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

December 21, 2015

Celebrating the birth of Jesus

The office of the Synod of Lakes and Prairies will be closed Thursday, Dec. 24, through Sunday, Jan. 3. The office reopens Monday, Jan. 4.
News around the Synod of Lakes and Prairies
Clearwater Forest acknowledges
support of Lakes and Prairies
Rich Swartwood, executive director of Clearwater Forest, a Presbyterian camp and conference center near Deerwood, Minn., thanked the Synod of Clearwater Logo Lakes and Prairies for its support of its continuing ministry. Writing to the synod's Ecclesiastical Relations Committee, Swartwood noted, "The recent gift of $15,000 has been used to purchase an electric four-bay buffet line for the dining hall and 88 new mattresses that will replace old, uncomfortable mattresses. ... We were also able to secure a grant of $2,000 from Madelia, [Minn., First] Presbyterian Church to purchase an additional 16 mattresses. ... [The mattresses] were delivered today in the snow, and will be installed throughout the winter for a busy summer program.  The buffet line will be delivered in early January in time for our annual snow camp."
Milwaukee church addresses
homelessness with 'Divine Intervention'
"Once you open the door of possibility things happen," says the Rev. Karen Hagen, pastor of Tippecanoe Presbyterian Church in Milwaukee, Wis. Things really began to happen for this 51-member congregation when they decided to open their church doors in response to the needs of homeless persons in the Bay View area of their city. After noticing an increase in the number of homeless individuals around their churches, and realizing members of their congregation were on the verge of becoming homeless, several churches came together and began exploring viable intervention options. They knew something had to be done. Their original vision was to create a rotating shelter, "but one of the city jurisdictions closed the door in our face and they closed it pretty hard," says Hagen. "It was pretty disdaining because of the way they closed them. They told us we couldn't have a shelter in our church." So the church responded by opening its doors for prayer vigils -- overnight prayer vigils, creating the only Southside warming room in Milwaukee. Their prayers gave birth to the Divine Intervention ministry -- a ministry that has received the Outstanding Urban Ministry Award of the Greater Milwaukee Interfaith Conference. The complete Presbyterian News Service story can be found at "Divine Intervention."
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 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."

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
slated 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."
Regarding Ruling Elders resource
addresses ruling elders, treasurers
The Rev. Ted McCulloch, stated clerk for the Presbytery of Lake Huron since 2010, writes this month's installment of the Office of the General Assembly's resource, Regarding Ruling Elders. McCulloch notes, "Back in the days when circuses traveled the land, there was a strongman as one of the sideshow acts that would demonstrate his power before a large audience. Toward the end, he squeezed the juice from a lemon between his hands. He then said to the audience, 'I will offer $200 to anyone in the audience who can squeeze another drop from this lemon.' A thin, scholarly looking elderly woman with glasses on a chain around her neck, came forward, picked up the lemon, squeezed it hard, and managed to get a drop of juice out of the lemon. The strongman was amazed. As he paid the woman the $200, he said, 'I've got to ask, 'What is the secret of your strength?'' 'Practice,' the woman answered. 'I was the treasurer of First Presbyterian Church for 32 years and have always had to squeeze something out of nothing!'" McCulloch's complete column can be found at "Regarding Ruling Elders."
'Being Reformed' adult study
addresses topics of grace, gratitude
grace and gratitude A new "Being Reformed: Faith Seeking Understanding" study for adults explores two important aspects of Reformed and Presbyterian identity and conviction: "Grace and Gratitude." Written by the Rev. Dr. Charles Wiley III, coordinator of the Presbyterian Mission Agency's office of Theology and Worship, "Grace and Gratitude," which consists of a participant's and a leader's guide, the latter written by Eva Stimson, explores what some church people say is a fast-disappearing part of the worship service, the confession of sin. Wiley, bucking the prevalent trend, says people cannot fully know they belong to a God of grace, nor live grateful lives without confessing their sin and hearing the good news. The complete Presbyterian News Service story is at "Grace and Gratitude."
Christmas story will kick off
2016 Presbyterian Youth Triennium
2016 Youth Triennium It's not exactly Christmas in July, but the 2016 Presbyterian Youth Triennium opening night theme is based on a passage in the gospel of Luke that is traditionally read at Christmas Eve worship services around the country. An anticipated 5,000 Presbyterian youth attending the 2016 Triennium July 19-23 are invited to consider again the Christmas story of shepherds terrified in their fields, when an angel of the Lord comes to visit them. Rodger Nishioka, a Christian education professor at Columbia Theological Seminary in Georgia, is particularly interested in faith formation for youth and young adults. Presbyterian News Service caught up with him to discuss the significance of opening the "GO" Triennium theme with the shepherds' Christmas story. The complete story is at "Christmas at Triennium."
News from colleges, universities, seminaries
PC(USA) seminary presidents united
in appeal to end climate of fear, distrust
In response to recent inflammatory statements made by politicians, T. Erskine Clarke, editor and publisher at the Journal for Preachers and professor emeritus at Columbia Theological Seminary, has issued a letter calling for Christians to "seek to be agents of God's justice and reconciliation in the world." The letter calls for "Christian commitments" to oppose a climate of fear, the stereotyping of racial ethnic persons, the proliferation of guns and gun violence, the demonization of refugees and dangerous isolationism. The letter opens, "We the undersigned are deeply concerned that in the current political climate many politicians and many in the media are calling on Christian voters to abandon our commitment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to turn from His call to discipleship." The complete Presbyterian News Service story can be found at "Reaffirming Commitments."
News around the PC(USA) & more
Christmas Joy Offering helps church's
past, present, future leaders
Christmas Joy 2015 Helping our fellow humans improves the health, happiness and often the longevity of those who volunteer. However, the blessing can work both ways, as Sharon Connole-Key can attest as both a recipient of and donor to the Christmas Joy Offering. "The experience of receiving generosity has empowered me to do for others," Connole-Key says. Battling advanced thyroid cancer since 2001, she was facing the growing medical bills that come with treating long-term diseases. Like so many Americans, she didn't know where to turn. "No one should have to choose between food and medicine." The complete Presbyterian News Service story can be found at "Christmas Joy Offering."
PC(USA) World Mission provides
opportunity to do more working together
Mission Matters logo When it comes to mission projects in foreign countries, it's better to paint the school once, rather than seven times, and to work toward the important, typically long-term, goals. It's much like Hunter Farrell, director of World Mission, writes in his monthly column in Mission Matters, a newsletter of the Presbyterian Mission Agency. He notes, "The South American church leader seemed to choose his words carefully. 'Thank you for sending so many short-term mission teams to visit us,' he said. 'When we see their faces, we know that your church is with us.'  The affirmation ended a bit abruptly and I wondered if there was something more to be said. I remained silent and waited. After a pause, he added, 'But imagine if we worked together on the important things.'" Farrell's complete column is at "The Important Things." Right now, gifts to support World Mission are important right now. Gifts can be made at "World Mission Donation."
Storms, other disasters stretch
Presbyterian Disaster Assistance resources
PDA disaster assistance Over the years, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance has responded to massive weather events like Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy or major earthquakes and tsunamis in other countries. But 2015 brought a new set of challenges to PDA staff and volunteers. "What we've had this year has been an extraordinary number of what I call cascading events. They start small and then just keep coming on in intensity," said the Rev. Dr. Laurie Kraus, PDA coordinator. Kraus refers to the record rainfalls and accompanying flooding that occurred in Texas in spring and fall, as well as South Carolina. Fires throughout the west displaced thousands of people and put entire communities at risk. The complete Presbyterian News Service story can be found at "PDA Resources."
PMA leadership cabinet recommends
Mission agency elimination of salary increases
In its ongoing efforts to set the Presbyterian Mission Agency on secure financial footing and minimize, although not entirely eliminate, anticipated reductions in force, the PMA Human Resources office recommended, and the leadership cabinet approved, to recommend to the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board that there be no salary increases for Presbyterian Mission Agency staff in 2016. The complete Presbyterian News Service story can be found at "No Salary Increase."
PC(USA) congregation celebrates
50 years of bi-racial ministry
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "it is appalling that the most segregated hour of Christian America is 11 o'clock on Sunday morning." Still today, people of distinct racial groups -- black, white and others -- largely continue to worship in their respective churches, segregated from one another. Yet 50 years ago this Christmas, an all-white congregation and an all-black congregation merged to become one church. First Presbyterian Church of York, Pa., is celebrating the 50th anniversary of that union throughout the month of December. The complete Presbyterian News Service story is at "One Church."
Just one more
And then there's this:
TSA officers talk about experiences
Mental Floss Magazine Your editor didn't know this, but that's not unusual. The Mental Floss site this week included a post about the experiences of Transportation Security Administration officers. You know -- the folks who screen you at the airport. It's the "life in blue gloves." Or, how do you screen more than 800 million people. And did you know cats are bad? Well, really. It's at "TSA Stories."