On "Day One" of their "Hands & Feet" mission trip to St. Louis, 13 Presbyterians from southeastern Iowa spent the morning shoveling compost at an urban garden. "Most of us were older -- in our 60s, 70s, even 80s," says Lynn Ellsworth, one of the volunteers. "We did some really hard physical labor. But everybody worked together, and it felt good to be doing service for others." By afternoon, when their bodies were ready to quit, group members kept asking each other, "Can we work another half hour?" And then they did. "We all made it and felt good about the work we'd done," Ellsworth says. The complete story by Eva Stimson, a correspondent for the Office of the General Assembly, can be found at "Iowa Team."
Mission project in Worthington
gains local news coverage
The Valley Bridge, the newsletter of the Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys, highlighted last week the mission work of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Worthington, Minnesota. The Valley Bridge noted that Krista Petersen, from Westminster, spearheaded a mission project that helped a family in community. Funds for the project, a fence-building effort, were donated by the congregation and members of the congregation did much of the work. The story, written by Gretchen O'Donnell, appeared in The Globe newspaper of Worthington. The story is at "Building Safe Space." (Photo of Kathy Solt and her grandson Zion. Photo by Tim Middagh of The Globe.)
Interfaith Festival raises more
than $500 for homeless shelter
What has more than 500 legs, speaks more than 20 languages and raises more than $500 to address homelessness? The eighth annual Interfaith Festival of Gratitude in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. More than 250 people came to The Grand in downtown Oshkosh on Monday, Nov. 20, to share their faith and to learn about the wide variety of religious traditions in their community. The complete story can be found at "Interfaith Festival of Gratitude." (Photo of Rajinder Singh of Sikh Temple of the Fox Valley. Photo submitted.)
Presbytery of Milwaukee elects
Rachel Yates as presbytery executive
The Presbytery of Milwaukee has elected Rachel Yates as presbytery executive. In this capacity, she will be responsible for hiring, developing and managing staff, leading strategy for leadership development, building bridges internally and externally, and encouraging risk-taking and innovation, among other responsibilities. Yates will begin serving in the post on Jan. 1. The complete story from the Presbytery of Milwaukee can be found at "Yates Elected."
Conferences, camps, resources
Presbyterian leaders advised
of 2018 Walton Award nominations
Tim McCallister, associate in the offices of Mission Program Grants and Racial Ethnic Schools and Colleges, advised mid council leaders last week of the procedure for making nominations for 2018 Walton Awards. Funded by the $3 million gift of Sam and Helen R. Walton in 1991, award recipients in the 2018 round will receive one-time grants of up to $50,000. The nomination form for the grant "includes several questions that will be important for follow-up and for understanding how [a nominee] is meeting certain goals," McCallister. McCallister's complete letter can be found at "Walton Award." Nomination forms are available at "Nomination Form."
'Following the Star' Advent
devotional series returns for 2017
"Following the Star," the devotional series for Advent and Christmas, has returned to the devotional website d365.org for the 2017 holiday season. The series features scripture, prayer and meditative thoughts accompanied by gentle music focusing on the Advent journey toward Christmas. Writers Tammy Wiens, Jeff Binder, Melissa Kessler, Lawrence Powers, Ariana Gonzalez-Bonillas, and Erendira Jiminez have centered their thoughts on the classic themes of the season. A new collection of instrumental guitar arrangements has been recorded specifically for "Following the Star." The complete Presbyterian News Service story by Gregg Brekke can be found at "Following."
'Facing Racism' theme features
immigrant, refugee family resources
Because the beloved community is what God intends, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is engaging in an ongoing campaign to share antiracism resources with the wider church. As part of the Facing Racism campaign, books, worship suggestions, studies, training sessions and other resources are posted online to assist in equipping congregations in their work against racism. This month the content features resources related to issues facing immigrant and refugee families. Resources include the award-winning "Locked in a Box" documentary, legal resources, and the "We Choose Welcome" action guide. The complete Presbyterian News Story by Gregg Brekke can be found at "Facing Racism."
Sand Bur Consulting plans bi-vocational
ministry incubator next year
Increasingly, congregations can no longer afford a full-time, fully-supported pastor. And pastors are needing to wrestle with tough questions about how to sustain themselves while being faithful to their sense of call. The Sand Bur Consulting's Bi-vocational Ministry Incubator provides a safe space where pastors can dig deeper into these questions, hone skills for doing ministry in a different way, develop tools to guide a congregation into making a transition into a more shared model of ministry, and find the courage to explore options. The Incubator, which includes monthly day-long gatherings, takes place over eight months and offers skill-building, peer support and mentoring. A brochure is available at "Incubator."
IRMS lists resources and coming
of 'Bethlehem Peace Light'
The most recent newsletter of Iowa Religious Media Services lists several resources and highlighted the Bethlehem Peace Light. Noting executive director Sharon Strohmaier is recovering from knee-replacement surgery, the newsletter added staff "stand ready and willing to assist you with resources for Advent, Christmas and beyond." The complete newsletter is at "IRMS Resources."
APCE plans 2018 annualevent in Louisville
The 2018 annual event of the Association of Presbyterian Christian Educators is planned Jan. 31 through Feb. 3 at the Galt House in Louisville. The event promises interactive plenary sessions that will engage and challenge attendees, mini-plenaries, resource-filled workshops, and worship with spirit and imagination. Complete details can be found at "Annual APCE Event."
Winter Pastors School set
in February; now in new location
The 2018 version of Winter Pastors School, the annual winter education event of Omaha Presbyterian Seminary Foundation, is slated Feb. 5-8, and this year takes place at Calvin Crest Retreat Center near Fremont, Nebraska. The featured speaker is Gene T. Fowler, a pastoral theologian and church pastor who currently serves the Irondequoit Presbyterian Church in Rochester, New York. More complete details can be found at "Winter Pastors School."
Registration opens for NEXT
Church gathering in February
Registration for the 2018 NEXT Church national gathering is open. Titled "The Desert in Bloom," the event takes place Feb. 26-28 in Baltimore. The gathering features church leaders, both pastors and lay people, sharing stories of their experiences of ministry, new ideas, and conversations about ministry in today's environment. Creative worship centers us around God's presence. Details and a link to registration can be found at "NEXT Church 2018."
plan conference at Montreat
The National Association of Presbyterian Clergywomen will conduct their triennial conference at the Montreat Conference Center in Montreat, North Carolina, April 23-26. Conference details and registration information can be found at "Triennial Conference."
Ecumenical Advocacy Days
to address 'A World Uprooted'
The website for next spring's Ecumenical Advocacy Days (EAD)in the nation's capital notes, "We live in a time of upheaval and uprootedness -- a world in which each year millions of people cross borders in search of more secure and sustainable lives, while white supremacist ideologies continue to impede the fight for justice and peace for all of God's people." EAD, the website notes, "is a movement of the ecumenical Christian community, and its recognized partners and allies, grounded in biblical witness and our shared traditions of justice, peace and the integrity of creation. Our goal, through worship, theological reflection and opportunities for learning and witness, is to strengthen our Christian voice and to mobilize for advocacy on a wide variety of U.S. domestic and international policy issues." EAD is planned Friday, April 20, through Monday, April 23. Details can be found at "Ecumenical Advocacy Days."
News of colleges, universities and seminaries
Coe College lends part of Grant Wood collection to Whitney Museum
As part of a large Grant Wood exhibition opening in March, the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City is borrowing several works of art from Coe College and the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, as well as other Iowa museums and institutions. Coe will be loaning three of the large Grant Wood murals currently in Perrine Gallery of Stewart Memorial Library. In recognition of the art's departure in January, Coe is planning a celebration Dec. 19. Wood is most well known for his "American Gothic" painting. The complete story can be found at "Coe Lends." Details of Coe's extensive art collection, including more than a dozen works of Wood, can be found at "Collection."
The Rev. T. Denise Anderson, co-moderator of the 222nd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), added her voice to the many faith leaders present for the launch of The Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival in Washington, D.C. Owing its name to the Poor People's Campaign instituted 50 years ago by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the call seeks to unite "tens of thousands of people across the country to challenge the evils of systemic racism, poverty, the war economy, ecological devastation and the nation's distorted morality." The complete Presbyterian News Service story by Gregg Brekke can be found at "Poor People." (Photo of Anderson speaking at the launch event for the Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. Photo by Nora Leccese)
Maxim, Johnson announce
for co-moderators of 2018 GA
Presbyterian minister, film writer
lists four films for Advent, Christmas
Ed McNulty is a Presbyterian minister and author of three books on film published by Westminster John Knox Press. He recently identified four popular films for Advent and Christmas. He writes, "If you cringe each year at the saccharine, formulaic entertainment that Hollywood and TV foist onto the public during the so-called Christmas Season, here are four films actually worth your precious time. Two are Advent films of longing and hope, and two are Christmas Eve films focused on the power of love. To go beyond mere entertainment, I have suggested some Scripture passages related to the theme and contents of the films for you to meditate upon. McNulty's complete column can be found at "Four Films."
Christmas Joy Offering supports
past, present, future leaders
As an urban minister for more than 40 years, the Rev. Bob Forsberg dedicated his willing hands, generous heart and sharp mind to serving people society had cast aside. In 2016, however, at age 91, the mental capacity that served this Presbyterian minister so well began to fade. His memory loss became so debilitating that Forsberg, who had spent years focused on helping others, found himself needing help. Dementia forced him to move into a memory care unit, but the added service was more than Forsberg could afford long-term.Thanks to gifts made to the Christmas Joy Offering, Forsberg was able to receive high-quality care in familiar surroundings. Half of the Christmas Joy Offering goes to the Board of Pensions assistance program to help former and present church workers and their families who are in critical financial need. The complete Presbyterians Today article by Pat Cole can be found at "Christmas Joy."
Presbyterian environmentalists react
to recent South Dakota oil leak
Cleanup continues, as of last week, in South Dakota after an oil leak in the Keystone Pipeline earlier this month spilled more than 210,000 gallons of oil approximately three miles southeast of Amherst. The state's Department of Environment and Natural Resources says it is the largest Keystone oil spill to date in the state. "We know the leak is incredibly dangerous and impacts peoples' health and environment, but they are not uncommon. It happens on a fairly regular basis and is the reason a lot of Presbyterians and Americans have been concerned about oil pipelines," said Rebecca Barnes, coordinator for the Presbyterian Hunger Program, which includes the church's environmental ministry. The complete Presbyterian News Service story by Rick Jones can be found at "Pipeline Leak."
Presbyterian Mission Agency CFO departs
After four-and-a-half years of service to the Presbyterian Mission Agency, Earline Williams, deputy executive director and chief financial officer, has embraced a new season of service with her family in Philadelphia. "My service with the Mission Agency has come to an end," said Williams. "I am grateful for my time in Louisville and for the people I have served alongside." The complete announcement from the Presbyterian Mission Agency can be found at "Williams Leaves."
World Council of Churches
invites world to 'A Light of Peace"
In a global campaign, the World Council of Churches (WCC) invites people across the globe to extend "A Light of Peace" for the Korean Peninsula and for a world free from nuclear weapons. On the first Sunday in Advent -- Dec. 3 -- the WCC is inviting the global Christian fellowship to express solidarity with the Korean people and to support efforts to ease tensions and sustain hope. For more than three decades, the WCC has been engaged in facilitating and accompanying dialogue and encounter between Christians from both North and South Korea. The complete announcement from the World Council of Churches can be found at "Light of Peace."
Just one more
Sometimes it's like that ...
The children's time in church. It might look pretty simple from where we sit in the pews. But that's not always the case. Sometimes even the short message along with a few simple props can go awry. Still, though, most of those bringing the message manage to get through it. Here's a short video of an Advent children's time at First Presbyterian Church in Conway, Arkansas. It's at "The Candy Cane J."