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2010 Iowa Annual Conference

Iowa Annual Conference
June 5-8, Des Moines, Iowa

"Radical Hospitality: Offering God's Love" was the theme of the 167th yearly gathering of the Iowa Annual Conference. Former Bishop Rueben Job, Bishop Arthur Kulah of the Nigeria Area and the Rev. Doug Ruffle, director of the Office of Congregational Development of the Greater New Jersey Conference were guest preachers and speakers.

The Conference, which was streamed live in its entirety, was an experience of "worshipful work" from beginning to end. Meeting from June 5-8, the Conference returned to Des Moines for the first time in over 20 years. Hy-Vee Hall of the Iowa Events Center was dedicated to service by Resident Bishop Julius Calvin Trimble as he prayed, "Dear friends, rejoice that God, who moves hearts and transforms lives, moves us here and will continue to transform lives as we gather we begin, let us now consecrate it for service and celebrate its holy use."

Bishop Richard Pates of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Des Moines spoke in Spanish and English as the ecumenical representative to the gathering. "As we face the evils of our day," Pates said, "may we be renewed and strongly committed as followers of Jesus Christ...united in voice, united in prayer, united in faith we can bring hope to a beleaguered world and have immediate impact here in our home of Iowa." Conference treasurer and statistician, Dr. Charles Smith, said, at the conclusion of his report, "wherever we go and whatever we decide to do God will be with us - offering us God's love and expecting us to offer that same love to others."Much of the business of the opening day was conducted in eight legislative sections.

The Service for the Ordering of Ministry celebrated 42 elders, deacon and course of study graduates. Six people completed the Course of Study, 16 were commissioned for the work of an elder, one was ordained deacon, and 15 were ordained as elders. Bishop Arthur Kulah challenged those waiting to be commissioned and ordained to "Invite Jesus into your church. Invite Jesus to come in to your sermon. Your head and heart will be open, and you will receive new ideas."

Bishop Trimble's episcopal address, titled, "Our Call to Action," was introduced by a video based on the statement of the Council of Bishops. He told the members of the Conference session, "Our primary call is to follow Jesus into the world bring healing, hope and transformation from a church empowered by the Holy Spirit."

Bishop Trimble was joined by Bishop four people in a conversation about "Our Call to Action" - the Rev. Anne Lippincott, dean of the appointive cabinet; Sarah Stevens, field outreach minister of the Northwest District; the Rev. Scott Hibben, leadership development minister for evangelism and new ministry; and Miranda Walters, a teenager from First United Methodist in Cedar Falls, who raised $640 for Imagine No Malaria in a bake sale at her church. She presented Bishop Trimble with a pie that was immediately the focus of a bidding frenzy that raised more than $1,000 more for anti-malaria nets. Bishop Trimble concluded his episcopal address by holding up his cell phone and inviting the 2,000 present to text Malaria to 27722 to donate more to the cause.

The Iowa Annual Conference has a tradition of seeing the work of and hearing from a conference artist. The Rev. Ted Lyddon Hatten said, in his remarks, "Let's quiet the confusion, disarm the mistrust, honor our differences and deepen our experience of the Divine." The Memorial Service, held Sunday afternoon, remembered 20 clergy and 24 clergy spouses who died during the past year. Retired Bishop Rueben Job spoke to the Conference during a presentation of the Garrett Evangelical Seminary, which is establishing a chair in spiritual disciplines in Bishop Job's honor. Dr. Ken Sloane shared the new "rock the church" energies of Rethink Church to conclude the day.

Norma Morrison, Conference Lay Leader, expressed her hopes when she said, "We can make Jesus real by making the church come alive, to invite people not into a religion, but a relationship." For the first time the four United Methodist-related colleges in Iowa were represented by one of their presidents. President Les Garner of Cornell College described the connection to the Church and the preparation for life leadership. Thirty-one were honored for their service during the Retirement celebration.

More than 300 members of the 2010 Annual Conference session, during the noontime break on Monday, were led by Bishop Trimble and Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie from the Conference session site to a plaza in downtown Des Moines. They heard Bishop Trimble say, "A witness for peace and justice and the love of Christ transcends political opinion. The love of Christ is not Democratic or Republican. The love of Christ is not tea party or hot chocolate party or any other kind of party. The love of Christ transcends anyone's political opinion."

Members of the 2010 Iowa Annual Conference session supported a resolution calling for "continuing intercessory prayer for comprehensive immigration reform...that is fair and just." The substitute statement recognized that "God calls for love and justice for everyone."

Four special offerings raised more than $26,000. The approved 2011 budget is nearly 2 percent lower than the 2010 budget.Only one health care option, a high-deductible plan, will be offered in 2011, significantly lowering the initially proposed 23 percent increase from Wellmark.

Membership stands at 184,376, a 1.6 percent decrease from the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 60, 715, a 2 percent decrease. Some 413 congregations received people on profession of faith. A total of 561 congregations paid apportionments at 100 percent and an additional 51 paid at least 80 percent. Five hundred and fifteen congregations conducted a total of 2,482 baptisms.

Dr. Arthur McClanahan,
Director of Communications