Keeping In Touch
March 22, 2021
In the Aftermath of Atlanta Shootings
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
(Peace Prayer of St. Francis)

Resources and organizations:

Restorative Actions
Let us weave a new garment of justice

Restorative Actions is a grass roots voluntary initiative for churches, individuals, mid-councils, and agencies of the Presbyterian Church (USA) 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. Visit the web site.
Earth Care Congregations
Winnebago Presbytery congratulates Frame Memorial Church and FPC Marshfield for each receiving certification from the PC(USA) as an Earth Care Congregation.

Congratulations also to these Earth Care congregations of the
First Presbyterian Church, South St. Paul      
First Presbyterian Church, Stillwater
Macalester Plymouth United Church, Saint Paul
Cherokee Park United Church, Saint Paul
New Life Presbyterian Church, Roseville       
Presbyterian Church of the Apostles, Burnsville
The House of Hope Presbyterian Church, Saint Paul
Valley Community Presbyterian Church, Golden Valley
Westminster Presbyterian Church, Minneapolis
Oak Grove Presbyterian Church, Bloomington

These congregations affirmed an Earth Care Pledge to integrate environmental practices and thinking into their worship, education, facilities, and outreach.
The Earth Care Congregation certification is designed to recognize churches that make the commitment to take seriously God’s charge to “till and keep” the garden.
For more information on the Earth Care Congregations program, visit
First Presbyterian Church, Wilton
First Presbyterian Church of Wilton, ND is seeking a pastor.

"We are a small but strong and committed congregation."
View the church's MIF, photos & information

City of Wilton Website ; First Presbyterian Facebook page- First Presbyterian Church, Wilton ND-- Livestream service on Sundays at 11:00 AM
One Great Hour of Sharing
One Great Hour of Sharing
benefits the ministries of the Presbyterian Hunger ProgramSelf-Development of People and Presbyterian Disaster Assistance. Most congregations receive the offering on Palm Sunday or Easter Sunday.

Having patience and hope in hard times
March 16, 2021 by Emily Enders Odom

For Magha Garcia, farming is how she honors her ancestors.

“Everything I learned about agriculture came through my great-grandparents, grandparents and parents,” she said. “These people worked so hard, and what they were paid for their crops was so little, it makes me really sad.”

Garcia, who was born in the mountainous central region of the main island of Puerto Rico, was raised and educated during a period in the archipelago’s history when families wanted to send their children off to college rather than watch them endure the hardships of the farming life. But Garcia found she wasn’t truly happy until she came to the realization that her place was on the farm.

“Because I grew up in a family where we produced almost everything we needed, I’ve always been drawn to nature,” Garcia said. “It’s nature who really plans your calendar and designs your day.”
In Memory of Harold Stepanek
Rev. Harold E. Stepanek, a member of Prospect Hill Presbytery died on January 23, 2021 at the age of 90. Harold was able to be at home in hospice care with family members at his side.
Harold served five three-year terms as Stated Clerk of the Synod of Lakes and Prairies, from 1978 to 1993 when he retired. He served in three primary pastorates (yoked Congregational/Presbyterian in Graceville/Browns Valley, Minn., Madelia, Minn. and a yoked field of Presbyterian/United Methodist in Guelph, N.D./Ellendale, N.D.) and eight interim Presbyterian pastorates in Minn. Iowa, and Wisc. before retiring. He also served as a commissioner to General Assembly as well as Special Assistant to the GA Stated Clerk. 
Harold was blessed to have made many friends throughout those years and to have been able to serve his church in many ways and places.
White Privilege Conference

White Privilege Conference #22 (#WPC22) is going virtual – April 7-10, 2021

(registration deadline is April 2 – some opportunities limited in size)
Presbyterians can access a 15% discount code in registering for the “Non-Profit level” for Institutes (1-day, 8-hour learning opportunities on April 7) which can be separate from or combined with the full conference that continues April 8-10. Discount code is PRES22, to be used at check out.

More information is here: Keynote speakers include the incredible Dr. Joy DeGruy and Dr. Robin DiAngelo.
Hundreds of Presbyterians have attended the conference in its 22 years, most intentionally in the last eight years. Many synods and presbyteries plan to support participation in this annual opportunity. This is a secular conference that typically draws 2500 people, with the majority of participants coming from education, government, and non-profit fields; there are middle school and high school tracks and participants span from age 12 to 90, from un-degreed to PhDs. It is a vital space for folks in the work to work on themselves and make adjustments, and to learn from people very different than themselves; the rich caucusing space provides practical opportunities to practice calling one another in to more deep engagement and inclusion. Many denominations also attend – Friends (Quakers) bring hundreds every year. Workshops explore the power wielded in institutional and societal life. Hegemonies (identities and cultures of dominance) are examined and challenged, including that of Protestant Christianity. Many Presbyterians commit to going again because it is a vital place of testing one’s lenses and learning to do better.

There have been a few reporting difficulties with the code – try again, and be in touch with Molly Casteel to help get it working. 

Molly Casteel, manager for equity and representation, OGA, also recommends the Kirwan Institute’s Implicit Bias Module Series and an annotated list of other online courses.
Read the details to learn about these resources that can deepen your commitment to dismantling structural racism. 

Mental Health Ministry Opportunities and Resources

The Presbyterian Mental Health Network (PMHN) invites you to join their new Facebook Group for people interested in mental health ministry.

Examples of conversation topics:
·        What do you think makes a church a ‘safe place’?
·        What do you hope for the church to offer those with mental health concerns?

Mental Health Ministry 101 is a downloadable 17-slide presentation (PDF) designed to be used by church leaders as a self-guided introduction, or to guide a Zoom conversation with a group interested in mental health ministry. It begins with an overview of the Presbyterian Mental Health Initiative adopted by General Assembly in 2018 and its progress. Mental health ministry is set within a Matthew 25 frame, and key elements of congregational mental health ministry are introduced. Leaders are invited to reflect on the status of each of these elements in their own community. The final slide includes active links to recommended resources for the key elements.
A Matter of Faith: A Presby Podcast

The podcast is a collaboration between the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program and Unbound, hosts Simon Doong and Lee Catoe give thoughtful responses to questions submitted by listeners on issues of faith, social justice, and church life. The podcast also highlights relevant policies, resources, and guest hosts from around the PC(USA). All Presbyterians, from congregation members to mid-council leaders to PC(USA) staff, are encouraged to write in a question for the hosts to discuss. If a question matters to you, it matters to us, and it just might be … A Matter of Faith
Presbytery of the Northern Plains
The Presbytery of the Northern Plains has posted a helpful article for congregations thinking about closure. "When is it Time to Close?"
Presbyterian Tech Talk

"A new Facebook Group for all topics "Tech" in Presbyterian churches has been created by one of the technology geeks at Presbyterian Church of the Master. From live streaming to Wi-Fi, computer networks to Worship video screens, the group hopes to encourage Presbyterians throughout the denomination to share their best practices, assist each other with tech issues, share media assets, and promote the growth of technology within our churches. Please share this message with the technology people in your congregation. To join, search for "Presbyterian Tech Talk" in Facebook or click the following link:
Keep it up! It’s critical to keep taking precautions to prevent COVID-19.

Information on COVID-19 vaccines from the CDC.
Benefits of getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
How do I get a COVID-19 vaccine?


Creative Pandemic Ministry
Blackhawk Presbytery is encouraging its folks to join one of its congregations, Fulton Presbyterian Church, in being “vaccine buddies” for people who need assistance getting scheduled for a vaccination. Buddies monitor various vaccine distribution locations, including which have doses and appointments available and what basic information is required to register. Reaching out to discover those needing help, they set up appointments, arranging for transportation if necessary. 

Accepting Apollos Applications, Transcripts and References
 January 15 through April 15, 2021

Apollos Scholarship applications are accepted from students who are members of a Presbyterian Church (USA) congregation, under the care of a Presbytery as a Candidate or Inquirer, and are enrolled full-time in one of the ten theological institutions of PC(USA). More information and application.
Katie Cannon
Katie Cannon Scholarship

Application deadline is June 1.

The Presbyterian Mission Agency has created a scholarship to honor the name and legacy of The Rev. Dr. Katie Geneva Cannon, a pioneer and legend in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The Women’s Ministry Fund (E049991) supports Presbyterian women of color, clergywomen, college women, and other women with opportunities for leadership and spiritual development as well as mission opportunities in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Scholarships will be announced and disbursed by July 31.
Co-Lab Feedback Loop - Cohort Groups forming!!

The Ministry Lab is delighted to launch our first two Co-Lab Feedback Loop cohort groups.

Our general Co-Lab cohort will meet the 2nd Tuesday of each month, March through June, from 2:00-3:30 PM CST. Learn more.

Our anti-racism and white fragility cohort will meet from 1:00-2:00 PM CST, Thursdays March 18 through April 22. Learn more.

Co-Lab Feedback Loops are free to member congregations; $25 for all four gatherings for non-members. You can learn about becoming a member here.
The Lombard Mennonite Peace Center

For those who have already taken our Mediation Skills Training Institute (MSTI), we are pleased to offer a new one-day event: the MSTI Refresher Course

Sessions are available on Tuesday, May 11 and Saturday, June 12. The fee is $99, and the event runs from 9:00am to 4:00pm Central Time. The full five-day version of MSTI is also available on May 3-7, June 21-25, August 2-6, October 11-15, and November 15-19, 2021. The session in August will include the option for in-person attendance in the Chicago area.

Registration for all events being offered by the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center is open now at Questions? Please consult the MSTI Brochure, call 630-627-0507, or send an email to

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.

editor's extra...

With thanks to Amy Hartman for sharing this recipe. Amy says, "My family has used this recipe since the 1970s."

Heavenly Spaghetti Sauce
1 lb of ground beef
1/2 c. chopped onion
Add and saute 1 min:
1 t. garlic powder (or chopped garlic to equal that)
2 T. dried parsley
Add and simmer for one hour (stir occasionally):
2 t. sugar
1/8 t. pepper
1/2 t. dried basil
1/2 t. dried oregano
2 small (8 oz) cans of tomato sauce
2 small (6 oz) cans of tomato paste
1 can of water
Amy's "cheater" version: Use canned spaghetti sauce (your brand of choice). Add 1 or 2 cans of tomato paste to thicken it. You can still add onions and garlic to the meat (if you wish) but skip the other spices. You can also add other ingredients such as mushrooms, zucchini, spinach, peppers, etc. 
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.