The Valley Bridge
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
First Presbyterian Church of Madelia
Session Members: Mark Blanchard, Ashley Holm, Daria McCabe, Megan Anderson, Lynda Arduser, Mike Teigum, Todd Arduser, Norm Brudelie, and Carolyn Schultz
Treasurer: Lynn Schultz
Assistant Treasurer: Jan Ulmen
Custodian: Jessica Holm
Pianist: Lorraine Sill
Clerk of Session: Doug Teigum
President of the Corporation: Brian Anderson
Vice President of the Corporation: Dave Lehman
Secretary of the Corporation: Megan Anderson
Pastor: Penny Johnson

Prayer concerns for friends and family members dealing with serious illness and injuries and grieving over loss of loved ones.
Together in Christ

Dear Presbytery Family,

I recently purchased a used e-bike. I had to. I love to ride my bike, but one day I went out for an afternoon jaunt and barely made it home! A gusty Minnesota Valleys wind had started to blow, and though I was pedaling my hardest, I felt like I was just pedaling in place. When I finally reached my own driveway, I must have looked as exhausted as I felt, because my neighbor came over and recommended an e-bike and told me where to get one. She was right. It has made quite the difference!

Now, I’ve had to learn a thing or two about e-bikes. I’m sure some of you know a lot more about this than I do, but I have learned that they come with pedal-assist and/or a throttle. I bought a used e-bike and mine happens to have both. I have also learned that you must keep the battery charged. I take the battery in the house and charge it on my kitchen counter. And I’ve learned that e-bikes are heavy! I had to buy a ramp to get it onto my bike rack. It took a bit to figure all that out, but now that I have, it is easy to use, and I can log 10-20 miles most days without much trouble.

Sometimes in ministry we feel like we are fighting a stiff wind. There are forces pushing against us and we may be pedaling our hardest and barely able to keep upright let alone gain any forward momentum. Is there an e-bike for churches???

I think the church’s version of an e-bike is found, in part, through our connectional form of government. That is something very special about the PC(USA). We encourage and support each other! One of the perks of being an Executive Presbyter is the bird’s eye view it affords of this system in action. I have watched pastors drive many, many miles to moderate the Session for a church without a pastor. They are the “pedal-assist” to keep that church moving forward. I have watched churches make compromises so they can share staff and help two or even three churches run smoothly without totally exhausting the clergy who serve them. Compromise is the throttle that helps several churches move forward at once. I have watched extremely busy people say yes to serving on Presbytery committees and labor long and hard to resource and support our churches. These volunteers are the “pedal-assist” and the “throttle” for the steep hills our Presbytery is trying to climb. And what a difference they make.

But how do we keep our batteries charged? Some days it feels like our batteries have just run out of juice. We have nothing more to give. Our “pedal-assist” roles feel daunting. Our “throttle” experiences zap us of all our energy. We want to help and support one another, but we feel too tired to compromise again, or extend ourselves one more time. The weariness is real.

It seems trite to say that God is the electricity that charges the battery, but I know it’s true. I was recently reminded of a time when I had people praying for me, by name, every single day. Those saints, who gladly offered those prayers, have all died. How I miss them, and their prayers! I have set aside time daily for prayer and devotional readings, and that helps, but I loved having people pray for me.

So, today, partly in honor of those who once prayed for me by name and helped me keep my battery charged, I printed a list of all our churches and all our pastors. As your EP, I want to pledge that I will pray for you by name. It feels important. There is a stiff wind blowing, and we need the Holy Spirit to fill and enliven us, revive and refresh us, so we do not lose heart. We are never alone. God is with us. And prayer can remind us of this reality. If you ever want to share a specific way I can focus my prayers for you, I would love to hear from you and will be glad to lift any need to God ( or 530-513-0592).

Let me also remind all of us that it takes a little time to recharge our batteries. Like my e-bike battery laying on the kitchen counter, plugged in to the nearby outlet, a process that cannot be rushed, we may need a time of retreat (there just happens to be a clergy retreat coming right up!), a day to sleep in and refresh, a trip to some place beautiful, or an appointment with a therapist or coach. Caring for ourselves is as important as caring for everyone else! In fact, it is the way we care for everyone else. If my battery fails, my pedal-assist and throttle do not work.

Well, I will be praying for you by name, and for your church. I also want to share a song with you that hopefully can remind you of God’s presence and care every day. (I am sharing three recordings of the same song – they may speak to you in different ways.) We have hills to climb, but praise God, we also have the pedal assist and throttle of being in this thing together, and the electricity of God’s loving care and presence to keep us moving forward…
…together in Christ,

With courage, devotion and good spirit as a colleague,

Rev. Beth Buckwalter-Miller

As of July 1, IRS mileage rate is 62.5 cents/mile
The Congregations of First Presbyterian, and Emmanuel Presbyterian Churches of Rushmore and Zion Presbyterian Church, Ellsworth invite you to attend the installation service of our pastor, the Rev. Randall Knuth on Sunday, August 28th, 2022 at 4 PM at Zion Presbyterian Church, 420 South Broadway Street, Ellsworth. Pulled Pork Sandwich supper will follow the service. Kindly RSVP to the church office at so we might have an idea for the number of people to be expected for the meal preparations. 
2022 Minnesota Valleys
Pastors’ Rest and Renewal Retreat

When: 6 pm Sunday, Sept 18th – 9 am Thursday, Sept 22nd
Where: Leaning Tree Lodge at Clearwater Forest
Cost: $50 (double occupancy), $100 (single occupancy, space allowing) in Leaning Tree lodge, which includes lunch and dinner each day at the dining hall, and informal breakfast in Leaning Tree.

Description: This retreat is designed for active and retired pastors and CREs in Minnesota Valleys Presbytery. The purpose of the retreat will be to rest and recreate in “God With Us.” Other than mealtimes and worship and devotional times, you will be free to relax, fish, golf, boat, hike, or chill in a swing or hammock. You will also have opportunities to hang out with colleagues and build friendships with your peers in the Presbytery. You will have the opportunity, if you wish, to share ideas, collaborate, and encourage each other. Our sincere hope and prayer is that you will come home from this retreat with recharged batteries and renewed energy.

Worship & Spiritual Leader: This year we have asked Carol Meier to lead our worship and offer times of spiritual guidance. Carol is a child of God who spends her days working as a church musician, songwriter, and full-time student. Carol has served as music director at Eagle Lake Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Willmar, MN for the past 15 years where she enjoys being in ministry with her husband, Steve, who serves as pastor. As a songwriter, Carol writes music for a variety of settings including music for congregation, ensemble, and/or soloist. Having found the intersection of music and spirituality to be an especially sacred space, Carol loves exploring that space with fellow companions on the journey of faith. She is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Liturgical Music (with an emphasis in composition) from St. John’s School of Theology and Seminary in Collegeville, MN.

Daily Schedule:
The retreat begins with check in no earlier than 4 pm on Sunday and dinner at 6 pm that evening. The retreat ends on Thursday following breakfast and
morning devotionals (must check out by noon). Otherwise, the schedule will be:
7:30 am – Lakeside devotionals
8:00 am – Breakfast (basic items included, with informal dining in the Leaning Tree kitchen, bring your own breakfast favorites if you’d like: cereal, bagels, yogurt, etc.)
Noon – Lunch in the dining hall
6:00 pm – Dinner in the dining hall
7:00 pm – Lakeside worship
10:00 pm – Lakeside devotionals

What to bring:
  • Snack(s) to share: bars, cookies, chips, etc.
  • Recreational items such as fishing gear, mountain bike, golf-clubs, disc golf discs, etc. We are checking on the availability of the pontoon boat, and camp activities.
  • You may be asked to share a morning or evening devotional
  • A favorite board game or cards.
  • A musical instrument if you want to help with worship leadership.
  • Outdoor gear/clothing for fall elements, bug spray, sunscreen, flashlight, etc.
  • Breakfast is informal, so bring your own cereal, bagels, yogurt, etc.

To sign up: Email with the following info:
Cell phone
Dietary restrictions
Roommate/housing request – space is limited; and singles will be handed out, space allowing, on a first come-first served basis.

Mail your check, made out to the Presbytery, to:
Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys
PO Box 431
Kerkhoven MN 56252
August 16 Stated Presbytery Meeting Highlights

Kathy Riley, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, led our inspirational devotion based on Psalm 27. When we feel overwhelmed, fatigued, nearing burnout, she invited us to consider how we would complete the phrase, "I do this work because ..." Think about this phrase whenever, for example, you arrive at work, or before a meeting, or before a challenging situation. Think about your spiritual gifts. What has God given you to offer to others? Has it changed over time? If you are tired, take time for joy and for respite. Be intentionally grateful as a daily habit. There are even gratefulness apps to help get into a routine. Have a couple of people, trusted listeners, in your life who can take time just to listen to you. Ask them for time when you need it, sometimes just to listen, and sometimes to also give advice. Her closing advice was to start and end your day with something positive and uplifting.

For clerks of session, the presbytery will hold the next records review in the summer of 2023. Stated Clerk Pamela Prouty will lead a clerk training by Zoom in January.

The 2022 General Assembly business that the presbyteries vote on will likely take place at the February 2023 stated presbytery meeting.

Bailey DeVetter introduced our new Presbytery Youth Coordinator, Kali Luther, who is a member of the Willmar church, a lifelong and active Presbyterian, and a graduate from the University of Jamestown. Kali talked about beginning her work. She has created and sent out a survey, and is currently visiting churches.

Budget & Finance Co-Chair Patty Brandts highlighted the great use of technology grants and camp and Synod School scholarships. The budget is looking healthy. In September, Budget and Finance will begin work on the 2023 budget.

Committee on Representation Chair Mark Ford encouraged folks to volunteer to be on the 2023 commissions and committees.

We approved the 2023 Compensation Policy from the Commission on Leadership (COL). COL Co-Chair Deb Hess pointed out for Sessions and Personnel Committees that the current U.S. inflation rate is 9.1% and the estimated cost of living increase for the end of second quarter of 2023 is 10.5%. Keep this in mind when establishing pay increases for next year (see page 3 of the compensation policy).

We welcomed Rev. Tom Voigt, Rev. Val Putnam and Rev. Jeff Bullock to our presbytery, and we honored the retirement of Rev. Bob Bartlett from the First Presbyterian Churches of Brewster and Round Lake. Several people shared good thoughts and congrats to Bob.
Emmanuel Presbyterian of rural Rushmore and First Presbyterian Church of Rushmore want to merge, choose a new name, and move into the Emmanuel building. The presbytery approved to approve this merger and grant permission to the Sessions of these two congregations to continue to move forward with this merger. The Sessions need to establish a plan for this merger and report it to the Presbytery Stated Clerk and Commission on Operations.

All are invited to the final service at First Presbyterian Church of Rushmore Sept 25 at 10:00 a.m. followed by a celebratory lunch. RSVP for celebration dinner at

Mark Ford encouraged people to participate in the Survey Monkey poll on the Occidente Presbytery Partnership, our sister presbytery in Guatemala. Here is the link:

Below is the video of the meeting.
More Retreat Info
Ministry to children, students and their families was greatly disrupted by the pandemic, but the truth is, it was already on shaky ground. What used to work is no longer working. The models which saw great success in the past are not finding the same success they once did. We are left wondering what we need to do or change. We are wondering why parents and families seem less interested in church. We find ourselves asking, how we might reach the next generation?

If you are asking these questions or experiencing these tensions, you are not alone.
At this retreat we will take some time to understand the current landscape of ministry to families and students. We will reflect on what is no longer working and what is. We will imagine together how we might serve families and students in the pressure points and challenges of our current moment. We will crowdsource the collective wisdom of those gathered to inspire one another to renewed ministry. The hope is that we all leave with renewed passion and creativity to impact our churches and communities and help our young people develop lifelong faith.

Cost includes 2 nights and 5 meals
Private Lodge Room Single $250
Couple Lodge Room $300
Shared Lodge Room $175
Bunk Room $125 (dorm style with bunks, bedding not included)
Meals only $75
From the Mid-Council Relations Newsletter

Part Time Is Plenty—A message from PneuMatrix and the Synod of the Pacific

Got churches with part time (or no) clergy leadership and pastors with part time calls? Part Time Is Plenty is a webinar designed especially for these folks—and for you and/or your COM folks who want to learn more.

PneuMatrix and the Synod of the Pacific invite you all on Thursday, Sept 22, to a 90-minute webinar, featuring author and bi-vocational UCC pastor G. Jeffrey McDonald. This is the first of several opportunities for your folks who are ready to dive deep into the many common issues and emerging models of sustainability for our smaller churches.

The webinar is free, but requires registration for each attendee. Here’s more information and the registration form.

Forward this along to your churches and pastors who fit the part time bill. This is but the first of several to come. Together we will begin creating our own villages of mutual learning and support for this growing faithful ministry in the PC(USA).

Disability Inclusion Sunday—A message from Presbyterians for Disability Concerns

Presbyterian Disability Inclusion Sunday is September 11th. This worship material has everything to plan an inclusive experience that promotes participation by everyone: scriptures, reflections, articles, videos, bulletin images, art and reflection activities, Sunday School material, a brand new hymn by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette, and more. Check it out now!

For more resources visit Presbyterians for Disability Concerns on our Resource WebsiteBlog or Facebook.

Save the Date— Implicit Bias Webinar for Ruling Elders and Deacons

On October 13 at 7:00 p.m. (Eastern), ruling elders and deacons are invited to join OGA’s Jihyun Oh in a webinar about the impact of implicit bias and why it’s important to consider and reduce implicit bias as Christians in the PC(USA). The webinar will include tools to create spaces that invite and welcome full participation of a diverse group of people in the discernment processes and governance of the church. More information will be available within this newsletter and through the PC(USA) Leader Formation website when registration is live.

Working on Challenging White Supremacy in Ourselves and Society

Installment #26 of books, movies, and videos being discussed in mid councils, congregations, and other church gatherings:
Philadelphia: Jamie McGhee and Adam Hollowell, You Mean It or You Don’t: James Baldwin’s Radical Challenge
Racial Ethnic Student Scholarship

So happy to send you this 2022 Racial Ethnic Student Scholarship application from the Committee on Racial Ethnic Ministries of the Synod of Lakes and Prairies, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The application can be found on the Synod’s website here, and a copy is provided as an attachment for your convenience. We hope that you will share this with the congregations in your presbytery.

The Student Scholarship is an educational assistance program designed to encourage Indigenous and students of color in their preparation for academic success in higher education. Students must have a permanent residence within the Synod of Lakes and Prairies, be active members in a Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) congregation and have confirmation of enrollment in a college, university, or specialty program.

The synod is committed to partner with students and schools for leadership development and quality instruction for lifelong service. Application awards are based on personal achievement, financial need and recommendation from a teacher and pastor.

Completed applications are due September 30, 2022, and must include an official transcript and financial aid statement.

Please help share this news by distributing the form to eligible students and interested church partners. Questions about the application or process may be directed to
Elona Street-Stewart, 651-357-1149
Gretchen Milloy, 651-357-1143
Elona Street-Stewart, Synod Executive         
Carolyn Grice, Chair, Committee on Racial Ethnic Ministry
Furnishing and Supplies available from First Presbyterian Jackson church

We have a wide variety of furnishings and supplies available to MVP congregations from the former First Presbyterian Church in Jackson. If you are interested in any of these items, please contact one of the AC members
Galen Smith, (507) 376-3138, Cory Germain, Deb Hess, Mary Jo Lutz, Stan Menning
Some of the items are:
The Presbyterian Hymnal (1990 Blue); 180 pew editions; 2 accompaniment editions
Folding Chairs
Tables: 5’ round, 8’ rectangle
Pipe organ
12’ board room table (made from the pews of the Alpha church)
2 Filing cabinets - 5 drawer
Wood pews, semi circular, or straight
Mixer, amplifier, microphones
Pulpit, Lectern, Communion table, Baptismal Font
Choir Robes
Vases, Candelabra, Advent Wreath
Christmas decorations
Step ladders
Oreck Vacuum
Bunn Coffee Maker
Refrigerators Kenmore, GE
Deep Freezer
Plates, bowls, glasses, flat ware, silver service
TV, VCR, Cart
Upholstered Chairs
Sofa, upholstered side chairs, end table
Seth Thomas 5’ tall pendulum clock
Get Connected, again!
Presbytery Sermon Sunday
Sunday, September 25

Once again, the Presbytery is inviting all churches to include a recorded sermon as part of the worship service on September 25. This will be particularly special, as the message will be delivered by the new Presbytery Executive the Rev. Beth Buckwalter-Miller. Beth began serving our Presbytery on the first of June, and this will be a wonderful opportunity for our congregations to put a face to a name.

We know this will benefit churches that need pulpit supply for that Sunday, but our task force is encouraging every church to participate. This is one way we exhibit the connectional nature of the Presbytery.

Michael Hartwell
Inventive Ministries Task Force of the Commission on Leadership
Money available for Peacemaking

The Peace and Global Witness Offering is one of the special offerings of the PCUSA. It is usually taken on World Communion Sunday in October. It is dedicated to peacemaking in many different forms. Peacemaking is the job of the whole church. 25% of the offering is kept by the local congregation for their projects. 12.5% goes to the Presbytery and 12.5% to the Synod.

Over a few years the Presbytery has accumulated over $7,000 from this offering. The Presbytery Life Committee is offering money from this fund to help with peacemaking projects. If you have an idea to further the peace in your church or area, send a brief note to the office explaining your project, the cost, amount requested and where other funds would come from. Make sure your session is on board with this. Applications will be taken until September 1.

Some ideas would be:
  • Hold a Bible or book study focus on peace: example "Five Risks Presbyterians Must Take for Peace" WJK.
  • Find local projects that deal with poverty, violence, racism, climate change, immigration/migration or justice.
  • Sponsor a speaker for a community event.

We encourage you to think about ways to promote peace in your community. We would like to see this money used in ways the givers have intended.
Pr0ject Grants Available from First Presbyterian Madelia

The Mission Redevelopment Committee of First Presbyterian Church, Madelia is seeking applications to receive grants. Qualifying projects may include:
  • Development, formation, or redevelopment of Presbyterian churches
  • Evangelism or recruitment of new members
  • New building construction
  • Renovations or capital improvements
  • Presbyterian sponsored mission projects

A written letter of application describing the project, other funds available for the project, and the amount of grant requested should be submitted to the Mission Redevelopment Committee and postmarked by August 15, 2022. Grants will be selected and distributed by September 30, 2022.

Mission Redevelopment Committee
PO Box 156
Madelia MN 56062
Pastor Opportunity

It's been a hard couple of years for everybody! Pastors are dealing with all the issues that are related to the pandemic, along with all the normal ups and downs and other parts of ministry. In addition, they are ministering to congregations that are also dealing with a lot of stress and anxiety.

The Commission on Leadership has decided to give those in ministry some help and support in the form of affordable coaching. The Synod has trained coaches to provide the service at a cost of $50.00 per session. The Commission on Leadership has approved paying one half of the cost for one session a month for up to 24 months. If you are already working with a coach or want to use another one, you still can be reimbursed $25.00 per month. This program is available to all pastors, CREs who are serving churches and Christian educators.

We all can use some help and support as we continue to deal with a lot of heavy issues. If you are feeling just a little (or a lot) overwhelmed, please take advantage of this opportunity.

Contact Beth Buckwalter-Miller if you want to get started: 530-513-0592 or e-mail
Seeking Youth Director at FPC Saint Cloud

First Presbyterian Church of Saint Cloud is now conducting a search for a Youth & Campus Ministry Director. It is a full-time position working with youth and campus participants. The position description can be found at
2022 Per Capita
$43.00 Total
$28.52 for Presbytery
$5.50 for Synod
$8.98 for GA

2022 Presbytery Meeting Dates
Tuesday, August 16 via Zoom from 7:008:30 p.m.
Saturday, Oct 8 in person from 10:00 a.m.3:00 p.m. (location: St. Cloud)
Tuesday, Dec 6 via Zoom from 6:308:00 p.m.
Prayer List
  • For Rev. Al and Jeri Jergenson and family, retired pastor most recently serving Foley, on the death of their daughter, Tessa
  • For Rev. Jeff DeYoe, undergoing cancer treatment (former pastor at Hope Presbyterian Church, Spicer)
  • For Rev. Mark Chamberlain, retired pastor, Willmar
  • For Rev. Bob Bartlett, retired pastor, Round Lake
  • For Rev. Michael Roys, retired pastor, Winnebago
  • Pray for our brothers and sisters in the Occidente Presbytery of Guatemala - for their health, safety, and recovery from the effects of the Covid pandemic
Pastoral Leadership Opportunities

First Presbyterian Church of Canby - Pastor
Ministry Information Form - 03775.AD0

First Presbyterian Church, Pipestone - Pastor
Ministry Information Form - 03796.AD0

Harrison Presbyterian Church, rural Spicer - Pastor, yoked parish
Ministry Information Form - 03878.AA0

First Presbyterian Church, Winnebago - Pastor
Ministry Information Form - 03811.AA1

Ministry opportunities are posted on the Church Leadership Connection website --
Experiences of division, isolation, and despair are overwhelming. BELONGING offers connection, encouragement, and hope.

The Ministry Lab invites clergy, faith formation, worship, and other congregational leaders to join our Blue Whirl Webinar Series: Belonging: Welcome Wellbeing. Grow with coaches toward greater personal wellness; learn from therapists' tools to foster intergenerational mutuality; rest with a contemplative in belonging to God; and be inspired by artists to deepen and broaden communal belonging - all leading toward greater wellbeing for individuals and communities. Learn more and register here.
All webinars run from 2:00-3:30 PM CT.
It’s been a year (or two+...)
Colleagues can help.

Let’s network as we look back to move forward In the Ways of Jesus. ConNext Summit 2022 is an opportunity for congregational leaders from nearly all major denominations in Minnesota to process what has been (with each other, through music and a comedy troupe!) as we expand approaches to ministry and how we do what we do. Gracious Idleness awaits those who are tired, and seek inspiration; Scrappy Transformation is fueled by leaders who have found joy in reimagining ministry (workshop overviews and bios are here); Radical Belonging is yours amidst multi-denominational colleagues from around the state as we laugh, learn, rest, Zumba, and explore God’s desired future together. Find details and registration here. Early bird registration available until August 31 - register now!