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



April 15, 2014

News around the Synod of Lakes and Prairies

Just Good FoodSpringtime means thoughts

turn again to the garden

Spring is here - really or nearly. And thoughts are turning to gardening and to finding ways to provide food to those in need. For congregations looking for ways to establish or strengthen a partnership with organizations that provide fresh food to those in need, does just that through planting gardens, building community and distributing food. It is a project of the synods of Lakes and Prairies, Lincoln Trails and Mid-America. Details can be found online at and on Facebook. Last year, participating congregations contributed more than two and a half tons of food.


Synod meeting to receive news

of 'Future of Synod Task Force'  Synod Logo

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.


Registration continues

Synod School 2014 catalog cover for this summer's Synod School

Summer is coming to the Upper Midwest and Synod School 2014 will be a part of it. Synod School runs July 27-Aug. 1 at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa. It's the annual midsummer ministry of the Synod of Lakes and Prairies and in recent years it's drawn more than 600 people to its courses, worship, reflection and fellowship. 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." Facebook users can get a glimpse of Synod School at "This is Iowa." And registration materials are at "Synod School." And, on Twitter, Synod School comments can be shared at hashtag #SynodSchool.


'Theocademy' offers resource for leader training

The synods of Lakes and Prairies, Lincoln Trails and Mid-America are supporting a Christian leadership effort called "Theocademy," which is Theocademy being developed by Landon Whitsitt, executive and stated clerk of the Synod of Mid-America. At the "Theocademy" website, Whitsitt writes, "Yet here is the problem: How do we ensure that our Ruling Elders and Deacons are formed into Mature Christian Leaders? The teaching elders of our church are often required to attend one of our 10 Presbyterian seminaries, which are acknowledged as some of the finest theological institutions in the world. But what about our sisters and brothers who are not called to the ministry of Word and Sacrament? They are also called to mature Christian leadership. How are they to be trained?" Details of the approaching release of this new training opportunity are at "Theocademy."


General Assembly committee

leadership includes synod moderator

Moderators and vice moderators have been selected to lead the 14 committees that will handle the business of the 221st General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The Rev. Stephanie Anthony, pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Hudson, Wis., and moderator of the Synod of Lakes and Prairies, has been named vice chair of the Environmental and Immigration Issues Committee. The committee leaders were chosen by the Rev. Neal Presa, moderator of the 220th General Assembly. The complete announcement from the Office of the General Assembly can be found at "Leadership."


NEXT Church highlights can be found online

NEXT Church 2014Most everyone knows that NEXT Church, an organization fostering relationships among God's people as it looks to the future of the church, concluded its annual gathering April 2 at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Minneapolis. A number of bloggers reflected on the gathering, and The Presbyterian Outlook provided news coverage. That material can be found at "NEXT."


Conferences, camps & other resources

Applications still being accepted

for Summer Pastors School 

Omaha Presbyterian Seminary Foundation, which each summer offers its Summer Pastors School in conjunction with Hastings (Neb.) College, has extended the application deadline to May 15 for this year's edition that runs July 9-16. The session is open to all teaching elders and commissioned ruling elders who are actively engaged in Presbyterian ministry in the 13-state region served by the foundation. The mini-seminary event provides an extended break from ministerial duties through worship, learning, fellowship and relaxation with colleagues in ministry. Details, including registration information, are at "Summer Pastors School."


Earth Day is April 22, resources

Earth Care Congregations logoavailable from PC(USA) 

The Earth Day Web site notes, "Every year on April 22, over a billion people in 190 countries take action for Earth Day. And, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) site states the "Presbyterian churches are urged to celebrate Earth Day Sunday near this date. In 2014, Easter is April 20, so you may wish to designate April 27 as Earth Day Sunday, or another date that works for your church." The National Council of Churches Eco-Justice Program produces Earth Day resources each year and this year is no different. This year's resource, "Water, Holy Water," with sermon starters, prayers, and information on a variety of energy issues, can be downloaded at "Earth Day."


Series of 4 liturgical resources includes Year D

Tim Slemmons Year D"Lightning from the East: Liturgical Elements for Reformed Worship," written by Timothy Slemmons, is a series of four liturgical resources - three consisting of liturgical elements for Years A, B and C, and a fourth, the first such resource to support the implementation of "Year D: A Quadrennial Supplement to the Revised Common Lectionary." Slemmons is assistant professor of homiletics and worship at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary. Each volume consists of a call to worship, opening prayer, call to confession, prayer of confession and words of assurance. Details can be found at "Year D."


Resource Center lists new  Resource Center Logo

resources in latest newsletter

The Resource Center for Churches, located in the Church Center in Minneapolis, lists a number of new resources in its current newsletter, including "Learning to Walk in the Dark," by Barbara Brown Taylor. It explores a spirituality of darkness that provides a life-saving antidote to the spirituality available in the marketplace. The newsletter also includes a link to the center's recent blog post about learning differences among young people. The complete newsletter can be found at "Resource Center."


Wondered about checking out  IRMSLOGO

a resource? IRMS offers FAQs

Iowa Religious Media Services - or IRMS - offers a few frequently asked questions for those who aren't regular users of a media resource center. The ecumenical resource center, supported in part by the Synod of Lakes and Prairies, is located in Urbandale, Iowa, a suburb of Des Moines. And the frequently asked questions? They're at "Questions."


Ruling Elders: What is their responsibility?

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has teaching elders and ruling elders, and the Office of the General Assembly even has a spot on its Web site devoted to resources related to ruling elders. In addition, Conrad Rocha recently wrote about the financial responsibility of ruling elders, noting, in part, that "ruling elders ... are to ensure that the administration of the church and its mission are enabled and strengthened ... " Rocha's article is available through the ruling elder site or directly at "Financial Aspect."


Communications workshop dates changed

A communications skills workshop - covering on-site to push marketing and communications from news to Secret, Confide, Whisper (and more) - originally set this month has been rescheduled Sept. 23 and 24. The first session will be a short, three-hour session, while the second session will be a full-day workshop at Camp Calvin Crest outside Fremont, Neb.


Presbyterians Today publishes

guide for young adult ministry

Presbyterians TodayPresbyterians Today magazine asks, "How well do you know what makes today's young adults tick?" To answer the question, Presbyterians Today has published a "Guide for Young Adult Ministry." The publication is described as "a must-read for everyone who wants to better understand young adults and engage them in worship, education and service." Details about the guide, along with ordering information, can be found at "Young Adult Ministry."


Presbyterian Foundation newsletter

notes Middle East sabbatical program

The Pastor's Life, a newsletter of the Presbyterian Foundation, notes in its April 10 edition that the Near East School of Theology in Beirut offers a special program for pastors on sabbatical. The program offers those pastors an opportunity to increase their knowledge of the churches in the Middle East, Islam and Christian-Muslim relations. The 12-week program runs mid-September to mid-December at NEST's campus. Additional information, along with the complete newsletter, is at "Pastors Life."


News of colleges, universities, seminaries

Pres House 'Next Step Recovery

Community' cited in news  Pres House Logo

Pres House, a ministry on the University of Wisconsin-Madison, will open a new ministry this fall dedicated to help those in recovery from substance abuse. That ministry was noted recently in Isthmus, the major alternative weekly newspaper in Madison, when it featured substance-abuse recovery programs in the Madison area. The story opened, "On a frigid December day in 2004, 17-year-old Aaron Meyer came home from drug and alcohol treatment. He'd already been to hell and back in his short life, but things were going to be different now. He felt alive with hope and possibility. Inspired by what recovery looked like, Aaron's dad, Tom, quit drinking too. ...  Just five months later, Aaron - clean and sober - was killed in a car accident while driving to pick up a fellow recovering friend for a job interview." The complete article can be found on, a Web site associated with Isthmus, at "Young and Sober." Pres House Student Center Foundation, more commonly known simply as Pres House, is a 100-year-old ministry on the UW campus and is in covenant with the Synod of Lakes and Prairies of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).


UDTS  professor's book looks at Christian

tradition through marginalized communities

About his recently published book, "By the Rivers of Babylon: Blueprint for a Church in Exile," Robert Hoch, associate professor of homiletics and worship at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary, asks, "It is commonplace today to hear Christians say we are a 'church in exile' or a church in a 'post-Christendom' society. But what does this really mean?" Hoch's book looks at the tradition of Christian worship and mission through marginalized communities. The complete announcement from the University of Dubuque can be found at "Rivers of Babylon."


United Seminary plans 'United Days' April 30

United Seminary LogoUnited Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities used to have a spring convocation, but it's been renamed. Now it's "United Days: Reunite, Reflect, Reinvigorate" and it's planned Wednesday, April 30, at the seminary in new Brighton, Minn. This year's topic is "Down to Earth: From Learning to Engagement," featuring two keynotes and a panel of local faith community representatives sharing practical ideas about their environmental work and ministry Details can be found at "United Days."


News from the Board of Pensions

Board of Pensions announces

report to General Assembly

BOP Connections LogoThe Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) made available this week a report to the General Assembly and a letter to "presbyteries, local churches and Benefits Plan members" regarding changes to the Benefits Plan. The announcement notes, "Consistent with terms of the Benefits Plan, the Board of Pensions will report to the 221st General Assembly (2014) all plan amendments since the 220th General Assembly (2012)." The General Assembly must approve any amendments that are in the nature of benefits reductions. No such amendments have been adopted by the Board since the 220th General Assembly (2012). However, the Board will, as a formality, report on the amendments to the General Assembly this summer. The Board's announcement, along with links to the report and a copy of the letter can be found at "Benefits Plan."
News around the PC(USA)

Wilkinson picks McKibben Dana

as running mate at General Assembly

McKibben DanaThe Rev. John Wilkinson, nominee for moderator of the 221st General Assemblyof the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), has invited the Rev. MaryAnn McKibben Dana, pastor of Idylwood Presbyterian Church in Falls Church, Va., to stand with him as a candidate for General Assembly vice-moderator. McKibben Dana, a member and teaching elder commissioner of National Capital Presbytery, has served Idylwood Church since 2009. Previously, she served as associate pastor at Burke (Va.) Presbyterian Church. The complete Presbyterian News Service story is at "McKibben Dana."


Rada picks Kwong Abazia

as vice-moderator running mate

Kwong AbaziaGeneral Assembly moderator candidate Heath Rada - a ruling elder from Western North Carolina Presbytery - has tapped the Rev. Larissa Kwong Abazia, a teaching elder from New York City Presbytery, as his running mate to stand for vice- moderator of the upcoming 221st General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The Assembly runs June 14-21 in Detroit. The election is slated for the evening of the first day. Kwong Abazia is currently serving as pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Forest Hills, a multicultural, multiethnic congregation in Queens, N.Y. The complete Presbyterian News Service story is at "Kwong Abazia."


Children take lead in environmental issues

The story in Presbyterians Today opens, "When the children of Hunter Presbyterian Church in Lexington, Kentucky, told me that we should become an Earth Care Congregation, I asked them: 'Who should do that? The session? The outreach committee?' Their response took me by surprise: 'We can do it, Ms. Daisy.' In truth, though, I should have seen it coming. For decades, congregations have been struggling to figure out what to do with their children - other than the ubiquitous Sunday school. Children can provoke surprising anxiety among adults. We want them quiet, dressed up, and never fidgety. We think they need to be cordoned off from adult worship and that we have to dumb things down for them." The complete story from Presbyterians Today magazine can be found at "Children."


Small church residency program

changes name, application process

About five years after its founding, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)'s small church residency program continues to grow - with a few changes. Established in 2009 with the name "For Such a Time as This," the program is now called "Small Church Residency Program." The goal of the program - to pair small, underserved congregations in rural, small town and urban settings with recent seminary graduates for a two-year pastoral-residency relationship, during which they are supported and guided by a cluster of pastor-mentors - remains the same. The complete Presbyterian News Service story is at "Changes."


Worship Times partners with PC(USA)

to build worshiping community websites

The Presbyterian Mission Agency of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has partnered with the website building company Worship Times to create affordable websites for new worshiping communities. Worship Times will match financial contributions from the mission agency to offset the costs of new websites for up to 50 new worshiping communities within the 1001 movement. The complete announcement from the Presbyterian Mission Agency can be found at "Worship Times."


Mission Agency adds funds development staffer

Moore Jon The Rev. Jon Moore, a donor ministry professional with two decades of experience in funds development, philanthropy and stewardship, has joined the Presbyterian Mission Agency as a mission engagement adviser. In this role, Moore will develop and execute funds development strategies to support the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)'s goal of establishing 1,001 new worshiping communities over the next 10 years. The complete announcement from the Presbyterian Mission Agency can be found at "Funds Development."


Just one more

A perplexing question: 'But

what did he do on Saturday?'

Keeping in Touch is a few days late this week, coming out on Saturday, but that offers this piece on "Saturday." Daniel Burke, writing for the Religion News Service, notes in a column that appeared in USA Today: "Every Christian knows the story: Jesus was crucified on Good Friday and rose from the dead on Easter Sunday. But what did he do on Saturday? That question has spurred centuries of debate, perplexed theologians as learned as St. Augustine and prodded some Protestants to advocate editing the Apostles' Creed, one of Christianity's oldest confessions of faith." Burke's complete column can be found at "Saturday."