|News around the Synod of Lakes and Prairies
Pres House points to synod help
in 'leveraging assets' to aid ministry
The Presbyterian Student Foundation - more commonly known as Pres House - is succeeding in partnership with the Synod of Lakes and Prairies. That's not something you hear every day, but that's what Mark Elsdon, executive director and campus co-pastor, told those who attended his Ignite presentation at the annual gathering of NEXT Church earlier this month in Baltimore. "I'm going to tell you about the incredible impact that leveraging assets within the church can have on our mission and ministry. It's a story of hope and one that just might give us some ideas for today," Elsdon said. Elsdon told the story of the successful Pres House Student Apartments, and how the synod - "one of the most helpful partners," Elsdon said - used $2.5 million to enable Pres House to obtain "favorable financing" on its debt. He said, "Leveraging our assets in different ways is something we could do much more." The complete video is at "Leveraging Assets."
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
Buffalo, 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 "
Synod School registration reaches 426
as summer ministry celebrates 65th year
The registration number hit 426 this week for this summer's edition of Synod School. Synod School is celebrating its 65th year. 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. 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. The complete catalog and a link to online registration can be found at "
Twin Cities woman participates in UN Commission on Status of Women
Marvella Lambright didn't realize that some women use dried cow dung to absorb their monthly flow of blood until she attended her first Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) session at the United Nations several years ago. There she learned that women in some countries don't have access to the sanitary products that are available in the United States and other parts of the world. Betty Folliard of House of Hope Presbyterian Church in St. Paul says the CSW participants focus on the issues that are common to women around the world. She says the women from the United States shouldn't just think of themselves as leaders, but learners. These comments and more can be found in the Presbyterian News Service story by Sue Washburn at "Status of Women."
|Conferences, camps, resources
Spirit of GA offers talks with J. Herbert Nelson: 'Coffee with the Clerk'
There's a regular feature on the Facebook page dedicated to the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). It's called "Coffee with the Clerk." The program features the Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson II, the stated clerk of the General Assembly, and often guests who, along with Nelson, address specific topics relative to the denomination. This week, "Coffee with the Clerk" addressed the 223rd General Assembly and Presbyterian engagement in St. Louis, home to this summer's biennial event. The Facebook page is at "Coffee with the Clerk."
NEXT Church resource
guide: 'Cultivated Ministry'
NEXT Church, with support from Leadership Education at Duke Divinity School and the Texas Presbyterian Foundation, has developed a new resource for ministry. Described in an article on the NEXT Church website as "a culture and process of ministry that does not rest on traditional metrics nor does it abdicate accountability altogether," the resource is "Cultivated Ministry: Bearing Fruit through Theology, Accountability, Learning and Storytelling." An article, written by the Rev. Jessica Tate, director of NEXT Church and describing the development of the resource, can be found at "A New Approach." The resource can be downloaded at "Cultivated Ministry."
The Presbyterian Outlook,
n independent look at the PC(USA)
The Presbyterian Outlook, an independent magazine covering news of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), is now offering a monthly, auto- renewing subscription package. In a note distributed earlier this month, the magazine's editor and publisher noted, "If you're looking for a reliable, independent and balanced source of news and commentary on the latest happenings in church and society -- you've found it." The magazine is often a source for news in Keeping in Touch, the newsletter of the Synod of Lakes and Prairies. Details can be found at "Presbyterian Outlook."
Regarding Ruling Elders:
Experiencing abundant love
The Rev. Dr. Diana Nishita Cheifetz, a spiritual director serving lay leaders and clergy in the San Francisco Bay area and beyond, opens the most-recent edition of Regarding Ruling Elders, with the Bible verse, Mark 7:8, "You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition." She follows with, "
I was stunned by these words of Jesus as I was listening to a reading of Mark 7:1-8 recently. He could be speaking to us today. In all our conversations about how the church needs to change, I have longed for a simpler, biblical-theological word. And right now, this is it for me. It feels grounded and sure. What I hear from these words of Jesus is an admonition to cleave to God's commandments, specifically the two greatest commandments-that of loving God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and loving our neighbors as ourselves-over and above human tradition." Cheifetz' complete column is at "Ruling Elders."
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 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
next month in Grand Rapids
"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 next White Privilege Conference takes place 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."
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."
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 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
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 EvangelismCoach.org. Conference details are at "Great Plains Wee Kirk."
Conflict transformation workshop
is set in Twin Cities on May 16
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."
The National Association of Presbyterian Clergywomen will conduct their triennial conference at the Montreat Conference Center in Montreat, North Carolina, April 23-26. Conference details and registration information can be found at "Triennial Conference."
Older adult ministry conference
takes place June 5-8 at Zephyr Point
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."
Washington Island Forum
planned in June in Wisconsin
The 2018 Washington Island Forum, a 40-year tradition sponsored by the Wisconsin Council of Churches and The Christian Century magazine, features Anna Carter Florence, a former convocation speaker at the Synod of Lakes and Prairies' Synod School, as its primary speaker. Florence, who will speak on the theme, "Reading the Verbs: Finding the Script in the Scripture," is professor of preaching at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia. The Forum takes place Monday through Friday, June 25-29, on Washington Island, just north of Door County, Wisconsin. Details are at "Washington Island Forum."
Presbyterian Women make plans
for national gathering
The church-wide gathering of Presbyterian Women is planned Aug. 2-5 in Louisville, Kentucky, with the theme "Arise, shine, your light has come!" Participants will engage in workshops, tours, forums and resource gathering, plenary sessions, worship and more. Initial plans for the gathering can be found at "National Gathering."
|News from the Board of Pensions
March Board Connections
link to tax-law update
The March Board Connections, a newsletter from the Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), highlights recent Board news and information. The current edition also includes a link to an update on tax law changes and resources from the BOP. The complete current issue can be found at "
BOP pension plan highlighted
in current Employer News
The current edition of Employer News, a newsletter from The Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), highlights a 3.9 percent experience apportionment for the Pension Plan that goes into effect July 1. An experience apportionment is a lifelong increase in pension benefits for retirees and eligible survivors, and an increase in accrued pension credits for active and terminated vested members. The complete edition can be found at "Employer News."
|News around the PC(USA) and more
PC(USA) stated clerk calls to overcome
fear of transformative change
J. Herbert Nelson II, stated clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), is calling the church to overcome its fear of transformative change. He writes, "Rethinking ministry is difficult. Implementing new ideas and establishing them is even more difficult. We should be acutely aware of this fact of faith as we engage this season of Lent/Easter. Jesus encountered the struggles of the cross while trying to reform the practices of the Jewish temple and community. In a time when the Church is called to rethink ministry, it appears that in some places we are unwilling to engage the challenges. I stated at the beginning of my tenure as stated clerk that "anytime a General Assembly appoints three different groups to fix the national church, it is clear that reform is needed." Nelson's complete column is at "Transformative Change."
COGA issues statement
on review committees' reports
The Committee on the Office of the General Assembly (COGA) has issued a statement calling the work of three bodies created by the 222nd General Assembly -- The Way Forward Commission, the All-Agency Review Committee and the Vision 2020 Task Force -- "prophetic and provocative." The recommendations of the three panels "can refocus and retool our denomination to serve God and to follow Christ into the 21st century," the March 19 statement says. The complete statement can be found at "Moving Ahead."
GA review groups issue letter seeking
to clarify recommendations
Hoping to clarify what they believe is "confusion" and "misinformation" regarding their reports to the 223rd General Assembly in St. Louis, the Way Forward Commission and All Agency Review Committee issued a letter this week. The letter specifically addresses the areas of vision and theology, their joint proposal on the corporate function -- known as the "A Corp" -- of the Office of the General Assembly and Presbyterian Mission Agency, and recommendations on the role of the stated clerk of the General Assembly, the head ecclesial officer of the denomination. Saying their mandate was to deal with "the dysfunctions in the form and structure of our national church," the groups defer discussions of theology and vision to the 2020 Vision Team, the third group established by 222nd General Assembly. The complete Presbyterian News Service story by Gregg Brekke can be found at "Seeking to Clarify."
Reflections on being first African American woman ordained in PC(USA)
At the 223rd General Assembly (2018) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in St. Louis, the Committee on Theological Education (COTE) and the Theological Education Fund will honor the Rev. Dr. Katie Geneva Cannon -- the first African American woman ordained in the PC(USA).
The Rev. Cannon was ordained April 24, 1974, in Shelby, North Carolina by the Catawba Presbytery, in the Synod of Catawba. According to the Presbyterian Office of Information, the United Presbyterian Church listed 154 white women as ordained clergy at that time. Presbyterian News Service asked Cannon to reflect on her ordination, in light of her life experiences, as African American History Month and Women's History Month are celebrated in February and March respectively. Her complete response can be found at "Katie Geneva Cannon."
Office of Public Witness plans to join in march against gun violence
Last week, thousands of high school students across the country took part in a 17-minute walk out demanding stricter gun laws. This week, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)'s Office of Public Witness will participate in the "March for Our Lives" along the streets of the nation's capital on Saturday, March 24. "This is one of the most important actions of advocacy to be held in recent years. One, because it addresses the destruction that gun violence has upon this country. Also, that sensible gun legislation is needed and Congress must act to rein in the availability of automatic weapons," said the Rev. Jimmie Hawkins, OPW director. "Most importantly, we have been inspired by witnessing our young people from around this country stand up and demand an end to gun violence in our schools and streets." The complete Presbyterian News Service story by Rick Jones can be found at "End Gun Violence."
|Just one more
Church signs, more
on Oneida First's humor page
First Presbyterian Church in Oneida, New York, has a humor page, and your editor tends to find those things. There's just enough material here to make it worth the visit -- from two traveling angels to a few church signs. There's even a story about nuns at a ballgame. You may have heard that one before, but it still made your editor smile. It's at "Church Humor."