|April 14, 2017
Christ is risen!
|News around the Synod of Lakes and Prairies
Lakes and Prairies plans
spring meeting at Mt. Olivet
The Synod of Lakes and Prairies will conduct its spring meeting April 30-May 2 at Mt. Olivet Conference and Retreat Center near Farmington, Minn. In addition to the meeting's regular business,
the synod will install officers during its Sunday evening worship services. Synod commissioners have been asked to read "Waking Up White and Finding Myself in the Story of Race," before the meeting. One reviewer described the book as a "
brutally honest, unflinching exploration of race and personal identity." Jennifer Harvey, professor of religion at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, will lead several sessions on racism at the meeting.
Synod School now has 540
As of Thursday this week, the registration total for Synod School has reached 540, according to Mary Kes in the offices of the Synod of Lakes and Prairies. 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'
The Academy, a series of 11 courses "designed to develop well-equipped, thoughtful people to better serve councils in a variety of 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," 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. A new cohort will begin each year at Synod School, while subsequent learning will take 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 on the synod's website at "The Academy."
|Conferences, camps, resources
OGA issues new resources to equip
ruling elders as spiritual leaders
Helping ruling elders in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) function as spiritual leaders in their congregations is the focus of a series of monthly articles set to premiere in mid-April. Titled "Regarding Ruling Elders: A Monthly Series for Spiritual Leaders," the series is free and will be available online in three languages: English, Spanish, and Korean. "Ruling elders are part of the spiritual leadership of the church," says Martha Miller, manager for ruling elder ministries and educator certification in the PC(USA)'s Office of the General Assembly, who is overseeing the project. She envisions the articles as resources to enable elders to fulfill that responsibility. Miller says she hopes the new focus on spiritual leadership will help ruling elders understand how "being an elder is different from serving on a nonprofit board." The complete story by Eva Stimson for the Office of the General Assembly is at "Ruling Elder Series."
UDTS offers 3 online courses
for CREs this summer
The University of Dubuque Theological Seminary will be offering three online courses for commissioned ruling elders this summer. The 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."
Ice is out at Clearwater Forest;
programs are ready to go
Writing in the newsletter of Clearwater Forest, the Presbyterian camp and conference center in the heart of Minnesota's lake country, Rich Swartwood, executive director, noted, "The ice is out early this year and the loons will soon return. That means summer truly is coming. We have a wide range of programs to pique everyone's interest. From our incredible Grands Camps, First Timers, Two-Week Senior High Camp, the Sailing Camps, our new Eco Camps and BWCA Trip Camp, Endless, and our traditional programming, there is a place for you this summer." The complete newsletter is at "Summer Programming."
IRMS offers a variety
of church resources for Earth Day
Each year since 1970, the United States has observed Earth Day on April 22. Noting Genesis 2:15 -- "The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it." -- Sharon Strohmaier, executive director of Iowa Religious Media Services, writes it is "our command and duty as humankind ... to care for our Earth." A list of new Earth Day resources available through IRMS can be found at "Caring for the Earth."
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."
White Privilege Conference
planned April 27-30 in Kansas City
The annual White Privilege Conference is scheduled April 27-30 in Kansas City, Mo. The conference theme is "Organizing. Strategizing. Taking-Action. Deconstructing the Culture of White Supremacy and Privilege: Creating Peace, Equity and Opportunity in the Heartland." Details can be found at "White Privilege Conference."
Great Plains Wee Kirk Conference
takes place in May at Calvin Crest
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."
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 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."
Big Tent registration open;
event runs July 6-8
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."
Newsletter offers resources addressing
change in systems of oppression
Sara Lisherness, director of Compassion, Peace and Justice Ministry of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), notes in the latest edition of Presbyterian Justice & Peace newsletter, "We open our hearts to ministry with people who are oppressed, disenfranchised, and have been driven into situations of need. We open our minds to work to change systems that oppress and disenfranchise God's children." The newsletter provides a link to the PC(USA)'s recently launched campaign, Facing Racism, that will help equip the church to work against racism. The complete newsletter is at "Justice and Peace."
|News from the Board of Pensions
Board of Pensions sets session
on understanding benefits
The Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is planning a one-day seminar May 9 at Yorkfield Presbyterian Church in Elmhurst, Ill., to give church leaders the opportunity to learn about the theological values that shape the benefits plan, ask questions during a Q-and-A with Board of Pensions leadership and staff, and enjoy fellowship with other benefit decision-makers. Details about the event can be found at "Understanding Benefits Plan."
Current Board Connections
newsletter is posted by BOP
The April edition of Board Connections, a newsletter for the Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), has been posted online. The publication highlights recent Board news, updates and information. The current edition announces enhancements to Benefits Connect that make it easy, fast and convenient for employers, members, retirees and survivors to access benefits and information online. The March edition is at "Board Connections.
|News around the PC(USA) and more
PC(USA) stated clerk endorses
new resource on immigration, sanctuary
As Presbyterians increasingly face legal and other issues around providing welcome and hospitality to immigrants, the Immigration Office of the Office of the General Assembly, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), has released a new resource for congregations titled, "Welcome and the Law." General Assembly Stated Clerk J. Herbert Nelson II has issued a letter to the church, commending the new resource. "I extend to you the invitation to discern how you might be called to accompany your neighbors," he writes. "[This resource] will help begin to answer questions you have about the law and help guide your discernment. Please know that I am praying alongside you as you discern with your congregation or larger community about how God is guiding you to respond." Nelson's complete statement can be found at "Welcome and the Law."
All proposed constitutional
amendments have been ratified
All 16 constitutional amendments proposed by the 222nd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) have received the 86 affirmative votes from among the 170 presbyteries needed for ratification. The new provisions will take effect on June 25, one year from the adjournment of the assembly that proposed them. Presbyteries have until that date to vote on the proposals and are encouraged to do so. The complete news story by Jerry Van Marter for the Office of the General Assembly can be found at "Amendments."
Research shows gap between parents,
pastors in objectives for youth ministry
A recent research release from the Barna Group suggests parents and youth ministry leaders have differing views on youth ministry. The report, "Pastors and Parents Differ on Youth Ministry Goals," is derived from the comprehensive "State of Youth Ministry" study released last November in cooperation with youth ministry resource organizations Youth Specialties and YouthWorks. When asked what the objective of youth ministry was within their context, 71 percent of pastors and 75 percent of youth pastors said discipleship and spiritual instruction were high priorities, followed by 40 percent and 48 percent respectively saying building relationships was a top priority. On the other hand, 96 percent of parents say safety is very or somewhat important for youth ministry. The complete Presbyterian News Service Story by Gregg Brekke can be found at "Objectives Gap."
Mainline pastors more likely than
evangelical ministers to preach on race
Close to half of Protestant senior pastors have recently preached on racial reconciliation and more have publicly prayed about it, but few find that their congregations are urging them to address the topic. A new LifeWay Research survey also finds that most pastors have not addressed economic inequities in their communities or joined a public lament about racial injustice. "It seems like most congregations are eager for somebody else to do the work of reconciliation," said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research, "rather than embrace it for themselves." The complete Religion News Service story by Adelle M. Banks can be found at "Racial Reconciliation."
Immigrants, refugees are God's
Basing her comments on Ephesians 2:19, Rhashell D. Hunter, director of the Presbytery Mission Agency's Office of Racial Ethnic and Women's Ministries, wrote, "We have heard a lot lately about the U.S. government's policy changes regarding immigration. The rhetoric that surrounds this discussion not only affects immigrants and refugees but affects us all. ... We approach this conversation not from the standpoint of those who propose policies or even from the view of those in churches who welcome immigrants and refugees, though we are grateful for these congregations. In Racial Ethnic and Women's Ministries, we are immigrants and refugees. We are opening our front doors, rolling down our car windows, and leaving our houses of worship and being approached and asked to prove that we are citizens or legal residents, often based solely upon our profile." Hunter's complete comments can be found in this week's issue of her office's newsletter. It's at "Immigrants and Refugees."
Presbyterian leaders react
to executive order on clean power
U.S. President Donald Trump's recent decision to revive the coal industry and closely scrutinize the previous administration's Clean Power Act is being met with strong opposition among leaders in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). While the president promises the action will create jobs, many say the executive order, signed last week, will set the country back years in environmental progress. "The General Assemblies of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) for decades have passed policies that share concern for God's creation, our obligation to be good stewards of the natural world, and our role in reducing energy dependence, promoting renewable and sustainable energy use, and otherwise caring for the earth," said the Rev. Rebecca J. Barnes, coordinator of the Presbyterian Hunger Program. The complete Presbyterian News Service story by Rick Jones can be found at "Environment."
PC(USA) ministries raise awareness
of South Sudan famine, unrest
Several ministries of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) have issued alerts and provided information on their activities in response to the ongoing conflict in South Sudan. According to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), 1.61 million people are internally displaced and another 751,000 people have escaped into neighboring countries, including Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda, since conflict broke out in 2013. Additionally, at least 79 aid workers have been killed in the country since December 2013, including seven in recent weeks. Presbyterian mission co-workers Shelvis and Nancy Smith-Mather recently returned to the area as a part of the South Sudan Education and Peacebuilding Project. The complete Presbyterian News Service story by Gregg Brekke can be found at "South Sudan."
Presbyterian ministries help people
of Peru in midst of heavy rains, floods
Heavy rains, mudslides and flooding continue to wreak havoc on parts of Peru, leaving nearly a hundred people dead and hundreds of thousands without homes. The South American country was caught off guard by the rains that began in mid-January but grew worse in the past few weeks causing severe flooding and subsequent mudslides in the region. "Some intense rain began to hit the northern part of the country in the mountainous regions," said Jed Hawkes Koball, mission co-worker, who's been living in Lima for eight years. "In a typical El Nino year, the meteorologists can predict these storms months in advance and be prepared, but this happened almost overnight and no one saw it coming." The complete Presbyterian News Service story by Rick Jones can be found at "Peru Floods."
PC(USA) partners respond
to Palm Sunday terror attacks in Egypt
Two Coptic Orthodox churches in Egypt were the subject of suicide bombings on Palm Sunday, April 9, killing 44 and wounding 126. The first attack occurred at St. George Coptic Orthodox Church in Tanta, about 50 miles north of Cairo. The second occurred at St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Alexandria, on the Mediterranean coast. ... Dr. Andrea Zaki, president of the Protestant Council of Egypt, explained, "The terrorists are trying to hit Egypt, but we are maintaining unity and solidarity in our country and nothing will stop us from standing [in loyalty] with our nation." He then observed that the Evangelical Presbyterian Church had opened the American Hospital in Tanta to the government for the care of the wounded. Reda Adly, moderator of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Egypt, commonly known as the Synod of the Nile, spoke on behalf of his church through social media, writing, "I declare our unity and solidarity with the Coptic Orthodox Church, in Egypt and the world." The complete Presbyterian News Service story by Michael Parker can be found at "United in Egypt."
De La Rosa releases latest
edition of 'Keeping Faith'
Tony De La Rosa, interim executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, has released the latest installment of his video newsletter, "Keeping Faith." It features three short video stories of what Presbyterians are doing together in Puerto Rico. The video can be found at "Keeping Faith."
|Just one more
Cubs fans ... reason for optimism?
Your editor's good friend Tom Willadsen, who has been pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Oshkosh, Wis., for many years, is a Cubs fan. Really. He writes humor. The two often go together. As the new baseball season began, he wrote, "
It has been an odd winter at the Willadsen house. One of the reliable facts of life has been taken from us. The Cubs have spent the hot-stove season as defending World Series champions for the first time since the Roosevelt administration -- the Theodore Roosevelt administration. His complete column, published by the USA Today Network-Wisconsin, can be found at "Cubs and Optimism."