Walnut Creek Church members Erin Youngblood & Kelly Crane were recently interviewed by Des Moines' local NBC affiliate regarding their annual Christmas Card Outreach efforts.
Gift cards to local restaurants are included in Christmas cards and distributed to people in need. Each recipient receives a handwritten card, a warm meal, and a Gospel tract explaining God's incredible gift to them.
|Volunteers from Walnut Creek Church load gift-filled shoeboxes to deliver them to the Des Moines area collection Center.|
This year, the members of Walnut Creek Church packed 687 Operation Christmas Child (OCC) shoeboxes. A total of 24,128 gift-filled shoeboxes, including the ones from Walnut Creek, were recently loaded onto trucks and taken to the Midwest distribution center in Minneapolis.
OCC, a ministry of Samaritan’s Purse, works with local churches and ministry partners to deliver the gifts and share the life-changing Good News of Jesus Christ with children in impoverished and war-torn countries. Since 1993, more than 100 million boys and girls in more than 130 countries have experienced God’s love through the power of simple shoebox gifts.
“It’s so much more than a shoebox,” said Kelly Hill, who helped coordinate OCC efforts at Walnut Creek and also volunteers on the Des Moines area OCC team. “It’s a great way to get the gospel of Christ out. There are so many kids who need Christ, and a lot of them have never even heard of God. This is a way to introduce them to gospel and serve them at the same time.”
The 687 boxes were packed with the help of many volunteers and events. Starting back in July, the annual “Christmas in July” packing party at the Downtown congregation brought in more than 300 boxes. An annual vendor fair fundraiser at Walnut Creek coordinated by Kelly Hill and Emmie Hawk brought in another 70 boxes and more than $1,500 in funds. The rest of the boxes were packed by individuals from all of Walnut Creek’s congregations.
To learn more about OCC, go to www.samaritanspurse.org/what-we-do/operation-christmas-child/.
Every year, all the congregations of Walnut Creek Church gather together for a special worship service called Celebration Sunday. Not only is the service a time to look back at everything God has done in and through Walnut Creek in the last year, it’s also a time to look to the future.
“As a church, it is important to take a step back from time to time to consider everything God has done,” Pastor Luke Hukee said during this year’s service on November 10. “Looking at where we’ve been helps us to have vision for where we are going.”
Here are a few highlights from 2013 that Pastor Luke presented at Celebration Sunday:
- All Walnut Creek congregations united under one name, logo, and brand.
- More than 1,000 children and their families participated in and heard the gospel through our Upward soccer, basketball and cheerleading leagues.
- For two weeks, 100 missionaries traveled to the Dominican Republic and shared the gospel with hundreds of people at a university campus and throughout the community. A bible study, which formed from our previous trips, is now training local leaders to serve on the campus.
- We had many opportunities to bless our community and other churches through Jordan Park Camp. The camp was host to many conferences and events, including the Regional Great Commission Men’s Conference, the Parent-Teen Leadership Conference, the Iowa Right to Life book sale, and the Jordan Park Volleyball League, which included more than 600 participants.
- During Mission to the City, more than 350 people across four locations served more than 70 local organizations and churches in an effort to obey Matthew 5:16: “Let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”
- Following Mission to the City, 2,000 people heard the Good News of the Gospel during the Leeland and City Harmonic Concert on our State Capitol lawn.
- Central City Soccer hosted its 10th season over the summer. More than 450 children on 34 teams were loved and served by 100 college students and young adults who volunteered their time, energy, and hearts.
- This summer, we began concerted efforts to reach out to and serve refugees in our city. Volunteers provide weekly English classes at our Downtown location. Nearly 50 adults are now in their second session of classes while their children are taught bible stories and songs.
- In July, 100 people from our Windsor Heights and Shalom congregations joined in an effort to serve and bless our city through Community Care Weekend. Volunteers served local churches, area recreational facilities, and university students and administration.
- In September, the South Side congregation had its grand opening. The same weekend, the Downtown congregation began a third service, Saturdays at 5 p.m.
- This fall, in light of our increasing need for children’s ministries, a second edition of our AWANA Ministry began at our Downtown location with nearly 60 children. Our strong tradition of AWANA at Windsor Heights continues with 80 children and many volunteers.
- In our continued effort to encourage and strengthen marriages, we hosted our annual Couple’s Conference. Over the course of two days, 100 couples invested in their marriages with biblical instruction from marriage coaches Chris and Ann Hogan.
- Just this past Friday, nearly 600 women gathered for the annual Women's Coffeehouse event to share in a time of encouragement, great food and fellowship.
- God has given us grace to continue outreach ministries at five local college campuses. The Gospel has been going forth, and young people are being discipled to love and serve God.
- In addition to outreach events, our church has continued our commitment to prayer. We’ve joined together for prayer and fellowship through several all-church prayer summits.
- As has been our practice, our community groups are the heartbeat of our church. More than 45 community groups meet around the city each week. Each group provides an environment to form deep friendships and study the Word of God together.
|Praying for new pastors Jon Schreiner and Bob Joy|
During this year’s Celebration Sunday on November 10, Walnut Creek Church recognized two new pastors and four new deacons to help meet the needs of the growing church.
Bob Joy and Jon Schreiner were recognized as pastors, bringing the total number of Walnut Creek Church pastors up to 10.
- Bob Joy – Bob and his wife of 31 years, Jo, have been part of Walnut Creek Church since the church was planted in 1984. Bob and Jo have six children. Bob oversees the finances at Walnut Creek and attends the Johnston congregation.
- Jon Schreiner – Jon began attending Walnut Creek Church in 2002 and served for several years as the college ministries director at Drake and Grand View. Jon and his wife, Jenny, have three children and serve at the South congregation.
Four men joined 24 other men and women currently serving as Walnut Creek Church deacons.
- Steve Bjurstrom – Steve joined Walnut Creek Church in 2005. He leads worship at the Downtown congregation on Sunday mornings and is also a community group leader. Steve and his wife, Melissa, have two children.
- Ed Grotzinger – Ed began attending Walnut Creek Church in 2011 after being invited to the church during Mission to the City. He serves as a community group leader and attends the 5 p.m. Saturday service at the Downtown location.
- Tyler Johnson – Tyler has been attending Walnut Creek Church since 2007. He was part of the Walnut Creek South church plant and currently serves as a community group leader. Tyler and his wife, Chrissy, have on daughter.
- Oscar Gutierrez – Oscar and his wife, Enriqueta, have been faithfully serving with the Shalom congregation for eight years. They have two sons.
|Couples listen to Chris Hogan speak at Walnut Creek Downtown|
Couples from Walnut Creek Church gathered October 11 and 12 for Walnut Creek’s annual Couple’s Conference. With a theme of “Syncing Up,” this year’s conference featured speaker Chris Hogan, a marriage coach and president of Noble Call Institute. With a mix of personal stories and practical, biblical teaching, Hogan focused on how to connect to your spouse through a variety of conversation tools.
“I learned ways to go deeper in conversation,” said Rod Van Raden of Walnut Creek Windsor Heights. “After 30 plus years of marriage and attending countless conferences, I still take away something new every time.”
Learning something new isn’t the only thing that keeps Rod and his wife, Theresa, coming back to the Couple’s Conference every year. “When we had little kids, it was a chance to get away, just the two of us,” Theresa said. “It lets your spouse know this marriage is important to me and I’m going to invest time in it.”
Rod said his favorite part of the conference was the closing, when Hogan shared from his heart some stories about his own church family. “It reminded me of the importance of investing in your church family for the long term,” Rod said. “There are couples in the church we’ve known more than 20 years – I know they would be there for us.”
Noble Call Institute's mission is “to help men and women experience God’s pleasure as they discover their noble calling and become the men and women they were created to be: Noble men and women who make noble plans and carry out noble deeds of great faith as a person, partner, parent, provider and proclaimer of truth, to produce fruit that will stand the test of eternity.”
|Inflatables and games for kids were a big hit at both Walnut Creek South on Saturday, September 7, and at Walnut Creek Downtown on Sunday, September 8.|
The weekend of September 7 and 8 was a big one for Walnut Creek Church. The weekend's events included starting a new service time at once location, celebrating a grand opening at another location, and lots of fun activities for people of all ages.
New Service Time - Walnut Creek Downtown
On Saturday, September 7, a 5 p.m. service started at Walnut Creek Downtown, adding a new service time to the 7 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. Sunday services already meeting at that location.
"The first service went great, as a new series began on the book of Revelation," Pastor Luke Hukee said. "There were over 300 people in attendance."
Walnut Creek Downtown meets Saturdays at 5 and 7 p.m. and Sundays at 10 a.m. at 323 E. Locust Street in Des Moines.
Grand Opening - Walnut Creek South
Although the Walnut Creek South congregation started meeting together in January and moved into their building in March, they hadn't celebrated an official grand opening – until now.
From 5:00 until 8:30 p.m. on September 7, the congregation celebrated in the church parking lot with inflatables, kids' games and food. "A lot of people came, and several new people came to church as a result," said Tyler Johnson of Walnut Creek South. "We had several visitors the next weekend as well."
Walnut Creek South meets Saturdays at 6 p.m. at 1101 E. Army Post Road in Des Moines.
Picnic in the Parking Lot - Walnut Creek Downtown
After the grand opening at Walnut Creek South, the inflatables made their way to the downtown location for a "Picnic in the Parking Lot."
Following the 10 a.m. Sunday service on September 8, people were invited to stay for a barbeque, inflatables, and games for kids. Many people from the 10 a.m. service stayed and were joined by families from all Walnut Creek congregations.
|The champion team of the recreational sixes league, "I Can Dig It," poses for a photo at Jordan Park.|
The annual hog roast and a final tournament capped off another fun season of Jordan Park Volleyball on Friday, August 9.
A total of 30 recreational teams of six, 38 competitive teams of six, and 19 competitive teams of four participated in this year’s season, which ran from June 4 to August 9.
"When people participate in one of the leagues and invite others to play, it really creates an amazing opportunity for fellowship, outreach, and strengthening of relationships," said Josh Smith of the Jordan Park Volleyball staff. "That, coupled with the Christ-like example of so many team leaders and participants, helps to create a welcoming, fun, and positive environment."
Along with Smith, other Jordan Park Volleyball staff members include Amelia Gibson and Adam Nordaker.
Congratulations to the champion teams in each league:
- Recreational sixes: I Can Dig It (Jessica Anderson, Bridgitte Haugen, Laura Jerome, Nic Jerome, Rob Patterson, Jon Touchette, Audrey Van Lohn)
- Competitive sixes: The Ace Team (Jason Eisenga, Katelyn Kostek, Marc Vander Velden, Erin Vander Velden, Dave Venas, Jaime Zeigler)
- Competitive fours: The Elites (Greg Altmaier, Mollie Coffman, Beth Discher, Josh Smith)
|Dressed as a Christmas tree, Walnut Creek Church Deacon Greg Altmaier waits to get dunked during the Christmas in July event on July 12.|
Volunteers from Walnut Creek Church and the Des Moines community packed an impressive 310 shoebox gifts and raised more than $900 during the Christmas in July party on July 12. The third annual event was hosted by Walnut Creek Downtown in partnership with Operation Christmas Child (OCC), a ministry of Samaritan's Purse.
OCC teams up with local churches worldwide to deliver gift-filled shoeboxes to hurting children in impoverished and war-torn countries. Each shoebox also includes a gospel booklet that shares with the children the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ.
The Christmas in July event provided attendees an opportunity to pack shoebox gifts for children around the world. "It's always really encouraging to see entire families working together to pack gifts," said Jed Johnson, one of the event's organizers. "It's a great opportunity to teach kids about giving to those in need while helping a wonderful cause. Plus, it's fun for all ages."
In addition to the packing party, other highlights of the 2013 event included:
- A dunk tank, courtesy of Van Meter Fire and Rescue, with an opportunity to plunge the pastors and dunk the deacons;
- An igloo where kids could go ice fishing for prizes;
- A piñata;
- Free Dilly Bars, courtesy of Dairy Queen, and other refreshments; and
- A raffle for some great prizes from local businesses.
OCC is an international Christian relief and evangelism organization headed by Franklin Graham. Since 1993, OCC has hand-delivered more than 100 million gift-filled shoeboxes to needy children in more than 130 countries. Celebrating its 20th anniversary, OCC hopes to collect another 9.8 million gift-filled shoeboxes in 2013. To learn more about OCC, visit www.samaritanspurse.org/occ/.
|Nathan Herrera of Walnut Creek Downtown clears brush for a Des Moines resident as part of Mission to the City. | Photo: Katie Robinson|
More than 400 men and women from Walnut Creek South, Johnston, West, and Downtown served the greater Des Moines area for the fourth annual Mission to the City, May 25-29.
Held each year over Memorial Day weekend, Mission to the City is an opportunity to meet needs around Des Moines while getting the gospel out. A few examples of service projects to the community include free oil changes and car washes, yard work, and handing out free coffee and root beer floats. Participants also had opportunities to serve other local churches, non-profits, and the city of Des Moines.
"We're supposed to be sowers, and Mission to the City offers us the opportunity to do that," said John Teeter of Walnut Creek South. "It's probably the most important job we have as Christians."
Free oil changes were a big hit at Walnut Creek South, where there were at times more than 100 people waiting to get their oil changed or visiting the church's free garage sale. The oil changes and garage sale also provided many opportunities for the gospel to go out.
"We were running out of places to park cars because people were talking and weren't leaving even after their cars were done," Teeter said. "Lots of seeds were planted. It was amazing to sit back and watch God working."
Walnut Creek Johnston had an opportunity to serve the school staff at Horizon Elementary, where the congregation meets. On the staff's last day at school, the church served a homemade lunch of specialty sandwiches, salads, and pies. "It was a great way to say thank you to the teachers for letting us go into their space every week for Sunday school," said Jess White of Walnut Creek Johnston. "We got to serve at least 70 to 80 people. They loved the food and felt so appreciated by the church's efforts. The Lord really blessed it."
Although plans to go door-to-door and provide free car washes were rained out over Memorial Day weekend, the congregation plans to continue Mission to the City through June. They will be doing Summer Kids Club at Johnston Barn, going door-to-door, and offering free car washes.
"Loving and serving gives communities the opportunity to see what it looks like when people really care about what the bible says. They think of a face when they think of Jesus," White said. "It's also really good for our kids to see that it matters to their parents. We had 22 parents and children serving that lunch. When kids see things acted out, there's a better chance they'll do it when they get older."
Walnut Creek West also offered free oil changes and car washes. Additionally, volunteers cleaned local parks and along Grand Avenue from Raccoon River to 50th Street.
"I enjoyed helping with the car washes. We got to meet people, and they were open to talking to us because we were serving them," said Laura Brill of Walnut Creek West. "Mission to the City shows that we care about the community — by not only meeting peoples' physical needs, but by helping them spiritually as well."
Landscaping for local non-profits, cleaning Des Moines' alleys, serving area churches, knocking on doors to offer yard work, and providing free oil changes were a few of Walnut Creek Downtown's projects.
Erin Youngblood of Walnut Creek Downtown said her favorite project was building garden planter boxes for a community garden at 18th and Forest Avenue. The community garden is a ministry started by a former missionary to Africa who is now serving that area of Des Moines.
"It was encouraging because it showed me that other people out there have the same mission," Youngblood said. "We got to work not only with brothers and sisters from our church, but also with other people trying to glorify the Lord through their work. We’re not alone. The Lord is with us, and he has other laborers out there as well."
We invite you to join us for a new sermon series on the Gospel of Mark at our Downtown, South, and West locations. Be sure to pick up one of our free study guides at these locations and follow along with our podcast online.
|The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the Gospel. - Mark 1:15|
|Men from six different states gathered for the Great Commission Plains Men's Conference, May 10-11.|
Nearly 300 men from 12 churches across the Midwest gathered at Jordan Park Camp for the Great Commission Plains Men’s Conference May 10-11. Men of all ages attended the conference, which provided practical teaching on a variety topics related to manhood and godliness. Sessions included:
- Disciple: Relationship with Christ – Pastor Brad Barrett, Stonebrook Community Church, Ames, Iowa
- A Christian Man: Relationship with Women – Pastor Tom Brown, Vintage Faith Church, Manhattan, Kansas
- Fathers: Relationship with Younger Children – Pastor Tim Rude, Walnut Creek Church, Windsor Heights, Iowa
- Fathers: Relationship with Teens – Pastor Chris Biang, Grace Campus Church, West Lafayette, Indiana
- Purity/Holiness/Integrity: Relationship with God – Pastor Kurt Jurgensmeier, New Life Community Church, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
- Worker: Relationship with Neighbors, Work & Church – Pastor Rory Whitney, Candlewood Community Church, Omaha, Nebraska
The conference also featured three worship times led by band members from Walnut Creek Downtown, Walnut Creek Windsor Heights, and Stonebrook Community Church in Ames. The weekend offered a wonderful opportunity to gather as men of faith to worship the Lord, learn from His Word, and spend time in fellowship. And, especially for those who camped, beautiful weather was an added bonus.
|Mission team members host a Bible Study in Santo Domingo. | Photo: John Beyer|
A total of 101 short-term missionaries from Walnut Creek Church are traveling to the Dominican Republic between March 15 and March 31 to spread the good news of Jesus Christ. The first group of 53 departed last week, and the rest will be leaving later this week.
The group is separated into 20 teams of four, five, or six people. Besides sharing the gospel at the university campus in Santo Domingo, the teams will also be teaching English classes and serving at an orphanage and at Haitian refugee camps.
“I’m excited to see people I’ve met in past years,” said Walnut Creek Church administrator Shaly Moyal, who organized the trip. “The university students represent all the country, so by sharing the gospel there, the entire country could be reached, which means the nation of Haiti could be reached since they share the same island.”
Moyal said she’s also excited about discipleship books the teams are taking. The bilingual books are divided into seven lessons with the goal of training those who have put their faith in Christ to continue living out the Great Commission after the missionaries return to the United States.
Pastor Herschel Martindale, one of the leaders behind the missions to the Dominican, sent Moyal an email with the following message after the first group arrived:
“Well, your family has surely increased in the past few hours. I really hope that all went well, and by now all are ‘at home’ in their new home in Santa Domingo. I AM SO THRILLED that you are there. I am believing God for great and mighty things in the next days. We have a large prayer team of over 50 people praying for you all regularly. I know that those at Walnut Creek and many others are also praying.”
To follow along and read stories from the missionary teams, click here to visit the mission trip blog.
Saturday, March 30Walnut Creek West
3320 Westown Parkway, West Des Moines
Walnut Creek South
1101 E. Army Post Rd., Des Moines
Walnut Creek Downtown
323 E. Locust St., Des Moines
Sunday, March 31Walnut Creek Windsor Heights
900 64th St, Windsor Heights
9am (traditional), 9:30am, 11am
Walnut Creek Johnston
5905 NW 100th St., Johnston
Walnut Creek Downtown
323 E. Locust St., Des Moines
Walnut Creek Shalom (en Español)
323 E. Locust St., Des Moines
|Upward Basketball players look for a rebound at Walnut Creek Downtown.|
As the first round of the NCAA Tournament kicks off this week, another successful season of Upward basketball through Walnut Creek Church has officially come to an end. A total of 631 basketball players and 83 cheerleaders in grades kindergarten through eighth participated in this year’s program.
“My favorite part was making new friends,” said second grade basketball player Noah Lima. “I worked on my shooting form and cross-over dribble and learned that God is with us through it all.” Kindergarten basketball player Ahman Johnson offered a similar review: “I liked learning how to shoot and learning to be a good teammate and how to play the game and have fun.”
The boys’ dad D’Angelo Johnson coached both teams. “I enjoyed being there and encouraging them from the sidelines and really being involved with their development both on the court and during devotional times,” Johnson said.
Besides being the biggest Upward basketball season yet, it was also the most organized. “We put in a lot of time in the off season that would make it more organized,” said Emily Warford, who volunteers on Walnut Creek’s Upward basketball board. “We also met every week as a board to talk about how things were going.”
The devotional videos shown at half time were a highlight of this year’s season. Every Walnut Creek Church pastor took a week to share something related to the theme, “The person and work of Jesus,” in videos produced by Matt Shattuck and SueAnn Chong. The pastors used the opportunity to share the gospel with the kids and their families and to tell them how much God loves them and what it means to be a follower of Christ.
The nine-week season was also divided into three areas of focus: self-control, responsibility, and hope. Each area of focus featured a bible verse that the players and coaches worked on memorizing over the three-week period.
Other Upward basketball board members include Dave Rude, Chrissy Bloom, Rachel Bohacek, Becca Close, KayDee Cross, Jen Engdahl, Blake Kruger, Kyle Kurtenbach, Ricki Meyer, Leah Wake, and Joel Winters.
“It’s great to see Christ’s body coming together and people dying to themselves and putting in lots of time to make the league as successful as it was,” Kurtenbach said. “The kids gained a good balance of learning how to play the game of basketball and how God fits in—not only into basketball, but also their lives.”
|Walnut Creek South band (L to R): Jon Andorf, Zac Oler, Alaina Irlbeck, Sean Covington|
This winter, a group of about 40 Walnut Creek Church snowbirds headed south—not in Winnebagos that cost more than my house, and not for a temporary stay. This group of energetic Christ-followers planted a church on Des Moines’ south side. Although the church officially launched in January, they didn’t have their own building to meet in—until now.
Walnut Creek South held its first service in its new location last weekend. The church is located on a prime piece of real estate on Army Post Road right in front of Southridge Mall and the newest DMACC campus. “It’s a great location, and I think it’s going to be a wonderful home for us for years to come,” Pastor Dan Rude said. “We started the process of trying to get in here in August. A lot of people have worked really hard to get us here, and it’s great to finally be here.”
The building has a lot more going for it besides its location. Store-front windows allow lots of natural light into the large open space that houses the stage, plenty of room for seating, and an ample bar for refreshments and information. The building also features a black-and-white-checkered tile floor underfoot and a high ceiling with exposed rafters above the stage. Other perks include functional—dare I say attractive—bathrooms and space in the back with lots of potential for classrooms, offices, and storage.
“We’re super pumped and excited to be here,” said Ryan Weeks, who helped lead the church plant. “Everyone labored hard and gave it their all. It’s been a lot of work, and we have a lot of work left.”
The sign of building’s former occupant, Destination Lounge, still hangs above the front door. The rooms in the back are delineated by studs and unfinished drywall. But on Saturday night, the building was filled with so much energy and excitement, it wasn’t hard to look past the imperfections. “It’s pretty surreal. It looks totally different to see the parking lot full and all the people inside,” said Tyler Johnson, who also helped lead the plant.
More importantly than the building itself, the church is already growing, and its members are maturing. Someone who attended the first service back in January came to know the Lord and was recently baptized. The leaders also have many plans for future service and outreach opportunities to the south side.
Until now, the church was meeting at Glad Tidings Assembly of God Church down the road. Although many obstacles slowed down the process of getting into their own building, everyone seems to agree it’s been for the best. “I think it’s been good to have time to work out the kinks. Things are going a lot more smoothly now than when we first started,” said Meghan Ostergaard, who also helped with the church plant. Johnson agrees: “God clearly wanted us to wait a while. God has been refining us, and that could be a reason he had us wait.”