On Saturday, August 27, almost 100 Presbyterians from across Iowa gathered at First Presbyterian Church in Boone for worship, fellowship, and – of course – a good meal.
The gathering’s theme of “Celebrating CommUNITY” was evident to those gathered in person as they truly celebrated solidarity with each other, in the denomination, and with Christians around the world. “It is very worthwhile to spend time with those beyond our own congregations – it gives me a broader view that enhances my faith,” reflected elder Jan Davison of Westminster Presbyterian Church, Des Moines.
During worship, preachers Rev. Ekram Kachu, pastor of First Arabic Presbyterian Church in Des Moines, and CRE Kristin Ward, from the Presbytery of East Iowa, both shared the Word of God while exploring church as community. The Sudanese Choir from First Arabic sang three songs that moved the Body of Christ to their feet — without being asked!
A variety of workshops encouraged and supported the work of our congregations. In one workshop, Rev. Ian McMullen, Rev. Beth Hamilton, and Rev. Sara Sutter led a discussion on the opportunities and challenges of small churches. In another offering, which was also shared with participants on Zoom, elder Sheryl Puderbaugh led a workshop on engaging mission and building community with refugees, immigrants, and migrants in our neighborhoods. Another workshop explored a theological and missional understanding of Creation, with Rev. Alex Thornburg tying these themes to an integral experience of the church community.
Those who gathered were grateful for the opportunity for fellowship and to worship and learn together.
“Going to the Iowa gathering of Presbyterians was revitalizing,” said Rev. Anna Small, pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Glidden. She said a highlight for her was attending the workshop celebrating small churches, adding, “It became a time to share what works with people who all know what it is to be part of a small church.”
Other attendees also expressed gratitude for the workshops. Davison said: “I attended the workshop on Creation in the afternoon and I was inspired by the connections made between our faith and the planet/nature/the environment. I left with much to contemplate, and those thoughts continue today!”
Rev. Richard Francis of the Presbytery of Prospect Hill summarized the gathering well: “I was very pleased with the Iowa Gathering. We had a great turnout from the presbyteries and there was a lot of energy and enthusiasm. The worship was outstanding and the workshops I attended were very good. Finally, the hospitality provided by the folks at Boone was most appreciated.”
Thank you to all who joined us on August 27 — and especially to First Presbyterian Church in Boone for their incredible hospitality!