EAGAN, Minn.

The Synod of Lakes and Prairies is gearing up for its annual Synod School, July 24-29 at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa.

The theme for this year's event is “All My Relatives.” Convocation speaker is Anna Carter Florence, associate professor of preaching at Columbia Theological Seminary, Decatur, Ga.

Hans Peterson, an elementary music teacher with a master's degree in theology, is slated to be the youth convocation speaker. Worship leaders this year are Susan Phillips, pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Shawano, Wisc., and Mara Liz Rivera, pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Winneconne, Wisc.

A team of pastoral colleagues from the Omaha, Neb., area will lead morning worship ― they're calling it “Morning Psalms with Three Psara(h)s.” The three are Sarah Dickinson, Sara Dingman-Lavigne and Sara Tonje.

SEATTLE ― The Synod of Alaska-Northwest will conduct its annual weeklong seminar on Transitional Ministry Education ― formerly called Interim Ministry Training ― Aug. 1-5 at Palisades Retreat Center in Federal Way, Wa.

The event is intended for those already engaged in interim ministry and those inquiring about the skills needed to lead congregations in these changing times.

Commissioned lay pastors, Committee on Ministry members and Presbytery staff persons and elders with responsibility for congregations in transition will also find the training helpful.

IOWA CITY, Iowa ― LuAnn Astor, a member of First Presbyterian Church of Cedar Rapids in East Iowa Presbytery, returned home from a visit to Brazil in 2006 and said to her mother, “The kids in Fortaleza could really use some new clothes.”

Her vision prompted the birth of the Brazilian Sewing Team (BST) at First Church. Last year the six women who make up BST sewed enough outfits to fill four suitcases. The suitcases were then sent with First Church members Carolyn and David Horton, who traveled to Fortaleza as part of a presbytery-sponsored trip.

BST meets the fourth Tuesday of every month and they cut out material for summer play clothes for both boys and girls ranging in size from 2-12. They do the actual sewing at home. Seldom do they have to purchase fabric since the church members give much of the material.

On “Quarter Days” at Goodwill, they purchase boys’ T-shirts to match the shorts they sew. They also scour garage sales to pick up gently used baby clothing for newborns. Recently, they have begun to tuck small toys into the corners of the suitcases as additional gifts for the children. Pastor Eldia Cortez in Fortaleza said that the kids, “really love the American homemade clothing.” information supplied by Carolyn Horton of First Presbyterian Church, Cedar Rapids

SEATTLE ― Earlier this year, the whole congregation of Sammamish Presbyterian Church in Seattle Presbytery spent four weeks gathering for worship and a new members class —simultaneously.

Pastor Jeff Lincicome hatched an innovative plan with the staff to offer a new member’s class as a sermon series. The result? 78 new members joined the church in a culminating ceremony where all members, new and old, were asked to renew their commitment to be the church.

Along the way, Sammamish Church’s pastoral staff, elders and deacons were all called upon to reach out to these new members.