|News around the Synod of Lakes and Prairies
Gillette pens two hymns in support
of Standing Rock 'water protectors'
Carolyn Winfrey Gillette, well-known Presbyterian hymn lyricist, has written two hymns in support of the Standing Rock "water protectors." She has given permission for free use of these hymns to Standing Rock supporters. Each hymn is written to be sung to a traditional melody. The hymns, both posted on the website of the Synod of Lakes and Prairies, are "We Were Born Out of the Waters" and "O God of Life, Your Waters Flow."
LeaderWise is new name for North
Ministry Development Center
LeaderWise, formerly known as North Central Ministry Development Center and continuing to count the Synod of Lakes and Prairies among its partners, provided an extended list of "frequently asked questions" to those who attended the synod's Leadership Summit earlier this month at Christ the King Retreat Center in Buffalo, Minn. LeaderWise provides "counseling and consulting for lives of service," the non-profit organization's FAQ document states. In the past two years, LeaderWise has expanded its clientele to include for-profit businesses and other non-profit organizations. The complete FAQ document is available at "LeaderWise FAQs."
Hillcrest Family Services names
Heiderscheit to replace Gansemer
Julie Johnson, head of the CEO search committee for Hillcrest Family Services, headquartered in Dubuque, Iowa, announced earlier this month that Julie Heiderscheit, who is the organization's chief operating officer, will become Hillcrest's president and CEO April 2. Heiderscheit will replace Gary Gansemer, who will retire April 5 after serving the organization for 19 years. The complete announcement is at "Hillcrest Changes."
SanDawna Ashley leads Leadership Summit
through bi-vocational ministry discussions
Speaking to more than 50 attendees at the Synod of Lakes and Prairies' first annual Leadership Summit at Christ the King Retreat Center in Buffalo, Minn., the Rev. SanDawna Ashley talked about transition and readiness in leading congregations through change - specifically through calling a bi-vocational minister. Ashley, assistant stated clerk for call process support and teaching elder ministries in the Office of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), was the keynote speaker for the Summit, speaking three separate times to presbytery leaders - mostly members of presbytery committees on ministry and preparation for ministry. On the second morning of the Summit earlier this month, Ashley asked attendees to "focus on three areas - theology, perception and strategic orientation," separating the theology section into function and mission. The complete story is at "Moving Toward Change."
Ordination candidate learns from "Jeopardy;"
has roots in Northern Plains
Blair Moorhead's recent appearance on the televised game show "Jeopardy" was the end of a long process of auditioning. It was also a reminder of valuable life skills for the social worker and candidate for ordination as a teaching elder in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The Jeopardy! episodes in which Moorhead appeared as a contestant aired Jan. 9-10 although the show was taped last September. "The people who run the show and work with contestants are amazing," says Moorhead. "They have so much fun at their job and put you at ease; it's a really fun experience." And Moorhead's back story is an interesting one. Hailing from West Fargo, N.D., where she remains a member of Community Presbyterian Church, she attended Princeton University and served as a Young Adult Volunteer in Kenya in 2007-2008 before returning to the U.S. to attend Union Theological Seminary in New York City. The complete Presbyterian News Service story by Gregg Brekke can be found at "Jeopardy.
Church Law & Tax Report notes
challenge to pastors' housing benefit
An article in the January/February issue of Church Law & Tax Report reports on an effort to eliminate the ministerial housing benefit. The article, written by Richard R. Hammar, notes, "The constitutionality of the ministerial housing allowance benefit is again in question, thanks to one organization's ongoing efforts to challenge it." The organization challenging the housing allowance benefit is the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF). Hammar notes, in part, "Should FFRF and its two officers ultimately prevail in their quest to strike down the housing allowance as an unconstitutional preference for religion, what would be the effects for churches and pastors. A ruling by the Seventh Circuit court of Appeals would apply to ministers in that circuit, which includes the states of Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin." The Church Law & Tax Report requires a subscription for access to the complete article. The Report is at "Law and Tax."
|Conferences, camps, resources
Regarding ruling elders:
New member prep, exam
The Rev. Dr. Rhonda Myers, pastor of the Chapel Lane Presbyterian Church in Midland, Mich., has written the most recent installment of Regarding Ruling Elders, a resource published by the Office of the General Assembly. Addressing ruling elders, she wrote, "The Church is the body of Christ acting in the world as a witness to the gospel of grace. If the Church is to serve as Christ's faithful evangelist in active community, it must work at engaging and examining new members. ... 'Membership ... is a joy and a privilege. It is also a commitment to participate in Christ's mission' (Book of Order, G-1.0304). Therefore, it is appropriate that new members be prepared and examined for membership by the session overseeing their care and nurture." Myers' complete column can be found at "Ruling Elders."
New resource helps youth
observe the season of Lent
Just as youth workers, educators, pastors and other church leaders who work with youth have started to ask themselves how they might introduce young people to a more informed and active observance of the season of Lent -- which begins on Ash Wednesday, March 1 -- Ministries with Youth has a new resource at the ready. "Lent: Pray, Fast, Love," written by Brittany Harrold Porch, director of mission and education at Broad Street Presbyterian Church, Columbus, Ohio, is the latest Quicksheet published by the Presbyterian Mission Agency's Office of Ministries with Youth, the national ministry office that serves youth pastors and other staff members who are nurturing young Presbyterians. The complete Presbyterian News Service story is at "Ministries with Youth."
Professor, author, activist Drew Hart
leads Winter Forum in Wisconsin
Drew G. I. Hart, a theology professor, author and activist, will lead the 2017 Winter Forum of the Wisconsin Council of Churches on Friday and Saturday, March 3-4, at Sun Prairie United Methodist Church in Sun Prairie, Wis. The forum runs Friday from 5:30 to 9 p.m., and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Hart, author of "Trouble I've Seen: Changing the Way the Church Views Racism," places police brutality, mass incarceration, anti-black stereotypes, poverty and everyday acts of racism within the larger framework of white supremacy. He offers concrete practices for churches that seek solidarity with the oppressed and are committed to racial justice. The forum brochure is at "Church and Racism."
Clearwater Forest conducts
to support campers
Clearwater Forest, a Presbyterian camp and conference center located near Deerwood, Minn., is conducting a micro-fundraiser this week to raise $5,000 to assist campers who otherwise would not be able to take part in the camping experience. A note promoting the fundraiser stated, "Each year we provide over $11,000 in scholarship funds to families who request assistance." Donations can be made at "Support Clearwater." Clearwater's 2016 annual report is also available on the site at "Reporting to You."
East Iowa sponsors Christian Education
Summit in March in Cedar Rapids
The Presbytery of East Iowa is calling all Christian educators, pastors, Christian education committee members, volunteers and youth workers to a Christian Education Summit March 10-11 at Echo Hill Presbyterian Church in Cedar Rapids. The summit will feature workshops, exhibits and curriculum samples. Stephanie Caro, author of "Thriving Youth Ministry in Smaller Churches," and "Small(er) Church Ministry: No Staff, No Money, No Problem," will be the keynote speaker. Summit details and registration information are at "Christian Education Summit."
NEXT Church scheduled
month; Nishioka to speak
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."
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 $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 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."
Advocacy training day set
April 21 in Washington, D.C.
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)'s Compassion, Peace and Justice Training Day is planned April 21 at New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C. Elona Street-Stewart, executive of the Synod of Lakes and Prairies, will be one of the panelists during the day's program. The training day is followed by Ecumenical Advocacy Days April 21-24, when about 1,000 Christian advocates come together for a weekend of workshops, lectures, and concrete actions to address the issues facing the nation. The theme of this year's event is "Confronting Chaos, Forging Community: Racism, Militarism and Materialism." Details are at "Training Day."
Great Plains Wee Kirk Conference
takes place in May at Calvin Crest
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."
for Summer Pastors School
Registration is underway for the 2017 version of Summer Pastors School that runs June 4-9 at Hastings (Neb.) College. An event of the Omaha Presbyterian Seminary Foundation, the School's featured speakers are the Rev. Dr. Gary Neal Hansen, the Rev. Dr. Samuel Hamilton-Poore, and Dr. Anna Case-Winters. Dr. Marcia McFee will lead worship. Details, including biographical information on the speakers, can be found at "Summer Pastors School."
Registration open for 1001
New Worshiping Communities gathering
All across the landscape of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), as leaders of the denomination's nearly 400 new worshiping communities continue to transform the churc -- and the world -- by growing new disciples for Jesus Christ, they, too, hunger for a space in which to grow and be nurtured. The 1001 New Worshiping Communities national gathering seeks to provide just such a space. "Living, Dying, Rising," which takes its scriptural basis from John 20:19-23, takes place Aug. 7-10 at the TradeWinds Island Grand Resort in St. Pete Beach, Fla. The 2017 national gathering will outline the story of the life of Christ and also the life of the church. The complete Presbyterian News Service story by Emily Enders Odom can be found at "1001 Gathering."
Healthy congregations is subject of retreat
planned this summer near Chicago
Working toward a healthy congregation is at the heart of a retreat July 31-Aug. 3 at Techny Towers and Retreat Center in Techny, Ill. The fifth annual Habits of the Heart summer retreat, titled "Making Our Home with the Other," will feature an interactive learning experience with author Parker J. Palmer and singer-songwriter Carrie Newcomer. Details are at "Making Our Home with the Other."
Ministry resources described, available
from Theology, Formation, Evangelism
Writing just before Valentine's Day, Chip Hardwick, director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency's Office of Theology, Formation and Evangelism, wrote, "Today the culture focuses on romantic love, which in its best moments gives us glimpses of God's grace-filled, unconditional love for us in Jesus Christ. My hope is that the ministries described [here] are another way to experience and understand love as a gracious gift from God -- and that in gratitude, all of us will go out and serve the world in Christ's name." The complete newsletter is at "Gracious Gift from God."
|News from the Board of Pensions
New Board Connections posted;
lists Board of Pensions news, updates
The February issue of Board Connections, the newsletter of the Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), has been posted online, offering highlights of recent Board news, along with updates and other information. Two Board employees, D.J. Lee, business process systems manager, and Sharon Castillo, director of delivery and administration, received the Ernesto Badillo Award for Hospitality through Service, presented during the Board's annual Celebrating Excellence gathering. The complete newsletter is at "Connections."
Board of Pensions sets session near Chicago
on understanding employee 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
PC(USA) leaders issue apology
to Native Americans, Alaska natives, native Hawaiians
The Rev. J. Herbert Nelson II, stated clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and the Rev. Gradye Parsons, former stated clerk of the General Assembly, traveled to the northernmost city in the United States -- Utqiagvik (Barrow), Alaska -- to apologize to Native Americans, Alaska natives, and native Hawaiians. The apology comes as the result of action by the 222nd General Assembly, which directs "that the PC(USA) and its members apologize to U.S. citizens of Native American ancestry, both those within and beyond our denomination. We offer this apology especially to those who were and are part of 'stolen generations' during the Indian-assimilation movement, namely former students of Indian boarding schools, their families, and their communities." The complete announcement from the Office of the General Assembly can be found at "Apology."
Advocacy committees voice concerns
over PMA Board representation
In a letter issued this month by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Advocacy Committee for Women's Concerns and the Advocacy Committee for Racial Ethnic Concerns, the groups challenged a recent proposal by the Governance Task Force of the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board to dramatically reduce the board size and remove formal representation in advocacy groups. Calling the proposal "a grave error," the letter reminded its recipients of the 50-year legacy advocacy groups have played within the denomination in "holding the church accountable to its commitment to justice and equity for all people." The complete Presbyterian News Service story by Gregg Brekke can be found at "Advocating."
Nelson signs amicus brief opposing
President Trump's travel ban
The Rev. J. Herbert Nelson II, stated clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), joined other faith leaders Thursday in signing an amicus curiae brief filed with the United States District Court opposing the president's executive order creating a travel ban. The interfaith coalition of religious congregations, associations and organizations united to speak with one voice against the executive order issued on Jan. 27, suspending the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program and halting entry into the United States by citizens of seven majority-Muslim nations, the brief states. The complete announcement from Office of the General Assembly, written by Toya Richards, can be found at "Speaking United."
New Orleans East begins recovery
from this month's tornadoes
A week after an EF2 tornado tore a path through parts of New Orleans, disaster officials and volunteers are still trying to determine the extent of damage. The National Weather Service confirmed that 12 tornadoes struck seven states on Feb. 7. Among the areas hit was New Orleans East, which suffered extensive damage from Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The twister, packing winds in excess of 80 miles an hour, also struck the site of the Project Homecoming Volunteer Village, which coordinates the work of thousands of volunteers who come to the area to assist in recovery and rebuilding. Presbyterian Disaster Assistance is responding. The complete Presbyterian News Service story by Rick Jones can be found at "New Orleans."
McNulty picks top-10 'spiritual,
ethical films' of 2016
Edward McNulty, a Presbyterian minister and author of three books about movies published by Westminster John Knox Press, has released his list of the top 10 spiritual and ethical films of 2016. He wrote, "Like other film critics, each year I compile a Top Ten Films list once the major films open at last in my city in 'fly-over' Ohio. As in other years, my list differs greatly from others because the criteria are not primarily aesthetic, but spiritual and ethical. By 'spiritual' I do not mean just 'religious' or films made by Christian studios. I did consider some made by the latter, but these always turn out to be too predictable, most of them based on a formula that appeals only to the committed. In other words, they are visual sermons." McNulty's complete column can be found at "Spiritual and Ethical Films."
De La Rosa's 'Keeping Faith' video
newsletter celebrates World Mission
Keeping Faith, the video newsletter from Tony De La Rosa, interim executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, has been posted online. In the February edition, De La Rosa highlights Presbyterian World Mission, which celebrates 180 years of life-changing work this year. In "Mission 180," PMW acting co-directors Rachel Yates and Tamron Keith describe the significance of a 180 degree look at mission -- representing a turnaround from PWM's more colonial approach when it was founded, to one of partnership today. The complete Presbyterian News Service story by Paul Seebeck, and the video newsletter, can be found at "Celebration."
Casal named new director
of Presbyterian World Mission
The Presbyterian Mission Agency announced this week it has called the Rev. José Luis Casal as the new director of Presbyterian World Mission. He begins his duties in Louisville in April. "José Luis' mid-council experience, his work with ecumenical agencies and his pastoral experience in three different countries gives him a unique perspective to approach this important work," said Tony De La Rosa, interim executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency. The complete Presbyterian News Service story by Kathy Melvin can be found at "World Mission."
Mission Matters newsletter notes
role of mission co-workers as ambassadors
The current installment of Mission Matters, a newsletter of World Mission of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, notes, "In this month's Mission Matters column, titled "The World is Watching," Rachel Yates, World Mission's associate director for program, writes about the increasingly important role of mission co-workers as ambassadors of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) The complete newsletter is at "World is Watching."
Lent: Preparing our hearts
Presbyterians Today magazine, in its January-February issue, includes a question-and-answer session with Michelle Bartel, coordinator of theological education and seminary relations for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). In the article, Bartel addresses questions regarding the meaning and practices of Lent. The complete Presbyterians Today article can be found at "Preparing Our Hearts."
MRTI 2017 focuses
with oil, gas industry
The past year has been a busy one for the Committee on Mission Responsibility Through Investment, from saying goodbye to long-time coordinator Bill Somplatsky-Jarman to watching events unfold in Standing Rock, N.D. New lead staff Rob Fohr says they'll be busy again this year, adding they are always challenged by the number and variety of issues on which they and their partners engage, with publicly traded corporations. "More specifically, our directive from the 222nd General Assembly on focused engagement with the oil and gas industry will challenge the committee as we develop strategies for effective engagement and standards for measuring progress in those discussions." The complete Presbyterian News Service story by Rick Jones can be found at "MRTI."
Freedom Rising programs take shape in pilot cities
With bumper stickers and hashtags, Facebook pages and community partnerships, the Freedom Rising initiative to improve the plight of the African American male is beginning to take off in the five cities where the program will be piloted. The initiative, approved by the 222nd General Assembly, seeks to assist communities in Baltimore, Charlotte, Cleveland, Pittsburgh and New York City by addressing problems specifically related to African American males. The initiative began in Pittsburgh Presbytery and members of the presbytery gathered to hear how the idea is being incarnated in the pilot cities just eight months later. The complete Presbyterian News Service story by Sue Washburn can be found at "Freedom Rising."
Presbyterians Today offers
'One Church, Many Voices' blog
Presbyterians Today is more than a magazine. In fact, a recent note promoting the "One Church, Many Voices" blog, sent out by the magazine, notes, "We are storytellers. We are everyday Presbyterians who want to talk honestly about the future of the church. We are part of a creative team commissioned by Presbyterians Today to ask questions about who's getting a platform to speak and who's not. And this is our canvas. Our blog is a holy place for reflection -- a safe place to talk and grow as disciples of Christ. Here you'll find writing, art, videos and podcasts." A link to the blog and additional information can be found at "One Church Many Voices."
2020 Vision Team holds first meeting in Texas
The 2020 Vision Team of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) met in Texas recently to begin the work requested of them by the Way Forward Committee of the 222nd General Assembly in creating a vision statement for the denomination. "At the 11th hour we decided we needed to get a group of Presbyterians together to look at the future," said Justin Botejue, a young adult advisory delegate from Spokane, Wash., who was on the Way Forward Committee. "We know several other denominations have vision statements, guiding statements. ... So we asked, what does that look like for the PC(USA)?" The complete Presbyterian News Service story by Gregg Brekke can be found at "Vision Team."
Ufford-Chase Facebook Live video,
'Welcoming the Stranger,' available
In an ongoing effort to engage the wider church in more intentional and open dialogue with persons of other faith traditions, the Presbyterian Mission Agency's Office of Interfaith Relations has launched its Facebook Live series, "Third Thursdays," on the denomination's Facebook page. Earlier this week Rick Ufford-Chase, PMA's associate for interfaith formation, welcomed guest panelists for "Welcoming the Stranger: A Conversation about Leviticus 19 and Matthew 25 for Our Time." The complete Presbyterian News Service story by Emily Enders Odom is at "Facebook Live."
USAA identifies 6 tax-season scams
In a newsletter this week from USAA, the well-known insurer and financial service provider, is advising its users to be alert to tax scams. It notes, "
As the April filing deadline approaches, scammers are increasingly on the hunt for your personal information. Here are six of the most common scams to watch out for, according to the Internal Revenue Service." The six scams are in a slide show at "Tax Season Scams."
|Just one more
And in this issue, humor from Ireland
For the second issue in a row, Keeping in Touch is reaching across the Atlantic -- not easily done in a literal sense -- for Just One More. Your editor -- who happens to be out of the office with some sort of bug today -- happened across this little piece of humor from Fahan Presbyterian Church in Ireland. Hey, they laugh there, too. Yes, you will recognize many of these announcement bloopers. But, just like your editor, you could find one or two new ones. There at "Funny Announcements."