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Iowa CEF

Foolish Church Conference

Location First United Methodist Church - 516 Kellogg Avenue, Ames, IA
Event Date(s) Nov 15, 2019 to Nov 17, 2019
This event has been completed.

Event Description


Foolish Church Conference

Join us in Ames for a weekend of activities exploring what it means to be the church, foolishly present with neighbors we’ve been taught to overlook. Author and pastor Lee Roorda Schott will build on her book, Foolish Church: Messy, Raw, Real, and Making Room to share what we churches outside can learn from the church she has led for eight years, Women at the Well, inside the Iowa women’s prison in Mitchellville. We’ll consider welcome, authenticity, boundaries, relationship, accountability, and reconciliation. We’ll dare to believe that when we bring our whole selves to church, and allow others to do the same, we find ourselves living the gospel in ways we didn’t know we were missing.

We’ll be joined by Women at the Well volunteers and staff, including its minister of reentry and congregational care, Rev. Paul Witmer, who brings gifts in visual arts and in leadership around spiritual practices and centering prayer. Our worship will be enriched with the presence of musician and psalmist Richard Bruxvoort Colligan, of Strawberry Point, who creates adventurous music for the ever-evolving church.

Foolish Church Conference

WHEN: November 15th - 17th
WHERE: First United Methodist Church
516 Kellogg Avenue, Ames IA.
FEE: $79 for full event

    -Includes snacks, coffee and other beverages, lunch on Saturday, and access to ALL of the events planned for the entire weekend!
-Current Iowa CEF Members will receive a FREE copy of “The Fool’s Manual” – your crash course to making room!

*Want to become a member of Iowa CEF and have access to notes, recordings, and other great connection opportunities across the state and nation? Join now!

If you don’t have a copy of “Foolish Church,” you can purchase one through Amazon or Cokesbury.

Hotel blocks are set up. Call and make a reservation for your “Foolish Weekend” today!

If paying by check, please send to:
Iowa CEF Treasurer
Attn: Coreen Witke
Grace UMC
3700 Cottage Grove
Des Moines, IA 50311

Tentative Schedule and Event Descriptions

Friday, November 15 | Pre-Conference Workshops
at First United Methodist Church, 516 Kellogg Ave., Ames, Iowa

  • 1:30-2:00  Registration
  • 2:00-5:00 pm Practicing Foolishness

We’ll gather as Lee leads a session of The Fools’ Manual, the study and practice guide that will help us do what she describes in Foolish Church. We’ll experience the group session, and then we’ll debrief about how we can use this process in small groups in our own churches, in connection with the #FoolishChurch community.

  • 2:00-5:00      Subversive Worship: Forming a Resilient Community

Worship shapes us to be people of God. So, season by season, year after year, how is your community shaping itself? In whatever style your people worship, our words and music matter! Richard brings his passion for lifelong spiritual formation to this workshop as we explore what a thriving worship life looks like for your community for the long haul.

Saturday, November 16 | Becoming Foolish Churches
at First United Methodist Church, 516 Kellogg Ave., Ames, Iowa

  • 9:00    Registration, displays and gathering time
  • 10:00 Opening worship—in the sanctuary
  • 10:45 Plenary:  Lee will lead us in a deep dive into Foolish Church and the four rules for churches (and people) that want to live it out.
  • 11:45 Lunch—on-site, provided by CEF
  • 12:45 Workshops (until 1:45)

Foolish Worship   Richard will lead this time of exploring the foolish wisdom of what happens in worship. We’ll consider the power of lament, of engaging the questions, and of rethinking prayer so that it’s not for “those people.”

Foolish Leadership   Lee will help church leaders consider their role in establishing an unflinching welcome. It will take intentionality and preparation. We’ll consider the imperative of good boundaries and a reconciliation pathway, and you’ll leave with an action plan.

Foolish Relationships   Drawing on learnings from the longstanding reentry program through Women at the Well, Paul will share about the foolishness of relationships we choose. He will bring insights from centering prayer and spiritual practices that cultivate peace within and among us. 

  • 2:00    Practicing Foolish Conversations:  In small circles, we’ll practice some specific conversations that will happen when we undertake this foolish work.
  • 3:15    Sending forth—there in Fellowship Hall
  • 3:30    Conference adjourns

All are welcome to continue to stay for evening activities. Downtown Ames shopping/touring options will be available during the Saturday afternoon break.

Evening Activities

  • 5:30 Join in evening worship at First UMC, Lee preaching (30-40 min.)
  • 7:00-9:00 pm The Art of Foolish Church: Music, Embodiment, and More

There’s an art to the foolishness we’re exploring this weekend. It includes compelling music and embodied spirituality that will inspire and center us in these countercultural ideas. Join us as we learn how to find room for breath and silence around life, the church, foolishness and more. Light refreshments will be served. Lee and Richard will have books and music, respectively, available for purchase.

Sunday, November 17 | Worship opportunities

  • 8:30 and 11:00        Lee will be preaching at First UMC, Ames

Adult Sunday School in between services (Q&A)

  • 10:30  Paul will be preaching at First Christian Church, Ames, with Richard leading music. They’ll also lead the learning time at 9:15.