From Pastor Jon
After much prayer, study, shared worship, and more than 10 years of on-again/off-again conversations, the three United Methodist churches of Ottumwa (First, Wesley and Willard Street) voted to merge to become one congregation called Grace Fellowship beginning July 1, 2019. Grace Fellowship will continue to offer ministry and worship within the United Methodist tradition. More than a continuation of what the three congregations have offered in the past, Grace Fellowship is a new church plant with intentional outreach and service to its community and the unchurched within it. As most in Ottumwa have heard, this also means the three church buildings will be sold and this new congregation will, in time, establish a permanent presence in the community.
Please know that this has been a very difficult decision for all three congregations. Leaving a building is never easy for a congregation. For our friends who are not members of one of the United Methodist congregations, we ask for your prayers as we move through these coming months. Interest has been expressed in usage of all three buildings and we pray they will continue to serve this community.
A new pastor will be named and appointed by Bishop Haller and the Cabinet of the Iowa Conference this spring and the current pastors of the three churches will be appointed to other congregations in Iowa beginning July 1, 2019. All three of us have served our congregations in Ottumwa for seven years and are sad to leave our friends and community activities established over these 7 years. However, as United Methodist clergy, we vow ourselves to an itinerant pastoral ministry and know that God’s prevenient grace is already at work preparing us and our next congregations for one another; just as God is preparing Grace Fellowship and their new pastor for one another even now.
There will be some very special worship services offered this spring as we transition into one merged congregation. We will be communicating those dates and times through social media and local media as the details get firmed up.
Finally, I want to personally thank the community of Ottumwa for allowing me to be involved outside the walls of the church building. I especially thank the leadership of the Ottumwa Leadership Academy and the River Hills Community Health Center for including me. I am honored to be a ‘graduate’ of the first class of the Ottumwa Leadership Academy sponsored by the Legacy Foundation. I urge all who seek to be leaders in this community to participate in this excellent Academy. I have also considered it a privilege to serve on the Board of Directors of the River Hills Community Health Center for 4 years. I consider being a small part of its growth and expansion in offering excellent medical care to all persons without regard to economic background to be an extension of the ministry of Christ to which I was called.
Pastor Jon Disburg
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