May 24, 2021
Street-Stewart speaker at Macalester College's 132nd Commencement
In the virtual commencement ceremony held on Saturday,
May 15, Elona Street-Stewart was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters by the Board of Trustees of Macalester College, conferred by President Dr. Suzanne Rivera.   

In her address to the graduating class, Street-Stewart said,
… "'I see you.' The traditional greeting from the Natal tribe in Africa - “Sawubona – I see you.” I salute and recognize you as pathfinders, trail blazers, changemakers. Nothing can mute your progress and purpose. Prepare to UNMUTE your life REMAIN CONNECTED MORE THAN DISCONNECTED.

Macalester College and the Synod of Lakes and Prairies hold a common conviction that engagement is both a privilege and an obligation in the pursuit of knowledge and truth. Our synod’s century of support to the College is noteworthy. We covenant together to share an unabashed dedication to academic inquiry, robust study, and civic engagement. Both of us support the exploration and practice of ethical values and religious commitments. Both strive for relevance in a broadly diverse global world. 

Today, even though we are limited to a screen, ‘I see you. Sawubona.’ I will listen as you tell me what you see, what you know, what you say, what you hear.

In response, let others know that you see them. That you will listen when they tell their truths, and not exclude them because of it. …

Students … as path makers on the road to the future, stay awake, unmute yourself, do not turn back. You have been entrusted with a responsibility to hold doors open for your siblings and communities for a better world to come. The work remains great and we need you. I have great faith that you will continue to share, be fair, to stay aware. … Sawubona."

To view the ceremony go to: Commencement-Macalester College, click on Noon Ceremony. Presentation of the honorary degree is at approximately 19 minutes with the address to the graduates following.

Ruling Elder, Elona Street-Stewart, is the first Native American to serve as a synod executive in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). A long-time staff member of the synod, Elona had served as the synod’s associate for racial ethnic ministries and community empowerment since 1994. Prior to serving in that capacity, she had been deployed staff for administration of Dakota Presbytery. Racial justice and public service are her specialty. She is currently Co-Moderator of the 224th General Assembly.

At the May, 2021 Synod Meeting the assembly approved the renewal of the covenant between Macalester College and the Synod of Lakes and Prairies.
New brand and web site for the Synod
The Communication Committee unveiled the Synod's new brand and web site to commissioners at the spring meeting.
The committee worked with Agency MABU to create a brand which is an updated reflection of the Synod's location and people. The web site has been redesigned to reflect the Synod’s structure, highlight the work of the Church, and be a helpful source of information.

We invite you to explore the web site, find out about the new logo and see what else is available.

By the way, the web site address remains the same:
The Spring Annual and Stated Meeting of the Synod of Lakes and Prairies was held
May 2 - 3, 2021. Read the meeting summary.

The next synod meeting is scheduled for October 3 - 5, 2021.
225th General Assembly (2022)
The Committee on the Office of the General Assembly (COGA) has approved some details about the next GA. Bookmark the GA website for future reference.
Be a Public Health Partner—A message from Faiths4Vaccines
[Note: The National Council of Churches is a part of Faiths4Vaccines; the goals include to demonstrate religious communities’ trust in the vaccine, to support houses of worship and faith communities to innovatively distribute vaccines, to advocate and advance equitable vaccine distribution, to create space for multi-faith collaboration, and to pave the way for global, equitable vaccine distribution. Please consider joining the summit—and whether you can or not, do pass along the invitation to your members and congregations.]

Join us at the National Summit for the largest multi-faith gathering to support equitable and far-reaching vaccine distribution in the United States. Faith leaders and faith-based organizations in attendance will receive training, resources, and empowerment to engage their communities to ensure equitable vaccine access, combat hesitancy, and potentially use their houses of worship as vaccination sites.

Faith leaders, faith communities, and medical professionals are leading efforts to respond and recover from the unprecedented health crises facing our nation and the world. Now, equipped with a life-saving vaccine, we have the chance to bring this devastating virus, and all the suffering it has caused, to an end.

Now is the time to partake in open and honest dialogue between faith leaders and county, state, and national health officials to identify opportunities for faith-based institutions to further engage and support local communities to increase vaccination rates. 

Repentance, Reparations, and Redemption—
A message from Restorative Actions
"Restorative Actions is a grass roots voluntary initiative for churches, individuals, mid councils, and agencies of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) as well as other ecumenical partners and interested organizations, to take a leadership stance in opposition to racism and racial privilege. Its premise is that it would be right and fair for predominantly white churches and affiliated organizations to return benefits that have accrued to them directly or indirectly from systemic inequities. The act of gathering and turning back resources that would otherwise benefit others could be redressive to complicity, restorative to conscience, and could represent a good faith step toward broader reconciliation.”

Registration is now open for our upcoming foundations level class series “Repentance, Reparations and Redemption.” Please spread the word about this Zoom series on Sunday afternoons, June 6, 13, and 20 from 1–2:15 pm Eastern.

The class will look at compelling theological, ethical, and political questions:

  • Does our Christian faith compel us to support reparations for the descendants of enslaved people? While politicians and pundits argue over the policy and economic impact, they miss the theological implication: does God present America with reparations as opportunity to repent for centuries of race slavery?
  • Do reparations offer at least a step toward the national redemption that will begin to heal the racism that divides the nation and tempts millions to turn to authoritarian leaders?

This is part one of a two-part series, a foundations level class; part two, an advanced class, will be offered in the fall. Each session will provide ample time for audience questions. A class bibliography is being put together for the class and will be provided to all participants.
"Making a fuss" over college graduates
Joan Amara Greene, Caleb Dayegba and Aaron Councilman
Peace Presbyterian Church (Peace Prez) did not let current pandemic restrictions stop them from celebrating the graduations of three outstanding church members. A little creative thinking made the church parking lot a safe fellowship hall and the party was on.

"...pandemic restrictions make everything more complicated -- but we're going to make a fuss about these church members about whom we are so proud!

"Joan Amara Greene will be graduating from Anoka Hennepin Technical College on May 27 with an Associate degree in Human Services, with the goal of getting a BA in Social Work. She was the recipient of a Racial Ethnic Student Scholarship from the Synod of Lakes and Prairies and a scholarship from the Peace Prez Scholarship Fund.

Caleb Dayegba graduated on May 14 from Hennepin Technical College with a Network Administration / Data Analyst degree. Although he was just one semester from receiving his BA in education in the Cameroon when civil war forced his university to close, he started all over again when he came to the USA. He was the recipient of a scholarship from the Peace Prez Scholarship Fund.

Aaron Councilman graduated with honors on Saturday, May 15, from the College of Science and Engineering at University of MN with a BS in Computer Science and a minor in math. Come August he will be starting a PhD program with a full fellowship in the Department of Computer Science at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He was the recipient of a National Merit Scholarship.
This gathering is important for several reasons:
  1. We are in serious need of a party--it's been too long and too lonely!
  2. We are so proud of these graduates!
  3. We as Presbyterians value education as a religious principle: education allows a believer to learn to think critically and make decisions on their own (between the believer and God) about important matters of faith.

This party demonstrates who we are as a church family. The scriptures tell us that "no longer are we Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female, but one in Christ Jesus our Lord." At Peace Prez, we are neither a young man on his own fleeing terror and violence in his home country of Cameroon (Caleb), a young mother who made her way from Liberia while raising a family who persisted in her studies even after contracting and recovering from COVID-19 (Joan), or a young man born to privilege (his mom and dad are both medical doctors) and great family support in the USA (Aaron). We are all one in Christ Jesus! Joan is among our newest church members (she joined in February 2020) and Aaron has been a member all his life.

Scholars tell us that this bible verse was one of the earliest Christian baptismal formulas, for as you joined the church you put aside what society says you are and take on a new identity. You give up privileges and take on equality.

Congratulations to Joan, Caleb, Aaron, and the entire Peace Prez church family for your accomplishments."
This article is from the church's Midweek Update. Peace Presbyterian Church is located in St. Louis Park, Minn. in the Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area.

In 2020 the Committee on Racial Ethnic Ministry awarded 10 students with scholarships and made donations to 12 Native American Tribal Colleges and Universities for student support.
National Black Presbyterian Caucus—Virtual Convention

NBPC will gather online to explore “The Black Family, Congregation and Community in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.): Navigating Identity, Equity and Economics” June 24–26. Read all about it and register. 
Synod School offering in-person and virtual components this summer
This year Jill Duffield, pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Greensboro, North Carolina, and former editor of Presbyterian Outlook, is our convocation speaker and Samuel Son, manager of diversity and reconciliation at the Presbyterian Mission Agency, is our evening worship leader. Bryce Wiebe, director of special offerings, will lead the youth convocation speaker. Heidi and Greg Bolt, co-pastors of First Presbyterian Church in Red Wing, Minn, will lead morning prayers.

Synod School 2021’s virtual component will include live-streaming of A Song and Prayer, Adult Convocation, Evening Worship, a time for fellowship with other virtual participants, and some evening events. In addition, about a dozen classes are being offered for adults and youth during the days.

This year registration is in two parts. First, register for the children’s and youth programs as well as adult classes. You will receive a confirmation email with a link to the housing registration.
Virtual attendees also need to register for programs and classes.

Go to the website to view the catalog and to register for classes.
We look forward to seeing you in-person and on the screen July 25 - 30!

-Synod School Committee
Covid Safety

Cincinnati EP Lisa Allgood, our own mid council expert on the science, recommends this video on Covid-19 mitigation strategies for choirs.
Time to return to your building?
Are you and/or your sessions wondering whether it’s time to return to in-person and inside gatherings—and how to do so safely? Here’s some guidance—not legal advice—from PC(USA) Legal Services. Be sure to read the details, but the bottom line is caution and consultation.

President Search
The Omaha Presbyterian Seminary Foundation has been developing, educating, and supporting Presbyterian seminarians and pastors, benefiting their congregations with the gifts and support required to thrive in ministry. From the original seminary where we trained and prepared clergy to serve small, rural communities in the Midwest, to our current foundation, which provides scholarships to support lifelong learning opportunities for seminary students and clergy.

More information at President Search
Summer Hours

The Synod and the Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area shared office will be closed on Fridays during the summer from June 4 through September 3.

Other summer holidays observed:
Memorial Day, May 31
Independence Day, July 5
Labor Day, September 3
COVID-19 Funeral Assistance

FEMA is providing financial assistance for COVID-19-related funeral expenses incurred after January 20, 2020.

Funeral Assistance Helpline at 1-844-684-6333 (TTY: 800-462-7585) from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET, Monday – Friday. You can also visit us online.

Parroquia San Jose, a joint ministry of the Presbytery of Milwaukee (PCUSA) and the South Central Synod of Wisconsin (ELCA).

La Parroquia San José, un ministerio en conjunto entre el Presbiterio de Milwaukee (PCUSA) y el Sínodo Sur-Centro de Wisconsin (ELCA).

First Presbyterian Church of Wilton, ND, MIF, photos & information

New Life Presbyterian Church of Roseville, Minn. seeks a part-time Coordinator of Music.

Positions with AmeriCorps Emergency Response Initiative - Summer 2021

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has several openings for which we are seeking qualified candidates looking for a call working at the national level.

Presbyterian Camps & Retreat Centers are offering a variety of summer camp opportunities, click on each name to find out what is available.
The Ministry Lab invites congregational leaders of all kinds from all kinds of settings to join monthly Round Table discussions tackling the numerous and fluctuating joys and challenges of emerging from Covid into a more just and sustainable future. Avoid going back to a "normal" that wasn't working: get inspired and inspire others with your great ideas; network and find collegial support. For more information or to sign up, go to our website.
Presbyterian Women
Justice and Peace Book Club

  • Read a J&P recommended book every two months
  • Receive study guides to inform your reading
  • Discuss the books with others via Zoom

The "Club" is open to all regardless of gender.

Presbyteries and churches share your news with the synod.

Are you doing something in your presbytery or synod from which others might learn? You have a standing invitation to send Tricia Dykers-Koenig articles to share.