Our History

For 120 years, one Methodist congregation has cared for the people of the River Bend community of Des Moines.  Through eras of being an upscale neighborhood to one struggling through the ravages of urban unrest to a multi-cultural part of the city, the people of the United Methodist Church, now known by the name Trinity Las Americas, have been a witness for peace and social justice and a haven for compassion, feeding both body and soul. In December 2016, Trinity formally joined with Las Americas to become one bilingual congregation.

Welcome Statement

Trinity Las Americas United Methodist Church, as the first United Methodist Reconciling Congregation in Iowa, has a long history of welcoming people who have been excluded from other congregations.  We continue our bold witness of welcoming all, including status in the criminal justice system, all genders, sexual orientations, immigration status, age, ethnicity, family configuration, and people with physical and mental challenges.

All who worship at Trinity Las Americas are welcome to fully participate in our community as we worship God together and then disperse to share God’s love in the world.

The collage at left was created by photographer Karla Conrad in October 2018 and is installed on Sixth Avenue, a few blocks from Trinity Las Americas.

Trinity Las Americas Staff


Alejandro Alfaro-Santiz

Lead Pastor

Hi! I am Alejandro Alfaro-Santiz from Guatemala. I studied Anthropology and have a Master’s degree in Development focused on empowering communities. I love working with people, and in the fall of 2010, I moved to the USA to attend seminary at Iliff School of Theology in Denver, Colorado. I graduated in 2013 with an MDiv and received the student of the year award.

I grew up Catholic, and after finishing high school I became a non-denominational Christian. After a few years I realized that most churches do exactly the opposite of what Jesus taught and lived, so I decided to follow Jesus on my own and became a “free agent.” That was a bad idea, because community is very important to follow Jesus, both for support and for accountability. I believe that if we call ourselves Christians we should follow Christ’s example, so I strive to do that. A daily life of prayer/communion with God is essential in order to follow Christ, because it is as countercultural today as it was in the Palestine of the 1st century.

For me the Bible is very important, and John 10:10b is the lens I use to read it. I have experienced that the liberating gospel of Jesus Christ is life giving. Even though I don’t like labels, at the moment I would identify my theology as post-colonial liberationist. I’m in my first appointment as a pastor, and I feel very blessed to be working with Las Americas and Trinity UMC – a reconciling congregation and one that is very focused on social justice.
In my free time I like to ride my bike and read poetry… though not at the same time. I live in Des Moines with Maria, my wife and, Mochi, our Weimaraner puppy and our son, Luca.

Contact Pastor Alejandro at or 515-450-1621.


Emily E. Ewing

Social Justice Pastor

Pastor Emily E. Ewing began serving as Social Justice Pastor in 2019. They are from Colorado and attended Luther College, studying Spanish, Religion, and Women and Gender Studies. They spent time in Argentina, Ecuador, and South Africa during their studies. After graduating, they lived in Slovakia for a year with a missionary program of the Lutheran Church before going to seminary.

Pastor Emily began their ordained ministry in 2014 in Utah for a year and then served as pastor for Trinity and First, a Lutheran-Presbyterian reconciling community in Minnesota. They helped the congregation strengthen their welcome to people of diverse sexual orientation, gender identities and expressions, and immigration status.

In 2017 Pastor Emily moved to Iowa and worked with Downtown Disciples in 2018. They are very excited to work together with Trinity Las Americas for justice here in Des Moines.

As Social Justice Pastor, Pastor Emily collaborates and coordinates with congregation and community members in justice work especially around Immigrant Rights, Queer Inclusion, and Racial Justice. Pastor Emily supports and helps lead worship twice a month.

Pastor Emily also supports the connections between faith and justice by queering and querying the lectionary readings and other liturgy components, on their blog, Queerying the Text, and connecting scripture to the Harry Potter universe with their podcast, HP@Church.

Pastor Emily enjoys any conversation about the Harry Potter books, deep questions, and astronomy.

Contact Pastor Emily at or 970-471-1595.


Lindsey Mabe

Office Manager

Lindsey is from Des Moines, Iowa and studied Spanish at the University of Iowa and La Universidad Nacional in Heredia, Costa Rica. Previously, Lindsey volunteered and worked at various nonprofit organizations as a bilingual program specialist, assisting families and individuals from minority populations to access health care, medical coverage, and legal assistance. She worked on The Wallace Centers of Iowa’s small sustainable farm as an apprentice and has helped develop several community gardens. Lindsey also worked as a SHIIP (Senior Health Insurance Information Program) counselor, giving unbiased assistance and education about Medicare for Spanish speakers throughout the state of Iowa.

Her passions for Spanish and the Latino/Hispanic community, education, and advocacy for minority groups make Trinity Las Americas United Methodist Church a welcoming space for her to contribute her skills and knowledge. Lindsey loves traveling, learning, gardening and plants, cooking, and music, and is excited to be part of the wonderful community here! Starting a community garden for immigrants and refugees behind Trinity Las Americas had been a dream of hers that came true and has grown from two raised beds to over 30 plots.

Contact Lindsey at the Trinity Las Americas office at or 515-288-4056.