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 18, 2015

News around the Synod of Lakes and Prairies

PC(USA) announces approval of Amendment 14-F

GA 221 LOGO Based on unofficial voting tallies, amendment  14-F of the Directory for Worship in the "Book of Order" has been approved by a majority of the presbyteries. A video message from the Rev. Gradye Parsons, stated clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has been posted online, along with a written transcript, and can be found at "Marriage." A story by The New York Times' Laurie Goodstein can be found at "Definition." The response by the Fellowship Community can be found at "Moment of Change." The Covenant Network response to the vote can be found on its website at "Amendment Approval."


Synod School Catalog Synod School catalog, other

registration materials are here

It's that time of year when Synod School dominates as the lead story in Keeping in Touch. Registration is underway - and it can be completed electronically - everything that is except paying. The complete Synod School catalog, including information about the midsummer ministry's 70 classes, and everything necessary for registration can be found right here. 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."


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. Details and registration material can be found at "National Gathering."


Synod supports 3 ecumenical media centers

Synod Logo This is one of those just-in-case-you-didn't-know things. The Synod of Lakes and Prairies provides financial support to ecumenical media resource centers in Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota. In Nebraska the synod provides support to the Great Plains Resource Center in Lincoln; in Iowa support goes to Iowa Religious Media Services in Urbandale; and in Minnesota it's the Resource Center for Churches in Minneapolis. Following the recent IRMS annual meeting, Sharon Strohmaier, the center's executive director, spoke about what the center offers to its supporting faith communities. That podcast can be found at "Providing Resources."


Synod continues to offer grants

to collegiate ministry efforts

Collegiate Ministries The Synod of Lakes and Prairies, continuing its long-standing commitment to collegiate ministry, offers short-term funds to help established ministries become self-sustaining and seed money for new ministry initiatives of established ministries. There are also opportunities for leadership development grants and mini-grants for fall- or spring-break activities. Details, grant applications and contact information are at "Collegiate Ministries."

Conferences, camps & other resources

Opportunities offered for potential

Vera White new worshiping community leaders

A newsletter titled New Church New Way, Vera White, acting coordinator for the 1001 New Worshiping Communities initiative of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), noted, "I'm thrilled to tell you about some upcoming opportunities for potential NWC leaders to develop and become persons with 'prophetic capacity.'" Among those opportunities are internships, assessments and a pastoral immersion program. Details can be found in "New Church New Way."


PPC solicits applications

for leadership development internship

Presbyterian Publishing Corp The Robert W. Bohl Racial Ethnic Leadership Program provides a seminarian the opportunity to explore publishing as a ministry by serving a 10-week summer internship with Presbyterian Publishing Corporation. Internship opportunities, based on the interest and expertise of the intern, are available in marketing, editing, production and operations. Service dates are negotiable, but the internship will take place between May and September. The complete announcement can be found at "Internship."


Northern Plains extends invitation

Northern Plains Leadership 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. With that in mind, 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., 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."


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."


Foundation to offer Christopher

workshop in Central Nebraska

The Presbyterian Foundation will offer a day-long workshop with Clif Christopher, founder of Horizons Stewardship, Saturday, May 2, from 9 to 3 at First Presbyterian Church in Wood River, Neb. Christopher is author of "Not Your Parents' Offering Plate." The workshop will address ways to put new vigor into stewardship efforts. Registration details can be found at "Christopher Workshop."


Regarding Ruling elders: speaking ordination

Dee Wade, a teaching elder in Louisville, contributed this month's installment of "Regarding Ruling Elders," a resource distributed by the Office of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Wade writes, "In the presbytery in which I serve, several new faith groups are emerging. One is led by a teaching elder who was ordained to serve her group while it was still being formed. Another is becoming a commissioned ruling elder in order to be his community's pastor. As a former member of the presbytery's committee on ministry, this has gotten me thinking about the purpose and origin of ordination. The church doesn't exist in order to ordain people. The church ordains people that it needs in order to carry out its mission." Wade's complete column can be found at "Ruling Elders."


Presbyterians Today seeks stories

Presbyterians Today about 'bond with animals'

Presbyterians Today magazine is looking for stories about the bonds developed between humans and animals. An announcement from the magazine solicited stories that are "all about the animals we love and care for." It noted, "Tell us about a pet or service animal that changed your life." Selected stories will be published in the July/August edition. The complete announcement can be found at "Animal Bonds."


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."


'Being Reformed' now has more than 40 studies

BeingReformed40 The best-selling "Being Reformed: Faith Seeking Understanding" series now has more than 40 studies to choose from with the recent releases of "Call to Mission" and "Great Prayer of Thanksgiving." The series is biblically based and provides adults with a foundational understanding of the Reformed faith. Each six-session study, written by well-known and respected scholars, features scripture, prayer, in-depth commentary and questions for reflection. Details are at "Being Reformed."


International Peacemakers coming

to United States this fall

Congo, Cuba, Iraq and India are just some of countries from which International Peacemakers will be traveling this fall to visit the United States from Sept. 25 through Oct. 18. The story of visiting International Peacemakers is just one of the highlighted notes in the March issue of the Presbyterian Justice & Peace newsletter. The complete newsletter is at "Justice and Peace."


Mid-Council newsletter offers links to helpful videos

The most recent edition of the Mid-Council Newsletter, produced by the Office of Mid-Council Ministries of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), includes links to videos about activities within the church. Sue Krummel, associate for mid-council relations, notes these videos, and other resources linked within the newsletter, help demonstrate why PC(USA) is the right fit for "the joint witness to the saving love of God that we have each experienced in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ." The complete newsletter is at "Resources."

News from the Board of Pensions

BOP Board Bulletin announces

BOP Bulletin 'experience apportionment'

The spring issue of the Board Bulletin of the Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) announces a 4.7 percent "experience apportionment" for its pension plan effective July 1. The BOP's pension plan was 130.5 percent funded as of Dec. 31. The complete Board Bulletin can be found at "Spring Issue."


March Board Connections available online

BOP Connections Logo The newest edition of Board Connections, the newsletter of the Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), has been posted online. It highlights recent Board news, updates, and other relevant information for members.

News from colleges, universities, seminaries

UD launches new online master's

UD Christian Leadership degree in Christian leadership

The University of Dubuque is accepting applications for a new master's degree program in Christian leadership - a 30-credit, completely-online degree designed to "nurture biblically and theologically informed, culturally sensitive leaders for the church and world," according to the seminary's website. The program is fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission/North Central Association agencies and can be completed in as little as one year. Details can be found at "Master of Arts in Christian Leadership."


Pres House basement to be named for 'Doc' Lower

Pres House Logo The search for a name for the Pres House basement is done. It will be called Cecil "Doc" Lower Hall - Lower, the Pres House announcement noted, is pronounced "lauer." Lower led the Pres House congregation from 1939 to 1951. Pres House, which is officially known as the Presbyterian Student Center Foundation and located on the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is in covenant with the Synod of Lakes and Prairies. A Pres House announcement about the name selection noted, "In common usage the basement will be read as the 'Lower Hall,' which of course is also a nod to the location of the space." The complete story of the Pres House basement, which in recent years had been the home of a Subway restaurant, can be found at "Lower Hall."


Love Your Bible Hansen UDTS professor publishes

new book: 'Love Your Bible'

In a blog post earlier this month, Gary Neal Hansen, associate professor of church history at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary, announced the publication of his new book, "Love Your Bible: Finding Your Way to the Presence of God with a 12th Century Monk." The book, Hansen noted, "introduces 21st century readers to classic lectio divina - an approach to Scripture that has shaped the lives of disciples for well over a thousand years." Hansen's complete post is at "New Book."

News around the PC(USA) and more

Story highlights contribution of '4 unsung martyrs'

They were just four of the thousands of Americans who came to Selma 50 years ago, heeding the call of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. for people of conscience to join in protesting the plight of African-Americans in Alabama at the height of the civil rights movement. The four martyrs - a Baptist deacon, a minister, a Unitarian laywoman and an Episcopal seminarian - are largely unknown, but they're being remembered for sacrificing their lives for the rights of others. The names of all four are etched in the Civil Rights memorial in Montgomery, Ala., along with 36 others - starting with Mississippi minister George Lee, who died in 1955, and ending with King, who was assassinated in 1968. The complete Religion News Service story by Adelle M. Banks can be found at "Unsung Martyrs."


PC(USA) committee consulting with church in Cuba

Following up on the 2014 General Assembly's Cuba assignment - made well before the historic announcement in December easing U.S. sanctions against its island neighbor - the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy is visiting Cuba March 17-21. The Assembly asked ACSWP to work with the Cuba Partners Network to better understand what it means to be the church in an already changing Cuban context. The joint U.S. team is meeting with representatives of the Presbyterian-Reformed Church in Cuba and other noted analysts to discuss opportunities and challenges in a transition period of the relationship with Cuba. The complete announcement from the Presbyterian News Service is at "Relating to Cuba."


7.5 million Americans lost their religion since 2012

A new survey shows in stark relief that what some are calling the Great Decline of religion in America continues: Since 2012, the U.S. has about 7.5 million more Americans who are no longer active in religion. Last week, the 2014 General Social Survey was released. The GSS is the gold standard for sociological surveys. Funded by the National Science Foundation, this multimillion-dollar study gives us the most accurate data on American society, including religion. The complete Religion News Service story by Tobin Grant can be found at "Losing My Religion."


Historian, theologian tapped

to lead Presbyterian Historical Society

Beth Hessel The Rev. Beth Hessel has been named the new executive director of the Presbyterian Historical Society and director for church records and history for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). She "brings a wonderful combination of a historian and a theologian," said the Rev. Gradye Parsons, stated clerk of the General Assembly. "She has an engaging enthusiasm that helps people hear what God has done in our past and what God is calling us to in our future." The complete announcement can be found at "Presbyterian History."
Just one more

Travel tips for visiting America

Mental Floss Magazine Within this week of all things serious, perhaps there is time for something lighter. Here's a bit from "mental floss" - eight tips for Germans traveling in America. It caught your editor's eye the other day because he and his wife have been hosts to a couple German exchange students. How strange we must have appeared at times. It's at "Traveling in America."