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Volume XLVII, Issue 1 ~ January 25, 2024

The Pastor’s Paragraphs…

Ten months ago, I completed an 8-day silent retreat that was nothing short of transformative. I wish I could say that I had a mountaintop experience (which would have been quite something in southeastern Nebraska), but it was more like getting clocked with a reality check. With the help of a gifted spiritual director, I recognized that I, as much as any functional atheist, rarely give any serious consideration to what God wants me to be and do.

I returned to civilization startled and humbled, but hardly converted. On my most recent 3-day silent retreat near the south metro Denver foothills, I again found myself, not on the mountaintop, but in a spiritual director’s office confronting my constitutional inclination to prioritize my personal preferences and ambitions while simply presuming that God endorses them.

I’m not alone in this. Between our activity-obsessed culture, our productivity-oriented approach to work, a callous marketplace selling us on our inadequacy, and a ruthlessly distorted individualism, it’s no wonder congregations exhaust themselves engaging in what seems productive, what has worked well enough in the past, and what satisfies certain preferences without stopping long enough – and often enough – to seek God’s response to this one question:

Lord, what do YOU dream of accomplishing in me/us?

Your own strategic plan task force identified the necessity of centering God in our congregational life. Among half a dozen recommendations, they placed disciplined, deliberate prayer at the top of the list. How many of us feel equipped to pray earnestly, fervently, and faithfully for God’s will to be revealed to us, and then to be done?

Here’s a secret: We’re equipped to show up and that’s all we need at the outset. God’s already there, waiting for our attention. When we slow down and quiet down long enough – and often enough – we learn to listen deeply to our hearts and start to appreciate the spiritual genius that is our God-given birthright.

In the next few months, I’d like all of us to step back from the bustle of life, the rewards and challenges of church, our nostalgia for the past, and our apprehension about the future and simply sit with that one question: Lord, what do YOU dream of accomplishing in me/us? This does not mean disconnecting from the congregation; it means plugging in more prayerfully and less anxiously. It means lifting our gaze from whatever tasks are at hand and focusing instead on the still, small voice calling out within us: Do not fear. I have called you by name; you are mine.


Sunday, January 7, 2024

Church is a living thing. It grows, it shrinks, it wanders, it returns. Babies are born, kids graduate, pair up, and have babies of their own. New friends move in. Old friends move on. Visitors pass through. Loved ones pass away. Buildings spring up, spring leaks, run down, and get renovated. Pastors come and go.

As Trinity United Presbyterian Church enters a thoughtful, deliberate period of transition, it is important that we mark this beginning. It is equally important to set our intention to remain faithful to God and each other. During worship on Sunday, January 7, 2024, Rev. Erica MacCreaigh, Trinity United’s installed Ruling Elders and Deacons, and the Trinity United congregation covenanted to loosen our grip on the past, commit our hearts and efforts to the present, and affirm our hope for the future of our congregational life and public witness to Christ.

What follows are the vows undertaken on January 7 by and on behalf of the leaders, members, and friends of Trinity United Presbyterian Church, and witnessed by Presbytery of Des Moines Executive Presbyter of Ministry and Mission, Ruling Elder Amgad Beblawi.

Pastor’s Affirmation of Covenant

With God’s help, the Reverend Erica MacCreaigh, Transitional Pastor of Trinity United Presbyterian Church:

  • Commits herself to this time of transition and promises to fulfill her obligations to Christ faithfully, hopefully, and joyfully;
  • Promises to love, serve, pray for, and pray with our congregation; to challenge our assumptions, stir our imaginations, and encourage us to grow in Christian faithfulness, all the while nourishing us with God’s Word, Holy Sacraments, and pastoral care;
  • Promises to lead the congregation to know and love ourselves and our neighbors and to desire and discern the presence and purposes of God;
  • Promises to be a friend to her colleagues in ministry, strive for community amid diversity, and offer her spiritual gifts and practical skills to better govern, equip, and encourage all Christian congregations and councils of the Church.

 Congregation’s Affirmation of Covenant

With God’s help, we the congregation of Trinity United Presbyterian Church:

  • Commit to receiving as a messenger of Christ, the Reverend Erica MacCreaigh, as she shepherds our work of proclaiming the Gospel of hope and salvation; to regard our pastor as a fellow servant of Christ and to work with her in the ministries of this congregation; to pray for our pastor and respect her for her work’s sake; and in all things strive to live together in the peace and unity of Christ;
  • Commit to maturing in our faith, deepening our relationships with one another, expanding our knowledge of scripture, seeing our community with fresh eyes, and listening deeply to different voices and points of view;
  • Promise to actively participate in the work of transition by fervently praying for wisdom and compassion to prevail, gratefully recalling what the church has been, graciously accepting what the church is now, joyfully imagining what God is calling the church to be, and bravely embracing the risks of following Christ in ways demanded by our place and time.

 Session and the Board of Deacons’ Affirmation of Covenant

With God’s help, the Session and the Board of Deacons of Trinity United Presbyterian Church:

  • Commit themselves to be guides and companions of our congregation during this season of transition, energizing our church members and friends when we tire, encouraging us when we become discouraged, holding fast to us when we begin to drift, and inspiring us to trust, adore, and follow Christ our Savior;
  • Promise to be ever mindful of their calling to ministries of spiritual leadership and Christ-like compassion; stand together in mutual respect and common cause; and lead our congregation in the healing work of forgiveness and reconciliation;
  • Promise to pray earnestly to know God’s will and to actively seek the wisdom and courage to take up their crosses and follow Jesus in our church and community.

 Almighty God, bless our intention to commit to this time of transition. Some of us are eager to dive in, some are hesitant. Some of us dread what we stand to lose; some of us can’t wait for something new. Help us practice patience and share good humor with one another. Help us trust each other and help us be trustworthy. Give us the courage to be vulnerable and the grace to forgive others and ourselves. Give us the will to speak what is true and the wisdom to speak compassionately. Enliven us and direct our steps, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Help us, above all things, to follow Jesus in humility, hope, and good cheer. Amen.


2/5 Lon Davey
2/5 Bob Dyer
2/7 Greysen Griffith
2/10 Clisty Porter
2/12 Lorena Bollin
2/13 Cindy Barton
2/13 Cody Riebhoff
2/14 Rachael Henle
2/14 Gary Noble
2/16 Emmett McAllister
2/18 Nick VanDam
2/21 Rick Ackerson
2/22 Stephanie Little
2/23 Austin Olsen
2/23 Everett Brown
2/24 Sara Sturtz
2/24 Spencer Waugh
2/25 Cindy Henle
2/25 Ellie McCombs
2/28 Brad Eveland
2/28 Carmen Eveland


Dawn Dixon for energy and strength.

John & Bev Anderson for strength and healing.



Westview Care Center

John & Bev Anderson

Ken & Sandy Newell

The Village Care Center

Dawn Dixon


Jan 28 – Cong Breakfast – serving/cleanup 10:30 am

Jan 31 – Discussion Night

Feb 7 – Discussion Night & Super Bowl Pre-party

Feb 9 – Sweethearts Dinner setup 6-9 pm

Feb 10 – Sweethearts Dinner setup/cooking 10 am-5 pm, serving 5:30-8 pm, cleanup 8-10 pm

Feb 14 – No CIA – Ash Wednesday Service 7 pm

Feb 17 – Pancakes with VanDam 8:30-10 pm

Feb 21 – TBD

Feb 28 – Movie Night “The Ultimate Gift”


The Annual Congregational Meeting will be held on Sunday, January 28 following worship. Breakfast will be provided by Session during the meeting in the Fellowship Hall, with proceeds going toward the High School Youth Worktrip 2024. The Annual Report was sent by email; if you choose not to print it, printed copies will be available in the atrium or church office. Please have a copy with you at the meeting as a point of reference.

Martha Morning Circle  will meet on February 14 at 9:15 am in the Fellowship Hall.  We will be studying Lesson 5/Lesson 6 – led by Barb Yearous/Linda Beatty.  Jeanenne Glascock and Susan Tinder will be our hostesses.  All are welcome.  Please join us for fellowship, study and a business meeting.  All are welcome.

Thank you – I want to thank my church family along with my daughter, Pennie, for all the prayers, encouraging communications, many, many lunches at my home, rides to therapy while I couldn’t drive and so many kindnesses extended to me during my very long recovery from the stairway accident and surgery, and knee replacement surgery this last fall.  You absolutely will never know how much all of this meant to me.  A year ago (January 17) I was still in the hospital. Again, thank you from the bottom of my heart.  And thank the dear Lord, I am now able to look forward to a much brighter new year.  Kathy Betterton

Highlights from the December Session Meeting

  1. Personnel is planning to have regular monthly meetings to address issues.
  2. Approval for Property to replace damaged countertop in fellowship kitchen and include a heat-proof covering over it.
  3. Strategic Task Force review and discusstion.
  4. Discussion of SWAT – funds are available for groups who sign up.
  5. Recognition of member Mark Koskamp for the beautiful music during Advent.

TEST (Trinity’s El Salvador Team)

OUR SISTER PARISH El Salvador Mission

Would you like to help with supplies for the next El Salvador delegation?

Here is the list of items that we would like to take with us for our families:

Toothpaste, Toothbrushes, Antacids (Tums, etc.), Antibiotic cream, Anti-itch cream, Cold medicine, Rolls of strong twine, Tylenol (acetaminophen), Notepads (small & medium-sized), Spiral notebooks w/lined paper, Click ink pens (none with caps), Crayons – pack of 16 (Crayon brand – that won’t melt), Markers – box of 8, Pencils – to be sharpened, Small pencil sharpeners, Colored pencils, Ball caps – gently used, Bandanas, Reuseable grocery bags.

There will be a box in the atrium where you can leave items.  All items will need to be collected by March 1. The delegation will be leaving on March 14.

Thank you so much for your help with this!  Your prayers will be greatly appreciated as we plan for this trip.

Thank you for your support! TEST (Trinity’s El Salvador Team)

If you’re interested in making a financial donation to WeLIFT, you can mail a check to:
WeLIFT Job Search Center
106 East Second Ave.
Indianola, IA 50125
You may also donate online by going to


Transitional Pastor – Rev. Erica MacCreaigh

Office Administrator – Wendy Dowell
Children and Youth Director – Amy Fredricks
High School Youth Directors – Nick & Becca VanDam
Middle School Youth Directors – Paul & Rachael Wilson
Minister of Music – Mark Koskamp
Chancel Bells & Calvin Choristers Director – Chari Kruse
Chancel Choir Accompanist – Anna Lackaff
Calvin Choristers Accompanist – Gary Richardson
Custodian – Kerry McKasson
Sunday Childcare Attendant – Glenda Richards
Financial Secretary – Betty Dyer

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