Mt Pleasant News

Wash Journal   Fairfield Ledger
Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 18, 2018

Kick off your Sunday shoes

Four area churches host a prom for the community
Apr 23, 2018
Photo by: Gretchen Teske Above, after dinner, the crowd rushed to the dance floor to celebrate the prom on Thursday, April 19.

By Gretchen Teske, Mt. Pleasant News


Over 100 people traded in their Sunday shoes for dance shoes Thursday night as the basement in Mt. Pleasant’s First United Methodist Church transformed into a dance floor for a spring fling. Four Methodist churches from Mt. Pleasant, Ainsworth, Crawfordsville, and Trenton came together to host. Photographers, a DJ and dinner were provided as over 100 guests gathered for a prom themed dinner and dance.

The dance was put together by volunteers from the four area churches. Salad, dinner and dessert were all presented to guests as a form of reaching out to the community. Pastor Jeff McPheron, of Trenton, said this was the third event the churches have worked on together. He was encouraged by the turn out and hopes to see a larger one at the next event. “If you come in our doors, we’d love to have you come back in,” he said.

Pastor Jason Collier, of both Ainsworth and Crawfordsville, acted as DJ for the evening. Collier has been practicing this hobby for the past three years and enjoys bringing energy into the room. “Being DJ is a lot of fun because you can’t play a bad song,” he said.

Although the event was well attended, there was one person missing. Pastor Jim Stiles was the pastor of the Mt. Pleasant church until his death a month ago. He came up with the idea for and organized all the details of the event.

“He started this and got it going,” said Collier. “He was my mentor.”

McPherson commented that Stiles told them the idea behind the event was to bring joy into the lives of strangers. “He said to me, ‘these people don’t have a lot of bright spots in their lives, (but) we can be that bright spot,” he said.

In February of 2017, Stiles came to the churches and asked they put together a Valentines dance to unite the churches and bring congregations together. They gathered in the basement of the Mt. Pleasant church and had a successful dinner and dance. In the fall, they hosted a harvest dance. The theme this year was prom and guests were encouraged to dress up and enjoy an evening together.

Pastor Luann Berge is the current associate pastor at United Methodist in Mt. Pleasant and was pleased to carry on the tradition that Stiles started. “This was actually something Pastor Stiles was doing over at Washington and Keokuk,” she said, noting Stiles was also the associate pastor in Washington.

Berge has been to all three dances and does not have a favorite moment, but loves, “to see smiles on their faces. That’s why we do it.”

The dance could not have been a success without the volunteers who came together to help. Volunteers from the four churches prepared all the food including six spaghetti casseroles, 120 salads, 20 loaves of bread and over 20 desserts.

Iowa Wesleyan students volunteered as well. Members of the Melanin Appreciation Club (MAC) and Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) participated by serving, cooking and providing name tags for guests. Taylor Powell is the president of MAC and was excited to attend her first event with the church. “It’s a great way to give back to the community,” she said.

Oscar Martinez is a freshman at IW and president of GSA. His joy came from getting to practice an old hobby. “I was honestly excited to get back in the kitchen,” he said. Martinez participated in culinary arts courses during his high school career and was thankful to be in a full kitchen where he could bake his favorite dish: brownies.

As guests finished their dinner, Collier walked to the microphone and asked guests to begin dancing in their seats. He brought up the energy in the room until they were standing, then finally dancing at the front of the room. A group from Optimae Life Services also attended the event and lead the dancing for everyone around. “That’s all they could talk about all night,” said Katelyn Klein, a handler for the group. “They were so excited to come to prom.”

As the crowd danced and laughed, some sat back and enjoyed the smiles on their faces. “It’s nice they can have fun, too” said Cindy Sparrow, an amateur photographer who volunteered because a friend invited her to take pictures. “A lot of them, when they knew I was taking pictures, their smiles lit up like they don’t get their pictures taken every day,” she said.

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