The Valley Bridge
The weekly newsletter from the
Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys
March 7, 2018
 We are congregations who seek to be a collective expression of the Body of Christ, 
joyfully participating in Christ's ongoing life and work. "Therefore encourage one 
another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing." 
(I Thessalonians 5:11)
Transformation 2018 Ministry Event
Location: First Presbyterian Church, St. Cloud, Minnesota
April 5-7, 2018

Please register by March 14! Hotels are filling fast due to a hockey tournament in Saint Cloud, so make your lodging reservations now. You may choose to let  Karen know your attendance plans by email, and send your $60 to the presbytery office (4055 Abbott Drive, Willmar MN 56201).
Info needed:
City/State/Zip Code
Email Address
Special needs, including dietary
Workshop Choices for
Thursday Afternoon
Thursday Evening
Friday Morning
Friday Afternoon 1
Friday Afternoon 2

The cost for registration is $60, which includes lunch on Thursday and Friday, dinner on Thursday and breakfast on Sunday -- a fantastic deal! Pastors are asked to bring a group of folks from their congregation.

Minnesota Valleys Presbytery is partnering with Midwest Initiative for Leading Transition to host a two and half day transformation training event. The event is designed for congregation teams and will focus on the complexity of leading churches through a transformation process. The faculty will address the misconceptions of the one size fits most concepts of church growth strategies. Trained in building the capacities of leaders to enter systems, coach change and resourcing various congregational systems this event will assist participants in retooling for ministry in the 21st century.

Participants can expect to return home with a greater understanding of:
  • Leading change in the 21st Century Church
  • Working within systems
  • Cultural and systemic challenges to ministry today
  • Transformation models
  • Vocational Discernment
  • Visioning for the future
Congregation of the week of March 11-17
First Presbyterian Church of Dawson
Pastor: Rev. Herbert Rotunda (UCC)
Clerk of Session: Stan Menning
Session: Dr. Thomas Hansen, Melva Larson, Deb Koester, Vallerie Sather, Danny Lee
We are in our 18th year of a shared ministry with the Appleton UCC. Our members volunteer to maintain our buildings and grounds. Church members can be found delivering meals, providing rides and assisting with other community needs. Through worship and visitation we promote God's ongoing presence in all areas of our lives. We look forward to being the host for the November Presbytery meeting.
Good Old Church

Last week I had the privilege of being with three congregations in the presbytery. I made blankets at the mid-week Lenten service at First Presbyterian Willmar for the United Community Action Project. I participated with family and friends gathered to provide witness to George Buchin's life and ministry at Brainerd. As colleagues, we stood in faith claiming our belief in the Church visible and invisible. Although I did not know George personally, I was right at home knowing that he was a minister member of this presbytery. Sunday, I worshiped with St. James Church and enjoyed watching a congregation filled with expectation as they wait for their new pastor and anticipate their future ministry. On Ash Wednesday, I worshiped with Spicer Harrison Church and witnessed the ecumenical gathering of Presbyterians and Lutherans. Additionally, I had the pleasure of worshiping with Crosslake and the Silver Lake congregations. The Crosslake folk promised to take me fishing in the spring. Silver Lake is a congregation that welcomes you like family. They also have delicious cake during coffee hour.

When we speak of Church, two emotions are triggered: inspiration or drudgery. We are either inspired by what Church is or find ourselves caught in the rote practice of doing church for church sake. Over the next few Sundays, I will be worshiping with several congregations, and I am looking forward to each visit. This one of the best parts of this work being with the people of the presbytery.
  • It's relationship building
  • Making the connections
  • Being present
  • Resourcing
  • Supporting
  • Standing with
  • Church!
Acts 2:44-47 "All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved."

As noted in the Book of Acts, Church is the place where community is built among those in search of God. It is true God can be found outside of church and in many places. Church should be the one place where those who gather can experience God. Worship is a full sensory experience. In tangible ways, we are invited to leave the world behind and enter a spiritual place where our minds are elevated from earthly challenges and worries to heavenly realities. In scripture, we hear of Jesus laughing and touching sinners, lepers, and the sick. Christ listened to music, attended weddings, smelled and tasted good food. We hear of God, who is not way up there but present down here. We learn about human things, a mixture of joy, pain, and suffering. We learn that there is nothing new under the sun. We discover that there is something transformative about giving up and letting go of things that prevent us from being our best selves...children of God.

A Sunday school teacher asked her children, as they were on the way to church service, "why is it necessary to be quiet in church?" One bright little girl replied, "Because a lot of people are sleeping."

I believe many would agree that the Church is asleep. Sleep is defined as inactivity and a periodic suspension of consciousness. Sleep is the opposite of watchfulness or readiness. Sleep as a metaphor for decline could mean that we are giving up and waiting for the last person to leave and cut the lights off. Sleep could mean that we are indifferent to the challenges of the world and we are waiting for others to take action. Sleep could also mean that the fires within our soul are burning low and we no longer worship and serve God with the same fervor as we once did. In your opinion, what would it look like if your congregations were fully awake?

This Lent I hope that church will continue to be the place where you find God and find authentic community. I additionally hope that people will find in your houses of worship a place for spiritual renewal. If perhaps some are prodigals I hope that they will be welcomed home with open arms. My prayer for the presbytery is that we would be fully awake in all we do so that our witness is strong and we can experience God in ways that are beyond our imaginations.

Book Discussion scheduled

SanDawna is inviting us to read The Pleasure of God: Finding Grace in the Ordinary by J. Ellsworth Kalas. A book discussion webinar is scheduled for March 28 at 1:00 p.m. Readers, let Karen ( know your email address, and she will email out a link to the scheduled Zoom. If you are new to Zoom and would like to practice getting on a Zoom conference, Karen can set one up for you, just let her know.
What is transformation? Can you define transformation in 20 words or less?
Please take a moment and answer this question as creatively as possible. All out-of-the-box thinking is welcome. Your responses will be posted on the presbytery's website and used at the upcoming Transformation Training.
Calling all Elders and Deacons! Please register (or re-register) for this postponed event.

On Saturday, March 24 from 10:00 - 2:00 p.m., officer training will be held at the First Presbyterian Church, Redwood Falls 235 East 4th Street). Deb DeMeester, Director of Leadership at the Synod of Lakes and Prairies will offer a keynote about leadership in 2018. Then after lunch clerks of sessions, deacons and ruling elders will have their own sessions led by Lynn Olson, Galen Smith and Pamela Prouty. Worship will also be part of the day. This training is for active and inactive church officers as well as anyone who wants to learn more about leadership in the local church.  Please RSVP by Monday, March 19 to Karen Lange at the Presbytery office at, so lunch can be planned accordingly.
New Book of Common Worship

The Book of Common Worship, 2018 edition, will be published in 3 editions in Spring 2018. See the following link for more information:
Links to Resources

From Church Mutual:
From the Insurance Board:
Keep scrolling down the page for lots more resources!

Employee Assistance Program
from the Board of Pensions
The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a confidential resource included with your healthcare benefits at no cost to you. The EAP can help you with a variety of personal concerns, from handling everyday stress and anxiety, to dealing with disasters and other traumatic events, to achieving better work/life balance. The program offers phone, video-based, and in-person support, personalized assistance, and referrals to licensed counselors and professional resources in your community.

Who's Eligible
You must be
  • an active member enrolled in Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield PPO or EPO
  • an eligible family member (regardless of residence)
  • any person living in an active member's household (not necessarily a member of the plan)
The EAP is not available to those enrolled in the Medicare Supplement Plan.

Annual Report Forms Are Now Overdue

Pastors and Commissioned Ruling Elders, here are links to this year's annual report forms. The deadline to return them to the presbytery office was March 1.
What an educational bargain!!!

Edith Alvarez
For just $250 a year you, your family, your church, your organization could educate the child of a pastor in our sister Occidente Presbytery, Guatemala. This would include enough money to buy a uniform, a pair of shoes, books, and other school supplies and might mean the difference between a child's being able to attend school or not. Pastors in Guatemala earn very little money and are often forced to hold one or two jobs other than preaching to provide for their family. The Occidente Committee on Ministry selects which children receive scholarships based on need.

Thank you from Gener David Ramos Lec, Scholarship Recipient
Occidente Presbytery, 2017
Sololá, Guatemala
December 1, 2017
Brethren of Minnesota Presbytery, U.S.A.
Brethren, I hope that you are receiving many of God's blessings.

Brethren, thanks to God and to you, I finally finished my second year of middle school. I had one subject (math) that I didn't pass the first time, but was able to pass with the second set of exams. Along with this letter I am sending two certificates from my school showing that I did pass everything for the year.
I ask that you help me pray for this next year to know what field of study God wants me to follow. I will continue praying that you might be able to help many children with their studies.

I am sending my picture where you can see the tower in the park in Sololá.
Until later.

Gener David Rampos Lec

Note: There are two school documents certifying that Gener did pass all of his subjects in 2017.

The school year in Guatemala begins in January; in order to get the scholarship money sent in time for preparation, it needs to be sent in October. If you would like to help, money should be sent to the Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys, 4055 Abbott Drive, Willmar, MN 56201 by early October. Indicate that it is for a Guatemalan scholarship. We do not reveal who the donors are to the recipients to avoid further requests for financial assistance, but we do try to provide you with a photo, academic record and thank you note of a recipient.

If you have any questions, contact Edith at 218-963-4812.
Mozart's Requiem to be performed in Saint Peter and New Ulm

Submitted by Sara McKay

Several members of Union Presbyterian Church in St. Peter are involved in two performances of the Mozart Requiem in March. On Sunday, March 11 at 2:30 p.m. the St. Peter Choral Society will present this rarely-heard work with professional orchestra at the Catholic Church of St. Peter, 1801 W. Broadway Avenue. One week later, March 18 at 3 p.m., there will be a second performance at the Cathedral of the Holy trinity in New Ulm, 605 N. State Street., as the final concert in the series to celebrate the J.H. Nordlie Pipe Organ restoration. Tickets are $15 at the door, but may be purchased at Swedish Kontur, St. Peter or New Ulm HyVee in advance for $12. Students are admitted free of charge.

Directed by Sara McKay, soloists are Naomi Karstad, soprano, Katha Chamberlain, alto, Roy Heilman, tenor and Michael Jorgensen, bass, with guest organists David Fienen at the St. Peter concert and Nathan Knutson at the New Ulm concert.
Steering Congregations to Formational Resources

The Commission on Congregational Transformation and Development exists to resource congregations. We have identified six critical areas: discipleship, evangelism, mission, spiritual leadership, stewardship and worship. Each area has one or two individuals who serve as point persons. The point person's goal is to steer you in the right direction toward valuable resource. Please let us know how we can come alongside of your congregation.

DiscipleshipAnne Veldhuisen,, 507-215-5617
Evangelism: Randy Knuth,, 712-540-8243
Evangelism :  Darlene Scherbing,, 320-292-2610
Mission: Richard Lawrence, , 320-260-9639
Mission: Kathy Terpstra,, 320-815-8158
Spiritual Leadership: Tom Voigt, , 612-875-6398
Stewardship: Rick Hauge, , 507-829-5227
Worship: Darin Seaman, , 320-251-8277
Pastoral Leadership Opportunities

The following congregation within the bounds of our presbytery is currently seeking pastoral leadership:

First Presbyterian Church, Fulda - Solo Pastor, 3/4 time up to full-time
   Ministry Information Form -  03782.AD1

Randall Presbyterian Church, Randall
- Pastor
   Ministry Information Form - 03892.AC1

Faith Presbyterian Church, Silver Lake - Part-time Solo Pastor
   Ministry Information Form -  03851.ACO

The Ministry Information Forms for these opportunities are posted on the Church Leadership Connection web site --
Synod School Catalog is online!

Registration open!

Even though the catalog is here, registration doesn't begin until March 1. For now, however, browse the catalog to see what Synod School offers, and take a look through the class list to see what interests you. In an environment of hospitality, healing and hope, Synod School offers so much.

This year ...

We're planning 76 classes for adults, running the gamut from fun to serious, from entertaining to informative, and almost always at the same time. There will also be a full program for children and youth.

Convocation Speaker:  Jason Santos
Worship Leader:  Jana Childers
Music Leader:  Hans Peterson, Dakota Road
Artist in Residence:  Gina Penn, dancer

Live Generously. Live Happier:

Lessons from "The Generosity Project"
Saturday, March 10 from 9:00 - 2:00
Southwest Minnesota State University (SMSU)/Marshall
Conference Center, Marshall, MN
Livestream Option Available

"The Generosity Project"    is designed to equip your congregation-and especially family units or single persons--- in the spiritual practice of generosity. It teaches "why" and "how to" talk about generosity, stewardship, abundance and money practices. It does this through a day filled with interactive, fun, full of laughter, faith centered lessons and practices. Begin 2018 by learning so you can bring these practices to your setting. Join us as together we learn to "live generously and live happier" 

Please register online by  clicking here
  • Registration Cost is Free! Resource materials and snack are included. The event costs are provided by the Lilly Grant and our Embrace God's Mission + Equip God's People Funding Initiative.
  • Non-SW MN Synod groups and other denominations are welcome. Lunch will not be provided. SMSU will have snacks provided but groups must pay for their own lunch at the SMSU cafeteria or other locations.
All groups are invited to make a contribution to the Funding Initiative, but not required. Send gifts to: SW MN Synod, PO Box 499, Redwood Falls, MN 56283. To make an online gift  click here.

To receive the Livestream link you must register online.
Livestream groups commit to have at least 4-6+ persons in attendance in their location and provide their own technical support at that location re: video and audio projection. 

 From Southwestern Minnesota Synod (ELCA)
  submitted by Deb Hess
Mosaic of Peace Conference

Witnessing for Peace and Wholeness in a Land called 'Holy'
A Presbyterian Peacemaking Conference in Israel/Palestine
April 29-May 12, 2018

For more information, including a sample conference schedule and information from past conferences, visit or contact the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program at 800-728-7228 x5805 or 502-569-5805.

Leadership and Anxiety in the Church: 

  A Family Systems Perspective 


This is one-day workshop looks at the challenges presented by the rising levels of anxiety being experienced in churches today, as well as the role that self-differentiated leadership can play in calming such anxiety. You will learn practical skills that will help you defuse anxious situations and maintain a non-anxious presence. This interdenominational workshop will be hosted by Minnetonka United Methodist Church in Minnetonka, MN on May 16, 2018. It is sponsored by the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center in Lombard, IL. Discounts are available for individuals and church groups who register by May 2, 2018. For more information about this workshop, click here. To register or to download a group discount coupon, click here

Six New Things
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