Keeping In Touch
June 15, 2020 - 224th General Assembly, Pandemic Stewardship, Ministry Lab Resources, The Academy, Coaching Program & More
224th General Assembly

The assembly will take place over three days; Friday, June 19; and Friday and Saturday, June 26 and 27.

Details are still being worked out, but the plan includes:
  • Question and answer session (town hall gathering) for moderator candidates followed by the election of a new moderator/co-moderators on Friday, June 19, 8:00 PM (CDT)
  • Opening worship, two plenaries on Friday, June 26
  • Critical business, three plenaries, including stated clerk election and budget, on Saturday, June 27.

Visit the website for livestreaming of GA. The docket for the meeting is also available on the website. Please note that docket times are listed in Eastern Daylight Savings (EDT). 
Pandemic Stewardship: Living in Hope Zoom event:
Thursday, June 18  2:00-3:30 p.m.
In this challenging time many congregations worry about finances. How can they encourage generosity at a time when many people financially struggle? How does the church talk of hope amid such uncertainty? Rev. Pete Reuss will address these core challenges to congregational life. He will provide practical tools that will inspire congregations to encourage the generous giving that allows them to boldly live out God's mission. Time for small group conversation will allow participants to thoughtfully apply learnings to their local contexts.
Rev. Pete Reuss, consultant with GSB Fundraising, specializes in guiding congregations, middle judicatories, and other non-profits to expand ministry through increased generosity. An ELCA pastor, Pete previously served as Assistant to the Bishop and Director for Evangelical Mission of the Southeastern Minnesota Synod. Pete exudes a passion for God’s work in the world, trusting the Spirit to guide the church and ministry organizations to live into God’s future. Through the death of his mother as an 8-year-old and the death of his wife in 2015, Peter remains convinced that nothing, even death, can stand in God’s way. If God has a vision for the church, God will raise up the leaders and the funds to make it happen. All things are possible.
Register at to receive the link to the meeting.

Sponsored by the Synod of Lakes and Prairies.
In Lament and Protest—Speaking Out Against the
Violence of White Supremacy
Tricia Dykers Koenig, Associate Stated Clerk
Associate Director for Mid Council Relations, Office of the General Assembly

No words are adequate. Silence is betrayal.

So many mid council leaders have shared eloquent words of challenge with their people that I won’t even begin to post those individual messages here. I am humbled and convicted; I am again reminded of the white privilege I enjoy, often thoughtlessly, of my profound privilege in working with so many faithful colleagues seeking to serve Christ together, and of how desperately the church needs to do better—specifically, those of us in the church who benefit from white supremacy.

Here are a few other presbytery expressions of anguish and solidarity:

To help clergy, faith formation leaders and parents, The Ministry Lab has compiled two lists on Anti-Racism and Ending White Supremacy Culture: one for Adults and one for Youth & Children.
Both can be accessed on our At-Home Tips & Resources page.

We have also created a list of resources for parents on  Talking with Children and Youth about Trauma . It includes evaluations for noticing trauma or PTSD symptoms in children, teens and adults; tips on talking about big emotions; and mindfulness tools available online or through books. This is available on our  Mental Health  page.

We hope they are helpful in your ministries!
Presby Women Logo
PW Synod sponsored,  Racial Justice Challenge

What can we do in response to the racism that exists across the U.S. and in our communities? There is a growing awareness among Presbyterians that racism is a crisis and must be addressed. The PC(USA) and PW in the Synod of Lakes and Prairies are strongly committed to the struggle for racial justice.  PW in our Synod believes that it begins with education and dialog.

You are invited to begin to dismantle structural racism through your participation in the  "Racial Justice Challenge" . This  "Racial Justice Challenge"  will help raise awareness about the perniciousness of racism and encourage action in response to that awareness. Through discussions surrounding the PC(USA)'s anti-racism policy, scripture and a variety of other resources, participants may develop an increased understanding of how racism is systemic rather than simply personal.

This study is open to women and men across the synod. It will meet for six-sessions on Mondays, beginning June 29 and ending August 31. There are two sessions offered each time, 1:30-2:30 PM (Central Time) or 6:30-7:30 PM (Central Time). There is no cost involved, yet you must register to participate via Zoom.

To register, email your name, presbytery, email address, phone number and preference for afternoon or evening participation to Marilyn Stone at .

Kathleen Keefer and Marilyn Stone
Webinar: Celebrating the Call to Serve as a Ruling Elder

During her term of service as Co-Moderator of the 223rd General Assembly (2018), Ruling Elder Vilmarie Cintrón-Olivieri has traveled throughout the denomination and found much to celebrate and share about the call and the role of ruling elders in the life of the church. Vilmarie will serve as the speaker of an upcoming webinar offered specifically for ruling elders as we explore the beauty of this vital service. Registering early will secure a spot in this special event!

Wednesday, July 8, 2020, at 7 p.m. ET (4 p.m. PT) via Zoom.  Click here to register .
The Summer Academy at Lakeshore Center
July 27-31, 2020
A learning community for congregational leaders
The Academy
In 2020, due to the cancellation of summer school, The Academy will move its programs to Lakeshore Center in Milford, IA. The Academy is a unique educational program for congregational leaders and Commissioned Pastors who want to:

• grow in their faith and knowledge,
• grow as a leader,
• have more opportunities to serve God as needed in their area, or
• have some great continuing education if serving as a Commissioned Pastor.

Co-sponsored by the presbyteries of Minnesota Valleys, North Central Iowa and Prospect Hill as well as the Synod of Lakes and Prairies, these classes are open to all who are interested in just a single class as well as those interested in taking all 11 classes offered through the Academy.

Mornings: 9-11:45 Monday through Friday
God, Humanity and the Covenant of Grace: An Introduction to Reformed Theology 
This course will introduce participants to several of the lasting themes of the Reformed faith by engaging short primary texts in the history of Reformed theology from the Reformation to the present day, including John Calvin, the Reformed confessions, and Karl Barth. The courses major themes will include divine election, the covenant of grace, and the Christian life as a response to the gospel.
The Rev. Dr. Cambria Kaltwasser is assistant professor of theology at Northwestern College in Orange City, IA. She currently lives in a farmhouse outside of Orange City, with her husband, son (6) and daughter (3).
Required reading: Introducing the Reformed Faith by Don McKim and handouts from class.

Afternoons: 1:30-5:00 Monday through Thursday
Survey of the Old Testament
This class will provide a survey of the Old Testament, pausing to understand the Hebrew context, Biblical interpretation, sources, structure and themes that are woven throughout. This class provides an excellent overview of the Hebrew Scriptures with important concepts to aid in interpreting the texts.
The Courier in Cedar Falls noted upon her retirement that, “The Rev. Cathy Young is fueled primarily by two things: study and love.” Cathy’s continuing study of the Old Testament has led to many teaching opportunities and her composition of a study guide that surveys the Old Testament. Cathy and her husband live in Cedar Falls and recently celebrated their 50th anniversary.
Required reading: The Old Testament and Cathy’s study guide which will be emailed to participants.

What is the cost? $150/class plus room and board which is $550 for meals and a single room with arrival on Sunday evening (no meal) and departure after lunch on Friday.
Mental Health Ministry Grants

One-time seed grants of up to $10,000 are available to mid councils, congregations, and seminaries for projects that increase the capacity of ministers and congregations for mental health ministry.

Examples of projects that can be done while physically distancing (or in person):
  • Provide funding for off-the-shelf training programs (virtual/in-person options) for pastors and/or church members in skills of mental health first aid and suicide prevention. Suggestions available from Office of Mental Health Ministry.
  • Engage a grief counselor to facilitate a series of virtual/in-person support sessions for processing grief and loss.
  • Engage a mental health consultant to help start virtual/in-person peer support groups for people experiencing mental health challenges.
  • Mid councils: Engage someone with interviewing/pastoral skills to consult by phone with pastoral leadership in each congregation to listen and learn about emerging needs related to mental health.
  • Mid councils: Engage a mental health consultant to offer (virtual) training in recognizing and responding to mental health issues arising in pastoral ministry. Seventy percent of ministers said they would find this training helpful: Ministers Survey p 3–4.
  • Mid Councils: Engage a mental health consultant to offer one-on-one or group teleconsultation sessions for pastors wanting to talk through specific mental health situations arising in pastoral ministry.
  • Mid Councils: Engage a mental health professional to develop referral guidance and an online directory of mental health services/providers for pastoral care providers.

Next application deadline is July 20, 2020, for proposals to be reviewed in August:  Mental Health Ministry Grant Information and Application Form .
Synod of Lakes and Prairies Coaching Program
The Synod will be offering a four-part certified coaches training beginning in September 2020 to support our strategic priority of coaching being available for pastoral leaders and congregations as a means of attracting, supporting and retaining great leaders in the Synod. The training is certified by the International Coaching Federation (ICF), meaning participants who complete the four segments as well as 100 hours of coaching, will be eligible to apply to the ICF for official certification as a coach.

Why coaching? Many church leaders have found it helpful to work with someone on what they want and how to get there. Coaching is about asking good and helpful questions that help us listen to ourselves, become more effective, authentic or resilient as leaders and focus on that which gives us life.

Who will be doing the training? Rev. Dr. Laurie Ferguson, a professional certified coach, consultant, and therapist will be our leader. To learn more about Laurie, visit her website: She has been coaching and training for a number of years and has been wanting to offer a program like this! She is delighted to be working with us on this coaching program.

What is involved? There will be 60 hours of training delivered in several segments, hopefully two face to face and the rest through tele-classes.

1.        Foundations of Coaching: This two-hour Zoom class will require pre-work that includes both reading and writing a paper. End of August.

2.        Basic Coaching Skills: 15 hours of basic training on coaching skills offered over two days (all day Monday and Tuesday until 3:00). September 13-15, 2020 and two two-hour Zoom classes. Participants will be encouraged to start coaching others after this training.

3. Advanced Coaching and Team Coaching Skills is another 15 hours (Monday-Tuesday) in May 2021 at Christ the King Retreat Center.

4. Tele-classes (six two-hour classes) that will focus on a variety of topics during summer 2021.

What are the expectations and possibilities? In order to be ICF certified, in addition to the training students must have 100 hours of coaching others. Because the goal of this program is to create a pool of coaches for the pastoral leaders and congregations in the Synod, each participant will be asked to provide five hours/month of reduced price or three hours of free coaching over 12 months. Although you may have people in your own presbytery to coach, there is also interest in having folks be able to have coaches from another presbytery. A directory of the participants will be shared with presbytery staff so they can refer others to you. In between the classes, there will be monthly cohort gatherings of smaller groups coordinated by the Synod to provide a learning community for each other. Once the training has been completed, an official Synod Network of coaches will be established, providing information on the Synod website about certified coaches within the bounds and an annual gathering of the Coaching Network to refresh practice, renew relationships, and learn together.

What is the cost? The cost per participant will be $700 for the 2020 training and $500 for the 2021 training. Room and board as well as 25% of the cost will be covered by the Synod of Lakes and Prairies.

How do I apply? Complete the application and send to by July 24, 2020.

We will notify you of acceptance into the program in early August after the committee has reviewed your application.
The Synod of Lakes and Prairies Presents

The Art of Transitional Leadership Learning Ministry Skills for Today’s and Tomorrow’s Church Pastors, Staff, COMs and Congregational Leaders

October 1 1 - 15 , 2020 Christ the King Retreat Center in Buffalo, Minnesota
Whether it is a change in leadership or a changing community, leading a congregation through change is both 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. This training is for individuals who are considering ministry in temporary settings (as an interim, transitional or designated pastor) or are experiencing ministry in these transitional times. Materials presented will include the basics of transitional ministry and will be of value to all congregational pastors regardless of their ministry setting. Best practices in transitional ministry include ways to enter the congregation and community, how to analyze a congregation’s strength and growing edges, and how to assist a congregation in moving toward a vibrant future. This training will delve into navigating change, the pastor as a spiritual interpreter of transition, family systems, mission focus ministry, conflict mediation, and building resiliency.

Event begins at 10:00 a.m. on Monday morning and will end on Thursday evening. Participants completing the full 30 hours of training will meet the requirements for Week I Transitional Ministry Education. (If you want a certificate of completion, you must actively participate in all sessions in their entirety.) Fees Cover: materials provided for the education, 4 nights lodging in a double room,
4 breakfasts, 5 lunches and 4 dinners. Lodging on Thursday evening is available for an additional fee. Lodging on Sunday night is included in the fees.

Synod School
Synod School Committee came to the difficult decision to cancel Synod School for 2020 as we know it due to the pandemic. This is not something we wanted to do but because of our care for each other, our deep desire not to be a source of illness for anyone, and the inability to truly be together as we ordinarily are – singing heartily, laughing together, sharing meals in close proximity, and more – we feel as if this was what we have to do. 
Recognizing that we cannot replicate the Synod School experience online, we are not going to try to do so. BUT we are working to put together some special opportunities for a simpler Synod School online for the week of July 27. We are looking at opportunities for worship, learning, fellowship and fun and will have a better sense of what this looks like by early June. At that point we will post on the website how to participate in the pieces that stir your interest. We certainly won’t have you or your children in front of a screen for 12 hours/day!! Stay tuned for more information.
In the meantime, Deb DeMeester is working on refunding any fees people have paid for Synod School. What we offer virtually will be at no cost to the participants. If you would like to make a donation to the Synod School endowment please contact Deb DeMeester . Refund checks will be sent out in the next couple of weeks. Credit card refunds will be processed in about a week.
Thank you for understanding! Mark your calendars for July 25-30, 2021! We will be graced with the presence of Jill Duffield, editor of Presbyterian Outlook, as our convocation speaker and Samuel Son, manager of diversity and reconciliation at the Presbyterian Mission Agency, as our evening worship leader. Bryce Wiebe will return as the youth convocation speaker.
Forms to submit class or teaching proposals for all ages will be on the synod website:  They are due by September 1, 2020.
The Synod School Committee – Mac Stanfield, Dean; Dan Voigt, Associate Dean; Pam Prouty, Paul Penn, Meredith Sauer, Marian Hart, Jim Bonewald, Dan Davis, Raymond Meester, and Deb DeMeester, Staff