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 23-29
Ashford Presbyterian Church of Milroy
Moderator: Rev. Pamela Prouty
Session Members: Clerk of Session Patricia Rosa, Clay Rosa, Dan Leach, Kim Leach
Treasurer: Carolyn Datwyler
We are a small church, and it's pretty quiet right now.
Hate
If you are preaching this week, consider talking about the psychology of hate. The Bible speaks intently about the subject in detail. Hate, defined as the extreme opposite of love, is a product of irrational fear. Hatred is different from anger and contempt. It spreads fast and is nurtured over time. Hate drives ungrounded people into doing unthinkable things to others so that a person’s wellbeing is sustained to the individual’s satisfaction. Throughout Scripture, faith and righteousness are antidotes for reframing the reality of hate.
In the book Strength to Love, Martin Luther King wrote, “We must combine the toughness of the serpent with the softness of the dove, a tough mind and a tender heart.” The strong man holds in a living blend strongly marked opposites. The idealists are usually not realistic, and the realists are not usually idealistic. The militant are not generally known to be passive, nor the passive to be militant. Seldom are the humble self-assertive, or the self-assertive humble. But life at its best is a creative synthesis of opposites in fruitful harmony. The philosopher Hegel said that truth is found neither in the thesis nor the antithesis, but in the emergent synthesis which reconciles the two.
 
What are we to learn from the pendulum of hate and love? On a church website last week, I read the slogan “Test Positive for Faith.” What does this look like? I can imagine
 
Hate the ungodly
Hate the oppressor
Hate tyranny
Hate injustice
Hate unconsciousness
Hate ignorance
Hate evil
 
Love the just
Love the marginal
Love those who love God
Love your enemies
Love Scripture
Love the things that bring hope
Love new possibilities
Love peace
Love people
Love life
 
Exodus 1:8-2:10 text is a workable narrative to discuss hate. In the text, a powerful cross-cultural and intergenerational alliance of four women save the day—the midwives, Miriam, the older sister, Pharaoh’s daughter, a mother. Their action describes people of good conscience putting aside differences and choosing justice, compassion, mercy, and love. Princeton Old Testament Professor Charles Haley wrote about the text “The ironies of the story signal the fracturing of Pharaoh’s power and world view. God is at work bringing down the powerful from their thrones and lifting up the lowly (Luke 1:52). This ancient text from Exodus echoes powerfully in our congregations, nation, and world: issues of race and politics, religion and politics, gender and power, the war on terror, debates over immigration policy, the inequities of our global economy, congregational mission and hospitality to the stranger, and all manner of suffering and bondage that threaten the individuals and families with whom we minister.”
 
As you ponder the above, what irrational fear do you see at work today? Where are you called to engage in hard solid thinking? Does your faith in Jesus call you to break through the crust of legends, myths, and sifting truth from falsehood?

Tell a good story this week. Righteousness wins! Love drives out hate!

For more information on Hate here’s a good article: Understanding Hate

May God Give Us Grace for Today.
SanDawna
August 18 Presbytery Meeting

The presbytery met Tuesday, August 18, by Zoom. It was so great to see so many familiar faces again!!

Highlights:
  • Musicians at Federated Church of Fergus Falls performed some beautiful music
  • The General Assembly Commissioners shared about their experiences at this year's virtual General Assembly
  • We approved the consent agenda, the 2021 Compensation Policy, and for FPC Slayton to use funds to repair/replace their roof from their sale of manse account
  • We shared communion led by Rev. Murphy Ashley
  • Heard reports from the commission chairs, Executive Presbyter SanDawna Ashley, Stated Clerk Pamela Prouty, Doug Snaza (Clearwater Forest), Cassie Gabe (Lakeshore Center at Okoboji), and Bill McConnell (Presbyterian Mission Agency)

Thanks to everyone for participating! Our next stated meeting is scheduled for Saturday, November 14. Below are a couple of screenshots from the meeting.
Click on the above image to download Bill McConnell's PowerPoint.
From the Minnesota Department of Health

We wanted to make you aware of updates to the Faith-based Guidance under the Governor’s Stay Safe MN Phase III plan.


Thank you for your adherence to these guidelines and commitment to protection of our communities as you make decisions about how to support your members and the larger community.
Minnesota Grant to improve safety and air quality

Please go to this link for more information about this program:
Minnesota COVID-19 Update

  1. In contact tracing, 749 cases of COVID in Minnesota have been associated with faith communities since May 31.
  2. Disproportionately, Minnesotans of color are being affected by the disease.
ZOOM presentation on COVID 19 by Presbytery of Boston/Northern New England

This was provided for the Presbyteries of Boston and Northern New England, with people joining in from across the country. It’s available both on the Presbytery of Boston Facebook page and here as an uploaded video: https://youtu.be/M9P0gOSqwn0 
SDOP BENEFITS

Give a person a fish and you feed them for a day.
Teach a person to fish and they feed themselves for longer.
Empower them to control the lake and they determine the quality and quantity of the fish.

This is the strategy of Self-Development of People projects. The Presbyterian Church USA has a 50 year history of enabling people to improve their lives through this ministry. Minnesota Valleys Presbytery has sponsored several local projects and funded them in part by your offerings.

When the amount available to our Presbytery diminished, the Committee went dormant. But we now have just a little less than $6000 allotted for our use. To be of benefit to needy neighbors, we need two things.

  1. Reviving our committee requires adding at least two people of color who can be Presbyterians or not.  They will be certified in 2021 by training from national staff; but they can begin serving now.
  2. Seeking funds requires applications be submitted to the Committee before the September 15 deadline. The committee will review, and if approved, send the application to the national office before the November 1 deadline. Community, not church, projects that improve people’s self-development are funded. 

The three basic criteria are: 
  • the project is “owned” by the people who originated it (at least 6 people; ideally at least 10); 
  • the funds and operation are controlled by these people; 
  • the people who originate and control are the people who benefit from the project.

Please contact our Presbytery’s SDOP chair Pastor Jim Krapf (jimcynkrapf16@gmail.com or 507-350-1662) to: 
  1. volunteer to serve on the committee or to refer someone else – before Sept 1
  2. discuss possibilities for your community – before September 1 Who are the poor disadvantaged people who want to improve their situations? 
  3. receive application forms – before Sept 15

Self-Development funds come from the One Great Hour of Sharing offering received during Lent. With COVID-19 gathering restrictions, you may have missed the opportunity to give. If you wish to support this ministry, please send your offering to the Presbytery office.
Upcoming Webinar Series on Race and Christianity
First webinar is Wednesday, September 9, at 11:00 AM
Led by Sarah Ruble
From Sarah: I am an associate professor of religion at Gustavus Adolphus College. In addition to teaching (some of the world’s most wonderful) undergraduate students, I lecture in churches and to life-long learning groups. All of that means that I spend a lot of time thinking about how to make the past accessible without making it simplistic. As both a Christian and a historian, I’m always learning, trying to figure out how to make sense of our past and what it means for us today.
Webinar 1: Why Talk About the History of Race and Christianity in the United States
One-hour webinar:
  • An introduction to the series, including some suggestions about how to use history in thinking theologically about current issues related to race.
  • A brief introduction to some of my own experiences with learning about race and Christianity and how that has affected me as a white person and a Christian.
  • Some guided exercises (based on the curriculum) to help people think about what they are bringing to the series.
  • Time for questions.

To register, email karen@minnesotavalleys.org
In Case You Missed it ...
The Church Financial Leadership Academy is Here!

We are pleased to announce the launch of the Church Financial Leadership Academy (CFLA). The CFLA is an E-learning platform designed to help pastors institute best practices for church financial leadership, introduce them to new models of giving and stewardship, and offer new ways to talk about money and form generous disciples within their congregation.

The CFLA will enable you to:
  • Complete the courses at your own pace
  • Use the courses as a resource later
  • Share your playlist with other congregational staff
  • Access courses and resources at no cost to you

Experience the interactive online educational tool for pastors today. Simply visit Churchfla.org and create an account using the registration code: PCUSA
If you have questions or comments feel free to contact us at serving@presbyterianfoundation.org, or 800-858-6127 ext. 5904.

Paycheck Protection Program Forgiveness Application
How to Lead When You Don't Know Where You're Going
New presbytery book study: How to Lead When You Don’t Know Where You’re Going: Leading in a Liminal Season by Susan Beaumont speaks to where we are today. We will discuss Chapters 6 and 7 on Thursday, August 27 at 11:00 AM by Zoom.

How do you lead an organization stuck between an ending and a new beginning—when the old way of doing things no longer works but a way forward is not yet clear? Beaumont calls such in-between times liminal seasons—threshold times when the continuity of tradition disintegrates and uncertainty about the future fuels doubt and chaos. In a liminal season it simply is not helpful to pretend we understand what needs to happen next. But leaders can still lead.
Neighborhood Church: Transforming Your Congregation into a Powerhouse for Mission
"The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet."
– Frederick Buechner

Submitted and Recommended by the Commission on Congregational Transformation and Development
Krin Van Tatenhove and Rob Mueller focus on intentionality about our church facilities in Chapter 4 of their book. They believe that it is important to maximize the potential of church facilities not only for current and future members but right now for the community in which God has placed us.

Even before the Coronavirus pandemic, most church facilities and space sit empty and unused most days of the week. An important step toward becoming a "Neighborhood Church" is to consider how well and how often our church building facilities are used. Could some of our under-used church facilities be shared with community organizations or individuals? Van Tatenhove & Mueller believe however that simply "sharing space" does little to enhance the church's ministry in the community. Rather, they encourage church leaders to work toward the goal of "integrating our space" with those with whom we share it.

To "integrate space" with the neighboring community means that we share common goals, vision, and values. One way to put it: "we only share our facility with those who truly want to partner, contributing to the increased spiritual energy and redevelopment of our congregation" (p. 74). Those with whom we share space will support our Mission Statement. 
 
One example: A church that shares its facility with a Twelve Step group includes a portion in worship several times a year for individuals from the group to give heartfelt testimonies—thus reminding the congregation that the simple act of sharing space is having an impact on peoples' lives. This increases the church's spiritual energy, its sense of itself, and its mission. 
Online worship opportunities in our presbytery

Amboy: Weekly video devotions available on Facebook at First Presbyterian Church of Amboy or on YouTube at Pastor Amboy

Baxter: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88200423294; worship at 10:15

Browns Valley: 11:00 Sunday mornings online: www.facebook.com/UMPCBV



Edgerton: 10:30 Sunday mornings  Worship on church Facebook Page, and 11:30 Sunday mornings  Worship Audio Version available on church website

Fergus Falls: our sermon available on our website (www.federatedff.org) and our YouTube channel (FF Federated Church).

Holland: uploaded weekly to their YouTube channel

Jackson: Facebook Live - Facebook site is Salem Lutheran Church, Jackson, MN
Sunday 9:30 a.m., Wednesday 5:30 p.m., Holy Week - daily devotions, MT and GF 5:30 p.m.

Lake Crystal: Our church is sending Worship bulletin content and sermon via email and regular mail to our membership for each Sunday.  Also recording a service from Sanctuary of myself and musician to be accessed on You Tube on the Friday before the given Sunday. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSDuL79Bte0CjYxgTVor1ng

Lismore: 9:00 Sunday mornings - Worship on church Facebook Page

Litchfield: 10:00 am Sunday mornings and Tuesday morning Bible study by Zoom. Contact Gordy Pennertz for instructions.

Luverne: 10:15 am Sunday mornings on Facebook Live. Also carried by local cable company.

Maine: Services available at https://youtu.be/iiBy9u-Dt_c 

Mankato: www.fpcmankato.org - archive of all resources listed below
SUNDAYS on Facebook 
10AM sermon/prayer with Pastor Lindsay
10:20 (ish) Children's Time with Bailey DeVetter
10:30 (ish) Music Selection by Ben Marti posted

Randall: 10:00 am Sunday worship service is on Facebook and webpage

Redwood Falls: 10:15 am worship on Facebook Live on First Presbyterian Redwood Falls page

Saint Cloud: Services available online at www.fpcstcloud.org 

Saint James: Facebook Live worship @ 9:30 facebook.com/fpcstjames/


Slayton: Uploaded to their YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6o_vug3Us-sRQfEGbLDqJw

Spicer Hope: Facebook live at 10:00, link on Hope Presbyterian Church websiteAlso services are uploaded there later in the day.

Willmar: Facebook Live at 10:00 am Sunday mornings and at noon Wednesdays


Worthington: online worship services via Zoom and Facebook live Sunday at 10:00 am. The link for Zoom is on our website. For Facebook go to @WestminsterPresby
Coronavirus/COVID-19 Resources for Congregations and Members

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?—Psalm 27:1
Along with our brothers and sisters all around the world, we’re now coming to terms with the “new normal” brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. It is our hope and goal to equip churches and worshipers with useful information and resources during these trying times. Please check back often for updated information. If you have ideas or resources that might be of interest to the wider church, we invite you to email them to us at connected@pcusa.org.
Guidance for Faith-Based Communities from the MN Department of Health Link to guide
Presbyterian Women in the Minnesota Valleys Presbytery

The PW Coordinating Team has communicated via email and we decided that we will not be having a Fall Gathering. First it was supposed to be in June at the Renville Presbyterian Church. We had most of it planned, but it was not a good decision in June, and things are still too unsettled now because of Covid 19. All of you have made changes these last few months to still do what we can to fulfill our Purpose! Keep up the great things being accomplished.

Our next attempt at a gathering will be June 2021. We ask for prayers that we are doing what God has planned for PW of the MN Valley Presbytery! (PWMVP)

Blessings to all!
Gloria Rust, Moderator
What is the Future of PWMVP?

This year has been a challenging one to say the least! We need to search our hearts and contemplate what direction Presbyterian Women are going! Locally I am sure that you have many obstacles and challenges to keep PW active. You all are Presbyterian Women! You have Bible Study, circles, fellowship, mission projects, church activities you help with, etc.

On the Presbytery level, we have many obstacles and challenges as well. How can you help? Well, I have made it known that we are in need of a new TREASURER. Our current one has moved and she/we really want a replacement. If you are thinking about it at all, please contact me and make the commitment! Our Coordinating Team also has several COMMITTEES that can use help. We have Communications & Contact Person, Mission/Issues Committee, and Search Committee. It is a great bunch of gals to work with! We meet in the Spring and again in the Fall, mainly to plan our gathering and take care of financial obligations, and any other business. We have also worked via email.

As I said, search your hearts and give this a try! Let me know if you are interested! We are very interested in having you join our team!

Gloria Rust, PWMVP
Stewardship Kaleidoscope is moving online!

This year Kaleidoscope will offer learning over three weeks in the fall to help you respond to the needs of your community, adapt to change, and think about how to engage as a church in new ways. We hope you can join us on three consecutive Tuesdays: September 22, September 29, and October 6 at 11:30am central time.

On September 22nd hear from Eric Barreto of Princeton Theological Seminary on the Acts of the Apostles in the 21st century - imagination, vision, and creativity in responding to our call;

September 29th we will learn with consultant Bonnie Ives Marden about the ways in which faith shapes our financial health, and get practical tools for church financial management;

October 6th Rev. Bruce Reyes-Chow will provide perspectives on engaging congregations
across generations, cultures, and ethnicity to imagine building the church for forward thinking funding and functioning.

Registration is $45.00. See more at StewardshipKaleidoscope.org
Prayer List

  • For Rev. Bill Yueill, retired pastor, Zimmerman
  • For Rev. John Lindholm, retired pastor, Fergus Falls
  • For Rev. Mark Chamberlain, retired pastor, Willmar
  • For Rev. Bob Bartlett, First Presbyterian Churches of Brewster & Round Lake
  • For Rev. Michael Roys, retired pastor, Winnebago
  • For Rev. Elaine and Kent Boyd at First Presbyterian Church of Amboy

Pray for Our Occidente Partners in Guatemala
  • Rev. Araceli Itzep from the Occidente Presbytery
  • For Bety Cifuentes, the treasurer of the Partnership Committee, beginning new type of chemotherapy
  • For the "Men in the Mirror" program. Men from Occidente that MVP supported financially to attend the classes a couple of years ago are sharing the information they gained with different churches in the eastern and central parts of Guatemala. They, along with the chaplains of the national Presbyterian church, are training Christian policemen in what they learned from "Men in the Mirror."
  • The Executive Committee met in April, but has not been able to meet since as folks in Guatemala cannot travel between cities. Occidente Presbytery has not met; the projected purchase/buying of buildings is on hold; pastoral elections are on hold; they do hold services via Zoom; the economy is very bad.
  • They continue praying for us and ask that we continue to pray for them and for all of the things they cannot get to, and for their living conditions that get more complicated every day.
Pastoral Leadership Opportunities

Zion Presbyterian Church, Ellsworth; Emmanuel Presbyterian Church, Rushmore; First Presbyterian Church, Rushmore - Interim Pastor
Ministry Information Form - 09163.AE0

First Presbyterian Church, Fulda - Solo Pastor
Ministry Information Form - 03782.AD1

First Presbyterian Church, Lake Crystal; First Presbyterian Church, Kasota - Pastor, yoked parish
Ministry Information Form - 03709.AB1

Maine Presbyterian Church, rural Underwood - Solo Pastor
Ministry Information Form - 03870.AB0

Faith Presbyterian Church, Silver Lake - Solo Pastor
Ministry Information Form - 03851.AC3

Hope Presbyterian Church, Spicer - Solo Pastor
Ministry Information Form - 09565.ADO

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

Ministry opportunities are posted on the Church Leadership Connection website -- http://oga.pcusa.org/section/mid-council-ministries/clc/
From Mount Olivet Conference & Retreat Center

Mount Olivet Conference & Retreat Center is a ministry affiliate of Mount Olivet Lutheran Church (Minneapolis). Just as so many communities of faith and nonprofits are adjusting their outreach in different ways due to the pandemic, we are also thinking creatively about how we continue to foster and encourage individuals and groups to retreat. In addition to now once again welcoming pastors and small church and nonprofit groups for in person retreats, we are also offering online workshops, classes and retreats. Links to upcoming virtual offerings and our complimentary retreat offerings for those who are doing racial equity and justice work to pastors and faith communities.