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

October 30, 2015

News around the Synod of Lakes and Prairies
Synod Logo round with people It's not too early to think
about Synod School 2016
Synod School, the annual midsummer ministry of the Synod of Lakes and Prairies, drew 550 participants this summer, including about 480 Presbyterians and 70 from other religions and denominations. But at this fall's synod meeting, Lorna Peters, synod commissioner from Prospect Hill Presbytery and commissioner member of the Synod School committee, said the numbers that really stood out were the 106 (or 19 percent or one-in-five) who were attending Synod School for the first time, and the 77 youth in grades 6-12. Plans are well on their way for Synod School 2016, slated July 24-29 on the campus of Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa. John Bell, a world-renowned lecturer, preacher and teacher, will be the convocation speaker. Based in Glasgow, Scotland, Bell is a member of the Wild Goose Resource Group, an autonomous project of the Iona Community. The Group equips congregations and clergy in the development of new forms of relevant and participative worship. More details are coming soon at "Synod School."
PW in synod gather next summer in Sioux Falls
Presbyterian Women Presbyterian Women in the Synod of Lakes and Prairies will gather around the theme, "Lord, make me an instrument of your peace," when they come together June 15-18 in Sioux Falls, S.D. The keynote speaker will be Susan Jackson Dowd, executive director of Presbyterian Women's national organization. Worship leader will be the Rev. Carolyn Visser of Monroe, S.D., who is a certified spiritual director and labyrinth facilitator. The Rev. Stephanie Anthony will be the Bible study leader. She is pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Hudson, Wis. Details are available at "Presbyterian Women."
Synod administers loan fund
for presbyteries, churches
PILP logo The Synod of Lakes and Prairies administers a $5.5 million loan fund in support of congregation capital and major renovation projects, and also offering loans from down-payment assistance to relocating presbytery staff. Congregations are invited to contact the synod when it's time to borrow for a new capital project. The synod relies on the loan application form of the Presbyterian Investment and Loan Program. The loan application can be found on the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) website at "Loan Application Form." Questions can be addressed to J. Jay Wilkinson, stated clerk and treasurer of the synod, by calling 651.357.1145 or by sending an e-mail to
Opportunity exists to change
art at Minnesota capitol
It's a good time to consider changing some of the artwork in the Minnesota State Capitol, according to Healing Minnesota Stories, an initiative of the Saint Paul Interfaith Network. It is conducting a drive to petition the Art Subcommittee of the Capitol Preservation Commission on possible changes to Capitol artwork that, according to Healing Minnesota Stories, "tells a narrow and incomplete version of our history. It has offensive images of Native Americans and does not reflect our state's current diverse population." Issues around the artwork and an opportunity to sign a petition supporting the effort of Healing Minnesota Stories can be found at "Petitioning." A flyer describing the effort is also available at "Opportunity for Change."
Conferences, camps, resources
Regional gathering of mission
leaders planned in Kansas City 
Mission Magnified Local, regional and international mission leaders will be able to connect and learn from each other at a gathering of mission leaders Nov. 19-21 at the Heartland Conference Center in Kansas City, Mo. Called "Mission Magnified," the conference format will be retreat-style, with small group sessions complimenting plenary workshops. Worship will be included throughout. Details can be found at "Magnified."
Registration opens for NEXT Church Gathering
NEXT Church The 2016 NEXT Church National Gathering -- timed at the beginning of Lent -- will engage questions that invite the church into the transformative power of reconciliation and inspire the church with the stories of witnesses who have gone before. The Gathering is slated Feb. 22-24 in Atlanta, Ga. Allan Boesak, a liberation theologian and advocate for social justice in South Africa, will be one of the speakers. Additional details and registration information are at "NEXT Church."
APCE Annual Event planned in January in Chicago
Ignite APCE The Association of Presbyterian Church Educators 2016 Annual Event is planned Jan. 27-30 at the Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile in Chicago. The event will feature a hybrid certification course, a one day seminar on digital media for ministry, and other innovative presentations. Details can be found at "Ignite."
Stewardship Kaleidoscope event
planned this winter in San Antonio
Stewardship Kal The brochure is out and online registration will soon be available for the annual Stewardship Kaleidoscope event planned Feb. 29-March 2 in San Antonio, Texas. The two keynoters for the event will be Karl Travis, pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Fort Worth, Texas, and Grace Duddy Pomroy, financial education specialist for Portico Benefit Services. Cynthia M. Campbell, pastor at Highland Presbyterian Church in Louisville, Ky., will be the worship leader. The complete brochure can be found at "Kaleidoscope."
Theocademy: Now a resource
Theocademy for confirmation classes
Already known for its lay leadership and new member training resources, Theocademy is now offering a series of videos for confirmation classes. Theocademy is an effort of the Synod of Mid-America, supported in part by the synods of Lakes and Prairies, and Lincoln Trails, to offer high quality, training resources to the church. Details can be found at "Theocademy."
Regarding Ruling Elders: Leading with the spirit
The call to be a ruling elder is a call to spiritual leadership, according to the Rev. Peggy Hinds, a professional coach and consultant who assists churches and congregational leaders in their discernment of God's will  for their present and future ministries. Hinds, writing in the current Regarding Ruling Elders, a resource produced by the Office of the General Assembly, notes, "Take a survey of ruling elders and you will probably find that many have served on nonprofit boards. This important work takes a certain skill-set and dedication to a mission. Because of this, one might think that serving as a ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is not much different. ... [But] the session is not a board, and elders are not board members. The call to ordered office ... is a call to spiritual leadership." Hinds complete column can be found at "Ruling Elders."
Grace, Gratitude newsletter
Grace Gratitude offers worship resource
The current edition of Grace & Gratitude, a newsletter of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, contains a variety of resources, including "Call to Worship," a resource that offers faithful and meaningful worship ideas, and a Bible study on racial reconciliation. The complete newsletter, from the Office of Theology, Formation and Evangelism, is at "Grace and Gratitude."
New Presbyterians Today issue
looks at Advent hope through child
Presbyterians Today The promise of Advent, and the gift of Christmas, is that the world's hope comes through a child. This current issue of Presbyterians Today magazine shines a light on the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)'s initiative to educate one million children in the United States and around the world by 2020. The magazine's stories reflect the successes and challenges in this important work. Online stories can be found at "Hope in a Child."
IRMS offers Advent resources
for adult, youth, children studies
IRMSLOGO It's not too early to get your Advent schedule prepared and IRMS has just the right resources to help churches plan a special season, according to Iowa Religious Media Resources. Two new Advent resources offer components to fit all ages in the church with dedicated adult, youth and children studies. In "Sent - Delivering the Gift of Hope at Christmas," host Jorge Acevedo leads a five-week Advent journey of discovering on being sent. "Finding Bethlehem in the Midst of Bedlam" illustrates the need to remember that right in the midst of confusion, Christmas happens. Included in its stories is one of a Nativity scene built by German POWs in Algona, Iowa, during World War II. Other Advent resources can be found in the IRMS catalog.
2015-2016 Presbyterian
Giving Catalog is now available
Giving Calendar 2015 The Presbyterian Giving Catalog always offers the opportunity to give a gift that also gives back. The new catalog is available. According to the announcement, "Each gift represents so much more than its monetary value -- from resources that enable sustainable farming, to basic necessities, to support that helps Presbyterians fulfill their mission work." The complete announcement is at "Giving Catalog."
News from colleges, universities, seminaries
University of Dubuque offers completely online master's degree in Christian leadership
University of Dubuque The University of Dubuque is offering a 30-credit master's degree program in Christian leadership and all courses are taught online. The program is designed to strengthen Christians for service in any number of vocations, nurturing biblically and theologically informed, and culturally sensitive leaders for the church and world. Offered through the university, the program is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Details can be found at "Christian Leadership."
Union Seminary offers
Congregational Leadership Awards
Union Seminary logo Union Presbyterian Seminary is asking the question: Is your congregation or a congregation in your presbytery doing innovative ministry? If the answer is yes, perhaps they should consider completing an application for one of the seminary's eight Congregational Leadership Awards. Each of the awards carries a $1,000 prize to support the ministry. The deadline to apply is Feb. 15. Additional details, including application information, can be found at "Congregational Leadership."
UDTS plans graduate assistant program
in young adult ministry, faith formation
UDTSLogo Beginning in the fall of 2016, a number of UDTS seminary students in the Master of Divinity and Master of Arts in Missional Christianity programs will engage in vital programming with undergraduate students at the University of Dubuque. As the seminary students progress through their program of study, they will assume increasing responsibility for elements of student life, academic, and campus ministry programming to first year students, under the mentorship of faculty and staff. The university will offer a limited number of graduate assistantships for this program that will completely cover tuition and on-campus housing. More information is available from Kimberly Burnett-Hackbarth at The application deadline is Feb. 1. Additional details are at "Graduate Assistantships."
News from the Board of Pensions
Board Bulletin addresses redesign of Benefits Plan
BOP Bulletin The fall edition of the Board Bulletin, published after each regular meeting of the board of directors of the Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), addresses changes to the Benefits Plan of the PC(USA). The goal of the Benefits Plan, according to the Board Bulletin, is to provide one plan that keeps the covenant with installed pastors while giving flexibility to employers so they may offer benefits to other teaching elders and other employees based on their resources. The complete Board Bulletin can be found at "Meeting Report."
October Board Connections
notes open enrollment, Catamaran merger
BOP Connections Logo The newest edition of Board Connections, the Board of Pensions newsletter, is now available. The newsletter highlights recent Board news, important updates, and other information and replaces many of the emails you previously received from the Board. The current edition notes the Oct. 1 through Nov. 13 open enrollment period, and addresses the merger of Catamaran and OptumRx. The newsletter is online at "Connections."
News around the PC(USA) & more
COGA urges Presbyterians
to 'keep the conversation going'
PCUSA Logo The online form for sharing thoughts on the identity and purpose of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) as part of a church-wide conversation initiated by the Committee on the Office of the General Assembly will now be available until Dec. 18. The extended period allows time for even more people throughout the denomination to weigh in. "Please share your insights, wisdom, hopes, and dreams for the PC(USA)," said COGA Moderator Margaret Elliott. "Through careful listening and honest sharing we can create a church for this time and place." Presbyterians can talk individually or in groups using the questions from the online form and a downloadable discussion guide. The complete COGA announcement is at "Conversation."
Heath Rada in Ames GA preacher choices reflect
commitment to reconciliation
General Assembly Moderator Heath Rada has become well-known to Presbyterians for his commitment to reconciliation within the deeply conflicted Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). So it is no surprise that his invitations to three diverse PC(USA) pastors to preach at next summer's 222nd General Assembly reflect the wide spectrum of the denomination. The complete story from the Office of the General Assembly can be found at "Reconciliation."
PDA issues appeal for help in South Carolina
PDA disaster assistance The rivers have crested and the floodwaters have washed out to sea, but the hard work of cleaning up is just beginning in South Carolina. The state was hit with a so-called 1,000 year flood after being hit with record-setting rainfall, totaling more than 20 inches in some locations. At least 17 people were killed; at the height of the flooding, more than 400 roads, 150 bridges and two major Interstate Highways were closed. Presbyterian Disaster Assistance is working with mid councils to provide support and is seeking help from across the church. The complete Presbyterian News Service story is at "Floods."
Applications open for 60th session
of Status of Women Commission
UN Status Women As many as 40 Presbyterians will meet in New York next spring to take part in the 60th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. Applications are now being accepted through the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)'s ministry at the UN. The Commission on the Status of Women, a part of the Social Council of the United Nations, meets annually to promote women's equality and rights. Each year's session focuses on a particular theme. "The 60th session will focus on women's empowerment and its link to sustainable development," said Mark Koenig, director of PC(USA)'s UN office. The complete story is at "Status of Women."
Dermody files appeal in case against PC(USA)
The lawyer for Roger Dermody, former deputy executive director for mission at the Presbyterian Mission Agency, has filed an appeal in his defamation suit against the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A). The appeal was submitted to the Court of Appeals of Kentucky on Oct. 21. The original suit, which alleged irreparable harm had been done to Dermody's career as the result of an internal investigation initiated by the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board, had been dismissed Sept. 22 by Judge Judith E. McDonald-Burkman of Louisville's Jefferson Circuit Court. The complete Presbyterian News Service story is at "Appeal Filed."
Just one more
Who knew? Why we like 'Over the Rainbow'
PBS logo Public Television recently produced a video that tells us why we like -- and remember -- "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." Have you ever found yourself humming the tune, thinking of the opening scenes of "The Wizard of Oz." Go ahead, admit it; your editor did. Well, more the song than the movie. Musician and composer Rob Kapilow takes a shot at explaining why. And it's intriguing. Your editor apologizes in advance because you may have to watch a 30-second spot for Goldman Sachs before the video begins. The video is at "Somewhere.