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

December 10, 2015

News around the Synod of Lakes and Prairies
North Central Iowa, Prospect Hill
to share office administrator
NCI Prospect Hill The Presbytery Council of the Presbytery of North Central Iowa approved this month a shared office administrator position with the Presbytery of Prospect Hill. The organizational change had been previously approved by Prospect Hill. David Feltman, pastor to the presbytery in North Central Iowa, wrote recently in the presbytery's newsletter about the shared position - along with a number of other concerns. His complete column can be found at "Not Business as Usual."
Chuck Traylor Traylor resigns
from transitional presbyter
position in Central Nebraska
The Presbytery of Central Nebraska announced this week the resignation of the Rev. Dr. Charles "Chuck" Traylor has formally submitted his resignation as its transitional executive presbyter. Traylor has accepted a call to ministry at Church of the Hills in Evergreen, Colo. Traylor's call officially ends Jan. 4.

Iowa new worshiping community
1001 receives investment grant
Cana of Fort Dodge, located in the Presbytery of North Central Iowa, was among the grant recipients named when the Presbyterian Mission Agency recently announced recipients of mission program grants. The announcement, made Dec. 1 in a story of the Presbyterian News Service, noted highlights of the grant funding, including new worshiping communities made up of geeks, millennials, Aribic speakers, Togolese, homeless, college students, Puerto Ricans, Hispanic and Latino worshipers. Cana of Fort Dodge will receive a $25,000 investment grant, a grant designated to new ministries living into "Starting New Worshiping Communities -- A Discernment Process." The complete story is at "Grants."
PMA board executive committee
awards grant to Twin Cities project
Houses of hospitality Meeting via conference call Nov. 19, members of the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board executive committee approved DREAM grants, provided updates on the progress of the interim mission work plan and discussed board restructuring among other topics. In 2009, the predecessor body to the board initiated the Developmental, Risky, Experimental, Adaptive Mission -- DREAM -- grants from the National Mission Partnership Fund. Among those receiving DREAM grants this year was Twin Cities Houses of Hospitality in the Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area. The $10,000 grant supports the intentional community for young adults who are engaged in a year of service with AmeriCorps, Teach for America and other service organizations. The young people live together, share meals, provide service to the broader community and explore their personal spiritual development and vocational discernment. The complete Presbyterian News Service story is at "Mission Agency Board."
Synod PW posts registration
booklet, moderator meditations
Presbyterian Women The registration booklet for the Gathering of Presbyterian Women in the Synod of Lakes and Prairies has been posted online. The booklet provides detailed information about the Gathering that takes place June 15-18 in Sioux Falls, S.D. The booklet is at "Program and Registration." Also, the synod's Presbyterian Women site also includes two new meditations for PW moderators -- "Angels Still Appear" and "What I Want for Christmas." Other moderator meditations are near the bottom of the page at "Meditations for Moderators."
Synod calls 'Kate' Killebrew
to serve as director of leadership development
Kate Killebrew Commissioners of the Synod of Lakes and Prairies voted Nov. 19 to call the Rev. Dr. Katherine "Kate" Killebrew to serve as its director of leadership development. She will spend her first day in the office Monday, Jan. 11. Since graduating from Princeton (N.J.) Theological Seminary, Killebrew has, for more than 30 years, served the Presbyterian Church in a number of capacities: pastor, educator, chaplain, and as presbytery mission and church development staff. While serving the Synod of the Northeast, she specialized in stewardship and mission in three presbyteries. The complete announcement is at "Killebrew."
Faith communities conduct 'Festival
Oshkosh Grant of Gratitude' in Oshkosh
Tom Willadsen, pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Oshkosh, Wis., wrote last week about the sixth "Festival of Gratitude at the Grand" in Oshkosh that took place Sunday evening, Nov. 22. He noted, "On a chilly November evening, in the wake of terrorist attacks in Paris and Mali and an escalating refugee crisis in Europe, more than 100 people from more than a dozen faith communities gathered at the Grand Opera House ... to give thanks. ... The venue is an architectural gem on the National Register of Historic Places. It is owned by the City of Oshkosh, so it's everybody's public space, and nobody's sacred space." Willadsen's complete story about the event can be found at "Festival of Gratitude."
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 Nebraska

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."

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."

Summer registration opens
soon for Clearwater Forest
Clearwater Logo While the first snowfall of the year is barely a week old, planning is already underway for the summer season at Clearwater Forest, a Presbyterian camp and conference center near Deerwood, Minn., in the state's central lake region. Summer 2016 registration begins Jan. 6. Details of the summer camping experience can be found at "Clearwater Forest."
'Blue Christmas' services offer
space for feelings of grief, loss
'Tis the season to be jolly. But not for some. "If someone is already struggling -- with financial problems, broken relationships, unresolved grief -- he or she is likely to find further alienation in the relentless joy and cheer of the Christmas season, particularly as it is often misconstrued in television specials and marketing campaigns," says the Rev. David Gambrell, associate for worship in the Presbyterian Mission Agency's office of Theology and Worship. "Longest Night and Blue Christmas services represent one way of responding to this significant pastoral concern."  Gambrell, a published hymn and liturgy writer who serves as editor of the quarterly journal, Call to Worship, suggests that worship planners avail themselves of resources -- including a Blue Christmas service on the on the PC(USA) website -- to address people's pain at this time of year. The complete Presbyterian News Service article is at "Blue Christmas."
Periscope PC(USA) begins live streaming
Advent devotionals on Periscope
When the Rev. Barry Ensign-George, associate for theology in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) office of Theology and Worship, first heard about Periscope, the live streaming video mobile app bought by Twitter in February 2015, a light bulb went off in his head. Or maybe it was on his iPhone. "In the office of Theology and Worship, we've been intrigued by Periscope, a tool for live broadcast, because live broadcast has immediacy," says Ensign-George, "and it offers some two-way communication." In consultation with his colleagues, Ensign-George determined that Periscope seemed especially fitting for an Advent trial run. The complete Presbyterian News Service story can be found at "Devotionals via Periscope."
Quad Presbyteries will be host
to Mediation Skills Training Institute
lombard mennonite The Quad Presbyteries Consortium - composed of Central Nebraska, Homestead, Missouri River Valley and Prospect Hill presbyteries - will be host to a Mediation Skills Training Institute for Church Leaders May 23-27 at Calvin Crest Conference & Retreat Center near Fremont, Neb. The institute will be presented by the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center. The institute, featuring lectures, discussion and guided practice, will look at the nature of conflict, guide participants in understanding their own style of response to conflict, and develop an understanding of mediation skills. Questions can be addressed by Angie Palmer at 308.236.6996 or by sending an e-mail to
NEXT Church is looking for those
with an idea to present at conference
NEXT Church The NEXT Church website asks the questions, "Got an idea you feel called to offer to the conference? Want to raise some provocative questions for reflection? What's your angle on this movement we call the NEXT Church?" The NEXT Church National Gathering runs Feb. 22-24 in Atlanta, and the questions above regard "Ignite" presentations, a feature at the gathering "in which 10 participants give quick, tight, thought-provoking presentations designed to spark imaginations and get people dreaming and scheming about the church." Pitches to be one of the 10 presenters are due Jan. 15 and one of the submissions will be entered in a drawing for free registration to the gathering. Details are at "NEXT Church Ignites."
Disciple-Making Church Conference
lated in January in Florida
Evangelism Writing in The Presbyterian Disciple, Ray Jones, coordinator of 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."
Presbyterians Today offers
Resource Guide for Ministry
Presbyterians Today Described as a comprehensive reference handbook for congregations, Presbyterians Today offers an easy-to-read, in-depth guidebook that assembles "loads of vital ministry information at your fingertips," according to the Guide's promotional information. "The Resource Guide covers dozens of subjects, including disaster response, fundraising and stewardship, the ins and outs of building a website and using social media ... and much more." Information, including purchasing details, is available at "Resource Guide for Ministry."
Card sales, alternative gift
opportunities support special offerings
Alternative gifts Presbyterians can practice two perennial Christmas traditions, sending cards and giving gifts, all while making a lasting difference through support of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)'s four churchwide special offerings. "Ordering the Christmas cards we are offering and/or making a gift through the Presbyterian Giving Catalog in honor of a family member or friend will benefit the life-changing ministries supported by our church-wide special offerings," said Bryce Wiebe, manager of PC(USA) special offerings. The complete announcement from the Presbyterian News Service can be found at "Gift Alternatives."
News from colleges, universities, seminaries
UDTSLogo UDTS announces new,
transformed degree programs
The University of Dubuque Theological Seminary recently announced new and transformed degree programs designed to meet the new missional challenges and leadership needs of Christianity in North America, according to an announcement issued by the seminary last month. The complete announcement can be found at "New and Transformed."

Professor publishes book
about The Christian Century magazine
Elesha Coffman The Christian Century magazine has been called "Protestantism's most vigorous voice" by Time magazine, and Elesha Coffman, assistant professor of church history at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary, has published a history of it. Called "The Christian Century and the Rise of the Protestant Mainline," the book offers, according to its listing on, "the first full-length, critical study of The Christian Century, widely regarded as the most influential religious magazine in America for most of the 20th century." Coffman writes about the magazine's "chronic financial struggles, evolving editorial positions, and often fractious relations among writers, editors and readers, as well as the central role it played in the rise of mainline Protestantism." The book can be found at "The Christian Century."
News from the Board of Pensions
December issue of Board Connections posted
BOP Connections Logo The newest edition of Board Connections, the newsletter of the Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), is now available. Highlights include change in behavioral health network, information about the Christmas Joy Offering, upcoming Board University seminars and more. The complete newsletter is at "Board Connections."
News around the PC(USA) & more
Twitter Logo Bird Vice Moderator, COGA plan
Twitter chat on identity
Larissa Kwong Abazia, vice moderator of the 221st General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and Wilson Kennedy, a member of the Committee on the Office of the General Assembly, will take part in an upcoming Twitter chat Tuesday, Dec. 15, from 8 to 9  p.m. CST about the identity and purpose of the PC(USA). They will be @LarissaLKA and @wmkennedy. The chat takes place at hashtag #pcusaidentity. The chat is part of the church-wide conversation that's taking place prior to the 222nd General Assembly June 18-25, in Portland, Ore. An online survey is running through Dec. 18 at "Identity and Purpose."
Copeland blogs about refugees,
Adam Copeland fear, being Christian
In a blog column titled "They Will Know We are Christians by Our Fear," Adam Copeland writes, "The call to welcome the refugee is practically an essential tenant of Christianity, and yet after the Paris terrorists attacks, many Christians are calling to halt our (already paltry) resettlement of Syrian refugees.This reaction is difficult for me to understand, but like many irrational responses, I suspect it's based in fear: fear of terrorism, perhaps, but mostly fear of the unknown. Fear of those from foreign places. Fear of those who speak other languages than English. Fear of non-Christians." Copeland, who serves as director of the Center for Stewardship Leaders and a member of the faculty at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minn., is author of "Kissing in the Chapel, Praying in the Frat House: Wrestling with Faith and College." His complete column can be found at "Refugees and Fear."
PC(USA) supports refugees from Syria, the world
Immigration issues Noting its call to support refugees from Syria and the world, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has a long history with refugee resettlement. The denomination's website notes, "[C]ongregations have supported refugee resettlement since the refugee crisis created by World War II. The 160th General Assembly (1948) of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America stated, 'The United States should pass legislation to bring in at least 400 thousand displaced persons during the next four years. ... As they arrive, our church people should stand ready to open their homes and provide work for these unfortunate victims of war' (Minutes, PCUSA, 1948, Part I, p. 204). The people from the pews who approved that policy did so because [they] knew that scripture calls us to shelter the homeless and welcome the stranger." The section on the PC(USA) website can be found at "Immigration."
Peacemaking travel study explores
reconciliation work in war-torn Colombia
Bill Davnie During a 12-day Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Peacemaking Travel Study Seminar to Colombia, Bill Davnie, stated clerk of the Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area, saw much of the country and participated in a number of discussions dealing with that nation's La Violencia period of partisan fighting. Davnie, a PC(USA) teaching elder since 1976, has extensive international travel experience, and served as a U.S. foreign service officer from 1981 to 2007. Davnie wrote about one day of the trip, noting: "We tumbled out of bed in the dark and climbed into our bus by 5 a.m. ... [W]e pulled up to the Christo Reina Presbyterian Church a little before 7 and were welcomed by Pastora Martha Lugo ...  Pastora Martha said Colombians are hearing a lot about peace these days. While the government negotiates peace, [she said], the church wants the country to talk about forgiveness and reconciliation." The complete story is at "A Day in Colombia."
Individuals, congregations, presbyteries
respond to keep mission co-workers in service
Mission Matters logo Choosing to make a difference in the world through Presbyterian World Mission, congregations and individuals from around the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) continue to respond in unique and creative ways to keep mission co-workers in service around the world. In April, Presbyterian World Mission announced it was facing a major funding shortfall that could force the recall of as many as 40 mission co-workers. Although there is still much work to be done, the Rev. Hunter Farrell, director of World Mission, says the growing response is proving that Presbyterians, even in a time of polarization across the denomination and across U.S. society, still believe in working together in mission. The complete Presbyterian News Service story is at "Supporting World Mission."
Native American Leadership Institute
focuses on leading through times of change
Any national gathering of Native Americans is a time of renewing friendships, making new friends and sharing stories of mutual ministry. Members of more than 13 Native tribes from seven states gathered last month in Greensboro, N.C., for leadership training, to share best practices of ministry and leadership and to learn more about leadership and service opportunities in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Leaders of Native American congregations are determined to do what it takes to ensure the future of Native American Presbyterian congregations as both church and society experience rapid change. Leaders attending the event participated in sessions on youth ministry, spiritual formation, Presbyterian polity as well as budget and finance. A panel discussion addressed questions about the state of the Native American church. The complete story from the Presbyterian News Service is at "Leadership Institute."
Young Adult Volunteer alumni reflect
YAV logo on life-changing service
Blake Collins, a Young Adult Volunteer of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), describes an encounter with a mission co-worker in Peru. The story appeared in Mission Crossroads, a publication of Presbyterian World Mission, in winter 2015. He wrote: "'Blake, if you give a person a fish they eat once; if you teach a person to fish they eat for a lifetime. But what do you do when all the fish in the river are dead? What do you do when the source of the fish is polluted? You go upstream and advocate.' This is what the Rev. Jed Koball, a mission co-worker in Peru, said to me as I entered my year of service as a Young Adult Volunteer." Collins' complete story can be found at "Life Changing."
Just one more
Christmas time, family time, trivia
Mental Floss Magazine We are in the Christmas season. There will likely be family gatherings. There may even be games. Remember Trivial Pursuit? You probably have a version in one of your closets, on a shelf, dusty. If you play it all, it's usually with family members. There are those among us who are quite good when it comes to trivia -- and sometimes not much else. And there are those would rather leave the game in the closet. Well, if you must play it at this time of year, you can study with John Green videos, available on Mental Floss. Being in a profession that sometimes requires quotation accuracy, this video is a must. It's at "Misquotations."