Robert “Rob” Ricksecker has been called to Central Community Free Methodist Church, 8105 Douglas Ave., as pastor. Coming most recently from Texas in April, Ricksecker is working to be “a great blessing to the Urbandale community.”
As such, he has become involved with the Urbandale Community Action Network and the Leadership Urbandale program. In addition, he has begun to help address the influx of African refugees to the area, who migrate to the area from the Congo and the genocide occurring there.
The Free Methodist Church has a much stronger presence in other parts of the world, especially in the Congo, where it is one of the main denominations of the area. That makes his involvement with refugees from that area a natural fit.
Taking the ministries of the church into his home, he recently became the host home for a refugee, Alex Ntagwa, who made his way to Iowa via Texas to be near his brother, who lives in Urbandale.
Ntagwa grew up running while living in the Congo and became a renowned runner while living in Texas. Moving to Urbandale, Ntagwa joined the Urbandale Cross Country team, but due to IHSAU rules, has only been able to compete at the junior varsity level.
“He has been running against the watch in the JV race,” says Ricksecker, “and beating the varsity runners by 30 seconds.”
Having served as the principal of Christian schools in Texas and on the East Coast, Ricksecker hopes to remain in Urbandale for at least five to 10 years.
“We’re excited about being in Urbandale,” he says. “We enjoy being in the capital city and are just thrilled to be here.”
Serving the needs of Urbandale schools, Urban Heights Evangelical Church, 7605 Aurora Ave., offers three services for students of Urbandale Middle School. After school on Tuesdays, students are welcome to drop in for tutoring help from 3:15 to 4:45 p.m. When school begins at the regular time (not on late-start days), Youth for Christ serves pancakes to the hungry middle-schoolers from 7 to 7:55 a.m. On Thursdays, Urban Heights offers New Generation, an after-school program for the UMS students from 3:30 to 4:45 p.m. All programs are staffed by volunteers from the church and are free and available for any student at Urbandale Middle School.
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