In This Issue
News around the Synod of Lakes and Prairies
Conferences, camps & other resources
News around the PC(USA) and more
Just a few more
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June 4, 2015

News around the Synod of Lakes and Prairies

Synod School: 6 days, 70 classes,

Synod School Catalog hundreds of people

The only six-day Synod School in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is coming at the end of July, and discussions of the midsummer ministry typically include these numbers: six days, 70 classes, more than 500 people. And those classes? Well, there's "Yoga: Vacation Style." And there's "30 A.D.: The Small Picture." There's also "Humor: Tool or Weapon." And 67 more. Synod School runs  July 26-31 at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa, and draws about 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."


Synod Logo

3 synod searches are underway

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."


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."


Story of Alice Simon stretches

from Holocaust to civil rights

Alice Simon Stopelstein "When the story of Alice Simon was told in the newspaper in 1994, her family in Wisconsin believed they finally had learned her fate." That's the way Jim Stingl opened the story about Simon family history in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on May 16. "Records at Auschwitz death camp suggested she was murdered by the Nazis. Another shock was yet to come." Alice Simon was the mother of longtime Presbyterian minister Carl Simon and the grandmother of Carl's children, including Chris Halvorson, office manager of the Presbytery of Milwaukee. From the Holocaust to the civil rights movement in the United States to today, Stingl's complete story can be found at "Alice Simon." (Photo of the Stopelstein, or stumbling block, provided by John Klein to the Journal Sentinel. The block is located in Berlin at the site of the home where Alice Simon lived with her husband and children.)
Conferences, camps & other resources

IRMS offers films that highlight immigration issues

IRMSLOGO In March of this year, critically acclaimed Guatemalan film director and producer Luis Argueta traveled across Iowa during his Midwest Outreach Tour to promote his latest film, "Abrazos." The film features the stories of 14 U.S. citizen children from Minnesota, sons and daughters of unauthorized immigrants, who travel to Guatemala to visit grandparents, siblings and other family members for the first time. Argueta has partnered with Iowa Religious Media Services to offer IRMS clients "Abrazos" and his 2011 film, "abUSed: The Postville Raid," that details the stories of individuals, families and the Iowa community that survived the largest immigration raid in U.S. history.


Board of Pensions slates financial

seminars in synod

The Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) will be conducting a series of seminars in the Synod of Lakes and Prairies later this summer and early fall. On Aug. 25-26 Board University will present the seminar, "Growing into Tomorrow ... Today," at Lakeshore Center at Okoboji. The seminar is designed for members and guests within 15 years of retirement. On Aug 27 at the same location, Board University will offer "Render unto Caesar," a seminar that addresses terms of call and clergy taxes, and is designed for treasurers, administrators and active clergy. "Growing into Tomorrow" is also scheduled Sept. 23-24 at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary. "Getting in Shape Fiscally," a seminar on managing personal finances, will follow the next day, Sept. 25, at the seminary. Details and registration information for both locations can be found at "Board University."

Educational debt is subject of June webinar

Laura Bryan "Managing Educational Debt," a free webinar hosted by the Company of New Pastors, will be offered on June 18 at 1 p.m. CDT. The presenter will be Laura Bryan, at right, associate for Financial Aid for the Presbyterian Mission Agency. "Not all of the news about student loans is bad news," says Bryan, who has been managing PMA's student loan program since 2000. "The good news is that there are more repayment options than ever before." The complete announcement is at "Educational Debt."


Searching for information

about Presbyterian genealogy?

Presbyterian Historical Society Perhaps your family's ancestors were Presbyterian. Perhaps you've been trying to find out more detail from the 18th century. The Presbyterian Historical Society, through its genealogy research service, can provide access to thousands of church records, dating from the 1700s to the present. Details are at "Genealogy and Family History Research."


1001 plans first national conference

1001 "Pursued by Grace" is the theme of the first national 1001 New Worshiping Communities conference. The conference is planned Aug. 10-13 at St. Pete Beach, Fla. Following the conference's theme of pursuit, the event will support the pursuit of new relationships and rest, reminding attendees they are being pursued and giving attendees ideas for pursuing more. Details are at "Pursued by Grace."


ARMSS/POAMN joint conference

POAMN logo 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 around the PC(USA) and more

Canada's Truth, Reconciliation Commission

addresses wrongs of residential schools

Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission issued its final report June 2 and a story by Joanna Smith in the Toronto Star notes, "The Truth and Reconciliation Commission urges all Canadians to rise to the enormous challenge of righting the wrongs committed by residential schools, even if it takes generations to reverse the ongoing effects of cultural genocide. 'We have described for you a mountain. We have shown you a path to the top. We call upon you to do the climbing,' Justice Murray Sinclair ... told a packed ballroom in a downtown Ottawa hotel Tuesday." The complete story is at "Righting Wrongs." Some of the statistics from the final report can be found through the CBC at "By the Numbers." A podcast from the CBC on "The Current" that says the "report lays the groundwork for a relationship but reconciliation depends on all Canadians believing injustices against First Nations have had lasting, profound negative impact." The podcast, which includes discussions with two residential school survivors, can be found at "Voices."


PDA responds to flooding in southern states

PDA disaster assistance Numerous states have been affected by flooding this year due to the melting from heavy snow fall and a higher than average amount of rainfall. More than 150 locations in the central and southern Plains are currently reporting river flooding. The majority of the floods are in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, eastern Kansas and western Missouri. Severe weather over the Memorial Day weekend left more than 20 people dead, and at least 30 people missing, and thousands of homes washed away. Presbyterian Disaster Assistance is responding. Details can be found at "Flooding."


GA 222 Policy on dependent care seeks

to broaden GA participation

A Dependent Care Reimbursement Policy approved by the Committee on the Office of the General Assembly will make it easier for young parents and other caregivers to serve as commissioners or advisory delegates to the 222nd General Assembly coming up in 2016. Under the new policy, commissioners and advisory delegates may be reimbursed for the costs of a variety of caregiving arrangements, as long as the expenses don't exceed $800 per dependent or $400 per additional dependent. The complete announcement from the Office of the General Assembly can be found at "Dependent Care."


PC(USA)'s vice moderator addresses letter to son

Kwong Abazia Larissa Kwong Abazia, vice moderator of the 221st General Assembly, is living through cancer and writing about it at "Each New Day." She opened her latest post with, "Dear Jonathan." She notes: "I'm writing you this letter trusting that I will be around to see your first day of kindergarten, watch you graduate from high school, and be a part of every single step in-between (and after!). Writing to you during a time that you may or may not remember is important to me. I want you to know how you are an important part of my healing." Kwong Abazia's complete post can be found at "Letter to Jonathan."


2 more points from Heath Rada

Heath Rada Heath Rada, moderator of the 221st General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), recently noted nine points for Presbyterians to consider. Now he writes, "Several weeks ago I spoke to the Presbyterian Mission Agency about nine areas where I was observing interest, concerns, joys, or activity in our denomination. It was an 'in-house' speech that was ultimately shared more broadly when placed on the Presbyterian News Service. The response has been heartening and I am grateful that a number of these matters hit home to some of you in the church. One church ... asked if I had three more so they could fill the year. Actually, I did have two more ... " Rada's complete column can be found at "Two More Points."


PMA Board issues statement regarding 1001 investigation; Dermody sues; Lotspeich responds

Mission agency The Presbyterian Mission Agency Board of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has issued a statement regarding the resolution of employment issues following the results of an independent investigation into the incorporation and funding of a California 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation by PC(USA) evangelism and church growth staff. In part, the statement reads: "At its April meeting, the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board empowered attorney John Sheller to work with the executive committee and executive director to take appropriate steps to resolve employment issues with four staff ... The four employees are no longer with the [PMA]." The complete announcement is at "Mission Agency."


In other activities related to the people involved in the ongoing story, Roger Dermody, who had been deputy executive director for mission for PMA, has filed a lawsuit alleging that PC(USA) officials defamed him by accusing him of "unethical" behavior for his role in the 1001 New Worshiping Communities ethics inquiry, according to a story released  Monday by The Presbyterian Outlook. That story is at "Lawsuit."


On Tuesday, responding to a request for comment from The Presbyterian Outlook, Philip Lotspeich, one of the four employees no longer employed by PMA, noted, "I learned yesterday afternoon through a press release of the [PMA] that I am no longer an employee of the Agency. While I appreciate their praise of my work, I have yet to be provided any reason for this separation." Lotspeich's complete response can be found at "Separation."


PC(USA) membership lies

in medium-sized congregations

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) members, by and large, belong to churches with medium-sized congregations of between 150 to 599 members, according to 2014 statistics released by the Office of the General Assembly. Based on the numbers, 708,062 congregants -- 42.5 percent of total membership -- belong to churches directly in the middle between small- and large-sized congregations. That breaks down to 349,241 in churches with membership between 150 to 299, and 358,821 in churches with membership between 300 to 599. "The PC(USA) is a church made up of vibrant congregations doing their best to live out the gospel of Jesus Christ in their communities and in the world," said the Rev. Gradye Parsons, stated clerk of the General Assembly. The complete announcement from OGA can be found at "Membership."


17 worshiping community

grant recipients announced

Seventeen worshiping communities will receive mission program grants from the Presbyterian Mission Agency. The funding of nearly $300,000 will support a diverse range of new ministries in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)'s 1001 worshiping communities movement. Six grant recipients will receive $7,500 seed grants as start-up funding for their new worshiping community. Nine will receive $25,000 investment grants, which are given to communities that previously received a seed grant. The complete story can be found at "1001 Communities."


Mission Matters logo Mission Matters newsletter

addresses shortfall in funding

In this month's Mission Matters, Hunter Farrell, director of world mission for the Presbyterian Mission Agency, writes about the largest shortfall in funding to face PMA's world mission in four decades, a challenge that will require fervent prayer, sacrificial giving and all of us working together to ensure the legacy continues. The complete newsletter is at "World Mission."


Office of Public Witness seeks future

leaders for faith-based advocacy

News about faith involvement in America is often grim. Religious and mainstream media have recently reported on the decline of Christianity in America. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is looking to its younger members to build the next generation of leaders in hopes of slowing the decline and reversing those trends. Over the years, PC(USA) leaders have committed resources and personnel for its Young Adult Volunteers program and other ministries impacting youth. For several years now, the Office of Public Witness has been working to engage young Christian women and men with opportunities in public and social witness advocacy on one of the largest public stages in the world: Washington, D.C. The complete Presbyterian News Service story can be found at "Young Leaders."


New issue of Presbyterians Today

highlights power of small churches

Presbyterians Today Many churches think success means getting bigger, but the June issue of Presbyterians Today magazine shows that isn't necessarily so. Small congregations have quite a few striking advantages when they tap into unique strengths. Some of the stories from the June issue can be found through "Small Congregations."


Call to Abraham, Sarah to be

Presbyterian Disciple blessing continues today

Ray Jones, evangelism coordinator in the Presbyterian Mission Agency, writes in the recent edition of The Presbyterian Disciple newsletter: "Our ministries in Evangelism continue to find their common thread in disciple making. We continue to drill down into the question, 'What does it mean to be a follower of Jesus?' We believe the sweep of scripture reveals that God is on a loving, redemptive mission to heal what is broken in our lives, and world. The same call that Abraham and Sarah received to be a blessing to all nations is ours through Christ." The complete newsletter is at "Presbyterian Disciple."
Just one more

We say 'turn off' and 'hang up.' Why?

Mental Floss Magazine From the site mental_floss, there's this. "Etymology is fun! It's especially fun to learn about the quaint old-fashioned practices that gave rise to some of the words we use. Stereotype comes from printing, hard-up comes from sailing, pipe dream comes from opium dens. Cultural practices change, technology changes, but words stick around -- and not just in some long ago, faraway place." The complete mental_floss piece is at "What We Say."