Keeping In Touch
March 26, 2020
Synod School
COVID-19 Update : We are carefully monitoring recommendations from the Center for Disease Control regarding the coronavirus. We will make a decision in mid-June about whether or not to proceed with Synod School if pandemic recommendations for social distancing are still in place. If Synod School is cancelled, all monies will be refunded.
The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free. 
Seeking Candidates
The Search Committee for the Iowa Tri-Presbyteries Leadership Team is actively seeking candidates who might consider a call to serve the presbyteries of Des Moines, North Central Iowa and Prospect Hill as one of their three executives. If you or someone you know may be interested in such a position or interested in learning more, please connect them with the search website: https://engagingleaders.org/iowa-tri-presbytery-leadership-team/ 
Letters of interest are being received until May 22.
Easter Is a New Way of Life
The Stated Clerk, J. Herbert Nelson and Presbyterian Mission Agency President, Diane Givens-Moffet will hold an online Easter service from the chapel of 100 Witherspoon in Louisville for those of you who would like to be part of a national experience. Easter is a new way of life — in which we are “dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 6:11) and called to “walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4). Live Streaming Information to follow in the next couple of weeks.

Myrtle's Blessings Ministries
Rev. Dr. Candace Adams, University of Jamestown Chaplain, starts YouTube channel for children

In a recent message she says, "In addition to my ongoing commitment to support college students, I feel called to support children during this difficult season.  I have started a YouTube channel for children- Myrtle's Blessings Ministries.  Parents are able to subscribe to the channel.  I plan to add content five times a week. I am sharing this information with individuals who can distribute it out to congregations, please share with anyone who may benefit from this content.  I have over 25 years of experience ministering to, for and with children. I have written children's curriculum for the Presbyterian Church U.S.A., Cokesbury and Augsburg Fortress.  I am the adoptive mother of six children and grandmother of nine grandchildren. I believe now is the time to care for children." Here is a link to one of the videos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xufczx7KGUA&t=115s
It is not too late to register!
Vital Congregations gathering postponed
Ministry office looking to reschedule the April event in August
by Paul Seebeck | Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE — Both the 2020 Vital Congregations facilitator training and   national gathering  in Austin, scheduled for April 24-30, have been postponed.  The Office of Vital Congregations  in the Presbyterian Mission Agency is looking at the possibility of rescheduling the event in August 2020.

Even though she is “truly sad,” Vital Congregations coordinator the Rev. Dr. Kathryn Threadgill said she knows this is the right and necessary decision for all participants involved, in the midst of the unfolding coronavirus pandemic.

“In these times of uncertainty, we are watching carefully the situation in our presbyteries, throughout the country and world,” she said, “and praying for all of God’s people as we discern paths of vitality moving forward for the church.”

Threadgill is in conversation with vendors and partners in Austin to try to work out dates for rescheduling the event as quickly as possible so that participants can make plans to gather in person.

In the meantime, Threadgill is encouraging presbyteries to creatively move forward with their churches through the Vital Congregations initiative. The office is available via Zoom and will be looking for creative ways to connect and move forward with presbyteries and churches through the VC initiative. More information about rescheduling of gathering and other pertinent ministry information is on the Vital Congregations’  Facebook page .

Presbyterian college students can apply now for a $4,000 scholarship
Scholarships available for church members attending an accredited college or university during 2020-21 academic year
by Paul Seebeck | Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE — Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) students seeking their first associate or bachelor’s degree are encouraged to apply now for scholarship awards through Presbyterian Mission Agency’s  Financial Aid for Service  at   pcusa.org/apply4scholarships .

The scholarships for PC(USA) undergraduate students for up to $4,000, depending on need, align with the church’s  Matthew 25 invitation , which encourages churches and mid councils to work at  building congregational vitality dismantling structural racism  and   eradicating structural poverty .

If need remains after the scholarship is awarded, students of color, students who are the first in their family to attend college, and those who represent the neediest 10 percent of students selected for the award based on remaining need and family contribution may be considered for an additional $2,000 in supplemental aid.

The biggest change this year is that National Presbyterian College Scholarship, Student Opportunity Scholarship, and Native American Education Grant have been merged into a single  online application  process. Financial Aid for Service reminds applicants that they alone should apply for the scholarship — not their parents or friends.

Renewal of the scholarships is not automatic. Students apply in the spring for awards that will be announced by June 30. Applications are evaluated based on the response to an essay and recommendations.

The deadline to apply for scholarship awards is May 15.

Parents of dependent undergraduates may apply for  PC(USA) Parent Loan  with features similar to a Federal Student Aid PLUS loan, but with a lower interest rate. Students may request information for this program, or parents can apply by visiting   pcusa.org/parentloan .

Financial Aid for Service provides scholarships for up to 120 college students per year and awards more than $500,000 annually to students pursuing their first degree.
US Congregational Vitality Survey website launched
Information is now free to all PC(USA) congregations
by Melody K. Smith | Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE — The ecumenical  U.S. Congregational Vitality Survey  (USCVS) is designed to help church leaders understand the attitudes, opinions and perceptions of worshipers and leaders in congregations. Created through a collaboration of sociologists, theologians and Christian educators in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the survey has been helping congregations from many denominations measure their vitality since 2001.

The USCVS assesses congregations’ strengths based on seven marks of congregational vitality — discipleship, outward focus, evangelism, servant leadership, worship, caring relationships and ecclesial health. “The USCVS is not a test,” said Dr. Angie Andriot, research analyst for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). “There are no right or wrong answers.”

Presbyterian Women
The Sower
Newsletter for the Presbyterian Women in the Synod of Lakes & Prairies 

A new hymn in the time of coronavirus
"God whose will is health and wholeness, hear your people as we pray;
Many now are facing illness; more face sickness every day.
As we lift our song toward heaven, may we use the gifts you give--
science, justice, and compassion-- to help others safely live."

This is the first stanza of Carolyn Winfrey Gillette's new hymn.
For the entire hymn go to her website: Hymns by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette
Let's Wash Our Hands
Let's Wash Our Hands is a simple way to encourage people to do an important thing, wash their hands." by Star Thrower Distribution Watch the video
Minnesota Governor Walz has issued a "stay at home" order for the state. From March 30 through April 10 synod staff will be working from their homes. During this time staff will be able to respond to email and voicemail messages, please keep in mind that a reply may take a little longer.

Peace and blessings to you.