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
Quick Links
Social Media

March 31, 2017

News around the Synod of Lakes and Prairies
Carus retires from Minnesota Valleys;
Prouty serves as temporary head of staff
Rick Carus, who has been the transitional executive presbyter in the Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys, is wrapping up his service there at the Carus Prouty end of March. Carus used the final episode of M*A*S*H as his theme for his final column in this week's edition of The Valley Bridge, the presbytery's newsletter. He noted, "The title of the episode 'Goodbye, Farewell and Amen,' I think, conveyed three very significant actions ... While they were happy to say goodbye to the war and all that it brought, they found it hard to leave behind the friendships and the work that was accomplished." Beginning April 1, Pam Prouty, who is currently stated clerk of the presbytery and stated clerk of the Synod of Lakes and Prairies, will serve as the presbytery's temporary head of staff. The presbytery is currently searching for a new executive. Complete stories can be found at "Valley Bridge."
Synod School has surpassed 450 registrants
As of Thursday this week, the registration total for Synod School has reached 480, according to Deb DeMeester, synod staff for the Catalog cover midsummer ministry. But there's still room for more. The week-long program typically draws more than 600 participants. J. Herbert Nelson, stated clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), will be this year's convocation speaker, and Cláudio Carvalhaes, a well-known speaker and worship leader, and a former Synod School convocation speaker, will lead evening worship. But beyond those two leaders, there are more than 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' 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 The Academy 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."
Hillcrest Family Services continues
vital role with adoptions
Hillcrest Services Logo There are at least two sides to every adoption story and oftentimes there are more. The stories are seldom easy and sometimes involve both pain and joy. Hillcrest Family Services, a family services organization headquartered in Dubuque, Iowa, has been a part of those stories over the years as a licensed adoption organization. In covenant with the Synod of Lakes and Prairies, Hillcrest brings birth mothers, adoptive parents, and oftentimes families, together through the process. Recently a birth mother, who worked with Hillcrest, produced a video of her adoption story: "Behind the Bump: A Birth Mother's Story." Details of Hillcrest's adoption services can be found at "Adoption at Hillcrest."
Lutheran pastor serves
as Presbyterian minister in Wisconsin
Matthew Lee is a Lutheran pastor serving as minister to Kettle Moraine Presbyterian Church in Hartland, Wis. In the most recent edition of Fresh Impressions, the newsletter of Milwaukee Presbytery, Donna Holmes interviewed Lee about those circumstances. In the interview, Lee states, "I came in with an open mind and without an agenda other than to be a part in taking the congregation forward with the strengths God has given the congregation." The complete interview can be found at "Presbyterian meets Lutheran in Hartland."
Conferences, camps, resources
Regarding Ruling Elders: This time it's baptism
Rodger Nishioka, director of adult educational ministries at the Village Church in Prairie Village, Kan., offers the current installment of Regarding Ruling Elders, a resource of the Office of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Nishioka, who served 15 years on the faculty of Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Ga., began: " Clive Gregory Guerra was clearly not having a good time. He was struggling in the arms of his mother. Perhaps he sensed her anxiety as they all stood in front of the congregation. When she passed him to his father, it did not help. He struggled in his dad's arms and let out a loud cry. He did not want to be passed from his father to Pastor Tom." The complete column can be found at "Baptism."
Patel Interfaith IRMS has resources that
coincide with Patel appearance
Eboo Patel, an American Muslim who strives to build connections within a diverse world, will be the keynote speaker at the Iowa Interfaith Exchange at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, April 6-7. For those who aren't able to see Patel in person, Iowa Religious Media Services has resources featuring Patel, including "Embracing Interfaith Cooperation - Eboo Patel on Coming Together to Change the World" and "The Jesus Fatwah - Love Your (Muslim) Neighbor as Yourself." Details of Patel's appearance can be found at "Iowa Interfaith Exchange."
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."
UDTS offers 3 online courses for CREs this summer
UDTSLogo The University of Dubuque Theological Seminary will be offering three online courses for commissioned ruling elders this summer. This summer's courses are "Reformed Theology," taught by Gary Eller; "Introduction to New Testament," taught by Grant VanderVelden; and "Presbyterian Polity," taught by Scott Nesbitt." The summer term runs June 5 to Aug. 25. Details can be found at "Summer Courses."
Omaha Seminary Foundation
accepts Apollos applications 
The Omaha Presbyterian Seminary Foundation is accepting applications through April 17 for its Apollos Scholarships, a scholarshipApollos Scholarships 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 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."
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."
Registration continues 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 Summer Pastors School 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."
Artist, campus minister will coordinate,
Abby King-Kaiser lead worship at 1001 gathering
The Rev. Abby King-Kaiser, senior assistant director for Ecumenical and Multifaith Ministry at the Dorothy Day Center for Faith and Justice at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio, will serve as worship leader and coordinator for "Living, Dying, Rising," the 2017 national gathering for 1001 New Worshiping Communities. "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 the life of the church. The complete Presbyterian News Service story by Emily Enders Odom can be found at "1001 Gathering."
Stewardship Kaleidoscope annual
conference set this fall in Florida
The annual Stewardship Kaleidoscope event, an annual conference offering speakers, workshops and networking opportunities, is planned Sept. 25-27 this year at St. Pete Beach, Fla. Among the keynote speakers this year is Adam Copeland, a member of the Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area and director of the Center for Stewardship Leadership at Luther Seminary in St. Paul. Stewardship Kaleidoscope is designed to help participants explore stewardship across many dimensions. Event details are available at "Kaleidoscope."
'Theological Conversations' releases
'Words Matter,' latest paper in series
"Theological Conversations" -- a series of papers designed to invite congregational leaders in the PC(USA) into theological conversation wherever they gather as sessions, presbyteries or for adult education in congregations -- began as a way to create space for conversations accessible to all church members. Each paper is a study resource with accompanying questions for conversation or reflection, suitable for use by both individuals and groups. This year constitutes a milestone for the series in the celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. The latest paper, "Words Matter" was written by the Rev. Mary Beth Anton, a pastor in the Presbytery of Tres Rios. The complete announcement, along with links to the free download, can be found at "Theological Conversations."
News from the Board of Pensions
Board of Pensions issues new
newsletter: 'Employer News'
Employer News The Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is publishing a new newsletter: Employer News. The newsletter contains information specifically for employers. In its opening story, the newsletter notes, "So, no matter how many plan benefits you offer - whether all of them or only medical, for example - be sure to check this newsletter for updates and information on plans, processes, Benefits Connect, and other items that may be of interest to you. We hope you will find it useful." The complete newsletter can be found at "Employer News."
News around the PC(USA) and more
Governance Task Force, Way Forward
Commission animate PMA meeting
Mission agency The Presbyterian Mission Agency Board concluded its spring 2017 earlier this month, looking ahead to further discussion on the structure of the board and its relationship to findings and recommendations of the Way Forward Commission. Board chair Ken Godshall noted the many changes underway in the denomination. "We need to take this opportunity to seize changes that are long overdue," he said of the PMA, the largest and most visible agency in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the one most affected by declining membership. "We need to be very clear about the purpose of the Mission Agency," he said. The complete Presbyterian News Service story by Gregg Brekke and Rick Jones can be found at "PMA Meeting."
Collaboration between OGA, PMA
is noted at COGA meeting
OGA Logo The Committee on the Office of the General Assembly (COGA) began the third and final day of its March 21-23 meeting "still riding a lovely high" from the previous night's service of worship," in the words of the Rev. Wilson Kennedy, COGA's vice moderator. After members shared joys and concerns and debriefed for a full hour on the joint "Community Conversations" in which they had engaged on the morning of March 22, the body took an unexpected turn. Anticipating -- and ultimately modeling -- the very deliberations in which they would engage, the team departed from its prescribed structure and agenda in favor of being church by fostering relationships and building community. The complete Presbyterian News Service story by Emily Enders Odom can be found at "Collaboration."
Presbyterians Today addresses
intersection of culture, worship, church
Presbyterians Today New worshiping communities, immigrant congregations, institutional mistrust by young people, a new Presbyterian hymnal and ever-shifting cultural norms are all influencing the way of worship and church today. And Presbyterians Today magazine addresses those issues in its April-May edition. Details are available at "New Presbyterians Today."
PC(USA) plans 6-agency effort
to inspire 'Facing Racism' conversation
Acting on the directive of the 222nd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the communication agencies of the PCUSA Logo denomination's six agencies have today launched the joint program, "Facing Racism," to produce and promote antiracism resources for the church. The Facing Racism website will serve as a starting point for the dissemination of resources and offers a  link to subscribe  to receive regular updates on newly available materials and calls to action. The complete Presbyterian News Service story by Gregg Brekke can be found at "Facing Racism."
Office of Public Witness speaks out
against Trump's environmental position
Hundreds of people braved cold and windy conditions in Washington, D.C., to participate in an "Emergency Lunchtime Rally" at the headquarters of the Environmental Protection Agency this week. A number of organizations, including the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Office of Public Witness, took part in the rally. The rally was organized by Green For All, a national organization fighting pollution as well as working to build an inclusive green economy that creates jobs and opportunities for low income workers. The complete Presbyterian News Service story by Rick Jones can be found at "Environment." More information about the Office of Public witness can be found at "Public Witness."
Young Adult Volunteer newsletter
highlights information from YAVs
A recent newsletter published by the Young Adult Volunteer program of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) highlights information about the Young Adult Volunteers program and stories from the volunteers. The program is a one-year service opportunity for young adults ages 19 to 30. For more than two decades, YAVs have listened for God's call in their lives, while serving alongside partners at sites in the United States and around the world. The complete newsletter, and more information about the YAV program, can be found at "Volunteers."
Grace, gratitude newsletter
offers stories of ministry efforts
Chip Hardwick, director of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)'s Office of Theology, Formation and  Evangelism, writes of the gratitude and grace Grace Gratitude he observed during a recent presbytery visit. "At February's Whitewater Valley Presbytery meeting," Hardwick notes, "a Syrian refugee family of seven, who had been welcomed and cared for by churches in the area, surprised us by providing tabbouleh salad and pastries for everyone there. It was a sign of gratitude for the grace extended by the presbytery. ... I pray the ministries described below will equip you to point to this love today, too." The complete newsletter can be found at "Grace and Gratitude."
Just one more
Humor in Lakes and Prairies -- as near as Iowa
For those of you who have been paying attention, several earlier editions of Keeping in Touch this year have included humor from Presbyterian churches around the country. In a quest for smiles this week, your editor found the humor page of Christ Church Presbyterian in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. There are pieces such as, "My goal [last year] was to lose just 10 pounds ... only 15 to go." Yes, your editor smiled. And there's more than just a few jokes on the page. It's at "Humor."