In This Issue
News around the Synod of Lakes and Prairies
Conferences, camps, resources
News of the Board of Pensions
News around the PC(USA) and more
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April 19, 2016

News around the Synod of Lakes and Prairies
Synod set to install moderator,
Synod Logo vice moderator, stated clerk
The Synod of Lakes and Prairies will install a new moderator and a new vice moderator, and also install its stated clerk when it meets May 1-3 at Mt. Olivet Conference and Retreat Center in Farmington, Minn.

Fern Cloud, ruling elder from Dakota Presbytery, will be installed as moderator and Greg Braatz, ruling elder from Winnebago Presbytery, will be installed as vice moderator. Pamela Prouty will be installed as the synod's stated clerk.
In addition to hearing reports from the stated clerk, synod executive, the synod's communications office, and the synod's Steering Committee, Program Coordination, Ecclesiastical Relations, Personnel, and Finance committees will conduct meetings.
A panel discussion on church safety is planned Monday evening at 7.
The meeting is expected to adjourn late Tuesday morning.
Prouty among interfaith leaders
who urge rejection of Islamophobia
The Rev. Scott Prouty, pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Redwood Falls, Minn., recently represented Presbyterians at an interfaith gathering in Washington, D.C., that called on political parties to formally commit to protecting religious minorities on the campaign trail.
Prouty interfaith A story from Aysha Khan of the Religion News Service noted, "Previous campaigns have targeted candidates, but Shoulder to Shoulder - a coalition of 32 religious denominations and organizations, including the Islamic Society of North America and the National Council of Churches - is aiming for the party heads.
'When we have people whose bigoted, hateful, Islamophobic, racist rhetoric challenges the very principles of American society, when they seek the highest office of the land, we stand sister to sister, brother to brother, shoulder to shoulder, and we say no,' said Rabbi Jonah Pesner of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism in a Washington press conference April 14." The complete story is at "Islamophobic Rejection."
(Prouty is on the left in Aysha Khan's photo above that shows the Rev. Ron Stief, at mic, chair of the Shoulder to Shoulder campaign against Islamophobia, speaking during a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington.)
Star Tribune points out anti-Muslim
speaking circuit in Minnesota
Star Tribune The Star Tribune of Minneapolis published April 17 a story about a speaking circuit in Minnesota that is painting "an alarming image of Islam" and "drawing several hundred people per visit."  Written by Matt McKinney, the story noted, "One hour into a presentation on the perceived threat posed by Muslim immigrants, St. Cloud car salesman and anti-immigration activist Ron Branstner ramps up his pitch. The United Nations, Branstner begins, sends Muslim refugees to the United States and to such cities as St. Cloud, 'to divide and conquer, get rid of our Constitution, get rid of our way of life and implement it with another way of life called. ... ' Branstner pauses for effect, and a few people in the crowd of 100 shout the answer: 'sharia law!' The speaker nods. 'Sharia law.'" The complete Star Tribune story can be found at "Islamophobia."
Massey calls for revitalization in the church
On Feb. 13, the Rev. Sam Massey, pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Iowa City, preached during worship at the 503rd stated meeting of the Des Moines Presbytery Presbytery of Des Moines in Ankeny, Iowa. The Rev. Massey is a member of East Iowa Presbytery, but he preached by invitation, and he preached about revitalization.
Massey said, "Let us begin by admitting that we have something in common: We are a challenged people. In the last few years, as a denomination, we have lost 25 percent of our members. We are experiencing a great deal of free floating anger, and distrust.
"We desperately need revitalization. If I were to be in a congregational context, I would be speaking of revitalization to congregations. If we were episcopal, I would share this message with the bishop and her cabinet. But we are Presbyterians, and this means that revitalization must happen here and now."
Massey's complete sermon can be found at "Revitalizing."
Synod School features
John Bell as convocation speaker
John Bell John Bell, the world renowned lecturer, preacher and teacher, will be the convocation speaker at Synod School this summer. Bell is a member of the Wild Goose Resource Group, an autonomous project of the Iona Community in Scotland. Synod School, which runs July 24-29 at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa, is a widely known education ministry of the Synod of Lakes and Prairies. Each year about 600 people participate in the courses, worship, fellowship, fun and relaxation. Details are at "Synod School."
Synod PW posts registration
booklet for summer gathering
Presby Women Gather The registration booklet for the Gathering of Presbyterian Women in the Synod of Lakes and Prairies is posted on the synod's website. 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 Form."
Minnesota Valleys new worshiping
community receives $25,000 grant
Minnesota Valleys Logo Hope Christian Ministry, a new worshiping community in the Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys, is one of 27 new worshiping communities that recently received grants from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The ministry started in 2012 as a ministry to Anuak people, new immigrants, asylum seekers and refugees from South Sudan and Ethiopia who were a growing part of neighborhoods and communities within the presbytery. Additional information, including the list of other awardees, can be found in the announcement from the Presbyterian News Service at "Grant Recipients."
Twin Cities church's Sabbath-keeping
noted in Faith & Leadership
Kara Root "When the Rev. Kara Root, at right, came to Lake Nokomis Presbyterian Church in 2008, the congregation wasn't exactly desperate. 'They were already past desperate,' Root said." That's the way Jeff Strickler, writing for Faith & Leadership, an online magazine of leadership education at Duke University, opened a March 22 article about the Minneapolis congregation's effort to hold Sabbath-keeping at the "heart of its life together." The complete article can be found at "Keeping Sabbath." (Photo by Tom Wallace.)
Minneapolis church begins
large expansion, outreach project
Westminster Mpls In an effort to meet the needs of a growing urban population, Westminster Presbyterian Church in Minneapolis has embarked upon an $80 million expansion project to better engage the needs of the city. Several funding streams, including a $35 million commitment from the congregation, have brought the "Open Doors Open Futures" project to life. A community celebration and groundbreaking ceremony was held last Sunday. "The project started in a completely unexpected way," says the Rev. Dr. Timothy D. Hart-Andersen, Westminster's senior pastor and head of staff. "Four and a half years ago, a sizeable gift from Presbyterians committed to moving the church into the 21st century helped us buy the property next door." The complete Presbyterian News Service story is at "Expansion Project."
Conferences, camps, resources
Quad Presbyteries offer mediation skills training
lombard mennonite The Lombard Mennonite Peace Center will present a Mediation Skills Training Institute for Church Leaders May 23-27 at Calvin Crest Conference & Retreat Center near Fremont, Neb. A combination of lectures, discussion and guided practice in role plays, the training 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 using family systems theory. Questions concerning the training can be addressed to Angie Palmer in the Presbytery of Central Nebraska by calling 308.236.6996 or by e-mail to
'Regarding Ruling Elders' resource
addresses 'partners in Christ's service'
Sallie Scheide, a ruling elder and clerk of session at First Presbyterian Church in Mt. Pleasant, Mich., writes this month's installment of Regarding Ruling Elders, a resource provided by the Office of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). She opens, "When I became a ruling elder, I recall the constitutional questions for ordination and installation that really resonated with me were those that speak to being partners in Christ's service: 'Will you in your own life seek to follow the Lord Jesus Christ, love your neighbors, and work for the reconciliation of the world? ... Will you pray for and seek to serve the people with energy, intelligence, imagination, and love?' ("Book of Order," W-4.4003f,h)."  The complete column can be found at "Partners in Service."
CUIC, OGA video explores race, the church
OGA symbol The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Office of the General Assembly has partnered with Churches Uniting in Christ (CUIC) to produce a video on race. Through the lens of the Michael Brown killing in Ferguson, Mo., "Race and the Church: A New Call" explores how CUIC member churches, including the PC(USA), are responding to the current racial climate in the United States, and challenges them to look outside themselves as they work for justice in the future. The complete story and video from the Presbyterian News Service can be found at "Race and The Church."
Great Plains Wee Kirk Conference
set May 2-4 in Nebraska
The Rev. Bill Nottage-Tacey is the main speaker at this spring's Great Plains Wee Kirk Conference planned May 2-4 at Calvin Crest Camp, Conference & Retreat Center near Fremont, Neb. This year's conference is themed "Speak the Word of God with All Boldness." Great Plains Wee Kirk is a ministry of The Fellowship Community with support from the Omaha Presbyterian Seminary Foundation. Details, including links to register, can be found at "Wee Kirk."
Summer Pastors School runs
in early June at Hastings College
Summer Pastors School, a program of the Omaha Presbyterian Seminary Foundation, runs June 5-11 at Hastings (Neb.) College. Speakers include Thomas G. Long, Bandy professor of preaching at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta; James Ayers, renewal pastor at Bethel Presbyterian Church in Wichita, Kan., and professor at Fuller Seminary in Houston; Nancy Ramsay, professor of pastoral theology and pastoral care at Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth, Texas; and Mark Sundby, executive director of North Central Ministry Development Center in New Brighton, Minn. Early bird registration runs through April 20. Details are at "Summer Pastors School."
Clearwater Forest notes 'sapping'
success, lists summer camp details
Clearwater Logo The April newsletter of Clearwater Forest, a Presbyterian camp and conference center near Deerwood, Minn., noted stories of a busy spring. "Spring has truly set in at Clearwater Forest," the newsletter proclaimed. "Our sappers were very busy with almost 3,000 gallons of sap from 400 trees ... collected over a two-week period. ... We hope to see and hear the loons and ospreys soon!" Details of the summer programs can be found at "Clearwater Forest."  
Lakeshore Center offers special rates through May
Lakeshore Lodge The Lakeshore Center at Okoboji, a Presbyterian camp and conference center on Lake Okoboji near Milford, Iowa, is offering special room rates through May. Details can be found at "May Offer." Lakeshore Center has also published its April newsletter, CrossTalk. It can be found at "CrossTalk."
Leadership Connection plans
face-to-face at General Assembly
Leadership Connection The Church Leadership Connection of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the call system of the denomination, will bring together call seekers and representatives of congregations and other calling organizations during the 222nd General Assembly this summer in Portland, Ore. Training will include vocational coaching, one-on-one PIF reviews, guidance on writing effective PIFs, PNC training, and a panel discussion with mid-council leaders. Additional Information is at "Leadership Connection."
Carol Howard Merritt Carol Howard Merritt headlines
Washington Island Forum
Carol Howard Merritt, well known author and speaker, will address "The Church on the Edge" at this year's Washington Island Forum that runs June 20-24. The Forum is a 40-year tradition sponsored by the Wisconsin Council of Churches and The Christian Century magazine. The four and a half-day event includes worship, workshops, discussion and contemplation in an ecumenical retreat setting on Washington Island, located about seven miles northeast of the tip of Door Peninsula. Merritt, a Presbyterian minister and senior consultant for the Center for Progressive Religion, is author of "Tribal Church: Ministering to the Missing Generation" and "Reframing Hope: Vital Ministry in a New Generation." She is a frequent contributor to books, blogs, magazines and journals. Details are at "Washington Island Forum."
Churches can provide help
to youth searching for identity
Presbyterians Today For most high school students, senior year is an exciting time of preparing for the future while enjoying being on top of the social ladder. But American University freshman Cerys Beckwith remembers her senior year as one filled with trauma. While working as an editor of her high school's literary magazine, Cerys stayed after school one day to meet with a classmate who claimed to be having trouble in a class. The plan was for them to meet outside the school. (The complete article, originally printed in the March/April edition of Presbyterians Today magazine is an adaptation of an article previously published by Presbyterian Publishing.) An adaptation of the article can be found at "Search for Identity."
News of the Board of Pensions
Report to GA, letter regarding
amendments are available from BOP
Board of Pensions logo The Benefits Plan of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) requires the Board of Pensions to notify members of certain amendments to the plan. The Report of Benefits Plan Amendments, which will be submitted to the General Assembly this summer, and a letter regarding the amendments are available online at "Amendments" and "Amendment Letter."
News around the PC(USA) & more
J. Herbert Nelson named nominee
J Herbert Nelson for PC(USA) stated clerk
J. Herbert Nelson, currently director of the Office of Public Witness for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), is the nominee to be the PC(USA)'s next stated clerk. Chosen from a group of six who had made it to the final round for consideration, the Stated Clerk Nomination Committee named Nelson April 19 as its nominee. The committee will ask the General Assembly, meeting in Portland, Ore., June 18-25, to elect the 56-year-old Nelson to a four-year term as stated clerk, succeeding Gradye Parsons. The complete story from The Presbyterian Outlook can be found at "Nelson."
Mission Agency releases unaudited 2015 financials
Mission agency The Presbyterian Mission Agency of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) released its unaudited 2015 financial statement this week, reporting a $3.4 million surplus on combined income minus expenses. Total giving income from congregations, presbyteries and individuals was $36.6 million, which is 3.3 percent over expectations. Direct mission support, primarily earmarked for mission co-worker support, was $4.2 million, 12.6 percent over the 2015 estimate. Expenses for the Mission Agency came in at $68.8 million, 10.2 percent less than budgeted 2015 spending, providing the $3.4 million surplus of income minus expenses. The complete Presbyterian News Service story is at "Financials."
PMA announces budget communication plan, expects 'small number' of layoffs
Mission agency In an email to Presbyterian Mission Agency (PMA) staff last week, interim executive director Tony De La Rosa announced plans to communicate details of the budget, mission plan and staffing decisions in the weeks leading up to the PMA's April 26-29 board meeting. "Out of the deepest respect and appreciation for each of you and the work that you do, the leadership cabinet and I have made a commitment to approach budget cuts, resulting layoffs and communication of the process differently than we have in years past," De La Rosa said. A "small number" of layoffs is expected at the end of April as budget and programming for the Mission Agency over the next two years is finalized according to the 2017-2018 Mission Work Plan that will be presented to the board for approval. The complete Presbyterian News Service story is at "Budget Communication Plan."
PDA commemorates 20 years of service
PDA disaster assistance More than 100 members of the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance National Response Team came from across the country and gathered in a St. Louis hotel conference room in a sea of blue; kicking off their annual meeting with a celebration and cake. Twenty years ago, a handful of dedicated Presbyterian leaders began what was then known as the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance Team or PDAT. The Rev. Alonza Washington was among the members of the original team. He says it's rewarding to see how PDA has grown into a ministry of presence. The complete Presbyterian News Service can be found at "PDA at Twenty."
More than 200 Presbyterians
take part in CPJ Training Day
A record number of Presbyterians gathered at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church recently to talk about some serious issues facing the United States and the church. But organizers behind Compassion, Peace and Justice Training Day say that's what makes these annual gatherings so important to church members. The theme for this year's CPJ Day was "Lift Every Voice: Racism, Class and Power," and it generated interest among church members, pastors and elders from New York to California. More than 200 gathered in the church sanctuary for a panel discussion on collective power, and to hear inspiring words from the Rev. Dr. Mark Lomax of the First Afrikan Presbyterian Church of Lithonia, Ga. The complete Presbyterian News Service story is at "Training Day."
Just one more

Does anyone explore 'abandoned' places?
Upworthy Logo There's something about abandoned places. An Upworthy post this week highlighted pictures of Fukushima, Japan, five years after the nuclear disaster there. You can find those pictures at "Fukushima." Seeing that made your editor seek out some shots of Chernobyl, where another nuclear disaster took place in the 1980s. Those pictures are at "Chernobyl." And, then, your editor had to seek pictures of Ambrose, N.D., where he used to explore, from time to time, when he worked near there as news editor of a weekly newspaper. Don't even bother to ask about the abandoned hospital. He looked inside once. The rear stairwell has since been removed. There are a few less eerie pictures at "Ambrose."