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

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 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: 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 or call 515-276-4991. A bulletin insert is available at:

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: