April 2022
Matthew 25 at work in the Synod
First Presbyterian Church in Eau Claire, Wisc.
Rev. Kathy Reid Walker
We are engaged in several aspects of the initiative, including Dismantling Structural Racism. Before COVID times, we held an adult education class on Sunday mornings using the United Church of Christ curriculum, "White Privilege: Let's Talk -- A Resource for Transformational Dialogue". Following this 6-week discussion, the group decided to continue the conversation about white privilege and anti-racism, and began to work towards actions that could be taken. A couple women from the Baha'i Faith have been regular attendees, and the group has connected with other people and groups with similar goals in the community. The group continues to meet on Sunday mornings for learning, conversation, and planning. We have now adopted the name Race Amity Interfaith Network (RAIN). Our group of individuals from diverse faiths focuses on building cross-racial friendship and appreciation for diversity as well as expanding knowledge about racial biases and prejudice.

Some of the areas the group has studied includes:
  • Privilege, power, and whiteness in and out of the church
  • Impacts of structural racism overt the last 150 years
  • Income and wealth inequality – chattel slavery, Jim Crow, generational poverty and trauma
  • Criminal Justice (genocide, mass incarceration, police brutality)
  • Education
  • Housing (red lining/forced relocation, GI Bill of Rights, impact on living environment)
  • Medical inequality
  • Possible corrective actions

For a second year we are helping with an Art for Racial Justice postcard project (see attached flyer). People throughout the community are encouraged to draw or write on 4X6 postcards, sharing their ideas about racial justice, compassion, etc. The postcards are collected onto several posterboards and displayed in locations all over town. The postcard project will also be a part of a celebration of Race Amity Day, June 12, 2022. Activities are planned for that week, which will culminate with Juneteenth.

We have worked on local proclamations recognizing Race Amity Day. Eau Claire City and County have agreed to proclaim June 12, 2022 as Race Amity Day. We are working on a state proclamation as well. RAIN would like to have a booth at the local Farmer's Market on June 11, 2022. We will have posters and educational materials about the Race Amity Project. We are in the planning stage to show a 1 hour film, possibly at UWEC, with a speaker or art event - possibly an indigenous connection with the Chippewa Valley.

We are also working to involve neighborhood organizations and hoping to organize an interfaith prayer gathering in Eau Claire, working with JONAH, the faith-based community organizing group.

In Remembrance
Loren F. Stoakes, former Synod director of finance and treasurer from c. 1984-1993, died on March 21, 2022, at the age of 93.

Loren was born in Hardwick, Minn. and was a veteran of the US Army, Korean Conflict. He was preceded in death by his wife of 64 years. Lavonn.
‘O taste and see that the Lord is good’
Rather than telling people what change will look like, it’s more effective to show them
by Mike Ferguson | Presbyterian News Service
April 22, 2022

LOUISVILLE — During Thursday’s Being Matthew 25 discussion on generational change, Dr. Corey Schlosser-Hall kept hearkening back to a favorite verse in the Old Testament, Psalm 34:8: “O taste and see that the Lord is good …”

When it comes to facilitating change, said the Presbyterian Mission Agency’s deputy executive for vision, innovation and rebuilding, “tasting and seeing what the new vision looks like at each step can be a useful approach or strategy,” he told host the Rev. DeEtte Decker, the PMA’s acting senior director of communications. “When it’s only an ideation, it’s going to be troublesome.”

Watch the 49-minute broadcast here. Thursday’s edition included videos highlighting the social justice ecological work being done by Westminster Presbyterian Church in Minneapolis as well as a look ahead at the May 19 edition of Being Matthew 25 featuring Decker’s interview with the Rev. Dr. Diane Moffett, president and executive director of the PMA, and the Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

One hindrance to change is that most people “really like to like what we like,” Schlosser-Hall said, employing a phrase given to him by his spouse. “We create things that we enjoy and then we seek to recreate those things that we enjoy — and yet Jesus, God and the Spirit continue to move beyond us … Jesus requires us to be thinking about how we reinvent ministry for God’s kingdom, not for ours. The church is just like any other human organization: We like what we like.”

Being Matthew 25
Just in time for the opening of the 225th General Assembly, the guests for the June 16 edition, of the Being Matthew 25 podcast, will be the Co-Moderators of the 224th General Assembly, Ruling Elder Elona Street-Stewart and the Rev. Gregory Bentley, the hosts of their own acclaimed broadcast, Good Medicine.
PC(USA) 2021 statistics continue to show declining membership
New worshiping communities still show growth
Rick Jones | Office of the General Assembly - April 25, 2022

There has been nothing normal about church membership and attendance over the past two years. In-person worship took a major hit in all Christian denominations as the COVID-19 pandemic raged on. Many denominations have reported thousands of members leaving the church altogether. But even as membership continues to show a decline in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the numbers were not as high as in 2020.

The Office of the General Assembly has released its annual statistics report showing a continued steady decline in membership in the PC(USA). Current active membership stands at just over 1.1 million, a 51,000-member drop from 2020. Total number of churches last year stood at 8,813, approximately 112 less than the year before.
“We have come to the realization that our church has been forever changed by this pandemic,” said the Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the PC(USA). “But this report shows that even though the number of active members continues to go down, we are seeing a slight slowdown in number of people leaving.”

Building Ministry Vitality Through Matthew 25
Caring Relationships: "Let love be genuine..."
Lisa Allgood,
Executive Presbyter of Cincinnati Presbytery and Immunocytochemist

March 23, 2022

…yes, it’s me again. You thought we were through, didn’t you?

No need to panic or change anything just yet, but I wanted to keep you aware.
After weeks in free fall, with new Covid-19 cases are starting to level off in the US, the Omicron BA.2 subvariant is here. It’s been climbing steadily in Europe and is now the predominant variant (85%) in circulation, increasing by 20% week on week.

 Since Europe reduced testing, mask requirements, and distancing a few weeks before we did, you can be sure BA.2 will start to peak in the US in a few weeks. In fact, it is already 50% of cases in the northeast and northwest, and also climbing by about 20% over the past few weeks.

However, the UK is more highly vaccinated than the US. Among those ages 12 and older, 86% of the UK population has had two doses of a vaccine, while more than two-thirds have gotten a third or booster dose. In the US, 74% individuals ages 12 and older have had two doses of a vaccine, but just 46% have had a booster. Omicron was such a widespread infection event that many people have some natural immunity (although it’s not clear how protective that immunity is given the that although I call it “Son of Omicron”, it has 40 distinct mutations that makes it quite different.)

Omicron BA.2 is 30% more infectious (rapid spread) than the original Omicron BA.1 (as infectious (or more) than measles, the most infectious virus known to man). The R is about 12, which means 1 person on average affects 12 others.

Like Omicron BA.1, symptoms (especially in the vaccinated) are milder and tend to be upper respiratory – which unfortunately makes it easy to mistake for seasonal spring allergies. Serious infections and the high death rate – highest ever seen was January of this year – occur predominantly in the unvaccinated. Although vaccination antibody protection does wane with time, vaccinated individuals still appear to be covered by 70-80%.
Currently in the US, new Covid-19 cases are holding steady or increasing in about 19 states, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. I’m not expecting the rapid spike we’ve seen before but – we’re not done yet. And with only 15% of the developing world vaccinated, new variants will emerge. Delta came from India and Omicron BA.1 from South Africa. This CDC graph tells a story to pay attention to.
Be blessed and stay safe. We need you all. Lisa
225TH General Assembly
The 225th General Assembly is just around the corner. Visit the GA website to view the docket and find additional information about the assembly.

Have you registered for Synod School?
Find out about Synod School.
PW Synod
Pre-Gathering Mission Event
June 16, 2022, 8:30 AM - 3:00 PM

Join in this pre-gathering mission event for a guided tour of the Dr. Susan LaFlesche Picotte Hospital. Click here for more information and the registration form.
PW Synod Gathering
Click here for your registration packet or contact your PW Presbytery Moderator. Additional information about the Gathering can be found on our webpage.

Rock Prairie United Presbyterian Church, Janesville, Wisc. is looking for a solo pastor.

Half-Time Youth Coordinator for Presbytery
Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys is looking for a Youth Coordinator that has a passion for spiritual formation in children and youth. The individual would be responsible for:
Connecting youth and youth leaders across the Presbytery, organizing youth events, resourcing congregations, coordinating Triennium, and accompanying youth to the event, plan youth leader training events and organizing presbytery wide Zoom confirmation classes. We are looking for someone to be the face of the youth program for the Presbytery. Some travel required.
Interested persons should provide a cover letter with brief faith statement, and a resume with two references, by June 1, 2022. Send to Karen Lange:

Saint Andrew Presbyterian Church, Iowa City, has openings for a full time Director of Music Ministries and a part time organist. Please email:

Care Navigation from the Board of Pensions
Care navigation is a new feature offered by the Board of Pensions in partnership with Quantum Health. Beginning April 1, it will be available to members and their families with PPO, EPO, or HDHP coverage. Quantum Health's Care Coordinators will help identify healthcare needs, resolve issues, and provide personalized support.
Mount Olivet Conference & Retreat Center

Living Well, Leading Well, a three-part monthly series of virtual workshops promoting wholeness, wellbeing, and renewal in our personal and professional lives.

See all upcoming events:
Upcoming LeaderWise Offerings
Find out what is being offered here.
What's next in faith formation? Leaders, clergy, and volunteers in ministry with all ages are enthusiastically invited to join the ConNext Summit 2022: In the Ways of Jesus - Gracious Idleness, Scrappy Transformation, Radical Belonging. This ecumencial gathering of progressive leaders offers opportunities to network, share inspiration, and rest. Learn more here.
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.

Before we go ...
At their April Presbytery Meeting the Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys held a chocolate chip cookie bake off. Here is the winning recipe from Rev. Beverly Brock, pastor in Foley, Minn.
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups pulverized oatmeal
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs
1 (12 ounce) package semi-sweet chocolate chips
How to make:
1.  Heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Combine flour, pulverized oatmeal, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a small bowl and set aside.
3. Cream butter and eggs, add sugar, brown sugar and vanilla at high speed. Add flour mixture, beating at low speed. If dough is too stiff, add a stick of melted butter. Stir in chips.
4. Drop onto cookie sheets and bake 10-15 minutes.
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