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

November 16, 2015

News around the Synod of Lakes and Prairies
Central Nebraska moves forward
with new staffing model, transformation
Central Nebraska logo "I give thanks to God that the Presbytery of Central Nebraska, at its stated meeting Oct. 24, ... overwhelmingly gave its support to the new staffing model that the Transition Task Force proposed as the first step in the overall transformation of the presbytery's structure." That's the way Chuck Traylor, the presbytery's transitional executive, introduced a column following the meeting. He added, "The model ... reflects a "specialized ministry" approach whereby multiple part-time staff, with specific skills and passions for various aspects of the needed ministries, are made available to be resources to the congregations of the presbytery." Traylor's complete column can be found at "Transformation."
3 new worshiping communities
1001 in synod receive grants
Thirteen new worshiping communities across the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), including three within the Synod of Lakes and Prairies, received grants recently from the Presbyterian Mission Agency. The three are Arabic Speaking Community in the Presbytery of Des Moines, Reclamation Ministries in the Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area, and Wandering Vine in the Presbytery of Northern Plains. The 13 grants, totaling nearly $200,000, will support existing worshiping communities and start new ones in the 1001 New Worshiping Communities movement. The complete Presbyterian News Service story is at "Grants."
Current edition of The Sower can be found online
Sower Logo Before pointing out that it's time to complete Presbyterian Women pledge forms for 2016, Marilyn Stone, moderator of Presbyterian Women in the Synod of Lakes and Prairies, asks, "What value does Presbyterian Women have in your life?" And she goes on to note, "We are part of a connectional church and bear the joy and responsibility of supporting the work of PW at all levels." Stone's complete column and the complete newsletter can be found at "The Sower."
Hillcrest opens Mental Health Solutions in Asbury
Hillcrest Services Logo Hillcrest Family Services, a health services agency headquartered in Dubuque, Iowa, and in covenant with the Synod of Lakes and Prairies, made a new service available earlier this month, adding Mental Health Solutions in Asbury, Iowa. It offers a comprehensive outpatient mental health treatment program. Gary Gansemer, Hillcrest's president and CEO, noted, "Like all programs developed at Hillcrest, Mental Health Solutions would not [have] come about without the collaborate effort of so many people throughout Hillcrest." Details about the new addition can be found at "Mental Health Solutions."
Miles writes about questions of science, belief
Science Faith The questions come up often - questions of the Bible being literal, inerrant, infallible; questions of creation versus evolution. Answers? Sara Joan Miles, a former moderator of the Presbytery of Milwaukee and secretary-treasurer of the Presbyterian Association of Science, Technology and the Christian Faith, wrote recently, "I hope this article will provide resources to help all of us develop better ways of thinking about science and religion, so we can feel more comfortable responding to these kinds of questions, and more able to help others find their own answers." Her article appears on page 4 of the August 2015 issue SciTech, a journal of PASTCF. The article can be found at "Help with Answers."
Conferences, camps, resources
Bethlehem Peace Light
comes to IRMS during Advent
Iowa Religious Media Services, in partnership with the Mid-Iowa Council of the Boy Scouts of America, will once again host the Bethlehem Peace Light during this Advent Nativity Lantern IRMS season. For more than 1,000 years, lamps have been continuously lit in the Grotto of the Nativity in Bethlehem, and now the same flame can shine in your sanctuary too.  Since 1989, Boy Scouts from Austria have facilitated the distribution of the Bethlehem Peace Light from the Grotto of the Nativity in the small town of Bethlehem, where Jesus was born. Lighting their lamps from that flame, the Scouts then distribute the Light across Europe and North America. Church representatives are invited to bring a lantern or oil lamp to IRMS beginning Monday, Dec. 7, when the Light will arrive at IRMS, through Wednesday, Dec. 23, between the hours of 9:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., or by special appointment on Dec. 24, to light from the Bethlehem Peace Light flame. Additional details are available by contacting Alan Strohmaier, Central Iowa Peace Light coordinator, at  More information about the Bethlehem Peace Light is available at "Peace Light."

Winter, Summer Pastor Schools

are on schedule in Hastings

Omaha Seminary Winter Pastors School, sponsored by the Omaha Presbyterian Seminary Foundation and Quad Presbytery Consortium is just around the corner. Sam Hamilton-Poore, pastor at Collegiate Presbyterian Church in Ames, Iowa, will speak on "Spirituality for Ministry" at the retreat and educational event that runs Feb. 1-4 in Hastings, Neb. Details and registration information are at "Winter Pastors School." And Summer Pastors School is also on the horizon. It runs June 5-11 at the Hastings College Hazelrigg Student Center. Early bird registration runs through April 20. Details and registration information for the summer version are at "Summer Pastors School."


Openings still available

for spring Scotland pilgrimage

Scotland Pilgrimage Homestead Presbytery has organized a trip to Scotland, along with an optional Ireland extension, in the spring. The Scotland portion runs May 20-28 and the Ireland extension runs May 28 to June 1. The trip offers the opportunity to learn more about the heritage and history of Presbyterianism, and to experience the people of Scotland. A $50 refundable deposit will reserve a spot. Details are available at "Scotland."

Lilly Clergy Renewal programs
open for application
Lilly Renewal grants Through its religion grant making, Lilly Endowment, an Indianapolis-based, private philanthropic foundation, seeks to deepen and enrich the lives of American Christians. It pursues this goal primarily via initiatives to enhance and sustain the quality of ministry in American congregations and parishes. Lilly's National and Indiana Clergy Renewal Programs provide an opportunity for pastors to step away briefly from the ongoing obligations of daily parish life and to engage in a period of renewal and reflection. The program notes that renewal periods are not vacations, but times for "intentional exploration and reflection, for drinking again from God's life-giving waters, for regaining enthusiasm and creativity for ministry." Details and application materials for the 2016 programs are now available. The complete Presbyterian News Service story is at "Clergy Renewal."
Registration underway 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."
Stewardship Kaleidoscope event
planned this winter in San Antonio
Stewardship Kaleidoscope Logo 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."
Conferences, resources listed in current
Racial Ethnic, Women's Ministries news
racial ethnic womens Upcoming conferences and a number of other resources can be found in the current edition of Racial Ethnic and Women's Ministries News, a newsletter issued by the Presbyterian Mission Agency. The complete newsletter can be found at "Racial Ethnic and Women's Ministries News."
Disciple-Making Church Conference
slated in January in Florida
Writing in The Presbyterian Disciple, Ray Jones, coordinator on the Presbyterian Mission Agency's Office of Evangelism, noted the upcoming Disciple-Making Church Conference will be "focusing on rhythm and practices that allow us to create margin in our lives, discover how to
truly engage in the ministry of disciple-making out of our relationship with God." The conference takes place Jan. 18-21 at St. Pete Beach, Fla. Details are at "Disciple-Making Church."

POINT Connection newsletter

focuses on God's grace

POINT newsletter "The grace of God that brings us new life in Jesus Christ, as identified in the Gospel of Luke," notes the recent POINT Connection newsletter of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, is the focus of the Grace & Gratitude curriculum in Advent. "Through fun, age-appropriate activities, prayer, and singing, children and their leaders will celebrate the meaning of this grace in their lives as they encounter a living God." The complete newsletter is at "POINT."

News from colleges, universities, seminaries

UDTS professor publishes book on Old Testament

Matthew Schlimm The promotional information for Matthew Schlimm's book, "This Strange and Sacred Scripture," notes, "The Old Testament can seem strange and disturbing to contemporary readers." Published in February with the subtitle, "Wrestling with the Old Testament and Its Oddities," the book combines "pastoral insight, biblical scholarship and healthy dose of humility." The book looks at the dissonance of text and science, the extensive violence, the status of women, contradictions, and God's wrath. Schlimm is associate professor of Old Testament at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary. The book can be found at "Strange and Sacred."


Pres House publishes annual report
Pres House Logo The Presbyterian Student Center Foundation, more commonly known as Pres House, located in the heart of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has released its annual report, commenting that the "ministry with students ... continues to grow, and the academic and fiscal years covered by this report were strong ones for Pres House financially and programmatically." And adding, "Our doors are always open for new students to come in. We seek to be a home where we experience the grace of Jesus Christ, explore God's desire for our lives, and are led out into the world by the Holy Spirit as servants and leaders on campus, in Madison, and throughout the world." The complete report can be found at "Pres House."
UDTS plans to offer 9 online courses for CREs
UDTSLogo The University of Dubuque Theological Seminary will offer nine online courses for Commissioned Ruling Elders in its CLP/CRE lay ministry program from Feb. 1 through May 13. The courses include Introduction to Old Testament, Introduction to New Testament, Christian Education, Pastoral Care, Reformed Theology, Introduction to Preaching, Presbyterian Polity, Reformed Worship and Sacraments, and Christian Leadership Ethics. Details can be found at "Spring Semester CRE."
Coe College embarks on largest
Coe College capital project in its history
Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is embarking on the largest capital project in its history. "Make Your Move -- the Campaign for Eby and Hickok" includes $23 million in essential campus projects, including the athletic and recreation complex project and the renovation and expansion of Hickok Hall. The result will be improved academic, recreational, wellness and competition facilities. Coe is one of seven Presbyterian-related institutions of higher education in covenant with the Synod of Lakes and Prairies. The complete announcement from the college can be found at "Campaign."
Grace & Gratitude newsletter
notes scholarship, grant cycle
Grace Gratitude Laura Bryan, associate for Financial Aid for Service in the Presbyterian Mission Agency, noted in last week's Grace & Gratitude newsletter, "November is the start of a new scholarship and grant cycle in Financial Aid for Service. We open the month with National Presbyterian College Scholarship seeking applicants who are planning to enter college in the fall of 2016, and a strong interest in attending a Presbyterian-related college or university. ... Teaching of the Bible Grant is also seeking requests for proposals from related schools, colleges, and seminaries. The focus for 2016 proposals will be employing the Bible and the fundamental teachings of Christian churches to explore critical social issues." Bryan's complete column can be found at "Grace and Gratitude." 
News from the Board of Pensions
November Board Connections
offers notes on conversation 
BOP Connections Logo The November issue of Board Connections, a newsletter of the Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), is available on online. The publication highlights recent Board news, updates and information. The issue is at "Connections."
News around the PC(USA) & more
Gradye Parsons Parsons urges Presbyterians
to 'choose welcome, not fear'
"We are a world grieving," Gradye Parsons, stated clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) wrote this week. "We mourn the many deaths, not only in Paris, but also in Beirut, Baghdad, and Egypt. Any sense of security we have had is badly compromised by these horrific events; moreover, our fear of ISIS grows with every successful execution of its violent agenda. Much has been taken from us but we still hold the choice as to how we react in our grief and fear." Parsons' complete column can be found at "Welcome not Fear."
Presbyterians share grief, express
support for terror-hit cities
In the wake of Nov. 13 terror attacks that shocked and traumatized a city, a nation, and the world, Presbyterians across the U.S. stand in solidarity, pain, and prayer with the people of Paris and those affected by terror attacks in Beirut and Baghdad earlier in the week. From Greensboro, N.C., Jim Hooper writes that he heard from his cousin, Christian, age 57, over the weekend. "Christian, who has lived in Paris since reaching adulthood, and his wife's three sons are all okay, as well as all extended family members and their friends," says Hooper, whose French-born mother Suzanne and Texas-born father T.W. met in Orleans during World War II. The complete Presbyterian News Service story can be found at "Sharing Grief."
World religious leaders condemn Paris carnage
Pope Francis raised the specter of a World War III "in pieces," Muslims issued statements of condemnation, while evangelical Christians in America debated whether to speak of a "war with Islam." These were some of the responses by religious leaders around the world Nov. 14 to the series of attacks overnight in Paris, which left more than 120 people dead. "This is not human," Francis said in a phone call to an Italian Catholic television station. Asked by the interviewer if it was part of a "Third World War in pieces," he responded: "This is a piece. There is no justification for such things." The complete Religion News Services story by Rosie Scammell can be found at "War in Pieces."
Justice & Peace newsletter
highlights refugees, PDA response
PDALogo "As we approach the holiday season I can't help but think of the millions of people around the world who have been uprooted from their homes and familiar ties through no fault of their own. The Syrian refugee crisis is one example of the tragedy of displacement faced by too many of our sisters and brothers. Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, in partnership with ACT Alliance members, continues to provide essential help and supplies to those in need." That's the way Sara Lisherness, director of Compassion, Peace and Justice Ministry for the Presbyterian Mission Agency, led into the current issue of the ministry's newsletter last week. Her complete column and the newsletter are at "Tragedy and Displacement."
Northeast Synod cancels debt
in act of racial reconciliation
On Nov. 15, during the 175th anniversary event for the Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Synod of the Northeast cleared the church's debt of approximately $175,000 as an act of racial reconciliation. The loan forgiveness is in response to the "ecclesiastical lynching" of the Rev. William Robeson in late 1900. William Robeson is the father of noted singer, actor and civil rights leader Paul Robeson. The Rev. Dr. Harold Delhagen, the synod's transitional leader, said, "As a regional community of over 1,100 Presbyterian churches committed to racial justice, this story has compelled us to do justice and not simply talk about it." The complete Presbyterian News Service story can be found at "Reconciliation."
COGA extends 'conversation' about PC(USA)
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." The complete announcement can be found at "Conversation."
Deadline nears for applications
to GA Nominating Committee
The deadline -- Tuesday, Dec. 1 -- is fast approaching for applications to be considered by the General Assembly Nominating Committee for appointments to the 30 entities to which the committee nominates members. Those interested can find more information, including descriptions of the various entities, skills and expertise needed, as well as access to the online application form (note links on the left hand side of the webpage). The nomination is an application-based process. Additional details about the process are available, as is a list of position openings.
General Assembly Stated Clerk
nomination committee receives inquiries
The committee tasked with nominating the next Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) had received 21 requests for application packets as of Oct. 26. The deadline for receiving completed applications is midnight (EST) Dec. 21. "There is no doubt in our minds that the church is living in a defining moment," the Rev. Carol McDonald, moderator of the Stated Clerk Nomination Committee, said. "All around us is the search for vision, direction, stability and focus." The complete announcement from the committee can be found at "Stated Clerk." 
PMA 3rd quarter financial report
draws concerns, efficiency discussion
Mission agency The Presbyterian Mission Agency Board audit and finance committees received the Agency's third-quarter 2015 financial report this week. While updated figures for expense and revenue were not significantly different than projections, looming concerns over reserve balances and Agency efficiency occupied much of the conference call. The complete Presbyterian News Service story can be found at "Financial Report."
Pew study says more Americans firm in faith
Pew Research Center Americans as a whole are growing less religious, but those who still consider themselves to belong to a religion are, on average, just as committed to their faiths as they were in the past - in certain respects even more so. The 2014 U.S. Religious Landscape Study, released last week by the Pew Research Center, also shows that nearly all major religious groups have become more accepting of homosexuality since the first landscape study in 2007. The complete Religion News Service story, by Lauren Markoe, can be found at "Landscape Study."
Stories, poetry, narratives:
Writing as a spiritual practice
Some Presbyterians write because they have to - those frantic Saturday night sprints, pounding out a sermon. Others write because they feel a whisper, a nudge, they sense the words pushing to spill out. Can writing be a spiritual practice? The answer, for many, is yes. Even when they're not getting paid for their words, people of faith write prayers, novels, essays, blogs, poetry and more. Some write for publication, some in private journals. They write because they can. For a few folks, here's how that works. The complete Presbyterian Outlook story by Leslie Scanlon can be found at "Spiritual Practice."
New leaders find inspiration,
support, encouragement
New Church, New Way Latest grant recipients in the 1001 New Worshiping Communities initiative of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) have much to be thankful for in this Thanksgiving season. "Find out how some leaders have found inspiration, support and encouragement through participating in an assessment or connecting with a coach," Vera White, associate for the 1001 program, writes in the current issue of New Church, New Way, the program's newsletter. "There is an amazing Holy Spirit movement afoot. The harvest is plentiful," she adds. The complete newsletter is at "New Church."
Just one more
9 comics about the busyness of life
Upworthy Logo The past few days have been a struggle for your editor -- not to mention everyone else, too. It happens. When there is stress, your editor watches cat videos. Well, not exactly. There have been a few weeks -- months maybe -- since your editor put an Upworthy note here. And then there was this -- nine comics about busyness. Your editor particularly enjoyed the one about vacations. It's No. 7. They're all at "Busyness."