May 28, 2005: Headlines: COS - Ecuador: Religion: Mason City Globe Gazette: Bruce and Mara Ouverson (RPCV Ecuador) lead a new church in Mason City the Vineyard Community Church

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Ecuador: Peace Corps Ecuador : The Peace Corps in Ecuador: May 28, 2005: Headlines: COS - Ecuador: Religion: Mason City Globe Gazette: Bruce and Mara Ouverson (RPCV Ecuador) lead a new church in Mason City the Vineyard Community Church

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Bruce and Mara Ouverson (RPCV Ecuador) lead a new church in Mason City the Vineyard Community Church

Bruce and Mara Ouverson (RPCV Ecuador) lead a new church in Mason City  the Vineyard Community Church

Bruce and Mara Ouverson (RPCV Ecuador) lead a new church in Mason City the Vineyard Community Church

Empowered evangelicals

By JULIE BIRKEDAL, Of the Globe Gazette

Bruce and Mara Ouverson lead a new church in Mason City the Vineyard Community Church.

The community of believers meets at the YMCA Youth Center, 219 First St. S.W.

The Ouversons said they began to feel God calling them to plant a new church about five years ago.

"They lead by serving, which is kind of refreshing," said Travis Tibbits, who is part of the core group involved with evangelism efforts.

The church makes a point of sharing random acts of kindness with strangers to show God's love in a practical way, Tibbits said. They might take flowers to residents of a care center or share popcorn, a hot chocolate packet and a daisy.

When the Ouversons first met in 1990 in Newton, they had friends who were involved with the Vineyard church movement. Five years later, they found themselves involved with the Des Moines Vineyard, a young church where Bruce performed many duties of an associate pastor.

"It wasn't that we wanted to become a part of the Vineyard, it's like we were," Mara said.

Questions and discomfort they felt with other churches weren't there. They saw the downtrodden, those with addictions, accepted. Other churches only talked about it, Bruce said.

Two years ago, the Ouversons moved to Mason City. In January 2004, they started having small Sunday morning meetings in their home.

Mara is from Newton. Bruce, originally from Fertile, said he never expected to come back to North Iowa.

Yet the Ouversons' work in Mason City with the new church is exactly what they feel called to do at this time.

They've done other work. Bruce marketed Fieldstone Cabinetry and worked for a religious supply brokerage house in the Chicago area and the Southwest. He worked for Teen Challenge of the Midlands in Colfax in development and as a student adviser.

Mara served in the Peace Corps in Ecuador and taught special education at Brooklyn-Guernsey-Malcolm near Grinnell.

"Bruce has had a lot of experience in praying for people," Mara said. "We really believe that the Holy Spirit really does have a hand in bringing healing to people and he's still doing it today."

Married in 1992, they were partners for several years with another couple in Keystone Laboratories, a drinking water and ground water testing firm based in Newton.

"Our goal is to establish a Vineyard church here and to also really bless all of the churches here in the city," Bruce said. "We want to see the kingdom of God grow here."

Their concern is for people who don't know Jesus, he said.

The Ouversons spent a year of internship at the Heartland Vineyard Church in Waterloo, said senior pastor Dan Paxton.

The Heartland Vineyard, a large church, has about 1,300 people attending weekend worship services. The Ouversons received a small stipend during internship and initially had limited financial support to begin the Mason City church, Paxton said.

At Vineyard Community Church, Mason City, there are about 40 people who now attend the 10 a.m. Sunday worship, the Ouversons said.

After the worship band plays for about a half an hour, there is a sermon which lasts about 30 minutes followed by a time of corporate or individual prayer.

Mara leads the worship while Bruce typically preaches. After the worship time, children go to their Sunday school.

The Vineyard association of churches developed out of the Calvary Chapel movement in California in 1974.

"We call ourselves empowered evangelicals," Bruce said.

There are more than 500 Vineyard churches in the United States that network and learn from each other, Paxton said.

Paxton said he expects the Ouversons to have a church that provides a place open to people who seek help and healing for broken hearts and addictive behaviors.

"They tend to be very, very willing to spend time with people to help them get beyond their hurts and help them move forward in life," he said.

There is a focus in the Vineyard on developing people as ministers "so that they're not spectators, they're people that are really actively engaged," Tibbits said.

The focus is on the truth of the word of God, and the belief that the Holy Spirit is alive and working, Mara said.

"We see the world hurting and we know that the gospel has power to bring people into the kingdom of God," Mara said.

Part of the focus of the congregation is on small groups. There are several that meet twice a month.

"Community is really what people want," Mara said. "We're training the people who come here to learn to be communal."

Reach Julie Birkedal at 421-0535 or

When this story was posted in May 2005, this was on the front page of PCOL:

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Story Source: Mason City Globe Gazette

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Ecuador; Religion



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