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At CEM, we passionately desire everyone to have the freedom to connect with God through His Son, Jesus Christ. We accomplish this by starting new independent Christian churches founded in the Restoration Movement. We want people to understand God’s great love for them and consequently find freedom in Christ.  

Why Do We Exist?


The population of Iowa is currently over three million people with only 120 independent Restoration Movement Christian Churches. We need to plant churches in our big cities and suburbs. For example, in the Greater Des Moines area, only 1 in 10 people go to any kind of church of a population of about 600,000. We also need to start new churches in the country. One-third of our state population (3 million) live in small towns of less than 2,000 people. That is one million people scattered in rural areas. People in Iowa need Jesus.


How Resources Are Used


Since 1957, CEM has a proven track record of starting new independent Christian churches. Our Board of Directors is voluntary so that all monetary gifts given to CEM go toward the church planting process. CEM directors invest in church planting opportunities by making new relationships with pastors and church leaders and building upon our existing relationships. They are available to churches for encouragement and leadership training.


We also encourage and follow up with our new church planters and invest in recruiting potential planters. Our church planters’ full salaries are paid by CEM for a minimum of two years. This period gives them time to build the new church's internal structure and funding for the church to take over future financial responsibility.


To see a list of churches CEM has planted over the years, click here.

Meet the CEM Team

CEM Executive Director, Chad Halbach

Over the last two decades, Chad Halbach has been an innovator in ministry. First, Chad served as Director of Marketing at Lincoln Christian University (Lincoln, IL), then as a church planter and founding pastor of White Water Christian Church (Laramie, WY). Chad, most recently, served as Webster City Church of Christ’s Lead Pastor. Chad brings a depth of experience and knowledge to CEM, both as a church planter and a ministry leader.

In addition to his rich ministry experience, Chad is married to his high school sweetheart, Marsha, and the father of six bright and beautiful children. The family enjoys traveling and exploring, skiing, reading, riding motorcycles, and working on projects together. They believe that Jesus is the only answer for a lost and hurting world and that, amazingly enough, that plan includes us. The Halbachs believe we are all active participants in ministry and need to be ready to go where Christ leads!

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Development Director, Suzi Steele

With a life mission to empower others for transformational ministry, Suzi’s 25+ years of experience in church ministry, discipleship, and nonprofit leadership help her invest in people and organizations for God-sized missions. Suzi specializes in nonprofit management in organizational systems, operations, funding development, and people-centered communications/marketing. Suzi joined the CEM staff in 2019 as their first Director of Development. She currently serves in this role part-time, and also serves as an operations director with a church-health organization out-of-state.


Suzi is married to Tom, lead pastor of Iowa City Church and CEM Board President. They have two adult children who are off on their own adventures out West, now in grad school and college. Their new adventure? Empty nesting while serving the God they love.

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Communications Director, Andrea Dempster

Andrea met Jesus twelve years ago, and He completely changed her life. She is passionate about supporting churches as they serve their communities, and she knows the importance of connecting people and helping them develop their God-given gifts for His glory. Andrea believes everyone plays a key role in Kingdom ministry within their local church and loves using her expertise to serve churches and communities with CEM.

Andrea, her husband Todd, and their five children live in Sioux City, Iowa. They enjoy riding motorcycles, camping, target shooting, reading, and spending time at the lake. In her spare time, Andrea enjoys gardening, baking, and garage sales. If you're in Northwest Iowa, she would love to grab coffee with you and chat about Jesus and what he's doing through CEM. 

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Financial Director, Jule Loy Gray

Jule ensures CEM's resources are stewarded wisely. When asked why CEM important to her, she explains, "Since I am a volunteer, I donate my hours and efforts as a service to God."

Jule has a fascinating background! She spent most of her life in law enforcement (over 20 years). Jule was the first female Deputy Sheriff in the State of Iowa, as the Union County (Creston), Iowa, Sheriff’s Department in 1973 and became Civil Service qualified in 1975. She graduated from the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy in 1978. Jule recalls that as a child, she wanted to be a missionary, and later a registered nurse. Quite a different vision from law enforcement!

Later, Jule became adept in computer skills, with early coding, and creating payment systems for companies. She added bookkeeping services to her resume along the way. She loves to learn new computer applications and has helped CEM update financial practices. We are grateful to Jule for volunteering such expertise!

CEM Board Members


Tom Steele
Board President

Lead Pastor, Iowa City Church

Located in: Iowa City, Iowa

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Chuck Gorsch
Board Vice-President

Pastor, West Burlington Christian Church

Located in: West Burlington, Iowa

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Bud Wood
Board Treasurer

Volunteer Leader, Webster City Church of Christ; Business Owner
Located in: Webster City, Iowa

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Dennis Dorsheimer
Board Secretary

Minister to Seniors, First Church of Christ

Located in: Ankeny, Iowa


Dale Harlow
Board Member

Lead Pastor, Northfield Church of Christ

Located in: Fort Dodge, Iowa

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Dave Fremstad
Board Member

Lead Pastor, Journey Christian Church
Located in: Wayne, Nebraska

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Tony Brandt
Board Member

Lead Pastor, Central Church of Christ

Located in: Griswold, Iowa


Chad Halbach
Board Member

Volunteer Leader, Northfield Church of Christ

Located in: Fort Dodge, Iowa

Where Do You Fit In?

“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. John 4:34-36


Both sower and reaper get to celebrate together because God uses their hard work to bring in the harvest. If you haven’t yet joined the work God has called CEM to do, please consider becoming a supporter through your prayers and financial gifts.


Visit our Donate page to see all the ways you can support this vital ministry!

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