In This Issue
News around the Synod of Lakes and Prairies
Conferences, camps, resources
News from the Board of Pensions
News around the PC(USA) and more
Just one more
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March 16, 2017

News around the Synod of Lakes and Prairies
Synod School registration numbers are adding up
Catalog cover As of Tuesday this week, the registration total for Synod School stands at 370, according to Deb DeMeester, synod staff for the midsummer ministry. This year's weeklong program features J. Herbert Nelson, stated clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), who will be this year's convocation speaker, and Cláudio Carvalhaes, a well-known speaker and worship leader, and a former Synod School convocation speaker, who will lead evening worship. Beyond those two items are the 70 classes listed in the catalog. Synod School runs July 23-28 at Buena Vista University, Storm Lake, Iowa. Details, including everything necessary for registration, can be found at "Synod School."
Synod, 3 presbyteries underwrite
The Academy 'The Academy' to serve leaders
The Academy, a series of 11 courses "designed to develop well-equipped, thoughtful people to better serve councils in a variety of capacities," will offer its first classes this summer at Synod School, which runs July 23-28 at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa. Described as a "unique, cohort-based learning community," offers participants an opportunity to grow in faith and knowledge, grow as a leader, and have more opportunities to serve God as needed. A new cohort begins each year at Synod School, while subsequent learning takes place in online and in-person settings. The Academy is a joint effort of and underwritten by the presbyteries of Minnesota Valleys, North Central Iowa and Prospect Hill, and the Synod of Lakes and Prairies. Details can be found in a brochure at "The Academy."
Presbyteries in Iowa, Wisconsin plan joint meetings
4PM & Iowa Presbyteries in Iowa and Wisconsin are planning joint meetings in the upcoming months, with Wisconsin presbyteries meeting April 30-May 1 in Wisconsin Dells, and Iowa Presbyterians meeting June 2-3 in Ames, Iowa. The Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, stated clerk of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), will be the keynote speaker at the Iowa event, called the All-Iowa Presbyterians Gathering. In Wisconsin, at the 4PM Conference of the presbyteries of John Knox, Milwaukee, Northern Waters and Winnebago, keynote speakers will be Bruce Reyes-Chow and Christine Hong. Details of the Wisconsin event are at "4PM Conference" and details of the Iowa gathering are at "All Iowa"and a registration for the Iowa event is at "Going."
Young adults from Wisconsin,
Iowa churches chosen as YAVs
Lacy Schimmel of First Presbyterian Church of Green Bay, Wis., and Sharon Boer of First Presbyterian Church in Oskaloosa, Iowa, have been Young Adult Volunteers selected to serve as Young Adult Volunteers through the program of the same name of the Presbyterian Mission Agency. The Young Adult Volunteer program is a one-year service opportunity in which the volunteers live in intentional Christian community. Schimmel will serve in Minnesota and Boer will serve with Presbyterian Disaster Assistance in Little Rock, Ark. The term of service typically runs August to July. Details about the YAV program are at "Young Adult Volunteers."
Des Moines' Central Presbyterian
works with refugees, immigrants
Refugees Central Presbyterian Church of Des Moines, Iowa, has been working this winter with its local office of the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants to sponsor an incoming refugee family. But what began as an effort to sponsor one family turned into an effort that supported two families when a travel ban was instituted and then overturned. The complete story is at "Sponsorship."
Partnering presbyteries: Ennenga,
Krapf maintain ties with Guatemalan churches
Ten trips to Guatemala: That wasn't exactly at the top of LeRoy Ennenga's bucket list, but to date the former farmer has notched that Minnesota Valleys total on his passport. "I first went in 2006, and there were two years I didn't go - but then, there were two years I went twice," Ennenga tallied. Ennenga's lifelong alliance with the Presbyterian denomination is at the root of his frequent travel to Central America. ... A passion for ministry and mission is what has drawn Ennenga and retired Westminster Presbyterian Church pastor Jim Krapf to and from Guatemala over the past decade. It also speaks to the partnership between the Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys and Presbyterians in Guatemala, called the Occidente Partnership. The complete story by Jane Turpin Moore, published earlier this month in the Worthington Daily Globe, can be found at "Occidente."
Iowa Religious Media Services
marks 31st anniversary in February
Iowa Religious Media Services marked its 31st anniversary at its 2017 annual meeting and re-covenanting service on Feb. 15 at the Iowa IRMSLOGO United Methodist Conference Center. Among those representing the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) at the gathering were Bob Houser and Kim Coulter, IRMS board members; Walter Bubar, pastor at Central Presbyterian Church in Des Moines; David Feltman, pastor to the Presbytery of North Central Iowa; and Shamaine Chambers-King, moderator of the Leadership Council of Des Moines Presbytery. The complete announcement from IRMS can be found at "Anniversary."
South Dakota Presbyterian minister joins
mission congregation of PC(USA), ELCA
The Rev. Kristie Berglund, a Presbyterian minister, who had been serving First Presbyterian Church in Brookings, S.D., joined The Table of Grace, a mission congregation of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and Table of Grace the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), located in Harrisburg, S.D. Berglund began serving at The Table of Grace in February. Berglund, writing in the New Song, the newsletter of the Presbytery of South Dakota, noted, " Our new church development in Harrisburg is all about reaching out to our neighbors and inviting them to find a deeper life, a life truly worth living, around God's table of grace. ... Developing a new community of faith can be bewildering and sometimes a bit scary. But we are discovering that when we are prayerful and attentive to how God's Spirit is already moving in the community, and we're willing to take some risks and try some new things, it can be wonderfully rewarding." Berglund's complete column can be found at "Sharing the Love." The Table of Grace website is at "Our Table or Yours."
Ken Rummer Rummer is spiritual
adviser  for man on beer fast
The Rev. Ken Rummer, left, retired from First Presbyterian Church of Corning, Iowa, was featured recently in Speak Out, a blog on the Presbyterian Mission Agency website curated by Presbyterians Today. Rummer writes about being approached by someone going on a "beer fast" for Lent. The post can be found at "An Approach to Lent."

Stewart publishes essays 'Be Still'
Be Still Gordon Stewart, a retired Presbyterian minister who from time to time offered his commentary on NPR's "All Things Considered" and on Minnesota Public Radio, published a book of his essays this winter titled "Be Still! Departure from Collective Madness." Renowned Protestant scholar Walter Brueggemann said the book "take[s] us, over and over, into fresh discernment, new territory, unanticipated demands, and open-ended opportunity. All of that adds up to grace, and Stewart is a daring witness to grace that occupies all of our territory." Details of the book can be found at "Be Still."
Conferences, camps, resources
Omaha Seminary Foundation
accepts Apollos applications 
The Omaha Presbyterian Seminary Foundation is accepting applications through April 17 for its Apollos Scholarships, a scholarship of up to Apollos Scholarships $3,000 per semester for gifted students attending one of the 10 affiliated seminaries of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Eligible students are those who are members of a PC(USA) congregation, under care of a presbytery as an inquirer or candidate, enrolled full time in a Master of Divinity degree program, and possess the qualities for excellence in ministry. Details are at "Apollos."
church growth conference, Church Growth Leadership
Summit planned in Lincoln
The 2017 Church Growth Leadership Summit, offering practical strategies to help churches grow, is planned Monday and Tuesday, April 24-25, at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Lincoln, Neb. A diverse group of successful church leaders, including Susan Forshey, Ross Thompson and Richard Brown, will share a variety of growth strategies. The Summit is sponsored by The Grow Project, in partnership with Omaha Presbyterian Seminary Foundation, Synod of Lakes and Prairies, and the presbyteries of Central Nebraska, Missouri River Valley and Homestead. Details can be found at "Growth Summit."
Big Tent registration opened March 15
Big Tent This summer's Big Tent conference takes place July 6-8 in St. Louis and registration opened March 15. The theme of this year's conference is "Race, Reconciliation and the Reformation." The event features plenary events, Bible study, workshops and worship. The three-day event, held on the Washington University campus, will provide a variety of opportunities to engage with the issues facing the church and society today. The complete news release is at "Big Tent."
Rebecca Kirkpatrick Webinar planned on equipping
families for faith journey
Rebecca Kirkpatrick,  associate pastor for mission and adult education at Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church in  Bryn Mawr, Pa., and author of "100 Things Every Child Should Know Before Confirmation," will lead a 90-minute webinar Tuesday, March 28, titled "Confirmation: Equipping Children, Parents and Congregations for the Journey of Faith." The webinar begins at 1 p.m. CDT. Designed for pastors and Christian education leaders, the webinar will address ways to equip and inspire parents and grandparents to take an active role in teaching the basics of the Bible and the Christian faith to children. Details are at "Confirmation."
Great Plains Wee Kirk Conference
takes place in May at Calvin Crest
calvin crest camp The Great Plains Wee Kirk Conference is planned May 1-3 at Calvin Crest Camp, Conference and Retreat Center near Fremont, Neb. The theme of this year's conference is "Overflowing with Hope" and the plenary speaker will be the Rev. Eunice "Junior" McGarrahan, a minister, author and speaker. Conference details can be found at "Wee Kirk."
Sarmiento to lead worship,
address plenary at 1001 Gathering
The Rev. Juan J. Sarmiento, associate director for mission with The Outreach Foundation, will preach opening worship and give the Tuesday Juan Sarmiento morning plenary address at "Living, Dying, Rising," the 2017 national gathering for 1001 New Worshiping Communities. The gathering will be held August 7-10 at the TradeWinds Island Grand Resort in St. Pete Beach, Fla., and outlines the story of the life of Christ and the life of the church. A native of Venezuela, Sarmiento served as organizing pastor for Portuguese and Spanish congregations, and as the evangelism catalyst for the Presbyterian Mission Agency before assuming his current position at The Outreach Foundation. The complete Presbyterian News Service story by Emily Enders Odom can be found at "1001 Gathering."
New book looks at faith of Jackie Robinson
A great deal has been written about Jackie Robinson and far more has been written about spirituality and faith, but "Jackie Robinson: A Spiritual Jackie Robinson Biography" is the first book to explore the faith that, Robinson said, carried him through the torment and abuse he suffered for integrating the major leagues and drove him to get involved in the civil rights movement. As authors of previous works on Robinson, Michael Long and Chris Lamb explain, "Only when we see faith in every part of Robinson's life -- from his birth to his death -- will we understand that Robinson was a man for whom Christian faith acted as a source of inspiration and motivation, comfort and strength, wisdom and direction." The complete news release from Westminster John Knox Press can be found at "Robinson."
News from the Board of Pensions
Board of Pensions commits $100 million
to environmental markets
Board of Pensions The Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is significantly expanding its commitment to environmentally responsible investing by retaining Impax Asset Management Group, a London-based investment manager that specializes in resource efficiency markets. The Investment Committee of the board of directors of the Board of Pensions voted to commit $100 million to the Impax Leaders Strategy. The Leaders Strategy is a fossil fuel-free portfolio that invests worldwide in resource efficiency and environmental markets. The complete news release from the Board of Pensions is at "Environmental Commitment."
Board of Pensions sets session
near Chicago on understanding benefits
Benefits The Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is planning a one-day seminar May 9 at Yorkfield Presbyterian Church in Elmhurst, Ill., to give church leaders the opportunity to learn about the theological values that shape the benefits plan, ask questions during a Q-and-A with Board of Pensions leadership and staff, and enjoy fellowship with other benefit decision-makers. Details about the event can be found at "Understanding Benefits Plan."
News around the PC(USA) and more
NEXT Church attendees explore
NEXT Church Logo ministry to 'nones,' 'dones'
The 550 attendees of the 2017 NEXT Church National Gathering this week were treated to inspiring testimonies, over a dozen workshops, worship opportunities and a discussion on the "spiritual but not religious" research of the Rev. Dr. Linda Mercadante as the conference concluded its first day and began the second. The complete Presbyterian News Service story by Gregg Brekke can be found at "NEXT Church."
NEXT Church wraps with challenge
to 'make America, America again'
The 2017 gathering of NEXT Church concluded this week with worship and a sermon by the Rev. Paul Roberts Sr., president of Johnson C. Smith Seminary in Atlanta. In its seventh year, the three-day conference  drew 550 people under the theme "Wells & Walls: Well-Being in a Thirsty World." Roberts said, "We didn't come to NEXT to usher in what has already been and to sit on our laurels. We came to NEXT to be active participants in what God is doing in the world. We are here to mount a massive redirect. We dishonor what we've done here these last three days if we don't leave this place and mount-up a redirect in our churches, in our cities, in our states, and in our country." The complete Presbyterian News Service story by Gregg Brekke can be found at "Massive Redirect."
PC(USA) study addresses
hidden sexism in denomination
In a room filled with women from around the world, participants attending the opening of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)'s parallel Sexism in PCUSA event at the 61st Commission on the Status of Women waited expectantly to hear what presenters had to say about gender discrimination within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). In 1956 the denomination was among the first to ordain women as ministers of word and sacrament. However, today only 38 percent of women serve as ministers, although they make up nearly 60 percent of the denomination. The complete Presbyterian News Service story by Gail Strange can be found at "Hidden Sexism."
Research Services: Tracking progress
of new worshiping communities
Writing in New Church, New Way, a newsletter of the 1001 New Worshiping Communities effort of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Angie Andriot of PC(USA)'s Office of Research Services, notes, "We New Church, New Wayare now four years into our 10-year plan to create 1001 New Worshiping Communities. ... So, how are we doing? Recent findings from Research Services show NWCs stand out because of (1) who they are reaching, (2) how they are reaching people, (3) the diversity they bring to the denomination and (4) and their emphasis on mission. The people in these communities are younger than the typical Presbyterian, are more racially and ethnically diverse and speak more languages. Some 46 percent of new worshiping community participants are people of color, compared to only 9 percent in the denomination as a whole." The complete article, and complete newsletter, can be found at "New Church New Way."
Nelson signs on to ecumenical
declaration on behalf of refugees
J Herbert Nelson J. Herbert Nelson, stated clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), has signed on to the "Ecumenical Declaration: Protecting Welcome, Restoring Hope," a document declaring  support for refugees. The document states, in part, "We representatives of Protestant, Orthodox and Anglican communions in the United States, Church World Service and the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States ...  seek to join our efforts to those of other religious communities striving for the same sacred purposes, and officially declare our strong opposition to the executive order entitled "Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals." The complete statement can be found at "The Refugee."
Van Marter named interim
communications director for OGA
Jerry Van Marter The Rev. Jerry Van Marter, former coordinator for the Presbyterian News Service of the Presbyterian Church  (U.S.A.), has been invited by the Rev. J. Herbert Nelson II, stated clerk of the General Assembly, to serve as part-time, interim communications director in the Office of the General Assembly. Van Marter succeeds the Rev. Toya Richards, who has accepted a new position as senior communications associate for The Night Ministry, a faith-based, social service agency in Chicago. "As a lifelong Presbyterian, I've learned that when the stated clerk calls, you answer," said Van Marter, who retired as news services coordinator in December 2014. The complete announcement from the Office of the General Assembly can be found at "Coming Back."  
Way Forward Commission
adopts affirmation approach, invitation
The General Assembly Way Forward Commission of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has unanimously adopted an "affirmation" outlining the approach and values of the commission as it engages with the church in its continuing discernment to study and identify a vision for the structure and function of the General Assembly agencies. "This is a time for radical improvement, collaborative creativity, and dramatic innovation," the commission noted in a statement. "We firmly believe that the values reflected in this affirmation might well apply to all national agencies and staff and recommend consideration for their adoption and application." The complete announcement from the Office of the General Assembly can be found at "Approach and Invitation."
ACSWP, Foothills Presbytery
hold conversations on public witness
Teams from the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy and Foothills Presbytery in upstate South Carolina met in February to discuss differences of opinion on how the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) should make known its Christian social witness. Planning for the meeting began at last summer's General Assembly in Portland, Ore., when one of Foothills Presbytery's nine overtures proposed that ACSWP impose a moratorium on providing reports and guidance to the General Assembly. The complete Presbyterian News Service story by Christian Losso and Mike Hoyt can be found at "Understanding Each Other."
Just one more
Can you believe it?
Existential Comics?
Really, it's so
There it was, in your editor's Facebook feed. You know, the place to check if you need to get your daily quota of fake news. But it was a comic, the Existential Comics, no less. It's "a philosophy comic about the inevitable anguish of living a brief life in an absurd world." Your editor noticed it, of course, and here it is: "Kant Goes to Poker Night." And, just so you know, your editor plays poker much like Kant. But you would know that.