|Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year
May everyone find the same joy and wonder during this season as the three wise men so many years ago.
|News around the Synod of Lakes and Prairies
Street-Stewart:' What American Indians
saw as sacred, other people saw as profit'
While the water protectors, encamped near the confluence of the Cannon Ball and Missouri rivers in North Dakota, endure brutal winter weather, Elona Street-Stewart, synod executive of the Synod of Lakes and Prairies, recounted a mid-November trip to the encampment, describing the camp, the work to prepare for the north's raw winter, the sacredness of water, and the role of the church. During this week before Christmas, the Oceti Sakowin camp continues just north of Cannon Ball, N.D. While the Army Corps of Engineers has denied the easement for Energy Transfer Partners to construct its pipeline across the Missouri River, elders at the camp are concerned that work may continue in spite of the denial. Street-Stewart's interview can be found at "Water and History." (In the photo above, Street-Stewart, a Delaware Nanticoke, stands under the flag of the Delaware Tribe of Indians at Oceti Sakowin camp.)
Milwaukee Presbytery names Mary McClung Quam as transitional presbytery leader
The Milwaukee Presbytery has named Mary McClung Quam, right, as its transitional presbytery leader. A cradle Presbyterian, she is looking forward to leading the presbytery for the next six to nine months as the search for an installed presbytery leader takes place, an announcement from the presbytery stated. McClung Quam will be filling the vacancy created when the Rev. Craig Howard leaves to become the transitional leader of the Presbytery of Giddings-Lovejoy in January. McClung Quam, a former public school teacher and city council member in Minnesota, is an ordained ruling elder at Crossroads Presbyterian Church in Mequon, Wis. The complete announcement is at "McClung Quam."
Keynoter at synod's Leadership Summit
to address bi-vocational ministry
SanDawna Ashley, right, assistant stated clerk and manager for call-process support for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), will address bi-vocational ministry when she keynotes the Synod of Lakes and Prairies' Leadership Summit that opens Jan. 31. The Summit is a training event for presbytery leaders who work with congregations, pastors, ministry candidates and inquirers, and commissioned ruling elders. The Summit runs through Feb. 2 at Christ the King Retreat Center in Buffalo, Minn. The Summit brochure is at "The Call to Build." Online registration is available at "Leadership Summit."
Churches in Twin Cities Area co-sponsor
refugees with Council of Churches
When Ben Walen of the Refugee Resettlement Program of the Minnesota Council of Churches (MCC) spoke during a pre-presbytery event of the Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area in September, he told of the struggles of refugees adjusting to life in the United States. A few of the presbytery's churches have recently co-sponsored refugee families with the MCC, helping to welcome refugee families, providing support and connections. Church members befriend new arrivals and learn first-hand from their experiences. Macalester Plymouth United Church in St. Paul, Minn., kept a detailed log of the adventures with a sponsored family this summer. That log is available at "Helping Refugees."
Willadsen writes: 'Thanks for the gratitude'
The Rev. Tom Willadsen, pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Oshkosh, Wis., offered his thanks after nearly 250 people turned out for the seventh annual Interfaith Festival of Gratitude in that community Nov. 21. He wrote, "This year festival attenders were challenged to work on infrastructure, specifically the infrastructure of their hearts. In a society whose deep divisions were exposed by the recent election, all people need to build bridges of openness and understanding." Willadsen's complete article about the festival can be found at "Gratitude."
|Conferences, camps, resources
Board of Pensions offers opportunity
for sabbatical support
The Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) offers Sabbath Sabbatical Support Grants to help pastors serving small congregations take sabbaticals that can strengthen a pastor's skills and renew their ministries. The Board of Pensions website notes, "Sabbaticals can help alleviate burnout; they allow pastors to enhance their spiritual lives, strengthen their skills, and renew their ministries. But most pastors taking sabbaticals serve larger congregations with significant financial resources and staff; small congregations often lack the funds or staff to support sabbaticals." The program provides up to 110 grants per year of up to $3,000 each to pastors of small churches who submit a plan for their sabbaticals to their mid council and the Board of Pensions for approval. Details of the program at "Sabbatical Support." The grant application is at "Applying." Ministers seeking sabbatical support might also want to consider the Lilly Endowment National Clergy Renewal Program. The deadline is April 21 for the next round of grants in that program. Details are at "Clergy Renewal."
Early-bird registration already underway
for Summer Pastors School
December is not too early to think about next summer -- at least when it comes to Summer Pastors School sponsored by Omaha Presbyterian Seminary Foundation and held each summer at Hastings (Neb.) College. Summer Pastors School runs June 4-9 and early-bird registration is already open. Featured speakers at next summer's School 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."
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."
UDTS will offer 8 online courses for CREs
The University of Dubuque Theological Seminary will offer eight online courses for commissioned ruling elders from Jan. 30 to May 10. Registration for the classes is now open. Classes include introductions to both Old Testament and New Testament, Christian education, pastoral care, reformed theology, introduction to preaching, Presbyterian polity, and reformed worship and sacraments. Details are available at "CRE Classes."
Ruling elder resource addresses
ruling elder preparation
The Rev. Dr. Rhonda Myers, pastor of Chapel Lane Presbyterian Church in Midland, Mich., is author of the latest edition of Regarding Ruling Elders, a resource of the Office of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Myers addressed the preparation of ruling elders, noting, the church "holds fast to a representative form of government where ruling elders and teaching elders are elected to ordered ministry and share in ecclesial authority as, together, we seek to discern and represent the will of Christ in and through faithful service. To this end, 'congregations should elect persons of wisdom and maturity of faith, having demonstrated skills in leadership and being compassionate in spirit' (Book of Order, G-2.0301). Once a new class of ruling elders is elected by a congregation, the session is called upon to prepare these new leaders for service in the church." Myers' complete column is at "Preparation."
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."
|News of colleges, universities, seminaries
Stoelinga named next
president of Carroll University
After an extensive nationwide search, Carroll University of Waukesha, Wis., has named Sara Ray Stoelinga as its next president. She will take office in July 2017 and succeed President Douglas Hastad who will retire after leading the University for over a decade. Stoelinga will be the first female to serve in the role of president at Carroll University since its inception in 1846. Stoelinga is a native of St. Paul, Minn. The complete announcement can be found at "Stoelinga."
Hastings College names Feezell
as its 17th president
Hastings College begins a new era June 1 when Dr. Travis Feezell becomes the college's 17th president. The Hastings College Board of Trustees appointed Feezell, who currently serves as provost and chief academic officer at the University of the Ozarks in Clarksville, Ark., to the position following a national search. Don Jackson, the current president, will retire at the end of the academic year after four and a half years in the office. Feezell significant Nebraska roots. He graduated from high school in Omaha and his mother was a former faculty member at Hastings. The complete announcement can be found at "Feezell."
|News around the PC(USA) and more
Hawkins will become new director
of Office of Public Witness
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)'s Office of Public Witness in Washington, D.C., has a new director. The Rev. Jimmie R. Hawkins has accepted the call and follows the Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson II, who served in the position from 2010 until last summer when he was elected as stated clerk of the denomination. "It is extremely humbling to be called to this position. This is a calling from God and I feel I've been led to this and the church has been a blessing in my life," Hawkins said. "I see this as the next step in my call to ministry." The complete Presbyterian News Service story by Rick Jones can be found at "Jimmie Hawkins."
Sue Krummel returns to parish ministry
The Rev. Susan Davis Krummel, who has been serving as director of Mid Council Relations for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), has accepted a call as interim pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Princeton, Ill. "To go through the life of a congregation over a Christian calendar year will be fun again," she said, adding that she hasn't done that since fall 2003 when she first started presbytery work. The church in Princeton is a congregation of about 70 members, and Krummel will work with them while they search for a full-time pastor. The complete announcement from the Office of the General Assembly can be found at "Krummel."
gains post-election momentum
As immigration rights activists prepare for what is next in a post-election atmosphere of anti-immigrant sentiment, those that previously offered sanctuary to deportees aren't waiting for the new administration to be installed. Pre-election promises of mass deportations by President-elect Donald Trump and a wave of race-based crimes since the election have activated faith groups and communities promising to provide sanctuary to immigrants. The complete Presbyterian News Service story by Gregg Brekke can be found at "Sanctuary."
MRTI urges Phillips 66
to reconsider DAPL investment
The Mission Responsibility Through Investment (MRTI) committee of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) submitted a shareholder resolution to the Phillips 66 Corporation Nov. 22 urging it to reconsider its investment guidelines as they pertain to the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). At issue with Phillips' significant investment in the $3.8 billion DAPL project are the environmental and human rights concerns raised by those opposed to the pipeline, including the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. The pipeline would run near the tribe's territorial lands and under its waters. The complete Presbyterian News Service story by Gregg Brekke can be found at "Phillips 66."
De La Rosa's Christmas message
focuses on gratitude
Tony De La Rosa, interim executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, focuses on gratitude in his most recent video installment of Keeping Faith. Introducing the video, De La Rose wrote, "As we look forward to the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas -- the greatest gift to humankind -- and to Christ's return at the end of time, our only response can be gratitude. In receiving God's gift, we rejoice and give thanks for God Incarnate, who came down that we might love." The video is at "Keeping Faith."
Co-moderators call Presbyterians
to respond to election with good
Writing to all Presbyterians, the Revs. Denise Anderson and Jan Edmiston, co-moderators of the 222nd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), noted, "As we enter the season of Advent, there are those among us who continue to celebrate the recent election and others among us who continue to experience deep concern. We Presbyterians are a politically diverse denomination and we have our differences. But we come together in these days remembering that we worship a God who knows what it's like to be betrayed and unjustly accused. Please know that, as your co-moderators, we are praying for you and we are asking you to -- ultimately -- use whatever you are feeling after this election for good." Their complete column can be found at "For Good."
Nelson: Racial ethnic schools 'more
now than they've ever been'
In a newly published video message, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Stated Clerk J. Herbert Nelson II says the mission of PC(USA)-related racial ethnic schools and colleges "are more critical now, than they've ever been." Reflecting on "the society and world that we're living in today," where "rancor and discord are leading our political forces," Nelson recalled how important and valuable the education he received at Johnson C. Smith University was for him personally. The complete Presbyterian News Service story by Paul Seebeck, along with Nelson's video message, can be found at "Schools."
Way Forward Commission considers next steps
The Way Forward Commission of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has begun to discern next steps for its work -- including considering some issues it may be able to act on quickly, and starting to figure out how to organize its longer-term work. But the structural nuts and bolts all link back to deeper concerns about how the denomination functions -- such as when commission member Eileen Lindner, a teaching elder from New Jersey, said the intent of considering a potential polity change would be to "take a look at access to the places that allow people to lead and participate fully in the life of the church." The complete story by Leslie Scanlon of The Presbyterian Outlook can be found at "Way Forward."
Pew study finds Presbyterians among top earners
A recent breakdown of the Pew Research Center's 2014 Religious Landscape Study ranked Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) members fourth in its percentage of households that earn more than $100,000 annually. The study authors found a strong correlation -- based on religious affiliation -- between a person's income and the level of education they have attained. The study reported that among PC(USA) households, 32 percent earned $100,000 or more, 29 percent earned between $50,000 and $99,999, 15 percent earned between $30,000 and $49,999 and 24 percent earned less than $30,000. The complete Presbyterian News Service story by Gregg Brekke can be found at "Presbyterian Income."
Recovery efforts, YAV program
World Mission newsletter
Rachel Yates, Presbyterian World Mission's associate director for program, wrote about the slow work of recovery after violence in this month's Mission Matters, and another item in the World Mission newsletter provided details about making application for the Young Adult Volunteer program. The complete World Mission newsletter is at "Serving Throughout the World."
John Glenn, astronaut, senator,
no conflict between faith, science
John Glenn may best be remembered as one of the 20th century's greatest explorers, the first American to orbit the Earth and, later, the oldest man in space.Glenn also will be remembered for his long career as a U.S. senator, representing his home state of Ohio for 24 years as a moderate Democrat. But less well-known is the fact that Glenn, who died on Thursday at age 95, was an elder in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) who saw no conflict between his beliefs in God and in science. The complete Religion News Service story by Emily McFarlan Miller is at "John Glenn."
PC(USA) leader supports congregants
who have chosen to remain
On Sunday, Dec. 11, the Peace Light -- a flame taken from the grotto in Bethlehem where tradition places Jesus' birth -- was used to light the advent and chancel candles at First Presbyterian Church in Bethlehem, Pa. Those gathered hoped the peaceful message of the light would resonate with them, and with their brothers and sisters with whom they once shared pews. First Presbyterian Church, a multi-acre property with enough space to accommodate a couple thousand congregants, is the focus of a controversial civil court case between the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) and the Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians (ECO). Congregations from both denominations currently inhabit the property, and which one will rightful own the property remains to be seen. The complete story by Michael Givler, a correspondent for the Office of the PC(USA) General Assembly, can be found at "Schism."
|Just one more
And from the folks at mental floss ...
Merry Christmas in 26 languages
Here's a quick note from the folks at Mental Floss:
"Merry Christmas" is a special greeting in English, since it's the only occasion we say "merry" instead of "happy." How do other languages spread yuletide cheer? Ampersand Travel asked people all over the world to send in videos of them saying "Merry Christmas" in their language, and while the audio quality's not the best, it's a fun holiday-themed language lesson. Feel free to surprise your friends and family this year with your new repertoire of foreign-language greetings. It's all at "Merry Christmas."