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
Quick Links
Synod of Lakes and Prairies

Presbyterian News Service



March 31, 2014

News around the Synod of Lakes and Prairies

Synod LogoSynod meeting to receive news

of 'Future of Synod Task Force'

When the Synod of Lakes and Prairies meets at the end of April it will hear several times about the work of its "Future of the Synod Task Force." The synod meets Sunday to Tuesday, April 27-29, at Mt. Olivet Conference & Retreat Center, Farmington, Minn. The synod created the "Future" task force when it met last fall and directed the task force to return with a report to this spring's meeting.


Synod School 2014 catalog coverRegistration continues

for this summer's Synod School

The registration numbers continue to climb for this summer's edition of Synod School. The theme for Synod School 2014 is "Becoming God's Next Church" and Anna Case Winters, professor of theology at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, is this year's convocation speaker, addressing "Theology and Science: A Constructive Engagement." Synod School runs July 27-Aug. 1 at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa. Facebook users can find a group at "Connecting." Registration materials are at "Synod School." And, on Twitter, Synod School comments can be shared at hashtag #SynodSchool.

Conferences, camps & other resources

Healthy Congregations Workshop

Healthy Congregations Workshopplanned later this week

The 2014 Healthy Congregations Workshop is planned Friday and Saturday, April 4-5, at Calvin Crest Camp, Conference & Retreat 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 "Being Healthy."


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 "Building Communication Skills." Details and registration information are also available from Jessica Kottmeyer at or Peterson at


Ministry Development Center, Vets Admin

sponsor 'spiritual care' session

North Central Ministry Development Center of New Brighton and the Minneapolis Veterans Administration Health Care System are sponsoring a one-day conference Thursday, April 24, titled "Spiritual Care for Veterans and their Families." The free session offers resources, tips and networking opportunities for clergy, chaplains and others who offer spiritual care veterans. The session runs 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Contact information and other details are at "Veterans."


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 at "Grow."


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 Programs."


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."


Presbyterian Outlook announces

10-week 'GA' subscription offer

Outlook LogoThe Presbyterian Outlook magazine is offering a 10-issue subscription offer - called 10-for-10 - that will provide pre- and post-coverage of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)'s 221st General Assembly. The subscription price is $9.95. According to the magazine, "The first five editions will introduce readers to the candidates for top offices and walk them through all of the major issues to be tackled at the GA. They'll then read post-GA issues that summarize the commissioners' actions - helping them to explain to their friends and circles of influence what all has percolated to the surface." Details can be found at "Outlook."


Summer curriculum sets

stage for 'awesome adventures'

Summer Curriculum Ministry PublishingPacked with kid-friendly lessons, take-home comics, and activities, "Awesome Adventures: Paul's Amazing Quest" is a broadly graded summer curriculum that encourages children to explore the New Testament stories of Paul. In this summer's adventure, children join the apostle Paul on his quest - from his conversion on the road to Damascus, as he encounters a magician, sparks a riot in Ephesus, and survives a shipwreck in Malta. Published by Congregational Ministries Publishing - denominational curriculum publisher of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) - the all-inclusive teacher's book includes 13 easy-to-use lesson plans, reproducible resource sheets, and "For the Home" pages. The complete story from Congregational Ministries Publishing is at "Amazing Quest."


'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 "Heart Habits."


Divergent movie studyNew Presbyterian book club

looks at 'Divergent'

A new Presbyterian Youth Book Club study on the wildly popular young adult novel, "Divergent," is now available, coinciding with the release of a major motion picture of the same title. The study aims to help young people explore their faith through fiction and fantasy in pop culture. "Like Hollywood, we noticed a surge in reading activity in our youth around the time of 'Harry Potter,'" said Gina Yeager-Buckley, the ministries with youth associate for the Presbyterian Mission Agency's office of Evangelism and Church Growth. The complete story is at "Divergent."


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 Training."


'Great Plains Presbyterian

Pilgrimage' planned at Calvin Crest

Presbyterian PilgrimageAnother Great Plains Presbyterian Pilgrimage, described as a sanctuary that allows attendees to "emerge refreshed, rested and ready to continue," is planned Oct. 2-5 at Calvin Crest Camp, Conference & Retreat Center near Fremont, Neb. The pilgrimage is described as a "journey in Christian community, designed to nurture Christians in their spiritual growth and to provide them with a renewed foundation for individual and community living. Details can be found at "Pilgrimage."

News of colleges, universities, seminaries

UDTSLogoUDTS offers online

summer courses

The University of Dubuque Theological Seminary is offering three graduate level theology courses online this summer. The courses are "Worship in the Reformed Tradition," "Presbyterian History and Confessions" and "Polity and Program of the Presbyterian Church." Classes begin June 2 and end Aug. 29. The deadline for applications is May 31. Details can be found at "Dubuque Seminary."

News from the Board of Pensions

BOP Connections video

addresses its assistance program

BOP Connections LogoThe Rev. Aisha Brooks-Lytle talks, in a recent video, about a "safe space" created by the assistance program of the Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). In the video, "On Lifting up the Family of Faith," Brooks-Lytle says the assistance program helped her when her husband suddenly became disabled, creating a four-month gap in income. The announcement, and details about the assistance program, can be found at "Lifting Up."

News around the PC(USA)

Presbytery of Northwest Coast

is newest in PC(USA)

On March 15 -- three months after it was created by a merger of the former North Puget Sound Presbytery and nine churches in southeast Alaska that remain in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) from the former Alaska Presbytery -- the newest presbytery in the denomination voted overwhelmingly to call itself the Presbytery of Northwest Coast. "Northwest Coast" was the first ballot choice over "Inland Passage" and "Northwest United." More than 50 possible names were suggested, said the Rev. David Dobler, executive of the former Alaska Presbytery who is continuing to serve Northwest Coast on a part-time basis. The complete Presbyterian News Service story can be found at "New Presbytery."


Alban Institute, a resource

for mainline churches, announces close

As mainline Protestant denominations continue decades of decline, one of the main institutions helping educate its leaders announced March 19 that it will shut its doors. Since it was founded four decades ago, the Virginia-based Alban Institute has guided mostly mainline congregations through consulting and publishing. Its founder and former president, the Rev. Loren Mead, became well-known for his speaking and writing about the future of U.S. denominations and was one of the first to predict denominational decline. The complete Religion News Service story is at "Alban."


Presbyterians help press UN

to improve plight of world's women

Ecumenical Women at the United Nations, an international faith-based coalition that prominently includes women of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), called on the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women meeting in New York this month to enact a number of programs and resolutions to improve the plight of the world's women. In brief public testimony to the commission on behalf of Ecumenical Women, Christine Mangale -- a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Lutheran World Federation -- called for increased efforts by the U.N. and its member nations to address four key issues identified by the group. The complete Presbyterian News Service story can be found at "Women."


PMA's World Mission announces

Mission Matters logomatching gift challenge

The March 26 edition of World Mission e-News, a publication of the Presbyterian Mission Agency's World Mission, announced a matching-gift program that runs through Easter. The article noted, "A group of committed Presbyterians has pledged to match all gifts sent for mission personnel support between now and Easter Sunday, April 20. Make a difference in the world by giving a generous gift today." Gifts can be made electronically through "Matching."


International Peacemakers scheduled

for visits in September, October

International PeacemakersEvery year, the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program invites leaders from our partner churches around the world to share their stories and experiences of peacemaking in their communities. This year those visits take place Sept. 19-Oct. 12. The International Peacemakers are available to visit Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) synods, presbyteries, colleges, seminaries and other PC(USA) institutions across the United States. This year's group will come from the Caribbean, Colombia, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Iran, Madagascar, Malawi, Mexico, Palestine, Philippines, Russia, South Sudan, and Syria. Detailed information about the program can be found at "Peacemakers."


Youth ministry of Kentucky

congregation receives national award

What could have been a simple night at the movies turned into a ministry that has affected hundreds of students in Shelby County, Ky. After seeing the movie, "The Blind Side," around Christmas 2009, Jessica Collins, now 14 years old and a member of First Presbyterian Church in Shelbyville, Ky., was struck by a scene in which a high school football player says that he's never had a bed before. Although her family traditionally bought gifts for an angel tree every Christmas, Collins asked her grandmother if they could instead buy a bed that year. That one act has grown into "A Place to Sleep," which has provided beds to more than 370 students in Shelby County. The complete Presbyterian News Service story is at "Beds."


'Homeless Jesus' provokes debate

on what it means to be Christian

In a small college town 20 miles north of Charlotte, N.C., "Homeless Jesus" is provoking more conversation than a month of Sunday sermons. The life-size sculpture depicting a figure asleep under a blanket on a park bench lies outside St. Alban's Episcopal Church. The nail-scarred feet peeking out from under the blanket are the only indication that Canadian sculptor Timothy Schmalz is making a religious statement about Jesus. The hollow, bronze piece bolted to the park bench is a $22,000 gift from a church member intended to support public art. The complete Religion News Service story can be found at "Homeless Jesus."

Just one more
XKCD What If
Could be 'tech's favorite cartoonist'
And today it's just because. There's a "What If" comic that was featured recently in a New York Times blog. (Yes, your editor reads pieces of that from time to time.) The comic is also known as "XKCD." And Keeping in Touch readers can find it at "What If."