Notes from the Stated Clerk, Barbara Lutter, about the business of the presbytery during this unusual time.
During the past few months of quarantine-style living, a number of trends have emerged. We are baking more, especially bread, banana bread and cinnamon rolls. We have re-discovered board games and jigsaw puzzles. Fabric arts, tie dye and quilting have resurged in popularity. And we are cleaning ~ deep cleaning ~ purging closets ~ organizing the garage, basement, storage room. My daughter calls it “spring cleaning on steroids.”
I am taking advantage of this quarantine time to deep clean and organize some of our presbytery files, records and systems. In the next few weeks, we will be updating our database and directory so that we have current contact information. It would be really helpful if the office could be notified of address changes, position changes, new phone numbers, new emails, deaths, etc., so that our database would be accurate. Thank you, in advance, for your assistance in this project.
We will be “balancing” our rolls with the records maintained by the Office of the General Assembly, so that our records match. And we are creating and updating systems for many of the tasks and processes that the stated clerk manages.
These updated systems will make it easier for committees to communicate information to the office/stated clerk; they will clearly identify areas of responsibility, in the hope that tasks won’t fall between the cracks. Many of these systems may have existed before ~ perhaps unwritten (and with staff turnover and the passage of time, they have been “lost”) and perhaps written, but lost in the massive data loss we experienced a few years ago. During such a time as this (quarantine time), we have the prefect opportunity to create systems that will work for us now.
One example: In the past few weeks, Teaching Elders in Validated Ministries and Members-at-Large have received a request to complete and return their Annual Reports. Annual Reports are not “new,” they happen annually as required by the Book of Order, G-2.0503a; G-2.0503b. However, the opportunity to connect with our minister members should be more than the mandated completion of a report form. One of our priorities as a presbytery is to support and equip our leaders ~ and the Annual Report provides us with an opportunity to build relationships of care and support with our minister members. So this year, the Annual Report process is a bit different from prior years.

Beginning this year, we are collecting Annual Reports during the summer months instead of during Advent. We are asking questions about ministry and life events, in the hope that we, as a presbytery, can provide better support for our members during life changes, transitions in ministry, and family changes. If you’d like to see what our minister members received, here is the LINK to the annual report packet.

As the reports are returned, I have learned a ton about the ministries that are occurring in our presbytery, and we have received valuable information that helps us update our files so they are accurate. We’ve learned about the births of new babies; we’ve learned about new positions and responsibilities; we’ve learned about the joys and blessings experienced by our minister members over the past year. It is my strong desire to follow up, as appropriate, with individuals in response to concerns that they have shared so that we can strengthen relationships between minister members and the presbytery.

As the presbytery implements our new committee structure, there will be additional projects to undertake. Our Bylaws and Manual of Operations will require amendment to reflect the new structure. But those are projects for another day… or another article.

In the meantime, I will be baking banana bread and my grandma’s cinnamon rolls … and organizing files. That’s my quarantine routine.
A reminder for congregations:
COVID-19/Return to the Building Updates
Stay-Safe Guidance for Places of Worship Is the place to go for information from the Minnesota Department of Health, pertaining to healthy guidelines for church activity. Note that MDH is still encouraging churches and other businesses and organizations to remain closed at this time; but they defer to current and changing state and local restrictions and regulations.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services continue to provide updates on state requirements for indoor activity and return to active use of the building.

The Minnesota Department of Health said again this week that “all businesses and churches are required to have a COVID-19 plan. There is a legal liability. If guidance is ignored an entity can be reported and penalized.” A church’s plan must cover not simply activities by the church itself, but by all users of the building.

The MDH also reported that the highest number of NEW cases is among 20-30 year-olds. And that the highest number of asymptomatic carriers tend not to be in affected groups, but are rather among middle-aged white persons who, again, may not be aware that they are carriers! Both states continue to encourage all persons to wear masks in public.
Sermons and Worship Offerings
July 15 Scripture / sermon only video featuring PTCA moderator Rev. Anna Kendig and PTCA vice-moderator, ruling elder Jean Emmons, in dialogue with the text and with each other:
Download video file here:    

Download closed caption SRT file:  
*for use on YouTube or Facebook

YouTube link for sharing:

The Presbytery will also offer two complete worship services, including liturgy, music, Scripture and sermon. Both will be available for download on or about July 20.
  • The first service (intended for use July 25) will be led by PTCA chaplain Chad Jones; a reflection on the Word will be brought by the Rev. Dr. Diane Givens Moffett, president and executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency. 
  • The second service (intended for use August 2) will be led by PTCA chaplain Kate O-Brien Soltau; a reflection on the Word will be brought by the Rev. Gregory Bentley, pastor of Friendship Presbyterian Church in Huntsville, Alabama, and co-moderator of the 224th General Assembly.

Pastors and clerks of session will receive a direct email early next week on how to download the full worship service for use. You may also contact Jennifer Schultz, office administrator of the Presbytery, at .

Self Development of People Committee
Deadline for 2020 SDOP Award Applications
Perhaps now more than ever there are grassroot community groups within our neighborhoods that might benefit from a Self Development of People award to promote justice, build solidarity, advance human dignity and advocate for economic equity. Recognizing the current requirements for hygienic distancing, PTCA’s SDOP committee is committed to identifying qualifying community based projects** to consider for awards from this year’s portion of our One Great Hour of Sharing offering. The Application is available online @ and must be submitted by September 1, 2020 for consideration. The amount of the 2020 awards is limited to funds available, approximately $11,000, and may be divided among qualifying organizations. For more information, please contact H. David Stewart @

**grants will only be awarded to community based groups that directly benefit for the services the project provides and directly control the decision making processes for the group. SDOP awards are not made to augment the budgets of churches or existing non-profits.
Congregational Development Fund Enables New Ministry, Organizational Partnerships
NOTE: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Presbytery, through its Committee on Congregational Vitality and the Presbytery Leadership Team, delayed the May 1 deadline for applications for the annual Congregational Development Fund grants, understanding the focus of our congregations was on more immediate challenges. These grants will still be available in 2020, however.  The new deadline is August 15, 2020.  Please read the information below to re-familiarize yourself with this annual grant program.
Synod of Lakes and Prairies Offers Racial-Ethnic Student Scholarships
The Committee on Racial Ethnic Ministries of the Synod of Lakes and Prairies, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) again will offer a student scholarship opportunity to qualified students. The Synod is committed to partner with students and schools for leadership development and quality instruction of clergy and lay persons for lifelong service. Application awards are based on personal achievement, financial need and recommendation from a teacher and pastor.
The Student Scholarship is an educational assistance program designed to encourage indigenous and students of color in their preparation for academic success in higher education. Students must have a permanent residence within the Synod of Lakes and Prairies and be active members in a Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) congregation.
Completed applications are due September 30, 2020 and must include an official transcript and financial aid statement. The application form can be found here. (see attachment)
Please help share this news by distributing the form to eligible students and interested church partners. Still have questions? Contact Elona Street-Stewart, 651-357-1149 or .
In Memory: Rev. Dr. James S. Barge
The Reverend Dr. James Spencer Barge of Inver Grove Heights, MN, died peacefully in his sleep at home and of natural causes on July 12, 2020 with his wife and lifelong best friend Silvey by his side. Jim was born in Perry, OK on October 20, 1931 the only child to Mary Frances (Spencer) and James Lester Barge. In 5th grade, as a member of the Perry First Christian Church, he met the girl who became his partner in life and ministry -- Silvey Lee Wood.
With an enduring commitment to education and the betterment of humankind, Jim graduated in 1953 from the University of Oklahoma (with majors in history, literature and philosophy) and went on to attend Yale Divinity School before transferring (to be closer to his newly widowed mother) to and receiving his B.D. from Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA. In 1977, he earned his Doctor of Ministry degree from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, IL.
On June 5, 1953 he married the only girl he ever loved, Silvey, and after his ordination, together they embarked on a lifetime dedicated to the service of others, beginning with his early callings to campus ministry at two churches. As Jim’s career blossomed, Jim was called in 1965 to serve Westminster Presbyterian Church in Springfield, IL, ultimately becoming its Senior Pastor/ Head of Staff where he and Silvey were deeply dedicated for 21+ years, actively serving the church, the larger community and world. He served the Great Rivers Presbytery in various positions including Moderator and Commissioner to the church’s General Assembly. Jim was consistently engaged in and committed to important social causes of the day and in Springfield he shared in the founding of Contact Ministries and We Who Care (developing dialogue between the Caucasian and African American communities), served on the Illinois College, Planned Parenthood and YMCA boards, and was President of the Springfield Mental Health Board.
In 1986, he was called to serve as Senior Pastor at Westminster Presbyterian Church, Des Moines, IA and Jim later served as an interim pastor for six Presbyterian and United Church of Christ congregations in Iowa and Minnesota. Jim was an Honorably Retired member of the Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area.
In addition to being the beloved husband for 67 years to Silvey Lee (Wood) Barge (who survives him), Jim was proud father to J. Kevin (Courtney) Barge of The Woodlands, TX and J. Stephen (Kathleen) Barge of Sewickley, PA and proud grandfather to Aaren (Sreemoyee Som, fiancé), Cameron, Genevieve, Jackson and Scarlett Barge. Jim and Silvey loved traveling the world together and in later years, loved the time they spent with family and friends at Chautauqua Institution. A well-educated and well-read man, Jim enjoyed reflective conversations about important issues of the day, and in doing so meaningfully contributed to the shaping of two generations of thoughtful thinkers in his own family. Central to their lives together, Jim and Silvey were always working to better our world and the lives of their fellow human beings, and he gave generously of himself to community and social service organizations both during his career and in retirement in the St Paul community. A truly gifted preacher, Jim was a beloved pastor and in retirement thoroughly enjoyed attending House of Hope in St Paul, MN. Jim’s memorial service will happen at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Springfield, IL at a later date, followed by an interment in the church’s memorial garden. If desired, memorial contributions can be sent to House of Hope, St. Paul; Jim’s retirement community PHS Timber Hills; Chautauqua Institution; Westminster Presbyterian Church, Springfield, IL or to the charity of your choice.
In Memory: Lois A. Potter
Lois Alene (Bixby) Potter was a loving wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt, grandmother, mother-in-law, great-aunt, and friend. She was exceptional. Lois was born in Fresno, California, on May 9, 1930. Born into poverty, she worked hard and improved her circumstances. She graduated at the top of her high school class, graduated from Fresno State College, and went on to receive her Master’s
Degree in Religious Education from Pittsburgh-Xenia Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania. She nurtured a close relationship with God and, while at seminary, found a life partner, Doug, who cherished the same values. Rooted deeply in Christian values, their marriage lasted almost 62 years. They were a spiritual team for congregations in Ohio, Maryland, Nebraska, and Minnesota.
Additionally, Lois was a mission leader, was active in the Presbyterian Women’s group at both local and national levels, and thoroughly enjoyed her various Circle and Bible Study groups. Lois loved music, playing the violin, piano, bells, and organ—and was a singer, too. She had a passion for travel and other cultures and visited China, New Zealand, Central America, Europe, and almost every state in the U.S. Lois adored her family. She taught her girls how to “celebrate people’s differences”, showed them how to forgive, and set the bar for compassion. She cooked, baked, gardened, quilted, crocheted, knitted, and created many art projects with her girls when they were young and faithfully wrote them much-anticipated weekly letters once they left home. She was simultaneously their rock and North Star. A private family service was held at Calvin Presbyterian Church 177 Glendale Drive, Long Lake.
We were so blessed to have been given the gift that was Lois. Send condolences to: Rev. Doug Potter, 4523 Shoreline Drive #312, Spring Park MN 55384.

Get the Link
Pastors, Admins and Clerks of Session: are you receiving your semi-monthly copy of  the Link ? It's our business newsletter with important announcements and reminders, plus other items of interest. It generally does not repeat Emerge content. Here is a link to our last issue:   

If you aren't receiving this email, and want to (regardless of whether you're a TE, RE or essential staff), please email Jennifer at and you will get on the list. Thank you!
Job Openings
House of Hope Presbyterian Church , Saint Paul, is seeking a director of Youth and Family Ministry
First Presbyterian Church of Hudson is seeking a Family-Intergenerational Ministries Coordinator.
Jeff's Jottings:
Jeff is in Michigan this week and next, combining some vacation with unexpected acute family care. Jottings this week is from his friend Tim Ten Clay , a congregational minister outside of New York City.
EMerge is a newsletter of the Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area. Through most of the year it is published biweekly and distributed to congregations, teaching elders, ruling elders, church members, committees and friends of the presbytery. Please send submissions and address corrections to