Creative giving–and fundraising–in Iowa

By Steve Carpenter

Earlier this month I flew to Des Moines Iowa and spent five days visiting churches and
donors in the southeastern part of the state. While there I heard several remarkable stories of individual and congregational generosity and creativity.

Roger Farmer is a first generation Mennonite, a retired pastor, husband to the Crooked Creek Christian Camp (CCCC) Administrator (Mary Lou), and a camp volunteer. He gave me a tour of the camp which began in 1980 and sits on 300 acres in southeast Iowa. The camp is a cooperative effort between 17 local Mennonite churches, including three in Conservative Mennonite Conference. During the past year, many churches adopted one of the camp’s summer cabins and either renovated it or built a new one. In addition, Roger was on the committee which raised $400,000, including an $80,000 endowment, to build the beautiful Shepherd’s Inn lodge which has 6 rooms and very high ceilings, I’m guessing at least 18 feet high.

Here are a couple of pictures of the Shepherd’s Inn, where I stayed for one night.

Shepherds Inn at Crooked Creek Christian Camp, Iowa

Shepherds Inn at Crooked Creek Christian Camp, Iowa

Main level living room

Main level living room

CCCC also received an anonymous $500,000 gift to build an indoor activities center with a climbing wall, pictured below. The center was completed in 2007.

Climbing wall

Climbing wall

These stories of cooperation and generosity inspire me. But wait, there’s more.

First Mennonite Church of Iowa City is a very generous, mission minded, and creative congregation. They house and heavily subsidize the Home Ties Day Care for low-income, homeless and refugee children in their facilities. Recently, they renovated the child care center by adding a kitchen and an all-purpose playroom before renovating their own fellowship hall. They felt good about their priorities and even secured a $60,000 grant from federal stimulus funds for the day care renovations.

Pastor Bob Smith told me a remarkable story of how the church’s youth group raises money to attend MC USA’s bi-national assemblies. They park cars in the church’s parking lot during Iowa State’s home football games which take place just 2 blocks from the church. They typically make $70,000 per year this way, over 7 home games. In keeping with the church’s generous spirit, they tithe these funds, giving to the Youth Convention Planning Committee for scholarships, to local ministries and back to the congregation. Apart from this seven weekend windfall, the church also rents parking space during the week which generates enough income to pay for maintaining the parking lot and grounds. This is creative financing at its best.

The congregation is generous in many ways. Another example is their policy of paying full seminary tuition for all church members attending Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary or Eastern Mennonite Seminary and also offering a generous scholarship for undergraduate studies at a Mennonite college.

May these stories of God’s people doing ministry, encouraging faith formation, and strengthening Anabaptist identity, inspire us all to give generously and think creatively about ways we can help fund God’s mission.


Steve Carpenter, Development Director, MennoMedia

See what doing good yields: a visit to Ohio Mennonite Conference’s Assembly and more

As director of development, I have the privilege of visiting and getting to know many of MennoMedia’s generous supporters, both individuals and congregations. In March I represented MennoMedia at the Ohio Mennonite Conference’s (OMC) Annual Assembly at Central Christian School (CCS) in Kidron, Ohio. While at that event, which was attended by more than 300 delegates, I helped Norma Duerksen, the Conference Resource Advocate, staff the MennoMedia book table, set up in the school gym along with many other Mennonite Church USA agency’s displays. OMC’s annual assembly is often our biggest single conference sales event. This year it did well, bringing in more than $1,500.

Before and after the assembly, I traveled through Ohio stopping in eight cities where I visited four congregations and a dozen MennoMedia donors. It is always a joy to meet with generous supporters and to be able to put a face with their names. Most often I meet in their homes but occasionally I am invited into their offices as well.

On this trip, Rupp Seed Inc. chairman Roger Rupp, gave me an extensive tour of two of the company warehouses. For over 65 years Rupp Seeds Inc. has been serving its customers. Their slogan, “See What Good Yields,” refers not only to the bountiful crops produced by their quality seeds, but to the abundance God brings when we give generously to the work of extending God’s Kingdom. Rupp Seeds donates their products to an OMC church’s Community garden, and to many other non-profit organizations. To learn more about Rupp Seeds Inc. click here.

Rupp Seeds Catalogue

I was also encouraged by a report from Bethany Nussbaum, advancement director at Central Christian School in Kidron. To view their web site click here.

Bethany NussbaumBethany told us they raised $362,000 for the school in a single morning through their annual auction. Of course there were many people involved, and months of planning and hard work, in advance of that morning’s event. I also learned of an anonymous donor who approached the school’s superintendent with a desire to make an impact for God’s Kingdom through the school’s music program. He encouraged them to “think big” and come back with a proposal. They presented their plan and he funded it to the tune of $400,000. This will allow CCS to take their music program to the next level. I was amazed at the generosity which allowed this small, rural Mennonite school to raise $.8 million this spring.

MennoMedia also relies on the generosity of its supporters to continue its ministry. If you are a MennoMedia customer, enjoying the books, music and curricula we produce, but have not yet made a contribution to support our ministry, I encourage you to give generously to MennoMedia. I promise we will use your tax deductible gift wisely as we “seek to engage and shape church and society with resources for living the Christian faith from an Anabaptist perspective.”

You don’t have to give a half of a million dollars to have an impact. Your financial support is much needed and greatly appreciated. If you are in the U.S. you can give using Pay Pal card by clicking here, or by credit card by clicking here.

For those in Canada click here.

You may also mail a check to MennoMedia, 1251 Virginia Ave., Harrisonburg, VA 22802 or in Canada to: Mennonite Church Canada, 600 Shaftesbury Blvd., Winnipeg, MB R3P 0M4, Canada (designated for MennoMedia).

Thank you for your interest in MennoMedia.

Steve C 2012

Steve Carpenter