In This Issue
News around the Synod of Lakes and Prairies
Conferences, camps & other resources
News from colleges, universities, seminaries
News around the PC(USA) and more
Just a few more
Quick Links
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April 20, 2015

News around the Synod of Lakes and Prairies

Synod meeting takes place April 26-28

Synod Logo The Synod of Lakes and Prairies will meet Sunday through Tuesday, April 26-28, at Mt. Olivet Conference and Retreat Center near Farmington, Minn. Ruling Elder Elona Street-Stewart will be installed as synod executive, officially becoming the first American Indian to serve in that capacity within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Teaching Elder Paige Loveall of the Presbytery of Milwaukee will be installed as moderator, and Ruling Elder Fern Cloud of the Presbytery of Dakota will be installed as vice moderator. All installations will take place when the meeting opens Sunday evening. Bill Davnie, stated clerk of the Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area, will lead Monday evening's education segment, speaking on "Middle East: Biblical Claims, Moral Struggles."


Number of Synod School classes: 70 ... Really? Yes

Synod School Catalog Readers who take a look inside this year's Synod School catalog will find there are 70 classes. Stodgy? None. There's "Italian Cooking 101." And there's the ever-popular "God at the Box Office." There's also "Religion in 'Game of Thrones.'" Really. There is. This is all available online at "Synod School." It runs July 26-31 at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa, and draws more than 600 participants each year. Theresa Cho, co-pastor of St. John's Presbyterian Church in San Francisco and renowned author and speaker, is this year's adult convocation speaker. Youth convocation speakers will be Bob Mueller, pastor of Divine Redeemer Presbyterian Church in San Antonio, and Beth Watson, director of worship arts and fellowship at Shepherd of the Hills Presbyterian Church in Austin.


George Bishop, former synod moderator

George Bishop from East Iowa, dies April 1

The Rev. George W. Bishop, who served as the moderator of the Synod of Lakes and Prairies in 1980, died at Willow Gardens Care Center in Marion, Iowa, April 1. He was 88. He was a member of the Presbytery of East Iowa and served churches in Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa, in addition to other church offices. During his retirement years, he filled the pulpits of many area churches, including several interim positions. A complete obituary is at "George Bishop."


Ron Kes Ronald Kes, husband of Mary Kes,

synod administrator, dies April 7

Ronald J. Kes, 66, of Burnsville, husband of Mary Kes, administrator for personnel and program for the Synod of Lakes and Prairies, died at their home April 7. A Mass of Christian Burial was held April 10 at Church of the Risen Savior in Burnsville. Condolences may be sent to Mary at 1124 Aston Place, Burnsville, MN 55337.
Conferences, camps & other resources

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, and details and registration information are at "Summer Pastors School."


Foundation to offer Christopher

workshop in Central Nebraska

Foundation logo 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."


Worship resources available to mark 100th

year since beginning of Armenian genocide

Armenian Genocide This year the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is observing the 100th year since the beginning of the Armenian genocide, the systematic massacre of 1.5 million Armenians that began April 24, 1915, and continued into the early 1920s. The 221st General Assembly called on congregations to remember this event in worship April 26. A variety of worship resources for use by PC(USA) congregations to commemorate the genocide can be found at "Armenian Genocide."


Camps across synod gear up for summer sessions

PCCCA Camps Logo 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 near Wyoming, Iowa, is located in the Presbytery of East Iowa. Calvin Crest Camp, Conference & Retreat Center is just outside Fremont, Neb. Clearwater Forest near Deerwood, Minn., is a multi-presbytery and synod camp. On Lake Okoboji in Iowa, near Milford, there is the Lakeshore Center at Okoboji.


Mid councils newsletter notes 'Big

Big Tent PCUSA new Tent,' leaders retreat, more

The Mid Councils Newsletter of April 6 includes "Musing from the Road," a Mid Council Leaders Retreat, an Associate Executives Gathering, and news of "Big Tent." The complete newsletter can be found at "Mid Councils Newsletter."


Wee Kirk 2015 Wee Kirk conference planned

next month at Calvin Crest

The 2015 Great Plains Wee Kirk Conference is planned Wednesday through Friday, May 4-6, at Calvin Crest Camp, Conference & Retreat Center near Fremont, Neb. The event brochure can be found at "Wee Kirk." Registration materials are at "Register."


IRMS offers faith-building resources

IRMSLOGO Iowa Religious Media Services in Urbandale is offering two new thought provoking and faith-building resources. "Go Fish" offers a new definition for evangelism by showing how to make it part of everyday life. "Simplify" is a study that demonstrates how to let God lead. Both are currently available for check out.

News from the Board of Pensions

From hopelessness to hope, Spencer

writes in Board Connections

BOP Connections Logo The Rev. Frank Spencer, president of the Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), writes in the April edition of Board Connections: "Transformation is about moving from a place of hopelessness to one of hope. The Board of Pensions wants to spread hope by making it possible for more employers to provide benefits to more servants of the church. This is a faithful way for us to serve the church, by helping employers be the best they can be." Spencer's complete column - and the complete April edition of Board Connections - can be found at "Board of Pensions."
News around the PC(USA) and more

Heath Rada Rada writes about a 'living church'

Heath Rada, moderator of the 221st General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), writes, " I have met with Presbyterians the world over who are committed to our denomination, and to its health. I have met with some of the thousands of people who joined our denomination in 2013, and they are overwhelmingly young adults with families who finally see a church that is willing to be the church, not just be judgmental." Rada's complete column is at "Living Church."


Mission Agency board receives

1001 report on 1001 initiative

The final report of an independent investigation into the incorporation and funding of a California nonprofit corporation by Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) evangelism and church growth staff was delivered to the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board at its meeting this week, according to a news report from Presbyterian News Service. After receiving the independent external investigation report and meeting in closed session, the board took the following actions: (1) that the Board empower attorney John Sheller and team to work with the board's executive committee and executive director to undertake appropriate steps to resolve employment issues with four named staff, (2) that the board communicate to the PC(USA) its intention to be as transparent as possible as soon as sensitive personnel and legal matters are resolved, and (3) that the board take appropriate action to ensure that the incorporation criteria are posted on CenterNet with other key PMA policies and that the incorporation criteria are linked on the PMA website to make them readily available. The complete story from the Presbyterian News Service can be found at "New Church Initiative."


PMAB committees take action in variety of areas

Committees of the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board met this week to discuss informational items, formulate actions for the entire board to consider and receive reports from ministry areas. The truncated and rescheduled two-hour committee meetings were added to Thursday's schedule due to extended closed session meetings of the board as it considered matters pertaining to the 1001 New Worshiping Communities initiative. This complete Presbyterian News Service story can be found at "Committees."


Rule change opens way

for co-moderators of General Assembly

PCUSA Logo Some congregations have co-pastors. Presbyteries can elect co-moderators. So why shouldn't there be Co-Moderators of the General Assembly? Now, for the first time, there can be, thanks to a little-noticed action of the 221st General Assembly last summer. Commissioners approved a change in the Standing Rules of the General Assembly that allows two people to stand for election as co-moderators and serve together as a team. Both candidates would have to be commissioners. They could be from different presbyteries or the same presbytery. They could even be spouses, said Thomas Hay, director for assembly operations in the Office of the General Assembly. The complete announcement can be found at "Moderators."


World Mission faces potential

funding shortfall in '16, '17

Mission Matters logo While work is fully funded for 2015, based on financial projections using 2014 actual receipts, the Presbyterian Mission Agency is facing a significant financial challenge for 2016 and 2017 in World Mission. By 2017, the result could be the recall of 25 percent of mission workers currently in service around the world. That's the message Hunter Farrell, director of World Mission, delivered to the executive committee of the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board April 15 when it met in Louisville. The complete Presbyterian News Service story is at "World Mission."


Presbyterian Mission Agency

Mission agency revises budgets for '15, '16

The Presbyterian Mission Agency Board of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) approved revised mission budgets for 2015 and 2016 when it met last week in Louisville. Upon the committee's recommendation, the board approved a net increase in the 2015 budget over the previously approved budget, and a revised 2016 mission budget that reflects a net decrease of the previously approved budget. The complete announcement from the Presbyterian News Agency can be found at "Revised Budgets."


Ecumenical communicator chosen

to lead Presbyterian News Service

greg brekke The Presbyterian Mission Agency of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) announced the addition of Gregg Brekke to its staff as the editor for Presbyterian News Service. Brekke previously served as the news director and editor at the United Church of Christ in its Cleveland, Ohio, headquarters and most recently as the owner of SixView Studios, a communications company in Portland, Ore. Brekke, an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, has worked in ecumenical religious communications for over a decade. The complete Presbyterian News Service announcement is at "Brekke."


1001 completes website update

New Church, New Way The 1001 New Worshiping Communities initiative of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has just completed a website update designed to make its site easier to navigate. Site visitors can watch 1001 videos, locate the appropriate staff person and find downloadable resources. In addition to more information about the redesigned site, a new issue of New Church, New Way can be found at "Movement."


PC(USA) signs on to amicus brief seeking

to change fate of millions of immigrants

OGA symbol The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), through its highest ecclesial officer, has signed on to an amicus brief calling for the lifting of an injunction that puts 4 to 5 million U.S. immigrants at risk of deportation. The Rev. Gradye Parsons, stated clerk of the General Assembly of the PC(USA), joins a number of faith-based organizations in the brief filed April 6 with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. The brief supports an appeal by defendants in a case between the United States and more than 20 states who won a preliminary injunction to halt an executive order made by President Barack Obama in November. The complete announcement from the Office of the General Assembly can be found at "Immigration."


Social witness group seeks tax, economic reform

As Presbyterians in the United States file their annual tax returns, it is useful to reflect on how the tax system works and improvements to the tax code recommended by the General Assembly. A recent report by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy, "Tax Justice: A Christian Response to a New Gilded Age," provides a framework for engaging in discussions about the large and growing concentration of income and wealth in U.S. society and about the tax structure as part of an agenda for addressing economic inequities. The complete announcement can be found at "ACSWP."


Anglican, Reformed groups take

actions on climate justice

A group of 17 Anglican bishops from all six continents have called for urgent prayer and action on the "unprecedented climate crisis." In Scotland, the United Reformed Church's synod has made the decision to divest from fossil fuels and agreed that no further investment in fossil fuels shall take place. The Anglican declaration, "The World Is Our Host: A Call to Urgent Action for Climate Justice, sets a new agenda on climate change for the 85 million-strong Anglican communion. The complete story from the World Council of Churches can be found at "Climate Justice."


Future of religions map reveals

change for Christians, Muslims, Jews

Religion Change Map Muslims will overtake Christians by the end of this century. India, now mostly Hindu, will become the world's largest Muslim country. The numbers of people with no religious identity will soar in the United States and Europe, but the unaffiliated will lose worldwide market share as Christians maintain a steady growth. All these changes are drawn from the Pew Research Center's new projections, released April 2, that map global faith traditions and how they're likely to shift by 2050. This complete Religion News Service story can be found at "Mapping Future."
Just one more

Agnus Day, biblical comic strip, offers reminder

Agnus Day Lectionary Comic Logo Agnus Day, self-described as the biblical comic strip, offers a reminder this week of Luke 24:36-48. Sometimes - well, often - your editor needs to be reminded. "Wouldn't it be great ... " Just noting that it's good to know.


Watching science - chemical reactions

viral nova igloo building This one is just for fun. Your editor wasn't particularly fond of science in high school. Sure, he passed all those regular science classes: biology, chemistry and physics, but it wasn't because he was having a great time memorizing the Periodic Table of Elements. AU is gold. Really. The following is included just for fun: "Coolest Reactions Your Science Teacher Never Showed You."