|News around the Synod of Lakes and Prairies
Synod School heading
to record enrollment this summer
Nearly 700 people of all ages will descend upon a small town in Iowa July 23-28 to sing, study, worship, and play. Synod School, offered by the Synod of Lakes and Prairies at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa, is thriving -- and unusual, since it is the only such Presbyterian program left in the country. "It feeds people in such holistic ways -- body, mind and soul," said Deb DeMeester, the synod's director of leadership development, who is in her second year of overseeing the program after years as a participant. Many attendees consider it the best week of the summer, she said, and "seeing children and youth enjoying each other, dancing during worship, tie-dying T-shirts -- it's a really unique experience in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)." The complete story by David Lewellen is at "Synod School." Additional information, including registration information, can be found at "So Much More."
First Academy cohort begins
this summer at Synod School
Responding to a need for accessible educational opportunities for church leaders, the Synod of Lakes and Prairies, along with the presbyteries of Minnesota Valleys, North Central Iowa and Prospect Hill, is offering The Academy, a series of 11 courses designed to develop well-equipped, thoughtful people to better serve as leaders in the church. The first classes take place 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, The Academy offers participants an opportunity to grow in faith and knowledge, grow as a leader, and have more opportunities to serve God as needed. Spots are still available in the initial cohort. Details can be found at "The Academy."
Ardeth Kocourek, former
moderator, dies May 9
Ardeth Kocourek, 2011 moderator of the Synod of Lakes and Prairies, died May 9. Born in Fort Dodge, Iowa, Kocourek grew up in Dows, Iowa, graduated from Iowa State Teachers College (now the University of Northern Iowa) and received a master's degree from New York University. Active in the Presbyterian Church throughout her life, she first taught through the Presbyterian Mission at the Ganado, Ariz., Navajo School. A complete obituary can be found at "Ardeth Kocourek."
Storm Lake, Iowa, home to Synod
School, is kept alive by immigrants
In a New York Times article, published Monday, points out that Asian, African and Latino newcomers have filled jobs at pork, egg and turkey plants where wages have fallen and work has grown more grueling. The article, written by Patricia Cohen, opens, "When Dan Smith first went to work at the pork processing plant in Storm Lake in 1980, pretty much the only way to nab that kind of union job was to have a father, an uncle or a brother already there. The pay, he recalled, was $16 an hour, with benefits. ... The union is long gone, and so are most of the white faces of men who once labored in the broiling heat of the killing floor and icy chill of the production lines. What hasn't changed much is Mr. Smith's hourly wage, which is still about $16 an hour." Cohen's complete article can be found at "Immigrants Keep Town Alive."
|Conferences, camps, resources
Pentecost worship resource
exalts Holy Spirit-inspired possibilities
Pentecost is a time to consider "what becomes possible when God blows through your life with the wind of the Holy Spirit," says the author of a new Presbyterian worship resource for Pentecost Sunday. The author, the Rev. Dr. Eileen Lindner, senior pastor of the Presbyterian Church at Tenafly, N.J., weaves that theme through the litanies and prayers of the resource, which is free and available for
. The complete Presbyterian News Service story by Pat Cole can be found at "Pentecost Resource."
Resources collected, noted following
4PM Conference in Wisconsin
An issue of News and Notes, the newsletter of Winnebago Presbytery, offered a link to a list "resources used and suggested" from the 4PM Conference conducted in Wisconsin April 30-May 1. The conference was a gathering of four presbyteries consisting of Wisconsin churches. Kathleen Owens, a planning committee member from the Presbytery of Milwaukee, compiled the list. The complete list can be found at "Resources Used and Suggested."
'Facing Racism' campaign
offers Belhar resources
As part of the Facing Racism antiracism campaign, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is offering resources based on the newest addition to the Book of Confessions, the Confession of Belhar, adopted by the 222nd General Assembly last summer. The resources include workshop materials introducing Belhar to the church, a video explaining what Belhar is and why it is important in the Reformed tradition, and study guides on the Confession of Belhar. The complete Presbyterian News Service story by Gregg Brekke can be found at "Facing Racism Resources."
Clearwater Forest 'excited
for this summer's experiences'
Writing in the May update from Clearwater Forest, the Presbyterian camp and conference center in the heart of Minnesota's lake country, Rich Swartwood noted, "We are so excited for this summer's experiences. ... The cabins have been deep cleaned, new activities are being planned, and we are anxiously awaiting the weather to begin to warm. Our theme this summer is 'Branching Out, Connecting through Christ.'" The complete update can be found at "Clearwater Forest."
Motor City Mission Corps offers 1-year apprenticeship for young adults
Applications are still being accepted for a year-long, non-profit apprenticeship for young adults in Detroit. The Motor City Mission Corps focuses on breaking down racism and building equitable community. Participants live in community, serve in organizations with a reputation for making change in the city, and explore how they might be called to join God's work in the world. The organization's website is at "Motor City Mission."
GenOn Ministries curriculum is now available
GenOn Ministries and Congregational Ministries Publishing of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) joined forces last fall to support more churches with engaging resources. The complete series of GenOn's "Faith for Life" Bible study curriculum for ages kindergarten through eighth grade is now available from the PC(USA) Store. Each 25-session course is downloadable and includes the teacher's guide, student handouts, and ideas for furthering faith formation at home. The complete announcement from Congregational Ministries Publishing is at "Faith for Life."
Washington Island Forum
features historical-Jesus scholar
John Dominic Crossan, generally regarded as the leading historical Jesus scholar in the world, will be the featured speaker at the 2017 Washington Island Forum that runs June 26-30 on Washington Island at the tip of Door County, Wis. Crossan is the author of "The Historical Jesus," "Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography," and "The Birth of Christianity, and Who Killed Jesus?" The event is sponsored by the Wisconsin Council of Churches, and Christian Century magazine. Details are at "Washington Island Forum."
Peterson departs Homestead,
begins leadership consulting venture
Kris Peterson, who had been serving as the resource coordinator for Homestead Presbytery, has joined with her husband Brian to concentrate on their leadership consulting service -- Leadership Harbor. Its website notes, "We want to help you grow so you know who you are, who you are meant to become, and help you handle more than you thought was possible. What you have done in the past has gotten you this far -- and we believe you have more potential to go even further." Leadership Harbor offers personal coaching, classes, ministry coaching, workshops and more. Details are at "Leadership Harbor."
Big Tent is ready to go July 6-8 in St. Louis
This summer's Big Tent conference takes place July 6-8 in St. Louis and registration recently opened. 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 registration site is at "Big Tent."
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."
Lakeshore Center presents
'A Day with Dr. Thomas Long'
The Lakeshore Center at Okoboji, a Presbyterian camp, conference and retreat center, is presenting "A Day with Dr. Thomas Long" on Oct. 13 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Long, the Bandy professor of preaching emeritus at Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, will make two presentations, a morning presentation titled "Preaching in a Disenchanted Age," and an afternoon presentation titled "Ending Well, Beginning Well: Developing Sermons for the End of the Christian year and for Advent/Christmas." Additional details and registration form are available at "A Day with Long."
Sand Bur Consulting sets interim
training institute beginning this fall
Sand Bur Consulting, which notes on its website that "even the most faithful churches sometimes need help in focusing their mission," will offer its Interim Ministry Training Institute beginning in October in central Wisconsin. The Interim Ministry Training Institute is an intensive program offered over an eight-month period with monthly gatherings. Details can be found at "Sand Bur Consulting."
IRMS offers variety of 'Mister Rogers' resources
Following the news of the most recent bombing in Manchester, which particularly targeted young people, your children may be feeling exceptionally vulnerable, according to Sharon Strohmaier, executive director of Iowa Religious Media Services. Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood offers just the right sentiment in his book, "The Mister Rogers' Parenting Book" -- "When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'" A list of Mr. Rogers' resources available through IRMS can be found at "The Neighborhood."
Presbyterians for Earth Care
invite participation in conference this fall
In a letter to Presbyterian leaders and communicators, Diane Waddell, moderator of Presbyterians for Earth Care, invited participation in "Blessing the Waters of Life: Justice and Healing for our Watersheds," the organizations biennial conference. The conference takes place Sept. 26-29 at Menucha Retreat and Conference Center near Portland, Ore. A pre-conference, Sept. 25-26, titled "Spirit of the Salmon," also takes place at Menucha. The complete invitation is at "Presbyterians for Earth Care." Additional information is available at the organization's website.
|News around the PC(USA) and more
Nelson: 'We are not dying. We are reforming.'
J. Herbert Nelson, stated clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), issued a statement this week regarding the membership statistics of the denomination. It begins, "We are moving toward a new future as a denomination. Membership loss, which
was experienced since the 1970s, is slowing down. Congregations are refocusing on their mission. Mid councils are experimenting with ways to provide meaningful leadership in challenging times. Congregations are celebrating both anniversaries and new beginnings. Young adults are asserting their desires to serve in both domestic and international mission." Nelson's complete statement can be found at "Toward a New Future."
PC(USA) membership decline
continues at slower pace
While total membership in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) continued a slow but steady decline in 2016 that dates back to 1965, the losses slowed somewhat last year. Total PC(USA) membership at the end of the year stood at 1,482,767, a net loss of 89,893 members from 2015. It was the lowest net loss since 2011. The denomination experienced an all-time low in total member losses, but also an all-time low in total member gains. The complete story by Jerry Van Marter in the Office of the General Assembly can be found at "Membership Statistics."
Children's Defense Fund
plans 'Wear Orange' day
The Children's Defense Fund and advocates across the country are urging everyone to wear orange this Friday, June 2, for its third annual National Gun Violence Awareness Day. Wearing orange will honor the lives of children and teens killed by guns across the nation, and support commonsense gun legislation. Orange is the color that Hadiya Pendleton's friends wore in her honor when she was shot and killed in Chicago at the age of 15, according to the Wear Orange website. Wear-Orange activities can also be tracked on Twitter at the hashtag, #WearOrange.
'Big Tent 2017' reflects
new approach to big gatherings
"How should the church respond when sin disrupts the church's unity, creates division among the children of God, and constructs unjust systems that steal life from God's creation?" This question begins the introduction of the Belhar Confession in the PC(USA)'s "Book of Confessions." Put another way, the question could be: How are these same issues manifested in the way we, as a church body, conduct our national gatherings? Such questions have inspired a new approach to national gatherings. Rather than sweeping into meeting rooms and convention centers and leaving without a trace, Big Tent this July is organized to ensure that participants engage as much with the St. Louis community as they do with each other. The complete story by Mari Graham for the Presbyterian News Service can be found at "New Approach."
Mission Matters' column
addresses church as community
In this month's Mission Matters, a newsletter of the Office of World Mission of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, the Rev. Jose Luis Casal, director of World Mission, reflects on the church as a community of faith where everyone is invited and welcomed. The complete newsletter, including Casal's column, can be found at "Mission Matters." The June/July issue of Presbyterians Today also features World Mission in its current issue. Stories from that issue are available at "Milestones."
Managing editor hired
for social justice journal, Unbound
Unbound, the online social justice journal of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), is getting a new editor. Henry Koenig Stone has been selected to helm the award-winning journal, sponsored by the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy. Stone has a master's degree in public policy and a bachelor's degree from the University of Chicago. His undergraduate work focused on economics and his public policy work has included healthcare analysis as an intern with the Cleveland Clinic. The complete Presbyterian News Service story by Rick Jones can be found at "Unbound Magazine."
|Just one more
Stewart reads Memorial Day message on 'Day 1'
Gordon Stewart, retired Presbyterian minister, read a Memorial Day message from his book, "'Be Still! Departure from Collective Madness," on Day 1, an online library of text, audio and video resources for mainline Protestant churches. The six-minute audio message, titled "Memorial Day and the Soldier's Helmet," can be found at "Day 1."
And a note about Keeping in Touch
Due to scheduled vacations, there will be no Keeping in Touch for the middle of June. The next issue of Keeping in Touch will be published near June 30.