In This Issue
News around the Synod of Lakes and Prairies
Conferences, camps & other resources
News of the Board of Pensions
News of colleges, universities & seminaries
News around the PC(USA) and more
Just a few more
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June 17, 2015

News around the Synod of Lakes and Prairies

Barrett announces end-of-year

retirement date; Rada, Street-Stewart speak

The Rev. Phil Barrett, who has been the general presbyter of the Presbytery of Des Moines for 22 years, will retire at the end of December. Barrett made the announcement in his report to the presbytery Saturday, June 6, when the presbyteries of Des Moines and North Central Iowa conducted separate meetings in the same location    -- Heath Rada in Ames Collegiate Presbyterian Church in Ames, Iowa.

The presbyteries came together for joint worship and lunch, and listened to Ruling Elder Heath Rada, right, moderator of the 221st General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and Ruling Elder Elona Street-Stewart, executive of the Synod of Lakes and Prairies.

In his message to the presbyteries, Rada spoke of his travel throughout the church. He said, "People are hungry and excited about what we may become." Before opening a question and answer period about the issues within the church, Rada said, "We are here together united as a community of faith" -- a unity, he said, that would not be possible without the denomination.

Preaching in afternoon worship, Street-Stewart spoke on the well-known Pentecost text found in Acts 2:1-4, calling for inclusiveness and emphasizing "all." As the church moves through change, she reminded presbyters of Jesus' presence: "The good news," she said, "is that Christ already promised that you won't be doing it alone."


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."


On-site registration accepted

PW Gathering 2015 for national PW gathering

Online registration has closed for the Churchwide Gathering of Presbyterian Women, but those who haven't registered can still do so on-site at the event at Hyatt Regency in Minneapolis. The theme of the Gathering is "One Body, One Spirit," based on 1 Corinthians 12:12-27. As always, educational opportunities, plenary sessions, worship, mission opportunities and all Gathering programming will explore the theme in the context of a diverse, faithful sisterhood. Details about the event can be found through "Presbyterian Women."


Native American Presbyterian

Women to gather in Minneapolis

"One body, one spirit, one sisterhood" is the theme of the Native American Presbyterian Women's conference, which expands on the theme of the Churchwide Gathering of Presbyterian Women theme, "One body, one spirit." Native women will gather June 17-18 prior to the PW event that begins June 18, in Minneapolis. Opportunities for worship, spirituality, networking and meeting together are offered at both events. The complete announcement can be found at "NAPW."


Registration remains open for Synod School

Synod School Catalog The word is that Synod School, the midsummer ministry of the Synod of Lakes and Prairies, is the last, weeklong Synod School that exists within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Registration remains open for the six-day, 70-class event July 26-31 at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa. Right now registration numbers tally above 500. And those classes? Here's a three-class sample: "Clutter 101 or Why I Don't Have a Dining Room Table," "Improvisation" and "One in Four: Responding with Compassion to individuals with a Mental Illness and Their Families." 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. Everything, including registration forms and other details, can be found at "Synod School."


Hillcrest Family Services begins

presidential candidate visit challenge

Hillcrest Services Logo In the coming months numerous presidential candidates will visit Iowa to raise issues and their personal awareness, but Hillcrest Family Services in Dubuque plans to use those visits to raise awareness of mental health matters. With Iowa's presidential caucuses slated in February, the time is approaching when presidential candidates will be visiting the state almost daily, and those visits, along with the pressure on the state's mental health service providers, brought an idea to Gary Gansemer. "We see this as an opportunity to use the presidential campaigning in Iowa to raise awareness and funding for mental health services," Gansemer said. "When candidates are in Iowa it's vitally important that they speak to their position on mental health." The complete story is at "Candidate Campaign."



In the last issue of Keeping in Touch, the newsletter included a story about Alice Simon. In that story, KIT incorrectly spelled the name of Chris Halverson, office manager of the Presbytery of Milwaukee. The same story also contained an incorrect spelling of Stolperstein. We regret the error.
Conferences, camps & other resources

Camps across synod run busy summer schedules

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. All of the camps are entering the busy season, but they're not too busy to accept registrations. Here are the camps and links to the camp websites. 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. And on Lake Okoboji in Iowa, near Milford, there is the Lakeshore Center at Okoboji. And those two camps in South Dakota? Both are located in the beautiful Black Hills region and both are online at the same site.


UKirk launches a new 'Book of Worship'

UKirk, PCUSA, Collegiate Ministry Writing in the current issue of UKirk and Young Adults Ministry News, Jason Santos notes, "It's been said that 'good things come to those who wait.' Well, I can't think of a better example of this maxim than the launch of UWorship, the new UKirk 'Book of Worship.' ... It's a liturgical supplement that bridges the best of lectionary-based worship and more contemporary expressions found in most collegiate ministry settings." Santos, associate for collegiate ministries for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), adds, "I'm so excited to see how this resource will enrich the worship in your ministries." The complete newsletter can be found at "UKirk Worship."


ARMSS seeks nominations for annual Merit Award

ARMSS Logo The Association of Retired Ministers, Their Spouses or Survivors is currently accepting nominations for its annual Merit Award, which will be presented at the association's joint conference with the Presbyterian Older Adult Ministry Network this fall in Albuquerque, N.M. Those who feel strongly about the presbytery or community service of a retired minister, spouse or surviving spouse of a pastor are invited to nominate that person for this award. Nominating details can be found at "Merit Award." More about this fall's conference can be found at "ARMSS/POAMN."


'The Pastor's Life' newsletter notes

Buechner's work on poverty, wealth

We hear a lot these days about income inequality in America. Not only is the gap between rich and poor widening, the gap between rich and middle class is widening as well. This reality may tempt us to demonize the wealthy and romanticize the poor, or demonize the poor while romanticizing wealth. Even so, novelist and theologian Frederick Buechner provides some insight that pastors might ponder as they do the hard work of understanding poverty and wealth biblically. The complete column in "The Pastor's Life," a publication of the Presbyterian Foundation, can be found at "Poverty and Wealth."


'Pursued by Grace' is theme for New

Worshiping Communities gathering

1001 "I don't mean to be overly dramatic," says the Rev. Keith Gunter, planning chairperson for the upcoming 1001 New Worshiping Communities National Conference Aug. 10-13 in St. Pete Beach, Fla. "But this year, gathering together for the 1001 conference has the potential to be one of the most impactful things that could happen." Gunter pastors New Creation Church in Hendersonville, Tenn. He will open the conference with a message on the conference theme "Pursued by Grace" which came to the planning team nearly a year ago. The complete announcement can be found at "Pursued by Grace."


Change of Heart Short reviews offered for new

WJK books for women

Twenty-five years ago, Jeanne Bishop's sister and brother-in-law, and their unborn child, were murdered in Winnetka, Ill. A Christian, Bishop forgave the killer, a teenage neighbor. She thought she could move on with her life while he languished in prison, serving a life without parole sentence. Instead, she found herself compelled by her faith to go farther: to seek reconciliation with the killer. "Change of Heart: Justice, Mercy, and Making Peace with My Sister's Killer" recounts a transformation from forgiving and forgetting to mercy and reconciliation. This review, and reviews for other Westminster John Knox Press books for Presbyterian Women, be found at "Books for Presbyterian Women."


'Nun on the Bus' author to speak at Big Tent

Nun on the Bus Taking a bus trip with Sister Simone Campbell is anything but boring. Her conversations will range from peace-building and immigration reform, to economic justice, healthcare and the election. She's taken her message across the country and is often seen in the nation's capital as a leading voice for public policy issues. Sister Simone, author of "A Nun on the Bus: How All of Us Can Create Hope, Change and Community," will speak at this summer's Big Tent in Knoxville, Tenn. Big Tent runs  July 30 - Aug. 1. The complete Presbyterian News Service story is at "Nun on the Bus."

News of the Board of Pensions

Latest BOP newsletter notes 'Call to Health'

BOP Connections Logo The latest edition of Board Connections, a newsletter of the Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), is now online. The newsletter highlights BOP news, updates and other information. The current edition includes a story about "Call to Health," a program that enables members to save dollars on deductibles and improve their health. The newsletter notes, "Staying healthy is the responsibility of the whole community, so let's work on it together." The complete newsletter is at "Board Connections."

News of colleges, universities & seminaries

20 students of Pres House 'family'

Pres House Logo graduated this spring

Twenty students of Pres House's family graduated this spring -- an unprecedented number -- and two of them looked back on their experience in the current issue of Pres House Voice, the newsletter of the Presbyterian ministry and residence community at the center of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Pres House is the more common name for the Presbyterian Student Center Foundation. The newsletter can be found at "Pres House."

News around the PC(USA) and more

PMA's Linda Valentine announces resignation

Linda Valentine When Linda Valentine got a phone call nearly 10 years ago asking if she would be interested in applying to become executive director of what is now the Presbyterian Mission Agency, she listened hard for God's call. At first, Valentine thought to herself, "There's no way," but when she later woke up every morning hearing a voice say to her, "Of course you're going to do this; it's where your life has been leading," her path became clear. Today the longest-serving executive director of the PMA and its various predecessor organizations, whose election was first confirmed by the 217th General Assembly and again by the 221st General Assembly for an unprecedented third term, announced her resignation from that position effective July 10. The complete announcement can be found at "Resignation."


Mid-way to General Assembly:

Presbyterians address key issues

GA 222 The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) makes headlines when the big votes roll around on issues such as gay marriage, divestment, and the ordination of gays and lesbians. In between General Assemblies, though, Presbyterians live into the implications of those votes, figuring out how complicated issues translate in real life and reverberate in their own backyards. Leslie Scanlon, national reporter for The Presbyterian Outlook, takes a look at the key issues at the mid-way point between General Assemblies. Her story is at "Big Votes."


Looking for answers to 'eradicate racism'

Rashell Hunter Writing in the current issue of Racial Ethnic and Women's Ministries News, Rhashell Hunter writes, " ... Many of us ask what we can do to eradicate racism in our communities and in our church. A General Assembly committee met recently to ask this very question and to begin planning a conference on race, ethnicity, racism and ethnocentricity ... " The results of that conference, planned later this year, will be reported to the 222nd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in 2016. Hunter's complete note and the newsletter can be found at "Racism Issues."


Lisherness: Thankfully we are

on 'cusp of new policy' between U.S., Cuba

Sara Lisherness Sara Lisherness, writing in Presbyterian Justice & Peace, a newsletter of the office of Compassion, Peace and Justice of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, notes, "The Presbyterian Church has long advocated for normalization of relations between the [United States] and Cuba. Thankfully, we appear to be on the cusp of a new policy between our governments. Change, however, has implications for the Reformed Church in Cuba ... " Lisherness' full column and the complete newsletter can be found at "Justice and Peace."


Georgia church invests to help homeless families

An active and growing church. A recently vacated adjacent home. An expected need for additional parking. A match made in heaven? For Kirkwood Presbyterian Church in Kennesaw, Ga., the chance to purchase the lot and home next door in 2013 was a golden opportunity. Although it had no immediate plans to expand its facilities, the congregation voted unanimously in February 2014 to purchase the land based on future needs. Kirkwood's pastor, the Rev. Catherine Renken, explains that the church is built on a slope and isn't particularly handicap accessible. Some long-range goals included converting the level lot next door into more-accessible parking or using the home for additional meeting space or  Sunday school rooms. Yet none of these needs were immediate concerns for the congregation. So, following the purchase, the home sat unused until January 2015, when Renken said to herself, "This is ridiculous; we have to do something." The complete Presbyterian News Service story can be found at "Homeless."


PMAB chair writes about the 'active life'

Marilyn Gamm PCUSA Marilyn Gamm, 2014-2016 chair of the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board, writes a monthly column called "The Great Co-Mission." In her June installment, titled "Active Life," she notes, "Who among us doesn't think 'I need to be more physically active' -- or hasn't been strongly urged toward more activity by a doctor? Never mind the teachings throughout Scripture about wisely stewarding our physical bodies as well as our souls. Since I've fallen off and gotten back on the 'more physically active' wagon too many times to count, I'll admit I was curious to learn more, and I hope you will be too." Gamm's complete column can be found at "Active Life."


Maria Cordova Andrews retires from Menaul School

Maria Cordova Andrews For the past 40 years, Maria Cordova Andrews has served the students and staff at Menaul School in Albuquerque, N.M. This year she celebrated her last graduation at Menaul, retiring after 40 years of service. Cordova Andrews began her journey with Menaul during the 1974-1975 school year, when she served part time in the English as a second language program. In that role, she organized the ESL program, taught Spanish and French classes, and served as a coach for the volleyball, tennis and softball teams. The complete Presbyterian News Service story is at "Retirement."

Just one more

Good photos, great lessons

as daughter poses as women in history

Upworthy Logo Laura Willard curates the humanity and culture blog for Upworthy. A recent blog headline notes, "A dad took 11 photos of his daughter as history making women, and they are incredible." And your editor agrees. It's the work of photographer Marc Bushelle. There are a few history lessons, too. It's all at "Women in History."