Abundant Life, Agricultural Community, Social Justice, Southwest Iowa, The Great Commission, Whole Community

MUMMs the Word

MUMM logoI’ve had a hard time sleeping this week.  It started on Monday after a long drive from North Central Iowa to Southwest Iowa and 3 hours of Vacation Bible School in the Coin United Methodist Church. I was spending a couple of days with Cherie Miner, the new director of MUMMS (Mobile United Methodist Missionaries), and my sleeplessness started with the excitement and passion which Cherie brings to her position.

She brims and bubbles with love for the rural churches MUMMs serves. One of the things she and her Senior Summer Assistant, Alison Engel, do is bring Vacation Bible School supplies, curriculum and support to churches in the three southern United Methodist Districts of Iowa. The VBS in Coin was a joint venture of a seven-point charge under the pastoral leadership of James Buckhahn, or Pastor Buck as he is known in the Iowa Annual Conference.

Using Cokesbury curriculum and providing the supplies for arts, crafts, service, and creative learning projects allows MUMMs to help jumpstart Vacation Bible School, after school meals and activities and other programmatic outreach to the sparsely populated towns and counties it serves.

Another way in which these Mobile United Methodists are in Mission is to supply and coordinate volunteers for “hammer and nails” projects for churches across the region. Especially as hail, floods, and storms have taken their toll on these counties, this mobilization of United Methodist resources is particularly needed. Cherie is looking for someone with both passion and expertise to help design, implement and manage work projects throughout the three Districts. If you sense this may be a niche you are called to fill, you should drop Cherie an email.

Yet, the work  MUMMs is doing is not really what kept me jazzed up for the few days I got to spend in Elliot, Coin, Clarinda, Corning, and Grant dodging road construction and learning songs in the Workshop of Wonders. It was the white hot energy of Cherie Miner, passionately describing all the directions in which MUMMS outreach can grow. It was the no-nonsense assessment of church longevity and mission potential given by the kitchen volunteers and the lay leaders who showed up to support VBS. It was the power that School for Lay Ministry has to stoke a fire in people. It was the humble gratitude of a pastor whose call was finally recognized by the United Methodist Church, a gratitude which gives thanks for part-time employment and three churches who were willing, for a time, to join as one in worship to give her the time she needed to heal.

United Methodist mission is mighty in this Southwest corner of Iowa. Age, gender, population, distance, and local affiliation play no role in peoples’ willingness to serve-to be available to serve-whether as musicians, cooks, chauffeurs, preachers, knitters or visiting messengers of peace and good will. Connection is flourishing-as people roll up their sleeves and step up to the challenges of dwindling populations, physical limitations, and resource scarcity; as people decide they are the ones who have to do a thing if it is to get done.

So, I had a hard time sleeping this week because I was so energized by the people I met, the places I saw, the possibilities laid out before us, and the absolutely monstrous amount of work it is going to take to get it done; the hope we will need to reach out to the people in our communities who are not us; the faith it will require of us to believe in ourselves and the good will we have to share; the call that is upon us United Methodist Christians to not only serve, but to transform; and the deep concern I carry that economics drives more of our decisions than it should.


Climate, Creation, Economy, Social Justice, Transforming the World

No Excuses: Solar On Every Church-Guest Post By Deacon Wil Ranney

Is there anyone out there that still needs to be convinced of the devastating effect that climate change has on the world’s poor? Is there anyone out there that still needs to be convinced that people (we) are creating the problem? Is there anyone out there not convicted by Scripture to be good stewards of the earth?

If you can answer yes to one of those questions, email me, we’ll talk.

The next question is a harder. Is there anyone out there who doesn’t feel like they can make a difference? This is where Solar comes in.

Solar’s PR Problem

Solar has something of a PR problem, one that’s cleverly perpetuated by fossil fuel lobbies. In the 70’s when solar first hit the scene, people quickly discovered how pathetic solar was at harvesting energy. They could only capture about 10% of the energy that was hitting them. However, even in the last five years, there have been major improvements made in Solar panel efficiency. Some of these improvements have been made right hear in Iowa.

The latest solar innovations are pushing 40% efficiency, meaning we’ve experienced a 400% increase! The cheapest mass market options are around 25% efficient, still great. This is not your parent’s solar we’re talking about!

It’s Too Cloudy in Iowa

Germany, has roughly the same cloud cover as Iowa, and had a day last month where 75% of their power came from solar! They average above 30%.

It Takes Too Long to Get Your Money Back

According to CleanTechnica, the average payback for a solar project in Iowa is 17 years. Remember, these figures are based on older technology. 17 years might seam like a long time, but divide that by 100 and you’ll see that your rate of return is about 5.8% a year! What other safe investment will give you that rate of return. You’d be lucky to get .58%.

Where Will We Find the Money?

This takes a little creativity, but not too much. There are investment boards (like the Board of Pensions) that are always looking for safe investments and would be natural partners. Not surprisingly, there are lots of finance companies that are popping up to help out with solar projects because to the reliable rate of the return. Many of these are non-profit. Also, you could always offer bond options to your congregants. Solar panels are hardy, and last more than 25 years, which means at least 8 years of pure profit.

It Doesn’t Look “Churchy”

Sure it won’t fit in with your Akron Plan, red brick building; but what says “churchy” more than putting your commitment to God’s justice on public display!

Do You Have the Will?

It all comes down to this question. There are no other excuses that make sense. This is the very picture of a “win win” situation. There is little know financial risk and you meaningfully reduce your carbon emissions. What are we waiting for Iowa?

Photo: By Dietrich Krieger (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons