In This Issue
News around the Synod of Lakes and Prairies
Conferences, camps, resources
News around the PC(USA) and more
Just one more
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February 27, 2018

News around the Synod of Lakes and Prairies
Coming March 1, registration opens
for Synod School 2018
Celebrating 65 years of Synod School, registration for this summer's edition of the ever-popular midsummer ministry opens Thursday morning, March 1.
The Synod School 2018 catalog went up last week on the Synod of Lakes and Prairies website. When registration opens, an active link to online registration will be posted on the website.
Described as "a learning and personal enrichment experience for people of all ages," Synod School runs July 22-27 on the campus of Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa.
Catalog cover  
Coming off a record-setting year in 2017 when 686 people gathered for the week-long event, this year's program features Jason Brian Santos, mission coordinator for Christian formation at the Presbyterian Mission Agency, as convocation speaker. Jana Childers, dean of the seminary and vice president of academic affairs at San Francisco Theological Seminary, will lead evening worship.
A father-son duo, Hans Peterson and Nelson Morlock respectively, will be Synod School's music leaders. Peterson, returning to Synod School for the second time, is a partner in Dakota Road Music, a grassroots performance and publishing company. Morlock is a versatile vocal and instrumentalist performer, who plans to attend Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana, this fall.
Gina Penn, this year's artist in residence, has been dancing since the age of 5 and at 13 discovered she could use dance as a form of worshiping God, beginning her own dance ministry. She co-directs Moving Spirit Dance Ministry for children and youth at The Well, at United Methodist Church in Rosemount, Minnesota.
Among those who participated in Synod School last summer, 471 were adults and this year's schedule lists more than 70 classes from which to choose. Adults can select up to four classes covering contemporary issues to the light-hearted.
There is also a full schedule for children and youth. Last year 109 middle- and high-school students attended, and an additional 106 infants, toddlers and children took part.
Last year's participants represented 27 states and Scotland, and 134 of the 686 attendees were at Synod School for the first time.
Synod plans Leadership Summit
on mental health, ministry
The Synod of Lakes and Prairies' annual Leadership Summit, formerly known as the COM/CPM training conference, will take place Tuesday through Thursday, April 24-26, at Christ the King Retreat Center in 
health and ministryBuffalo, Minnesota. This year's conference theme is "Mental Health and Ministry." Keynote speakers are Mark Sundby, executive director of LeaderWise, and Caroline Burke, staff psychologist at LeaderWise. Heidi Bolt, co-pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Red Wing, Minnesota, will lead worship. In addition, numerous workshops, led by church leaders throughout the synod and the broader church, will address a variety of topics related to church leadership. Details, and a link to online registration, can be found at " Leadership Summit."
Conferences, camps, resources
Board of Pensions' tax guide for ministers
is available at Benefits Connect
The tax guide for ministers preparing their 2017 taxes is available at Benefits Connect, and it includes a supplement on housing allowance  Board of Pensions litigation. This book contains the basic information needed to complete the 2017 federal income tax return. It gives special attention to several forms and schedules, and the sections of each form most relevant to ministers. The companion resource - Federal Reporting Requirements for Churches - helps churches comply with their federal tax reporting requirements. The guide is available at "Tax Guide."
Apollos Scholarship applications
deadline comes April 16
The mission of the Omaha Presbyterian Seminary Foundation is to seek, develop and support excellence in Christian leadership through the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The foundation's Apollos Program  helps fulfill that mission. The program offers financial support to selected students under the care of their respective presbyteries. The foundation offers annual Apollos Scholarships with a maximum of $3,000 per year for three-years, and Apollos Named Scholarships with an annual maximum of $6,000 per year for up to three years. Eligible students must be members of a PC(USA) congregation and an inquirer or candidate enrolled full-time at one of 10 PC(USA) seminaries. The deadline for applications is April 16. Complete details are at "Apollos."
21st century transformation: Going
beyond change; an April conference
Minnesota Valleys Presbytery is partnering with Midwest Initiative for Leading Transition to conduct a transformation training event for congregation teams Thursday through Saturday, April 5-7, at First  transformation min Presbyterian Church in St. Cloud, Minnesota. The event will focus on the complexity of leading churches through a transformation process. Faculty for the conference are the Rev. Dr. SanDawna Ashley, executive director of presbytery mission for Minnesota Valleys Presbytery; the Rev. Mitch Coggin, a hospital chaplain, installed pastor and transitional pastor for 37 years; the Rev. James L. Gale Jr., associate executive of the Synod of Mid-America; the Rev. Dr. Jeff Japinga, executive presbyter for the Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area; the Rev. Beth Wagner, serving in her seventh transitional/interim position and currently pastor at Yorkfield Presbyterian Church in Elmhurst, Illinois; and the Rev. Mary Wright, who has served in transitional/interim ministry for 13 years. The complete conference brochure, along with registration information, can be found at "Going Beyond Change."
White Privilege Conference
planned in April in Grand Rapids
White privilege conference, Madison "For the past 17 years the White Privilege Conference has examined challenging concepts of privilege and oppression," according to the Conference's website, and the upcoming event is planned Wednesday through Saturday, April 4-7, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The Conference, its website notes, "is open to everyone and invites diverse perspectives to provide a comprehensive look at issues of privilege including: race, gender, sexuality, class [and] disability." Complete details can be found at "White Privilege Conference."
Advocacy Training Weekend
planned in Washington
Presbyterians are being invited April 20 to Compassion Peace and Justice Training Day at New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in  advocacy training Washington, D.C. The theme for the event is "A World Uprooted: Responding to Migrants, Refugees and Displaced People." The training day will look "at how our church and our partners are confronting white supremacy and nativism while supporting refugee and migrant populations in our country and abroad," the event's website notes. After Compassion Peace and Justice Training Day, participants are asked to participate in Ecumenical Advocacy Days. Details about the training day, including links to register, can be found at "Advocacy Training."
Great Plains Wee Kirk Conference
set this spring in Nebraska
calvin crest camp The 2018 Great Plains Wee Kirk Conference is planned Monday through Wednesday, April 30-May 2, at Calvin Crest Camp, Conference and Retreat Center near Fremont, Nebraska. The conference includes worship, communion, workshops, fellowship, relaxation and renewal. This year's plenary speaker is the Rev. Chris Walker, teacher, coach, pastor and principal writer for Conference details are at "Great Plains Wee Kirk."
Conflict transformation workshop
is set in Twin Cities on May 16
Lombard Mennonite The Lombard Mennonite Peace Center of Lombard, Illinois, an organization that offers resources for churches of all denominations on biblical peace and justice issues as well as conflict transformation skills training, is sponsoring a one-day workshop May 16 in Minnetonka, Minnesota, that looks at the challenges presented by rising levels of anxiety in churches today. Titled "Leadership and Anxiety in the Church: A Family Systems Perspective," the workshop also addresses the role that self-differentiated leadership can play in calming anxiety. Participants will learn practical skills in defusing anxious situations. The interdenominational workshop takes place at Minnetonka United Methodist Church. Workshop details are available at "Conflict Transformation." Online registration, including discounts for groups and early registration, is available at "Attending."
Regarding ruling elders
addresses community prayer
The Rev. Dr. Diana Nishita Cheifetz, who writes the monthly installments of Regarding Ruling Elders, a resource of the Office of the  New Ruling Elders General Assembly, notes the challenges of offering community prayer. She opened this column, quoting from a traditional hymn: "' What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!' We sing this in our beloved hymn but we forget to add the qualifier that is the reality in most of our churches. ' ... except for praying out loud, extemporaneously, in front of a group.' Most of us are less than eager. You know what I mean. Someone asks for a volunteer to pray out loud. And we all know what to do: avoid eye contact, look busy, wait it out." Cheifetz's complete column can be found at "Community Prayer."
Presbytery of Detroit seeks mission
partners in 'Restore Hope in Detroit'
The Presbytery of Detroit's Hands on Mission project is inviting churches throughout the area to participate in its "Restore Hope in  hands on mission Detroit" effort. The mission work revolves around community development, partnering with churches, urban gardening and more. The "Hands on Mission" project sets up service opportunities "based on the passions of the group and the needs of the community." Additional information is available at "Hands on Mission." Groups interested in participating in the "Restore Hope in Detroit" effort are invited to contact Michael Barconey at
Older adult ministry conference
takes place June 5-8 at Zephyr Point
Older Adult Ministry The 2018 conference of the Presbyterian Older Adult Ministry Network is planned June 5-8 at Zephyr Point Conference Center in Zephyr Cove, Nevada. Keynote speakers are John Holton, visiting associate professor of gerontology and director of the Center for Gerontology at Concordia University of Chicago, and Lawrence P. Greenslit, who retired as a captain in the U.S. Navy chaplain corps, and is the former director of the Presbyterian Council for Chaplains and Military Personnel. A complete conference brochure is at "POAMN Details." Online registration is at "POAMN."
News around the PC(USA) and more
PMA Board affirms per capita
increases, hears committee reports
The Presbyterian Mission Agency Board (PMAB) concluded its February meeting in Louisville last week, approving a recommended increase in  mission agency per capita funding to be considered by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) General Assembly this summer in St. Louis. Speaking on the topic in his greetings at the meeting, the Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson II, stated clerk of the PC(USA), said, "We have voted for an ambitious budget. It is ambitious for what we have been through over the last 30 years in the life of this denomination. ... There are a number of reasons for the decline and over the years, [and] we've struggled to keep up with the work needed to repair this denomination." The complete Presbyterian News Service story by Gregg Brekke can be found at "PMA Board."
Advocacy committees submit
letter to Way Forward Commission
The Advocacy Committee for Women's Concerns and the Advocacy Committee for Racial Ethnic Concerns issued an open letter to the Way ACWC-ACRECForward Commission last week expressing "profound concern" of proposed actions that may segregate "the material voice and vote of the advocacy committees." At question is the proposal by the Way Forward Commission and All Agency Review Committee to separate the corporate function of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) -- known as the A Corp -- from the Presbyterian Mission Agency. Currently, the A Corp board is made up exclusively of members of the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board. The complete Presbyterian News Service story by Gregg Brekke can be found at "Advocating Voice and Vote."
PC(USA) review, restructure
discussions continue past GA deadline
Citing a decision by the Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson II, stated clerk of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the Way Forward Commission and All GA 223Agency Review Committee submitted reports by last week's deadline but left the door open for amendments prior to General Assembly. The two groups were formed by the 222nd General Assembly and asked to propose a more efficient structural model for the six agencies of the denomination and conduct a review of these agencies, respectively. Over the course of the past 18 months, there has been considerable overlap of the work of these two groups - so much so that several of the proposed recommendations coming to the General Assembly have been developed jointly. The complete Presbyterian News Service story by Gregg Brekke can be found at "Open for Amendments."
Educators urged to practice
J Herbert Nelson 'boundless hospitality'
More than 675 educators returned home to their churches and communities with words from the Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson II, stated clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), resonating in their hearts. Preaching at the closing worship of the 2018 national gathering of the Association of Presbyterian Church Educators, Nelson urged conference attendees to practice what they had learned about the conference theme -- boundless hospitality -- by reaching out to those in need, in a world "where a few have a lot, and a lot have less." The complete Presbyterian News Service story by Paul Seebeck can be found at "Boundless Hospitality."
GA 223 Bible study will explore
kin-dom versus kingdom
"Kindom Building for the 21st Century" is the theme of Bible studies planned for commissioners to the 223rd General Assembly of the  GA 223 Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) this summer in St. Louis. The Bible studies will be led by Deborah Krause, academic dean and professor of New Testament at Eden Theological Seminary in St. Louis, and Raj Nadella, assistant professor of New Testament at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia. This year's Bible studies will take place in plenary sessions before commissioners disperse to their committees -- a change from previous assemblies when Bible study took place in committees. The complete story by Eva Stimson for the Office of the General Assembly can be found at "Kindom and Kingdom."
Just one more
Babylon Bee - from a 5-minute
Bible  to curling metaphors
Your editor has heard it mentioned before. The Babylon Bee, self-described as "your trusted source for Christian news satire," has quite  babylon bee a variety of humorous news. But your editor hopes everyone pays attention to the word "satire." It is satire. A trusted minister friend pointed out an alternative to the TL;DR -- or "too long; didn't read" -- version of the Bible. And that prompted your editor to find a curling metaphors story (part of that interest comes from covering too many -- at least one -- bonspiels). You're allowed to smile.