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



March 15, 2014

News around the Synod of Lakes and Prairies

Registration is underway for Synod School

Readers who haven't yet registered for Synod School 2014 need to know that summer is on its way. Winter will finally pass and spring, too, will fly Synod School 2014 catalog cover by. And then it will be summer, and summer means Synod School at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa. (As of Friday evening, March 14, more than 200 registrations have been processed.) Synod School runs July 27 through Aug. 1. All the information readers need to register is online. This year's midsummer ministry carries the theme, "Becoming God's Next Church," and convocation speaker Anna Case Winters, professor of theology at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, will address "Theology and Science: A Constructive Engagement." 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 "Midsummer Ministry."


'NEXT Church' opens at end

of this month 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."


Twin Cities minister responds to MRTI call

for 'corporate engagement strategies'

Gwin Pratt, senior pastor of St. Luke Presbyterian Church, Wayzata, Minn., is disappointed in the reaction of the Mission Responsibility Through Investment Committee of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to what's been called a "growing movement" to summarily divest from fossil fuel companies. When the presbytery's newsletter carried a link to the Presbyterian News Service article about MRTI's reaction, Pratt felt the need to respond.


Pratt wrote, "MRTI has an honored and distinguished history in the long and always arduous task of divestment. They have done great work in the interest of connecting social justice to how we spend our money. But this one is different. Very different. It is the unanimous conclusion of all credible scientists that we have a very short window of opportunity to prevent runaway climate catastrophe. (Sadly, some of these scientists say it may already be too late.) Our only chance is to act, and to act immediately." Pratt's complete response can be found at "Fossil Fuels."


The complete Presbyterian News Service story regarding MRTI's response can be found at "Divesting."


Copeland: The Internet makes Lent better

Writing in his blog, A Wee Blether, Adam Copeland notes five ways the Internet makes Lent better. He writes, "The Internet helps us make connections beyond local congregations. Last Wednesday, I especially appreciated the dozens of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram Ash Wednesday posts marking the beginning of Lent. While I celebrated in my local faith community, I felt connected to the worldwide community through social networks." Copeland's complete post can be found at "Making Lent Better."

Conferences, camps & other resources

Eco-Palms shows environmental commitment

Earth Care Congregations logoBuying 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 "Eco Palms."  There is additional information at "Environmental."


Congregational publishing searches

for children's curriculum writers

Congregational Ministries Publishing is searching for writers to help create its new children's curriculum, "Growing in Grace and Gratitude." Congregational Ministries Publishing CMP is asking for samples and hoping to make decisions quickly. Writers selected will be proficient in instructional writing for children within the scope of the Reformed tradition's emphasis on God's grace and the human response of gratitude. Additional information about submitting a sample can be directed to Mark Hinds. The deadline for providing a sample is April 1.

Healthy Congregations Workshop

Healthy Congregations Workshopplanned at Calvin Crest

The 2014 Healthy Congregations Workshop is planned Friday and Saturday, April 4-5, at Calvin Crest Camp & Conference Center near Fremont, Neb . The Healthy Congregations workshop uses the insights of family systems theory to help church leaders become more effective stewards of their congregations. Dave Moore, pastor of New Summit Church of Lee's Summit, Mo., and trained by the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center, will facilitate the conference. Details and registration information can be found at "Healthy Congregations."


Church communications workshops

Communications Workshopset in Lincoln, Calvin Crest

Taking a hands-on look at communications on the local level, Kris Peterson of Homestead Presbytery and Duane Sweep from the Synod of Lakes and Prairies will present two workshops next month on church communications - the art and some science of getting a message out - in Lincoln, Neb., and at Calvin Crest Camp & Conference Center, Fremont, Neb. The first workshop is a mini-session planned Tuesday, April 8, from 6 to 9 p.m. at Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church in Lincoln. The second session runs 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 9, at Calvin Crest. Peterson is Homestead's congregational resource coordinator and Sweep is the synod's associate for communications. Details are at "Communications." Details and registration information are also available from Jessica Kottmeyer at or Peterson at


church growth conference, Project Grow offers practical

strategies to grow church

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 "Project Grow."


Spreading the spirit of General Assembly

With the 221st General Assembly just about three months away, the Office of the General Assembly is hoping to get Presbyterians into the spirit of the biennial gathering. Building on image-based social media platforms like Instagram and Tumblr that have gained popularity in recent years, OGA started a "Spirit of GA" Facebook page. Through photo and video postings of the people, sights and sounds that make up an Assembly, the Facebook page is one way of inviting people to this year's Assembly, meeting in Detroit June 14-21. The complete Presbyterian News Service story is at "Early Start."


Presbyterian author slates
Facebook chat on electronic publishing

Presby Writers LogoAnita Coleman, an author and member of The Presbyterian Writers Guild, will be the host to a Facebook chat discussing electronic publishing March 18 at noon. The Facebook event can be found at "Electronic Publishing."


Church Leadership Connection plans

'connecting' event at General Assembly

Church Leadership Connection will sponsor a Face-to-Face Event at the 221st General Assembly June 13-17. Search committees, mid-council staff, teaching elders and other church professionals have an opportunity to move beyond the written words of Personal Information Forms and Ministry Information Forms to meet and talk directly with one another about the possibility of ministry together. Face-to-Face is an opportunity to connect in one place over several days. Additional information about the event can be found at "Meeting in Person." Online registration is available.


Mediation skills training institute

lombard mennoniteplanned in North Dakota

A mediation skills training institute, led by Richard Blackburn, executive director of the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center, is scheduled Aug. 18-22 at St. Francis Convent & Retreat Center in Hankinson, N.D. The event is sponsored by the presbyteries of Minnesota Valleys, Northern Plains and South Dakota. Conference details and registration form can be found at "Mediation Skills."


PC(USA) Daily Prayer app

now available for Android

Long anticipated, the Android version of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)'s highly successful Daily Prayer app is now available. Daily Prayer, which provides users with readings from the two-year Daily Lectionary along with a short prayer service that can be used by individuals or in groups, originally was released as an iPhone and iPad app in October 2012. The complete announcement from the Office of Theology, Worship and Education can be found at "Android App."


'Habits of the Heart' summer

conference planned in Racine

The second annual summer retreat and learning conference, "Habits of the Heart for Healthy Congregations: Embracing the Tensions of Ministry," is planned Aug. 11-14 at the Siena Retreat Center in Racine, Wis. The conference will address the question, "What if we approached the tensions of ministry as paradoxes to embrace rather than problems to solve?" The conference is organized by the Center for Courage and Renewal, Seattle, Wash. Conference details and registration information can be found at "Habits of the Heart."


Special Offerings launches Pentecost video contest

For the second year, Presbyterian youth groups from across the country are invited to submit original videos communicating the impact and importance of the Pentecost Offering. The top three videos will be featured on the Special Offerings blog and social media sites. The winning youth groups will also receive up to three paid registrations to a future church-wide youth event such as Presbyterian Youth Triennium or Faith in 3D. The complete Presbyterian News Service story is at "Video Contest."


IRMS offers resources to bring Easter alive

Iowa Religious Media Services has two more ways to bring Easter alive IRMSLOGO for preschoolers through adults, beginning with two easy-to-implement dramas in "A Jelly Bean Easter." Stories are told through children's curiosity that leads to understanding at their age level. "Jesus in Space" is a resource for preschoolers through senior high, exploring what it means to "see Christ" today as kids control the action and tell the story.

News of colleges, universities, seminaries

Spring Renewal sessions planned at UDTS

The University of Dubuque Theological Seminary will feature three well-known lecturers Tuesday through Thursday, April 1-3, during its annual Spring Renewal. Lyle Vander Boek, professor of New Testament at UDTSLogo UDTS, will be the Warren Lecturer and speak on "The Spirituality of Death and Ressurection." Jeff Barker of Northwestern College of Orange City, Iowa, will address "The Bible as Art: Ten Assumptions about Presenting the Bible in Worship" and "The Hebrew Bible as Theatre: A New Way to Study the Old Book." He will be the sessions' Woods Lecturer. David Lose of Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minn., will be this year's Berger Lecturer. He will address "Preaching Reconsidered: Fashioning a Community of the Word in the Age of Digital Pluralism." All Spring Renewal events are open to the public, but pre-registration is requested. More information and a complete schedule of events are at "Renewal."

News from the Board of Pensions

Board of Pensions grants

4.6% experience apportionment

Buoyed by a 17.1 percent return on its balanced investment portfolio in 2013, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Board of Pensions voted in Louisville earlier this month to approve a 4.6 percent experience apportionment, the largest such increase since 1999. Experience apportionments are percentage increases in pensions for retired Pension Plan members and in pension credits for active Plan members. Last year - after four years of no apportionments during the global economic collapse - the board granted a 1 percent apportionment. The complete Presbyterian News Service story can be found at "Increase."

News around the PC(USA)

Menlo Park Presbyterian votes to leave PC(USA)

Members of one of the largest congregations in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) have voted to leave the denomination, despite facing an $8.89 million cost for leaving. Menlo Park Presbyterian is based in the San Francisco Bay area and led by well-known author and pastor John Ortberg. It is the ninth-largest PCUSA church, with about 4,000 members, including former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. The complete Religion News Service story can be found at "Menlo Park Votes."


Illinois church experiments

with worshiping with social media

Though it was the seventh Sunday in "ordinary time," it was hardly an Social media Presbyterian ordinary Sunday for the people of Winnetka (Ill.) Presbyterian Church. It was Feb. 23 and Social Media Sunday - the first such worship experiment for the congregation on Chicago's North Shore. It was an experiment in learning how to worship in ways both familiar and new. "Whether you are engaged in social media or not, we hope you will join us for this worship, which will be rooted in our familiar traditions while reaching for some new places together," read the description sent to the congregation before the event. The complete Presbyterian News Service story can be found at "Social Media." (Photo by Karen Bowen - Members of Winnetka Presbyterian Church took selfies, tweeted and engaged in other social media.)


Peace Fellowship launches Peace

Communities Partnership initiative

Presbyterian Peace FellowshipThe Presbyterian Peace Fellowship has announced a new Peace Communities Partnership initiative in which it seeks to encourage and support "diverse intentional peace communities" across the country. PPF will fund up to seven community grants of $500 per month for one year. Each community will be expected to send two or more members to a national gathering so Peace Communities Partnership can cement relationships, learn from one another, share experiences and support each another. The complete story is at "Initiative."


1001 new worshiping communities

1001movement continues to grow

1001 New Worshiping Communities is a growing movement across the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to develop new, non-traditional worshiping efforts. The 1001 Web site notes, "God is raising up leaders in churches and presbyteries who are creating new worshiping communities. They are taking on new and varied forms of church for our changing culture. Primarily they are seeking to make and form new disciples of Jesus Christ, to change and transform the world." Details about the 1001 movement can be found at "New Worshiping Communities."


Dumpster diving as an act of faith

As a musician barely scraping by, Gio Andollo looks to trash bins as a way of life. On a recent outing, he carefully untied bags outside a supermarket next to Columbia University. He likes this market because it uses clear plastic bags, making it easier to spot bread, fruits, vegetables and other treasures. "We can use our instincts about these things and usually they're OK," he said. "You can always clean it well and cook it. You can make sure you'll at least survive." The complete Religion News Service story can be found at "Dumpster Diving."

Just one more

Spending time with the U.S.

Religious Landscape Survey

PEW Religion social USThose readers who know the editor might also know that he dabbled for a time in the market research field. That's why he can become lost for hours at a time looking at charts, graphs and numbers - or so it seems. It's also why we limit his time with the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey. The site states, "Based on interviews with more than 35,000 American adults, this extensive survey by the Pew Research Center's Religion & Public Life Project details the religious makeup, religious beliefs and practices as well as social and political attitudes of the American public." Readers can find tools to enhance a look at the report. There's even a video. It's all at "Landscape Survey."