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

May 19, 2015

News around the Synod of Lakes and Prairies

Relationships trump structure: fellowship

event is major step for Wisconsin presbyteries

Nearly 250 members of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), linked through their association with a presbytery with Wisconsin geography, gathered in the Wisconsin Dells May 3-4, to discover and learn more about their connections and to talk about their mission and ministry together in the future. "This event has opened our eyes to the thirst that is present in our presbyteries for fellowship," said Craig Howard, executive director of strategic partnerships for the Presbytery of Milwaukee. "This is great. I could sense the fellowship when I came in the door to the registration table. I knew then we really hit on something." Coming together at the Kalahari Resort and Convention Center here, the group heard keynote speaker Ken McFayden, dean of the Leadership Institute and professor of ministry and leadership development at Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, Va., call on them to be resilient in a time of change in the church. The complete Presbyterian News Service story is at "Getting Together." 


3 synod searches are underway

Synod Logo The Synod of Lakes and Prairies is seeking applications for three positions: stated clerk, director of financial services, and director of leadership development. The searches are taking place to fill the void left by the upcoming retirement of two longtime synod employees: Diana Barber, associate executive for leadership development, and Jay Wilkinson, stated clerk and treasurer. The two director positions will be full time while the stated clerk position will be part time. Complete position descriptions, along with information regarding application procedures, can be found at "Service Opportunities."   


Synod & Mt. Olivet sign From installations to budgets,

Synod Summary is here

From the installation service for moderator, vice moderator and synod executive, to dollars for presbytery support, the Synod Summary is out. The Synod Summary is an unofficial summary of activities and actions of the Synod of Lakes and Prairies. The most recent edition covers the synod meeting of April 26-28. It can be found at "Synod Summary."



Synod School: 6 days, 70 classes, 600-plus people

Synod School Catalog Keeping in Touch readers who take a look inside this year's Synod School catalog will find there are 70 classes. Stodgy? None. There's "Soccer: An Introduction to the World's Most Popular Sport." And there's the "The Civil War, Slavery and the Bible." There's also "Sheldon Cooper Joined My Church." Really. There is. Synod School 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. You can find it all at "Synod School."


Street-Stewart speaks of the importance

3 synods of relationships to mission

When Elona Street-Stewart presented her report during the spring meeting of the Synod of Lakes and Prairies, the newly installed executive stressed the importance of relationships to mission, and the effort of three synods to become partners. "Boundaries, even changing ones," she wrote, "have little to do with improving mission if the process alienates portions of the church and community by technicalities, scarcity or misperceptions. But when the relationship is understood between us and our structures, partnerships become more important, and spending time on maintaining our relationships is key to forming our identity." This complete story can be found on Page 4 of the Synod Summary at "Relationship and Collaboration."


Lakes and Prairies installs Street-Stewart

as first American Indian executive

Street-Stewart Install Following her election last fall, Elona Street-Stewart was installed as the executive of the Synod of Lakes and Prairies on April 26. She becomes the first American Indian to serve in that capacity in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) The installation was culturally diverse and unique in many ways, featuring a Native American drum group, a Kenyan choir, a Pendleton blanket and a presentation of traditional gifts. A ruling elder and a longtime staff member who has served in the synod since 1994, Street-Stewart was elected as synod executive in October and had been serving as executive since Jan. 1. Before taking the position she had been the synod's associate for racial ethnic ministries and community empowerment. (In the photo, the Revs. David Maghakian, left, and Risley Prakasim, right, issued the charge to Street-Stewart, center, who became the first American Indian to be installed as a synod executive in the PC(USA).) The complete Presbyterian News Service story is at "Installation."


Twin Cities Area elects

Jeffrey Japinga as transitional executive

Jeffrey Japinga The Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area has elected the Rev. Dr. Jeffrey Japinga, who currently serves on the faculty at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, to a three-year term as its transitional executive presbyter. The election took place during the presbytery's annual meeting May 12. At McCormick, Japinga is associate dean for doctor of ministry and certificate learning programs, and assistant professor of leadership and ministry. The complete story is at "Jeffrey Japinga."


Byrd experienced Selma 50 years ago

Sidney Byrd The Rev. Sidney Byrd has been around for many, many years and he has the stories to tell. Byrd is a retired Presbyterian minister and a member of the Santee Sioux tribe. Fifty years ago, in March, he walked across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Byrd  recently visited with Steve Young of the Sioux Falls Argus Leader. Young's story of that visit, which was distributed at a meeting of Dakota Presbytery earlier this month, notes, "Sid Byrd was there. ... The crosses still burn in his 96-year-old mind." Young's complete story can be found at "Marching in Lockstep." (Photo by Joel Shannon of The Geneva Cabinet.)


PDA responds in synod to May's storms

PDA disaster assistance

Over the weekend of May 8, severe storms generated large hail, strong winds and several tornadoes that caused property damage, injuries and at least five fatalities in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and South Dakota. Some of the areas impracted by tornadoes a few days earlier on May 6 were once again affected. Where the tornadoes didn't hit, slow-moving storms brought torrential rainfall that flooded other areas. Presbyterian Disaster Assistance has reached out to mid-councils in the affected areas to offer the care of the broader church. Details can be found at "Spring Storms."


Mary Kes offers thanks

for expressions of sympathy

Mary Kes, administrator for personnel and program for the Synod of Lakes and Prairies, offered a thank you for the expressions of sympathy she received after the death of her husband, Ron Kes, who died in April. She writes, "A sincere thank you to everyone for the kind expressions of sympathy at the time of the unexpected death of my husband, Ron Kes. I sincerely appreciate the many cards and caring notes, flowers and plants from the presbyteries, and memorials sent to me and my family during this time. Thank you to those of you who attended the visitation and/or funeral as well, your presence was greatly appreciated. Mary."

Conferences, camps & other resources

Presbyterian Women seek volunteers

PW Gathering 2015 to help with national event

Marilyn Stone, moderator of Presbyterian Women in the Synod of Lakes and Prairies, is seeking volunteers to help with the national gathering of Presbyterian Women that takes place in Minneapolis next month. She writes in the current issue of The Sower, "As the hosting synod, we also are gifted with the responsibility of fulfilling the many volunteer tasks. And volunteer opportunities are plentiful." In some cases, being a volunteer will reduce registration costs. Volunteer options - and a form that can be used to apply - can be found in "The Sower."


Regarding ruling elders: managing conflict

Writing for the Office of the General Assembly's resource, "Regarding Ruling Elders," Mark Koenig notes: "Conflict. None of us really like it. The word itself may make us nervous. But conflict is part of life. We experience conflict in communities, national debates, and personal relationships. We experience conflict in our congregations. John Paul Lederach, a Mennonite layperson and a pioneer in the field of conflict transformation, suggests conflict is woven into the fabric of creation." Koenig's complete column can be found at "Conflict."


Registration deadline nears

for Summer Pastors School

The deadline for Summer Pastors School registration is approaching, but there's still a few more days. Summer Pastors School runs 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."


Clearwater delivers 2,250 gallons

Clearwater Logo of sap to processor

The current edition of the Clearwater Forest newsletter contains a note from Rich Swartwood about maple sap collection. The camp and conference center's executive director notes, "We are thankful for the volunteer hours that the 'sappers' contributed to our ministry this spring.  Between eight and 15 people spent 10 collection days during the three and a half week season this spring. ... A total of 2,250 gallons of sap were delivered to the new processor in Aitkin. The syrup that we received is much lighter in color and compares to the extra fancy syrup found in high end restaurants." His complete column and more can be found in "Clearwater Newsletter."


Presbyterians Today offers

'Resource Guide for Ministry'

Presbyterians Today Presbyterians Today magazine has released what it calls a "comprehensive reference handbook for congregations" that provides a trove of ministry information. The "Resource Guide for Ministry" covers dozens of subjects from disaster response to fundraising to social media and more. Details are available at "Ministry Resource Guide."


Hunter points out the use

of Belhar as a conversation resource

Rashell Hunter Rhashell Hunter, director of Racial Ethnic & Women's Ministries in the Presbyterian Mission Agency of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), wrote about the Belhar Confession in a recent newsletter: "In the aftermath of high profile racial justice cases that have occurred recently in our nation, we are challenged to recommit to eradicating racism, and this confession is a resource for continuing this important conversation." Hunter's complete column, "Power, Privilege and Justice" - and the related newsletter - can be found at "Belhar Resource."


'Growing in Grace & Gratitude'

curriculum to be available for fall

grace and gratitude A new Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) denominational children's curriculum is succeeding the long-standing denominational curriculum "We Believe: God's Word for God's People." The new curriculum, "Growing in Grace & Gratitude," is intended to transform the lives of children and those who love them, shaped by grace and gratitude. This new quarterly curriculum, coming fall 2015, is rooted in the foundation of Presbyterian identity. The complete announcement can be found at "Grace and Gratitude."


Theology, Worship introduces

study guide for Directory for Worship

As the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) engages in a yearlong, churchwide season of study on the proposed revisions to the Directory for Worship, the Presbyterian Mission Agency's office of Theology and Worship has provided a resource to encourage reflection and comment on this document. "The Directory for Worship: From the Sanctuary to the Street," a six-session study guide designed for use by adult Sunday school classes, sessions, presbyteries and other groups, is available as a free, downloadable resource. The complete announcement can be found at "Directory for Worship."


POAMN logo ARMSS/POAMN joint conference

set in New Mexico in October

The Rev. J. Herbert Nelson, director of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)'s Office of Public Witness in Washington, D.C., will be the keynote speaker at the joint conference this fall of the Association of Retired Ministers, their Spouses or Survivors, and the Presbyterian Older Adult Ministry Network - better known as ARMSS/POAMN.The conference runs Oct. 13-16 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Albuquerque, N.M. Details are available at "Joint Conference."

News from colleges, universities, seminaries

Van Dyk named president of Columbia Seminary

Leanne Van Dyk The board of trustees of Columbia Theological Seminary, a seminary of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), voted unanimously April 14 to appoint Leanne Van Dyk as the school's 10th president. She is currently the dean and vice president of academic affairs and professor of Reformed theology at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Mich. Van Dyk's appointment is effective July 1. Following a nationwide search, Van Dyk succeeds Steve Hayner, who began as president in July 2009, but had to step down after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer just one year ago. He died on Jan. 31. The complete announcement from the seminary can be found at "Van Dyk."

News from the Board of Pensions

Latest issue of Board Connections

BOP Connections Logo offers saving idea

The latest issue of Board Connections, a newsletter of the Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), is offering some saving advice. It notes, "Give your retirement finances some help. Start saving - or save more - in the Retirement Savings Plan." The complete current issue can be found at "Connections."

News around the PC(USA) and more

Moderator issues 9 challenges to Presbyterians

Heath Rada In a speech earlier this month to the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board, Heath Rada, moderator of the 221st General Assembly, spoke to nine points that raised nine questions for the members and leaders of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Rada, a retired ruling elder who served the American Red Cross as CEO of the Greater Richmond chapter and president of the Presbyterian School of Christian Education, was recently listed at No. 53 on Newsmax's "Top 100 Christian Leaders in America." The complete Presbyterian News Service story can be found at "Nine Challenges."


Mid-councils newsletter offers

story of coming together to wait

Sue Krummel, in the Mid-councils Newsletter, writes about waiting recently for the end of a closed meeting of the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board. The waiting produced an unexpected fellowship. She notes, "I am sure that you have seen reports [of the closed meeting of the PMAB] in the church press or on Facebook or Twitter. What is your take away from all that you heard about that meeting? I was there as a member of the PMA staff, so I know what you know about the closed part of the meeting. I was able to observe what was happening during that long wait ... " Krummel's complete column is at "Deep Discussions."


World Mission funding gap

may force co-worker recalls by 2017

Mission Matters logo In the 1970s, when the United Presbyterian Church was faced with bringing mission personnel home from international service due to funding, the Synod of the Trinity said, "Don't do that without first letting us know." Now, four decades later, 22 former moderators of the General Assemblies of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and its predecessor churches have written an open letter asking for fervent prayer and sacrificial giving to meet a funding gap of $925,000 in 2016 that could widen to $4.5 million in 2017, resulting in the recall of approximately 40 of the 162 mission co-workers. The complete Presbyterian News Service story can be found at "Recall Possible."


Longtime PDA associate retires

John Robinson In 1984, John Robinson, right, was a community minister in North Carolina working with refugee resettlement. But something happened that year that changed the course of his ministry. A historic outbreak of tornadoes took Robinson down a path he couldn't have expected. "Let's just say disaster chose me," Robinson said. "A series of tornadoes tore across the state, cutting a path of destruction three miles wide. More than 1,500 homes simply disappeared in our area." Robinson is retiring from his position with Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, where he is often the first contact when disaster strikes. Rick Turner, who has been an associate with disaster response and has been working alongside Robinson for years, will take on the newly vacated role. The complete Presbyterian News Service story is at "Retiring."


PMA affirms Purdue as location

2016 Youth Triennium for 2016 Youth Triennium

At its spring meeting in early April in Louisville, the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board approved the following statement regarding Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act as it relates to holding the 2016 Presbyterian Youth Triennium at Purdue University. In part, the statement reads, "In light of Indiana's legislative action to revise its earlier Religious Freedom Restoration Act so that it ensures adequate protection against discrimination, the Leadership Committee recommends that the PMAB reaffirm holding the 2016 Presbyterian Youth Triennium at Purdue." The complete statement can be found at "Triennium."


1001 New Worshiping Communities

are young, racially diverse

The majority of worshiping community participants in the 1001 movement are young, racially diverse, and new to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). These are some of the findings in a recently completed worshiping community leaders survey, conducted by Research Services of the Presbyterian Mission Agency. The complete announcement can be found at "Young and Diverse."


International Peacemakers 11 international peacemakers

plan visits across PC(USA)

Eleven international peacemakers from around the world will be visiting congregations and mid-councils across the United States this fall to share their stories of faith and inspiration. Details about the program and visitors can be found at "International Peacemakers."


Mission agency Committee reviewing PMA

anticipates more work to do

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) General Assembly committee tasked with reviewing the Presbyterian Mission Agency has made considerable progress on its assignment, but anticipates more work before being ready to release a final report. "Given the nature of the task and the timing of other pending PMA board decisions, the committee anticipates it will need an additional meeting to complete the assigned work," said Eliana Maxim, chair of the review committee and associate executive presbyter of the Presbytery of Seattle. The complete PMA news release can be found at "PMA Review Committee."


Associated Church Press issues

awards to Presbyterian publications

associated church press Recognizing the dedication and creativity of Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) communications staff, the Associated Church Press awarded 23 prizes to PC(USA) publications during its May 1 convention dinner in Toronto, Canada. The Associated Church Press is a professional organization brought together by a common commitment to excellence in journalism as a means to describe, reflect and support the life of faith and the Christian community. The complete Presbyterian News Service story is at "Recognition."

Just one more

Bill Nye talks about racism on Comedy Central

Upworthy Logo Eric March curates an Upworthy blog and recently posted a clip of Bill Nye - yes, we watched him years ago - talking about racism. Does racism have any basis in nature? March notes, "We're all one species. Our skin tone varies quite a bit, facial features vary, and some of us inexplicably like the band Rush, but those are about the biggest differences." The clip comes from "The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore." You can find the short clip at "The Science Guy."