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

Presbyterian News Service



November 17, 2014

News around the Synod of Lakes and Prairies

Synod Logo round with people First materials available

online for Synod School 2015

The off season is over and plans are in place for Synod School 2015. The annual midsummer ministry will run July 26-31 at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa. Theresa Cho, co-pastor of St. John's Presbyterian Church in San Francisco, will be next summer's convocation speaker. She describes herself as a pastor, wife, mother, baker, gardener, listener and storyteller. She's all that and blogs at Still Waters, has written for Christian Century and Sojourners, leads conferences and serves in numerous capacities for several Presbyterian groups. There's more at "Synod School."

East Iowa newsletter

posts "Stories of Thanksgiving"

East Iowa Out About Many congregations have traditional activities that commemorate holidays. In Out & About, the newsletter of the Presbytery of East Iowa, there are several stories of Thanksgiving events. First Presbyterian Church of Davenport notes, "The traditional Thanksgiving Eve Service and Pie Fellowship begins at 7 p.m. on the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving. The Cherub and Youth Choirs provide music leadership." There are more at "Thanksgiving Stories."


Through The Lens new worshiping
community offers Advent devotional

Through the Lens Advent The new worshiping community, Through The Lens of Sioux Falls, S.D., in partnership with the Presbyterian Church of Wyoming, Ohio, has created a new Advent devotion book based on photography, "Imago Adventus: A Photo Journey Through Advent." Through The Lens is a Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) 1001 New Worshiping Community. The group of both professional and hobbyist photographers combines the love of finding images through a camera lens with the spiritual aspect that can also be found through that same lens. The complete story by Cathy Newcomb, leader of Through The Lens, can be found online at The Presbyterian Outlook. The Advent devotional can be found in multiple formats at "Imago Adventus."

Conferences, camps & other resources

'Theocademy' provides free

training for new members, leaders

Theocademy There's a relatively new way to offer new member and session leadership training: Theocademy. It's an effort of four synods and several seminaries to provide free video lessons for new member classes and training for ruling elders and deacons. The best way to determine the lessons' usefulness? Make a visit to "Theocademy."


Registration available for both

Winter, Summer Pastors Schools

There's still time to sign up for Winter Pastors School - "Managing Stress, Discovering Happiness in Ministry" - planned Feb. 2-5 at Hastings (Neb.) College. And registration is now open for Summer Pastors School that will run June 7-13, also at Hastings College. Both education activities are organized by the Omaha Presbyterian Seminary Foundation.


IRMS offers resources for Advent

IRMSLOGO Iowa Religious Media Services is highlighting two new resources for Advent. "Under Wraps: The Gift We Never Expected" explores the characteristics of God described in the Old Testament and revealed through Jesus. Segment authors are Jessica La Grone, Andy Nixon, Rob Renfroe and Ed Robb. In "Not a Silent Night: Mary Looks Back to Bethlehem," Adam Hamilton imagines Jesus from Mary's point of view: proud of her son, in awe of his mission, guided by love.


Congregational Ministries notes

the 'Grace and Gratitude' curriculum

Congregational Ministries Publishing Clare Lewis, publisher of Congregational Ministries Publishing, writes, "We were wrestling with how to develop a curriculum that articulates our denominational identity while encouraging young learners to practice Christian community, proclaim the gospel, and work for justice. When we heard about the idea of "grace and gratitude" from our colleagues down the hall in the [Presbyterian Mission Agency's] Office of Theology and Worship, we knew it was our way forward. We could imagine a curriculum that helps transform the lives of children and those who love them, shaped by grace and gratitude." Lewis' complete note, and other information about the "Grace and Gratitude" curriculum, can be found at "Grace and Gratitude."


PMA's Engage letter notes upcoming

Ray Jones spiritual disciplines conference

Ray Jones, coordinator of evangelism ministries in the Presbyterian Mission Agency's Office of Evangelism and Church Growth, notes in a recent issue of Engage: "I'm so excited about our upcoming conference ... centered in spiritual disciplines - a conference where we could build our lives together on the foundational words of Jesus." The conference is planned Jan. 19-22 in St. Pete Beach, Fla. The complete Engage letter can be found at "Spiritual Discipline."

News from the Board of Pensions

BOP announces appeals court ruling

preserves clergy housing exemption

Board of Pensions logo The Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church noted that a federal appeals court has thrown out a lower court ruling that the federal income tax exemption for clergy housing allowances is unconstitutional. The appeals court directed the U.S. District Court in Wisconsin that ruled on the suit last year to dismiss the complaint. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled this week that the plaintiffs lacked standing to challenge the constitutionality of Section 107 of the Internal Revenue Code, which provides the exemption. The Freedom from Religion Foundation and two individuals filed the suit. The appeals court did not address the constitutionality of Section 107.

News of colleges, universities & seminaries

Pres House Logo Pres House produces video

to celebrate 10th anniversary

Pres House, known officially as the Presbyterian Student Center Foundation and in covenant with the Synod of Lakes and Prairies, is celebrating a 10-year milestone and recently produced a video that features the stories of 20 students, alumni, board members and pastor. The video can be found at "Pres House."


APCU newsletter highlights

several schools across synod

Last week's edition of Update, a newsletter of the Association of Presbyterian Colleges and Universities, highlighted several Presbyterian-related institutions across the Synod of Lakes and Prairies. Buena Vista University of Storm Lake, Iowa, has received a $2.7 million endowment gift for its School of Science. Carroll University of Waukesha, Wis., has had its animal behavior program listed by as one of the country's top-seven animal behavior and psychology programs. Hastings (Neb.) College has two new majors: business administration and culinary arts management, and business administration and hospitality management. And the University of Dubuque has surpassed the goal of its $100 million "Achieving the Dream" campaign 15 months ahead of schedule.

News around the PC(USA)

For those working with 'division,'

Heath Rada Rada calls for 'reconcilers'

Heath Rada, moderator of the 221st General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), called on those working in churches or presbyteries where there are divisions to be "reconcilers." He wrote, "I was asked to share my thoughts concerning ways a person might serve in the role of 'reconciler' in a presbytery or church where there were divisions. The following were my comments: ... Pray first. Pray alone before you begin the conversation. Then offer to open the conversation in prayer. ... Listen and show respect. ... Don't take sides if you are in the role of reconciler." Rada's complete column can be found at "Reconciler."


Theology, Worship releases paper

on PC(USA) marriage, ordination

Following a longstanding tradition of speaking to issues in the life of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) that touch the basic commitments that shape the church's shared denominational life, the Office of Theology and Worship has released a "white paper" entitled "Our Challenging Way: Faithfulness, Sex, Ordination and Marriage." The paper comes months after the 221st General Assembly took significant and controversial action on the church's understanding of Christian marriage. The complete announcement can be found at "Challenging Way."


Attorney hired to conduct independent investigation of '1001' controversy

1001 A prominent Nashville, Tenn., attorney has been hired by the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board's executive committee to investigate the circumstances surrounding the unauthorized establishment of an independent corporation in southern California. The corporation was designed to benefit the 1001 New Worshiping Communities movement of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). George Crawford III, a PC(USA) ruling elder, and relevant partners of the Butler Snow law firm will conduct the investigation. The complete Presbyterian News Service story can be found at "Investigation." Earlier this month The Presbyterian Outlook magazine published a story that noted an internal investigation found "four employees of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)'s national staff were involved in an unauthorized plan in which funds were channeled from the denomination to an outside entity." Last week, Linda Valentine, PMA executive director, posted her original report to the PMAB in October. She noted, "I summarized the events in a report that was then posted on our website." Valentine's response from last week can be found at "Regret and Hope."


World Mission News highlights

Mission Matters logo matching gift possibilities

The World Mission News, a newsletter of the Presbyterian Mission Agency's Office of World Mission, notes that a "group of our committed donors" has pledged to match all gifts, up to $75,000, sent for mission personnel support now through Dec. 31. "This means," the newsletter adds, "Your gift of $50 today will be matched with another $50 to provide $100 for Presbyterian World Mission. Or perhaps you can give $500, which will become $1,000 when matched." The complete newsletter is at "World Mission."


Presbyterian organizations

sponsor 'Giving Tuesday'

Giving Tuesday On Tuesday, Dec. 2, the world will come together to give. Through the Presbyterian Mission Exchange - made up of the Presbyterian Foundation, Presbyterian Mission Agency and Special Offerings of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) - Presbyterians will have the opportunity to make donations to provide a gift to their church, presbytery, or other Presbyterian ministry or mission group. Details can be found at "Giving Tuesday."


'Great Co-Mission' column addresses

Marilyn Gamm PCUSA changes to 'Directory for Worship'

Marilyn Gamm of Milwaukee, chair of the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board, writes a monthly column titled "Great Co-Mission." For November, she addressed the proposed revision to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)'s proposed revision to its "Directory for Worship." Comment has been invited on the revision and she notes, "Comments will be reviewed and considered for incorporation into a further revision, expected to go to the 222nd General Assembly for inclusion in the "Book of Order," pending subsequent approval by the presbyteries." Her complete column can be found at "Great Co-Mission."


Kwong Abazia urges Presbyterians

Kwong Abazia to 'move through pain'

The days when divided and conflicted Presbyterians could gloss over or ignore their differences are over, General Assembly Vice-Moderator Larissa Kwong Abazia told more than 120 presbytery and synod leaders gathered in Louisville earlier this month for the annual Moderator's Conference. "This day we are called to move through the pain and suffering, to have the tough conversations, to face one another as brothers and sisters in Christ, and take the hard together." The complete Presbyterian News Service story can be found at "Difficult Times."


Young Adult Ministries Team expresses

gratitude to volunteers, donors

Whats Next Whats Now "We wanted to take a moment and express our gratitude to all who have volunteered with, prayed for, or donated to one of our ministries," writes the Young Adult Ministries Team of the Presbyterian Mission Agency in its What's Next, What's Now newsletter. "Focusing on God's grace, we respond in gratitude over the course of our entire lives. Gratitude doesn't just change us. It can change our communities and the world." The complete newsletter is at "Young Adult Ministries."


Contractor's backhoe raises

up vanguard of civil rights

"Give us Free! Give us Free! Give us Free!" At this point in her sanctifying of 193 early-19th century members and congregants of the Spring Street Presbyterian Church in New York, the Rev. Jacqueline J. Lewis, pastor at Middle Collegiate Church, paused in her invoking of the Amistad mutineer's cry at his trial, looked up into the ceiling of New York's First Presbyterian Church, then concluded: "Give us Free!" The complete Presbyterian News Service story can be found at "Give Us Free." 


Human Rights Day takes place in December

UN Human Rights Presbyterians will join the international community Dec. 10 to celebrate Human Rights Day, according to the Discipleship in the Global Community newsletter. The date marks the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948. The complete newsletter can be found at "Human Rights."

Just one more

About Vincent Van Gogh ...

Upworthy Logo Claiming Dutch heritage, as your editor does, it's always nice when someone says something nice about a Dutchman. You see, there's Vincent Van Gogh. Who knew at least one of his paintings expressed science? (And who knew that he was the son of a Dutch Reformed minister?) Anyway, Alisha Huber, curator of Upworthy's Entertainment & Culture blog, notes, "If the point of this were 'Van Gogh was a mad genius,' I would not be sharing this with you. But I found this and I thought, 'Oh, what a vaguely interesting thing.' And then I got to the part about the Hubble Space Telescope, and, let me tell you: Mind. Blown." The whole story is at "Turbulence."