The Valley Bridge
The weekly newsletter from the
Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys
August 3, 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 7-13
Faith Presbyterian Church of Silver Lake

Session members: Carol Denneson, Gary Krcil, Jerry Brooks, Tonya Grenhke, Donna Holm, Margie Nelson, Brent Posusta, Donna Morang, Gene Smith
Deacons: Dorothy Merrill, Deb Jensen, Joy Nunvar, Mary Beth Chmielewski, Margie Fronk, Laura Pieper, Joleen Nowak, Linda Prochaske, Jacki Rossi 
Music Director: Barb Wawrzyniak
Secretary: Mary Beth Chmielewski
Treasurer: Margie Nelson
Clerk of Session: Donna Holm
Pastor: Carol Chmielewski
Our Prayers
Lord, we give you thanks and praise for the wonderful 140th year as your church family on July 10th. We were blessed with a beautiful day and lots of fun remembering and enjoying each others company. As summer winds down, we pray for our students as the start back to school and the beginning of another year of Christian Education. We also pray for our farmers as they bring in this years harvest. May it be bountiful as they stay safe. We also pray for those from our congregation who are facing health issues, and for those who are shut-ins. Be with us all as we continue our journey. In Jesus name, Amen.

A Word from Rick: A Quick Turnaround

After two weeks away, I am back in the office trying to play "catch-up," along with a little bit of "get ahead." I think I will wait to change my voicemail greeting until I feel a little bit more grounded . . . like the day before I leave on vacation.

The experience of the Presbyterian Youth Triennium (PYT) was, once again, very special. The "every three-year trip" to Purdue always provides me with special highlights and memories, and this year was no exception.

PYT is my chance to contribute to the life of the PCUSA in a way that fits my passions and skills. For the third consecutive Triennium, I coordinated the Exhibit Hall. It is a place where our young people get a chance to learn what it is that our church is all about in its mission and ministry. The Exhibit Hall gives me a chance to work with, and get to know, many of the people who work in our Louisville offices. I have come to see what a talented, knowledgeable, and faithful team of people they are. It is good for me to put faces along with the names of people whose ministries are supported by our per capita and mission giving. They are special people, and it was amazing to watch them interact with our young people.

Outside of the Exhibit Hall, PYT was a hopping place and it was great to see nearly 70 young people and their leaders wearing the colors of Minnesota Valleys as they shared in fellowship and worship that was exceptional, challenging small groups, and the many other activities that filled the week. The week's preaching, bookended by Rodger Nishioka and Perryn Rice, was about as challenging and faithful as it gets. Rumor has it that there may still be some Minnesota Valleys buttons available at the presbytery meeting - for a price. If so, proceeds will go back into the Triennium Fund for 2019.

Following Triennium, Synod School in Iowa played host to several dozen of our presbytery folks. I greatly appreciate Bea Ourada covering the office so that Karen, Pam, and I could all be present. I managed to keep some remote office hours, checking in with Bea on a daily basis. I am glad that things were quiet here on the edge of the prairie . . . it made my week go well!

Synod School, with 630 in attendance, was quite tame and much quieter than Triennium, and there was less walking. In seven days at PYT, I put on nearly 50 miles, in five-plus days at Storm Lake, I managed only about 25!

Sue and I each had several insightful and very good classes. One of the interesting aspects of the week was reading the Book of Jonah out loud three times . . . one of those times in an establishment where adult beverages were served. John Bell, from the Iona Community in Scotland, was the convocation speaker and offered some wonderful insights. I am glad that Sue took such good notes, as I had issues with John's accent in the echo chamber that the BVU Chapel can become. It was fun being in the Synod School community and being able to take classes with a number of different people from our presbytery. Steve Tyykila, from Canby, and his colleague Tim Harmon, from Iowa, offered opportunities to play board and card games each night, and I got to experience some great games, along with some fun fellowship. I am a beast at "Time Line," but not so hot at "Ticket to Ride" - but at least I got to play with trains and share in person the interest of one of our Minnesota Valleys pastors.
Synod School is unique in the PCUSA, and it continues to draw good crowds. Scholarships are available for "first timers" through the synod, and the presbytery also has funds available. Our call as a presbytery is to equip the saints - of all ages - and Synod School is a neat way to do that!

Now, Karen, Pam, and I are back, and there is no time to rest. Next Tuesday, August 9, we will be gathering in Browns Valley for our summer presbytery meeting. The saints in Browns Valley are eager to welcome us as they celebrate several anniversaries in their congregation's life. I hope and pray that you will make the journey and be a part of a very full day! Also, don't forgot the opportunities in Willmar on Monday to meet with Edward Thompson, our Board of Pensions representative!

See you next week in Browns Valley, or somewhere else down the line!

Grace and Peace,
Minnesota Valleys at Triennium
Minnesota Valleys at Synod School
On the Road with Rick
August 9 - Presbytery Meeting at Browns Valley
August 14 - Morning Worship at Cambria and Madelia Presbyterian Churches
August 21 - Preach at First Presbyterian Church, Willmar
September 11 - Preach at Zion Lutheran and Harrison Presbyterian Churches
Save the Date!
September 24
9:00 am - 4:30 pm
Continuing Education opportunity!

Conflict Transformation  Skills 
for Churches

will be held at First Presbyterian Church in St James.
This workshop will provide a lens for looking at conflict,  a way to understand your own style of responding to conflict,  and an opportunity to learn basic skills and find resources  to help with interpersonal and congregational conflict.

This event is open to all churches in the Presbytery.  The only cost will be $10 for lunch! Watch  this space for more details!
To Pastors, Clerks of Session, PWC:
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. 

We extend our sympathy  to the family of Rev. Arthur Bayley, H.R., who passed away on July 15, 2016, in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. The memorial service took place on Saturday, July 30 at Calvary Evangelical Free Church in Rugby, North Dakota. We will share any further information we receive in the Valley Bridge.
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 31 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."

Support Education for Children in Our Sister Presbytery in Guatemala

by Jim Krapf

Education yields opportunities. You can support this possibility for children in our sister presbytery of Occidente. Donating $250 scholarships provide funds for a student's required uniforms, books, and other expenses for a year.

Their next school year begins in January. We send the scholarships in late October.  Until then, your checks can be mailed to the presbytery office. Any amount is appreciated; but $250 per student is the goal.

Donors will receive photographs, academic reports, and thank you notes from children and/or their parents. We do not reveal the donors to the recipients to avoid further requests for assistance. We have found presbytery-to-presbytery arrangements are a fairer more manageable way to offer assistance.

Occidente Presbytery, along with others throughout Guatemala, have reorganized. The whole country is becoming a General Assembly with new groupings of synods and presbyteries. With fewer churches in each, communications will be more effective and travel to meetings more convenient. Occidente's Committee on Ministry will continue to select the recipients from among their now 20 churches. Keeping our donations at current levels could support more children beyond elementary into middle and high school.

Thank you in advance
A Call to Serve

Who will be the next Scott Prouty or Kathy Terpstra, as members of our presbytery serving at the General Assembly level?
The 222nd General Assembly (2016) created several special commissions, committees, and task forces to be appointed by the Co-Moderators of the 222nd General Assembly and, in the case of the Way Forward Commission, the Co-Moderators with the Moderator and Vice-Moderator of the 221st General Assembly. If you wish to be consider for one of these opportunities, you must complete an application form and provide three references.  
The first two online application forms are now available. Application forms for the Way Forward Commission and the 2020 Vision Team can be found at The online application form is due on August 17. 
Board of Pensions Update

Edward Thompson, our current Board of Pensions Regional Representative, is coming to Minnesota Valleys in August. It will most likely be Edward's last visit to our area, as the board's regions are being reshaped. Later this fall, Kenneth Green will become our representative. Hopefully, he will get a chance to see us, perhaps even before the year is out!
Edward's visit will have three public portions to it, as follows:
  • Monday, August 8 - 11:00 a.m. -- Lunch and conversation with Retired Pastors and Spouses at the Green Mill in Willmar. All retired pastors should have received an invitation from the Board and RSVPs are requested. Please RSVP to Karen Lange at the Presbytery Office - 320.235.7910 BY THIS THURSDAY, AUGUST 4 at noon.
  • Monday, August 8 - 3:00 p.m. - The 2017 Benefits Plan: Changes and Updates. There are some changes and transitional provisions coming within the Benefits Plan for 2017, and in a short report to the presbytery meeting, Edward may not have enough time to be fair to this. Pastors, church treasurers, session members, and other interested folks are invited to come to the Presbytery Office in Willmar for an unhurried conversation with Edward. RSVPs are not required, but helpful!!
  • Tuesday, August 9 - Presbytery Meeting in Browns Valley - Edward will share news and information with the presbytery. He will also be able to chat with interested individuals.
An overview to the 2017 Benefits Plan can be found on line at the Board of Pensions web site --
Take time before August 8-9 to check it out!
A New Website for Presbyterian Mission

The Presbyterian Mission Agency has rolled out a brand new website - that seems to be more user friendly - and really works!
We encourage you to check it out and use it . . . OFTEN!! The address for this new website is

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.AC0. For more information, please contact PNC Chairperson, Shari Maloney, at 320.859.3098 or by e-mail - .
Useful Link for Church Treasurers: 
PWP 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.

Flyer and registration form
Lifelong Learning Program Grants have been awarded by the Foundation to Presbyterian planning groups in its 13-state region since 1972. Teaching Elders, Commissioned Ruling Elders (CREs) and Lay Leaders greatly benefit from lifelong learning events which are located in their Presbytery or state.

Through the years, the Foundation has provided over a million dollars to support many educational events, workshops and/or seminars which cover a wide range of topics and serve anywhere from 10 to more than 200 people.
If your Presbyterian group is located within the Foundation's 13-state region, an application for financial assistance is available. A grant provides up to one half of the cost of presenting an event or workshop to benefit area clergy, CREs and/or lay leaders. (Application forms and guidelines may be downloaded from the bottom of this page.)
Applications and estimated expense/income totals for Lifelong Learning Program Grants are due in the Foundation office by August 15th  of the current year for an event planned for the following year.

Requests for payment for approved Lifelong Learning Program Grants are due before November 15th  following the event. Extensions will be considered upon request.
The region served by the Foundation includes the following 13 states: Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, MissouriMontanaNebraskaNorth DakotaOklahomaSouth Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
South Sudan Education and Peacebuilding Project (SSEPP)

My name is Nicole Gerkins and I am a Mission Engagement Associate working with Presbyterian World Mission and Mission Engagement and Support. My colleague, Chris Roseland, and I will be sending you communications and future updates from the South Sudan Education and Peacebuilding Project (SSEPP) alongside Debbie Braaksma, the Area Coordinator for Africa. We are always available to assist you with any questions you may have and look forward to continuing to build on these relationships. Please feel free to share this update with anyone you think may be interested.
Please find the linked Second Quarter Report of the South Sudan Education and Peacebuilding Project (SSEPP). Please continue to keep our mission co-workers, our global partners, and their communities in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. I invite you to also read the most recent update from Presbyterian World Mission regarding the situation in South Sudan in the story below:

Please let us know if you have any questions.  Thank you for your continued partnership and support. We are better together!
Grace and peace,
Nicole  Gerkins
Mission Engagement Associate
Mission Engagement and Support
Sing A New Song 2016: A Day for Discovery, Renewal, and Refreshment for the Church Musician

September 10, 2016 from 8:00 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.
Hvidsten Music Building - Concordia College, Moorhead, MN

The day will include workshops in choral, organ, contemporary, children's choir and handbell techniques. Cost is $50 before September 1st or $60 after (this includes lunch). For more information, please download the brochure.

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