We are a giving church. Our efforts touch lives here in our neighborhood, our community, our nation, and around the world with our direct ministries and through our partner agencies. Every month we highlight a different outreach effort in addition to our long-term outreach projects.
Love In The Name of Christ (Love INC)
is a ministry in the Cedar Valley that pools the strengths of area churches to reach out to those in need in the community. Our church, FirstUMC of Cedar Falls, is one of 19 member churches. Love INC grows from the fact that many times, people in need will approach a church for assistance. Unfortunately, many churches are not equipped to meet the variety of needs that are presented. That's not a failure of the churches - at their core, they are faith organizations, not relief agencies.
But, the Christian imperative is to help. Some churches are better helping in certain ways than in others, so Love INC works like this: when someone approaches a member church for assistance, they are referred to the Love INC intake office. Love INC staff then conducts an interview to fully determine the need, and which church is best able to assist. This allows churches to specialize in their area of expertise: food, infant supplies, transportation, moving assistance, rent and utility assistance, home maintenance and yard work and more.
Our church's contribution to the Love INC mix is Wee Care, a ministry of providing infant and toddler supplies to families who find it difficult to purchase them. Wee Care will provide a family with diapers, hygiene products and clothing.
Love INC is also now beginning to launch Transformational Ministries: programs designed to assist and empower clients to break free of the circumstances that cause their situation of need. Love INC will be working in areas of self-confidence, financial planning and more. As Love INC works to transform the lives of their clients, the lives of the volunteers are transformed, as well, as they take stock of the blessings in their lives and experience the joy of sharing God's love with others. Love INC is non-denominational. By working across denominational lines, Love INC volunteers experience a greater sense of belonging to the larger body of Christ.
The people of God, working together, reaching out to each other and transforming lives - that Love, in the name of Christ.
is our church's contribution to the Love INC effort. We gather supplies that families may need to care for infants and toddlers: diapers, clothing, hygiene products, etc. and provide them to those families who are referred to us through the Love INC system. This is an on-going effort, managed by volunteers within our church who determine what products are needed to be collected, manage the storage, and then distribute the products as families make appointments for pickup.
Northeast Iowa Food Bank
serves individuals and institutions in an 11 county area, working to restore food security to all. It is a large operation based in Waterloo, Iowa, that includes dry and cool warehouse space, a community food pantry and office areas. Trucks come and go every day to receive and deliver food where it is needed. Our church provides a work crew for the food bank on the first Tuesday of every month, for two hours in the evening. Our tasks vary with the particular need of the day: sorting, stocking, packing. You are welcome to join our Food Bank Work Crew. Watch the monthly and weekly announcements for meeting times, and simply show up.
Tuesday Night Community Meal
You have a standing invitation to join us for dinner every Tuesday night. A free community meal is served in our Fellowship Hall from 4:30 - 6:00 pm. This is a big project and we don't do it alone: thirteen Cedar Valley churches work together to bring you this weekly meal.
Who can come? Anyone, everyone, you. You don't need a reason, 'cause we won't ask you. Don't bring money, 'cause you won't need it.
What's the catch? There isn't one. This is a free community meal. No shakedown. No scam. This free community meal is an outreach of food and fellowship by churches working together to make Cedar Falls a better place for everyone to live.
- Nazareth Lutheran
- St. Pat's Catholic
- Bethlehem Lutheran
- St. Paul's Lutheran
- St. Tim's United Methodist
- First United Methodist
- College Hill Lutheran
- First Christian Church
- St. Luke's Episcopal
- Unitarian Universalist
- United Church of Christ
- Community of Christ
- Quaker Meeting Group
Change a Child's Story
One million books and a million hours of reading with children – that’s the goal of Iowa United Methodists in the next two years through “Change a Child’s Story.”
The academic and economic futures of almost 90,000 young Iowans are at risk.
*In 2012, roughly 1 in 4 Iowa fourth-graders scored below proficient level on the state reading test.
*Research indicates that a quarter of kids who are behind in reading by the 4th grade will eventually drop out of school, making them more likely to experience other hardships, including jail time.
*55% - Iowa children under age six whose low-income parents don’t have a high school diploma.
*86% of children with parents who didn’t graduate high school live in low-income families.
*61% of children in poverty don’t have children’s books at home.
Sadly, Iowa’s kids are not all developing the reading skills they need for success. We can help by collecting quality children’s books and giving them to children, and spending some time reading to or with children.
We will be partnering with Lincoln School and FirstKids by providing quality books and quality reading time for the children. Together, we can change the story of children in our community and neighborhood. Although the details are still being worked out with the leadership and teachers in these schools, we are being proactive by collecting funds for new books and by asking our church members to let us know if they are interested in reading with kids when the opportunities come.
Do you have fond memories of your favorite children’s book? We have a source to purchase children’s books at a significant discount. Use the “Change a Child’s Story” offering envelopes from the display to donate to this. Your monetary donations will be matched 100% through the Ione Zach Endowment for Missions!
Do you have fond memories of a parent, grandparent, or favorite teacher who read aloud to you? Sign up on the clipboard at the display and we will contact you when you can share the love of reading with children at Lincoln Elementary, FirstKids Preschool, or with children in our church.
Located in southeastern Kentucky, in some of the poorest counties in the United States is Red Bird Mission. In this beautiful area of Appalachia the economy has never been robust, and in recent years has not recovered from layoffs and plant closures in the dominant industry - coal mining. Red Bird, a mission of the United Methodist Church, has served the area since 1921 with a K-12 school, medical relief, agricultural programs, local housing improvement, a community thrift store, a retail outlet for local craftspersons, and more.
Teams of United Methodists from around the USA volunteer their time at the mission site in Kentucky, working on the mission site and out in the community. Our church periodically sends teams to the work camp. Watch the video and above, and if you'd like to be a part of a work team, or support this mission, use the contact form on the Contact Us page of this website - we'll get you in-touch with our missions team.
Wanna Go? Let us know in the church office.
Our church's direct activity in Nigeria began in the spring of 2011 when we worked with Banyam Theological Seminary to construct a computer lab on-campus. Since then, we have become more involved in the United Methodist Iowa-Nigeria Partnership. First UMC members traveled to Nigeria in 2012 and 2015 to spend some time in the Bambur area, getting to know the people and discovering how a partnership could be a benefit to all. Since our initial visit, we've been involved in the BTS scholarship fund and campus improvements. Our most ambitious project to-date has been a three-way partnership with BTS and Living Faith Parish (Monona, IA) to build a medical clinic on the Banyam Seminary grounds. The clinic was completed in 2015.
To learn more about our work in Nigeria, explore the links below.
Iowa - Nigeria Partnership
We have many outreach programs, but we wouldn't be a Christian congregation if we didn't reach in to take care of each other, too. In addition to the bonds of friendship that form when we worship, learn and work together, we have ministries in place to reach into our congregation to help and support those dealing with difficulty in their lives.
Stephen Ministers are specially trained Christian friends who will walk with you through your dark hours and difficult times. To learn about our Stephen Ministry program, visit the Stephen Ministry page of this website.
Activities are planned for those coping with the loss of a loved one. A quarterly newsletter lists a wide range of opportunities including: lunch at a restaurant, potlucks, tours, and a monthly group grief support session. Activities are also listed each month in the church newsletter.
Grief Support Sessions
Dealing with the loss of a loved one is a lonely and difficult time, and we encourage you to not do it alone. You are welcome at any of our grief support sessions, you do not need to be a member of the church to join us. We are here to help you in this challenging time. Meet us the first Tuesday of every month from 2:00-3:30 p.m. in the church parlor.
If you are unable to come to the church, our visitation team will come to you. Our pastors and our two parish visitors are out and about nearly every day, making short visits, prayers, words of encouragement and the Sacrament of Holy Communion. We'll visit your home, your hospital room or care center - wherever you need us. To request a visit from our visitation team, call the church office at 319-266-1713.
the Bonds of Friendship
Most of our classes, small groups, musical ensembles and work areas are places where great friendships are formed and so they function as support groups for the people involved. As we interact and become more comfortable opening our lives to each other, we allow others to begin caring and praying for us. Join a small group, study or committee. Get to know us. Let us get to know you, and we'll be there for you.
What is Stephen Ministry?
Our congregation’s Stephen Ministry equips lay people to provide confidential, one-to-one Christian care to individuals in our congregation and community who are experiencing difficulties in their lives.
- A Stephen Minister Is...
- A child of God who walks beside a person who is hurting
- A congregation member with gifts for caregiving who was carefully selected to serve in this role
- A lay person who has received 50 hours of training in providing emotional and spiritual care
- A caring, Christian friend who listens, cares, prays, supports and encourages
- Someone who will “be there” for his or her care receiver, meeting faithfully for about an hour each week, for as long as there is a need
Stephen Ministers Care for People Facing Tough Times
We all experience challenges in life - times when we could benefit from the support of a caring Christian friend. Stephen Ministers are ready to provide the emotional and spiritual care we need when faced with a crisis or difficulty such as:
- loss of a loved one
- divorce or separation
- loneliness or discouragement
- spiritual crisis
- unemployment or job crisis
- a terminal illness
- birth, adoption, miscarriage, or infertility
- a chronic illness
- recovery after an accident or disaster
- and many more
Stephen Ministry is a confidential ministry: the identity of those receiving care and what takes place in each caring relationship remain private.
How to I get a Stephen Minister?
Speak to one of our pastors, or call the church office about a Stephen Ministry referral. You may do this on your own behalf, or for a friend. Our Stephen Ministry leadership team will assign the Stephen Minister best suited to the care-receiver and the situation. Please be assured that all communications regarding Stephen Ministry will be kept in the strictest confidence. Church office 319 266 1713.
Stephen Ministry is Your Ministry
You play an important role in our Stephen Ministry. Here’s what you can do:
- Pray for God to bring hope and healing to hurting people through our Stephen Ministry.
- Accept care from a Stephen Minister during your time of need. God doesn’t expect you to bear your burdens alone.
- Tell a friend, neighbor, coworker or relative who is hurting about our Stephen Ministry.
- If you are a good listener and a compassionate person, prayerfully consider becoming a Stephen Minister.
Rainbow Missions Giving
There are seven categories we fulfill to reach the Rainbow 2nd Mile giving goal. The Iowa Conference sets the giving goals for each church at $12 per member ($6 for World Hungerand Poverty Relief, and $1 each for the other categories). Our membership base in 2013 was 1,046. Here are the categories and totals given in 2013:
RED – World Projects - $4,483 includes Imagine No Malaria, PET (Personal Energy Transport) project, and support for a medical mission to Haiti.
ORANGE - United States Projects - $7,100 includes Red Bird Missions in Kentucky and our local Iowa Heartland Habitat for Humanity.
YELLOW - United Methodist Committee on Relief Projects - $24,765 includes funds and materials given for Ingathering, Church World Service, and many other related projects
GREEN – World Hunger and Poverty Relief - $26,307 includes Community Meals, CROP Hunger Walk, Heifer Project International, the NE Iowa Food Bank, and Feed My Starving Children.
BLUE – Iowa Annual Conference Advance Specials - $18,617 includes Self Help International, Wesley Foundation, and Iowa-Nigeria Partnership (much of it to support Banyam Theological Seminary).
INDIGO - Iowa Parish Development Projects - $4,068 includes Builder’s Call, Portion of District Asking (funds given to help existing churches revitalize their ministries or to help establish new congregations) and Women at the Well.
PURPLE – Special Offerings - $2,681 includes all of your donations to the ten special offerings set by the General Conference and the Iowa Conference (offering envelopes in the bulletins).
To become an Over the Rainbow Covenant Church we must give an additional $1 per member to Local and Institutional Giving and an additional $2 per member to Missionary Support. In 2013 we gave $21,236 to local ministries such as LOVE Inc, Cedar Valley Hospice, Hospitality House, NorthStar Services, and the pastor’s discretionary fund. We sent $2,850 to support Larry and Jane Kies who are doing missionary work in Zimbabwe at Africa University.
These figures account for the financial generosity of First UMC members. Church members also support many of these missions (and others) with their prayers, their presence, gifts in kind, their service, and their witness. Countless volunteer hours are donated by dozens of our church members to show Christ to the community, the nation, and the world.
As you can see, our church members are extremely generous. May God bless all that we have given to help so many in need. Thank you all for your support, and may God bless you in 2014.
Rainbow Missions Taskforce Chair