School for Lay Ministry

The School for Lay Ministry (SLM) program was created some years ago as a program to facilitate the growth of Iowa United Methodist Churches and their Christian ministry by providing an alternative, supplemental source of educated leadership to local congregations and communities. The SLM identifies, trains and nurtures lay persons who meet entrance criteria and who have the desire to serve in, through and beyond the church in various ministries.

Some of the goals of the SLM are to provide trained and motivated laity to contribute to the fulfillment of the mission of the Annual Conference to prepare leaders of the church for the transformation of the world; lay persons to serve with ordained clergy in complementary ministries of various kinds; spiritually nurturing experiences for persons wishing to further their faith pilgrimage and explore their Christian vocation; and lay leadership to assist with programs and ministries pursuing Christ’s mission.

Twelve class sessions are designed to provide a comprehensive background and training for students. These classes are taught by recognized leaders who give the knowledge and background needed to serve in many fields. The topics for the 12 sessions during the three years are:

  • Introduction to Lay Ministry & Spirituality
  • Worship
  • Care & Nurturing
  • Proclamation & Sharing the Faith
  • Stewardship, Christian Ethics & Conflict
  • Developing Theological Perspectives
  • Nurturing through Christian Education
  • Mission & Social Concerns
  • Church History
  • Church Leadership, Doctrine & Polity
  • Methods of Biblical Interpretation
  • Strategizing for Church Growth

Some of the way’s graduates of the SLM are serving with ordained clergy in Iowa include ministering with local churches in leadership capacities, volunteer management, Christian education, care-giving ministries, program staff positions, visitation ministries, youth programming and District ministries and mission.  If you feel you are being called by God to WORK in a team ministry, LEAD your church, VISIT for your church or SERVE in your community, then the IOWA SCHOOL FOR LAY MINISTRY is for you!  Visit for more information.

2019 Cornell College Graduates:

Lynn Calvert, Dean

  • Stacey Abel
  • Brad Bagby
  • Connie Brown Zobac
  • Ruselle DeBonis
  • Jan Dietz
  • Lora Lea Edwards
  • Mary Lea Fredericksen
  • Bertin Nduwayezu
  • Todd Richard Noack

2019 Des Moines Site Graduates:

John Rothlisberger, Dean – Nitza Dovenspike, Assoc. Dean

  • Manuel Álvarez
  • Julie Breutzmann 
  • Roberta E Dawster
  • Kasey Renae Dredge
  • Cari Lyne Wooton Fuller
  • Brent Gibbons  
  • Tammy Guild
  • Jessica Hass
  • Jon Klaus
  • Veronica Mendoza
  • Yolanda Mendoza
  • Sandra Yanett Mayen Rodas
  • Sofia B. Sandoval
  • Sheila Sutton 
  • Brenda Thompson 

Cosrow Ambassador Award

Ambassador Award for 2019 from the Iowa Conference Commission on the Status and Role of Women was bestowed upon Rose White.

The Ambassador Award recognizes individuals (non-COSROW members) who are committed to the full inclusion of women, especially those who are on the margins of the church and society, through one or more of the following ways:


  • An advocate stands alongside and shares the pain and joy of women
  • An advocate seeks on behalf of women so that women may claim their rightful place in decision-making arenas in the church
  •  An advocate takes the initiative to make changes collectively on behalf of all women and of special groups, such as lay women, racial ethnic women, and clergywomen


  •  A catalyst raises awareness of ways in which women are not fully included in the life of the church and sparks new perceptions and ways of being women in the church
  • A catalyst inspires new women leaders to find their places in our denomination


  • A monitor is aware of the life and commitment of the church to full and equal participation of women
  • A monitor acts to promote that participation.

The person selected to receive the Ambassador Award for 2019 from the Iowa Conference Commission on the Status and Role of Women is Rose White.  Rose is a neighbor to everyone, and advocates for women on all levels. She makes sure single or hardworking moms have a chance to succeed by making sure their kids are provided for (often providing care or resources herself).  She supports migrant women workers and their businesses, and she goes out of her way to be sure the women in her own family have adequate care, resources and chances to succeed. 

Rose is a district UMW officer and teaches kids at Mission U, helps with local schools and daycares, cares for her own grandchildren, and helps anyone in need, especially women, no matter what their needs are. She is active in the Emmaus community, auxiliary, and is the mission’s coordinator for her church.

Beje Clark Restorative Justice Award

The Beje Clark Restorative Justice Award was bestowed upon Rev. Bill Cotton

Rev. Bill Cotton has been working for restorative justice throughout his career. From his roots on a poor Texas farm to his time in the Army, working on an assembly line, in Seminary at Perkins and in his ministerial appointments, he has always been an advocate for those on the edges. He was ordained in the North Texas Conference in 1960 and received into the Iowa Conference of the United Methodist Church in 1961. This year marks 63 years in active ministry and 60 in ordained ministry!

Besides serving urban and rural churches, Bill was twice appointed as District Superintendent including in SE Iowa during the devastating farm crisis in the 80s when he actively supported farmers through the crises of foreclosure and loss. He was the first director of the Cedar Rapids Human Rights Commission, working toward ending the long nights of racism and sexism.

In every appointment and now in retirement, Bill Cotton pushes himself and others to consider hard questions, identify and advocate for the “other” and always to think of being a Christian as an activist calling.

In addition to being a founder and continuing participant in AMOS, Bill continues to challenge others to restorative justice through his extensive teaching (SLM, Course of Study, many other settings) and his writing which includes several mystical books of essays, poetry and spiritual musings. He writes the weekly Memo for Preachers (also read by many laity).

Bill Cotton truly lives the Christian life as an advocate for justice in all its forms including restorative justice. It’s not just that Bill never gives up (which he doesn’t) but that his Christian faith makes him always hopeful!

Peace with Justice Essay Awards

The Peace with Justice Essay contest is open to students who are high school juniors and seniors during the current school year and who live in Iowa or attend an Iowa high school.  They need not be members of a United Methodist Church nor any other religious body.  These three winners each receive a $500 scholarship. 

Essay Topic:In a paraphrase of the United Methodist Social Principles, “Our first moral duty…is to work together to resolve by peaceful means every dispute that arises between or among us.”

Kylee Bass: 

Olivia Kennedy:

Natasha Smith: 

Healthy Church Initiative

The Healthy Church Initiative (HCI) is a multi-year process of local church revitalization and renewal. Begun in this form in the Missouri Annual Conference in approximately 2006 and now being lived out in a variety of ways in 30+ conferences of the United Methodist Church, HCI follows the process of Paul Borden, as identified in his books, Assaulting the Gates and Direct Hit.  Each local church chooses to be part of HCI, at each of its various steps. Basic elements include engaging pastors and laity in continuous learning communities with other churches, together studying a variety of core themes; weekend consultations; and coaching churches to live out the prescriptions that come from the consultations.

In Iowa, HCI began in 2012. To date we have had over 200 churches involved in some level of the HCI process, with 70 churches having gone through consultations. The 4 churches recognized this year are making a difference in their communities thanks to their hard work, the Holy Spirit, and the HCI process.

East Central District

  • DeWitt UMC
  • Grand Mound UMC

South Central District

  • St. Charles Parish

Southwest District

  • Carson UMC