History of
Our Sister Parish

Our Story

The mission took root in 1990 when Rev. Robert Cook first visited Berlin as the Hunger Action Enabler of the Presbytery of Des Moines, Iowa. Eventually, he began working with the local Salvadorans who were serving as the "Parish Team" of the local Catholic parish. A group of 15 people was the first official delegation from the Presbytery in 1993. In 1996 Annika Lister Stroope joined the Parish Team as a mission associate for the Presbytery of Des Moines, and the first medical delegation was sponsored by Newton First Presbyterian church. In 1999 Heartland Presbyterian church and canton El Tablón created the first long-term partnership. In 2001 the Parish Team left the auspices of the Catholic parish and became the "Pastoral Team", an independent entity, moving their base of operations into what has become the "Pastoral House".


In 2001 Rev. Cook moved to Berlin as the Presbytery's designated missionary to El Salvador. He retired from that position in 2006 and is no longer associated with Our Sister Parish. Bill Fischer and then Kathy (Mahler) Bassett acted as interim Co-Workers. Throughout this time period, additional churches in central Iowa formed relationships with rural communities in the Berlín area. The OSP Board was formed to oversee the operation of the mission. It became known as "Compañeros". Compañeros operated under the Social Ministries Task Force of the Presbytery of Des Moines.


In January 2009, Kathy (Mahler) Bassett moved to Berlin to become the Mission Co-Worker and served through September 2012. Rev. Katherine Pater became the Our Sister Parish Mission Co-Worker in January 2013. Katherine moved to another calling in September of 2016. Since then, Kathy Bassett has served as an interim liaison for the partnerships, working from the United States. 

In January 2017, the OSP Board voted to retire the "Compañeros" label that had been used in the United States to refer to the Our Sister Parish mission and instead refer to all aspects of the mission as "Our Sister Parish". In July 2018 Our Sister Parish, Inc. was incorporated as a non-profit organization by the State of Iowa. In October 2019 501(c)(3) status was granted to OSP by the IRS, retroactive to July 2018. [Prior to July 2018 OSP operated under the 501(c)(3) status of the Presbytery of Des Moines.]

 

In March 2020 all OSP delegation trips were halted due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The first post-Covid delegation visited Berlin in June 2022.

OSP is currently searching for a new full-time Mission Co-Worker.  View the Job Description here.  Direct all inquiries to osp@oursisterparish.org.