Toledo UMC hosts July 4th joint chuch services

Members of various churches including the Toledo UMC, Tama Methodist and Montour Methodist churches came together for a joint service Sunday, July 4 on the Tama County Courthouse lawn. Allison Graham/News Chronicle

On July 4th a joint church service was held outside on the Tama County Courthouse lawn.

The service was led by Methodist Pastor Jill Mack, who marked her year anniversary serving in Toledo, Tama and Montour.

The service consisted of a welcome, invocation, call to worship, patriotic opening songs, scripture readings, special music, a message titled “God and Country”, prayer, response and a closing hymn.

Mack is originally from Clermont, Iowa.

Ministry was a later in life career for her. She was a realtor in Manchester for many years before pursuing a Methodist licensing program.

Methodist Pastor Jill Mack gives the sermon at a joint church service held on the Tama County Courthouse lawn July 4. Allison Graham/News Chronicle

It was her family in many ways that led her to make the career shift. Mack has been married to her husband Randy for 44 years. She has four children and six grandchildren.

Mack and her husband Randy lost a child to cancer. The care they received during that time helped guide her into ministry. Also her faith has always been an important part of her life.

Mack pursued a licensing program through the Methodist denomination and finished her school work at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Chicago.

She first served as an associate pastor in Manchester and as a Chaplain at a nursing home.

From there she was appointed to a church in Earlville, Iowa where she served for 12 years.

Mack arrived in Tama, Toledo in July during the height of COVID-19. In many ways her first year has been a bit of a struggle but she feels as though she is finally becoming acquainted with the community.

“None of the churches were meeting in person. Where I came from we had been doing online services too because we couldn’t meet in person (due to covid-19) so I couldn’t meet anybody. That was the hardest thing. The few people I did meet were wearing masks so it was hard to get to know people,” Mack said.

Then the derecho hit August 10.

“That was how I started meeting more people because we started serving meals at the Tama church,” Mack said.

Mack serves three churches and communities including the Tama, Toledo and Montour Methodist churches.

“Everybody has been very welcoming and very patient and very understanding of the situation. Everybody has been great to us,” Mack said.

Getting to know the community will continue to be a priority for Mack as she moves forward.

“The first goal is to really get acquainted with people, get out in the community and find out what’s going on and then get to know the people in my three churches. There are people that are in nursing homes that I haven’t had an opportunity to meet yet. A lot of people haven’t come back to church yet. I just want to get to know who’s who. And you know all the churches have plans and dreams and we need to talk about those and see how we can meet those. Mostly we’ve just existed up to this point and tried to make it through day by day,” Mack said.