E-news keeping you connected

September 2023

In Memoriam

Alan "Al" Kitto

Rev. Al Kitto passed away on August 27, 2023, at the age of 91. From 1993 to 1995 Al served the Synod working with the ministry program of Dakota Presbytery.

Al attended Norfolk Junior College, Neb., General Beadle State Teachers College, Madison, S. Dak. earning a Bachelor of Science degree. Later he received a Masters Degree in Administration of Special Education from the University of South Dakota, Vermillion. He taught at Elementary, Junior High, and High Schools and was also an athletic coach. Al believed that community was important; throughout his life he brought people together to play sports as a means to build community.

In 1980 Al received his M. Div. from the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary. He served as a chaplain, a church planter, and pastor in the presbyteries of Northern Waters and Dakota.

Robert "Bob" Cuthill

Bob passed away at his home in Waverly Gardens on September 6, 2023, at the age of 93. From 1979 until his retirement in 1995 Bob served as Synod Executive of the Synod of Lakes and Prairies. A memorial service for Bob was held on September 18.


We also extend our sympathy to Suann Nichols on the death of her husband David on May 22, 2023. Suann was Assistant Vice President, Institutional Services with the Presbyterian Foundation and officed with the Synod.

Anyone who is in Christ is a new creation.

The old life has gone; and new life has begun.

-2 Cor. 5:17

Synod Commissioners

Check your email for the Call to the Fall Meeting & Register

The email was sent on 9/18/2023.

From despair to hope: Mobilizing your church to end gun violence

Rev. Deanna Hollas

Gun violence prevention minister Deanna Hollas unmasks the powers behind the gun violence epidemic in the United States and provides proven actions you and your congregation can take to help save lives.

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has spent more than 50 years calling for gun safety laws in the face of gun violence, because we understand that being faithful stewards of the Gospel requires us to challenge the systems and structures that keep all life from flourishing. The church is called to join with God in manifesting here on earth the kingdom that Isaiah envisions: a kingdom where weapons are beaten into plowshares and children learn the ways of war no more (Isaiah 2:4). In 2010, the 219th General Assembly of the PC(USA) adopted the most comprehensive gun violence prevention resolution promulgated by any Christian denomination in the United States, titled “Gun Violence, Gospel Values: Mobilizing in Response to God’s Call.”

Yet Presbyterians know that the gun violence epidemic in the United States has only gotten worse in the decade since this resolution was approved. Every single day, we bear the trauma of mass shootings, family gun violence, suicide, homicide and unintended shootings. By 2021, gun violence surpassed motor vehicle accidents, poisoning and cancer to become the leading cause of death in children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Read the full article.

Deanna Hollas is the gun violence prevention ministry coordinator with the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship. She was a special guest at the 2023 Synod School.

This article appeared in a special issue of The Presbyterian Outlook published June 2023.

Presbyterian gun owners address the complexities

For gun-owning Presbyterians, control is – and isn’t – a cut-and-dried issue, Leslie Scanlon finds.

There was one clear takeaway when Oregonians narrowly voted in November 2022 to approve Measure 114 — one of the nation’s strictest gun control measures, banning the sale of high-capacity magazines except for military or law enforcement use: People are weary of the bloodshed and grief. They want the gun violence and mass shootings to stop.

“We’ve had too many funerals,” said Mark Knutson, a Lutheran pastor from Portland and one of the leaders of Lift Every Voice Oregon, the grassroots group that worked to squeak the legislation through. Measure 114 passed by a 50.7% to 49.3% margin.

Some of those advocating for stricter regulation have never owned a gun, and never want to.

Read the full article.

‘A Matter of Faith: A Presby Podcast’ looks at upstream ways for ending gun violence

LOUISVILLE — In her efforts combatting gun violence, the Rev. M. Courtenay Willcox prefers traveling upstream with her activism.

“For me, it’s easy,” the transitional pastor of Tree of Life Church in Springfield, Pennsylvania, said last week during the “A Matter of Faith” podcast hosted by the Rev. Lee Catoe and Simon Doong, which can be heard here. “You have to go upstream to interrupt things around gun violence before they start.”

Doong reminded listeners that commissioners to the 225th General Assembly (2022) approved the Decade to End Gun Violence. The Presbyterian Peacemaking Program is awarding a number of grants to congregations, worshiping communities, mid councils and institutions to conduct events to prevent gun violence. Learn more or apply for a grant here.

Read the full article.

Rev. Scott Prouty tells us of his attendance at two national meetings

I was invited to represent the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) at the 34th Annual General Synod for the United Church of Christ in Indianapolis. There were 2,000 people at this gathering. This meeting is equivalent to our General Assembly. I sat at table with representatives of twelve other denominations. We were given voice and vote. The first night we were on a big stage and had to walk across as our names were called one at a time. I felt like I was in a beauty pageant. I enjoyed getting to know people from all over the country and world.

Read the full article.

Scott pictured with the new General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ Rev. Dr. Karen Georgia Thompson.

Face to Face Opportunity for Call Seekers

The Synod is holding a virtual Face to Face on November 2, 2023, via Zoom.

This is a great opportunity for potential candidates and Pastor Nominating Committees talk about future ministry in this region.

Details about the Face to Face and registration information will be available on our website soon at www.lakesandprairies.org.

Questions? Contact Deb DeMeester, dir. of leadership development.

This opportunity is made possible by the Transforming Communities/Vital Leaders and Communications committees of the Synod of Lakes and Prairies.

A 'Sermon in Flesh' at Minneapolis' Liberty Community Church

Liberty Community Church is the only African American PC(USA) church in the state of Minnesota. Located in North Minneapolis inside one of the city’s poorest zip codes and situated between major interstates which make it a prime spot for sex trafficking and illegal drug trading, this Matthew 25 congregation revitalized the spaces of two Presbyterian churches that closed in the last thirty years and transformed them into healing spaces for the neighborhood.

Liberty Community Church is a beacon of hope not just through the direct services it provides but through its strategic partnerships within the Presbytery and around the city to invite others into anti-racists work and to educate people about the historical and legal obstacles that must be overcome to dismantle structural racism and close the opportunity gap.

Across the country, congregations, mid councils, and the Presbyterian Mission Agency are working together to eradicate systemic poverty, dismantle structural racism, and build congregational vitality.

To learn more go to:

Presbyterian Mission Agency

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Westminster Presbyterian Church uses hunger action work to address cost of living issues in Madison

LOUISVILLE — In a Midwestern city where the cost of housing can affect residents’ ability to thrive, Westminster Presbyterian Church of Madison, Wisconsin is helping residents to make ends meet through various efforts to feed people in the community.

In recent years, Westminster has helped to provide snacks and other food for students, assisted homeless shelters, helped fill local food pantry shelves and held forums on important issues.

Part of the motivation is that “we just recognize the incredible need among first, the low-income (population) and now, the needs are expanding to include higher-income people who are just having trouble affording housing,” said Ruling Elder Kathy Kamp, co-chair of the mission committee. “In Madison, housing costs are incredibly expensive, and so people need to get other kinds of assistance. Food (aid) is one of the ways that they can reduce their expenses so they can afford their housing.”

Westminster is an example of a Hunger Action Congregation, a designation from the Presbyterian Hunger Program for churches that “follow Christ’s example of feeding the hungry, caring for those in need and working toward justice,” according to PHP.

Read more

There are many was to be involved in Matthew 25. What is your congregation doing? office@lakesandprairies.org.

Art of Transitional Ministry

Week 1 training online, October 23-27, 2023

Whether it is a change in leadership or a changing

community, leading a congregation through change is challenging and rewarding. It takes knowledge,

skill, resilience, and spiritual strength to navigate the waters of change in a way that leaders and congregations thrive. More information.

Information flyer available to download here.


Spiritual Formation

A Fall Learning Opportunity for Presbyterians

October 28-29, 2023

This class is offered by The Academy.

Download a copy of the class flyer here.

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Young Adult Advocacy Conference for College Students and Seminarians

Join us at the Jesus & Justice Advocacy Conference, hosted by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), this fall in Louisville, Kentucky!

Taking place from October 20-22 at the Presbyterian Center near Waterfront Park, this free event will be held annually across the country in the coming years.  

College students, seminarians, and young adults in or near Louisville or Southern Indiana are invited to attend in person. If you’re farther away, join us virtually. More information on that to come soon!

Information & Registration


PC(USA) Job Opportunities as of 9-22-23 English, Spanish, Korean

Presbyterian Foundation - Work for the Foundation

Schizophrenia and Suicide

Finding Hope, Meaning, and Direction

Marcia A. Murphy's newest book was written as part of the Mental Health Ministry (MHI) of Saint Andrew Presbyterian Church, Iowa City. Proceeds go to support the Psych Patients' Apparel Fund for Psychiatric Patients of the inpatient units of the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics. This outreach patient clothing program was founded by MHI in 2019.

Copies may be purchased at your favorite bookseller or order directly from the publisher via wipfandstock.com. View the flyer here.

The Ministry Lab is excited to offer four+ fantastic learning opportunities in our 2023-2024 Transformative Innovations series.

Our save-the-dates postcard will be in the mail to your congregation soon - inviting you to save the dates for:


But you don’t have to wait for the postcard! Find details on our Blue Whirl Webinars - from the Ministry Lab page (https://theministrylab.org/portfolio-item/blue-whirl-webinars-2/). Registrations will open soon!

Omaha Seminary
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Before we go ...

Barbie Dream House in Hudson, Wisc. Interesting 🧐

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Synod of Lakes and Prairies

Presbyteries and churches share your news with the Synod!

Keeping In Touch is a monthly publication of the Synod of Lakes and Prairies of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

To subscribe email: office@lakesandprairies.org