December, 2021
We have been happy to work with you in ministry this year.
Merry Christmas
the staff at the Synod of Lakes & Prairies
Jim, Deb, Pam, Amy, Elona, and Gretchen
Holiday Office Hours

The Synod office will be closed from December 23 through January 2 and will reopen on January 3, 2022.
Apricot bread and gathered worship
Remembering the taste of home
by Ken Rummer for Presbyterians Today | Special to Presbyterian News Service

When people ask about a food that makes the holiday official in my family, the answer I give is apricot bread.
I remember one grandmother for her orange bread, and the other grandmother for her yeast rolls, but my mother’s baking specialty for Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve was apricot bread.

As a young child, I was appointed Greaser of the Pans. Later, I was promoted to Sifter of the Flour. My favorite role was Taster of the Apricots, but it came with a warning: too many apricots can give you a tummy ache, and besides, we need to leave some for the bread.

“Sharing a Taste of Home” (Photo by Ken Rummer)

The Rev. Ken Rummer writes about life and faith from the middle of Iowa by the High Trestle Trail. Previous posts are available here.
Rummer is a member of the Presbytery of Des Moines.
Committee on Racial Ethnic Ministry awards scholarships
Nine students are recipients of the 2021 Racial Ethic Student Scholarships awarded by the Committee on Racial Ethnic Ministries (CREM).

This year the scholarship recipients are attending seminaries, colleges, and universities in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, New York, Texas, Virginia, and Canada. Presbyteries represented by these students are: Des Moines, East Iowa, Missouri River Valley and Twin Cities Area.

Each year the committee asks the applicants to respond to essay questions. This year the questions were:
  1. Higher education leads to long term possibilities for personal leadership and professional experience, but it also creates immediate opportunities, actually, for students to make changes in how and what they learn. Please share ways you influenced your educational environment.
  2. How did the multiple crises of the COVID pandemic and systemic injustice magnify your interest in shared social and cultural histories? Please describe your self initiated education and its effect on the way you think about yourself and others.

CREM members said, "This year’s applicants were quite amazing. They all were involved in classes, church, and community. They articulated their experiences as students of color engaged in environments impacted by racism and moral incongruity. The students demonstrated a strong sense of purpose and cultural self-identity, academic confidence, high grade point averages, and mature recognition of relationships to their communities."

Racial Ethnic Student Scholarships are awarded each year. To learn more go to Racial Ethnic Scholarship Fund.
A message of gratitude and thanks
Video message from the Rev. Dr. Diane Moffett, president and executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency.
Ho! Ho! Ho! Who’s on the Christmas ‘Presby Podcast’?
Before getting to work on Christmas Eve, Santa Claus spent a few minutes with ‘A Matter of Faith’
by Rich Copley | Presbyterian News Service

Jolly Old St. Nicholas took time recently to speak with “A Matter of Faith” co-host Simon Doong. Their conversation will drop Dec. 23. (Photo illustration by Rich Copley)

LEXINGTON, Kentucky — “A Matter of Faith: A Presby Podcast” is less than a year old, but co-host Simon Doong managed to score a huge interview for the show’s Christmas episode.

“HO! HO! HO!” Doong’s guest bellowed as he was being introduced, adding, “I guess I gave myself away.”

“I think you did, Santa,” Doong said. “We’re so grateful to have you.”

Doong and Santa Claus conducted their interview in an undisclosed location under undisclosed circumstances because, well, Jolly Old St. Nicholas has to keep his secrets. But in a nearly 15-minute interview, they did have a warm conversation about the circumstances we find ourselves in this Christmas 2021, the second Christmas under the cloud of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“People often ask me about the toys,” Santa said. “And yes, the toys do change, but not the boys and girls. They are just as precious and beautiful. And I’m so happy that this year, we’re able to see each other again, often in a limited way. Santa always wears my mask. But can I tell you what I say to the boys and girls? … Remember, children: The most important things in the world aren’t things, but the people who love us and who we love. Read the full article.

Listen to the interview with Santa here on Dec. 23.
Board of Pensions announces expanded access to Assistance Program
The changes steer financial help to ministers where their need is greatest and loosen requirements to extend access across Benefits Plan membership. Learn more.
"Worship After the Storm," from Presbyterian Mission Agency
Davis Mills, a member of First Presbyterian Church in Mayfield, Kentucky, and Dave Doehnert of the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance National Response Team, look at an old photo of the church as Davis and his brother work to salvage items from the church. (All photos by Rich Copley)
Western Kentucky churches begin tornado recovery
Presbyterian Disaster Assistance National Response Team assesses short- and long-term needs
by Rich Copley | Presbyterian News Service

MAYFIELD, Kentucky — Davis Mills looked down at the painting in a box in the back parking lot of First Presbyterian Church in Mayfield, Kentucky, late Saturday afternoon and said, “That’s what it used to look like.”

“Used to” was as recently as a little over a week before that afternoon, before a deadly tornado barreled through downtown Mayfield the night of Dec. 10, destroying numerous downtown buildings, including First Presbyterian Church. One church family considered taking refuge in the church’s basement as the storms approached. ...

This Friday night, on Christmas Eve, First Presbyterian Church will gather again at Broadway and Ninth to once again celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, just as it has at that corner most Christmas Eves since 1915.

What is there to celebrate, Barger asked, and then answered his own question: “Light and life cannot be destroyed.”

Give to One Great Hour of Sharing to enable Presbyterian Disaster Assistance to respond quickly to catastrophic events.

December 22 update from Lisa Allgood
Well, friends, this isn’t the Merry Christmas note I wanted to send – but, as for all my Love Notes, sometimes it just feels necessary.
Omicron is poised to overtake Delta in transmission by the next few weeks in the US; it already has in other countries. Omicron is now in all states and more than 90 countries. Cases of Omicron are doubling every 1.5 to 3 days in the countries where community transmissions are documented, the WHO said Saturday. A CDC expert has said that Omicron at least as transmissible – maybe more – than measles, which is the highest ever documented. She called it “extraordinarily transmissible”.
The US was averaging 126,967 new cases of COVID per day as of Saturday, according to Johns Hopkins University, and fourteen states saw an uptick of at least 10% in cases over the past week compared to the previous week. It's still too early to tell whether Omicron causes a milder form of COVID, but it is already putting significant pressure on the health care system.  
At this point almost everyone will be exposed to the virus, but only those who are triple vaccinated are unlikely to contract serious illness. The latest data says boostered individuals are 75% protected.
Sadly, this far into the vaccination process, only 61.4% of the total US population is fully vaccinated and only 29.1% of those have received a booster.  
Globally we’re at 275 Million confirmed cases of COVID, and 5.4 million souls lost. In the US we’re still way higher disproportionally: 52 Million confirmed cases and 827 thousand souls lost. Of those, 93% of deaths are in those 55 years of age or older. But for those who recover, significant long-haul symptoms that significantly affect quality of life persist. 
Above all, in the Christmas season, we wait for Him Who holds us all. Be safe and be blessed.

Lisa Allgood serves as the executive presbyter of the Presbytery of Cincinnati. She is a trained immunocytochemist, and a graduate of the University of Medicine and Dentistry NJ.
Moral reckoning: A Presbyterian Church tests model to surrender wealth to Afro American, Indigenous communities
Healing Minnesota Stories was created to promote dialogue, understanding and healing between Native American and non-Native peoples, particularly those in various faith communities. We are an initiative of the Minnesota Council of Churches.
Part I in a series on Restorative Actions
There’s a growing understanding and desire among mainline U.S. Protestant churches to make repairs – acts that go beyond mere words – for their role in the theft of Indigenous lands and the stolen labor of African slaves.

Yet churches struggle to figure out the nuts-and-bolts of how to do it, particularly around financial payments.

Oak Grove Presbyterian, a predominantly white church in Bloomington, is now the testing ground of one such effort, called Restorative Actions. It sits at the intersection of theology, justice, and economics.
“It seeks to answer the question, ‘what can we do?’ by providing one avenue to work toward decolonizing wealth,” the Restorative Actions website says. Read the rest of the article.

Restorative Actions and the power of a single conversation
Part II of the series on Restorative Actions
Mental Health resources from the church
The holidays are a joyful, festive time for many. But for some, they can be a challenge, particularly for people dealing with losses of many kinds. If you or someone you love feels you need help coping with the season, some of these resources from the Presbyterian Mental Health Ministry may be a helpful place to start. Learn more
Presbyterians supporting Christian Education - A message from Union Presbyterian Seminary
Had enough COVID-related surprises and changes in life? Need something more stable and personally and professionally helpful? Consider the new program from Union Presbyterian Seminary: Presbyterians Supporting Christian Education (PSCE).

PSCE continues the legacy of the great institution, the Presbyterian School of Christian Education. This program invites educators to participate in monthly collaborative group meetings with the goal of strengthening Christian education across the church. There will be five cohorts of up to eight persons each plus a facilitator. Participation is open to educators, professional and volunteer, and ministers. The cohorts meet monthly (February–December) via Zoom to provide collegiality, personal support, and professional development. In addition, a stipend of $500 is provided each participant.

Individuals are encouraged to apply to be in one of the cohorts through the Union Presbyterian Seminary website. Applications are being received November 15 – December 31, 2021, after which cohorts will be established.

Encourage your educators and minsters to consider this ministry of support and sharing ideas. 
University of Dubuque Theological Seminary receives Lilly grant

UDTS Receives $998,503 Grant to Increase Student Accessibility to Theological Education
DUBUQUE, Iowa – The University of Dubuque Theological Seminary has received a $998,503 grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to help establish Being There: Local Ministry Leadership in a Networked Age. ...

Being There: Local Ministry Leadership in a Networked Age will allow UDTS to help fulfill its mission of forming faithful ministry leaders by increasing student accessibility to theological education and by situating that education within the context of existing or emerging local and regional ministry networks. ...
“At the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary, the phrase ‘being there’ reflects our hopes and dreams for the ministry leaders with whom we partner. We want to empower ministry leaders to fully inhabit the ministry to which they have been called. We want to ‘be there’ for the local church and its ministry leaders with theological education that meets them at their point of need,” said Annette Huizenga, PhD, dean of seminary and associate professor of New Testament.

Being There: Local Ministry Leadership in a Networked Age will launch in January 2022.
Omaha Presbyterian Seminary Foundation Introduces Rev. Shelli R. Latham
By Robert Meyer December 6, 2021

The Board of Directors is pleased to announce that Rev. Shelli R. Latham has accepted our offer to be the next President of the Omaha Presbyterian Seminary Foundation.

Rev. Latham currently serves as the Pastor/Head of Staff at Druid Hills Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, Georgia, a position she has held since 2014.

... Among her leadership competencies she is described as hopeful, a communicator, and a collaborator. An example of her collaborative skills can be witnessed in her leadership role with Presbyterians for a Better Georgia, an organization which works for change in healthcare and affordable housing.

When asked to describe her new position she stated, “It is a call that is highly connectional, which provides necessary support to church leaders who are feeling weary these days, takes fiscal responsibility and stewardship seriously and values planning and accountability.”

Rev. Latham will assume her new position January 1, 2022.
PW Synod Gathering
Registration is now open!

PW: Better Together
Tied Together With Love
A cord of three strands is not easily broken
Ecclesiastes 4:12 (NIV) 

Click here for your registration packet or contact your PW Presbytery Moderator. Additional information about the Gathering can be found on our webpage.
2022 Synod Meetings
The schedule for Synod meetings has been set by the Steering Committee.

Spring Meeting, May 1-3
This is the annual meeting and it will take place in person at a location to be determined. This meeting will include a full worship service, educational time, committee meetings, and business meeting. We encourage commissioners to attend in person. Any one attending in person must be vaccinated against COVID or have a negative COVID test result 72 hours prior to the meeting. There will be a virtual option to attend for observers and anyone for which an in person meeting creates a hardship. More information on vaccinations and testing will be made available before the meeting.

Fall Meeting, October 2-3
This will be a virtual meeting beginning at 6:00 PM both days. This will be a business meeting and will include worship.

January 2022 - Welcome & Orientation
For new commissioners and anyone interested. Details to follow.

Synod committee meetings will likely take place virtually prior to the Synod meetings.

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.

Solo Pastor/Head of Staff, First Presbyterian Church, Farmington, New Mexico

Director for Lakeshore Center
Lakeshore (Camp and Retreat) Center on Lake Okoboji, Iowa is looking for a talented leader to create a welcoming space for spiritual formation and rental groups. Hospitality, building and grounds management, staff and volunteer oversight, program development, communication (written and verbal), financial administration, and building donor relationships are all required skills. Compensation starts at $55,000, plus housing and benefits. The position description can be found here.
Latest church resources for congregations and members. Learn more

COVID-19, cold, allergies and the flu: What are the differences? by Mayo Clinic Staff
Now is a good time to focus on bullying prevention
One in five children between the ages of 12 and 18 have been bullied at school. Nearly one in six between the ages of nine and 12 have been bullied online. Victims of bullying may face short- and long-term impacts, but they aren’t the only ones. Children that bully others, as well as those that witness bullying, are all at increased risk of negative outcomes.

Action for Healthy Kids has many resources.
Information about the 225th General Assembly
Important dates:
Saturday, June 18, 2022 – Online Plenary 1, 2, 3
Sunday, June 19, 2022,Worship -Juneteenth Service
June 20 – July 2, 2022 – Louisville Committee Meetings
July 5 – 9, 2022 – Online Plenary 4 - 17

On the Road to GA, monthly newsletter
The Ministry Lab is excited to offer fresh, free Advent, Christmas and Epiphany resourcesDreams of a New Day: An Intergenerational Pageant Liturgy, provides study and community-building throughout the season. Our two Illustrate-Your-Own Christmas/Eve sermons are simple ways to engage the whole congregation in worship. And our Epiphany Worship Service (members: contact The Ministry Lab) is led by colleagues from around the state with Michel Gribble leading liturgical movement and music from Billy McLaughlin.
Find additional seasonal resources for faith formation and worship in our curated lists!!
Presbyterian Women

Presbyterian Women in the Synod of Lakes & Prairies

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.