The Valley Bridge
The weekly newsletter from the
Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys
August 24, 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 28 - September 3
Hope Presbyterian Church of Spicer

Custodian: Julee Clark
Director of Missional Outreach: Missy Leuthold
Ministry & Staff Assistant & Wedding Coordinator: Karen Bents
Music Coordinator: Maggie Harp
Pastor: Candace Adams
Treasurer: Jerry Bents
Clerk of Session: Nancy Birkeland
  • Our congregation as we study the Bible in 31 weeks, using The Story
  • Our new Mission Engagement Committee as they discern how we can best serve our community.
  • Our committees and task forces as they seek to fulfill the ministry and mission that we are called by God to do. 
  • Children and youth as they embark on a new school year that they might experience God's love.
A Word from Rick: The Shifting of Seasons

I am extra-long-winded this week, because this article will suffice for the next two weeks!!
Yesterday, a good number of my Facebook friends with kids posted their annual "first day of school pictures," eager students ready to hit the books and meet the challenges of academia. At the same time my teacher colleagues were writing about the excitement that they were feeling as they prepared to meet their students for the first time and embark on another year of learning and adventure. On Facebook, in my e-mails, and on various web sites, I have seen prayers for teachers, students, and backpacks, as well as articles talking about preparing for Sunday School "Rally Day."  It doesn't seem possible, but summer is nearly gone, and I haven't had my vacation yet!
It is only August 24 and, being the traditionalist that I am, I still hold on to the notion that school should start after Labor Day. I still find it hard getting used to the fact that in so many places our kids are back in class. I know that there is probably great rejoicing among many parents, but when school starts, it signals the end of summer, and I am not ready for that! "The Great Minnesota Get-Together," known as the State Fair, starts on Thursday and that becomes that one final certain sign that we are starting to drift ever so slowly toward what Garrison Keillor refers to as "The Great Darkness."
While school is starting and the fair is running, I am heading out on vacation, but before I go, I want us to look at the months that lay directly ahead of us and get some important dates and events onto our calendars. I fear that if we don't do that, life will soon get way too busy for many of us and we will miss being engaged in some important opportunities.
So, grab your calendars and make sure you are aware of these gatherings:
Tuesday, September 13 - "Boundary Training" from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church in Willmar. This is a required gathering for all of our pastors and ruling elders commissioned to a particular service, in order for our credentials to be found in order for the coming three years. Other interested participants from our congregations are welcome, as well.
Mark Sundby from the North Central Ministry Development Center will be the presenter and lunch will be provided. RSVP's are necessary - both for those planning to attend and those unable to attend. Please contact Karen at the presbytery office by September 8th. I expect to see our pastors and CREs present and engaged in this important training.
Saturday, September 24 - "Conflict Transformation Skills for Churches" from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church in Saint James. Pastors Leah Elrod and Scott Prouty will be leading this workshop, in partnership with Bill Blank, from the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center. Brochures and registration information are now available. Don't miss out on this great opportunity for your congregation and your leaders to see how conflict can be transformed into an opportunity for growth, and how you can respond to conflict when it appears in your congregation. Contact Leah Elrod at 507.375.3432 for more details.
Saturday, October 15 - "Building Interfaith Bridges" from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church in Redwood Falls. You heard Scott Prouty talk about this at the May presbytery meeting, and I hope that you have already put it on your calendars. Dr. Sayyid Syeed, the National Director of the Islamic Society of North America will be the guest of Scott and the Redwood Falls church during that weekend. Our presbytery is working with Scott to sponsor this gathering with the hope that it will engage us all in some important conversations about relationship and building bridges of understanding and collaboration between our faith traditions and communities. More details will be shared, but I hope that our people take hold of this opportunity to be in dialog. Stay tuned for more!
Saturday, November 5 - Presbytery Meeting and Music Workshop at the Union Presbyterian Church in Saint Peter, from 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. In the morning, Bill McConnell, Executive Director of PAM, the Presbyterian Association of Musicians will share with all of us how the Glory to God hymnal can be a vital resource for our congregational worship. Following lunch, while the presbyters conduct presbytery's business, Bill will lead a workshop for musicians, worship planners, and other interested folk. Make this a big day - bring your music lovers and worship leaders to the presbytery gathering. It will be great!
Now, back to where I started. I still am not ready to accept the fact that summer will soon be a memory. Visits to places like Baltimore, Mystic, Acadia, Saratoga, and Albany still remain on my "Summer To-Do List." However, looking beyond vacation, I see some interesting and insightful opportunities ahead of me, and in front of all of us. When the "Next Pres Team" visioned the future of this presbytery, they claimed the "Equipping of the Saints" to be a major priority of this presbytery. They felt that to build vital congregations not only required the development of strong pastoral leaders, but the equipping of the people in those congregations. As I look at these four offerings, I believe we may be walking in step with that vision.
See you in September!

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 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

A few shots from the Ethiopia-South Sudan Ministry Network and Self-Development of People meetings on Saturday, August 20:

Omot Akok, Elizabeth Tot and Thijin Gatwech

Owar Ojulu and Peter Mann

Thijin Gatwech, Darlene Scherbing and Duane Scherbing
Boundary Training
Tuesday, September 13
For All Teaching Elders and Ruling Elders Commissioned to a Particular Service

This REQUIRED every three year Boundary Training will be held on Tuesday, September 13, from 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church, 312 6th Street SW, Willmar. This is required for all Teaching Elders and Ruling Elders commissioned to a particular service; however, anyone interested in such training is welcome. Lunch will be provided. If you are Unable to attend, contact Pamela Prouty. Please RSVP to Karen Lange by September 7 at  and note any dietary restrictions.

The training will be led by Mark Sundby. Mark has served as a consultant, teacher, and counselor in the field of psychology for over twenty years. For the past sixteen years, as executive director of North Central Ministry Development Center, he has specialized in personality and leadership assessment in ministry, with an emphasis on health and wholeness, leadership development, and conflict skills training. 

Mark is an ordained United Methodist pastor in the Wisconsin Conference and a psychologist. He earned his doctorate in counseling psychology from the University of Minnesota, masters of divinity from the University of Chicago, and bachelors from St. Olaf College.
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.

Registration deadline September 9th. Please use the registration form on the linked brochure.
Chris Cunningham
--A Midwest Mini Tour with--
Wes Kirkpatrick

Concert at First Presbyterian Church
Canby MN
Sunday, September 11
4:00 p.m.
$15 at the door
(kids are free)
Send Us Your Congregation's Mission Activities!
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. 

Prayers for Rev. Clint Patterson

We are asking for prayers as he goes to the Mayo Clinic for testing, having determined that he had a slight stroke when he was in Iowa a couple weeks ago. They are trying to figure out "why" and what to do to prevent further problems. Clint is a former pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Lake Crystal and is an avid Synod Schooler.
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."

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
It is PYWA's mission to connect, uphold, and inspire amazing youth workers around the country we need amazing youth workers to make that all happen! We are looking for some talented, dedicated, and faithful youth workers (just like YOU) to help us continue to live our mission and discover the awesome things that God has in store for the association and all the youth workers it supports. We are looking for people from all experience levels, backgrounds, church sizes, lay, ordained, paid, volunteer, etc. Click the link below to download an application for the PYWA Core Team (leadership/ governing team) and Ministry Teams (action teams). We hope that you will take a couple of minutes to read about these opportunities and prayerfully consider if you are being called to share your talents, leadership, and vision with PYWA or if you know someone who would be great addition to these leadership teams.  

If you have any questions about serving on the Core Team or a Ministry Team please feel free to email Interim Director Brian Kuhn ( and he will be happy to talk with you.

If joining the Core Team or a Ministry Team is not right for you at this time we hope that you will consider renewing your membership or joining for the first time. You can easily do that by clicking right here. 

Blessings in your ministries and as you begin the new program year.

Jeremy Wilhemi

Brian Kuhn
Interim Director

Click here for: PYWA Core Team/ Ministry Team Application

From Presbyterian Older Adult Ministries Network: 
Join Us in Richmond!

Welcome to Richmond! We Presbyterians in Virginia and especially in the Presbytery of the James are most fortunate that POAMN/ARMSS chose Richmond for their October 2016 National Conference! My husband Ralph and I have attended the 2014th  conference in Missouri and the 2015th in Albuquerque. We have been most impressed with the mission of this group. The members of POAMN and ARMSS have great dedication and enthusiasm for Older Adults, and are making wonderful things happen for Older Presbyterians in the United States.
As Co-Moderators of the Older Adult Purpose Group in the Presbytery of the James, we want to welcome you to the Richmond area. We are working very hard to encourage the 104 churches of the Presbytery to attend this outstanding 4-day conference.  We know these leaders have planned superb workshops, speakers, and events. We believe you will be pleasantly surprised at all Richmond and Virginia have to offer. You will not be disappointed if you come!  The autumn coloring is spectacular, the food delicious, and the people friendly. 

If you have not visited Virginia, we urge you to take a few extra days and visit our wonderful state. For the past 40 + years, our slogan has been VIRGINIA IS FOR LOVERS! This is lovers of mountains, oceans, rivers, peanuts, farmland, proximity to DC, history dating back to 1607, art, great colleges, etc.  

We look forward to seeing you in Virginia!

Lillian Rhudy and Carroll Londoner 
Presbytery of the James
Older Adult Purpose Group 

Register online

Download brochure
08/03/16 In this season: GA222 Co-Moderator reflections
08/03/16 In this season:
GA222 Co-Moderator reflections

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