The Valley Bridge
The weekly newsletter from the
Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys
August 17, 2016
 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)

Congregation of the Week of August 21-27
Harrison Presbyterian Church of rural Spicer

Kathy Terpstra, CRE
Cheri Ladwig, Music
Dennis Peterson, Clerk of Session
Sandy Christensen, Treasurer
Donnell Williamson, Sunday School Superintendent
Lori Dietz, Secretary

Sharing our joys and concerns:
We are thankful for our over 30 year partnership with Zion-Irving Lutheran Church. The congregations have worked well together and are looking forward to many more years of co-operation.
Prayers for the Holy Spirit to work with us to find ways to be of service to our local community and the wider church. We pray for the insight to be more relevant in an ever changing world. And always we pray for comfort and healing with those struggling with health issues and those who are in mourning.
A Word from Rick: 
A Call to Serve - Here at Home

It is that time of year again! In the next few weeks, the Committee on Representation, which serves as our presbytery's nominating committee, will begin to prepare a slate of nominees for election by the presbytery at its November 5 meeting in Saint Peter. They will be working hard to identify creative and committed individuals whom they believe God is calling to serve Christ's church through the ministries of this presbytery.
2017 will be a pivotal year in the life of this presbytery, as this presbytery welcomes a new leader and moves into the next chapter of its life and mission. During this current year, we have just begun to live into our new Mission Design. This is a design that took two years for the Next Pres Team to create. It is a good design that holds much potential, but it will still take us some time to make it operate at the level to which it was intended. So it is that we continue to build this bridge to the future as we walk on it; and to do it right and well, we will continue to need the gifts, talents, passions, and visions of our extended family.
As the Committee on Representation goes to work, it is my hope that many of you who took on "one-year" commitments in the Class of 2016 will see that we are just beginning to figure things out and that things are just getting interesting. I pray that you will consider extending your time with your current committee or commission as part of the Class of 2019 -- help us continue to develop what we have started! Furthermore, I also pray that those of you who are not currently serving see a place where you believe you can contribute to our common life and will consider stepping up and into the life of this presbytery. Finally, I would also call on our pastors and ruling elders to identify those in your congregation who have gifts that could be willingly shared. This presbytery family belongs to all of us, and we have the responsibility of tending to its health and well-being.
In the Book of Order, there are two important questions to which we, as Teaching Elders and Ruling Elders, give answer. They are found on page 123 of the current Book of Order and come from W-4.4003i:
(1) (For ruling elder) Will you be a faithful ruling elder, watching over the people, providing for their worship, nurture, and service? Will you share in government and discipline, serving in councils of the church, and in your ministry will you try to show the love and justice of Jesus Christ?
(3) (For teaching elder) Will you be a faithful teaching elder, proclaiming the good news in Word and Sacrament, teaching faith and caring for people? Will you be active in government and discipline, serving in the councils of the church; and in your ministry will you try to show the love and justice of Jesus Christ?
When we, those of us who are Teaching Elders and Ruling Elders, are ordained and installed into the ordered ministries of the church, we make a commitment to serve in the councils of the church - note that the word is plural! We commit to serve beyond the local congregation. Our service to presbytery, synod, and beyond is an important part of our commitment to be part of the whole church! Ruling Elders and Teaching Elders, please prayerfully ponder this question. "As an extension of my service to Christ's Church and as a part of my commitment to serve in the councils of the church, where is God calling me to share my gifts with our presbytery, or beyond?"
As you discern what God is calling you to do, please share your willingness to serve with the Committee on Representation. You can do that by simply calling (320.235.7910) or e-mailing Karen ( ) at the presbytery office and saying, "please share my name with the Committee on Representation, I would like to be considered for service on ___________ (fill in the blank - suggestions below) ________. Karen will share that information with the committee when they meet.
Also, if you have suggestions of folks who would serve the presbytery well, please be sure to share that information with the committee. Again, pass your suggestions to the committee through Karen at the presbytery office.

Grace and Peace,
Opportunities to Serve in the Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys

The Committee on Representation will be nominating individuals to serve in the following areas of our presbytery's ministry:
  • The Commission on Leadership
  • The Commission on Presbytery Life
  • The Commission on Presbytery Operations
  • The Commission on Congregational Transformation and Development
  • The Committee on Congregational Nurture
  • Vice-Moderator of Presbytery
  • The Committee on the Self-Development of People
Descriptions of these groups and their ministries can be found on the Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys website, using the Commissions/Committees tab -

On the Road with Rick: August and September
August 21 - Preach at First Presbyterian Church, Willmar
August 23 - Special Session Meeting at First Presbyterian Church, Osakis
August 28-September 7 - Vacation!
September 11 - Preach at Zion Irving Lutheran and Harrison Community Presbyterian Churches
September 13 - Boundary Training at First Presbyterian Church, Willmar
Scenes from the Road

Monday, August 8, Edward Thompson, our area representative for the Board of Pensions, visited Willmar. Over the noon hour he hosted a lunch for retired pastors, staff, and spouses at the Green Mill. Later that day, he engaged members of our presbytery in conversations related to the upcoming changes in the Board of Pensions. Here are a few photos from Monday's activity.
August 8 Lunch - Edward Thompson and Merle Elrod
August 8 Lunch - Karen Lange, Donna Jamieson and Jim Krapf
August 8 Lunch - Chuck & Virginia Molitor and Karen Lange
Monday afternoon at the presbytery office: Michael & Bonnie Roys, Scott Thompson, Mark & Nancy Chamberlain, Jerry O'Connor, Rich Swartwood, Leah Elrod (hidden), and Bea Ourada listening to Edward Thompson's presentation.

On Sunday, August 14, participants from the Vacation Bible School at the Cambria Presbyterian Church shared music and learnings from their week together. Sixteen children, ages 3-11, participated in this year's VBS program! These photos come from Rick's visit to Cambria.

Save the Date!
September 24
9:00 am - 4:30 pm
First Presbyterian, Saint James
Continuing Education opportunity!

Conflict Transformation  Skills 
for Churches

This workshop will help you understand . . .
  • That conflict need not be bad, but is an opportunity for growth.
  • The Biblical basis for conflict transformation.
  • Your own style of responding to conflict.
  • The communication skills necessary to resolve conflict peacefully.
  • Strategies for preventing destructive conflict in the church family.
  • A model for working at congregational decision-making in a win-win manner.
To Pastors, Clerks of Session, PWC:
One of the goals of the redesign of the Presbytery is to enhance relationships between the churches of the presbytery. At the July meeting of the Commission of Presbytery Life, we discussed ways to accomplish that goal. We need your help in this first attempt.
Here is what we intend to do. We will work with our staff to add a new category in the black bar across the top of the presbytery's web page. It will be entitled churches/mission. This will not be password protected. This link will bring you to a church directory that is similar to the one under directories except it will not have any personal staff information. Instead it will list the mission activities of the church.
This is where we need your help. Please send Karen a list of any mission activities that your church is participating in. We will let you define mission. Karen will add this list to your church listing in the new directory.
What do we hope to accomplish by doing this? Any one in any of our churches will be able to scan this information to look for mission ideas to use in their congregation. They will also be able to contact that church to solicit help in beginning and sustaining that mission. They might also be able to find a mission that they are interested in but not able to accomplish by themselves. They could then collaborate with the church that is already involved in that mission.
Our hope is that everyone will participate. Please contact Karen with the information requested and as your mission program changes, keep Karen informed so she can update the information on the website and keep it accurate. We will give you a couple of weeks to get the information to her, and then we will start contacting those who have not responded. 

Next Delegation to Guatemala

by Jim Krapf

Our partners in Occidente Presbytery have requested that we join them in two projects to improve the conditions of their people. During our visit a year ago and since, we have been developing Health Fairs and Quilting Classes. The timing of these projects is being coordinated with the Network Meeting scheduled normally every two years in Guatemala.

We are recruiting participants from our presbytery. Application forms can be downloaded from the presbytery website or obtained from Jim Krapf by calling 507-350-1662 or emailing You can sign up for either the projects or the Network Meeting and the projects. To accommodate in-country transportation arrangements, we can take up to eleven people. The funds granted to the Occidente Partners Task Force will supplement the cost. Further details are printed on the application form.

The Fairs and Classes will occur from February 3 to 13 following the January 30 to February 2 Guatemalan Network Meeting. The Fairs and Classes will be offered together in two day sessions in three location for a total of six days. Additional days are allotted for travel, worship, and visits.

Participants in the Network will learn best practices from other partnerships. Participants in the Fairs will help distribute information regarding health issues. Since the request came primarily from Occidente's Presbyterian Women organization, the focus will be on women's health concerns. Participants in the Classes will demonstrate and give instructions in quilt making. Their quilts will provide personal use and additional income for their families.

These experiences provide mutual opportunities to make friendships and to grow in faith. Our Occidente partners call this "developing transformative global disciples for Jesus Christ."

What an educational bargain!!!

by 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.

One recipient from this past year is Jenifer, a 7th grader in Cabricán. (See photo.) Her thank you letter states: "I would like to give you my heartfelt thanks for the economic support given to me this year. Thanks to this aid I have been able to study during the school year just ended and, thanks to God, move on to the following grade. I am sure that God will bless each of you richly for the effort that you have taken to help me. Everything that you sent has been used for school expenses. This is a great blessing for me and provides an opportunity to get ahead day by day. My family, also, is grateful for this gesture of love that you have shown to me. 
With affection and gratitude I take leave of you, citing this verse from Hebrews 6:10: 'God is not unjust: He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to help them.'
May God bless you."

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.
A New Website for Presbyterian Mission Agency

The Presbyterian Mission Agency has rolled out a brand new website - that seems to be more user friendly - and really works!
We encourage you to check it out and use it . . . OFTEN!! The address for this new website is

Ministry Opportunities

The First Presbyterian Church of Pipestone  is seeking a Designated Pastor to lead them as they seek to grow and develop active disciples. First Presbyterian Church desires to be a congregation that will embrace new ideas that will lead them into a new and exciting future. 
If you, or someone you know, might be the dynamic, committed pastoral leader that FPC-Pipestone needs, please take a serious look at this opportunity! The Ministry Information Form is posted on the Church Leadership Connection web site -- It is MIF ID#03796.AC0. For more information, contact Rick Carus at the presbytery office - 320.235.7910 or .

The First Presbyterian Church Osakis is continuing its search for a Pastor to lead them as they live out the visions that have been generated by their New Beginning conversations. If you, or someone you know, has a passion for small towns and energetic small-member congregations, please encourage consideration of this opportunity!  The Ministry Information Form for this opportunity is posted on the Church Leadership Connection web site. It is MIF#: 03890.AC1. For more information, please contact PNC Chairperson Shari Maloney at 320.859.3098 or by e-mail - .
Useful Link for Church Treasurers: 
PWP News and Fall Spiritual Retreat

The PWP Fall Spiritual Retreat happens Monday, September 26 - Tuesday, September 27 (noon to noon) at the Green Lake Bible Camp. This year we will hear from Rev. Elaine Boyd on the " Sweet Life Café." Registration deadline: September 1.

There are also links to the current PWP newsletter and a mission pledge form.

Flyer and registration form
Church Law Day

August 18, 2016
Gustavus Adolphus College, Heritage Room or Livestream
9:30am to 3:00pm
sponsored by ELCA SW Minnesota Synod

Click here  to download event flyer.
Click here  to register.
Topics to be covered:
  • What You Need to Know About the Employment at Will Rule.
  • The Fair Labor Standards Act and Revisions to Exempt Employee Salary Requirements.
  • Employment Policies and Employee Handbooks.
  • Interviewing and Hiring.
  • Discipline and Discharge.
  • What Is the Ministerial Exception and Why You Should Care.
  • "Quick Hits" on Other Legal Issues That May Affect Religious Organizations:
    • Unemployment insurance
    • Worker's compensation insurance
    • Employment practices liability insurance
    • General liability insurance
    • Equipment leases
    • Space sharing agreements
    • ELCA constitution and bylaws
    • Embezzlement
    • Disclosure of significant events
    • Membership or attendance by sexual abuser or child abuser
    • Mandatory abuse reporting
    • Dealing with trouble makers
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