KEEPING IN TOUCH
June 30, 2021
Synod School nears
It is not too late to sign up for Synod School, July 25-30! In fact, we have folks signing up every day! You can participate in person at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, IA, where over 400 folks will gather in person to worship, learn, and celebrate living in community. Another option is to participate virtually. All information is available on the website (click on the button below).
Coach training continues
Are you a trained coach who is close to having the 100 hours of coaching required to be certified by the International Coaching Federation? If so, the next step is 10 hours of Group Mentor Coaching.
The Synod is pleased to announce that this will be offered in the Fall. You can read more about mentor coaching on the ICF website.

The dates for the group meetings will be
September 23, September 30 and December 9 from 2-4pm Eastern. Individual sessions will be scheduled with a mentor coach in between the above dates after we get started.

The cost of mentor coaching is $1,250. $750 paid by you, and $500 paid by the synod for those who reside in our bounds (otherwise, you will need to pay the full $1,200). Click here to sign-up.
Six-figure gift inspires Matthew 25 mission work in the Presbytery of Milwaukee
At right, Joseph Fresch, mission chair of Living Hope Presbyterian Church in the Presbytery of Milwaukee, presents Karen Tredwell, executive director of the Waukesha Food Pantry, with a donation to assist in combating hunger and food deserts in and around Waukesha County. The gift — made possible, in part, through an anonymous donor’s generosity — is part of the presbytery’s Matthew 25 vision. (Photo by Michael Egly)
Congregations ‘answer the call to mission’ in their communities and beyond

by Tammy Warren | Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE — “We were blessed with a $100,000 gift from a donor who wished to remain anonymous,” said Rachel Yates, executive presbyter of the Presbytery of Milwaukee. “The donor wanted every congregation — no matter its size — to have $2,000 for mission.”

Leaders in the Presbytery of Milwaukee, a Matthew 25 presbytery since last September, suggested that its 41 congregations could use the gift in building congregational vitality, dismantling structural racism and eradicating systemic poverty — the three focus areas of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s Matthew 25 vision.

“The donor was very agreeable with our suggestion,” Yates said. The remainder of the gift was retained by the presbytery for the same purposes.

National podcast features Liberty Community Church, Minneapolis
The American Refugee Podcast recently highlighted North Minneapolis focusing on Pastors Alika & Ralph Galloway from Liberty Church. It is a powerful lesson on life in North Minneapolis through their experiences.
FEMA Amends COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Policy

FEMA is amending the agency’s COVID-19 Funeral Assistance policy to assist with COVID-
19 related fatalities that occurred in the early months of the pandemic.

This policy change will allow applicants to submit a statement or letter from the death certificate’s certifying official, medical examiner, or coroner, that attributes the death to COVID-19 fatalities that occurred between Jan. 20 and May 16, 2020.

This policy change was made after consulting with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials and other health experts. The new policy provides applicants, as well as medical authorities, coroners and jurisdictions, flexibility to attribute a death to COVID-19 without amending the death certificate. The change also provides flexibility with documentation for the period before the CDC-published and implemented COVID-19 death certificate
guidance in the spring of 2020. Read more.

For general questions about COVID-19 Funeral Assistance, go to COVID-19 Funeral Assistance | FEMA.gov.
‘God, we’re listening to what you’re providing for us. Let’s carry this to the future’
The GA Co-Moderators reflect on their first year
Pam Wineman | Office of the General Assembly - June 29, 2021
Co-Moderators of the 224th General Assembly (2020) Elona Street-Stewart (left) and Gregory Bentley (right) —Photo by Rich Copley

Seeking to become Co-Moderator of one of the nation’s largest religious organizations during a global pandemic may seem like bad timing, but that is not the way Ruling Elder Elona Street-Stewart and the Rev. Gregory Bentley see it.

“The circumstances are the circumstances,” said Bentley, “and have nothing to do with responding to a call.”

In June 2020, Street-Stewart and Bentley became the first Co-Moderators to be elected during a fully online General Assembly. They were at home in St. Paul, Minnesota, and Huntsville, Alabama, respectively, rather than in a huge convention hall amid the roar of hundreds of people on their feet. After their installation, they immediately traveled to Louisville to moderate virtual plenary sessions for the 224th General Assembly. Due to ongoing travel restrictions and public health concerns, they have spent the past year engaging with Presbyterians — and each other — by way of their computers.

These strange times haven’t put a damper on their enthusiasm for serving the denomination and their collaborative spirit.
Installation of the Co-Moderators during the 224th General Assembly. Gregory Bentley (on computer screen) and Elona Street-Stewart (right) —photo by Gretchen Milloy

In late 2019, Street-Stewart was on her way to running and was seeking someone to stand with her. A mutual “angel,” the Rev. Dr. Alika Galloway, said she knew the perfect person and connected Street-Stewart and Bentley. It is obvious the two developed an immediate rapport. “Gregory and I can probably finish each other’s sentences at this point. We’re like the brother and sister of another mother,” Street-Stewart said as Bentley nodded in agreement during a recent Zoom call.

They quickly discovered a shared passion for racial justice, both in the Church and in the world. “We wanted to be most visible to the Church as individuals who come from Indigenous and Black communities,” said Street-Stewart. Together they selected a symbol, the Sankofa, to represent their heritages and their ministry as Co-Moderators. Bentley explained the bird is “flying forward while looking back with an egg in her mouth, which symbolizes going back, as a communion, and fetching the stuff that can be good medicine to bring healing in the body right now.”

Johnson County, Iowa renamed for Lulu Merle Johnson
Lulu Merle Johnson recognized as official eponym of Johnson County
Johnson County, Iowa – The Johnson County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously today, Thursday, June 24, 2021, to recognize Lulu Merle Johnson as the official eponym of Johnson
County.

Lulu Merle Johnson was born in 1907 in Gravity, Iowa, to a father who was born into slavery.

She became a student at the State University of Iowa (University of Iowa) in 1925 at a time when she was one of only 14 African-American women enrolled at the university. She earned both a bachelor’s and master’s degree by 1930, despite facing open discrimination because of
her race and gender.

From 1931 to 1941, Lulu Merle Johnson was a professor at the State University of Iowa while working toward her Ph.D. In 1941, she became the first African-American woman to earn a Ph.D. from the University.


Johnson County is located in the Presbytery of East Iowa.
New mailing address for Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys
Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys
PO Box 431
Kerkhoven MN 56252
Minnesota Valleys
Nebraska Presbyterian Foundation
awards more than $182K in grants
Nebraska Presbyterian Foundation Board of Directors awarded grants totaling $182,500 in April to ten churches or organizations to partially fund outreach projects which enhance or expand their ministry. With the realization that churches can’t go back to only offering in-person worship, many of the grants will fund technology improvements to help reach a larger audience through social media platforms. Mission projects in three congregations to distribute or grow food were awarded grants to broaden their impact in addressing food insecurity or promoting healthy eating in their community.

Grantees and their projects include:
  • First Presbyterian Church (Axtell) for start-up costs related to an after-school enrichment program in their community
  • Calvin Crest Camp (Fremont) to increase camp technology capabilities and safety improvement projects
  • First Presbyterian Church (Beaver City) for technology improvements to record and livestream worship services
  • First Presbyterian Church (Omaha) to upgrade technology to improve the quality of livestreamed worship
  • First Presbyterian Church (Schuyler) in support of their community-wide food & clothing distribution project
  • Hickman Presbyterian Church (Hickman) for technology upgrades to offer hybrid worship services
  • Homestead Presbytery (Lincoln) to partially fund the Healthy Congregations initiative which focuses on congregations in transition
  • Southern Heights Presbyterian Church (Lincoln) for improvements to their community garden space and food forest to promote growing healthy food
  • Underwood Hills Presbyterian Church (Omaha) to fund their food distribution project which addresses food insecurity in their neighborhood
  • Westminster Presbyterian Church (Lincoln) to update equipment necessary to offer quality livestreamed worship services

Nebraska Presbyterian Foundation is proud to partner with all our grantees to help support their mission and be the hands and feet of Christ in their neighborhoods and communities.

Established in 1958, Nebraska Presbyterian Foundation makes annual grants to Nebraska PCUSA congregations and related organizations to support their mission and share the love of Christ. More information about their grant funding can be found on their website www.nebpresby.org.
New resources focus on youth mental health
Middle school and high school youth are part of Generation Z. They’re more likely than others to report anxiety and other mental health issues

by Paul Seebeck | Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE — Two new resources focused on the mental health and wellness of youth are now available for free download from the Office of Presbyterian Youth and Triennium.

The Social/Emotional Health Quicksheet provides a list of check-in questions that can be used in group settings or, say, in a group text check-in to help nurture the mental health of youth. Partnering with Parents for Hard Conversations encourages youth leaders and congregations to equip parents to set aside time to talk to their middle- or high-schooler about what is happening in their world.

Students now in middle school and high school are part of Generation Z. Born between 1997 and 2012 — give or take a few years — they’re described, in the Social/Emotional Health resource, as often “lonely, overwhelmed, feeling unsafe in the world, worriers, and deeply concerned about ethical and humanitarian needs of the world.”

Brittany Porch

Pandemic impact on Gen Z faith
Generation Z, considered to be those age 13-25, reported almost no change in their faith commitments as a result of the pandemic. While only 10% of those surveyed recalled having been reached out to by their pastors, a majority felt that their faith communities did a good job during the trying year: Researchers were "heartened by the study’s finding that young people’s personal faith more or less held steady despite all the upheaval. Roughly half (47%) said their faith stayed about the same in the crisis, just over a quarter (26%) that it had grown stronger, and just over a quarter (27%) that they were doubting or had lost their faith."

From the Minnesota Council of Churches newsletter.
COVID-19 update from Lisa Allgood, Executive Presbyter
Our trusted immunocytochemist and executive presbyter from Cincinnati Presbytery offers this update on her advice to congregations:
I’ve been getting a lot of questions as Sessions struggle with how to “come back”. So, I’m reiterating current (June 2021) guidance from CDC:
  • Fully vaccinated people (more than 2 weeks since the last dose of vaccine) can stay unmasked for most public gatherings, especially outdoors.
  • If a business or church requires masks, that overrides the CDC guidance. Any entity may require masks, even when CDC/state requirements do not.
  • Masks must be worn for all people – vaccinated or not – on public transportation and in transportation hubs (train and bus stations, airport concourses). Medical facilities are also continuing to require masks at all times.
  • However – fully vaccinated people who are immunocompromised in any way – on cancer or transplant treatment, steroid treatment, have an autoimmune disease or other immunocompromising condition – may be less protected by the vaccine and should still be masked at all times.

Working on Challenging White Supremacy in Ourselves and Society
Blackhawk Presbytery offers the

Why Should Christians Care?

A step-by-step process to lead your congregation through discovery, conversation and potential action. Go to our website.
LeaderWise
A Time to Pause and Reflect


For me, re-entering social and public spaces post-pandemic has occasionally been unsettling. There are times when I am caught off guard by feelings of “normalcy” and times when in-person interactions or proximity to crowds feels a bit overwhelming. This week I’m being reminded of the value of having the awareness that this is a time of re-entry—and awareness that I want to be intentional about how I re-enter and choose to spend my days post-pandemic. After more than a year of collective uncertainty and anxiety and trauma, I appreciate reminders to pause and collect my bearings.

In the spirit of pausing, I, along with my colleague Mary Kay, offer this invitation to rest from John O’Donohue: “For One Who Is Exhausted, a Blessing.” May you take time this summer to return to yourself and rediscover “the joy that dwells far within slow time.”
Work Engagement, Survey Invitation

Dear Faith Leader,

You have played a critical role in your ministry setting and community during the COVID-19 pandemic. Like health care personnel, many of you have been on the front lines as you minister to the sick, grieve with those who have lost a loved one, and find new ways to help people in your ministry grow spiritually. You’ve had to adapt and learn technology in ways you couldn’t possibly have imagined. And yet maybe you’ve also experienced unexpected blessings in the midst of unprecedented times.

In light of the unique circumstances of this past year, LeaderWise is working to gain a clearer understanding of the experiences of people in ministry, including how they currently view their work. In an effort to continue our mission of providing counseling and consulting for lives of service, we are asking you to give 10 minutes to complete an anonymous survey that will allow us to understand your experiences, and, in turn, provide more relevant services. 

You will not give your name or other information that would allow you to be individually identified, so please provide honest answers about your vocation-related attitudes. Participation is voluntary, and the answers provided will assist our work at LeaderWise. To participate, please click here to visit the survey site.

We’re grateful for your participation.
Blessings,
Mark

Executive Director, LeaderWise
Opportunities

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.
Summer Worship Series!

We are grateful for our judicatory leaders and offer these three services as a gift, hopeful that they enable clergy, faith formation, and worship leaders to take a much needed break once, twice, or thrice over the course of this summer.
 
June: Stay Awake – Reflecting on the Garden of Gethsemane

Preacher: Rev. Tyler Sit, New City Church, South Minneapolis (UMC); Spoken Word artist Joe Davis & The Poetic Diaspora musical collective (ELCA); Composer and musician Bret Hesla (ELCA); United Seminarians Elizabeth O’Sullivan, Dr. LaTayna Purnell, and Marshall Sartain (with a PC(USA)-based liturgy).

Clearwater Chrysalis
Summer Women's Retreat
August 12-15, 2021
Clearwater Chrysalis is a balanced, faith-building program of Clearwater Forest. We welcome adult women from all Christian traditions. Our vision is to nourish and support the body, mind and spirit in community with other women.

Wild Goose Festival
September 2-5, Hot Springs, NC

Wild Goose Festival is a transformational community grounded in faith-inspired social justice. Wherever we come together – at our nationwide festival, smaller local and regional gatherings, or social spaces online – we learn and grow by co-creating art, music, story, theater, and spectacle, engaging in a wide variety of robust, respectful conversations with each other and with thought leaders and artists from other communities. We refuse to be enemies with anyone.
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.

Summer Hours

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

Other summer holidays observed:
Independence Day, July 5
Labor Day, September 3
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.