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Iowa Annual Conference

The Iowa Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church is a connection of some 158,000 people who gather in 760 communities of faith across the state, and as people of "open hearts, open minds, and open doors" are committed to making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

  1. North Central District Reads - Foolish Church

    We hope you'll join in one or more of these events that will give us a chance to go deeper with the ideas of Foolish Church and connect with the author:

    November 15-17: A Foolish Weekend, hosted at Ames First UMC and sponsored by Iowa CEF (Christians Engaged in Faith Formation). Join us in Ames for a weekend of activities exploring what it means to be the church, foolishly present with neighbors we’ve been taught to overlook. Author and pastor Lee Roorda Schott will build on her book, Foolish Church: Messy, Raw, Real, and Making Room to share what we churches outside can learn from the church she has led for eight years, Women at the Well, inside the Iowa women’s prison in Mitchellville. We’ll consider welcome, authenticity, boundaries, relationship, accountability, and reconciliation. We’ll dare to believe that when we bring our whole selves to church, and allow others to do the same, we find ourselves living the gospel in ways we didn’t know we were missing. Approved for clergy CEUs.

    November 24: NC District Reads Gathering, hosted at Faith UMC in Humboldt, [times]. Carol Kress will host this gathering of folks from around the district as we explore Foolish Church and talk with Pastor Lee. She'll read from her books, answer questions, help us practice some foolishness. She'll be happy to sign your book while she's with us!

    March 2020: Stay tuned for news of one more NC gathering during Lent when we'll have the chance to further explore these ideas with Pastor Lee.

    About the book: Messy, raw, and real aren’t the words most of us use when we say what’s good about our churches. But what if they were? Author Lee Roorda Schott found out, serving Women at the Well, our United Methodist church inside the Iowa women’s prison. A lifelong church person, she discovered more church, and greater faithfulness, in this most unlikely setting, with room for people the church has often overlooked. Foolish Church shares the lessons she has learned there, with the hope that church leaders outside of prison might be inspired, equipped and encouraged to the kind of foolishness that allows the church to live out its call. We’ll explore church characterized by honest relationship, protection of the vulnerable, radical welcome and healthy boundaries. Practical application for the local church context and discussion questions for group study are included throughout.

    Just released is a companion volume, The Fool's Manual, a study and practice guide intended to help readers and small groups practice what Lee described in the book. It's set up in six sessions with discussion questions and prompts for those who want to practice the ideas of each chapter. These "foolishness prompts" range from thought experiments to leadership discussions; some are simple and others will push you out of your comfort zone. You'll also be invited to join a community of folks working with these ideas, using the hashtag #FoolishChurch to connect on social media.

    Both books are available through Amazon and through the publisher, Wipf & Stock. If you are interested in ordering at least ten books (any combination of the two books), please be in touch with Lee at for a discounted price ($15 & $8, respectively, plus shipping).

  2. Detailed Congregation Assessment Tool (CAT) Explanation

    Rev. Ryan Christenson, Associate Director for Congregational Excellence, gives a detailed presentation on the Congregation Assessment Tool (CAT).

  3. Pictured Rocks Camp leaves behind legacy

  4. Pictured Rocks UM Camp and Retreat Center Deconsecration Service Highlights

    Pictured Rocks United Methodist Camp and Retreat Center in Monticello, Iowa, was decommissioned Sunday, August 25, 2019. Here are highlights from the service.

  5. Simpson RLC and Indianola First serve RAGBRAI XLVII Riders

    What do live music, dancing chickens and iced coffee have in common? RAGBRAI and United Methodists of course! Simpson College Chaplain Mara Bailey chats with us about the space the Holy Grounds Coffee Shop provided riders to get away, and the team at Indianola First UMC talked about how RAGBRAI brings the congregation together.

  6. Chariton First UM Church Serves RAGBRAI XLVII Riders

    Church and community members serve the thousands of cyclists descending on Chariton, Iowa. Courtney Levin chats with Pastor Dave Hobbs, Church Mission Committee Chair JoAnne Anderson, and two best friends from Texas riding RAGBRAI for the first time.

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