No fewer than 23 “purpose groups” have bubbled up since the Presbytery of the James adopted a new mission and vision for the presbytery that began in 2008  and that emphasizes mission, connection and communication.

The new structure includes fewer, constitutionally-mandated  committees and commissions and has reduced the program structure from five “boards” to three new “teams.” The eight-member teams oversee the work of “purpose groups” — as few as three persons that gather around a specific ministry.

Purpose groups include ministry in racial ethnic and small churches, collegiate ministries, the presbytery’s Camp Hanover, retired church workers, women older adults, youth , world and local mission, support for Haiti rebuilding, disaster response, hunger, new church development, summer internships in partnership with Union Presbyterian Seminary, public policy witness and more.

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — Winterfest 2011, the annual leader development event sponsored by Lehigh Presbytery, will be held March 19 at First Presbyterian Church here.

SEATTLE — “On Wise Ground,” a spiritual leadership and ethics retreat co-sponsored by the presbyteries of Olympia, North Puget Sound, Seattle and Cascades will hold a spiritual leadership and pastors’ workshop April 3-5 at Palisades Retreat and Faith Formation Center in Federal Way, Wash.

Keynote speaker is the Rev. Marjorie Thompson, an author, spiritual director and retreat leader who worked for many years as spiritual director for Upper Room Ministries.

The workshop will be led by Beverley Shrumm of the Samaritan Center of Puget Sound.

HOUSTON — The Presbyterian Youth Connection Council of the Presbytery of New Covenant is sponsoring three youth “conclaves” this winter at the presbytery’s Camp Cho-Yeh.

Under the theme “For such a time as this,” the conclaves will help youth groups grow stronger together, help discover more and better ways to give and serve, and develop more effective ways to reach out to other young people.

Conclaves will be held Feb. 18-20, Feb. 25-27 and March 4-6.

YATESBORO, Pa. — Work has begun on a clean water project in the Gitarama region of Rwanda sponsored by Kiskiminetas Presbytery.

When completed the project will supply fresh water to 1,600 households in Kabadaha, home to a congregation of the Presbyterian Church of Rwanda.

Kiskiminetas has raised more than $27,000 to fund the project.

EAGAN, Minn. — The Synod of Lakes and Prairies reports that Minnesota Public Radio recently featured the Rev. Clifford Canku, a member of Dakota Presbytery, on its “Keeping in Touch” program.

Canku, who teaches Dakota language at North Dakota State University in Fargo, has documented through letters they wrote the experiences of Dakota men imprisoned after the Dakota Conflict of 1862.

Details of their imprisonment, thought to be forever silenced, are emerging in letters that have been uncovered. Hundreds of Native Americans, settlers and soldiers, died in the six-week conflict in the Minnesota River Valley.