In This Issue
News around the Synod of Lakes and Prairies
Conferences, camps & other resources
News of colleges, universities, seminaries
News from the Board of Pensions
News around the PC(USA)
Just a few more
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Synod of Lakes and Prairies

Presbyterian News Service



February 28, 2014

News around the Synod of Lakes and Prairies

Synod School materials make it online

Synod School 2014 catalog coverAs promised, the Synod School 2014 catalog is online, along with all the materials necessary to register for this summer's event. This year's Synod School carries the theme, "Becoming God's Next Church," and Anna Case Winters, professor of theology at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, will address "Theology and Science: A Constructive Engagement" as convocation speaker. Evening worship leaders will be Katie Estes, Sarah Dickinson, Sara Dingman, Sara Tonje and Bob Wollenberg. Morning worship leaders will be Scott and Pam Prouty. Keeping in Touch readers can find everything they need at "Synod School."


Iowa congregation plans to publish

national Presbyterian cookbook

What started out as a cookbook fundraiser for one congregation has evolved into a call for a national Presbyterian scrapbook of sorts, with the hope that the final product will celebrate the denomination's history of connectionalism.Like many churches First United Presbyterian Church of Clinton, Iowa, is facing some financial challenges. When brainstorming ways to raise money, someone suggested selling a cookbook made up of recipes submitted by members. Another person, thinking about the connectional nature of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), suggested opening up the call for submissions to the wider church. The complete Presbyterian News Service story can be found at "Calling All Cooks."


Synod women will be advocates at United Nations

United Nations WomenJan Beran of the Presbytery of North Central Iowa and Cathy Manthei of the Presbytery of Milwaukee will travel to United Nations headquarters in New York City as part of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)'s delegation that will advocate for gender equity with the 58th United Nations Commission on the Status of Women that runs March 10-21.The Commission is a functional commission of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations and is the principal global policy-making body dedicated exclusively to gender equality and advancement of women. As a member of the Presbyterian delegation, Beran and Manthei will join Christian colleagues from around the world partnering with Ecumenical Women, an international coalition of church denominations and ecumenical organizations. Groups concerned for gender justice from around the world participate in the Commission. The complete press release is at "Gender Equity."


Young adults gather in online

community in South Dakota

Jennifer Swier remembers waking up in her South Dakota home one night this past July and thinking she should go downstairs to her computer. The Sioux Falls pastor was in between calls, reflecting on conversations she'd had with young adults. In the past three years, the 46-year-old had co-led retreats at Camp Rimrock in South Dakota, hiking with small groups of young adults in the Big Horn Mountains.

"As I listened to their needs, it was so illuminating," Swier said. Young adults, she was learning, were going online to create what they longed for - a community where they could share their faith journey with others. The complete story from the Presbyterian Mission Agency can be found at "Online Gathering."

Conferences, camps & other resources

'Stewardship Kaleidoscope' set March 17-19

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. Kaleidoscope, 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."


Gifts of Women Sunday is on calendar March 9

Gifts of Women SundayThe Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) will celebrate Gifts of Women Sunday March 9, recognizing women who are no longer strangers, but who are sisters in God's diverse household. Resources for the Sunday, including liturgy and bulletin covers, are available through PC(USA) at "All Women in the Church."


Eco-Palms shows environmental commitment

Eco-palm artworkBuying Eco-Palms can be a way for congregations to show a commitment to environmental and economic justice, according to the Presbytery Mission Agency. The Eco-Palms Web site notes, "Your church's purchase of Eco-Palms for Palm Sunday helps ensure fair wages, environmental protection training, and development assistance for harvesting communities in the rainforests of Guatemala and Mexico." There is a March 21 order deadline. Orders can be placed at "Palms." There is additional information at "Environmental Commitment."


Summer Pastors School set in July,

registration suggested by March 15

The 58th annual Summer Pastors School will take place Wednesday through Wednesday, July 9-16, at Hastings (Neb.) College and organizers are suggesting that those who want to attend should submit registrations by March 15. Presenters this year include Mary Louise Bringle, professor of philosophy and religion at Brevard (N.C.) College; Philip W. Butin, co-pastor of First United Presbyterian Church of Fayetteville, Ark., and former president of San Francisco Theological Seminary; Daniel G. Deffenbaugh, professor of religion at Hastings College; and David B. McCarthy, professor of religion at Hastings College. The Omaha Presbyterian Seminary Foundation is host to the annual school in conjunction with the college. Additional information and registration materials can be found at "Pastors School."

Seminary Foundation opens

registration for lectures, course

Omaha SeminaryThe Omaha Presbyterian Seminary Foundation has announced plans for its Heartland Lectures in April, Nelson Lectures in May, and the Church Administration Institute in July and August. Program details and online registration are available at "Foundation Programming."


Lakeshore Center at Okoboji

sets women's retreat in March

Lakeshore LodgeThe Lakeshore Center at Okoboji will be host to a women's retreat Friday and Saturday, March 14-15, that will feature Lisa Rambo, an inspirational speaker and former contestant on the "Biggest Loser" television show. Details and registration information can be found at "Retreat."


Project Grow offers practical

strategies to grow church

church growth conference, A group of successful church leaders will share a variety of practical strategies to grow a congregation in a two-day summit at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Lincoln, Neb. Sponsored by the Omaha Presbyterian Seminary Foundation, the Synod of Lakes and Prairies, and the presbyteries of Central Nebraska, Homestead and Missouri River Valley, the event will run Monday and Tuesday, April 28-29. Featured speakers include Tex Sample, a well-known author and storyteller; Shannon Craigo-Snell, professor of theology at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary; and Charles Arn, a well-known author in the field of church growth. Details can be found at "Growth Conference."


'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 Church." 


Emerging Leaders Institute

set in May, features McLaren

Plymouth CenterThe Plymouth Center for Progressive Christian Faith, in its commitment to nurture leaders for the future, will feature Brian McLaren, a prominent leader in the emerging church movement, at its 2014 Emerging Leaders Institute May 12-15 at Dunrovin Retreat Center in Marine on St. Croix, Minn. This year's event is titled "The Hyphenated Pastor: Creating Church at the Intersection of Movements and Institutions." The institute is designed for congregational leaders, who have completed seminary or graduate-level ministerial preparation and are serving in a called or commissioned capacity, and are under the age of 40 in their first seven years of parish ministry. Details about the conference can be found at "Leaders Institute." An application can be found "Apply."



resources for Lent

Iowa Religious Media Services of Urbandale has a variety of resources available for Lent, including two fresh ways to bring Holy Week alive. All ages can understand "The Passion," a 30-minute, mood-setting DVD in which sand painter Joe Castillo draws with sand, interpreting the Passion, set to the music of Mel Gibson's "The Passion of Christ." A second resource is "What Wondrous Love," a six-session study of Holy Week and Easter that combines stunning art work with commentary from Bible scholars.

News of colleges, universities, seminaries

UDTS still accepting applications

UDTSLogofor its 2014 doctoral cohort

The Doctor of Ministry degree at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary is 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 2014 cohort emphasis is "The People of God: Being Reformed through Scripture and Prayer in Community." Details about the seminary and the doctoral cohort can be found at "UDTS."


United Seminary Race WorkshopUnited sets 2 day-long

workshops in March

United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities will be host in March to a workshops that will teach how to lead conversations about race, racism and justice, and another teach how to delve into life's difficult challenges and mysteries. The first workshop, set March 20 and titled "Meet Your Metaphor," will be led by Sarah Bellamy, co-artistic director at Penumbra Theater of St. Paul, and the theater's company. The second workshop, set March 31 and titled "Exploring Brokenness, Surrender and Redemption with a Spiritual Practice of Writing," will be led by writer Karen Hering. Details and registration information are at the links above.

News from the Board of Pensions

Web module shows how

to use dues calculator, modeler

BOP Connections LogoA new Web module, "Getting Ready: Using the Dues Calculator and the Dues Modeler," is available to help members, employing organizations and others make the best use of the new and enhanced online dues tools just released by the Board of Pensions. The module can be found at "Calculator." That resource, along with resources that enable dues calculations and model dues-sharing alternatives in preparation for the change in medical dues in 2015, can be found through the complete Benefits Connect announcement at "Calculator and Modeler."


Resources available to help

employers claim tax credit

For the fourth and final year since the Small Employer Healthcare Tax Credit was offered in its current form to small tax-exempt employers --  including churches with fewer than 25 full-time equivalent employees --  the Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is once again providing resources to help PC(USA) congregations and other employing organizations claim this credit. The resources can be found at "Tax Credit." The full announcement from the Board of Pensions is at "Tax Resources."


Board of Pensions names

Frank Spencer as president-elect

At its meeting late last month, the board of directors of the Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) elected Frank Clark Spencer to succeed Robert W. Maggs Jr. as its president. Maggs had announced in October that he would retire in 2014 after 15 years of service. Spencer will be presented to the 221st General Assembly this summer for confirmation. The complete announcement from the Board of Pensions can be found at "New President."

News around the PC(USA)

Vote to leave PC(USA) falls

short in First Church Houston

Houston's First Presbyterian Church will remain in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). At a congregation meeting Feb. 23, 64.5 percent of the present members voted in favor of transferring to ECO - A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians. However, the votes fell 36 short of the two-thirds majority required to adopt the proposal. The actual vote was 1085 in favor, 596 opposed. The complete story by the editor of The Presbyterian Outlook can be found at "Houston Vote."

Kelly Allen endorsed as

3rd candidate for moderator

Kelly Allen moderator PCUSAA third candidate has emerged for moderator of the 2014 General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) - the first woman nominated so far to stand for this election, which will take place in Detroit in June. On Feb. 28, Mission Presbytery nominated Kelly Allen, pastor of University Presbyterian Church in San Antonio, Texas. Allen, a graduate of Columbia Theological Seminary, has served at University church since 2009, and previously served congregations in Buckinghamshire, England; St. Louis; and Ste. Genevieve, Mo. The complete story from The Presbyterian Outlook can be found at "Third Candidate." 

Moderator to convene live, online

conversations on unity, ecclesiology

Neal PresaHow can Christians talk constructively about racial and gender differences? How can the church recover its calling to witness boldly in a changing world? These questions will be the focus of two events in mid-March organized by Neal Presa, moderator of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) General Assembly, and hosted by a college and a seminary on the west coast. The two events, each called the "Third Conversation on Unity with Difference," are planned March 12-14 Whitworth University in Spokane, Wash., and March 17-19 at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif. The complete announcement from the Office of the General Assembly can be found at "Differences."


Moderator Presa accepts new ministry call

Neal Presa, moderator of the 220th General Assembly, has accepted a new ministry call with Village Community Presbyterian Church in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. Effective May 1, Presa will serve as the associate pastor for family ministries at the 1,000-member congregation in north San Diego County. His call was unanimously approved by San Diego Presbytery. Presa's new call concludes 11 years of ministry at Middlesex (N.J.) Presbyterian Church in Elizabeth Presbytery and three years of service on the faculty of New Brunswick (N.J.) Theological Seminary. The complete announcement from the Office of the General Assembly can be found at "New Call."

MRTI considers fossil fuel divestment overtures

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)'s Mission Responsibility Through Investment Committee - charged by the General Assembly to ensure that church investments align with the church's social and environmental policies - well knows the threats posed to Planet Earth by the continuing production and use of fossil fuels worldwide. But the group is clearly troubled by the growing movement in the church - and by organizations such as - to summarily divest from fossil fuel companies without utilizing other corporate engagement strategies that have proved effective over more than 30 years of MRTI activities. The complete Presbyterian News Service story is at "Divestment."


Chaplains help others grieve,

learn to grieve themselves

Seated at a table with other chaplains who have comforted grieving military families, retired Army Chaplain John Schumacher held the red rose in his hands before he passed it along, pausing to remember those who had died on the battlefield. Schumacher then took the rose and added it to a memorial wreath. Two days later, he and another chaplain placed the wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery. "I've been in combat. I've been with a lot of wounded men. I've been with dead men who were my friends," said Schumacher, a two-tour Vietnam veteran. "Chaplains give so much and carry all that pain with them for so long. It was such a tremendous honor to feel some of that pain kind of ooze out a little bit." The complete Religion News Service story is at "Grieving." 


Handling immigrant paperwork is effort of Presbyterian retiree in Orange County

If an immigration reform bill is approved by Congress this year, potentially millions of immigrants soon will be scrambling to meet the requirements for U.S. citizenship. And Dick Aced is determined to be ready to help. The 73-year-old retiree, a member of Trabuco Presbyterian Church in Orange County, California, is working toward becoming accredited by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) so that he can help immigrants with the paperwork that will put them on the path toward legal residency and ultimately U.S. citizenship. Aced has observed how the complicated pathway toward citizenship can stymie people with limited English and no money to hire a lawyer. "Who better than the church to reach out to them?" he says. The complete story from the Office of the General Assembly can be found at "Immigration."

Just a few more

Oscars' best films from a faith perspective

Oscar StatueEditor's Note: The following column appeared before "Oscar Night" Sunday, but it still makes for a good read today. Written by Presbyterian film critic Ed McNulty, it includes his assessment of the nominated films. McNulty writes ...


Virtually all critics who have written about the nine films nominated for the Best Picture Oscar base their opinions on aesthetic considerations (blended with their personal tastes). Aesthetics are important - too many faith-based films fail at this point and thus are not taken seriously - but I want to approach this year's nine nominees mainly from a faith and moral perspective. Even more than with last year's group, several of the films released in 2013 raise moral and theological issues, though sometimes, as in the case of the first three films discussed below, it is in a negative way. The films are arranged according to this writer's opinion from the least deserving to the one that I hope will win. McNulty's column can be found at "Oscars."


New worshiping community video posted to 1001

The new worshiping communities effort of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) - or 1001 - continues to post videos of new additions to its YouTube channel. Just recently it posted a video of Isaiah's Table, a community that developed when a congregation began to have breakfast with its hungry neighbors before worship. The new worshiping communities are taking on new and varied forms of worship and community in the changing culture of today. The video featuring Isaiah's Table can be found at "Breaking Barriers."