt to get to know Iowa in a different way!

Churches across Northern Iowa are planning to open their doors and put a roof over the heads of cyclists offering clean restrooms, air conditioning, and dry sleeping quarters. Other churches will be setting up food stands or partnering with other groups or churches.

The Iowa Conference Communication's Team would love to know how your church is planning on participating. Please email and submit a brief "advertisement" so we can share it on our website and through our social media channels. 

Click here to see the full RAGBRAI route.
Click here to go the RAGBRAI website.

Native American Sunday

Native American Sunday

published 4/11/2017

Native American Ministries Sunday is April 30, 2017. 

This offering is taken the third Sunday of Easter and funds urban ministries with Native Americans, scholarships for Native Americans attending United Methodist seminaries and annual conference Native American ministries. 

One half of the special offering received in April by United Methodist Churches across the nation is sent to General Board of Global Ministries for distribution. The other half remains within the Iowa Conference and supports Iowa’s only recipient, the Native American Child Care Center, held at Grace United Methodist Church in Sioux City, Iowa.

The Native American Child Care Center began over 40 years ago as a cooperative effort between leaders of the Native American community and local United Methodists. 

The philosophy and purpose of the Native Americans Child Care Center is to provide child care services and an early childhood education and development program primarily for, but not limited to pre-school children who identify with the Native American heritage. It is there to promote and foster the physical, emotional, social, cultural and intellectual development of children to help them realize their full potential.

This work, and hundreds of other ministries, are possible because you give.

Our Giving Allows Native Americans to Encounter, Worship and Serve Jesus

When you support Native American Ministries Sunday, you equip students of all ages to honor and celebrate Native American culture in their education and ministries. And you empower congregations that are finding fresh new ways to minister to their communities with the love of Christ.

One tribe in North America has told this story for centuries: when people “pale as birch” crossed the great water in large canoes, they brought with them “The Black Book.”  However, the bringers of the physical Book could not have known what it would mean and look like to be Native and a follower of Jesus.  

Today Native Americans—with many unique languages, many unique cultures—honor their heritage, and live as Jesus-followers, led by a rotation of primarily Native American pastors.

Most Americans today recognize that the history following the arrival of the large canoes bore little resemblance to the one all Christians identify as Creator. That’s why the people of The United Methodist Church, Native and non-Native, are creating a new history.

Dr. Richard Twiss, a member of the Sicangu Lakota Oyate from the Rosebud Sioux Reservation in South Dakota, asked:

“Will we be allowed to develop new ways of doing church that honor God’s purposes for the creative expression of our cultures? Will new ministry partnerships and coalitions form? Will you help be a part of this wonderful process of reconciliation, restoration and release?”   

Say yes.

Your Gifts Matter

Your contribution supports aspiring Native American pastors and enriches outreach in their communities. Thank you for your generous gift!

Read more stories about the impact you are making with your gifts.

To Give by Mail

Send checks to:
P.O. Box 340029
Nashville, TN 37203
Please put "Native American Sunday" in the note section of your check.

For Worship Resources such as offering envelopes and posters—click here.


Fall 2016 Builder's Call

Fall 2016 Builder's Call

published 10/24/2016
Since 1871, the people of Grace United Methodist Church have been concerned with the promotion of God’s Kingdom. Not just in the local church and community but also in regards to the larger programs of the church and its institutions within the conference and abroad...This has been a glorious 145 years for Christ and His church in Marcus, “and it is our prayer that the coming years may be fruitful for His Kingdom!”

In 1996, after months of deliberation and prayer, we asked this question: What would a vision for a future of responsible ministry and evangelism in our church include?

We answered with:

  • Spirit-filled motivational sermons and leadership
  • Small groups and Bible Study
  • Relational evangelism through community outreach
  • Alternative style worship
  • Youth ministry through a youth center

The Congregation of Grace UMC embraced the following visions as the church’s mission:

  • Design and encourage Prayer Teams
  • Attract new families...furthering the love of Christ through our members and community
  • Provide small Bible Study groups including a strong Men’s group
  • Hold Movie nights for families
  • Include more variety in our worship style including a praise band
  • Build an after school children’s program encouraging a growing faith
  • Plan to grow the community of Christ with a Multi-purpose room
From 2010 to 2012, Grace UMC implemented the first six items on this list. In 2012, the vision for a multi-purpose room became the main priority.  At present we are completing this God-sized Assignment.

The final phase of the Sawyer Center project is the renovations needed to expand the kitchen to adequately support the missions of Grace UMC. This new layout will give us direct access to the Sawyer Center with a large serving counter allowing us the ability to serve meals to large groups of people for receptions, funeral dinners, and many other functions.  We will also be able to serve smaller groups using an existing serving counter that connects to our fellowship hall area. 

Since opening The Sawyer Center on March 20, 2016, we have hosted:

  • The Art of Marriage 2-day event with over 25 in attendance
  • Godspell performance involving over 30 community members in the cast. Over 500 attended the two performances
  • Wedding reception with 230 guests
  • Children’s Theater Workshop for 16 children with adult guidance. 70 attended their 3-act performance.
  • Funeral dinner with 130 served
  • Baby shower with 30 guests
  • Church Movie Night showing Woodlawn on our Big Screen to approximately 40 families
  • Ecumenical Youth Group of over 25 students meets weekly.  Youth from the communities of Marcus, Meriden, Cleghorn, Remsen, Cherokee, and LeMars 
  • During open hours seniors have used The Sawyer Center for walking, families for volleyball, youth for basketball practice
  • AWANA games and family night in May with 60 children and their parents attending
  • Blend A-Capella Community Concert with 120 in attendance

A few newly scheduled events:

  • Youth Rally for area church groups hoping for Pulse involvement
  • Higher Power Gospel Quartet in November
  • MMCRU School and Community Madrigal Dinner Theatre in December
  • IF: Gathering February 3 and 4, 2017
Our Family Life Center is named in memory of Sawyer Leavitt, a teenager who died too soon. One of Sawyer’s greatest gifts was the ability to make friends with people, regardless of age. He could sit down and have a conversation with an older adult or a young child just as easily as he could with one of his classmates. He could make anyone feel welcome and that is what we want to happen in this building. We want all who enter it to feel like they belong and to feel like they have a friend, not only in the other people here, but ultimately, and most importantly, in Jesus.

Builder's Call purpose:

United Methodist Builders have been an important part of developing churches all across the Iowa Annual Conference. They have helped new congregations buy land or build their first church facility. United Methodist Builders have provided funds to help established congregations update their facilities or build new additions.

The Spring and Fall Builder’s Calls are made for specific churches which are either building new facilities or making major renovations. Recipient churches make application through their district office. Applicants are prayerfully reviewed by the District Parish Development Committee (Chair), the District Committee on Church Building and Location, the District Superintendent, by the Annual Conference Parish Development Committee, the Conference Board of Global Ministries and finally approved by the Bishop and Appointive Cabinet. Where possible, one call each year is made on behalf of a recent new church start, and one for an established church building project with special consideration given to emergency situations. We are grateful for your continued support of the Builder’s Call.

Send your tax deductible checks to: United Methodist Builder’s, 2301 Rittenhouse Street, Des Moines, IA 50321

OR you may give through your local church offering, specifying Fall “Builder’s Call”.

For more information, go to

Having a building does not mean that ministry will occur.  It is through empowering people with the life saving message of Jesus Christ and seeing Him work through those who are changed from the inside out.