In This Issue
News around the Synod of Lakes and Prairies
Conferences, camps, resources
News of the Board of Pensions
News around the PC(USA) and more
Just one more
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October 21, 2016

News around the Synod of Lakes and Prairies
Synod creates account to receive
donations for 'water protectors'
The Synod of Lakes and Prairies has created an account to receive contributions "in witness to provide a fair and just hearing of concerns" Elona Street-Stewart related to the Dakota Access Pipeline and to assist those residing at the Camp of the Sacred Stones near Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota. Elona Street-Stewart, synod executive, announced the account when the synod met Oct. 2-4 at Mt. Olivet Conference and Retreat Center near Farmington, Minn. Up to 4,000 people have gathered at the camp near the confluence of the Cannon Ball and Missouri rivers, calling themselves "water protectors," to prevent the pipeline from being placed beneath the Missouri River, the main source of drinking water for the reservation. Contributions may be sent to Synod of Lakes and Prairies, 2115 Cliff Drive, Eagan, MN 55122. Checks should be made payable to the Synod of Lakes and Prairies, noting Dakota Access Pipeline Account #2087 on the check.
Office of Native American Congregational
Support responds to 'water protector' effort
The Office of Native American Congregational Support of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is working in support of the "water protectors," who have gathered near Standing Rock Reservation in North Prayer Oceti SakowinDakota to halt construction of a pipeline that would carry crude oil beneath the Missouri River. The river is the main source of water for the reservation and others downstream. An announcement from the office noted, "Members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe took the initiative in this witness to protect the land and water from environmental harm and to affirm tribal sovereignty. Support for the tribe's efforts has grown and now comes from many tribes and peoples across the country and internationally." The complete announcement can be found at "Oceti Sakowin." Continuing updates can be found on Facebook posts at "Native American Ministries."
Prouty and Syeed Muslim leader calls Christians to trust, understand
The relationship between Christians and Muslims should be one of trust and understanding; the relationship should not feature fear and hatred. "All of us have to educate ourselves. All of us have to make an extra effort to understand the other." That's the crux of the message Dr. Sayyid Syeed, national director for the Office for Interfaith and Community Alliances for the Islamic Society of North America, brought to Redwood Falls, Minn., when he spoke at the First Presbyterian Church and other locations in that community Oct. 15-17. The complete story is at "Understanding." (In the photo above, Scott Prouty, right, pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Redwood Falls, and Sayyid Syeed during the interfaith event.)
PC(USA) offers support for Standing
Rock Sioux in pipeline dispute
The Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson III, stated clerk of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), in conjunction with the Rev. Irvin Porter, associate in J Herbert Nelson the Office of Native American Intercultural Congregational Support, issued a statement in late August in support of the Standing Rock Sioux protest of a crude oil pipeline set to skirt the northern border of the tribe's reservation lands. A breach, they say, is a threat to the Missouri River, the source of the tribe's drinking water. Up to 4,000 have gathered near Cannon Ball, N.D., since April, hoping to stop the construction of the 1,170 mile pipeline scheduled to move crude oil from the Bakken oil fields in western North Dakota to refinery facilities in Illinois. The complete Presbyterian News Service story is at "Standing Rock."
Summary of synod's October meeting posted online
Synod Logo The Synod of Lakes and Prairies met earlier this month, electing Greg Braatz, a ruling elder from Winnebago Presbytery, as its moderator for 2017, and April Davis Campbell, a teaching elder from the Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area, as its vice moderator. Both will be installed at the synod's spring meeting. Synod commissioners also elected Jim Koon, a corporate and non-profit leader with a record of operational performance and community partnerships, to be its treasurer, beginning Jan. 1. The synod also adopted its budget for the coming year. Details for these stories and more can be found in the "Synod Summary."
Unconventional Lutheran pastor draws
more than 300 to Milwaukee meeting
Nadia Bolz-Weber For Nadia Bolz-Weber, "letting go" is important for individuals and for the church -- letting go of who we try to be and what the church has been. But she reminds everyone to hang on to the gospel -- the grace, the forgiveness and salvation. Bolz-Weber, the unconventional Lutheran minister who's been known to keep her audience tuned in with humor and an expletive now and then, spoke to more than 300 people at the Sept. 27 meeting of the Presbytery of Milwaukee in the auditorium of the city's Art Museum. The complete Presbyterian News Service story is at "Hanging on to the Gospel."
Northern Plains sends support to 'water protectors'
As the protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline continues near Cannon Ball, N.D., the Earth Care Team from the Presbytery of Northern Plains delivered supplies to sustain those demanding an end to the pipeline's construction. Representatives from the Standing Rock Sioux tribe have gathered near the construction site since April, hoping to stop the construction of the 1,170 mile pipeline scheduled to move crude oil from the Bakken oil fields in western North Dakota to refinery facilities in Illinois. The Rev. Paul Henschen, pastor of Presbyterian-United Methodist in Ellendale, N.D., and a member of the presbytery's Earth Care steering committee, visited the Sacred Stone Camp on the banks of the Cannon Ball River, bringing 40 gallons of water, 10 bags of apples and 20 boxes of granola bars to the thousands gathered in prayer and protest. He said, although all donations are appreciated, the presbytery's contribution "paled in comparison to what was already there -- in fact, an 18-wheel truck of supplies had just arrived." The complete Presbyterian News Service story is at "Helping Out."
Presby Women Logo PW report to synod highlights
gathering, mission giving
Sue Kimball of the Presbytery of Des Moines, new moderator of Presbyterian Women in the Synod of Lakes and Prairies, presented that organization's report when the synod met earlier this month. Kimball highlighted her organization's summer gathering and its mission giving. She pointed out that Susan Ingels of John Knox Presbytery will take part in Presbyterian Women's Global Mission Exchange to Indonesia in September 2017. Kimball's report can be found at "Presbyterian Women in the Synod."
Presbytery leader training event
energizes a larger-than-expected crowd
Leaders from about two dozen presbyteries across the country gathered in Des Moines, Iowa, in late August for the trial run of a new kind of Mid Council Ministries training event. Called "Practical Presbytery Leadership Training: Teamwork for Changing Times," the conference was designed to equip teams of people to meet the diverse leadership needs of their presbyteries, especially presbyteries in the midst of change. "I was hoping for maybe 25 people, and we ended up with 100," says Sue Krummel, director for mid council relations for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)'s Office of the General Assembly, which sponsored the event, and the Presbyterian Mission Agency. The complete Presbyterian News Service story is at "Leadership Training."
Conferences, camps, resources
Interfaith Festival of Gratitude
planned in Oshkosh Nov. 21
The religious leaders in Oshkosh, Wis., are doing it again this year -- planning an Interfaith Festival of Gratitude during the Thanksgiving holiday season. This year's festival is lined up Monday, Nov. 21, at 7 p.m. in the Grand Opera House in Oshkosh. Representatives from many faith communities will share something about themselves to those who attend, according Tom Willadsen, pastor of First Presbyterian Church in that community.This year's festival will be preceded by a potluck at the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community's Mosque at 300 N. Eagle Street, beginning at 5 p.m. Details are in the festival's Facebook group at "Interfaith Festival."
Application season is open YAV logo
for Young Adults Volunteers
Young adults who are interested in a transformational year of service are being invited to  look over the application process for the Young Adult Volunteer program of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The process opened Oct. 1 for the 2017-18 YAV year. The program is a one-year service opportunity for young adults ages 19 to 30. For more than two decades, YAVs have heard God's call to serve alongside partners at sites in the United States and around the world. Details about the program and application procedures are at "YAV."
Winter Pastors School planned
in February in Nebraska
The Rev. Dr. JC Austin, vice president for Christian leadership formation at Auburn Theological Seminary in New York City, will be the featured speaker at the 2017 Winter Pastors School planned Feb. 6-9 at Hastings (Neb.) College. Austin works with faith leaders across the country through a range of programs and consultations to develop the personal resilience, entrepreneurial spirit and practical wisdom needed to lead social and congregational change. Details are available at "Winter Pastors School."
PC(USA) issues guidelines on election
activities for religious organizations
Election guidelines The legal counsel of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has issued a set of guidelines for pastors, congregations and mid-councils during the election season. As tax exempt organizations, the guidelines prohibit PC(USA) entities from campaigning for or against a candidate but allows promotion of or lobbying for or against issues. The complete Presbyterian News Service story is at "Election Activities."
Stewardship season approaches
for many congregations
Grace Gratitude Writing in the Presbyterian Mission Agency's Grace and Gratitude newsletter, Chip Hardwick, director of the Office of Theology, Formation and Evangelism, notes, "Stewardship season is coming soon for many congregations, and I want to lift up the preaching possibilities around grace and gratitude. When we anchor our financial appeals in God as the giver of all good and perfect gifts, we can then move naturally to a response of gratitude in giving back to God." Hardwick's complete column and several other stewardship-related posts can be found at "Gratitude."
Award-winning PC(USA) documentaries
are resources for congregations
Tackling complex societal issues is never an easy task, but thanks to the creative talents in Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, congregations have access to original films that can serve as "conversation starters" for their Locked in Box ministry and community. "Locked in a Box: Immigration Detention" follows individuals held in the U.S. immigration detention system, and "Kepulihan: When the Waters Recede" reveals the 10-year aftermath of the 2004 Indonesian tsunami through the eyes of a survivor. These two short documentary films have captured awards and the attention of film festivals throughout the country, and are also available for screenings to congregations seeking to raise awareness, connect community, and equip members to organize or engage on important issues such as immigrant detention and disaster recovery. The complete Presbyterian News Service story is at "Documentaries."
Regarding ruling elders: grace, gratitude
Charles Wiley, coordinator of the Office of Theology and Worship in the Presbyterian Mission Agency, writes the current installment of Regarding Ruling Elders, a resource of the Office of the General Assembly. Wiley  notes, "During a meeting with colleagues at the Presbyterian Center, we discussed the ordination questions; the questions that all ruling elders, deacons, and teaching elders are asked at the ordinations and installations. The first one is a doozy, "Do you trust in Jesus Christ your Savior, acknowledge him Lord of and Head of the Church, and through him believe in one God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?" Of course the answer to this big, big question is, "yes." And the third question is, in my experience, the one that many ruling elders have the hardest time getting their heads around because it asks if "you sincerely receive and adopt the essential tenets of the Reformed faith as expressed in the confessions of our church ... ?" Wiley's complete column can be found at "Grace and Gratitude."
Annual Disciple-Making Church
Conference  calls to 'abide in Christ'
As part of its ongoing mission to foster a culture of discipling -- central to Christian life and practice -- the Presbyterian Mission Agency's Office of Evangelism announced plans for its annual Disciple Making Church Conference Jan. 16-19 in St. Pete Beach, Fla. The 2017 conference, based on John 15:4 and titled "Abide in Me: A Spiritual Purging," is designed to introduce participants to a variety of spiritual practices and help them live fuller mental and spiritual lives in order to bear more fruit for Jesus Christ and Christ's church. The complete Presbyterian News Service story is at "Making Disciples."
Current Presbyterian Giving Catalog
offers opportunities to change lives
Mission agency The current Presbyterian Giving Catalog is available online and offers opportunities to change lives. The catalog presents numerous possibilities at one website for donors to peruse. The catalog can be found at "Giving Gifts."
News of the Board of Pensions
Current Board Connections
offers details on annual enrollment
New Board Connections Board Connections, the newsletter for The Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), provides highlights of recent Board news, and important updates and information. The current edition notes that annual enrollment is open and runs through Nov. 11. This year, employees will use Benefits Connect to enroll for coverage online. The complete current edition is at "Board Connections."
News around the PC(USA) and more
PMAB concludes fall meeting, hears
of 3 Lakes and Prairies grant awardees
The Presbyterian Mission Agency Board of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) concluded last month its fall 2016 meeting that featured a new structure and new members. Interim executive director Tony De La Mission agency Rosa spoke during the closing plenary session saying today was a year, to the day, since he had been offered his position at the Presbyterian Mission Agency. "It has indeed been quite a year," he said. "The finance committee has indicated we are dealing with strong finances. We are ahead of revenue projections in unrestricted funds from congregations and presbyteries to the tune of nearly one million dollars." The Board's Finance Committee approved recipients of the first-cycle 2016 DREAM Grants. Three projects in the Synod of Lakes and Prairies, "HERRB" and "How Does Your Garden Grow?" from the Presbytery of the Northern Plains, and "No Strings Attached" from the Presbytery of North Central Iowa, each received $10,000 grants. The complete Presbyterian News Service stories are at "PMAB Meeting."
Justice & Peace newsletter
addresses elections, Syria, Advent
Justice & Peace News "Syria faces a humanitarian crisis," writes Sara Lisherness, director of the Office of Compassion, Peace and Justice in the Presbyterian Mission Agency. "You can read a first-hand account of the challenges confronted by refugees. ... If your congregation is interested in refugee resettlement or humanitarian aid for Syria, download 'Holy Discontentment: Advocacy and Action for Syria.' Lisherness' complete column, which also includes comments about voting rights and the upcoming Advent season, can be found in "Justice and Peace."
African American Consultation
focuses on Black Lives Matters
As a part of the first Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Racial Ethnic & Women's Ministries African American Consultation, African American leaders gathered for a session to discuss the Black Lives Matter movement. The Sept. 20 discussion was led by Robina Winbush, director of the Department of Ecumenical Relations and associate stated clerk in the Office of the General Assembly.  The complete Presbyterian News Service story can be found at "Black Lives Matter."
'Freedom Rising' calls PC(USA)
to action in black communities
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is taking specific action to confront the societal and racial issues facing black communities in the United States by living into a new church initiative to address the plight of African American males in our country. The pilot initiative follows an action approved by the PC(USA) 222nd General Assembly in Portland, Ore., that calls for the church to support programs to assist African American males. The complete announcement from the Presbyterian Mission Agency is at "Freedom Rising."

Racial Ethnic, Women's Ministries is host

to first African American Consultation

African American leadership from Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) churches across the country gathered to kick off the first African American Consultation at the historic Children's Defense Fund Alex Haley Farm in Clinton, Tenn. The leaders came together in an African American historic and spiritual environment to discuss issues impacting the changing landscape of the African American Presbyterian Church, consulting with one another to gain vision for their ministries in the emerging church. The complete Presbyterian News Service story can be found at "Consultation."
Cleanup begins in Haiti
following Hurricane Matthew
PDA disaster assistance Days after Hurricane Matthew devastated Haiti, authorities are still trying to determine the extent of damage left behind. According to the latest report from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, more than 350,000 people are in need of assistance in Haiti. More than 15,000 people were displaced and hundreds are known to have died in the storm itself. "The southern part of Haiti suffered the most," said Luke Asikoye, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance associate for international disaster response. "The homes were not very good to begin with, mostly shacks which just compounded the situation. Most of the crops that people depended on for their livelihood, were washed away." The complete Presbyterian News Service story is at "Hurricane Matthew."

PC(USA) ministry of educational

Financial Aid debt assistance expands

As a new class of PC(USA) seminary students matriculates this fall, many find themselves entering graduate school not only with great anticipation and an unwavering commitment to serve Christ's church, but also with unprecedented student loan debt. But they need not worry unduly. In the church, there is good news. And in the church, there is forgiveness -- student loan forgiveness. "Not all of the news about student loans is bad news," said Laura Bryan, coordinator of the Presbyterian Mission Agency's Office of Financial Aid for Service in the Theology, Formation and Evangelism ministry area. "The good news is that there are more repayment options than ever before, and our office, in order to be responsive both to need as well as to borrowing trends, has been moving in the direction of student loan forgiveness for several years." The complete Presbyterian News Service story can be found at "Forgiveness."
Presbyterian World Mission
announces transitional leadership
World Mission Transitions World Mission, a ministry of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, has announced a transition plan effective Oct. 14, when Hunter Farrell leaves his position as director. He has accepted a call to serve as the director of the World Mission Initiative of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, which includes teaching mission at the seminary. PMA interim executive director Tony De La Rosa announced the two current associate directors of World Mission, Tamron Keith (left above) and Rachel Yates, will jointly lead the department until a new director is hired. Keith serves as associate director for administration and Yates as associate director for program. The complete announcement from the Presbyterian Mission Agency is at "Transitions."
Co-moderator post PCUSA moderators
most recent video reflections
In their video blog, "In This Season," Denise Anderson and Jan Edmiston, co-moderators of the 222nd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), share weekly reflections. In the recent video Anderson visits the Children's Defense Fund Alex Haley Farm. The video blog is at "In This Season."
Keeping Faith video statement
addresses outreach work of PMA
Tony De La Rosa, interim executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, presented his video statement recently, addressing outreach to young African American males, International Peacemakers, and disaster response in Louisiana. The video presentations are titled "Keeping Faith," and the current one can be found at "Living Faithfully."
Just one more
Misconceptions. We all have 'em.
Mental Floss Magazine Well, some of us do.
Your editor, who has been woefully inadequate over the past couple of months, finally prepared to publish the newsletter this week. Then there was this "large distributed denial of service" that affected a large number of servers for things like Twitter and others. Well, one of those others was likely the server of Constant Contact, the service we use for the newsletter. It's now working again, but in the meantime, it did not shut down Mental Floss. And, you see, there was this video about misconceptions. It's can be found at, well, "Misconceptions."