In This Issue
News around the Synod of Lakes and Prairies
Conferences, camps, resources
News of colleges, universities, seminaries
News of the Board of Pensions
News around the PC(USA) and more
Just one more
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October 31, 2016

News around the Synod of Lakes and Prairies
Presbyterians stand
in solidarity with Standing Rock
A statement issued this afternoon by the Presbyterian Mission Agency notes that Presbyterians are joining the effort to "stand in solidarity with PMA Standing Rock Standing Rock." The statement issued through the Presbyterian News Service notes, "From across the United States and the world, indigenous peoples and their allies have gathered at the Camp of the Sacred Stones, north of Cannon Ball, N.D., near the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe reservation's northern border. Members of the tribe took the initiative in this witness to protect their sacred sites and waters from environmental harm and to affirm tribal sovereignty and treaty rights. The people, known as water protectors, have come together in an effort to stop the Dallas-based company Energy Transfer from piping Bakken oilfield crude oil underneath the Missouri River, the main source of drinking water for the tribe. This project is known as the Dakota Access Oil Pipeline. The witness of the water protectors has touched the conscience of people and nations around the world to stand in solidarity with Standing Rock. Out of our faith, Presbyterians join them." The complete statement is at "Standing with Standing Rock." (In the photo above, "protectors" congregate next to a construction site for the Dakota Access Pipeline on Monday morning as a crew arrives with machinery and materials to begin cutting a work road into the hillside. The flag in the foreground belongs to the American Indian Movement (photo by Daniella Zalcman).)
Synod collects funds to support Standing Rock
Synod Logo Among the action activities highlighted in the statement from the Presbyterian Mission Agency is the effort of the Synod of Lakes and Prairies to collect funds to support the water protectors of Standing Rock. The statement notes that " financial support to the water protectors" can be made "through the Synod of Lakes and Prairies" at Synod of Lakes and Prairies, 2115 Cliff Drive, Eagan, MN 55122. Checks should be made payable to the synod, noting "Dakota Access Pipeline Account #2087." The synod will send a confirmation to the donor, noting the funds were received and follow-up with information about where the funds were distributed.
Henschen shares story of visit to Standing Rock
The Rev. Paul Henschen, pastor of Presbyterian-United Methodist Church in Ellendale, N.D., and a member of the Presbyterians for Earth Care steering committee, wrote about his visit last month to the encampment Indian Land near Standing Rock Reservation. He offered his account of what tribal elders had to say about the pipeline after a large delegation from the Northwest arrived bringing a Totem Pole they were taking to a tribe in Manitoba. Henschen's account, noted in part below, was shared on the Presbyterians for Earth Care blog. He wrote, "After the procession that brought the Totem Pole ended, everyone gathered with drumming, chanting and dancing. Speeches were made to welcome everyone.  Elders from all the tribes formed a circle and took their turn delivering speeches. They were very eloquent, and much of what they said was hard for me as a middle-class Caucasian to hear, but they spoke the truth." More of Henschen's comments are at "My Trip."
Merritt teaches the importance of 'repentence'
Brian Merritt The Rev. Brian Merritt, right, evangelist and founder at Mercy Junction Justice and Peace Center in Chattanooga, Tenn., preached Sunday about the story of Zacchaeus, the tax collector. The sermon, titled "If," touches on the story of American Indians, Standing Rock and natural resources. Merritt reminds the church that "repentance is important; forgetting is not." The sermon can be found on Facebook at "Repentance."
Lutheran minister responds
to Sayyid Syeed's visit to Redwood Falls
Sayyid Syeed speaks The last issue of Keeping in Touch included a story about the visit Dr. Sayyid Syeed, right, national director for the Office for Interfaith and Community Alliances for the Islamic Society of North America, made to Redwood Falls, Minn. Syeed spoke at the First Presbyterian Church there and at other locations in the community during his visit Oct. 15-17. The Rev. Bryant Kaden of Glorid Dei Lutheran Church in that community responded with positive comments about Syeed's visit and his statement has found its way to newsletters and online. He wrote, in part, "He (Syeed) came at the invitation of Pastor Scott Prouty, my faithful colleague and partner in the gospel at First Presbyterian Church. I know many in our town and in our country are wary of welcoming people of the Islamic faith into our communities. We know that it is easy to be afraid when we come into contact with someone of a different faith or culture, particularly when our knowledge of them is shaped primarily by discord and tragedy. Unfortunately, the words and actions of a few have poisoned our hearts and minds to the point that many in our country no longer see our Muslim neighbors as human beings but simply as 'the other.'" Kaden's complete column is at "Relationships."
Green Bay Presbyterian Food Pantry
helping meet healthy food need
Todd McMahon, writing for the USA Today Network-Wisconsin, wrote this month about how local pantries are filling a healthier-food need in Green Bay, Wis. He wrote, "Terry Johnson likes the convenience of one-stop shopping at the Presbyterian Food Pantry of Green Bay near his home. His frequent visits to the recently reorganized and expanded pantry at First Presbyterian Church on the city's west side have become healthier." McMahon quoted Johnson: ""This food pantry is a godsend. ... People are polite, and they have a nutrition program to teach you (how to) eat smart." The complete story is at "Pantries Fill Healthier Need."

In Minnesota, church food shelves are disappearing

Headlined "Changing church demographics put some food shelves out of business," a story by Hannah Covington of the Star Tribune of Minneapolis notes, "Each apple, loaf of bread and slab of ribs that Audra Koel selected from tables in the church sanctuary brought her one grocery basket closer to the end. For the past four years, the 48-year-old Coon Rapids resident has spent most of her Friday nights at Good Shepherd Covenant Church in Blaine for a hot meal and fresh groceries. But last Friday marked the last supper for Good Shepherd and its food distribution project, Manna Market. ... Lacking resources or volunteers, a growing number of small churches across the metro area are closing food shelves, leaving other nonprofits to pick up the hunger-relief slack." Covington's complete story, which ran Oct. 27 in the newspaper, can be found at "Out of Business."

Minnesota Valleys YAV moves
from 'Big Easy' to 'Big Apple'
Mindy Vande Brake, a Young Adult Volunteer (or YAV) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) who's from St. Cloud, Minn., recently YAV logo moved from work in New Orleans to New York City and the United Nations. From time to time, she writes about her experiences in her blog. A recent blog appeared in the Oct. 26 issue of the Valley Bridge, the newsletter of the Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys. She began, "Going in to my second YAV year I was so excited to find out that I would be working with the Presbyterian Ministry of the United Nations. I dreamed of all the ambassadors and delegates I would see from countries all across the world. I even dreamed that maybe if I was lucky enough, I could even see President Obama. ... Well today that dream actually came true. Today was the first day where heads of state spoke at the United Nations General Assembly. At today's meeting I heard from the Secretary General of the United Nations, the heads of states from both Brazil and Chad, and finally the the President of the United States himself." Her complete post can be found at "UN YAV."
East Iowa congregation hosts
annual harvest supper, auction
As wagons of corn-not to mention truckloads of gravel and dirt-circle the United Church of Crawsfordsville, Iowa, surely the harvest is nearing. OrEast Iowa Out About at least the church's eagerly-awaited harvest supper and auction is. Held this year on Oct. 22, the annual event is a highlight of the community's calendar and the congregation's single largest fundraiser in support of its annual budget, 10 percent of which is directed to mission. The small congregation, a member of the Presbytery of East Iowa, is located in a town of less than 300 people. The complete Presbyterian News Service story is at "Harvest."
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 to 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."

APCE's Annual Event set in January
The 2017 annual event of the Association of Presbyterian Church APCE Educators promises to be a time of grounding, a place of renewal and rest, and a refuge of peace. The event runs Jan. 25-28 at the Denver Marriott Tech Center. Speakers include the Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber, the unconventional Lutheran minister and author of "Pastrix: the Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner and Saint." Details, along with links to registration information, can be found at "Annual APCE Event."
Application season is open
for Young Adult Volunteers
Young Adult 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."
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."
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. Winter Pastors School is sponsored by the Omaha Presbyterian Seminary Foundation. Details are available at "Winter Pastors School."
NEXT Church planned March 13-15 in Kansas City
With the theme "Wells & Walls: Well-Being in a Thirsty World," the annual gathering for NEXT Church is planned March 13-15 in Kansas City, Mo. Keynote speakers are Dr. Rodger Nishioka, the Rev. Dr. Soong-Chan Rah and the Rev. Dr. Linda Mercadante. Conference details are available at "NEXT Church."

Outlook offers subscription
program as church fundraiser
Outlook Logo The Presbyterian Outlook magazine is offering a new fundraising program to churches. Participating congregations can earn $10 for each Outlook one-year subscription sold through a special congregation web page. By request The Outlook provides an email message that includes a link to the subscription web page. Congregations send an email to their members, inviting them to subscribe to The Outlook. The magazine will provide a text announcement with a custom web address that can be included in bulletins, church newsletters and websites. Details can be obtained by contacting Jill Duffield, Outlook editor, at
News of colleges, universities, seminaries
Black grandmother of Macalester professor
was 'human computer' at NASA
Duchess Harris, an author, legal scholar, and professor and chair of American studies at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn., is the granddaughter of one of the first African American "human computers" at NASA. Her grandmother worked for NASA as an expert mathematician from the 1940s to the 1960s, using slide rules and pencils to calculate the flights for early astronauts. Macalester is one of seven Presbyterian-related institutions of higher education in the Synod of Miriam Mann Lakes and Prairies. A Washington Post article by Tanya Sichynsky, first published in September, and reprinted recently by Minnesota Private Colleges news, noted, " Have you ever seen a computer in a skirt? Duchess Harris has. In a photo submitted to Historically Black, a project by The Washington Post, Miriam Daniel Mann walks with purpose down a Hampton, Va., street in 1943, clutching a thick, hardcover book. She sports heels, a fashionable turban and a coat with two large buttons, the hemline of her plaid skirt peering out underneath. Mann was one of the first black female computers employed by NASA's predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA)." The complete story is at "Human Computer."
Coe College dedicates intercultural
center to James Randall
Hutson Randall Coe College trustees, faculty, staff, students and members of the community gathered in Gage Memorial Union on Oct. 21 for the dedication of the James H. Randall Intercultural Center. The center was named in honor of Stead Professor Emeritus of English and African American Studies James Randall, who dedicated his Coe College career to mentoring students of color and to ensuring that all students had the opportunity to excel. The first tenured black professor at Coe, Randall taught from 1969 to 2010. He grew up in rural North Carolina, working in the tobacco fields and attending segregated schools. Coe College is one of seven Presbyterian-related institutions of higher education in the Synod of Lakes and Prairies. The complete story from the college can be found at "Randall Intercultural Center." (In the photo above are Coe Chaplain Kristin Hutson and James Randall at the dedication.)
News of the Board of Pensions
Fall edition of Board Bulletin notes portfolio return
BOP Bulletin After each regular meeting of the board of directors of The Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the organization publishes The Board Bulletin, which reports key information presented and actions taken at the fall meeting. The current edition noted a balanced investment portfolio return of 7.2 percent for the nine months ended Sept. 30. The complete issue is at "Board Bulletin."
News around the PC(USA) and more
J Herbert Nelson Stated clerk to lead live-streamed
Reformation service Nov. 2
"Write the Vision -- Reclaim the Call" is the theme of a church-wide Reformation worship service being led by the Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson II on Nov. 2 at the Presbyterian Center in Louisville and live-streamed to the public. "This is an opportunity in this Reformation season to call for a reform within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A)," said Nelson, stated clerk of PC(USA)'s General Assembly. "It is my hope that we, as a denomination, can embrace a spiritual reformation that breaks down the walls that separate us within the national church and those that divide us from the communities where God has placed us." The complete announcement from the Office of the General Assembly is available at "Reforming."
Synod of Northeast calls for divestment
from fossil fuel companies
fossil free pcusa The Synod of the Northeast of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has voted to take immediate steps to divest from the fossil fuel industry. Expressing concern about the impact of climate change on God's creation, commissioners of the regional body say they are compelled to take action. "The Presbyteries in the Synod of the Northeast have been heavily involved in the divestment debate at the last two General Assemblies," said Sue Smith, ruling elder commissioner with the Presbytery of Monmouth and resolution co-author. "One third of the Synod's presbyteries have been involved in this effort so there is clearly an interest for divesting from fossil fuels." The complete Presbyterian News Service story is at "Fossil Fuels."
Kruse, McConnell named PMA
mission engagement advisers
Mission agency Rhonda Kruse and William McConnell recently accepted positions as mission engagement advisors with the Presbyterian Mission Agency of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Kruse, who has already begun duties with the PMA, serves the Midwest region. She works with individuals, congregations, and mid-councils in the synods of Mid-America, Lakes and Prairies, and Rocky Mountains. McConnell, who will join the PMA staff on Dec. 1, will serve the same constituencies in the South region. This region includes the synods of the Living Waters and the Sun. Kruse and McConnell's role is to interpret and promote the mission and ministries of the PMA and seek support for Presbyterian mission. The complete Presbyterian News Service story is at "Mission Engagement."
MRTI gets new name, new lead staff
The Office of Mission Responsibility Through Investment of the Presbyterian Mission Agency has a new name and lead staff person. Rob Rob Fohr Fohr, who has been serving in an interim capacity, has accepted the call to take the permanent position, replacing Bill Somplatsky-Jarman, who retired earlier this year. The office of MRTI will be known as the Office of Faith-Based Investing and Corporate Engagement, and Fohr will direct and coordinate the work. While the committee on MRTI will retain its name, leaders felt the new office title best describes its ongoing work."I am deeply honored and humbled to have the chance to build upon the great foundational work that Bill did for more than 32 years," said Fohr. The complete Presbyterian News Service story is at "MRTI."
Just one more
Bulletin bloopers, a few more
Charles Specht, writing at Pastors.comm, writes, "I hope the people at your church know it is okay to smile every once in a while. Even laugh Pastors Comm occasionally (but not during the pastor's sermon, please!)." Well, this editor had to check it out - funny church bulletin bloopers. Your editor has read a few, but here are a few your editor hasn't seen. So, from Specht, you have "44 Funny Church Bulletin Bloopers to Make You Smile."