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

July 15, 2015

News around the Synod of Lakes and Prairies

Synod School Catalog 'Is this heaven?' 'No, it's Iowa.'

It's Synod School 2015

The Synod School folks were wondering if everyone knows of their Facebook group, the group with the question in the title: "Synod School - 'Is this Heaven? No, it's Iowa!'." You can find the group at "Synod School on Facebook." Anyway, Synod School, the midsummer ministry of the Synod of Lakes and Prairies, opens Sunday afternoon, July 26, and runs through Friday noon, July 31. In short, it's six days, 70 classes and well more than 500 people. There's something for everyone -- children through adult -- and it takes place at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa. Theresa Cho, renowned Presbyterian author and speaker, is this year's adult convocation speaker. Everything is at "Fun in the Sun."

Sower newsletter notes

successful Churchwide Gathering

Sower Logo The 2015 Churchwide Gathering of Presbyterian Women brought more than 1,700 women -- and a few men -- from across the United States and around the world to Minneapolis  to learn and refresh their faith through worship, music, educational opportunities and more, according to the July edition of The Sower, the newsletter of Presbyterian Women in the Synod of Lakes and Prairies. Marilyn Stone, the organization's moderator, notes, "I hope you were one of the well over 250 attendees from our synod alone. I am excited about the potential impact of this experience as it unfolds across our synod, rippling through our churches and women's groups." The complete newsletter is at "The Sower." There's also new information on the Presbyterian Women page on the synod website.

Conferences, camps & other resources

Finding the right pastor

is significant, important task

Leadership Connection As noted in "On Calling a Pastor," a resource of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), congregations "must give careful and prayerful attention to the election of persons to serve" on pastor nominating committees. "Those who are asked to serve should consider this to be a significant commitment of their time, energy and very best wisdom. They should be persons who understand and accept this as a task of spiritual discernment, not being easily influenced by personal desires or congregational politics, but rather listening for the voice of God." The full guide can be found at "Calling a Pastor."


UDTS offers nine online courses

UDTSLogo in its CLP/CRE program

The University of Dubuque Theological Seminary will offer nine online fall courses for Commissioned Ruling Elders in its CLP/CRE program, scheduled from Sept. 8 to Dec. 18. UDTS has added "Church Administration and Finance" to its fall schedule. Details of the CLP/CRE program can be found at "Description and Registration."


Interim Ministry Training Institute

Interim Training offers October-May session

The Interim Ministry Training Institute program is planned October through May and offered by Sand Bur Consulting of Wisconsin. The training is designed to build competency to help congregations through pivotal transitions and a time of change. IMTI is an intensive training program offered over an eight-month period with monthly full-day sessions and reading and practicum assignments between sessions. The format includes presentation, small group discussion and case study analysis to teach both theory and practice. Details are at "Interim Ministry" and an application can be found at "Training."


OWLS event planned

in September

The Older Wiser Livelier Saints -- or OWLS -- have set their annual celebration Sept. 15-16 at Calvin Crest Camp and Conference Center outside of Fremont, Neb. The OWLS are an older adult ministry of Homestead and Missouri River Valley presbyteries. Additional details and registration materials can be found at "OWLS."


Presbyterian Youth Triennium

2016 Youth Triennium is slated next summer

The 2016 Presbyterian Youth Triennium will run July 19-23, 2016, and registration is tentatively scheduled to begin Feb. 1, 2016. But it's not too early to put the event on calendars and the event's website is up and running. It's at "Presbyterian Youth Triennium."


1001 newsletter, New Church

New Way, notes 21 interns

Writing in New Church New Way, the newsletter of the 1001 New Worshiping Communities initiative, Sara Hayden, a program associate, notes, "I'm excited to tell you about our 21 interns who gathered in June for the first-ever national 1001 Internship Training. ... These folks represent the breadth of new leaders joining the worshiping community movement. They will benefit from missional theological reflection and coaching as they faithfully work at creating ministries from scratch." The complete newsletter can be found at "New Church New Way."


New UKirk worship book 'UWorship' available

UKirk It's been three years in the making.  But for those working together on what has become an "act of grace," it's been worth every moment. "What we ended up creating was a beautiful reflection of our diversity of expression for worship of God," says Marcus Hong, a member of the ad hoc group of campus ministers that developed the resource. The complete Presbyterian News Service story can be found at "UWorship." Additional "UWorship" resources can be found at "Supplements."


Ruling elder resource notes call to community

The Rev. Irene Pak, who serves as associate pastor at Stone Church of Willow Glen in San Jose, Calif., writes about the call to community in the current installment of "Regarding Ruling Elders," a resource offered through the Office of the General Assembly. She notes, "One of my favorite aspects about being Presbyterian is that no matter what we are called to do within the life of the church, we are called to do it in community. We know that being called to do things together sometimes makes things a lot easier and sometimes more difficult, depending on how we like to work, but in the life of the church, we are called to "do" and to "be" church together." Her complete column is at "Called to Community."


'Guide for Young Adult Ministry'

Presbyterians Today is popular resource

Presbyterians Today "Guide for Young Adult Ministry" is a popular resource for everyone who seeks a better understanding of young adults and ways to engage them in worship, education and service. The publication contains compelling editorials and links to online bonus content. Details about the resource can be found at "Guide for Young Adult Ministry."


Presbyterians Today looks at bond with pets

Promoting its July-August edition of Presbyterians Today, the magazine notes, "In this warm-hearted, sometimes funny, sometimes heartbreaking issue, Presbyterians Today looks at all the many ways animals are a part of our lives and ministries. Read about therapy and service animals, pet blessings in worship, photography and the arts, the protection of endangered species, animals in the Bible, and more." The complete announcement can be found at "Presbyterians Today."


'Pursued by Grace' is theme

of 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."

News of the Board of Pensions

Board Connections notes experience

apportionment effective July 1

BOP Connections Logo The newest edition of Board Connections, the Board of Pensions newsletter, is now available and it notes that a 4.7 percent experience apportionment for the Pension Plan took effect July 1. Board Connections highlights recent Board news, important updates, and other information and replaces many of the emails distributed by the Board. The complete newsletter can be found at "Connections."

News around the PC(USA) and more

Kwong Abazia writes

of 'The Kindness of Strangers'

Kwong Abazia Larissa Kwong Abazia, vice moderator of the 221st General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), is living through cancer treatment and writing about it at "Each New Day." She notes, "It was certainly unexpected to uncover that cancer has a way of bringing people together. When I was first diagnosed and even to this day, I have received gifts and messages from congregations, presbyteries, and individuals reminding me that I am in their thoughts and prayers. This has been one of the most powerful parts of this illness: the kindness of strangers to reach out in expressions of God's love even in the midst of challenges." Her complete column can be found at "Kindness of Strangers."


Moderator issues prayer for the PC(USA)

Heath Rada Writing last week, Heath Rada, moderator of the 221st General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), notes, "As Moderator, I am acutely aware of the amazing ways the Holy Spirit is working in the PC(USA). In many ways it is a joy to watch and observe. In other ways, I am bewildered and confused about what is happening and how to respond. Thus it is that I offer this prayer for our denomination. To God be the Glory." His prayer opens, "We in the PC(USA) stand at the intersection of sacred and secular. We watch as our world, our nation, and our church undergo such extraordinary change that we are breathless. We watch as we see unbelievable examples of hate followed by love, of inhumane acts followed by new reflections of faith, of pain soothed by compassion." Rada's complete comments and prayer can be found at "Intersection of Sacred and Secular."


PDA helps churches damaged, destroyed by fire

PDA disaster assistance Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, in collaboration with its ecumenical partners, is working to assist the churches recently damaged by fire. Over a two week period, seven churches with predominantly black membership burned in Georgia, Tennessee, North and South Carolina, Ohio and Florida. Investigators speculate lightning may have been involved in a few, but arson has not been ruled out. The Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is still investigating. The multiple fires occurred after the June 17 shootings at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., where nine people died. The complete Presbyterian News Service story can be found at "Church Fires."


wild goose festival Confederate flag remover

speaks with News Service

Bree Newsome, the Ignite NC activist who scaled the South Carolina State House flagpole to remove the Confederate flag, spoke to Presbyterian News Service July 11 prior to a surprise guest appearance at the Wild Goose Festival in Hot Springs, N.C. Driven to action by escalating violence against people of color and the June 17 murder of nine black parishioners at Charleston's Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, her June 27 act of civil disobedience galvanized a movement calling for the removal of the Confederate flag as a symbol of racism. The complete Presbyterian News Service story can be found at "Flag Remover."


Black Presbyterians, Presbyterian

World Mission sign historic covenant

At the National Black Presbyterian Caucus (NBPC) biennial convention in Charlotte, N.C., last week, Presbyterian World Mission and NBPC signed a historic covenant aimed at strengthening World Mission's recruitment among African-American Presbyterians for service as mission co-workers and Young Adult Volunteers around the world. "The 120-year legacy of African-American Presbyterians in global mission shows us that our church cannot be faithful to God without the insights and the active participation of African-American Presbyterians," said Hunter Farrell, director of World Mission of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The complete announcement can be found at "Historic Covenant."


UCC votes to divest from companies

UCC Logo in occupied territories

The nearly 1 million-member United Church of Christ voted overwhelmingly June 30 to divest from companies that profit from the Israeli occupation and to boycott products of Israeli companies based in the West Bank, a move that follows a divestment vote taken by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) last spring. The 508-124 vote of the UCC's General Synod marks a victory for a broad international movement that aims to pressure Israel into extracting itself from Palestinian lands by a strategy known as BDS -- Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. The complete Religion News Service story by Lauren Markoe can be found at "Divestment."


Ghost Ranch suffers extensive damage

Ghost Ranch from sudden, severe storm

A sudden storm passing through Abiquiu, N.M., July 7 producing raging and destructive waters that swept through the arroyos on Ghost Ranch's extensive property causing massive damage to the national education and retreat center of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Debra Hepler, executive director, said all guests and staff are accounted for and safe. "The staff worked as a tremendous team through the evening, moving people to higher ground, keeping the dining hall open to about 10 p.m., keeping the guests, especially the children, calm," Hepler said.The complete Presbyterian News Service story can be found at "Storm at Ghost Ranch."


Valentine writes thanks, farewell with gratitude

Linda Valentine Writing in the current issue of Engage, a newsletter of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, Linda Valentine, the agency's executive director, offers thanks and farewell with gratitude for the accomplishments of working together. She writes, "Since 2006, I have had a strong sense of call to serve as executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency. Recently, through prayer and discernment, I have determined that God is calling me to conclude my season of leadership and to move on in my life. ... I am exceedingly grateful to have ministered with talented, faithful and committed colleagues in the [PMA] and the other agencies and parts of the church." Her complete column can be found at "Thanks and Farewell."


PMA Board responds to defamation lawsuit

Mission agency The Presbyterian Mission Agency Board, through its Louisville-based lawyer, John Sheller of Stoll Keenon Ogden PLLC, issued a response June 25 to a defamation lawsuit filed against the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) by the Rev. Roger Dermody. Dermody, former deputy executive director for mission, filed a defamation suit against the PC(USA) May 29 in Louisville's Jefferson Circuit Court. He was one of four PC(USA) employees placed on paid administrative leave Nov. 14 while an independent investigation was conducted regarding the establishment of an unauthorized nonprofit corporation. The PMAB announced June 1 that the four were no longer employed by the Mission Agency. Another of the four, the Rev. Eric Hoey, filed a suit similar to Dermody's on June 16. The complete Presbyterian News Service story is at "Response."


Farrell concludes 3-part series on global initiatives

Farrell Hunter new In this month's Mission Matters, Hunter Farrell, director of World Mission for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), concludes a three-part series on the critical global initiatives identified by Presbyterian World Mission and its partners. In this issue, he writes about the campaign to "Speak Up! Stop Sexual Violence," and asks, "What would it take to change the world?" The complete newsletter can be found at "Mission Matters."


Church leaders applaud decision

to reopen U.S. embassy in Cuba

Cuba Florida map President Obama's announcement last week of re-opening of embassies in each country is only the beginning of a long road to normalizing relations. The Obama administration has launched several initiatives in the past year aimed at improving relations between the two countries, including relaxing travel restrictions. "All Americans, whether North or South, can breathe a sigh of relief at this sign of healing. We Presbyterians can rejoice in the opening of the embassies as the fulfillment of nearly 50 years of prayers and policy," said Dean Lewis, executive secretary of the Presbyterian Cuba Connection in Medanales, N.M. The complete Presbyterian News Service story is at "Restoring Relations."


Gradye Parsons PC(USA) stated clerk applauds

signing of U.S.-Iran nuclear accord

The Rev. Gradye Parsons, stated clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), notes, "We applaud the signing of the accord reached between the United States and the government of Iran regarding use and control of nuclear energy, especially as that relates to the production of nuclear weapons. We fully understand the hurdles that remain in making these agreements a reality, given the role of the U.S. Congress and the leaders of the nation of Iran; nonetheless, we give thanks for the immense effort that has been invested ... " Parsons' complete statement can be found at "Accord."

Just one more

Here's a chance to see

Louisville Leopard Percussionists

Louisville Leopards For this issue, it's just for fun. Your editor knows that some will say the video at the link below is old. Well, so is your editor. But, you know, the music never grows old. It's just the way it is. Your editor re-discovered this video today. For those who haven't seen it before, be pleasantly surprised. It's at "Louisville Leopard Percussionists."