About the Conference Center

 The Iowa Conference Center is designed to be a lot like your local church. The same things that happen in your church also have happened here — just in a slightly different way. It is a:

  • center for ministry
  • center for worship 
  • center for mission—locally, in our communities, in the state of Iowa, and around the world

Did you know that there are:

  • The Iowa Conference Center of The United Methodist Church opened in March 2005.
  • 158,000 United Methodist Members in 750 Congregations in Iowa
  • 6.2 million United Methodist Members in the US
  • The United Methodist Church is the 2nd largest Protestant denomination in the United States
  • In 2018, the UMCs worldwide connection included approximately 12.8 million members

Bishop Laurie Welcome Video

 

 


 

The Iowa Annual Conference is Organized into Districts

  • A district is a group of churches in a similar geographical area. There are about 150 churches in each district, and there are five districts in Iowa. 
  • Beyond Districts, the Iowa UMC churches are also divided into a Circuit. Each circuit consisting of a clergy and laity leader working together in partnership through: 1. Leadership Multiplication, 2. Missional Accountability & Oversight.  Circuits bring together churches to grow in our ability to "make disciples of Jesus Christ" and "transform the world." 
  • Smaller churches in a district may do programs and events together (vacation bible school, youth groups, United Methodist Women groups).
  • They have a supervising pastor called a District Superintendent

Our Vision and Mission

  • The vision of the Conference is to see God’s hope for the world made real through faithful leaders, fruitful communities, and fire-filled people
  • The mission of the Iowa Conference is to Inspire, Equip, and Connect communities of faith to cultivate world-changing disciples of Jesus Christ.

Our Wesleyan Heritage

  • United Methodists trace our heritage back to a pair of brothers who started the Methodist movement in 1700s England. John and Charles Wesley, helped lead a movement to "spread Scriptural holiness over the land."
  • Discover the basics of The United Methodist Church
  • For a fun way to  explore our United Methodist history and beliefs, watch:  

 


 

 


Notable Items at the Conference Center

 

John Wesley's Table

  • One of the people who started the Methodist Movement was John Wesley. 
  • Wesley was a priest in the Church of England who started a renewal movement that became known as the Methodists. 
  • He came as a missionary to the American colonies with his brother, Charles, in March 1736, spent two years here, and returned to England, only having marginal success.
  • John Wesley traveled the country preaching approx. Twenty-five thousand sermons and traveling 40,000 miles on horseback. 
  • He was about 5 feet 3 inches tall and used this table as a pulpit.
  • It folds down to take it with him on his journeys.
  • Methodism started as a movement to inspire and train disciples for Christian living and spread scriptural holiness across the land. 
  • John Wesley taught that Christian living was to practice the means of grace 
    And that scriptural holiness was the combination of personal holiness (a transformation of the heart) and social holiness (a transformation of the world).
  • For Wesley, there was no religion but social religion, no holiness but social holiness. In other words, faith always includes a social dimension. One cannot be a solitary Christian. As we grow in faith through our participation in the church community, we are also nourished and equipped for mission and service to the world.

Antique Church Bell

  • The antique bell at the Iowa Conference represents and audible symbol of the church
  • According to Christianity.com, since the fifth century, some Christian churches have been ringing bells for spiritual and practical purposes such as to call the faithful to worship, to highlight a particular stage during a church service, to remind the faithful of God’s presence in their daily lives, and to announce important occurrences to the local community.

 Plumb Line, Amos scripture

  • The Scripture from  Amos 5:24 reads, "BUT LET JUSTICE ROLL DOWN LIKE WATERS, AND RIGHTEOUSNESS LIKE AN EVER-FLOWING STREAM." 
  • A plumb is a mass or weight of lead attached to a line used by builders to indicate a straight line. The plumb hanging at the Iowa Conference  is there to remind us that because of our sins, our life isn't level, and our words and actions in worship and our faithful life should line up with justice and righteousness in our daily life.
  • Artist Rev. Ted Lyddon Hatten created the artwork throughout the building

Center Stained glass art with cross

  • The area was initially built to be a fountain in the center of the building.
  • It was here to remind us of our baptism. 
  • The art around it represents The Creation, with scripture quotes inside those tiny squares.
  • This center area symbolizes all creation, including water, air, soil, minerals, plants, and space. They are all God's creation.
  • It is made from Texas shell stone, and it was chosen because the shell is also a symbol of baptism. 

The Chapel

  • The altar is made from wood from Hawaii, which is no longer available. The pulpit is new to this building and was donated by the father of one of the Iowa pastors. The cross is made out of Tiger Mahogany. 
  • The crack in the baptismal font is there to remind us of our imperfect life and why we need baptism. 
  • The two pieces of art the chapel are depictions of water and fire. The fire represents the tongues of Pentecost and the water, the creation of life. Both represent the purification and the birth of the church.  

Episcopal Office

  • Local churches are served by a pastor. Each of the local churches pastors is represented by a District Superintendent. Districts form an Annual Conference—just like the local church is supervised by a Superintendent—the Annual Conference is supervised by the Iowa's resident Bishop, Laurie Haller.
  • Bishops are assigned to serve an Episcopal Area like Iowa. (Episcopal is another word for Bishop). Bishop Laurie is temporarily assigned to two Annual Conferences, Iowa and the Dakotas.
  • Any pastor can be elected Bishop. They serve 4-year terms. Once elected Bishop, you are a Bishop for life. Bishops are elected by the Jurisdictional Conference which is held once every four years. 

Francis Asbury Cabinet Room

  • Just like in your church, when the pastor needs to make decisions about the kinds on ministries that should happen, he or she meets with a group of people that advise him or her. This group is often known as the Administrative Council. At the Conference Center, the Bishop meets with his or her advisors to make those kinds of decisions as well. This group is the Appointive Cabinet and is made up of the Bishop, five district Superintendents, Assistant to the Bishop and Director of Clergy & Leadership Excellence, Director of Congregational Excellence, the Director of New Communities of Faith & Director of Connectional Ministries, and the Executive Secretary to the Cabinet.
  • Francis Asbury was one of the earliest Methodist workers and became the Apostle of Methodism in the United States. By the age of seven he could read the Bible and was soon nickname "The Methodist Person" by his school friends. Asbury became a local preacher at the age of 18 and traveled widely throughout England.
  • Asbury was accepted by John Wesley as a volunteer for America and in 1771 he set sail to America. He endured by hardships, traveling more than 250,000 miles on horseback and preaching 18,000 sermons. He was eventually named Bishop. Asbury was to America what John Wesley was to England and this was acknowledged in 1924 when a statue of Bishop Asbury was unveiled in Washington DC. President Coolidge said at the declaration, "he is entitled to rand as one of the builders of our nation."
  • The Bishop and the Cabinet meet here and determine what pastor gifts and graces for a ministry match up with the needs of the local Churches. Every year, a pastor gets a form asking what their skills are, what their needs are, if they feel they are still providing effective ministry in their current location or if they would do better elsewhere.
  • At the same time the Staff Parish Relations Committee gets a similar letter asking them to look at the congregations needs for ministry. The Bishop and Cabinet compare the two. For example, if the congregation has a large and growing Hispanic Community and a pastor has just finished a developing a Hispanic Ministry, it makes good sense that that pastor is assigned to that church.
  • Pastors serve a local church for one year at a time. They begin on July 1. They can be reappointed to that church for several years.