Des Moines Presbytery was organized on April 28, 1843 at Yellow Spring with 4 clergy and 3 elders present. Included in Des Moines Presbytery in 1843 were, Iowa City, Fort Madison, Bloomington, Toolesborough, Yellow Springs, Burlington, Fort Madison and Keosauqua. It was connected to the Synod of Illinois. They voted that a tax of 25 cents be assessed on each member to defray contingency expenses. Meetings were held twice yearly in April and September. At this first meeting, the following resolution was adopted:“Resolved that we regard the system of American Slavery as a violation of the fundamental principles of the Gospel – a reproach to our church hindrance to its prosperity – and that as such it is our duty not only to bear our testimony against it, but also, in all suitable ways, to exert our influence for its removal.”In 1843, talks began with the Congregational Association of Iowa to talk about Union between the two denominations in Iowa. Overtures to GA were called “memorials”. At the April 12, 1934, meeting a special committee prepared a memorial, expressing disapproval of dancing on our colleges campus’, and asking the Assembly to forbid the Board of Education paying any of its funds to any of our colleges countenancing this evil among its students. Presbytery meetings began in the afternoon and concluded the next afternoon with participants staying in the homes of church members. Many pastors and elders rode the train to the meeting. Evening services were held with talks including on April 28, 1942, at Osceola, “Maintaining the Morale of the Church in the Time of War”. A Presbytery meeting was also held during an adjourned docket time during Synod. In 1943, the Presbytery adopted as a five year goal of The Church’s Responsibility for a Just and Durable Peace. The church needs to be involved in: 1.The combating of war’s product – hate – by teaching brotherly love 2.Create in all its people a sensitivity to the problem and possibilities involved and a determination to face them until they are solved and realized. 3.To broaden the outlook of both individuals and organizations in such manner that a primary concern of each shall be a world Christian social order more closely approaching the Kingdom of God. 4.A new emphasis in teaching and practice of the principles of Jesus In 1952, the PCUSA celebrated 150th anniversary of work of National Missions.
The PCUS (southern church) and the UPC U.S.A. merged at Atlanta, GA on June 10, 1983 and became the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The Presbytery of Des Moines of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) was incorporated in September 1983. Presbytery approved 6 meetings a year on Tuesday and Saturdays in the year 1986. In May 1987, a celebration was held for 150 years of mission in Des Moines Presbytery. Church membership was 14,918 members with 97 pastors and 68 churches on the roll. Re-organization of the General assembly took place in 1988. Committees, budget and personnel where re-structured, re-aligned and re-assigned. In the 1990’s, through different Presbyteries, Synod sponsored “Face to Face Events”. These provided an opportunity for those churches seeking pastors, and those pastors seeking new calls, to meet only another for “face to face” interviews. In 1988, the Congregational Ministries committee sent a letter to churches asking them to do “future planning”. It was discussed in 1990 to possibly add new Presbytery staff in the form of a part-time Evangelism and Public Relations Consultant. There continued to be a full time Presbytery Executive (Gus Nelson), Associate Executive (Marty Reif), Stated Clerk and a part-time Social Ministries person on staff. There were also two full-time office staff. The Stated Presbytery meeting on February 22, 1990, took only three hours to enact all business. It was suggested through a Presbytery committee and the General Council, that a Rural/Urban partnership between rural and urban churches, be begun. Eight partners were paired in April 1990. We saw a membership loss of 38% in 18 years between 1974 and 1991. But eyes towards the vision, a New Church Development was begun on N.W. 142nd Street and Hickman Road in the area of Clive, Iowa, a suburb of Des Moines. Discussion was held about the possibility of moving the Presbytery offices to the church, once it was built. Visioning was the key word in 1993 as the Presbytery looked forward to what services would be offered, what direction we would be going and how we would be empowering the visions that were shared. Out of these visions came Regional Partnerships and the birth of the Congregational Care and Development and Professional Care and Development Committees. Seven Regional Partnerships were established: Des Moines Two Rivers, Des Moines West-Northwest, East, South Central, Southeast, Southwest and West. Initially each partnership received $4,000 from the Presbytery budget for their use. The retirement of the Rev. Gus Nelson in September of 1993, brought about the re-evaluation of staffing in the Presbytery Office. Gus served us well for 18 years. The separate position of Stated Clerk was eliminated and combined with the role of General Presbyter. The Rev. Marty Reif, Educational Ministries Specialist served as Interim and then Acting Presbyter Executive until the hiring of the Rev. Philip Barrett in 1994. Marty served the Presbytery for 11 years. A new Constitution and By-Laws were written and approved by the Presbytery in 1995. And a new structure was in place in 1996. Many committees were eliminated, with work now to be done by Regional Partners and Task Forces. The Committee on Ministry was split, and became the Congregational Care and Development Committee and the Professional Care and Development committee, one to resource the congregations and churches and the other to resource pastors and staff. The Committee on Preparation for Ministry was born from the Candidates Committee. Specific work may be done by the Stewardship Task Force and the Worship Task Force. With worship and gathering at the Table being such an important part of who we are as Presbyterians, the Worship Task Force asked that 60 minutes be allotted for worship at each Presbytery meeting and if possible, the Lord’s Supper be celebrated at each meeting. A thought provoking Presbytery meeting in January 1998, included a dialogue discussing “A Formula of Agreement Between the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, the Reformed Church in America and the United Church of Christ, on Entering into Full Communion on the Basis of a Common Calling”. Representatives from each denomination discussed the pro and cons of this big step in ecumenicity. With the hope of this new alliance pulpits could be filled more easily. Membership in 1998 was 12, 366. Per Capita for the Presbytery in 2000 was $8.45 and had remained that amount 1997. Total per capita was $17.55 with a membership 12,197. Current membership of the Presbytery of Des Moines in 2008 is 9,489.