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

March 3, 2015

News around the Synod of Lakes and Prairies

Synod School Catalog Synod School catalog, other 

registration materials are here

A complete Synod School catalog, including information about the midsummer ministry's 70 classes, and everything necessary for registration can be found online. Theresa Cho, co-pastor St. John's Presbyterian Church in San Francisco, and prolific writer and speaker, is this year's convocation speaker. Classes include everything from "Religion in the 'Game of Thrones'" to "God and Young Adult Fiction" to "Knitting Socks Using the Magic Loop Method." Synod School runs Sunday through Friday, July 26-31, at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa. Everything - yes, everything - is at "Synod School."


MRV search committee

recommends Newbern-Williams

Mary Newbern-Williams The search committee for a presbyter for congregational vitality in the Presbytery of Missouri River Valley is recommending the Rev. Mary Newbern-Williams, right, who has previously served as a general presbyter in Springfield, Mo., and an associate presbyter in Portsmouth, Va., and Birmingham, Ala. In its announcement, the committee noted Newbern-Williams' "leadership qualities, professional experiences, pastoral preparation, and academic and purposeful continuing education choices provide a skill set that optimizes her unique preparation." The presbytery has scheduled a special meeting March 13 to vote on the recommendation. The complete announcement can be found at "Recommendation."


Multifaith group builds community in Dubuque

A rabbi, an imam, and a priest walk into a college. It sounds like the beginning of a joke, but in Dubuque, Iowa, it is the gathering of a group called Children of Abraham. The multifaith gathering grew out of interreligious friendships among educators, theologians, and colleagues. According to Bonnie Sue Lewis, a professor of mission at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary, friendships were inspired "to have conversation - Muslim, Jewish, Fhristian conversation - open to the community where we talk about our faith." The complete Presbyterian News Service story is at "Multifaith."


National gathering of Presbyterian

PW Gathering 2015 Women set in Minneapolis

The National Gathering of Presbyterian Women of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) will take place this summer, June 18-21, in Minneapolis. The theme of the Gathering is "One Body, One Spirit," based on 1 Corinthians 12:12-27. As always, workshops, plenary sessions, worship, mission opportunities and all Gathering programming will explore the theme in the context of a diverse, faithful sisterhood. Additional information and registration material can be found at "National Gathering."


Bdecan Presbyterian seeks

Bdecan Presbyterian partners to help in ministry

Joe Obermeyer, the youth and outreach coordinator at Bdecan Presbyterian Church outside of Tokio, N.D., on the Spirit Lake Reservation, is seeking partner congregations to help support Bdecan's ministry. Bdecan is a member congregation of Dakota Presbytery. Obermeyer recently wrote a letter to this newsletter, noting: "There has been a huge amount of work done at Bdecan Presbyterian Church so far. Many people have worked to bring Bdecan to where it is today and there are amazing things that Bdecan sees in the future. ... But to sustain this ministry in the years ahead, Bdecan needs your help. Bdecan needs partner churches." Obermeyer's complete letter is at "Bdecan."


A note about current, back

issues of Keeping in Touch

newsletterflagThe current edition -- and back issues, too -- of Keeping in Touch can be found on the synod's website.
Conferences, camps & other resources

Northern Plains extends invitation

Northern Plains Pres to leadership retreat

Leading well in today's church is especially challenging for clergy. Remaining resilient while retaining focus on God's mission isn't an easy task. The Presbytery of the Northern Plains will be host to a retreat, "Leading Long, Leading Well: Remaining Resilient in Time of Adoptive Change," April 16-17 in Grand Forks, N.D., with those thoughts in mind, and the presbytery has extended the invitation to that retreat beyond its bounds. The retreat will explore the notion of resiliency as part of strong leadership, and offer the opportunity to discover what resiliency means for leadership.  The retreat will also explore mind, body and spirit practices designed to enhance leadership effectiveness.  Details are available in a brochure at "Leading Long and Well."


Text, discussion, current votes

on constitutional amendments are online

GA 221 LOGO The proposed amendments to the constitution approved by the 221st General Assembly Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) last summer in Detroit can be found online at "Amendments." In another document, the Association of Stated Clerks of the PC(USA) have compiled lists of arguments used both for and against each amendment as it was debated during the Assembly. That document is at "Discussion." Current presbytery vote tallies can be found at "Votes."


UNCO planned at Stony Point in May

UNCO Conference The spring edition of the "unconference" - or simply UNCO - is coming in May at Stony Point Conference Center in New York. It's an unconference for church leaders, pastors, families and seminarians, and includes worship and open-space discussion on the church and its future. The event runs May 18-20. Details can be found at "UNCO." It can also be followed on Twitter @UNCOtweet or through the Twitter conversation at #unco15.


NEXT Church runs later this month in Chicago

NEXT Church The National Gathering of NEXT Church is set to run Monday through Wednesday, March 16-18, at Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago. The event's website notes "our imaginations will be sparked by testimony to the ways the Spirit is leading us beyond ourselves: in campus ministry, building schools in Uganda, to the edges of business, and connecting with local schools." Details can be found at "NEXT Church."


Growth Summit planned in April in Lincoln

church growth conference, The Growth Project of the Quad Presbyteries - Central Nebraska, Homestead, Missouri River Valley and Prospect Hill - will conduct its annual Growth Summit on Monday and Tuesday, April 13-14, at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Lincoln, Neb. Featuring Anna Carter Florence, Bill Tenny-Brittian and William Willimon, the Summit is open to others beyond the Quad Presbyteries boundaries. Other sponsors of the Summit are the Omaha Presbyterian Seminary Foundation and the Synod of Lakes and Prairies. Details and access to registration materials can be found at "Growth Summit."


NAPC Triennium planned in April in Arkansas

The National Association of Presbyterian Clergywomen will gather for its Triennium April 16-19 at Ferncliff Camp and Conference Center of Little Rock, Ark. The theme for the event is "God Moves - Be Still." Stephany Graham, a pastor at Peekskill Presbyterian Church in Peekskill, N.Y., will be the keynote speaker and Adele Crawford, pastor at Valley Presbyterian Church in Brookfield, Conn., will lead worship. Crawford came to the ministry after a 15-year career as a professional singer. Details about the event can be found at "NAPC Triennium."


Camps across synod gear up for summer sessions

There are five Presbyterian camps in the Synod of Lakes and Prairies - actually six, if one counts the two camps of the Presbytery of South Dakota - Rimrock and Pioneer. And all of them are getting ready for summer. Camp Wyoming of Wyoming, Iowa, also uses a variety of social media. Calvin Crest Camp, Conference & Retreat Center is just outside Fremont, Neb., and it has a Facebook presence. Then, of course, there is Clearwater Forest near Deerwood, Minn., a multi-presbytery and synod camp. It's on Facebook at Clearwater Forest. And on Lake Okoboji in Iowa there is the Lakeshore Center at Okoboji and it's on Facebook, too. Speaking of those two camps in South Dakota, both are in the beautiful Black Hills region and both can be found in the same location online.


Registration is underway

for Summer Pastors School

It may not seem like it, but summer is just around the corner and so is Summer Pastors School, planned June 7-13, at Hastings (Neb.) College. Built this year around the theme, "Good to Great - The Miracles of Jesus that Transformed Lives," the weeklong session will feature a number of leading Presbyterian speakers, including Jerry Cannon, senior pastor at C.N. Jenkins Memorial Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, N.C.; Gene Fowler Jr., pastor at Irondequoit Presbyterian Church in Rochester, N.Y.; Amy Fowler, executive presbyter of Genesee Valley Presbytery; Donald McKim, author of "Presbyterian Faith That Lives Today;" LindaJo McKim, author of "The Presbyterian Hymnal Companion;" and Carol Howard Merritt, author of "Reframing Hope: Vital Ministry in a New Generation." Organized and administered by the Omaha Presbyterian Seminary Foundation, details and registration information are at "Summer School."


Plans underway for comm workshops this fall

Plans are being made for two - maybe three - church marketing and communications workshops that will take place in Nebraska. The tentative schedule includes Tuesday and Wednesday, Sept. 15-16. Topics - at a minimum (and only restricted by time) include hospitality, social media and the basics of "push marketing." Workshops will be led by Kris Peterson, congregational resource coordinator in Homestead Presbytery, and Duane Sweep, associate for communications for the Synod of Lakes and Prairies. Information is coming soon to Keeping in Touch.


'Big Tent' planned in late July in Knoxville

Big Tent PCUSA new Unlike previous iterations of the "Big Tent," this year's event will not take place at a large hotel. Instead, it will take place on the University of Tennessee campus in Knoxville. The event will run Thursday through Saturday, July 30 through Aug. 1, in Knoxville, Tenn. An announcement in the Presbyterian Communicator Network's newsletter notes, "This year 'Big Tent' will offer fresh opportunities for spiritual growth in a setting that fosters camaraderie in a unique way." The complete newsletter can be found at "Big Tent."


Presbyterians Today publishes

Presbyterians Today 'Resource Guide for Ministry'

Described as "an easy-to-read, in-depth guidebook that puts loads of vital ministry information at your fingertips," Presbyterians Today has published "The Resource Guide" as a special March issue. The publication "covers dozens of subjects, including disaster response, fundraising and stewardship, the ins and outs of building a website and using social media, children's/youth/collegiate/young adult ministry, church planting, grant and scholarship sources, evangelism, worship ... and much more." Details about the issue can be found at "Resources."


IRMS publishes newsletter, lists resources

IRMSLOGO Each month Iowa Religious Media Services of Urbandale publishes an electronic newsletter featuring the newest and best resources in its collection. In addition, the newsletter will include interviews with users of IRMS resources, explaining the benefits of using IRMS resources. Back issues are also available. The newsletter is at "eNews."


More information of Grace, Gratitude

curriculum released online  Congregational Ministries Publishing

More detailed information about the recently developed curriculum for children's ministry, "Growing in Grace & Gratitude," is now available at "Growing." At the same site, links are available for free downloadable samples found under each of the age levels. A printed sampler can also be ordered. Details are available in "Point Connection."

News from the Board of Pensions

Highmark-Anthem member records

potentially compromised by data breach

BOP Connections Logo The Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) informed its members this week that some member records at Highmark Blue Cross may be compromised through a data breach at Anthem Inc. Highmark Blue Cross, the board's service provider for its medical plan, participates in the national Blue Cross BlueCard network, sharing certain member information with local Blue Cross plans, including Anthem Blue Cross, to pay providers and process claims locally. The complete BOP announcement can be found at "Compromised."

News from colleges, universities, seminaries

APCU names Arnold as its new executive director

Jeffrey Arnold The board of director of the Association of Presbyterian Colleges and Universities has named Jeffrey Arnold to be its new executive director effective April 1. He will succeed Gary Luhr, who is retiring after serving as executive director since October 2002. Arnold most recently served as vice president for business strategy with RuffaloCODY, a provider of technology-enabled fundraising and enrollment management services and software based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The complete announcement can be found at "APCU."

News around the PC(USA) and more

PDA disaster assistance PDA responds to record-setting

winter storms in Northeast

New Englanders are still digging out from a series of powerful winter storms that have dumped more than 100 inches of snow within a 30-day period. Coupled with frigid temperatures, the weather has created significant challenges for Presbyterian congregations in Boston and northern New England. Presbyterian Disaster Assistance is responding to provide emergency relief and long-term recovery in the affected presbyteries. The complete announcement can be found at "PDA."


Bartel named to head theological education office

The Rev. Michelle Bartel, a theology professor and teaching elder in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), has been named the new coordinator for theological education for the Presbyterian Mission Agency. In her new role, Bartel will work closely with the Committee on Theological Education, the body entrusted with the General Assembly-mandated responsibility for developing and maintaining a comprehensive, denomination-wide plan for theological education. The complete announcement can be found at "Theological Education."


Presbyterians will participate

in 59th UN Status of Women Commission

UN Status of women Thirty-five Presbyterian women, including 11 young adults, will attend the 59th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in New York this month. The delegation is organized through a partnership involving the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations, Racial Ethnic & Women's Ministries, and Presbyterian Women in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The Presbyterian presence is possible because the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is accredited to the United Nations through the Economic and Social Council. The complete announcement can be found at "Status of Women."


PC(USA) World Mission highlights reach, Mission agency connections in newsletter

With stories of its partnerships and its international connections, Presbyterian World Mission, an arm of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, updated several stories about its work in its recent World Mission newsletter. The complete newsletter is at "Mission Matters."

Just one more

Identifying a racist? Bad people

Upworthy Logo don't have a monopoly

Adam Mordecai curates the democracy blog on Upworthy - a website often highlighted in this area of Keeping in Touch. In a recent note about racism he notes, "Racism exists among upper-class liberals in the Northeast and poor western farmers and in congressmen and in talk-show hosts and, well, everywhere. Because racism isn't the province of a single group of people. Bad people don't have a monopoly on it." Mordecai provides a link to a video by Jay Smooth. There's something to be learned here ... and shared. It's at "Right and Wrong Ways."