The Valley Bridge
The weekly newsletter from the
Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys
August 2, 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 7:30 - 3:30 Monday - Friday.
Congregation of the week: August 6-12
Ebenezer Presbyterian Church of Renville

Pastor: Rev. Anna Williamson
Administrative Assistant: Lou Ann Ahrens
Christian Education Chair: Pam Kjersten
Newsletter Editor: Stacy Broberg
Session: Sheri Bakker, Carol Beekman, Todd Broberg, Vern Santjer, Dennis Bruns, Doug Bruns, Randy Freiborg, Tom Bakker, Wendell Bakker, Joyce Swanson, Kraig Winzenburg

Prayer Concerns: 
Leslie and Cynthia Morgan Mission workers in Bangladesh
The Homeless
Ebenezer's all church reunion held August 20th
Residents at care facilities - Meadows on Main and the Renvilla Nursing Home
Those recovering from surgery
Members with health concerns
Young Adult Volunteer finds new focus with Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations

Minnesota woman spends year with front row seat in international relations

by Rick Jones | Presbyterian News Service
Young Adult Volunteer Mindy Vande Brake just completed a year with the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations. Photo by Ryan Smith.

LOUISVILLE - Like many high school graduates, Mindy Vande Brake was searching for purpose in her life. The St. Cloud, Minnesota, native went to college close to home, but couldn't settle on a major that she found exciting. She decided to get some work experience and found herself in the restaurant industry.

"I liked the work, but I was looking for something more and realized God was calling me in a different way," she said. "I had a few opportunities, including a Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, that allowed me to go to Israel/Palestine and see up close what was going on there."

During her visit to the Holy Land, Vande Brake visited a refugee camp in Bethlehem, which she says made her question what the United Nations was doing as it related to Palestinians.

Several of her travel companions had served as  Young Adult Volunteers (YAVs) with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and she says they were instrumental in her decision to apply.

"After I was accepted, I turned it down because I was promoted at my job. But even after that, I regretted not doing it," she said. "When the opportunity arose again, I decided to pursue it."

The YAV program allows Presbyterians to serve a faith-based year, either in the U.S. or internationally. YAVs partner with agencies working to address poverty or social justice issues.

Vande Brake chose to extend her YAV experience for a two-year term. The first year was spent in New Orleans. During the second year, she chose to work for the  Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations.

"I mostly attended meetings on every kind of issue from women's rights and refugee migration to peace building, the conflict in Syria, Congo and South Sudan to name a few," she said. "A lot of the work was connecting the U.N. work with Presbyterian policies and this allowed me to see it through the church's eyes."

Vande Brake sat in general U.N. sessions, next to ambassadors, NGOs, mission staff and others.

"I really enjoyed to Commission on the Status of Women. We brought in 20 delegates from across the U.S. Thousands of women from across the world came to the U.N. headquarters in New York," she said. "There were so many meetings on all types of issues relating to women. The room was full of diversity and amazing women. It was a wonderful opportunity to hear their stories and learn what they were doing in their homelands."

Ryan Smith, director for the Presbyterian Ministry at the U.N., found Vande Brake to be a valuable asset to the work in New York.

"As a second-year YAV, Mindy was able to take the information she learned from providing services her first year, to advocating for social change within the international community in her second year," he said. "It's both service and social change that make the PC(USA) important for the world."

As she prepares to head back to Minnesota, having completed her term, Vande Brake says she will cherish the time she spent with the U.N. ministry.

"It has opened my eyes to human rights issues across the world and allowed me to see how other countries are suffering more than us," she said. "I am hoping to go back to school in January and study international relations and political science. My goal is to one day work on the ground in peacemaking for another country."

"It was a pleasure having Mindy bring her skills of patience and hospitality to the U.N. ministry," Smith said. "From helping to move the office, advocating for the Commission on the Status of Women to working with local congregations, Mindy brought a passion and energy to her work that demonstrates why Presbyterians should be encouraged by emerging leaders."

Smith says the YAV program changes young adults both professionally and personally and is proud that the ministry at the U.N. is a partner.

"It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I would never have had the opportunity had I not participated as a YAV," said Vande Brake. "Sitting at the U.N. table next to ambassadors and participating in the conversations is something you can't get anywhere else."

The Young Adult Volunteer Program is made possible by gifts to the  Pentecost Offering.
The One Percent
by Missy Leuthold

As part of receiving funds from the Presbytery I was asked to report back on my experience in Thailand. 

Often when people in America refer to "the one percent" the thought of wealthy, privileged individuals come to mind. This one percent is a group of well to do individuals where disposable income is not an issue. These people are powerful, respected and perhaps even envied by others.
There is another group of people who also identify as "the one percent." However, this group lives in Thailand and is considered the one percent because they are Christians in a country that is predominately Buddhists. Opposite of the one percent in America, this one percent of Christians in Thailand is not necessarily powerful, respected or envied by society's standards. This does not discourage the Thai Christians. Everyday Christian Thais choose to be part of the one percent and encourage others to have a relationship with God through the love of Jesus Christ. 

Witnessing these Christians live with a passion and desire to share God's love with others all over Thailand will leave one in awe. 
One specific individual that chooses to share the love of God with others in Thailand is Presbyterian Co-Worker Esther Wakeman. Wakeman has lived in Chiang Mia, Thailand for 38 years and is currently serving as the Chaplain at Payap University.  For the past four years, Esther has coordinated an English Fun Camp for the nursing and accounting, finance and banking students at Payap. The purpose of this camp is build relationships with the students so that they might feel more comfortable using English with native speakers. Recently, I had the opportunity to serve for two weeks at the English Fun Camp and to try to describe the experience in an article would be unfair to the impact it had on the students and the volunteers, including myself.
Street markets, faith testimonies, vocab games, amazing food (and some weird food), visits to Thai businesses and different ministries in Chiang Mia, songs and dances with students, tours of temples, prayer walks, classes on Buddhism and Thai culture, worship at Payap church, meals with students and faculty, a traditional Thai dance and dinner and so much laughter is just a brief description of what exactly took place while serving at Payap University in Thailand. To encounter God in those moments was to see the joy on both the students and volunteers faces as we grew more comfortable with each other throughout the week.
Outside of the camp, I also had the privilege of spending time with Esther Wakeman to discuss discipleship.  During this conversation, Wakeman stressed how intrinsically related joy and discipleship is when seeking a relationship with Jesus Christ. Joy means we are happy to be together. Shared joy produces strong bonds and loving relationships with others. And joy is what is found in a relationship with Jesus Christ. What better way to discipleship than through joy? This conversation was an added bonus to an already extraordinary experience of serving God in Thailand.      
Whether Christians are the one percent or the 99 percent, God's work in this world is truly incredible. In Thailand, God continues to work through the English Fun Camp and Payap University in ways of joy, discipleship, service and outreach. As American Christians we can learn a lot from those serving in Thailand. We can learn to serve with joy, desire and against all odds. God continues to love a world in need of His amazing grace and the least we can do is share it with others.

Minnesota Valleys Presbytery at Synod School 2017

Here are most of us from MN Valleys that were there last week 
Photo taken outside the chapel by Cathy Newcomb
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.

Interpersonal Peacemaking Skills at the August 22 Presbytery Meeting Forum

Understand your own style of communication under stress, and learn some helpful collaborative/communication skills.    
  • Understanding Conflict - Introduce people to different kinds of conflict, how conflict escalates, and the importance of good communication in working through disagreements.
  • Explore one Biblical passage on working through conflict.
  • Complete the *self-assessment (conflict style inventory) and discuss the 5 response styles. How is your style different in calm times vs. stormy times?
  • Learn up to 3 Collaborative skills (interpersonal peace-making skills) using small group exercises and debriefing.
This forum will take place the morning of August 22 at the First Presbyterian Church of Saint James. This is the option for those commissioners and visitors not attending the morning commission and committee meetings.
August Ordination Anniversaries

08/04/2012  Paul Snyder
08/06/1947  Hugh Miller
08/14/1961  Wayne Purintun
08/15/2006  Leanne Thompson
08/15/2006  Scott Thompson
08/28/2005  Andrew Davis
Presbyterian Planning Calendars have arrived and were distributed at the Session Records Reviews. The remaining calendars will be brought to the August 22 presbytery meeting to be picked up by the churches that ordered them. If you would like your congregation's calendars mailed sooner, contact Karen at the presbytery office. We ask churches to pay for the cost of the postage.
God Chat Apps: A Life of Prayer
Saturday, October 7, 2017
9:00 - 3:30
Hope Presbyterian Church

Email Karen Lange to register. Cost: $10 if preregistered by September 22
Plenary Speaker: Rev. Kara Root
Breakout session topics:
  • Centering Prayer
  • Spiritual Practices
  • Yoga, Meditation & Prayer
  • Introduction to Prayer
  • Tech Tools for Prayer
Second Promo
Second Promo
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
Discipleship: Anne Veldhuisen, , 507-215-5617
Evangelism: Candace Adams, , 320-796-2650
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, Foley - Interim Pastor
   Ministry Information Form - 03882.AAO

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

Join the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program as we experience this remarkable and troubled region, encounter its diverse people, explore its rich history and complex current situation, and engage with those who seek its peace. By attending this conference, you will be
  • inspired by the stories of Christian peacemakers in the Holy Land, walk in the footsteps of the Prince of Peace and encounter contemporary Palestinians and Israelis;
  • equipped by engagement with Christian, Muslim and Jewish leaders, experience contextual theology and study peacemaking practices within the framework of PCUSA policy;
  • connected with global and local partners to take meaningful action for a just and lasting peace in the region.
APPLICATIONS - Apply online through November 15, 2017. Notification and commitment packets will be sent shortly after your application is received and processed. First-time visitors to the Holy Land are encouraged to attend. Previous conference participants and seasoned travelers to the region are welcome as well. Must be 18 years old.

COST - The double-occupancy rate for the conference is $2,600. This includes all conference expenses (including all meals, accommodations, programs, tips, tours, and on the ground transportation). Airline travel is not included. Limited single occupancy is available for an additional charge.

HOTELS - The conference includes 11 nights of lodging. The current conference hotels include: The Gloria Hotel of Old Jerusalem, Bethlehem's Manager Square Hotel, and the Golden Crown Hotel in Nazareth.

TRAVEL - Participants are responsible for their travel and may book their own airline tickets, but all itineraries must be submitted for approval by the conference registrar prior to ticketing. Departures from the US should be on Sunday, April 29 to arrive to Tel Aviv (TLV) on Monday, April 30. Return flights may depart TLV on Friday evening, May 11 to arrive in the US on Saturday May 12.

SMALL GROUPS - Conference participants will be placed into small groups led by group leaders. These teams will engage in preparation before the conference, meet as a group during the conference, and consider meaningful collective action upon returning home.

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.

Six New Things
July 31, 2017 edition of the Synod's newsletter: Keeping in Touch
News for the Common Good
Upcoming Respectful Conversations
Sanctuary Churches
The meaning of an eclipse
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