What started as a fact-finding mission to El Salvador by four members of its congregation in October 2010 has blossomed into a meaningful partnership between Covenant Presbyterian Church in West Des Moines and 50 families in the village of San Isidro, which in turn has spurred educational opportunities previously unattainable for children of the village.
Gaze upon the photos of smiling villagers set against a backdrop of palm trees and hilly terrain that fill the bulletin board at Covenant Presbyterian Church, and you might assume they are happy just to receive gifts of food and medical supplies (which they are). But spend a few minutes talking to the Rev. Jan Scott, the church’s affable pastor, and you learn the villagers are not merely smiling for the camera, but they are expressing genuine joy for their children who are excelling in school thanks to parishioners in West Des Moines.
“With every subsequent mission trip to the village it became obvious that education was the way to strengthen the community,” says Scott. “Education was the one thing that the parents and grandparents wanted the most for these children.
“Children there rarely went to school beyond the sixth grade because of economic and transportation reasons. So we started giving them the gift of scholarships so kids could further their education through the eighth grade. Now we have a group of kids who are completing high school and three of them have indicated that they want to go to college.”
Congregation members have partnered with other churches and village officials to send students from San Isidro to schools in surrounding villages to further their education as San Isidro’s school only offers classes through the fourth grade. Last year, the church helped 16 students. They raise money by hosting an auction, by soliciting matching grants and offerings or by selling crafts made by the villagers.
“This church was founded as a mission church and we haven’t forgotten our roots,” says Scott.
Covenant Presbyterian Church
1025 28th St.
Sunday School 9:15 a.m.
Sunday worship 10:30 a.m.
Wednesday Evening Covenant Connections (all ages)
5:45 p.m. Meal
6:15 p.m. Youth choir
6:30 p.m. Adult forum
6:30 p.m. Children’s classes
6:30 p.m. Crescendo bell choir
7:30 p.m. Chancel choir