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Alice Fowler
District Superintendent
Alice Fowler

Rebecca Courtney
Executive Assistant
Rebecca Courtney

Lauren Ferguson
Administrative Communication Coordinator
Lauren Ferguson

(417) 623-2382
2517 E 20th
Joplin, Missouri 64804-1037

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Southwest's Spotlight Ministries: Jasper UMC's Back to School Bash

posted on August 27

In this series of our Spotlight Ministries, we are featuring Jasper United Methodist Church and the Back to School Bash they host annually. These questions are answered by Rev. Robert (Bob) Howard who is Jasper UMC's Senior Pastor. ​


  • How would you describe this ministry in three words?
    • Shared- Passionate- Blessed
  • Can you tell us about a volunteer moment that spoke to you?
    • Seeing kids gathered around tables in the fellowship hall making cards for the teachers, staff and administrators at our Jasper Schools. We took the cards to school on the first day along with snacks and refreshments to welcome and thank our teachers, staff and administrators. We also took the additional school supplies and backpacks we had collected to be given out to children in need. This was part of our working with the local Bright Futures group.
  • What prompted you to volunteer/partner with this ministry?
    • Jasper Police Department practices community policing. We had partnered with them on a couple of other projects. So, this was a natural fit and we wanted to do something for the kids going back to school. We organized the Back to School Bash as a good day for our community.  It was a step of faith for us and it is a beginning and I believe it will grow over time.
  • What are the challenges that you face with this ministry?
    •  One of the challenges is to see this as a mission and to do it as unto the Lord, in other words we won’t necessarily get immediate results as it relates to our congregation. Still it is worth doing. We used the new Bible Basics Curriculum from Cokesbury and taught the first lesson. I had asked the Christian Pastor to join us for a moment and tell about what their congregation was doing for children and youth. I also intentionally invited them to join us if they did not have a local church. We had ten new people in church. Two of our young women organized a children’s Sunday School class for kids and we had seven new kids in Sunday School. They have been back three weeks in a row. God is good.
  • How do you feel this ministry is shaping the community?
    • It is primarily reshaping our community to be outward focused. To find a local mission that we can agree on and to share how it is changing us and see what God does. I believe in time we will see a response.
  • What is the goal for this ministry?
    • The goal of this ministry, partnership is to build a relationship with the community. This is intended to build trust. It will lead us to explore the pathway out of poverty which is one of our Conference priorities.  This will help us reclaim our historic roots as people who are engaged, involved and willing to make a difference because of our faith. It is line with our Wesleyan heritage and the Three Simple Rules: Do No Harm, Do Good, Stay in Love with God!
Thank you Jasper UMC for the continuous work you do in your community. We truly thank you for being the church!