Thursday, December 23, 2010

Pray for Sudanese Referendum, January 2011

The Sudan Mission Network meeting was Dec. 6-8, 2010, in Louisville, Ky. This annual
meeting is particularly important this year because the South Sudan Referendum
will be voted on in January 2011. The referendum will determine whether South
Sudan will become independent or remain one with the rest of Sudan. There are eight voting locations in the U.S. for southern Sudanese, which includes most major cities and Omaha, Neb.
The Presbytery of Des Moines’ Sudanese Resource Person the Rev. Goanar J. Chol is requesting prayers for all Sudanese Presbyterians not only in our Des Moines Presbytery, but the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) as a whole. The Referendum is important because it may mean a lasting peace or continuing war in Sudan. Troops on both sides are already gathering in mass numbers. Sudan’s President Omar el Basheer, already indicted for war crimes in the Darfur genocide, has already declared war if the South chooses independence, but the people of South Sudan seem to be determined to vote anyway.
For up-to-date information, go to the Sudan Avocacy Action Forum Web site.
Please pray for peace in Sudan (written by Rev. Mark Koenig).

Monday, December 13, 2010

Older Adult Ministries (OAM) December e-Newsletter

And the winner is…

Art Heimann of First Presbyterian Church in Grinnell!

Art was honored at the Des Moines Presbytery’s November 9th Stated Meeting at the Downtown Marriot. The Presbytery’s Older Adult Ministry Task Force picked Art from a group of 13 other nominees. All were invited to attend the special presentation and were treated to dinner. Art Heimann is pictured here with his award plaque as the General Presbyter Rev. Phil Barrett looks on in the background.

Selected from a group of other Outstanding Older Adults in the Des Moines Presbytery, Art was nominated from the session of his church because of his faithfulness and hard work which includes his community. Art has been a role model in his continuing effort on behalf of those around him, and an urch Grinnell example of when to say “No” as he recognizes his lower energy level and commits accordingly at age 89 and just finishing another term on session.

From the early 30’s to his recent term in office, he has led a capital campaign, environmentally responsible refurbishing of the church home, and regularly hosts Grinnell College guests as part of the mission outreach. He is one of the first to sign-up for small educational opportunities and other projects.

His Christian walk has been exemplified in daily Christian values while drawing upon the gifts of the Spirit. He has a long love of wood-working, much of which was sold at benefits. He was an original member of the Community Education Council to coordinate educational efforts between the Grinnell College, Grinnell Regional Medical Center, Mayflower Homes and Iowa Valley Community College. He took leadership in honoring local World War 2 veterans and publishing a book of their memoirs.

In addition he commits himself to a Mayflower Resident committee each year, choosing one that promotes good communication between the various constituencies.

Top 10 Take Aways of Darlene Shepherd’s notes from the recent Presbyterian Older Adult Ministries Network Conference in Orlando, Florida, Oct. 12-15, 2010.

  • 10. Christianity is one generation from extinction.
  • 9. Our faith is not our own – it is a gift from and to all generations.
  • 8. Every part of church life is intergenerational – births, celebrations, illnesses, aging and death involves each generation of a family. (In our bookshelves there are books for children when grandparents pass away.)
  • 7. Many people are connected – but lonely. They build a social capitol in the church.
  • 6. People attending the Conference: Pastors, Church leaders, People ‘from the pews’, Hospice Chaplain, some at their first POAMN conference, and some who have attended for many years. Backgrounds were varied, from very educated, former CEO’s, and those just “jumping into” older adult issues. We had structured workshops, casual times and deep times of worship.
  • 5. Where is the church going in following Christ? It is always changing. The modern world is fixated on scientific methods to get at the truth. We need intellectual relativity with personal narrative. Is it helpful – or not – to follow the path of Christ. Where is the Church going? Only Christ knows.
  • 4. The Keynote Speaker was the Rev. Dr. Eileen W. Linder. She used Hebrews Chapters 11 and 12, which looks forward and backward and was written precisely to connect the generations. She noted the acts done irrationally such as by Moses, Noah, etc., were irrational actions of faith.
  • 3. There are many new sensors for people at risk. Motion detectors for hallways, bathrooms, refrigerators, and medicine containers that alert others for variances. IPhones have GPS, and “IFall” which monitors and sends messages – some alert prior to a fall by measuring balance; watches will turn on alarms, or lock a door on approach.
  • 2. Question: Where is the future of the church? Answer: In the pews. Question: And who is the future of the church? Children maybe? Middlers? Older Adults? Answer: Anyone in the pews. AND...
  • 1. The most powerful group of the church – members who are no longer able to physically attend but pray faithfully for their church. The true IN GROUP!


Questions? Contact Older Adult Ministries Task Force Moderator Darlene Shepherd, or 641-673-5793.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

El Salvador Saturday November 13

Our last day in El Salvador began with a simple breakfast of scrambled eggs, refried beans, toasted rolls and a tamale (most tasty with honey). Our scheduled back-of-the-truck trip to the lagoon at Allegria was nixed for the opportunity to head up to Berlin central for morning shopping, people watching and the possibility of a stop in at the Ice Cream Store… Kathy and the delegation made our way the few blocks to the square where the street vendors were recently set up. Earrings became severely picked over within a matter of minutes. The group soon left the square to tour, photograph and enjoy the sights of the store owners, vendors and architecture which is unique to the community. We were reacquainted with people we had met on a previous trip and lots of hugs and well wishes were exchanged. I bought some local CD’s to play in the car and others picked up a small variety of items for themselves and friends at home. Four of our group had decided to head back to the pastoral house and with Kathy’s permission split off from us with the understanding to go straight there… Jennifer, our Spanish speaking delegate was with them so they wouldn’t have any problems… The rest of the entourage soon headed back and thought that a quick stop in at the Ice Cream Store would be a great idea.. and who should we find but the four that had left before us… BUSTED…. Lots of laughs and giggles this morning…Back at the Pastoral House we finished packing, downloaded camera memory chips and tried to copy a CD for Kathy so she could have our pictures too. Soon lunch was ready and we had our final House meal for the trip.. my favorite… a kind of enchilada.. a flat crispy tortilla with refried beans, avocado, hardboiled egg, tomato, lettuce and cheese… very tasty and light…. Ummmm… I had three. We soon had our van transportation waiting out front (early!!!) and quickly loaded our gear, ourselves and a group of the Pastoral House and their relatives for the trip to San Salvador to experience the 21st anniversary of the martyrdom of the 6 Jesuit Priests, a housekeeper and her young daughter. The army of the government had surrounded the campus of the UCA (University of Central America) in 1989 and killed and maimed these administrators and teachers. Their deaths were a turning point in the civil war as this tragedy was the trigger that made the United States discontinue its support of the existing government and push the two factions to end hostilities. The tranquil campus, beautiful sand art paintings which covered the streets, a candle light procession behind tall swaying palm branches gave each of us the opportunity to reflect on what had happened not so long ago. Before we had the opportunity to join the procession we all shared a pupusa dinner on the grass lawn outside the Romero Museum where many items have been preserved from that terrible night when 8 innocent people died. At the end of the candlelight march a mass was held (in Spanish) at the campus soccer field. Large screens were set up so that the estimated 5000-7000 people could see the stage set up at one end of the stadium. Our team sat on the concrete or laid in the grassed area which surrounded the large group gathered. Toward the end of the mass there was kind of a group hug… people from around where were sitting started hugging each other and us and saying …”Peace Be With You”… very nice, unexpected…. As we were to head back to our overnight stay at “Casa Antigua” we said our goodbyes to the Pastoral House team (more hugs) and wound our way back to Alfredo and the van. As we were all very tired and would be getting up very early to head to the airport a quick “turn in” was in order… A beautiful day to end a wonderful week in El Salvador.

Posted by Mark McAdoo

El Salvador Friday November 12

Friday November 12, was our second “very” special day going door to door in the Canton of Corozal. We took our delegation, most of our pastoral team and even picked up extra “folks” who needed a ride to Corozal. I say “picked up” because literally when folks are riding (standing up) in the back of our sturdy truck, they hang on for dear life even though they know that Kathy’s driving skills have been honed for this precious cargo.

One thing that strikes me most about Corozal is the vast contrast between the abundant beauty of the countryside and the extreme poverty we see. I quickly stopped thinking of myself as being a middle-class person and took myself to the top of the “rich” immediately. I consider myself to be well travelled and this is, without a doubt, the most beautiful country that I’ve ever seen.

This is our second day of delivering our colorful 27 pound tubs of basic staples door to door. Door to door, by the way, is not at all what I had envisioned. Door to door in Corozal can mean up or down a steep incline of red dirt, dust or mud, depending on the day. Deep ruts and holes abound as does the people’s gracious hospitality.

One more thing about our door to door process; the Directiva (members of the leadership team in Corozal) and the Pastoral team have organized, gone out and worked before we got there to get the tubs as close to the home as they could. Some of them work as “spotters” encouraging us to head “this way or that”…children grab our hands and join our walk making us look rather like we’re The Pied Piper. All the people that we think we’re serving, are in reality serving us. They made our job look easy.

The second home we visited today surprised us by saying that a 3 day old baby was inside the (mud and stick) house sleeping with his mother. They invited us to take a look and Brenda immediately spied one of the orange blankets that we had made (by APC Bible School) and a previous delegation passed out to the families a couple of years ago. On the blanket were the words “Jesus Loves Me”. Later that day I caught sight of another one of those blankets used to cover the top of a box to help make an altar.

There is a part of me that can look into the eyes of these beautiful people and be happy and grateful to God. There is another part of me that makes me hold my breath, grit my teeth, and do anything to stop myself from weeping at the awful poverty they live in. I know that we’re delivering food, drink, and love to these people and I hear them say, time and time again, that they hope…really hope, and pray we’ll return on another trip. This is one offer I’ll not refuse.

Our delegation of 8 from APC has been very gracious to me letting me ride in the cab of the truck, rather than having to stand in the back and hold on to the railings. A young man, Alejandro, has taken Kathy’s place as our driver. Kathy tells us that he is the brother of Cecilia and has been trained by Kathy to drive us around this beautiful obstacle course that they call the road. This young driver is as earnest as they come and so very careful to keep us safe.

We finished delivering our baskets by noon and were lead back again to “David’s house” for a lunch of rib soup with vegetables, meat, and a good sized hunk of tasty cheese, fresh green beans, watermelon, grapes, and apples. Gatorade turned out to be a most healthful and reviving drink for me personally.

After our lunch, the Directiva began their meeting with us. The team of people, 14 in all, was organized, specific, thoughtful, articulate and resourceful in their conversation and suggestions for us. Jennifer, Brenda’s daughter translated for us and Kathy helped to specify when extra description was necessary. They had flow charts already mapped out, neatly drawn for us and went through their thinking in great detail. We asked questions as we went along and their answers were thoughtful, direct and complete. A detailed description of the meeting was written down and will be available to everyone who is interested.

Once the meeting concluded we were driven to the sight of our celebration with them. Our mission team at APC generously allowed us the funds to serve an early supper to all the families, leadership, and people of Corozal.

The celebration began with music, 3 stringed instruments, percussion and a keyboard. After the first song, Blanca and Balmore (of our pastoral team in Berlin) gave speeches concerning God and our walking in solidarity with our friends. Their words were carefully chosen and gratefully accepted by the men and women of Corozal. Children either sat or played quietly in respect while the meeting proceeded. Marcia spoke to the families and told them how our family church at APC appreciated and prayed for them. She told them how grateful we were for all the work and organization they had done since our last visit.

The delegation and pastoral team then announced they were ready to serve the meal and the crowd of over 200 lined up: children, then women, young men, elders, and finally their leadership to partake in an early dinner. Many families took their food home to save or give to a family member who couldn’t make the trip. The 3-day old baby was obvious at the celebration…doing quite well and still wrapped up in his orange blanket.

Music and dancing were served up after dinner and at this point it seemed as if they were the singers and we were the dancers. Either way, we shared in celebrating and felt warmly and graciously received. Blanca and the team packed up leftovers and encouraged us to “Vamos”…time to go, so as to have some daylight as we road back to our pastoral home in Berlin.

Posted by Debi Garner

Friday, November 12, 2010

El Salvador Thursday Nov 11, 2010

Today was a special day because we visited our partner community, Corozal. It takes us a little over an hour to go the 12 miles to the community. We hold on tight standing in the back of the truck as Kathy drives over cobbled roads and tries to avoid the ruts. We are traveling down the mountain from Berlin so we have a few hairpin curves along the way. At this time of the year the view is beautiful. The countryside is very green and there are many flowers in bloom. During part of the trip we were led by a bright blue butterfly.

It was very exciting to see some of the new homes as we came into Corozal. When we were here in March 2009 REDES a NGO from Luxemburg had provided the materials for new block homes for some of the families. They will provide much more protection than their old homes. The old homes are still being used especially for cooking.

We are always so happy to see each other. They gather to meet us and play music to welcome us. It is a very heartwarming time. We enjoyed singing with them and they seemed to enjoy watching us try to follow the actions of the song being sung in Spanish.

After the welcoming ceremony we began delivering baskets to each family. The families are very happy that we visit their homes and make us feel very welcome. Some had welcome signs and one had balloons decorating the door.

We took a break and had lunch at David’s home. It was a delicious lunch with chicken, rice, salad, watermelon and fresh tortillas. They are always such gracious hosts.

After lunch we continued our visits to each home. As we passed the school we heard music that gave us an extra burst of energy. Today was the last day of school and we went over to help them celebrate. Some of us enjoyed dancing with them. It is nice to recognize some of the kids we have met on previous visits.

It was a beautiful day even though it did get a little warm at times. One family had a little store and when we left their home the owner gave us each a can of peach nectar which we really enjoyed. We delivered baskets to 34 families and finished around 4:30.

We were all very tired as we climbed into the back of the truck for our ride back to Berlin. It is not nearly as dusty as it is in March but a cold bucket shower still felt great.

What a happy day to spend with our friends in Corozal. We are looking forward to another day in Corozal tomorrow.

Posted by Brenda Schumann

Thursday, November 11, 2010

El Salvador Wednesday Nov 10

We woke up at our home in Berlin with the chicken cackles and the rumble of trucks just a few feet from my head. Who knew how restful the sounds could be? Some began their day with goose pimple showers and coffee. Jennifer eventually climbed from her bunk with the story of how the dip in her bed caused her to dream she lay in a boat. Of course, her bunk became “the boat” to her roommates.

Since our driver, Alfredo, stayed the night at La Casa Pastoral, he was ready, before some of the rest of us, to drive us to Perquin bright and early. We all marvel at his driving ability. We reached the massacre site of El Mozote in good time, though we had a traffic jam of sorts. Early in our journey, a semi truck of scrap metal had over turned on one of the curves and dumped the messy load on the two lane highway. Our thoughts all turned to potential victims, as well as those charged with clean up.

El Mozote is a caseria (small rural village) in the canton of Guacamaya with the town of Meanguera. We heard an interpretation of the story related by Rufina Amaya Marquez, the only survivor. She told anyone who would listen of the systematic murders of the entire community, 85% of whom were children. Changes have taken place at the massacre site since some delegates had last been there, and some of us visited for the first time. A silhouette statue of four people stands before a wall listing every family. The guide called this the beginning of the civil war. “Here are the shadows of death,” she said.

A new church is built beside the old church. The old had been burnt down, with the men inside, during the massacre. Part of the floor, bases for two columns, and the baptismal fount still remain. On one side of the church, a mural depicting the story of the community was painted three and a half years ago. On the opposite side, in the place where the children were kept and killed, they maintain a rose garden. The church wall on that side hosts another mural as well as plaques with the names and ages of each child.

Standing at the sobering site, the pastoral team led a memorial service with hymns, the reading of Psalm 10 (so perfect for this time!) and a homily. Balmore said, “We need to keep in our minds the deaths of children, women, and men who died here so the ideals of the impoverished can transform the country.”

From there, we drove to Perquin and the Museo De La Revolution SalvadoreƱa. This site had been the “Capitol of the Revolutionaries.” Among other things, we learned the importance of the revolutionaries’ radio station to their cause. They showed us some ingenious ways they escaped the army’s attention. We also saw a hole left by a 500 lb. (U.S. supplied) bomb.

A guerilla encampment is maintained for visitors near the museum. Kathy challenged our fears by making us crawl down into a foxhole, and crossing not one, but three suspension bridges. Between the claustrophobics and the acrophobics we had fun laughing at one another.

We ate a late lunch high on a hill in Perquin at a restaurant called Perkin Linca. The staff graciously waited for us to leave before heading home themselves. For supper, we had my favorite, pupusas with bean and cheese filling followed by a trek to the ice cream store in the recently revamped square. A futball game gathered a large crowd around their ground on the basketball court beside the church.

Back to La Casa for reflection time, and a video of Rufina Amaya (El Mozote survivor) telling her own story as she walked around the village where she had returned to finish her life. We had witnessed her grave earlier in the day. Who among us would be strong enough after her awful experiences to speak of it ever again, each time bringing the horrific events to the front of her thoughts?

“[Oh, Lord you will] do justice for the orphan and the oppressed, so that those from earth may strike terror no more.” Psalms 10:18

Posted by Becky McKee

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

El Salvador Tuesday, November 9, 2010

We arrived safely in San Salvador last night. Our trip from Iowa was uneventful. The 10-hour lay-over in Houston gave everyone time to relax, walk, sit in the sun and share humor and stories. Aside from our long lay-over, there were no plane delays, no lost luggage and only one person was momentary delayed by the red “Alto” stoplight as we progressed through the Custom’s process. All in all, a great travel day.

We spent our first night at the Casa Antigua guest house in San Salvador. Tuesday morning dawned with a gorgeous sunrise and we started the morning with a traditional Salvadoran breakfast of huevos (eggs), arroz (rice), frijoles (beans) and frito (fried) bananas. Mucho delicioso!

Our journey today had our delegation visiting historical sites in San Salvador. All of us piled into the Microbus and Alfredo, our driver, took us to the Divina Providencia, Parque Cuscatlan, and the the University of Central America (UCA).

The Divina Providencia is a Catholic cancer hospital. Monsignor Oscar Romero lived on these grounds and it was in the hospital’s chapel that he was assassinated while blessing the host during a special mass. We spent time in the chapel and his home, reflecting on his life’s work of addressing oppression. Though he served all, his heart was with the plight of the poor.

Back in the microbus, we then headed for the Parque Cuscatlan to view the Wall of Memory and Truth. The wall depicts the history of El Salvador and the names of those who were killed during the period of unrest and including through the war that ended in 1991.

The wall sits within a beautiful park setting. The park was busy. It was such a beautiful day to spend time in the park. Foliage is lush and green. Poinsettias (which are as large as trees here) and other flowers are blooming. The grass is green.

We climbed back into the microbus and headed for the UCA. The campus is bustling with students and many visitors. Here we spend time in the museum learning more about the role the UCA played during the Civil War and the eventual massacre of 6 Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her daughter. We will return on Saturday to participate in the March to commemorate the lives of these Jesuits.

Our last stop in San Salvador is the Artisan Market for lunch and a little shopping. It is a two hour ride to Berlin. The Pastoral Team was waiting for our arrival and greeted us warmly.

We settled in and met with the women of the Pastoral Team before dinner. Listening to Blanca, Cecilia and Otillia eloquently share their passion for their work and their devotion to God was very moving. It is an honor to be able to work with this great team.

There were many emotions today. Thankfulness, excitement, sadness, tears, humility, laughter. Tomorrow there will be more as we experience the war museum in Perquin and the memorial site at El Mozote.

Posted by,
Carla Yeager

Ankeny Presbyterian in El Salvador

Buenos dias from Berlin, El Salvador! Eight members of a delegation from Ankeny Presbyterian Church are spending the week of November 8-14, 2010 in El Salvador. Watch this blog for updates on the daily activities of our team as we watch, learn, interact, and walk with our partners on the Pastoral Team and our partner community of Corozal. Each day a different member of our delegation will share highlights of our days with you. Our days are full and are hearts and spirits get very full as well. Check back again soon!

Marcia McAdoo

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Presbytery of Des Moines and the Transformation Team invite all pastors, commissioners and committee members, to the Downtown Marriott in Des Moines for the November 9th Presbytery Meeting. We’ll meet from 2-7:30 p.m., including a dinner catered by the hotel. Afterwards, you’re invited to stay overnight at the Marriott at the special rate of $25. You can relax, enjoy the amenities, and attend two workshops. Five workshops will be offered Tuesday night from 8-9:30 p.m. and four on Wednesday morning, from 9-10:45 a.m. You can sign up for two workshops at registration time.

These 4 workshops are repeated both sessions: Praying Your Church Alive with Rev. Dale O’Connell; Creative Worship with Rev. Suzanne Gorhau; In a Fog about nFOG? with Elder Maurice Dyer; Empowering Leadership with Rev. Jim Howland.

This workshop is only available the Tuesday evening session (8-9:30 p.m.): Remembering Who and Where You are: Maintaining Privacy, Boundaries and Confidentiality in Parish Ministry with Rev. Jeffery Means. This facilitated group will provide an opportunity pastors’ spouses to get acquainted, to offer one another support and encouragement, as well as share ideas gleaned from experience.

A reservation form is available online. Send a copy of the completed form with payment made payable to the Presbytery of Des Moines, 2400 86th St., Ste. 20, Urbandale, IA 50322-4306. When we receive your form and money, you will be registered for the room and/or meal. Things to do:
  1. Complete a registration form for EACH PERSON eating dinner, staying overnight, or attending workshops.
  2. ROOMS: Send reservation form with payment to the Presbytery of Des Moines, 2400 86th St., Ste. 20, Urbandale, IA 50322-4306 by OCTOBER 19th. DO NOT call the Marriott. There will be 30 rooms available at the special rate of $25 (normally $124 + tax). The first 30 reservation forms with payment received will get the special rate.
  3. MEALS: Since the meal will be catered by the Marriott, EVERYONE who will have dinner at the Presbytery meeting will need to send in a reservation form with payment of $5.00 by NOVEMBER 4th.

It is the hope of the Transformation Team to prepare your heart and mind for the busy seasons of Thanksgiving, Advent and Christmas.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Youth Retreat to Feature Lock-In Activity at Tokens

The Des Moines Presbytery’s Annual Fall Youth Retreat will be held Oct. 29-30, 2010, at Covenant Presbyterian Church, 1025 28th St., West Des Moines. Be A Hero: Living Like Jesus is for youth (6th-12th graders), Christian education directors and youth leaders; others by arrangement only. Cost is $30 and includes food, lodging, Tokens Family Fun Center lock-in and t-shirt. Scholarships are available. Please make note on your registration form if you could use one!

Registration and permission/medical treatment forms are available online or contact your church youth leader or pastor. All forms and checks made payable to the Presbytery of Des Moines, must be sent in no later than Oct. 25, to: Dennis Britson, Registrar, Be A Hero: Living Like Jesus – 2010 Fall Youth Retreat, 1110 E. 6th St. #12, Des Moines, IA 50316, (H) 515-282-9139 or (M) 515-988-1360,

Leaders note: If you are registering a group, or are planning to bring registrations to the retreat, call and let Dennis Britson know the names and t-shirt sizes of participants so food and Be A Hero materials can be ordered.

Friday, October 1, 2010

PC(USA)’s Peacemaking Program sends International Peacemaker to Des Moines! Please be our guests!

You are invited to a Dialogue with Peacemaker Hilary Rantisi on Saturday, October 2, 6 p.m., at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 4114 Allison Avenue, Des Moines. Enjoy a Middle Eastern meal catered by Open Sesame; learn from Hilary Rantisi: The Hands of Peacemaking in Palestine-Israel. Palestinian handcrafts and olive oil will be available for purchase. Please be our guests! Sponsored by the Social Ministries Task Force of the Presbytery of Des Moines. Call the Presbytery of Des Moines at 515-276-4991 for your dinner reservation. (Your free will offering to “Presbyterian Peacemaking Program” is welcome.)
Hunger Action Enabler Nancy Lister-Settle has this to say about Hilary’s upcoming visit, “We are so privileged to have someone of Hilary’s stature here in the presbytery – and are REALLY hoping for a good turnout for the special Westminster dinner and dialogue and the Central worship service and brunch.”

Or come on Sunday, October 3, at 10:15 a.m. (World Communion Sunday) to Central Presbyterian Church, 3829 Grand Avenue, Des Moines. Our International Peacemaker will take part in worship, then join Hilary Rantisi for brunch and dialogue following worship.
Hilary Rantisi is a Palestinian Christian who was born in Jerusalem and grew up in Ramallah, West Bank. In 2001 Hilary moved to the US and is currently working as the Director of the Middle East Initiative at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Prior to moving to the US, Ms. Rantisi's previous work was with civil society organizations in Israel-Palestine and focused on religion, politics, and grassroots mobilization efforts in Jerusalem. She has co-edited a book Our Story: The Palestinians in 1999 with Rev. Naim Ateek, and a number of other journal articles. She has served as International Peacemaker with PC(USA) several times and her message is that of integrating principles of Christian peacemaking with situations of conflict.
International Peacemakers are leaders who are engaged in peacemaking in their own areas of the world. They are invited by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to visit with Presbyterians in the United States and to help us understand the peace and justice concerns of others around the world. International Peacemakers help Presbyterians broaden their view of the world, deepen their understanding of peace and justice issues in our own communities, and faithfully follow Jesus in ministries extending compassion, seeking peace, and doing justice. Presbyterian Peacemaking Program, PC(USA).

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

All Iowa Presbyteries Affected By Recent Flooding

According to the Aug. 16 map released by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, all six presbyteries with all or portions of their geography in Iowa have a county with a federal disaster assistance designation for either public or individual assistance. In total, 19 of the 25 counties in the Presbytery of Des Moines received disaster assistance designation, 11 of 19 in Prospect Hill, 11 of 24 in North Central Iowa, six of 16 in East Iowa, four of six in John Knox, and three of seven in Missouri River Valley.

A total of 32 counties in Iowa are now eligible for individual federal assistance to help communities recover from recent severe storms, tornadoes and flooding, according to an Aug. 17 FEMA announcement. Assistance may include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster. Residents and business owners who sustained losses in the designated counties may register for assistance anytime at the FEMA Web site. (Reprinted from the August 23rd, Synod of Lakes and Prairies Keeping In Touch e-newsletter. To subscribe, contact Editor Duane Sweep,

Prayers are needed for church members in the Des Moines Presbytery who experienced water damage:
If you know of others who are suffering and are having a hard time cleaning up water damage from either floods or excess water after the rains in July and August, please contact the Presbytery of Des Moines Office at 515-276-9991, There are teams standing by to help clean and muck out.

We are also willing to store clean-up buckets at our Presbytery Office. If you have any, you can bring them to 2400 86th St., Ste. #20, Urbandale, IA 50322. The ‘recipe’ is online at: or

Monday, September 20, 2010

God in America Series is Coming to PBS October 11, 12 & 13

The God in America series offers an investigative look into how religion shaped our national identity, our schools and our politics. The three episodes will air at 8 p.m. CT: Oct. 11 - A New Adam/ A New Eden, Oct. 12 - Rebirth/A New Light from Above, and Oct. 13 - Soul of a Nation/of God and Caesar. Check your local PBS station to see viewing times for your area.

The six-hour series is coming to PBS from American Experience, FRONTLINE, and their partners at the National Center for Media Engagement (NCME). Together they invite you to join in a National Outreach Campaign of community engagement. Through partnerships with the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, The Freedom Forum First Amendment Center, the Fetzer Institute, Sacred Space International and others, they hope to extend the reach of the series.

Here’s how you can help:
  1. Register your community group, house of worship or association and appear on our list of cooperating organizations. Receive program updates, behind-the-scenes stories from the filmmakers, sneak previews and resources to promote the national broadcast.

  2. Create a page in the God in America Faithbook (coming soon) and share it with friends online.

  3. Organize a Sacred Spaces event in your community or attend one of our great eight city tours this fall in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, New Orleans, New York, Santa Fe, San Francisco and Portland, Ore.

  4. Host a viewing party.

  5. Discuss and share your experience online and offline with family, friends and your community.

  6. Join the growing list of organizations participating in the God in America national outreach campaign.
If you have questions about the God in America series or the outreach campaign, contact WGBH Outreach Director Erin Martin Kane at: 617-300-5969,

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Church Mission Giving Resource Packet Coming in September to You

Each church in the Des Moines Presbytery will receive a packet for pastors, Mission committee chairpersons, and clerks of Session in late September from the General Assembly Mission Council of the PC(USA). This packet will have materials to help sessions make decisions about their mission giving in 2011.

Included in this year’s stewardship promotional materials are:

  • a printed World Mission Giving Opportunities catalog
  • a flier promoting Shared Mission Support at all levels of the church, which also explains how the General Assembly Mission Council uses its portion of Shared Mission Support
  • a flier promoting resources for congregational giving campaigns from our partners at the Ecumenical Stewardship Center
  • a flier with information from the Presbyterian Foundation on long-term giving opportunities
  • a cover letter explaining the packet and providing instructions on accessing the online searchable listing of giving opportunities.
Watch the Seconds for Stewardship box weekly in The Wider Circle E-news, and pray for ways you can help the church ministry and mission, both regionally and nationally.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Church Items for Sale and Free

Knox United’s Garage Sale Items are Still Available
Knox United Presbyterian Church, 2315 59th Street, Des Moines, still has bargains available from their Garage Sale held in June 2010. The following items are still available:

2-drawer file cabinets diaper-changing station B&W copier
3-drawer file cabinets window air conditioner choir music
4-drawer file cabinets portable dishwasher dishes/glasses
blackboard room dividers 50+ like-new Bibles glass hostess sets
metal chairs in rack baptismal font

If you are interested in any of these items, contact the church's Clerk of Session Pat Aksamit, at:

Cleaning Out Treasures—Free Bibles!
Free for picking up: 58 Good News Bibles. Inquire at Covenant Presbyterian Church in West Des Moines, at: 515-225-2254 or

Saturday, September 11, 2010

CROSS Ministries Video is Online

The video played at the Des Moines Presbytery's August 21, 2010 meeting held in Leon, Iowa, on the CROSS Back-to-School Backpack Giveaway may now be viewed online and/or downloaded. Scroll down through the photo icons and click on “School Giveaway 2010.”

There are also a few DVD copies, if you’d like one, contact the Des Moines Presbytery Office or the Rev. Dr. David Madsen, Cottage Grove Avenue Presbyterian Church in Des Moines at 515-279-8877 or

Friday, September 10, 2010

Schedule Joining Hands Speakers in Your Church

Two members of the Presbytery’s Joining Hands partner network in Egypt will be visiting our Des Moines Presbytery, Sept. 1-10, 2010. Dr. Nabil Sisostres is the network coordinator, and Raafat Nazmy is the representative to the network from the Association for the Protection of the Environment, an organization working with the Zabaleen garbage workers community in Moqattam, Cairo.

The network is taking up a new campaign to address the needs of women-headed households. Nabil and Raafat would enjoy visiting placesoffering services to women here in Iowa, and are eager to speak about the work of Joining Hands with Egypt.

If your church or organization is interested in hosting or hearing their story, contact Social Ministries Task Force Moderator Nancy Lister-Settle at: 515-992-3639 or

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Midweek at Synod School 2010

By now, the attendees of Synod of School are learning everyone's names and feeling a sense of community. Both within their classes and every day activities like worship, meal time, the Art Share Tent, the Coffee House, the Game Room, the movie theatre, etc.
We are staying in the double dorm rooms of White this year at Buena Vista University. Which has lended to our family meeting several new friends. We normally stay in the studio suites with a personal shower and bathroom. My daughter even got to room with a young girl from Colorado, who is here with her Grandmother and mom.
The food dining service is good for a college. Choices include a salad bar, grilled items, a main course and dessert each day. Having gone to Purdue last week with the Presbytery's Triennium delegation, we found a little more variety. But the food at Buena Vista is fresh and hot. Though the lunch room is a tade noisy, there are good feelings of fellowship with the ocassional break to join in song for a friends birthday.
The evening worship is centered around the theme of "Grace Notes." Leaders the Rev. Mark Davis and the Rev. Barbara Nish have been instructing and guiding us to hear our worship with different tones and building upon a component with several layers of sound or worship elements.
On Wednesday evening, we organize a Tweet-up for those peeps that are logging their Synod School experiences on the social network Six people showed up to learn more about getting the 140 character submission to come into our phones automatically and to meet face-to-face with our fellow Tweets.
Obviously, there are many ways to connect with our Synod's various church and presbytery members across the six states and beyond.
Kim Coulter,
director of communications
Presbytery of Des Moines

Monday, July 26, 2010

Monday at Synod School 2010

School is normally not a place you want to spend much time at. Once you've learned you are accomplished and can make your way in the world. However, here at Synod School, I find I want to make it last forever. the wealth of learning opportunities is unlimited. And the Monday is the start of classes... each person can take as many as four 1-hour classes during the week. Each day you go to these same four classes, hopefully finding an education or something that makes your heart sing (as one of my teachers said).

My classes this year at Synod School 2010 are: China and the Church, Aging Well, Memoir Writing and Emerging Church. I'm not teaching this year, which is an interesting feeling to sit back and watch more of the interaction between the 600 attendees from the different states in the Synod of Lakes and Prairies.

Each morning we begin the day with a 30 minute worship time, then our convocation speaker Rev. Dr. Roger Nishioka, professor at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Ga., gives his presentation discussing reformed theology. As I head to my first class, I say "Hi," to many friends that I've met through out the 5 years I've been attending this event at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa.

My first class on China and the Church, is lead by Rev. Heidi Vardeman, pastor at Macalester Plymouth United Church in St. Paul, Minnesota. Today we had a treat from the Rev. Calvin Hsu (Guthrie Center, First) who gave us a short lesson on speaking Chinese.
After that I went to my Aging Well class lead by the Rev. Richard and Jean Ann Buller (Golden Valley, MN). It is probably the most well attended of my classes. Each seat is full and everyone is energetic to get there and experiment with the different activities each day. All are meant to help keep your brain active. Today's games were stacking cups and juggling - both increase your mind's capacity and agility.
My afternoon classes are Memoir Writing and Emerging Church. The instructors are Tamara Cox Burnett, CLP, (Merrill, WI) and the Rev. Susan Phillips (Shawano, WI). These are great teachers and wonderful classes too, unfortunately, I've not been as faithful in my personal writing and journaling as in my blogging and tweeting for the Presbytery. But maybe that just means I'm living my faith in a different way right now.
Kim Coulter
director of communications
Presbytery of Des Moines

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Heading Home from Presbyterian Youth Triennium 2010

I finally took off my PYT2010 band around my wrist. I had a great time and I didn't want it to end. The whole delegation seemed to have grown in their faith while we were at Purdue University in Indiana for those few days. You can see it through their blog reflections below.

One thing I was suprised about was how many of the teenagers were actual elders. In my Small Group #143, (pictured here) we had approximately 30 people, 4 of them were teen-aged elders.
During the final worship on Saturday, over 100 teen-aged elders served communion to all of the 5,000 attendees. Picture here is Kendra Allen (Ankeny), she was on the college-aged work crew and helped prepare the communion elements for the worship.
Another thing I was suprised about was how many people it takes to put on one of these events. The Rev. Rick Carus, from Ankeny Presbyterian Church and his wife Sue worked in the Triennium Exhibit Hall. I really enjoyed spending time there to talk with others who know that the youth are not just the churches future. The youth definitely benefit from the overall experience of Triennium and it makes them the leaders of today's church.
I have lots of pins to show off. The next time you're in the Presbytery Office, ask to see them. A few that I'm proud of, are the ones from our international delegates. I have pins from Germany, Brazil, Columbia and Taiwan. I also had one from Korea, but another adult advisor came up to me and asked about it... wanting to trade for one of his pins. I asked why. He said, "Because I was station over in Korea when I was with the military." With that response, I immediately traded it for a Purdue pin he had purchased.

All in all, we were very happy that we all went. I was rather tired when I arrived home, but I only had a few hours to sleep, wash clothes and pack again. For the next day, I was heading north to Storm Lake, Iowa for Synod School 2010. Yeah, more dorm beds and great food!

Kim Coulter, adult advisor and
director of communications
Presbytery of Des Moines