The Valley Bridge
The weekly newsletter from the
Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys
September 20, 2017
 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)
Regular Presbytery office hours are 8:00 - 5:00 Monday - Friday
Congregation of the week: September 24-30
Harrison Presbyterian Church of Spicer
  Dennis Peterson, Clerk of Session
  Sandy Christiansen, Treasurer 
  Donnel Wlliamson, Youth Leader
  Lori Dietz, Secretary
  Cheri Ladwig, Organist/Pianist
  Bessie Klose, PW Moderator
  Kathy Terpstra, Lay Pastor
Prayer Concerns:
  Planning for our 150th Anniversary on May 20
  New Youth Group forming
  Members in Care Centers
  Farmers during the  harvest season
  Our sister congregation in Guatemala
How to Spell Evangelism
September 24th is Evangelism Sunday for the PC(U.S.A.). Congregations are encouraged to focus on evangelism in worship. Throughout history evangelism has borne a misunderstood reputation. Often, it is believed that evangelism is passing out tracts, knocking on doors, and asking strangers, "Do you love Jesus?" or "Are you Saved?" For some Presbyterians, evangelism is a four letter word. It is not something that we do...other denominations do that, but not us.  More recently, our denomination has tried to grasp what evangelism is and how it is a part our faith tradition.

First, evangelism is not about talking people into beliefs. According to Martha Grace Reese, author of Unbinding Your Heart, evangelism is about "love of God, love of church and love of others." Reese states "people who share their faith love God and believe that other people's lives would be better if they were in relationship with God too." In the book Unbinding Your Heart, readers are asked the following questions:
  • What difference does being a Christian make in your life?
  • Have you ever known what it was like to not have faith?
  • Has God sustained you in moments of anguish?
  • Has God given you blessings beyond all measure, a second chance at life or love or joy?
The answers to the above questions, when told by individuals, make up one's Gospel Narrative. You alone can tell this story.

Second, congregations committed to evangelism engage in sharing their corporate and private faith. The motive behind their action is not about just church growth, getting more young people in church, or stewardship. The motive is one of love. Evangelism is a part of mission engagement. With intentionality, evangelism seeks to impact the lives of individuals and communities through reflecting on Scripture, society, the systems around us, justice, trends, and culture. Missional evangelism makes us partners with Christ in the world through our witness of word and deeds.

Third, faith sharing grows out of relationship-Philip found Nathanael and told him, "we have found the One Moses wrote about in the Law" and the woman at the well said "come see a man, who told me everything I ever did." I Peter 3:15 says "But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect" (NIV).  Timing is essential in evangelism when, what, and how to engage a person in conversation about the faith should be inspired by the Holy Spirit.

A study by Duke Divinity School revealed that pastors and parishioners struggle in sharing their faith. In many ways evangelism seems like a well-learned art. I believe this over complicates this spiritual discipline. The more comfortable we become in telling our gospel narrative, the easier it will become. Our relationship with Christ is not a closet relationship. We must move beyond thinking that it is impolite to talk about faith in public. If you cannot explain the entire Bible, talk about what you know. If we share our faith with gentleness and respect, we will not run the risk of offending others. Evangelism is essence a four letter Love of God, love of church, and love for the people whose lives are not centered in a relationship with Christ.

To learn more about evangelism, see:
  • Martha Grace Reese. Unbinding Your Heart. Chalice Press.
  • Kenda Creasy Dean. Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers is Telling the American Church. Oxford University Press.
  • Scott Jones. The Evangelistic Love of God and Neighbor: A Theology of Witness and Discipleship. Abingdon.
  • Darrell Guder. Missional Church: A Vision for the Sending of the Church in North America. Eerdmans Press.
Buckets for Hurricane Relief

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance needs buckets! They are currently out of clean-up buckets to be sent to areas affected by flooding in Texas and Florida, etc. First Presbyterian Church in St. Cloud has secured a (donated!) semi truck to ship as many buckets as we can to the PDA warehouse in Little Rock, Arkansas. What once was a congregational challenge to "adopt a bucket" in St. Cloud has now become a call to "Fill the truck." We'll take your completed buckets and include them in our shipping. Or, don't have the time or interest to shop for items and assemble the buckets? We'll also take donations (money or specific items on the list). We are currently arranging with local retailers to order items by the case and then will assemble the clean-up buckets here. We are hoping to ship by mid-to-late October. The need is real, folks. Consider how you and your congregation, family, workplace, neighborhood might choose to respond. This is not to replace your congregation's or personal giving to the PDA ministry - this is a tangible way to encourage those who've thought about how to respond to Hurricane Relief but haven't yet, or want to do more. Contact Mark Giese ( at First Presbyterian Church in St. Cloud for more info, or with specific questions and/or donations. Ph. 320-251-8277  Or visit to download a list along with more info. 

Per Capita

(from the Office of the General Assembly)

Per capita funding is how Presbyterians mutually share the costs of coming together to discern the Spirit's leading for the future.  It is how Presbyterians are trained to become better elders and ministers.  It is how Presbyterians discern God's call in their lives.
It is how Presbyterians participate in the life of the wider church by serving on GA committees and commissions.  It is how Presbyterians participate in the life of the Church universal as we commit ourselves to work and live in fellowship with "all persons in every nation" (Book of Order, G-4.0101)

The Westminster Confession of Faith says, "all believers are, therefore, under obligation to sustain the ordinances of the Christian religion where they are already established, and to contribute by their prayers, gifts, and personal efforts to the extension of the Kingdom of Christ throughout the whole earth" (The Book of Confessions, 6.058).

Per capita is a fundamental way in which all of the nearly 11,000 congregations and mid councils of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) are connected and participate in the work of the wider church.

Because it is rooted in the connectional and covenantal nature of the Presbyterian church, as affirmed by the ordination vows taken by elders and ministers of the Word and Sacrament, per capita could be called the Presbyterian Covenant Community Fund.

Per capita is as important as being Presbyterian!  Read further and you will discover why.
This site offers interpretive and educational materials about per capita funds at the General Assembly level of the PC(USA).

The 222nd General Assembly (2016) approved an increase in Per Capita Apportionment of 38 cents for 2017 and an additional 23 cents for 2018. This is to cover general operating  budget needs and financial implications approved by commissioners of the General Assembly. The approved rates are now $7.50 for 2017 and $7.73 for 2018.
Our Radically Connectional Church

by Michael Jinkins (from March 2007 Presbyterians Today)

At first glance a Presbyterian understanding of the "connectional church" promises to be about as exciting as a brown paper bag - like the one I put my peanut butter sandwich in this morning. Other distinctively Presbyterian beliefs - like the doctrine of total depravity - pack some sizzle. Predestination: now that's a doctrine you can sink your teeth into. But connectionalism? Yawn.

In fact, however, the theological ideas underlying connectionalism are rich and wonderfully grounded in the Bible and in the life of the church stretching back over 20 centuries. Arguably more blood has been spilled and more hearts broken around this concept than any other in the church's history. The words that fly when the church's connectionalism is called into question - words like schism, heresy, orthodoxy, secession, dissenters, apostates - are among the most inflammatory in the lexicon of faith.

Far from being a yawnfest, the church's understanding of connectionalism is a minefield. What is needed most here is light, not more heat.

A revolutionary message

The New Testament understands the church as a spiritually organic reality. The relationship between Jesus and his disciples is not just that between a charismatic leader and his followers or a gifted teacher and his students, but is (according to John's Gospel) like that between a vine and its branches and (according to Paul) like that between a human body and its head.

"I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:5). In a manner reminiscent of the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus calls his disciples "salt" and "the light of the world," Jesus tells his disciples in John's Gospel quite simply who they are. Jesus does not say, "You ought to be branches! You ought to get connected to me!" But, "You are the branches." Our life together flows from God for the sake of others.

Similarly Paul tells the Christians in Rome: "For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another" (Romans 12: 4-5). Paul expands on this theme in his letter to the querulous Corinthians: "Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot would say, 'Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,' that would not make it any less a part of the body...." (1 Corinthians 12:14-20).

The Biblical understanding of the church as the body of Christ was as revolutionary 2000 years ago as it is today. Imagine how some of the original disciples must have rolled their eyes when Jesus introduced Simon the Zealot and Levi the tax collector into their fellowship. Zealots were Jewish resistance fighters sworn to overthrow the occupying Roman army. Tax collectors were not the same as the county officials we know today; they were collaborators with the Roman imperial occupation who sold out their own people for a cut of the tax revenues.

But notice this: the disciples did not choose to affiliate with one another; they were chosen by Jesus. Only Christ, only the call of Christ, brought these people together as disciples. Jesus' free claim on them was what they had in common.

Thus Paul's message: Hands and feet don't join a body because they see the world the same way. Ribs do not affiliate with ears because they share similar beliefs. Organs of the body are formed and knitted together by the creative love of God. What God hath joined together, let no one put asunder.

Love in the midst of squabbles

A message from the wedding service is, incidentally, not out of place in this context. We miss the real significance of Paul's most eloquent chapter (1 Corinthians 13) when we rip it from its intended context to use it as an ornament in the celebration of romantic love. The great love chapter was intended to be read in the midst of a church squabble rather than at a wedding.

Love is the life-giving force that streams from vine to branches bearing fruit, the lifeblood of the body of Christ. We need to rescue Paul's description of love from the sentimentality of the greeting card aisle in the supermarket and restore it to the deliberations of congregations, sessions, presbyteries and General Assemblies. When Paul speaks of the church as the body of Christ, he reminds us of a far more basic reality than the narrow interests of affiliation groups and our endless debates about whose values and beliefs are better or more pious.

Our unity does not lie in our points of agreement, but in Jesus Christ alone. We are united, not because we have found the secret to consensus, but because Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit unites us in and through and to himself.

Read more
Patty Wetterling speaking in Litchfield

First Presbyterian Church of Litchfield is hosting public speaker,  Patty Wetterling, to speak to the community of Litchfield. This event  will be September 26th, 2017 from 7-8:30pm, in the Bernie Aaker Auditorium.

This event ties in to LPC's challenge to be a part of the world wide  Courageous Conversation movement that speaks out on violence.

We are excited to bring such a prominent personality to our community  to address the constant concern of child safety and sexual predator  awareness.

On behalf of the Christian Community Committee, Rosie Graphenteen, Kay  Hanson, Judy Holmes, Amy Levinski, Stephanie Rech, & Pastor Gordy  Pennertz
Teaching Fish to Walk: Church Systems and Adaptive Challenge
featuring Dr. Peter L. Steinke

Today's culture offers us both great challenges and opportunities for ministry. Easy answers won't cut it; we need to change and adapt. That's hard work. But there are people who can guide us.

"Teaching Fish to Walk: Church Systems and Adaptive Challenge," will draw on the deep and long experience of Dr. Peter L. Steinke, author and internationally respected church consultant. The workshop will begin with lunch at 12:00 noon on Monday, November 13, and conclude at 12:00 noon, Tuesday, November 14, 2017, at Mt. Olivet Conference and Retreat Center in Farmington, Minnesota.

This lifelong learning event will support and equip congregations in their exploration of faithful means to follow the Holy Spirit into a changing world. Clergy, Commissioned Pastors, and lay leaders are encouraged to attend as individuals or by forming a small team from a congregation. Through support from the Presbytery of Twin Cities Area and the Omaha Presbyterian Seminary Foundation, we are able to keep the cost reasonable.


  • $100 ... Resident Rate
Five sessions with Peter Steinke, lodging on-site (double-room), three meals (lunch and dinner Monday, breakfast Tuesday), and all workshop materials.
All rooms are double rooms, in order to maximize on-site participation. You will be assigned a roommate unless both you and your desired roommate list each other on your registration form.
  • $80 ... Non-Resident Rate
Five sessions with Peter Steinke, two meals (lunch and dinner Monday), and all workshop materials.
Registration for Presbyterian Church USA teaching elders and leaders opens Wednesday, September 20.
If there are open slots, other denominational clergy and leaders will be invited to register beginning Monday, September 25, 2017.

Contact Jeff Japinga, executive presbyter, PTCA:, 651-357-1150. 
New Books of Order Are Here!

The 2017-2019 Books of Order have arrived. If you would like to order one, please let Karen at the Presbytery office know; the cost is $9. This Book of Order is the most recent up-to-date copy; it is important for every congregation to have at least one copy of the newest Books of Order. It is also available on the website. If you have questions, please ask.

Claim these donated books

We recently received a generous donation of books for giveaway. Those in the Lay Academy may find them especially helpful. Please contact Karen at the presbytery office to claim yours and arrange for pickup or shipping (at your cost).
  • The New Interpreter's Bible, Vols. 1-12, Abingdon Press
  • Companion to the Constitution: Polity for the Local Church, Presbyterian Church (USA), 1999
  • The Book of Confessions, 1996, Presbyterian Church (USA)
  • A Theological Introduction to the Old Testament, by Bruce C. Birch, Walter Brueggemann, Terence E. Fretheim & David L. Petersen
  • Practicing Our Faith, by Dorothy C. Bass
  • A History of Israel, by John Bright
  • A Moment to Decide: The Crisis in Mainstream Presbyterianism, Research prepared by Lewis C. Daly
  • The New Pastor's Guide to Leading Worship, by Barbara Day Miller
  • Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew, by Bart D. Ehrman
  • Encountering the New Testament: A Historical and Theological Survey, by Walter A. Elwell, Robert W. Yarbrough
  • The New Testament: A Critical Introduction, by Edwin D. Freed
  • Essential Theological Terms, by Justo L. Gonzalez
  • Presbyterian Polity for Church Officers, Third Edition, by Joan S. Gray, Joyce C. Tucker
  • Finding God in the Questions: A Personal Journey, by Dr. Timothy Johnson
  • The Left Hand of God: Taking Back Our Country from the Religious Right, by Michael Lerner
  • The Witness of Preaching, Second Edition, by Thomas G. Long
  • Introducing the Reformed Faith: Biblical Revelation, Christian Tradition, Contemporary Significance, by Donald K. McKim
  • Finding Your Religion: When the Faith You Grew Up with Has Lost Its Meaning, by Rev. Scotty McLennan
  • First Easter: The True and Unfamiliar Story in Words and Pictures by Paul L. Maier
  • Theology for Liberal Presbyterians and Other Endangered Species, by Douglas F. Ottati
  • American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century, by Kevin Phillips
  • Reformed Worship, by Howard L. Rice and James C. Huffstutler
  • Why Religion Matters: The Fate of the Human Spirit in an Age of Disbelief, by Huston Smith
  • The Story of the Reformation, by William Stevenson
  • Soul Feast: An Invitation to the Christian Spiritual Life, by Marjorie J. Thompson
  • Litanies and Other Prayers for the Common Lectionary, Year C, by Everett Tilson, Phyllis Cole
  • The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life in God, by Dallas Willard
  • Creating a Life with God: The Call of Ancient Prayer Practices, by Daniel Wolpert
  • The Challenge of Jesus: Rediscovering Who Jesus Was and Is, by N.T. Wright
  • Lent for Everyone: A Daily Devotional, Matthew, Year A, by N.T. Wright
  • The Evolution of God, by Robert Wright
Commission/Committee Members and General Assembly Commissioners, alternate and YAADS sought
The Commission on Representation (COR) will be meeting in late September to begin their work to fill all the presbytery commissions and committees. Also they will be reviewing applications received to be a General Assembly Teaching/Ruling Elder commissioner, alternate or Young Adult Advisory Delegate. If you are interested in any of this, please fill out the personal information form or the application for GA. If you have questions about any of the positions, please talk with Stated Clerk Pam Prouty or Sara McKay, chair of the COR.
Getting the Word Out

We are a big Presbyterian family, and we want to support each other in good and bad times. Please include the presbytery office when communicating big news about pastors and members of presbytery. Thank you.
God Chat Apps: A Life of Prayer
Saturday, October 7, 2017
9:00 - 3:30
Hope Presbyterian Church

Come to deepen and strengthen your prayer life!
Luke 11:1 One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his
disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples."
Don't miss this multigenerational event - it will be a full day of learning about living a life of prayer.
Your ticket ($10) covers the full cost of your participation for the event. It includes our fabulous  speakers, coffee and snack at registration, lunch, and a snack for the ride home.
The church is hosting their annual bazaar that day - feel free to shop!
Sessions and speakers
Prayer and the Presence of God. Kara Root. Plenary speaker
Why Pray? In the valley, on the mountaintop and everywhere in between. Robin Hasslen
Centering Prayer. Sr. Katherine Howard
Aids to Contemplation: Tools and Resources for the Journey. Nathan Lamb
Yoga, Meditation and Devotion. Angie Ray
Let's Talk: The Basics of Prayer. Leanne Thompson
Personal Prayer for Everyone on Earth: How prayer apps help us fulfill the Great Commission. Chris Lim 

Contact Karen Lange to register

Final Promo
Final Promo

Thank you from Clearwater Campers
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.

Discipleship: Pam Bush, , 507-823-4697
EvangelismAnne Veldhuisen,, 507-215-5617
Mission: Richard Lawrence, , 320-260-9639
Mission: Darlene Scherbing, , 320-292-2610
Spiritual Leadership: Tom Voigt, , 612-875-6398
Stewardship: Rick Hauge, , 507-829-5227
Worship: Darin Seaman, , 320-251-8277
Lakeshore Center at Okoboji,  October 13
Pastors and CREs: Here is a great opportunity for you to spend a day with preacher/teacher/author Tom Long.  He will be in the area to teach a class for the new Academy and will be doing this day long workshop at the Lakeshore Center at Okoboji on Friday, October 13
Pastoral Leadership Opportunities

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

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

First Presbyterian Church, Saint James - Solo Pastor
   Ministry Information Form - 03802.AD

First Presbyterian Church, Fulda - Solo Pastor, 3/4 time
   Ministry Information Form - 03782.AD

The Ministry Information Forms for these opportunities are posted on the Church Leadership Connection web site --
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.

The Giving Magazine

This magazine has become a premier stewardship resource for churches and denominations throughout North America. Each magazine is packed with resources to support stewardship in the local church. Articles explore the intersection of faith and giving, offer practical information on Christian stewardship for all generations, and critique the newest resources on stewardship.  Click here for more information.

Link to Pastor's Tool Box for Stewardship:
Six New Things
Ecumenical Stewardship Center September 2017
NEWS about stewardship resources, Generosity NEXT and more
New Church, New Way eNews
Gift and Task
Walter Brueggemann

Gift and Task is an original collection of 365 devotions by best-selling author Walter Brueggemann, exploring themes such as neighborliness, generosity, and abundance. Brueggemann guides the reader to new insight and deeper engagement with the text and invites us to ground our whole lives in the ancient words of Scripture. "It is my conviction-and hope," Brueggemann says, "that serious Scripture reading is and can be a source of missional renewal in the church."

Click here to read an excerpt!
See what's happening on our Facebook site:
Like us on Facebook