Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Lunch and Learn Sessions continue in 2009

The Presbytery staff is in the mode of discerning topics for the 2009 Lunch & Learn session. (This communications educational series was offered to all pastors, church staff and volunteers in the Des Moines Presbytery during 2008.)

And we need your help! If you participated in this year's monthly series, we need to know what you liked or disliked. Also, we're asking for your topic ideas for 2009 sessions. These can be anything related to communications or our various committee's and their mission work? Only the sky's the limit (no pun intended).

Click here and fill out the online survey. It should take approximately 3 minutes to complete. Thanks for your time and thoughts!

Mark your calendars! They will be held on the third Thursday of the month normally (except January), for an hour, starting at Noon, at the Presbytery office, 2400 86th St., Suite 20, Urbandale, IA:

  • January 22
  • February 19
  • March 19
  • April 16
  • May 21
  • June 18
  • July 16
  • August 20
  • September 17
  • October 15
  • November 19

Monday, November 17, 2008

Attend Final Lunch & Learn for 2008

The final Presbytery Lunch & Learn session in the 2008 series is on New Media: Blogs, Podcasts, Wikis and more. We'll meet this Thursday, November 20 at Noon for an hour to help you learn more about these different tools that are available on the Internet and most are free. Also, we'll take a look at those of us currently using these as a way to spread the Good News. If you are interested in these online tools or currently are using them to grow your church, then this session is for you!

Also, come early and we'll take a quick survey on what topics you'd like to see for 2009. Or comment below your topics of interest you'd like to see on the slate for our 2009 sessions.

The lunch & learn meetings are held the third Thursday of the month at the Presbytery office, 2400 86th St., Suite 20, Urbandale, IA. (We are located behind Perkins on the corner of 86th and Hickman in the Westview business complex.)

Reminder: Don't forget to bring your sack lunch. There is a microwave and refrigerate available; beverages are provided.

Oh, and don't forget to mark your calendars for the 2009 Lunch & Learn dates (the 3rd Thursday of each month, except January):

  • January 22
  • February 19
  • March 19
  • April 16
  • May 21
  • June 18
  • July 16
  • August 20
  • September 17
  • October 15
  • November 19

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Youth are Invited to Fall Retreat

Have you ever attended the Presbytery's annual Fall Youth Retreat? This is a two-day event, where 9th - 12th graders and their leaders gather to learn and experience living a life like Christ.

This year's event will be held November 21-22, 2008, at The Jericho Hills Camp in Lucas, Iowa. The theme for the retreat, A Quest of Faith, is based on The Lord of the Rings Trilogoy.

The trilogy is a moral fantasy pitting good against evil in a world where Wizards are the stewards of mankind, Ents shepherd forests, Dwarves mine mountains, Elves preserve beauty, and Orcs, Trolls, and Uruk-hai serve a dark master. The three-part epic shows darkness battling light, evil struggling against good, pride fighting humility, and despair wrestling hope.

This retreat will help us discuss some of the deeper themes of the movies. What does this film say about the struggle for virtue, the temptations of power, the providence of God, and the power of story? Join our young people from 64 churches of the Des Moines Presbytery for a faith-energizing retreat and a chance to enjoy, play hard, and work out a quest for yourself as a follower of Jesus!

Promotional materials are now online. To learn more, see our brochure/flier for details. A registration/permission form can be downloaded online and sent to the Presbytery Registrar. Also, those needing help with finances can apply for a scholarship. The application is online.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

“Remember, Rejoice, Renew”

Johnston, Iowa – The next Presbytery of Des Moines meeting will be held on Tuesday, November 11, 2008, at the St. Paul Presbyterian Church, 6426 Merle Hay Road in Johnston. Registration is from 1-2 p.m., with the meeting to convene at 2 p.m. Dinner will be at 5 p.m. followed by worship and a special 165th anniversary celebration at 6 p.m. To make a reservation for the meal, contact St. Paul's office at 515-276-2818.

For more information, contact Betty Dyer at the Presbytery of Des Moines office at 515-276-4991. Or go online to learn more about the Presbytery of Des Moines.

Located in the heart of Iowa, the Presbytery of Des Moines spans the state from Sigourney in the east to Atlantic in the west, and from Perry south to the Iowa-Missouri border. Rolling hills, rich farmland, welcoming small towns and bustling cities define the region, known nationwide for its extensive agribusiness and insurance industries, quality education, and honest, hard-working residents. Concerts, museums, sporting events, bike trails, and more than a dozen institutions of higher learning all serve to enhance the quality of life in south central Iowa.

At the crossroads of two major interstate highways, I-35 and I-80, the presbytery office is located in Iowa's capital city of Des Moines, facilitating travel to the presbytery's 64 churches. Ranging in size from 20 members to 1,400 members, the congregations combined represent a total of 10,000 Presbyterians. The Des Moines Presbytery, offers unique opprotunities for leadership and fellowship found in the heart of Iowa.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Upcoming Presbytery Meeting Time Changes

The next Presbytery meeting is only a month away and is schedule for Tuesday, November 11, 2008, at the St. Paul Presbyterian Church, 6426 Merle Hay Road in Johnston and will feature a celebration for the 165th Anniversary of the Presbytery of Des Moines. The theme of our special day is “Remember, Rejoice, Renew”.

The November Presbytery Meeting Time has Changed
This week our Coordinating Council has voted to change the meeting time from 9:30-3:30 p.m. to 2:00-8:00 p.m. for this special day. It is the Council member's hope to make this a meaningful experience more accessible to all members of the Presbytery who normally cannot make a weekday stated meeting. The evening time will be saved for a special celebration and worship service for all who can attend. This includes a joint-choir from the 64 churches in our presbytery. If you are interested or have members of your church choir who can participating in this Presbytery-wide choir, contact Coordinator Emily Seeger at seeger@q.com or 712-243-4519.

Don't Forget to send in your Church History
All congregations have been requested to submit a one-page synopsis of their church history or an anecdote about the congregation and their ministry in the past 165 years. Those churches which have missed the deadline, still have time to turn their history into the Presbytery office by October 17. A printed booklet will be available at the November Presbytery meeting for all churches as a keepsake. Currently, we're missing the following church histories: Allerton, United; Bedford, United; Brooklyn, First; Centerville, First; Clive, Heartland; Deep River, United; Des Moines, Fort Des Moines; Des Moines, Westminster; Diagonal, United; Johnston, St. Paul; Lenox, United; Malcom, First United; Monroe; Montezuma, First United; New Sharon, First; Ottumwa, East End; Ottumwa, Westminster; Pitzer, United; Sharpsburg; and Sigourney, First.

Meeting Materials will soon be Available Online
Watch the Web site for details of the event and meeting materials. Look for the "Mark Your Calendar!" box in the upper right hand corner. Links to the August Minutes and The Call will soon be available to read, download or print. You may download a free copy of Adobe Acrobat Reader.

NOTE: Churches are now responsible for getting the documents printed for their Commissioners and Pastors, unless they don't have access to the Internet. If you are unable to print the download or do not have access to the internet, please contact the Presbytery office immediately to receive a printed copy before the meeting.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Upcoming Discussion Groups are Planned

Fall programming is under way in our churches and here in the Presbytery, we'll be offering a few discussion groups that you might be interested in joining:

The Presbytery's Lectionary Study Group that meets weekly on Tuesdays, would like to remind everyone that next Tuesday, October 7, the group will help the Rev. Gus Nelson with a critique of the outline of a book, Why Bother with the Church? The group will meet from 9-10 a.m. at the Presbytery of Des Moines office in Urbandale. (This will be before our normal lectionary text discussion time at 10:00 a.m.) The outline is online for your review.

Attend the Brown Bag Planning Event for Advent. Those interested in planning for the Advent season experience are meeting Tuesday, October 14, 12:15 p.m. at the Presbytery Office in Urbandale. Bring your own lunch and let's put our heads together to plan some great events for this holiday season here in the Des Moines Presbytery. We'll look at the lectionary text and any ideas that you bring along to share. For any questions and to RSVP, contact Rev. Mark Davis at 515-770-5601 or markdavis@heartlandpresbyterian.org. (If this date doesn't fit your schedule, please let Mark know.)

Finally, Communications Director Kim Coulter would like to remind everyone of the Lunch and Learn Series at the Presbytery office. The next gathering will be Thursday, October 16, from Noon-1 p.m. We'll be discussing annual reports and the do's and don'ts of these yearly documents. This is just in time for our session committees planning their year-end reports for their church members. Bring your lunch, reports and questions and we'll offer support and help as well as beverages.

Hopefully, we'll see you at the Des Moines Presbytery office, 2400 - 86th Street, Ste. #20, Urbandale, IA 50322 in the next few weeks!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

PW's Newsletter Announces Fall Gatherings

The June 2008 issue of The Grapevine newsletter from the Presbyterian Women of the Des Moines Presbytery is now available! Presbyterian Women's Moderator Emily Seeger has included information on the PW Fall Gathering coming up this in October. You'll have two choices to attend, October 17 in Guthrie Center at the First Presbyterian Church or October 18 in Hartford at the Community United Presbyterian Church. Registration begins at 9 a.m. So mark your calendar to attend at the location nearest you!

If you'd like to submit to the Presbyterian Women's quarterly newsletter, the next deadline is Friday, November 28, 2008. Please submit articles in Microsoft Word or compatible format; digital images and photos are both acceptable!

This issue of The Grapevine and archived past issues are available on the Presbytery's Web site. Go to the Mission page and scoll down in the left-hand column under Presbyterian Women Section. If you have problems opening the pdf-formatted attachment, please let us know. If needed, you may download a free copy of Adobe Acrobat Reader.

If you have questions or would like a hard copy, contact the Presbytery Office Manager Betty Dyer at 515-276-4991.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Attend the Care for the Caregivers Training, Sept. 10

Many of our Presbytery churches have planned mission trips to the areas devastated by the tornados and flooding. Volunteer teams usually report that upon arrival they see a noticeable degradation of emotional stability of the victims and their families as well as those coordinating the mission teams due to the severe stress of the situation. The pastoral care needs in these situations are more than all of the pastors in Iowa can provide. Most flood victims are in a state of mourning. Normally, when we have a loss, family and friends rally together in support on our behalf. In the case of a natural disaster of this magnitude, the entire community is in mourning, and the healing is a long, drawn-out process. So, we need to reach out to them in this time of need.

The Des Moines Presbytery and PC(USA)’s Presbyterian Disaster Assistance are sponsoring a Care for the Caregivers Training to be held at the Presbytery Office, 2400 86th St., Suite #20, Urbandale, on Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2008. Pastors, laypersons and mission coordinators are encouraged to sign up and attend this three-hour training from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., lunch will be provided.

The presenters for the training are Rev. Bruce Wismer, pastor of Pine Shores Presbyterian Church in Sarasota, FL; Meg Scott-Johnson, Kerrville, TX, a licensed clinical social worker, trained in Critical Incident Stress Management by the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation and Trained Spiritual Director at the San Francisco Theological Seminary; and Rick Turner, of Greer, SC, who is trained as a Certified Pastoral Care Provider by the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation.

This is an opportunity to help others with spirituality during crisis. If you are interested in attending, contact Betty Dyer at 515-276-4991 or pbydesmoines@qwestoffice.net with your contact information and how many will attend by Monday, Sept. 8. This will reserve your spot and lunch while giving us an exact number of attendees in case we need a larger venue for the training.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Adopt-a-Home Mission
Continues in Gulf Coast Area

The Presbytery of Des Moines received this message from our friends in the Presbytery of South Louisiana with regards to rebuilding in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. And now, with the downgrade of Hurricane Gustav to a tropical storm after it hit the Louisiana and Texas coastline this Labor Day weekend as a Category 2 hurricane, I thought it appropriate to send out this plea for renewed help in rebuilding the Gulf Coast Region.

Thank you for keeping me on your web update list. We pray and hope that recovery is continuing to eastern Iowa. I remember coming up there on business after their '93 flooding and hoping it would never happen again. Every hurricane season we hope for a ‘pass’ on hurricane season. We never know until after September.

In our rebuilding endeavor for the New Orleans area, we have encountered a few homeowners that have unmet needs in their building material funds, and even with our volunteer assistance in rebuilding, there is a need for more funding to help them finish and move in. I have a reluctance to ask you to publish or pass around these homeowner’s needs because of your own state’s needs so I would like you to let me know if it would be appropriate to ask I understand if it would be awkward; so let me know. Here is an example of a home to adopt.

Richard Maag, Project Homecoming
The rebuilding effort of The Presbytery of South Louisiana

Monday, August 18, 2008

165th Anniversary Request

As you know this year is the 165th anniversary of Des Moines Presbytery. Our November 11 Presbytery meeting at St. Paul's Presbyterian Church in Johnston, will have the theme of Remember, Rejoice, Renew.

It seems a long way off, but I am writing to ask your help to make this a meaningful celebration. We are requesting that each congregation submit a one page synopsis of their church history or an antedote about themselves and the ministry they have been a part of in these 165 years.

It is our goal to have these collected by October 10 at the Presbytery office where they'll be complied and printed for everyone at the November Presbytery meeting. Please send your history or antedote to the Director of Communications Kim Coulter at pbycommunication@qwestoffice.net or 515-276-4991.

We would also like to have a Presbytery-wide choir to celebrate our anniversary for the worship service. If you have members of your church choir who would be interested in participating, please contact me, Emily Seeger at seeger@q.com or 712 243-4519.

Thank you for your time and efforts to make this a celebration to remember!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Attend the 2008 PCN Regional Conference

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” – Acts 1:8

Note: Please pass this on to the person(s) in your congregation responsible for church communications (such as the church newsletter and/or website) and technology.

Dear Friends in Christ,
As the Director of Communications for the Presbytery, I'd like to personally invite you to the 2008 Regional Conference being held August 25-27 at Stronghold Conference Center in Oregon, Ill. The purpose of these regional conferences is to help religious communicators at the church, presbytery and synod level learn how to improve their communications from leading experts in the field, as well as learning from each other.

The conference will include presentations on podcasting, social networking, designing websites, how to improve your writing and reaching the unchurched and “dechurched.”
Keynote speaker for the conference is Adam Walker Cleaveland, a recent graduate of Princeton Seminary and a candidate for ordination as Minister of Word and Sacrament. When he is not preparing to become an ordained minister, he does web design for various religious groups around the country. He will talk about “Web 2.0” and its impact on the church. (You can find out more about Adam by going to http://pomomusings.com/)

As many of you know, I participated in the National Conference held in Louisville, Ky., last summer. It was a great opportunity to fellowship with other communicators and learn new ways to enhance the communication within our Presbytery. Communicators, whether it is putting together the church newsletter, or working on a church website, is more than simply sharing information. It is also about being witnesses to Christ, of showing a "more excellent way" as the Apostle Paul once said. The conference helps remind and renew us to our common mission as followers of Jesus Christ. I hope you will consider attending this event. It is open to anyone who is interested in communication: pastors, chaplains, administrative assistants and communication volunteers. If you have financial needs, General Assembly has set aside some resources for scholarships.

To register online, go to the Presbyterian Communicators Network homepage (www.pcusa.org/comnet/events.htm). You can also download the scholarship application.

If you have any questions about the conference, or need a ride to the event, feel free to contact me at pbycommunication@qwestoffice.net or 515-276-4991.

– Kim Coulter, Director of Communications, Presbytery of Des Moines

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Presbytery Day at the Ball Park was a Success!

As you can see in the photos below, everyone had a good time, despite the heat. Over 50 people attended the July 20 I-Cubs baseball game and contributed to the Des Moines Area Religious Council (DMARC) Food Pantry by bringing three food items to get into the game free. Best of all, the I-Cubs won!

Churches represented were:

1. First Presbyterian – Audubon (3 members)
2. First Presbyterian – Dallas Center (2)
3. First United Presbyterian – Atlantic (2)
4. Cottage Grove Avenue Presbyterian – Des Moines (21)
5. Park Avenue Presbyterian – Des Moines (8)
6. Westminster Presbyterian – Des Moines (6)
7. Trinity United Presbyterian – Indianola (13)
8. Covenant Presbyterian – West Des Moines (1)
9. Windsor Presbyterian – Windsor Heights (6)
10. Heartland Presbyterian – Clive (1)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

2008 Flood Recovery Update

Volunteers are needed to help with mucking out homes in Iowa.

For One-Day Trips
If you are interested in one-day trips to Cedar Rapids, Iowa City or Louisa County, including the town of Oakville which was completely under water, the muck out is only 10-15% complete. The clock is ticking on these untreated homes, as the mold is advancing rapidly with the hot humid weather. Please contact Richard Teigs, Presbytery of East Iowa at 800-957-4389, ext. 201.

For Multi-Day Trips
If you are interested in a multi-day trip to Cedar Rapids, Iowa City or Louisa County, including Oakville, please contact the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance Call Center. They are also handling out-of-state calls and will be keeping a database of available teams, dates they are available and accommodations required. Contact Penny Noel, 866-732-6121, mailto:pdacallcenter@sbcglobal.net

Special Positions Available in Oakville, Ia.

  1. Volunteer Professional to analyze and give advice to shore up several small, single family homes that have some structural issues. Either a structural engineer, architect or builder with experience in shoring up, or replacing foundation members, and sagging framing members. They are looking for someone that can give them guidance in doing some remedial construction, they do not need someone to produce a certified set of plans. They are viewing this as a one-day time commitment so if you have the needed skills and you are interested in volunteering, please contact Stan Tate, site coordinator in Oakville, Iowa at 319-530-4701.
  2. Volunteer Home Inspector
  3. Volunteer Assistant to answer the phones, make appointments and help keep records.

Volunteers may also find the following site helpful, 2008 Flood Resource Center. It is sponsored by the Iowa Governor's office and has resources for flood victims and volunteer opportunities throughout Iowa.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

National Health Ministries MOM Visit a Success

The Health Mission on the Move van rolled into Des Moines June 15, and ‘set up shop’ in the parking lot of the Cottage Grove Avenue Presbyterian Church – the church attended by the majority of the areas Sudanese population. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m, over 15 adults and well over 30 children were served by doing Health Assessments, blood pressure checks, and blood glucose testing, followed by a discussion of those findings.

Darlene Shepherd (Oskaloosa First) and Kim Coulter (DM Westminster) coordinated the efforts of our Presbytery volunteers. Those who helped were: Denise England RN (Audubon First); Melissa Schnucker RN (Clive Heartland); Rev. David Madsen, Jaden Oriho RN, Ikram Kachu and Batul Chol (DM Cottage Grove); Lisa Whitmarsh Peterson (DM Park Avenue); Rev. Adam Nardini and Sarah Mapes LPN (DM Union Park); Nancy Hampton RN, Karen Sanders RN and Jan Siwinski RN (DM Westminster); Dru McLuen (Indianola, Trinity United) and Judy Harvey.

The Sudanese population struggles to obtain adequate medical aide, as well as their daily needs. The Health Assessments done through the National Health Ministries and our area volunteers was an invaluable ministry.

Originally funded by the Birthday Offering of Presbyterian Women of PCUSA, National Health Ministries receives no direct support from congregations or offerings. The funding comes through Extra Commitment Opportunities (ECO).

To learn more go online to: www.pcusa.org/nationalhealth.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Lectionary group discusses The Church Unbound @ 9am Tuesday, July 15

The Presbytery's Lectionary Study Group that meets weekly on Tuesdays, will be having a special discussion Tuesday, July 15, from 9-10 a.m. on the recent Montreat conference titled The Church Unbound. Pastor Mark Davis of the Heartland Presbyterian Church in Clive attended the July 1-5 conference and will give his reflections on the event.

The conference was based on a quote from Shane Cailborne, the author The Irresistable Revolution – Living As An Ordinary Radical, "Let's move beyond complaining about the Church we see, and start becoming the Church we dream of." (NOTE: New PCUSA 218th General Assembly Moderator the Rev. Bruce Reyes-Chow attended the Montreat event and took time to podcast with conference participants, Zach Sasser, Shawn Coons, and Carol Howard Merritt talking about church, technology and young clergy.)

Then the LORD said to Moses, "Go in to Pharaoh and say to him, thus says the LORD, 'Let my people go, that they may serve me.'" – Exodus 8:1 (RSV)

How can the PC(USA) become a church for the next generation? What will it take to bridge the boundaries of age, culture, gender, race, and theological differences?

What is the church you're dreaming of? Be part of this conversation from 9-10am and then stick around for the normal Lectionary Study from 10am-Noon on Tuesday, July 15 at the Des Moines Presbytery Office, 2400 86th St., Ste. 20, in Urbandale, Iowa.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

2008 Flood Response Update

A recent news article from the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance program at PC(USA), [PDA-RIN] Iowa Clean-up Needs, states that PDA is sending volunteer work teams from across the U.S. to help in multi-day trips and relief efforts of recent storms and floods in Iowa.

Locally, Iowa volunteer opportunities for one-day trips are available by contacting the following site coordinators:
  • Iowa City/Cedar Rapids area - Contact Richard Tiegs Asst. to Assoc. for Communications is the Volunteer Coordinator at Presbytery of East Iowa. He can be reached at the PEIA office number 800-957-4389. Churches accepting overnight work teams are Westminster Presbyterian in Cedar Rapids, Christ Church in Cedar Rapids, and Christian Ed. Dir. Heather Woodin, 319-354-52534(h) 319-338-7523(cell) is the volunteer coordinator at Saint Andrew Presbyterian Church in Iowa City. They are about ready to start housing volunteers and are leading the housing preparation.

  • Cedar Falls/Waterloo and Parkersburg area - Contact Kaylene Hoskins with North Central Iowa Presbytery at 800-383-3617.

  • Des Moines area - Contact United Way or call 2-1-1 (This Wednesday, July 2, there is need for volunteers to clean up in public locations such as flooded city parks in Des Moines. Volunteers will report first to the Volunteer Reception Center at 1111 9th St. in Des Moines to receive identification, additional health and safety training and the volunteer location assignment.)
Volunteers must be current on tetanus vaccinations, 18-years or older. Minors must be accompanied by parent or legal guardian.

Immediate needs:

  • Prayers for victims and workers

  • Cleanup Bucket Kits (the Presbytery will help get these dispersed where they are needed) How to assemble and package Clean-up Buckets.

  • CROSS Ministries in Des Moines needs cleaning supplies. They recently depleted their supply to families of low income households who have experienced flooded basements. (supplies needed include: bleach, buckets, floor cleaner, laundry soap, etc.) Contact the Cottage Grove Avenue Presbyterian Church at 515-279-8877 or rjvictor@msn.com.

  • Monetary donations are now needed. Send checks payable to Des Moines Presbytery, in the memo section write, "2008 Flood Relief" indicated where you would like the funds to go, tornado, flood, a specific presbytery, etc., and mail checks to the Presbytery of Des Moines, 2400 86th St., Ste. 20, Urbandale, IA 50322. (100% of donations sent to this Presbytery will be used for its intended purpose indicated by the giver. All administrative costs will be absorbed by the Iowa presbyteries.)

Long-term, volunteer work teams will be needed into 2010. So far, the following churches in our Presbytery are planning to send volunteer work teams: Westminster Presbyterian Church in Des Moines, Trinity United Presbyterian Church in Indianola, Lenox United and Sharpsburg Presbyterian churches, Community United Presbyterian Church in Hartford and Heartland Presbyterian Church in Clive.

In addition, Highland Park Presbyterian Church and Park Avenue Presbyterian Church in Des Moines have offered up distribution services of cleaning kit buckets to those affected by floods waters in the Greater Des Moines area. Covenant Presbyterian Church in West Des Moines was able to send 30 buckets!

If your church is planning to take people for one- or multiple-day trips to the affected areas, please contact the Presbytery office with the dates and locations.

Thanks to everyone, our ministry in the midst of chaos, makes a difference where there is no hope.

Saturday, June 28, 2008



It's been quite a week! But what a week it was! By my rather unaudited final count, I figure that I voted 347 times over the course of this week. In the days and weeks to come you may hear about the results of some of those votes. For some, the decisions of the General Assembly may bring great excitement. For others, deep sorrow and disappointment. Please be careful and discriminating about what you hear. So often what is recorded in the press does not fairly represent the actual events that took place. Regardless, always remember that we are the church of Jesus Christ. We are fallible disciples, who nevertheless, seek to faithfully follow our Lord and to discern his will for the church.

One of the unique roles that Phil Barrett got to play this last week was to be the official guide for our new moderator, Rev. Bruce Reyes-Chow. Phil's responsibility was to guide Bruce from one activity to the next, helping him to find out where he needed to be and to make sure that he got there on time. Since our Presbytery had an "inside man" who was close to the moderator, we were able to get this photo op:

It is with a deep sense of gratitude (and even relief!) that we can declare that the 218th General Assembly is now over. But having said that, those of us who have served as commissioners recognize our responsibility to now interpret the events of the General Assembly to all those of our Presbytery who have questions or would like to learn more. If you or your church would like to hear from us, please don't hesitate to give us a call. Our commission to serve on your behalf was not just for this one very intense week, but for the next two years when the next General Assembly will convene in Minneapolis in July of 2010.

On behalf of us all, thank you and may God bless you!!

David Endriss

Friday, June 27, 2008


Great is Thy faithfulness!

The business meeting this evening (the third session of the day) was opened with prayer as is every session. The pastor’s voice rose in song at the end of his prayer, and the deep, rich tones of this favorite hymn filled the hall.

We had been listening to passionate debate all day. Issues came before the body that had important implications for the Presbyterian Church (USA). Many votes were close.

Overtures and resolutions appeared on my computer screen and moderators offered the recommendations from their committees. And then Presbyterians—regular folks like you and like me—stood to speak. Comments were heartfelt, they were astute, they were gracious.

The words on the screen became more than “business” as people spoke. Every person endeavored to be faithful, and to recognize God’s faithfulness. And commissioners listened to each other.

I know that on many proposals opinions were miles apart. But what I witnessed at General Assembly was the respect and mercy I had hoped for. What a blessing it has been to witness this aspect of my church!

It only looks like business!

P.S. The Commissioner’s Resolution I submitted? It passed!

Nancy Lister-Settle

Thursday, June 26, 2008



Over the last several days you have heard about some of the dynamics of what is happening at General Assembly over these last few days. You have heard about worship services, committee meetings, ....

In this evening’s blog I want to spend a few paragraphs talking about something that may seem a little mundane. Although we have another full day and a half of meetings still to be held, we have had 197 votes. These votes have been taken by voice, a show of hands or electronically using key pads like the one you see in the picture below. When they are taken electronically the results are posted within a few seconds on a large screen in the front.

On most of the votes we also have had the chance to listen to the opinion of advisory delegates. These advisory votes while not binding do help the commissioners understand the opinions of our youth advisory delegates, theological advisory students, missionary advisors, and ecumenical advisors.

Often our votes have been about routine items that have had little or no controversy. Other discussions and votes have been more contentious and have taken at times more than an hour before a vote was finally taken. Even after much discussion the votes are rarely unanimous.

With all of this going on, Presbyterians have the audacity to believe that God’s Spirit can and does speak to us in this discerning process. While we are not so naïve or proud as to believe that a majority vote always speaks for the voice and mind of God, we do believe that this is both a valid and treasured way of discovering God’s leading. Even after an extraordinaly long day of work, the spirit of the commissioners here at General Assembly is truly a testament to God's work.

David Endriss

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


There is a saying at my church in Dallas Center, "Wherever two or three Presbyterians are gathered together, there will be food."

But not only food--there will be fellowship and mission. The same is true at GA. At group meals, we have the opportunity to gather around tables to eat and greet. I've met commissioners from all over the country, as well as mission and ecumenical advisory delegates from all over the world.

There are also meals that are served along with information about PC(USA) programs. I attended the World Mission luncheon on Sunday with mission personnel (including my friend Denise England) and global mission partners. We heard about new initiatives in international missions from Linda Valentine (General Assembly Council) and Hunter Farrell (World Mission).

Fellow commissioner Rev. Jan Scott attended a luncheon today hosted by Dubuque Theological Seminary. I know there were lots of familiar faces at that gathering!

This evening I attended a dinner and celebration--the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program hosted a Mexican "simple meal" (yum!) to recognize the 25th anniversary of the Commitment to Peacemaking. Congregations and presbyteries had been invited to create peacemaking banners which were displayed around the room. I found a friend from Philadelphia Presbytery to sit with, and we were joined by three ladies from San Jose who have been volunteering in all sorts of ways this week. We were served by the Peacemaking Committee from a Presbyterian Church in Atlanta which included a great many youth. The event was held at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, and was catered by a local Mexican cafe. Have you been counting up the examples of peacemaking that were incorporated into the evening? One more--the proceeds from the dinner were going to our host congregation's mission in Kenya.

Peacmaking banners adorn the walls at the PPP celebration.

We are back in plenary, voting on all of the business brought to us from our various committees. It's nice to be sitting with the delegation from Des Moines Presbytery again. I think we have plans to eat together tomorrow!

Nancy Lister-Settle

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Praise the Lord!

Praise him with trumpet sound;
praise him with lute and harp!
Praise him with tambourine and dance;
praise him with strings and pipe!
Praise him with clanging cymbals;
praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
Let everything that breathes praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD! (Psalm 150:4-5)

The picture above is that of the Taiko Drummers. These Japanese drummers provided a powerful opening prelude to Tuesday morning's worship service. Indeed, they praised the Lord with the sound of loud drums!

Perhaps if you have been following some of the news articles, or even some of these blogs, you might think that the only thing we do at General Assembly is sit in very long and at times perhaps unendurable meetings. The reality is quite different.

This entire week is bathed in worship and prayer. This is so much more than simply affirming that all our meetings are required to be opened and closed in prayer. There is a very real sense that all that we do here is imbued in worship and in our deeply held belief that God is present.

Daily worship services are both inspirational and challenging. We have been reminded that our God does not only often move in mysterious ways, but often in mischievous ways! We have learned about meeting God in the "thin places" of life. (This comes from the rich spirituality of the Celtic tradition). In these thin places the immanent (the created world) comes close to the transcendent. Such places are all around us and we can probably name several in each of our lives. I believe that this General Assembly is one of those thin places!

David Endriss

Monday, June 23, 2008


I can't believe I know how the General Assembly Permanent Judicial Commission works!

Monday was the first full day of committee meetings. Commissioners are randomly assigned to the various committees and I'm a member of Committee 14: Review of Permanent General Assembly Committees--not something I knew a lot about before today.

Of my 44 fellow committee members, 8 are YADs and one is a Theological Student Advisory Delegate. There have been a few observers sitting in on the proceedings as well. Most of us are learning a lot as we prepare to write our report.

There are 17 different committees meeting in the Convention Center and hotel conference rooms. Overtures and resolutions are considered and votes are taken so actions can be recommended to the General Assembly. Some committees will work into the night tomorrow to finish all of their deliberations and make all of their decisions. The dedication of these Presbyterians is amazing.

I'll be experiencing committee work from a different perspective in the morning. Along with a commissioner from Giddings-Lovejoy Presbytery, I submitted a Commissioner's Resolution: On Mobilizing Presbyterians for a Significant Response to the Global Food Crisis. The resolution was referred to the Peacemaking and International Issues Committee, so we will have a few minutes on Tuesday to make our case. What an experience that will be--I might have said "unbelievable" before this week!

Nancy Lister-Settle

Sunday, June 22, 2008


It was a privileged and rare moment. Thousands of Presbyterians gathered together in worship in two different locations about six blocks apart. The two services were simulcast, allowing those present at one location to see and hear what was happening at the other. The retiring moderator of the General Assembly, Rev. Joan Gray, preached from John 15 reminding us of Christ's command to, "Love one another." But we are not just commanded to love those whom we find easy to love but to those we may find very difficult to love.

During this worship service we commissioned many who were going to the mission field, including Des Moines Presbytery's own Denise England. We also celebrated the ministries of many retiring missionaries. Dozens of ecumenical partners were also present to worship with us. An offering of over $34,000 was received for new church development.

Starting this evening and running through Tuesday evening the work of General Assembly will be in committees. There are 16 separate committees. Voting commissioners will work on these committees who will later bring their recommendations to the plenary session of the General Assembly later in the week. Your commissioners from Des Moines are serving on the committees of Board of Pensions, Worship and Spiritual Renewal, Review of GA Permanent Committees, Theological Issues and Institutions, and Church Growth and Christian Education. Please keep us in your prayers as we work through much of the "nitty-gritty" work of the General Assembly over the next couple of days.

The days are long, the chairs can become hard after so many hours, the issues are often complex and on some issues there is little consensus. And I wouldn't miss it for the world! Thank you for allowing me to come.

David Endriss

Saturday, June 21, 2008


Power up!

The business meeting of the 218th General Assembly came to order this morning and Des Moines Presbytery's commissioners were all together in Row F, Seats 7 through 11: Chad Schwickerath (Youth Advisory Delegate from Ankeny), Paul Walther (Audubon), Rev. Jan Scott (West Des Moines Covenant), Nancy Lister-Settle (Dallas Center) and Rev. Dave Endriss (Indianola Trinity).

I have never seen so many laptop computers in one place! We plugged in and powered up--and in spite of a few technical difficulties, I really did feel connected to something big.

I was grateful for the slower pace of the opening sessions. The morning's business was finished early, and in the afternoon we learned how to operate our voting keypads. I was looking forward to the evening session when we would hear from the candidates for Moderator and then elect one of the four to serve for the next two years.

As I listened to each of them describe themselves, their unique journeys, and the call they understood and embraced, I could feel where the real power was in the room. There was energy and substance and conviction and faith on the dais before us and it was exciting to witness. After two votes we celebrated the election of Rev. Bruce Reyes-Chow of San Francisco Presbytery as Moderator of the 218th General Assembly.

Committee work begins tomorrow,and I've been a little anxious about that. But after tonight I'm feeling empowered!

Nancy Lister-Settle

Friday, June 20, 2008


It was an early start. Up at 4:30 to get to the airport. A quick trip to Minneapolis then on to San Jose, CA. Many of the passengers on the flight were fellow Presbyterians on their way to General Assembly. By the time all arrive there will be:

  • 752 Voting Commissioners

  • 173 Youth Advisor Delegates (YADs)

  • 25 Theological Student Advisory Delegates (TSADs)

  • 8 Missionary Advisory Delegates

  • 15 Ecumenical Advisory Delegates

  • 95 Cooresponding Members

  • 100 Office of the General Assembly staff and volunteers

  • 600 Other General Assembly staff

  • 60 Staff from theological institutions

  • 335 Staff from presbyteries and synods

  • 75 Ecumenical and Interfaith Representatives

  • 940 Registered observers

  • Plus many, many volunteers from all over northern California
After booking into my hotel room, I got in line (see picture above), registered and got my packet with all the information, schedules, maps, and events for the upcoming week.

The theme for this week comes from Micah 6:8 "Do justice, Love kindness, Walk humbly with your God." Throughout this week as we meet both in committees and in plenary it is our prayer that we fulfill this charge.

David Endriss

Thursday, June 19, 2008

2008 Flood Relief Update

The PC(USA) Presbyterian Disaster Assistance volunteer team has been in the Des Moines Presbytery office now since Monday, June 16. The three representatives have taken their assessment and will be establishing their headquarters in Iowa City starting Thursday, June 19. There they will meet with East Iowa Presbytery’s Disaster Response Task Force to set in motion their response plan for Cedar Rapids/Iowa City area, where the need is the greatest.

Thank you to all who have called and e-mailed offering help. We truly appreciate knowing that we are in your prayers. At this time we are unaware of any of our Des Moines Presbytery churches that have been affected by the floods or tornadoes. If you know of an issue, please contact our office immediately at 515-276-4991 or pbydesmoines@qwestoffice.net.

Do you need help?
If you need help or are in touch with church members or others that need immediate assistance with clean up, housing, replacement of necessary household items, contact one of the following:

What can you do to help?
Financial Contributions

Church sessions are encouraged to prayerfully consider asking for funds from their congregations. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has available both a postcard and a bulletin insert at the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance web site. Use these to contact your church members for financial help.

If you would like to donate directly to the flood relief effort, you can mail checks to:

Presbytery of Des Moines
Attn: 2008 Flood Relief
2400 86th St., Ste. 20
Des Moines, IA 50322-4306
Memo line should include “2008 Flood Relief”


Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Individual Remittance Processing
P.O. Box 643700
Pittsburgh, PA 15264-3700
Memo line should include special account info–North America Disaster Response & Relief (DR000162)

The PDA designated account supplements the One Great Hour of Sharing Offering to enable a significant response to communities impacted by the heavily-active 2008 season of tornadoes, storms, and floods in the United States. Donations can be made online as well.

Individuals can also donate financial contributions for flood relief to the American Red Cross Central Iowa Chapter, or the Greater Des Moines Community Foundation. Checks may be made payable Greater Des Moines Community Foundation (or GDMCF) with a memo of: 2008 Flood Relief & Recovery Fund.

Volunteer Help
The Presbytery of Des Moines is working with the Iowa Disaster Resource Council, a group of faith traditions, non-profit relief agencies and government agencies which is working to set up a volunteer coordinator to which we will all refer people. One note from the Resource Council is: DO NOT SEND CLOTHES. There will be some specific clothing needs articulated, but right now clothes are not needed.

Currently, in the Des Moines area, volunteers are asked to register with the Iowa Governor’s Web site to get scheduled for placement.

If you want to volunteer and help immediately this weekend – contact the United Way Volunteer Relief Center by going online to register. Or go to the United Way Human Services Campus at 1111 9th St., Des Moines, to sign up. Residents without access to the Internet should call 2-1-1- to register their contact information.

If you are interested in sending a work team to help with the clean-up and have scheduled specific weeks your group is available, contact the national Presbyterian Disaster Assistance Call Center, 866-732-6121 or pdacallcenter@sbcglobal.net. They are handling all work team calls and will be keeping a database of available teams, dates and accommodations. You’ll eventually be plugged in to help at a future date in various locations throughout the midwest.

Other Contributions
Mucking out homes and businesses are the first step in returning lives to normal. To learn more about assembling clean-up buckets, go to the PC(USA) PDA Web site. Here are the items to include:

How to make a Clean-Up Bucket

  • 1 — 5-gallon bucket with resealable lid
  • 5 — scouring pads
  • 7 — sponges, assorted sizes
  • 1 — scrub brush
  • 1 — pkg. cleaning towels (18 reusable, like Easy Wipes®)
  • 1 — box dry laundry detergent, 50-78 oz.
  • 1 — liquid concentrated household cleaner (like Lysol®), 12 oz.
  • 1 — bottle liquid disinfectant dish soap (like Dawn®), 25 oz.
  • 50 — clothespins
  • Clothesline, two 50 ft. or one 100 ft.
  • 5 — dust masks
  • 2 pair — latex gloves (like Playtex®)
  • 1 pair — work gloves
  • 1 — 24-count roll heavy-duty trash bags (33-45 gallon)
  • 1 — bottle insect repellant (drops or lotion, not aerosol), 6-14 oz.

Please purchase all liquids in plastic bottles. Put all items in the plastic bucket and pack securely. (Please call the church first for delivery specifications.)

Des Moines Presbytery Bucket Drop Off Sites:
Park Avenue Presbyterian Church
3120 S.W. 9th St.
Des Moines, IA 50315-2205


Highland Park Presbyterian Church
321 Euclid Ave.
Des Moines, IA 50313-4349

East Iowa Presbytery Bucket Drop Off Sites:
First Presbyterian Church
2701 Rochester Avenue
Iowa City, IA 52245


First Presbyterian Church
802 12th Street
Marion, IA 52302

Monday, June 16, 2008

PDA Responds to Floods and Storms in Iowa

Five items of importance for you to note:
1. Our General Presbyter Rev. Phil Barrett coordinated a conference call Friday morning, June 13, of ecumenical leaders and denominational disaster relief which has lead to an improvement in communication and coordination for Iowa disasters. A website is being set up that all faith communities will link to and provide information. More word on this will come later this week.

Also, our PC(USA) Presbyterian Disaster Assistant person in Iowa, Don Hampton (Indianola, Trinity United), informs us that the Iowa Disaster Resource Council, a group of faith traditions, non-profit relief agencies and government agencies is working to set up a volunteer coordinator to which we will all refer people. It is also possible that a PDA staffer will be coming to Des Moines to coordinate PDA work state-wide. The main thing to know is that we are working with our other faith tradition partners right now. Our biggest needs will come as the water recedes. This will be a long haul and require lots of volunteers. One note from the Resource Council is: DO NOT SEND CLOTHES. There will be some specific closing needs articulated, but right now clothes are not needed.

2. Also, the North Central Iowa Presbytery Office Disaster Assistance Coordinator Kaylene Hoskins is helping coordinate volunteer workers in Parkersburg with the F5 tornado cleanup. On Wednesday, June 11, the Trinity United Presbyterian Church in Indianola sent 11 volunteers to help with cleanup in the Parkersburg/New Hartford area. They reported that it will take a long time for recovery in the area. (See photos.)

3. Two documents for disaster assistance information to download and share:

4. How can you help? The immediate need in Iowa is for buckets to help clean up after the floods. Learn how to build buckets at: www.pcusa.org/pda/response/usa/2008winterspringstormsfloods-index.htm. Send buckets to:

First Presbyterian Church
802 12th Street
Marion, IA 52303

First Presbyterian Church
2701 Rochester Avenue
Iowa City, IA 52245

5. Finally, if you are interested in contributing monies, contact your Presbytery Office for procedures on sending funds towards disaster aftermath in Iowa and surrounding states. In Des Moines, e-mail pbydesmoines@qwestoffice.net or call 515-276-4991. A bulletin insert is available at: www.pcusa.org/pda/resources/usfloodbulletin.pdf.

Reminder: Do not send clothing at this time.

Please share these pieces of information with whomever may need them! Thank you for your prayers!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Free Health Screenings for Public: Mobile van brings health ministry to Des Moines!

The Presbytery of Des Moines is hosting Health Mission on the Move. There will be free health screenings available to the public Sunday, June 15 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Cottage Grove Avenue Presbyterian Church, 1050 24th St., Des Moines.

Congregations interested in this type of health ministries and outreach are invited to see and experience a tour of the mobile unit while it is in the area. The unit and staff are traveling along Interstate 80 on the way to the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s 218th General Assembly in San José, CA.

A Project of the National Health Ministries — Compassion, Peace and Justice Ministry Area of the PC(USA), the Health Mission on the Move mobile health education unit provides health education resources and congregational program models and arranges for the involvement of local health services and providers.

Located in the heart of Iowa, the Presbytery of Des Moines spans the state from Sigourney in the east to Atlantic in the west, and from Perry south to the Iowa-Missouri border. Rolling hills, rich farmland, welcoming small towns and bustling cities define the region, known nationwide for its extensive agribusiness and insurance industries, quality education, and honest, hard-working residents. At the crossroads of two major interstate highways, I-35 and I-80, the presbytery office is located in Iowa’s capital city of Des Moines, facilitating travel to the presbytery’s 64 churches. Ranging in size from 20 members to 1,800 members, the congregations combined represent a total of 9,823 Presbyterians. The Des Moines Presbytery, offers unique opportunities for leadership and fellowship found in the heart of Iowa. To learn more, go to our website at: www.presbyteryofdesmoines.org.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Communications Lunch and Learn Opportunities

The Presbytery's Communications Lunch and Learn Series begins February 21, from Noon - 1 p.m., churches in the Presbytery of Des Moines, are invited to attend these informational sessions at the office at 2400 86th St., Suite 20, Urbandale, Iowa.

If you currently work at a church, either as a staff member or volunteer, you are invited to join these informal discussions and information sharing groups.

Each month a topic is identified around which the majority of the discussion will revolve. Participants are encouraged to bring questions, samples, and insights related to the topic of the day. In addition to the featured topic, each session will include time to network and discuss off-topic items; such as to share recent projects or accomplishments, or ask your “burning questions” (whether they are related to the topic or not).

All lunch sessions are free and no RSVP is necessary, just bring your brown bag lunch and be ready to participate! (A microwave and frig are available too.)

Time and Location:
Times for all lunches are Noon - 1 p.m. at the Presbytery of Des Moines Office, 2400 86th St., Suite 20, Urbandale, IA 50322
Directions and Parking

2008 Dates and Topics (the 3rd Thursday of each month, except June)
February 21 – Brochures (please bring samples of your church’s brochures)
March 27 – Newsletters & E-mail Announcements (bring samples)
April 17 – Writing and Distributing Press Releases
May 15 – Web Sites: Basic (design, troubleshooting, etc.)
June 26 – Watch LIVE Podcast of the 218th General Assembly from San Jose, Calif.
July 17 – Stretching Your Church Office Staff/Volunteers
August 21 – Maximizing Your Database for Church Marketing: To ACS or Not
September 18 – (Re)Transforming Your Church
October 16 – Annual Reports (bring samples of your annual reports)
November 20 – New Media: Blogs, Podcasts, Wikis and more