In This Issue
News around the Synod of Lakes and Prairies
Conferences, camps, resources
News around the PC(USA) and more
Just one more
Quick Links
Social Media

May 30, 2018

News around the Synod of Lakes and Prairies
Synod hears presentation on church vitality, plans to keep per capita steady
When the Synod of Lakes and Prairies met several weeks ago, commissioners heard the synod's Program Coordination Committee  Chip Hardwick suggest no per capita increase for 2019, and they listened to Chip Hardwick speak about faithfulness and sustainability. Hardwick, who spent six years in the national offices of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) finally as director of theology, formation and evangelism, said churches need to balance sustainability with faithfulness. He used Presbyterian Mission Agency research to show the dichotomy of sustainability and faithfulness in church settings to illustrate his discussion of church vitality. Regarding per capita, the synod's share this year is $5.40, a figure that will stay the same for 2019 if the synod accepts at its meeting this fall the recommendation of its Program Coordination Committee. A recap of the synod meeting can be found at "Synod Summary."
Synod School: Classes, worship, play,
family, friends, a whole lot more
Catalog cover Those who are thinking about attending Synod School this summer should spend a little time looking through the midsummer ministry's catalog. Classes, more than 70, range from "God's Promises: The Horizon's Bible Study" to "Doctrine of Discovery: Why do we say Columbus discovered America?" and from "Christmas Carols: The True Story" to fake news in "The Coming of the Internet and the Loss of Everything Else." And that, of course, is an abbreviated sample. Celebrating its 65th year, Synod School typically draws more than 600 people to the week-long event of learning and personal enrichment on the campus of Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa. This year's event runs Sunday through Friday, July 22-27. The catalog, and a link to online registration, can be found at "Synod School."
Winnebago Presbytery plans bus transportation to Synod School
If you're thinking about transportation to Synod School, a bus ride with others going to the same place could be the answer. The Winnebago Presbytery "Coach Bus to Synod School" will run Sunday, July 22, beginning in Marinette, Wisconsin, with stops in Oconto, Appleton and Beloit. Boarding will begin at 3:30 a.m. The bus will make the return trip Friday, July 27. The roundtrip fare is $70. While the stops above are planned, additional stops may be scheduled based on attendee numbers and distance from the original route. Questions can be addressed to Gina Struensee at or Karen Bickel at The bus schedule is at "Bus to Synod School." The registration form is at "Going by Bus."
At Leadership Summit, Sundby says 'none immune from mental health concerns'
Sundby Burke Many would like to think a minister's life is easy -- little stress, a loving congregation, and few demands save for Sunday sermons. In reality, though, that doesn't describe the life of many ministers. Providing statistics from a variety of sources, Mark Sundby and Caroline Burke of Leaderwise, a regional counseling and consulting organization based in the Twin Cities for church leaders, offered a snapshot from the 2014 annual health survey of the United Methodist Church that indicated 50 percent of clergy express stress "fairly often" or "very often" in their congregations. While about one-half of ministers report stress, several studies indicate about nine-in-10 ministers also report being satisfied in in their calling. The complete story can be found at "Mental Health Concerns."
Synod announces summer hours
Synod Logo During the summer months -- from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend -- the office of the Synod of Lakes and Prairies will be closed on Fridays. The synod office will be open Monday through Thursday during normal hours. Synod staff are often available by e-mail during other hours. Contact information is at "Synod of Lakes and Prairies."
Conferences, camps, resources
Presbyterian Disaster Assistance
plans Puerto Rico webinar
PDALogo It has been eight months since Hurricane Maria wreaked havoc on Puerto Rico, and the recovery work continues. Presbyterian Disaster Assistance has been working with its partners on the island to provide financial assistance to churches and their congregations and plan for long-term recovery efforts. In an effort to keep congregations informed, PDA is hosting a webinar on Thursday, May 31, from 1 to 2 p.m. CDT. The complete announcement, along with a link to register for the webinar, can be found at "Puerto Rico Webinar."
Registration for 'Face-to-Face' sessions open through June 6
Registration for Face-to-Face, a program that connects search committees, mid-council staff, and church professionals, is open now through June 6. The groups engage in conversation beyond the Personal Information Forms (PIFs) and the Ministry Information Forms (MIFs), discerning calls to vocation and ministry. Face-to-Face takes place Friday, June 15, through Tuesday, June 19, at General Assembly in St. Louis. Details and registration are at "Face-to-Face."
New Ruling Elders Regarding Ruling Elders:
Spiritual leadership
Regarding Ruling Elders is a monthly resource produced by the Office of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). This month the Rev. Joan Gray, a pastor, former General Assembly moderator and author of "Spiritual Leadership for Church Officers," addresses spiritual leaders. She notes, "When thinking about spiritual leadership, it is helpful to be clear about what might be meant by 'spiritual.' For our purposes, 'Christian spirituality' is defined as 'a way of life in relationship to the God we know in Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit, so that we partner in God's will being done on earth as it is in heaven.' Breaking down this definition is even more helpful. Christian spirituality is not just about religious feelings and inner experiences. Neither is it something that we turn on at church and off when we go out into the world." Gray's complete column is at "Regarding Ruling Elders."
2 websites up, running
for 223rd General Assembly
Commissioners and advisory delegates from all 170 of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)'s presbyteries, and other delegates and observers  GA 223 from around the world, will converge on the America's Convention Center in downtown St. Louis for celebrations, deliberations, and inspirations in support of the denomination's biennial gathering. The Presbytery of Giddings-Lovejoy will serve as host to the 223rd General Assembly, united under the theme "Renewing the Vision: Kindom Building for the 21st Century," from Matthew 6:25-33, and will include rich worship services, the election of the moderator and vice moderator or co-moderators, action on a plethora of overtures, and much more. The General Assembly website is at "Coming Together." The business side of the General Assembly can be tracked easily through "PC-Biz."
Applications now accepted for Native American Leadership Fund awards
One-time awards for Native American leadership development are available in 2018 through the Native American Leadership Fund, created by action of the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board. The designated funds are to be used for education or leadership development of Native American Presbyterian leaders or in Native American Presbyterian organizations and communities. Tim McCallister, Associate for Mission Program Grants & Racial Ethnic Schools and Colleges, said, "These grants are being offered by the Presbyterian Mission Agency to encourage pioneers, risk-takers and trailblazers." The complete Presbyterian News Service story by Gail Strange is available at "Native American Leadership."
General Assembly News
will be available free to inbox
This year all Presbyterians (and others) can read the same daily newspaper that is available to those attending the 223rd General  GA News Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in St. Louis, June 16-23. The General Assembly News, a printed newspaper distributed at the biennial gathering, will be available through a free e-mail subscription. E-subscribers will receive the identical electronic version in their e-mail inbox. The newspaper will be published daily from June 16-23. "We hear repeatedly from Presbyterians around the country who cannot attend the General Assembly that they would love to be able to read The General Assembly News," said Jerry Van Marter, interim director of communications for the Office of the General Assembly. The complete announcement, along with a link to subscribe, can be found at "The General Assembly News."
Options available for engaging
in 'just immigration'
Immigration issues are a growing and continuing concern for Presbyterians. And there are a variety of resources to engage in theImmigration conversations and work around the social justice concerns of immigration. Presbyterians for Just Immigration note, "People of faith are joining together and calling for immigration reform and the full recognition of immigrants' rights. They are doing this, in big and small ways, because of a shared faith in Jesus Christ who spent his ministry at the margins of society and because of the call to remember that they were once strangers/immigrants in Egypt." Here are just a few of the ways to get started. A current issue of the newsletter is at "Just Immigration." The website dealing with immigration issues at "Immigration Ministries." And the sign-up page at "PFJI Sign-up."
Relationships, power: Reflections
NEXT Church Logo on community organizing
Participants in NEXT Church's Certificate in Community Organizing and Congregational Leadership offered five reflections on the theology of power and how organizing has impacted the way they do ministry. Those reflections can be found in a recent newsletter from NEXT Church at "Community Organizing."
Washington Island Forum
planned  in June in Wisconsin
Anna Carter Florence 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."
2018 PW gathering 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. Plans for the gathering can be found at "National Gathering."
Wild Goose Festival planned
in July in North Carolina
wild goose The Wild Goose Festival, a music, art and story-driven transformational experience grounded in faith-inspired social justice, is planned July 12-15 in Hot Springs, North Carolina. The festival invites participants to grow together by co-creating art, music, story, theater and spectacle, and by engaging in robust and respectful conversation with each other and with thought leaders and artists. Details can be found at "Wild Goose Festival."
Mid-Council leaders gather
in October in Chicago
The 2018 Mid-Council Leaders Gathering takes place Friday to Sunday, Oct. 5-7, at the Hyatt Regency O-Hare in suburban Chicago. The gathering is co-sponsored by the Office of the General Assembly and the Board of Pensions. It is a combination of the former Fall Polity Conference and the Regional Benefits Consultations. Details can be found at "Leaders Gathering."
News around the PC(USA) and more
PMAB elects Diane Moffett
as president, executive director
Diane Moffett The Presbyterian Mission Agency Board (PMAB) voted unanimously this week to ask the 223rd General Assembly meeting in St. Louis this summer to confirm its election of the Rev. Dr. Diane Moffett to a four-year term as president and executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, one of the six agencies of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Currently the senior pastor of Saint James Presbyterian Church in Greensboro, North Carolina, where she has served since 2005, Moffett is also the moderator of the executive council of Salem Presbytery and was previously moderator of Salem Presbytery. Current PC(USA) Stated Clerk, the Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson II, also served as pastor of Saint James several years before Moffett's arrival. The complete Presbyterian News Service story by Gregg Brekke can be found at "Moffett Elected."  
10 issues predicted to dominate
discussions at General Assembly
GA 223 While trying to predict what shape any Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) General Assembly will take, several issues are shaping up to take center stage June 16-23 when the 223rd General Assembly convenes in St. Louis. The first order of business for the 538 commissioners and about 200 advisory delegates will be to elect their moderator. Then the 13 Assembly Committees will work their way through the items of business this Assembly will consider. That business will include a mix of social and theological issues and the internal workings of the PC(USA). The 10 issues and the complete story by Jerry Van Marter of the Office of the General Assembly can be found at "Top Issues."
Poor People's Campaign
kicked off on Mother's Day
After months of planning, the "Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival" officially opened on Mother's Day, May 13. The  poor peoples campaign, a continuation of the initiative launched by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 50 years ago, is calling for direct action at statehouses across the country as well as the U.S. Capitol. The Rev. Dr. William Barber II and the Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, a Presbyterian pastor and co-director of the Kairos Center, are co-chairing the national effort. The complete Presbyterian News Service story by Rick Jones can be found at "Poor People's Campaign."
Way Forward Commission strives
to counsel the church on ongoing work
On May 22, the Way Forward Commission held its second-to-last meeting before the 2018 General Assembly convenes in St. Louis in June -- using most of that time to provide updates on its ongoing work, and a sense of how it will proceed in the time it has left. The commission, which has some power to act on its own, has already made its report and formal recommendations to the assembly. It can't add any new recommendations to that report now, said Mark Hostetter, a minister from New York who serves as the commission's moderator. The complete story by The Presbyterian Outlook's Leslie Scanlon can be found at "Way Forward Commission."
'Hands & Feet' initiative will engage Presbyterians at General Assembly
If the apostle Paul had to cite an example of his words spoken to the Romans -- "We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit  hands feet intercedes for us through wordless groans" -- all he would have to do was point to St. Louis on a map. It is there, in one of the nation's most racially segregated cities, where loud cries and wordless groans against racial injustice are being heard through the Hands & Feet initiative. The initiative invites Presbyterians to come to the host city to this summer's General Assembly to not just cast their votes in an air-conditioned convention room, but to also become part of the community, working with their hands, their feet and their hearts, for justice and peace. The complete Presbyterian News Service story by Paul Seebeck and Paula Frischknecht-Jackson can be found at "Hands and Feet."
PC(USA) co-moderator issues statement
on embassy move to Jerusalem
The Rev. T. Denise Anderson, co-moderator of the 222nd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), recently returned from two weeks in Israel and Palestine as part of the Mosaic of Peace conference, and she raised several concerns regarding the peace process in light of the move of the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. At least 60 Palestinian people have been killed by Israeli forces, and over 2,400 wounded, as Palestinians protested the embassy's move. Anderson's observations can be found at "Anderson Issues Statement."
Presbyterians moved
by visit to Israel, Palestine
A group of Presbyterian clergy and members, including co-moderator Denise Anderson, has wrapped up the Mosaic of Peace Conference to Israel and Palestine. The conference, sponsored by the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program, included visits to Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Galilee, meeting with Palestinian and Israeli leaders working on justice and peace issues, as well as touring holy and historic sites. The complete Presbyterian News Service story by Rick Jones can be found at "Mosaic of Peace."
PMA announces new 1001
Worshiping Communities coordinator
nikki collins The Rev. Nikki Collins has been named the new coordinator for the 1001 New Worshiping Communities initiative in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). In announcing Collins' hiring, Ray Jones, the Presbyterian Mission Agency's acting director for theology, formation and evangelism, said that while "it's difficult to say goodbye to the retiring Vera White," there is also a sense of excitement. "In our final day of interviews and discernment together with Nikki and 1001 staff we felt the Holy Spirit leading us, confirming that we were on the right path," Jones said. The complete Presbyterian News Service story by Paul Seebeck can be found at "New Coordinator."
Just one more
'I don't need to write that down;
I'll remember it'
Grace Presbyterian Church of Spring Hill, Florida, a Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) congregation, is a congregation with a sense of humor. At least if you judge by its webmaster. They have a Christian humor page -- even a video of a stand-up comic. Your editor learned that lunch might be served at a fasting and prayer conference. He also agreed the biggest lie he tells himself is, "I don't need to write that down; I'll remember it." The humor page is at "Fun(ny) Stuff."