Heartland Presbyterian Church is the result of a “new church” project started by the Presbytery of Des Moines in 1989, to serve the western suburbs that grew quickly in the 1980s and 1990s. On December 11, 1990, the Presbytery of Des Moines bought eight acres of property located and purchased in the far western part of Clive, Iowa, in Dallas County, along Hickman Road, U.S. Highway 6.
The Reverend Dale Strong, the organizing pastor, along with music director Barb Nish, began work for the new church in 1992. The first worship service was held on Easter Sunday, April 19, 1992, at 4900 University Avenue, in West Des Moines in an office building which once served as a Greyhound Bus Company’s corporate headquarters. How prophetic that the church would worship in the same offices that transported others to new destinations.
By May 1992, a name had been chosen, “Heartland Presbyterian Church”. A building committee was formed, and money was raised through donations, from denominational bodies of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and loans from financial institutions. On January 21, 1995, after the congregation had grown to 93, the Presbytery chartered the new church.
Architects were hired and designs reviewed. Breiholz Construction general contractors were brought on board and ground breaking ceremonies were held at the muddy site on May 5, 1996. A partnership was formed with Cadence Academy Preschool (formerly Apple Tree Children’s Center) to combine the church building with a daycare operation, utilizing the structure on both weekdays and weekends. The dual use of the facility would allow more people to see the church, and provided the fast growing western suburbs with much needed child day care capacity.
The Reverends D. Mark Davis and Barb Nish were installed as co-pastors of Heartland Presbyterian Church on June 2, 1996. By late summer, the construction of the church was progressing well, and the design once only on paper, was now framework of steel and wood, pink insulation and black shingles. The church membership was also building in numbers, now around 130. Soon the masonry work and siding were up and the windows and doors installed. In early December 1996, the books and belongings from the leased office building were boxed and moved into the new church building.
On Sunday, December 8, 1996, the Second Sunday of Advent, the Christian season of waiting, what began as a blurred vision and distant goal, became a reality as the first worship service was held in the new building at 14300 Hickman Road, Clive, Iowa. But the new building was missing two things: a stained glass window, and trees.
On March 23, 1997, the stained glass window in the tower was dedicated in memory of Donald E. Morrison. The window was designed by his grandson, Dellos Morrison. Don was a charter member of the church, but never got to see the constructed church building. Now the stained glass window, high up in the tower, has the best view of all.
The new church grounds were bare until the following spring, when in May 1997, the congregation planted shrubs and trees all over the property, and the brown earth was covered with green sod and grass seed.
Before the church building was constructed, a worship service was held on the property in the summer. Originally dubbed Worship in the Weeds, the church moved to this annual celebration nearby to Living History Farms in Urbandale, and renamed it Worship Under the Oaks. Once the lawn was established east of the church, the annual event moved back to the new building location and the title morphed into Worship under the Tent. There was music, laughter, food (of course), and a time to reflect on the vision, courage, and creative energies of the founding individuals and families of Heartland Presbyterian Church.