SEATTLE — The Synod of Alaska-Northwest reestablished an old tradition by holding its annual assembly this summer at Whitworth University in Spokane, WA. The meeting was held in conjunction with the 34th annual Whitworth Institute of Ministry.

A sizable portion of the meeting was given over to task forces of the synod, established to consider ministry ideas that have been bubbling up around the synod around the issues of program grants, leadership development, communication, rural and remote ministries, and veterans’ ministries.

The Synod Council had allocated $230,000 of restricted funds from previous program efforts and endowment accounts to begin to be allocated by the Grants Task Force. Eleven grant applications were received prior to the meeting and the Task Force was able to allocate $64,670.35 to support congregations and ministries on the front lines.

After hearing from Whitworthians Tim Dolan and President Bill Robinson, the synod’s Leadership Task Force challenged the assembly to move from a delegated assembly to a non-delegated “synod school” to partner with presbyteries to work on leadership development.

The Communications Task Force took a tour of Whitworth’s computer servers, which provide web hosting, email, and a church database program for the synod’s member congregations and presbyteries. The Task Force developed a working plan to share these amazing technical resources with presbyteries across the Synod.

The Rural/Remote Ministries Task Force spent time with the Rev. King Rockhill, a United Methodist minister and founder of the Rural Resource Network, The task force examined current programs and strategized about how the synod can better serve its myriad small and remote congregations.

The Veteran’s Task Force — comprised entirely of veterans and military personnel in active service — met with Presbyterian military chaplains George Meister and Tim Loney. They discussed the need for training for congregations who wish to minister with military families and a certificate program that designates trained congregations as “military friendly.”  

Participants visited the Latah Valley New Church Development, the pride of Inland Northwest Presbytery.  

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — The Helping Hands Care Team of Lehigh Presbytery has scheduled two more trips to the Missippi gulf coast to continue the rebuilding of the region after Hurricane Katrina.

The trips are scheduled for Oct. 24-Nov. 1 and Oct. 31-Nov. 8.

The groups will stay at Long Beach (MS) Presbyterian Church and work on rebuilding homes in the area.

HOUSTON — The Committee on Ministry of New Covenant Presbytery has convened an Action-Learning Team (ALT) to brainstorm new ways of strengthening the presbytery’s congregations.

Churches will be given evaluative tools to use periodically so they can step back from the day-to-day “to see if they are heading for success or heading for the proverbial ditch.”

Some ideas already being considered are church-to-church assistance rather than all resources coming from the presbytery center; greater use of telecommunications technology; gathering and sharing “best practices”; cluster-wide gatherings and sharing of resources; building peer support for clerks of session, treasurers, Christian education leaders, music leaders, etc; and applying new church development techniques to redevelopment ministries.