The Valley Bridge
The weekly newsletter from the
Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys
August 23, 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: August 27 - September 2
First Presbyterian Church of Rushmore
Elders: Arla Engelkes, Vicki Groenewold, Brenda Krull and Eunice Ailts
Deacons: Gary Ailts, Travis Ailts, Charlotte Dammer, Corrine Hausman, Dennis Frazier and Gary Wagley
Clerk of session: Eunice Ailts
Church Treasurer: Brenda Krull

Prayer Concerns:
  • Pray for families that are mourning the loss of loved ones.
  • Pray for healing for those fighting diseases and health issues.
  • Pray for elderly that are home-bound or in nursing homes
  • Thank God for a great Vacation Bible School again this year.

This simple word of welcome is my greeting to you today. As I begin ministry with you, I look forward with enthusiasm to the many times we will have to greet one another.  Our greeting is not just the exchange of pleasantries rather we greet one another as sisters and brothers in Christ, called by God to be in ministry together. I am elated about the opportunity to serve you as your Executive Director of Presbytery Mission.
Today and into the future, our work together is to bear witness to Christ in all that we do. Thus, the work of each congregation is significant and the labor of all leaders, those called to ordered ministry and faithful members who serve without title, are essential for spreading the good news of the Gospel in our region. We are all profoundly aware that the witness of the church has been obstructed by schism, injustice, racism, classism, the lack of radical hospitality, grace limited to one-sided theology and conditional love. Many have interpreted the current state of the church as irrelevant. However, more than ever individuals are seeking God. Individuals seek authentic community, experiential faith and real people who are gospel-makers. Simply said, there is a longing today for those who practice the faith by showing the Christ of the Scripture through word and deed. "The gospel of Jesus not only must change the souls of men and women but it also must change the environmental conditions in which they live so that their souls can live." (Adapted from Dr. Martin Luther King)
In this season of the church, our foundational beliefs as Presbyterians - belief in the providence and sovereignty of God, sufficient grace and a theology of abundance, makes our congregations well equipped to meet the challenges of this present time. Our belief in providence -God is in charge of the universe-is always coupled with our belief in God as sovereign. The sovereignty of God reminds us that God alone creates and directs. I strongly believe that the Gospel is always relevant and that God equips the Church to do ministry in every age. The sufficient grace of God provides the Church strength in times of ambiguity, chaos, and complexity. Abundance theology inspires resourcefulness and the proper stewardship of the gifts with which we have been entrusted. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is an active partner in the work of Christ.  It has been said that the church is not dying but reforming; I agree. How is God reforming ministry in your area? I look forward to learning how the Spirit is working in your midst. Like the Apostle Paul, I believe that the good work that God has begun in us will be performed until the day of the return of Christ.
During my orientation to the presbytery, my primary goals for September and October are to get to know you - congregations, pastors and leaders. With the leadership team, we will continue to work to effectively implement the ministry plan of the presbytery.  As I focus on these goals, I will continually ask each pastor and congregation to consider these two questions: What are your ministry hopes and dreams? How may I support you in your work?  In addition, my goal is to worship with two congregations a month either during regular Sunday worship or special events and celebrations.  To begin our time together, I will be meeting with our pastors and leaders of commissions.  Two gatherings to meet with pastors will take place between September and October. Pastors as your need for counsel or support arise; do not hesitate to call as I am here to be in prayer with and for you.
God has called us to be in ministry together for this time in the life of the church. The presbytery' s vision "to be a collective expression of the Body of Christ joyfully participating in Christ's on-going life and work" will guide our work together.  I look forward to beginning ministry with you.  You will be in my prayers daily. Murphy and I solicit your prayers as we continue to unpack boxes and make ourselves at home here in Willmar.
May the God of hope fill you with joy in believing in the sufficient grace of God in your lives.
Rev. Dr. SanDawna Gaulman Ashley
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.

A note from Mindy

Thank you to Minnesota Valleys for their prayers and financial support during my last two years serving as a Young Adult Volunteer in New Orleans and New York. I am now back in Minnesota again and willing to come speak about my experiences, the Young Adult Volunteer Program, and the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations to your congregations. Also as we go in to the season of the Peacemaking and Global Witness offering in our churches, this special offering helps to support the important work at the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations that I had served during my year in New York City.
Thanks again,
Mindy Vande Brake

Commission/Committee Members and General Assembly Commissioners, alternate and YAADS sought
The Commission on Representation (COR) will be meeting in early October 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. All of this information will also be available at the presbytery meeting. If you have questions about any of the positions, please talk with Stated Clerk Pam Prouty or Sara McKay, chair of the COR.
Presbytery Meeting Highlights

What a beautiful day is was to be traveling south to Saint James! We got a lot done, what with five commission/committee meetings and a forum in addition to the presbytery meeting. The interpersonal peacemaking skills forum was led by Rev. Leah Elrod. We learned our personal conflict styles and tips to deal with conflict. We learned the importance of listening without judgment, advice or analysis. 

A couple of meeting highlights:
  • Hearing about the history and ministries of the First Presbyterian Church of Blue Earth
  • Recognizing the retirement of Rev. Chris Conlin
  • Learning about Mindy Vande Brake's time as a Young Adult Volunteer in New Orleans and New York
  • Celebrated the installation of Rev. Dr. SanDawna Ashley, our new Executive Director of Presbytery Mission
Here is a link to the pictures from the meeting:

Thanks to all of the great hosts at First Presbyterian Church of Saint James!
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 

Final Promo
Final 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
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 --
Pastoral Leadership Opportunity in Bismarck

FPC Bismarck is searching for candidates for the position of pastor. 
Here is the MIF link:
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.

Six New Things
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