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

Presbyterian News Service



June 15, 2014

News around the Synod of Lakes and Prairies

Chapman, HowardChapman will be artist-

in-residence at Synod School

Those who have seen a Synod School catalog have seen the work of watercolor artist Howard Chapman (in self portrait at left), who will be the artist-in-residence at this year's midsummer ministry of the Synod of Lakes and Prairies. However, and this is more than just incidental, Chapman is the pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Marion, Iowa, where he has been called to serve since 1994. The June 10 issue of Out & About, the newsletter of the Presbytery of East Iowa, has more information about this teaching elder of many interests. And, just so Keeping in Touch readers know, registrations are still coming in for the 2014 edition of Synod School that runs July 27-Aug. 1. Synod School details can be found at "Midsummer Ministry." helps connect

garden products to those in need

Just Good Food A project of the synods of Lakes and Prairies, Lincoln Trails and Mid-America, is a "gardens for giving project" that connects congregations, and a few other organizations, in efforts to provide food for the hungry. By the end of last year's gardening season, gardeners contributed more than 2.5 tons of fresh produce. The project regularly provides garden information through its Facebook page, and it can also be found online at


221st General Assembly opens this weekend

GA 221 LOGO The 221st General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) opens in Detroit Saturday morning and runs through Saturday, June 21. For those who aren't going to be in Detroit - and even for those who will be - there are a variety of ways to learn "everything GA." The Office of the General Assembly is on the Web. And there are applications for mobile devices. And, for everything relating to the business of the Assembly - including committee members, business and agenda - there's


South Dakota 'worshiping

community' merges cameras, Christ

The June/July issue of Plain Song, the newsletter of the Presbytery of South Dakota, notes that "Through the Lens," a new worshiping community in the Sioux Falls, S.D., area, has been awarded a $7,500 grant from the Presbyterian Mission Agency. "Through the Lens" is a community of photographers seeking to take worship outside the four walls of traditional church, the article states. The complete story can be found at "Through the Lens."

Editor's Note

Keeping in Touch will not be published at the end of June and will not appear again until the week of July 21. The Presbyterian News Service and The Presbyterian Outlook, both with links at left, should be primary sources for information about the 221st General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

Conferences, camps & other resources

Nebraska Disaster Summit Nebraska Disaster Response,

Recovery Summit set in August

The second Nebraska Disaster Response and Recovery Summit is planned Aug. 15-16 in Lincoln. The summit will cover the basic concepts and type of spiritual care, long-term recovery, collaboration with mental and emotional health personnel, self-care for providers, and community resiliency and preparedness training. This event is designed for pastors and spiritual leaders. Details can be found at "Disaster Summit."


Lakeshore Center will be host

Lakeshore Lodge to event for new pastors

The Lakeshore Center on Okoboji, located on Lake Okoboji near Milford, Iowa, will be the site for a new pastor's event - "Let's Get Real: A workshop for New Pastors" - Aug. 19-21. Mark Sundby, executive director of North Central Ministry Development Center in New Brighton, will lead the event. New pastors are defined as those who have served five years or less. Details about the event can be found in the Lakeshore Center's June 6 newsletter.


June 26 is International Day

in Support of Victims of Torture

"Every June, human rights and faith organizations join together to mark Torture Awareness Month because on June 26, 1987, the nations of the world took a major step against the immoral and abhorrent practice of torture," the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations announced. It was on that day 27 years ago the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment - oftentimes abbreviated as CAT - was enacted. The United Nations later declared June 26 the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. The Presbyterian Mission Agency has policy statements and other resources for the day.


Youth curriculum offered

by Congregational Ministries Publishing

Congregational Ministries Publishing Congregational Ministries Publishing of the Presbyterian Mission Agency has a number of curriculum resources for youth. It notes, "As young people mature in faith and life, they search for greater understanding of themselves and their world. Provide your church with resources that teach teenagers and young adults they can turn to their Bible and the Reformed tradition to find guidance throughout their lives." The resources can be found at "Curriculum."


Homestead Presbytery plans 2016

journey to Scotland, Ireland

Homestead Presbytery is organizing a trip to Scotland - and an add-on trip to Ireland - next spring. The tour to Scotland will be May 20-28, 2016, and the add-on trip to Ireland runs May 28-June 1, 2016. The presbytery is inviting others "to learn about Scotland's role in the Protestant Reformation and Reformer John Knox, and see firsthand how the Christian faith spread ... " Details about the trip can be found at "Scotland." The registration form is at "Registration."


IRMSLOGO IRMS offers curriculum

resources with multiple uses

Some of the curriculum resources from Iowa Religious Media Services have more than one use. "Every Picture Tells a Story" and "Bible Info-Cards" are good examples. "Every Picture" is a series of 48 evocative photos that are sources for reflection and contemplation for junior-high students and older. "Info-Cards" have a picture on one side and information on the other. Both of these resources have been used successfully with Alzheimer's patients.


Resource Center in Minneapolis

posts limited summer hours  Resource Center Logo

The Resource Center for Churches, a project of Episcopal, Methodist, Presbyterian and United Church of Christ churches in Minnesota, is open Tuesdays only in June and July, but continues to be available by email, phone and appointment. The Center reports that it has removed many older resources from its catalog and offers some on its "free table." The Center's current newsletter is at "Resources." 

News of colleges, universities, seminaries

Columbia Seminary president

diagnosed with pancreatic cancer

Earlier this spring, Columbia Theological Seminary President Steve Hayner was diagnosed with a pancreatic tumor. He is presently pursuing an aggressive chemotherapy treatment plan. In a communication to the seminary community, Hayner stated, "God has been very good at preparing the way on so many levels. We are confident that God is in charge along the way and that we can deal with each new thing that arises." The complete announcement can be found at "Hayner."

News around the PC(USA)

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance

PDA disaster assistance issues call for school kits

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance has issued a call for Gift of the Heart School Kits. After the latest shipment of Church World Service Gift of the Heart School Kits in response to the Syrian refugee crisis, the number of School Kits fell down to less than 200 cartons. The kits give children in impoverished schools, refugee camps or other difficult settings some of the basic tools for learning. Details about the kits can be found at "Gift of the Heart."


Parsons says church compelled

to act for marginalized

Gradye Parsons, stated clerk of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), wrote June 4 to congregations, noting, "The economic crisis that has affected our lives in recent years has only exacerbated the long-running battle among those who are entrapped in the cycle of poverty. ... Extreme income inequality and the loss of worker rights have impacted communities across the United States, especially racial ethnic families and communities.The 220th General Assembly ... set forth recommendations referred by the Advocacy Committee for Racial Ethnic Concerns, compelling us to take action in support of the continued advocacy for those whose voices are not heard." Parsons' complete letter can be found at "Compelled to Action."


Number of social justice issues
GA 221 LOGO on General Assembly agenda

Gun violence, abortion, hunger, and the U.S. economy are among the topics that will be discussed by commissioners to the 221st General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) when they gather June 14-21 in Detroit. Two of the overtures assigned to the Assembly's Committee on Social Justice Issues advocate measures to prevent gun violence. The complete Presbyterian News Service story is at "Social Justice."


General Assembly to consider 3 church-

wide evangelism, mission initiatives

Three initiatives aimed at unifying Presbyterians around ambitious goals in mission and evangelism will receive docket time at the 221st General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) when it meets June 14-21 in Detroit. The Assembly Committee on Congregational Vitality will hear a progress report on a movement to organize 1,001 new worshiping communities in the PC(USA) in the next decade.  The complete Presbyterian News Service story can be found at "Evangelism and Mission."


Detroit provides backdrop for proposals

on racism, employment, income

Meeting in Detroit - which is emblematic of the social and economic malaise affecting both the United States and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) - the Assembly Committee on Mission Coordination of the PC(USA)'s 221st General Assembly will address a number of issues related to racism, employment, compensation and how to revive the nation's urban areas and the churches in them. The Assembly meets June 14-21. The complete Presbyterian News Service story is at "Economic Malaise."


60 years ago General Assembly

met amid social, racial change

Sixty years ago, the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. - now the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) - held its 166th General Assembly in Detroit. The U.S. auto industry was booming, and the city had acquired considerable wealth and size. At the same time, however, Detroit was experiencing an "inner-city problem." The complete story by Nancy Taylor of the Presbyterian Historical Society can be found at "Detroit 1954."


Fellowship, Presbyterians

for Renewal plan merger

The Fellowship of Presbyterians is parting ways structurally with ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians and is joining with Presbyterians for Renewal to work with "gospel-centered" congregations and individuals in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). In a joint statement released May 30, the Fellowship and Presbyterians for Renewal (PFR) announced that they are launching a "new movement" called the Fellowship Community, hoping to "nurture and connect gospel-centered PC(USA) congregations and expand relationships with our counterparts in other mainline traditions." The complete story by Leslie Scanlon of The Presbyterian Outlook can be found at "Merger."


Deadline approaches to apply

to be host to International Peacemaker

Applications are due June 30 to be host to an International Peacemaker, according to an announcement from the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program. Each year peacemaking leaders from the program's partner churches around the world come to the United States to share their experiences as peacemakers in their own lands. This year International Peacemakers will be available between Sept. 19 and Oct. 12. Details of the program can be found at "International Peacemaker."


Southern Baptists meet

as membership, baptism decline continues

For Southern Baptists, it's happened again: Another annual report shows the denomination is losing members and baptizing fewer people. The Rev. Fred Luter, outgoing president of the Southern Baptist Convention, thinks old-time methods to spread the gospel have met a culture that's younger, more diverse and doesn't necessarily see the pew - or even sin - as a priority. "Our society is just not what it used to be," said Luter, who admitted he's discouraged by the reports. The complete story by Adelle M. Banks of the Religion News Service can be found at "Southern Baptists."


Survey: One-quarter of world

harbors anti-Semitic sentiment

The first-ever global study of anti-Semitic attitudes shows that more than a quarter of the world's population harbors intense anti-Jewish sentiment, with region, more than religion, shaping people's view of Jews and Judaism. The poll, released May 13 by the New York-based Anti-Defamation League, also finds that a large proportion of the world has never heard of the Holocaust or denies historical accounts of it. Of those polled, 46 percent have either not heard of the Holocaust that killed 6 million Jews or think it is a myth or exaggerated. The complete story by Lauren Markoe of Religion News Service can be found at "Attitudes."
Just one more

Facebook status updates can go horribly wrong

All the important people - those under the age of 25 or at least under 30 - are no longer spending much time with Facebook. They're using Mental Floss Magazine snapchat, confide, whisper,, and likely many others. But your editor spends hours with Facebook (at least that's what he's been told). Your editor believes nothing can go wrong on Facebook (well, he really doesn't believe that). And here are a few lessons from Adrienne Crezo, writing for mental_floss, who found "11 Facebook status updates gone horribly wrong."