Conference Staff

Last week the staff of the Iowa Conference met for the first time with our newest ACM, Brigit Stevens. 

It’s both fun and exciting to work on orientation with a new staff person.  But for the new person, it can feel like drinking from a fire hose.  It’s sometimes easy for me to forget that whether or not I FEEL like a newcomer to the Iowa Conference (which I do, from time to time), I’ve actually been here for eight years.  I assuredly do not know everything there is to know about this interesting collection of churches and authorized ministers, but I do know quite a bit.  For Brigit the learning curve is steep.  Just as I did when I came here just about this time of year in 2005, Brigit comes here knowing only a small handful of folk.  Everything is new.  The slate is (mostly) blank and the potentials are endless.  That’s a gift from God, I think!  So…please welcome Brigit warmly….and cut her enough slack so that she and her family (Brigit and Joe are parents to two preschoolers!) can adjust to this different pace and shape of work.

 Every member of the conference staff wants to be responsively attentive to your needs.  But I’m sure it’s occasionally difficult to understand who you should contact.  So here’s a thumbnail sketch of what each member of the conference staff does:

Mallory Hamilton:  Mallory provides office support for search and call and the work of the committees on ministry.  She is the registrar for the Iowa Conference, which means she keeps the official records and is the guardian of our database.  She’s our information person.  She also provides principle support for conference meetings – especially Recharge Annual Meeting.  And…..she’s just become our social media coordinator, so watch for ways we build our usage of the various social media tools.

Jo Ordway:  Jo is the office manager and assistant to the conference minister.  She handles most of our accounting (with Mallory’s assistance at some points), and also handles our electronic communications (particularly the weekly email newsletter).  When in doubt, speak with Jo!

Brigit Stevens:  Brigit is one of two Associate Conference Ministers (ACM).  Brigit provides support for all the association Committees on Ministry as well as the Conference Committee for Authorized Ministry (CCAM).  She also provides support and coordination for the conference-wide network of clergy covenant groups.  In addition, she provides general support for congregations and clergy in the Central and Northwestern Associations.  Finally, she will be spearheading promotion of our program for lay theological education – Pathways.

Jonna Jensen:  Jonna is our other ACM.  She supports the work of pastoral search and call order seroquel online across the entire conference.  It’s big, important work and she does it with grace and excellence!  She also provides direct support to the churches and clergy in the Eastern Iowa and Northeast Associations.  Finally, she is beginning to focus on building a cadre of oblates around the conference.  Don’t know what that is?  You’re not alone…so ask Jonna.  She’d be delighted to fill you in!

Rich Pleva:  Rich is our Conference Minister.  His work is mostly with our conference Board of Directors and with the rest of the conference staff.  He also attends to our relationship with the rest of the United Church of Christ and other ecumenical partners.  In addition, he provides direct support to the churches and clergy of the Southeastern and Southwestern Associations. 

Adjunct Staff:  In addition, we are in the process of adding part time staff to attend to very particular pieces of conference-wide ministry.  Watch for an announcement of these adjunct staff very soon.

You’ve heard the expression – “The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.”  That’s true of lots of things, and it’s certainly true of a high functioning staff.  Each of the individual members has much to offer, but when a staff works well together, what they do in concert is even more than what you’d expect from each one alone.

It can be like cooking, or baking.  Cream some butter and sugar and then add eggs, baking soda, flour, nuts and chocolate chips the whole is definitely better than the sum of the parts!

We had a staff picnic last week, and shared a Pleva family “delicacy” together – a recipe my mom found decades ago in the Chicago Tribune and which we’ve been enjoying ever since – it’s called ice cream pie.

Ice Cream Pie – for 9X13 pan

2 cups crushed vanilla wafers
¼ cup sugar
6 Tbs melted butter

Approx 3 qts softened vanilla ice cream

1 ½ tsp lemon zest (grated lemon rind) (optional – but you really need it!)
6 Tbs lemon juice
1 ½ cup sugar
¼ tsp salt
3 eggs, well beaten
3 Tbs butter

Press crust mixture firmly in bottom of pan; fill with softened ice cream, and thoroughly re-freeze.

Cook topping mixture, stirring regularly until it boils and is thickened and smooth.  Cool.  Then spread over ice cream and freeze again.

Top with strawberries and whipped cream.

It’s a privilege to serve the people and churches of the United Church of Christ here in Iowa.  Like ice cream pie, your staff aims to be refreshing and nourishing – and fascinatingly more than the sum of our individual parts!  Pray for us as we exercise this ministry on your behalf!

—Rich Pleva, Iowa Conference Minister

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