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News around the Synod of Lakes and Prairies
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News of colleges, universities, seminaries
News around the PC(USA)
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Synod of Lakes and Prairies

Presbyterian News Service



January 22, 2014

News around the Synod of Lakes and Prairies

Synod School catalog slated for February release

Synod School 2014 catalog coverKeeping in Touch readers may not remember, but the Synod School 2014 catalog won't hit the U.S. Post Office until February - just as it always does. "We know it's hard to wait, but just know the catalog will be out soon," said Duane Sweep, the synod's associate for communications. Synod School, the midsummer ministry of the Synod of Lakes and Prairies, now draws more than 600 participants each year to the campus of Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa, during the last week in July. Anna Case-Winters, professor of theology at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, will address the Synod School 2014 evening worship team intersection of theology and science as this summer's convocation speaker, and evening worship leaders this summer are Katie Estes, Sarah Dickinson, Sara Dingman, Sara Tonje and Bob Wollenberg (at right). Morning worship leaders are Scott and Pam Prouty of Redwood Falls, Minn. And while there is no catalog yet, the catalog cover, shown upper left, features a watercolor by Howard Chapman of Marion, Iowa.


Where's the discussion of money in the church

Writing in Among Lakes and Prairies, the blog of the Synod of Lakes and Prairies, Dave Crittenden, transitional synod executive, notes, "I don't get Synod blog logo it. Why don't we talk about money in the church? More than half of our pastors don't know what their members give to their church or where their members yearn to invest their time and money. ... The whole system believes there isn't enough money to do what we believe God has called us to do." Crittenden's complete post is at "Money in the Church."


North Central participates

in 'excellence in ministry' inventory

North Central Ministry Development Center of New Brighton, Minn., and Midwest Ministry Development Service of Chicago are attempting to develop an inventory that can be used to select high potential candidates North Central Ministry Development for ministry, identify areas of growth and development in seminarians, assist clergy in discerning where their gifts can best be used, and help congregations identify "best fit" ministerial candidates. The inventory will be based on the feedback of more than 1,500 congregants, clergy and denominational executives about what contributes to excellent ministry. And to develop the inventory, NCMDC and MMDS, along with its partners in this effort - Leaetta Hough, an internationally known industrial organizational psychologist, and Work Effects, a leadership consulting firm - are seeking congregational leaders to complete a short, five- to 10-minute survey. The survey can be found at "Excellence in Ministry." The NCMDC Web site notes, "What if we could develop an inventory that helped individuals and congregations avoid ... pitfalls by predicting excellence in ministry? Using sophisticated psychological research methods, it is possible. If we want to identify and develop highly effective ministers for the next generation, it is essential."


Street-Stewart leaves St. Paul School Board,

recognized in MLK celebration

Elona Street StewartThe past couple of months have been event-filled for Elona Street-Stewart, who retired in December from the St. Paul, Minn., Public Schools Board of Education and this week received recognition from the Minnesota Governor's Council as a Martin Luther King Jr. Statewide Celebration Award Winner. Street-Stewart, who is the synod's associate for racial ethnic ministries and community empowerment, was elected to the Board of Education in 2001 and re-elected in 2005 and 2009, becoming the first American Indian to serve on an urban school district in Minnesota. She was nominated for the Martin Luther King Celebration Award by the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council. An interview with Street-Stewart, conducted in conjunction with her retirement from the Board of Education, can be found at "Service."


Synod's online presence to get new look

The Synod of Lakes and Prairies has been online at Synod Logofor more than 10 years, but the look and feel of the synod's Web site hasn't changed since 2007. Duane Sweep, the synod's associate for communications, believes it's time for a change. At some point before the end of January the new site "goes live." In the meantime, Keeping in Touch readers can maintain contact with the synod through its Facebook group (to access the group, readers must be Facebook users). "There's hope that we'll soon surpass the 300-member point," Sweep said. As of this week, the group has 290 members. The synod is also on Twitter, another social networking site, and has more than 400 followers. Keeping in Touch readers can find the synod's most-recent "tweets" at "Lakes and Prairies." Readers "on" Twitter can follow the synod @lakesprairies.

Conferences, camps & other resources

'NEXT Church' opens at end

of March in Minneapolis

NEXT Church 2014The annual gathering of "NEXT Church," an organization fostering relationships among God's people as it looks to the future of the church, will take place March 31 through April 2 at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Minneapolis. "NEXT Church" cultivates connections, celebrates emerging leadership and innovation, and works with congregations and leaders to form and reform faith communities. Details about the annual gathering and registration information can be found at "NEXT."


Eco-Palms can be ordered for Holy Week

Eco-palm artworkTo celebrate Palm Sunday, the Presbyterian Hunger Program partners with Eco-Palms to bring branches worthy of celebration. Conventionally, palms are harvested in rainforests that are critical habitats for migrating birds. The more fronds harvesters cut, the more income they generate, which results in over-harvesting and threatens the rainforest. But Eco-Palms ensure fair wages, environmental protection training and development assistance for harvesting communities throughout the rainforests of Guatemala and Mexico.  Palms are harvested sustainably and processed in the harvesting communities, ensuring more of the benefit goes to the workers and towns where the palms are grown.  Last year, almost 1,000 congregations in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) purchased Eco-Palms for Palm Sunday. Additional details and ordering information can be found at "Palm Sunday."


'Stewardship Kaleidoscope' set

in March in St. Louis

Stewardship Kal"Stewardship Kaleidoscope," an annual event established for congregation and mid-council leaders and volunteers, offers an opportunity to explore the many dimensions of Christian stewardship from a Reformed perspective. The event, which will feature about 40 workshops, is planned March 17-19 in St. Louis. Keynote speakers are Karl Travis of First Presbyterian Church in Fort Worth, Texas, and Carol Howard Merritt of Chattanooga, Tenn. Additional information and registration details can be found at "Stewardship."


Annual Rural Ministry Conference

planned in Dubuque

Wartburg Theological Seminary's 33rd annual Rural Ministry Conference is planned March 2-4, focusing this year on "Revitalizing Rural & Small Town Ministries." Wartburg, an Evangelical Lutheran Church in America seminary, is located in Dubuque, Iowa. This year's keynote speaker is Nancy Nyland, director for evangelical mission in the Indiana-Kentucky Synod of the ELCA. The plenary speaker will be Richard "Skip" Shaffer, associate dean and assistant professor of ministry at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary. Additional conference details and registration information can be found at "Rural Ministry."


Lakeshore LodgeLakeshore Center lists new

email, Web site addresses

What used to be Presbyterian Camp on Okoboji is now the Lakeshore Center at Okoboji, reflecting its expanded ministry. Its Web site notes, "When you hear the word 'camp' you quite often think about kids, bunk beds and summer. While we still have a summer camp program and we still have bunk beds and kids, we are more than that. We now have our Lodge, which is open year-round and has adult friendly accommodations which include queen-size beds and private baths." The Center's Web site address is now Beth Ehlers, executive director, receives email at


'Kabbalah & Creation' exhibition,

reception planned at United Seminary

Jewish Art United Seminary"Kabbalah & Creation," an exhibition of the Jewish Women Artists Circle, explores two themes: Kabbalah - Jewish mystical thinking - and Creation, taking a look from the first chapter of Genesis to midrashim, runs Jan. 29 through March 31 at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities. To celebrate the exhibition, there will be a chapel service and luncheon discussion with the artists on Feb. 20 and an artists' reception on Feb. 27. Details are available at "Exhibition."


IRMS Resource WarnerIRMS offers resource fitting

for pre-Super Bowl

The Super Bowl will be played in less than two weeks, but "First Things First." Actually, "First Things First" is a resource available through Iowa Religious Media Services of Urbandale, Iowa. The book is a look inside the household of former NFL Most Valuable Player Kurt Warner and his wife, ex-Marine Brenda Warner. The book addresses children, dealing with wealth and the importance of giving back. This book can be found at "First Things First."


10th Great Plains Wee Kirk Conference

runs in May in Sioux Falls

Co-sponsored by Presbyterians for Renewal and the Omaha Presbyterian Seminary Foundation, the Great Plains Wee Kirk Conference, set Tuesday through Thursday, May 6-8, is designed to inspire, equip, motivate, encourage and provide rest for pastors and other leaders of small congregations. The conference takes place at the Holiday Inn City Center in Sioux Falls, S.D. Chip Andrus, pastor, and well-known composer and performer, of South Salem (N.Y.) Presbyterian Church, will be this year's worship leader. Details and registration information can be found at "Wee Kirk."


illuminating lentLenten study is series

of biblically based mini-courses

"Illuminating Lent," a Lenten study written by Donald McKim, "deepens faith and enhances knowledge through the exploration of the Lord's Prayer. Each session examines a part of the prayer, its theological understandings and what it means for Reformed Christians in practical ways during Lent," according to information available at "Illuminating Lent."

News of colleges, universities, seminaries

UDTS accepting applications for 2014 DM cohort; Christian Leadership Plus courses listed

UDTSLogoThe University of Dubuque Theological Seminary is accepting applications for the 2014 cohort of its Doctor of Ministry degree, a degree designed to help pastors revitalize their own ministry for the renewal of the church. The 2014 cohort will be led by Bradley Longfield, dean and professor of church history at the seminary, and Jerry Andrews, senior pastor of First Presbyterian Church of San Diego. The cohort's emphasis is "The People of God: Being Reformed through Scripture and Prayer in Community." Also, two Christian Leadership Plus courses, designed to inspire, engage and sustain a pastor's ministry, are now being offered. The two, five-week courses are offered online. Information about the Doctor of Ministry cohort and the Christian Leadership Plus courses can both be found at "UDTS."


Wil Gafney presents women's

studies lectures at United

Wil Gafney, United SeminaryThe Rev. Wil Gafney, associate professor of Hebrew and Old Testament at The Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, will present the Susan Draper White Lectures in Women's Studies at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities Monday and Tuesday, March 10-11. Gafney's course offerings explore prophets with no canonical books attributed to them, such as Miriam. Her approach to teaching Hebrew scriptures includes emphasizing archaeology, comparative ancient Near Eastern literature, and the Dead Sea Scrolls. Her interest in the ancient Near Eastern and biblical portrayals of Lilith and other night-stalking creatures led to her participation in two HBO documentaries on the origin and evolution of vampire mythologies. The lectures are free and open to the public. Details are at "Gafney."


Financial Aid for Service accepting

applications for 3 programs

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)'s Financial Aid for Service office is currently receiving applications for three programs. Up to 30 rising freshmen will be selected to receive the National Presbyterian College Scholarship worth up to $1,500. Guidelines and an application form - the deadline is March 1 - can be found at "Scholarship." Juniors and seniors can apply for the Samuel Robinson Award worth between $1,500 and $5,000. Applicants must memorize the Westminster Shorter Catechism and write an essay on a related topic. Guidelines and a screening form - the deadline is April 1 - can be found at "Robinson Award."  Five Teaching of the Bible Grants worth up to $10,000 will be awarded to faculty members or chaplains for new or expanded programs for teaching the Bible. Guidelines and an application - the deadline is March 15 - can be found at "Teaching the Bible."


Carroll University receives $10,000 grant

Carroll University LogoCarroll University of Waukesha, Wis., one of seven Presbyterian-related institutions of higher education in the Synod of Lakes and Prairies, has received a $10,000 grant from PNC Foundation to support Project Pioneer, a program committed to improving the success of high-need high school students in greater Milwaukee by establishing community partnerships and offering quality pre-college programming. Project Pioneer creates learning communities that foster necessary skill development for academic, social and economic success. The PNC Foundation's priority is to form partnerships with community-based nonprofit organizations to enhance educational opportunities for underserved children. The complete Carroll University news release can be found at "Grant."


APCU Update notes Macalester's

Forster-Smith going to Harvard

Lucy Forster-Smith, MacalesterWriting in APCU Update, the newsletter of the Association of Presbyterian Colleges and Universities, Gary Luhr, the organization's executive director noted, "Two months after publication last October of her book, 'College and University Chaplaincy in the 21st Century: A Multifaith Look at the Practice of Ministry on Campuses across America,' we learned that Lucy Forster-Smith would be leaving as chaplain and associate dean for religious and spiritual life at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn., to become the Sedgwick Chaplain and senior minister of Memorial Church at Harvard University." She will coordinate worship leadership, congregational development and programming at Memorial Church and be Harvard's chaplain. Macalester is one of seven Presbyterian-related institutions of higher education in the Synod of Lakes and Prairies.

News around the PC(USA)

Mid-Council Commission approves merger

of Alaska, North Puget Sound presbyteries

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)'s Mid-Council Commission has approved the realigned boundaries of the Presbytery of North Puget Sound, effectively merging North Puget Sound and Alaska presbyteries. The commission vote at its Jan. 13-15 meeting in Dallas was unanimous. The complete Presbyterian News Service story can be found at "Merger."


Mid-Council Commission final

report emphasizes collaboration

Mid Council Commission logoDetermined that their report be viewed as a newer, more collaborative way of being the church and not as a synod downsizing proposal, members of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)'s Mid Council Commission spent their last meeting together here tweaking their recommendations and refining the rationale for them. The substance of the recommendations remains - to reduce the number of PC(USA) synods from the current 16 to eight by 2016 - but the revised language approved by the commission reflects a vision of "eight larger regional synods, each with an emerging sense of purpose, partnership, context and call." The complete Presbyterian News Service story can be found at "Commission."


Biennial Review Committee proposes changes

to the business end of General Assembly

If you're a "GA junkie," book now for the 222nd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in Portland, Ore., in 2016. It will be significantly different from its 221 predecessors if changes to the Standing Rules being proposed by the Committee to Review Biennial Assemblies are approved by this year's Assembly in Detroit. With the denomination's new Form of Government (nFOG) in place - which emphasizes greater flexibility and openness in how the PC(USA) conducts its affairs - the CRBA meeting earlier this month in Sarasota, Fla., polished recommendations to the Standing Rules of the General Assembly that committee member David Van Dyke of St. Paul, Minn., called "the nFOGging" of the church's top governing body. The complete Presbyterian News Service story can be found at "nFOGging."


Stony Point evaluation committee

recommends against incorporation

An evaluation committee is recommending that a proposal to separately incorporate the Stony Point Conference Center not move forward at this time - saying too many questions remain unanswered about the business plan for Stony Point and the possibility of whether it can become financially self-sustaining. The committee also is recommending that the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board consider a more fundamental question: Does the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) want to be involved in the kind of multi-faith peacemaking and justice work that co-directors Rick and Kitty Ufford-Chase have embarked on at Stony Point? The complete Presbyterian Outlook story can be found at "Stony Point."


Presbyterians turn hate

demonstration into connection event

It's Sunday morning and your church is about to be picketed by America's most notorious hate cult. And there are a hundred counter protestors coming. And the news media will show up in force. And you still need to continue your regular Sunday morning program. Glendale (Calif.) Presbyterian Church faced these challenges when the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., decided to picket four Glendale area churches Jan. 12.  Instead of being overwhelmed, the Presbyterians turned the experience into a way to connect with people in the community they would not otherwise have met and to project a positive image for Christians in Glendale and the greater Los Angeles area. The complete Presbyterian News Service story can be found at "Turning it Around."
Just two more

Top 10 films of 2013

Every year Visual Parables issues its Top 10 Films of the Year, a list that always includes some films not found on the lists issued by secular critics. The 10 films below all deal with matters of the spirit. The list was prepared by Edward McNulty, former film reviewer for Presbyterians Today magazine. He is the author of 12 books and he reviews films at Visual Parables. The list, prepared for the Presbyterian News Service, can be found at "Films of the Year."


Muhammad Ali talks about black, white

YouTube LogoYour editor came across this video a few weeks ago. On You Tube, this one is titled "Muhammad Ali Talks about Black & White." In this week in which we celebrated the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., the video should remind many of us of a privilege we often forget. The video is at "Black and White."