The Valley Bridge
The weekly newsletter from the
Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys
December 19, 2018
 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)
Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!

from  SanDawna Ashley, Pamela Prouty and Karen Lange - 
Minnesota Valleys Presbytery
December Presbytery Office Schedule

Dec 19: SanDawna out of the office
Dec 21: SanDawna and Karen vacation - office closed 
Dec 24-Jan 1: Office closed

Next Valley Bridge newsletter is January 2
Congregation of the week of December 23-29
First Presbyterian Church of Winnebago
Rev Michael A Roys -- pastor
Rev Kathy Blair -- minister of music
Carol Ricard -- secretary
Amber Franklin -- custodian
MaryJean Miller -- organist
Our Next-to-New Mission/Thrift Store, operated by the church's women, both meets the needs of low income families throughout the year and in December gives mission support to church, denomination, Presbyterian camps, and a host of other area groups and organizations.
Our Presbyterian Men's Group provides fellowship and devotion to our church's men; operates a weekly Burger Stand for the community on Wednesdays through the summer; and provides both financial support and material service to the Church and community.
Our quilters donate quilts to a variety of groups and individuals.
Prayer Concerns
  • 10 - 12 members with significant health issues (cancers/surgeries/dementia, etc.)
  • Christmas events, program and services
  • Celebration of our 150th year in 2019
  • Challenges of shrinking population and membership 
  • Christmas basket distribution
Congregation of the week of December 30 - January 5
Westminster Presbyterian Church of Worthington
Diana Vallego, Administrative Assistant
Holly McCuen, Financial Secretary
LeRoy Ennenga, Clerk of Session
Galen Smith, Pastor

Westminster shares God's love in Worthington through a number of shared ministries.

We rejoice in the varied ministries and outreach the members of Westminster are involved in such as volunteering in schools, with United Way, Scouts, Hospital and VFW. As a congregation we host and support Manna Food Pantry. We are a partner with Love Inc Worthington and sponsor the Kitchen Supplies Gap ministry for them. Each August we organize and host a School supplies and Back Pack giveaway for the elementary students of Nobles County. We continue our relationship with Rev. Owar Ojulu and Hope Christian Ministry as they reach out to the Anuak population in southwest Minnesota. We also have a relationship with a small congregation Iglesia de Dios Septima Dia.
Commissioner, Ruling Elder, Deacon Training

On January 12th the presbytery will hold a joint Presbytery Commission/Committee member and New Ruling Elders and Deacons training event at the Hope Presbyterian Church of  Spicer from 9:30 - 4:00. All commission members are asked to attend the January 12th full day training.

The schedule for the day:
9:30       Registration
10:00     Opening Devotions and Plenary Speaker Deb DeMeester in the Sanctuary
11:45     Lunch
12:30     Ruling Elders, Deacons, Commissions/Committees meet separately 
(15 minute break at 2:00)
3:30       Closing in the Sanctuary
4:00       Departure
Merry Christmas

If I were a soloist, I would sing Sweet Little Jesus Boy. If I were a conductor, I would direct the Hallelujah Chorus. Christmas is the season for songs that touch the heart and memories that heal. I pray that Christmas will be for you a season for great joy, peace and the assurance of God's presence in your life.  Christmas for me is a manger and a cross as poetically told by Anne Weems' poem :
If there is no cross in the manger, there is no Christmas. If the Babe doesn't become the Adult, there is no Bethlehem star. If there is no commitment in us, there are no wise men searching. If we offer no cup of cold water, there is no gold, no frankincense, no myrrh. If there is no praising God's name, there are no angels singing. If there is no spirit of alleluia, there are no shepherds watching. If there is no standing up, no speaking out, no risk, there is no Herod, no flight into Egypt. If there is no room in our inn, then "Merry Christmas" mocks the Christ Child, and the Holy Family is just a holiday card, and God will loathe our feasts and festivals. For if there is no reconciliation, we cannot call Christ "Prince of Peace". If there is no goodwill towards others, it can all be packed away in boxes for another year. If there is no forgiveness in us, there is no cause for celebration. If we cannot go even now unto Golgotha, there is no Christmas in us.  If Christmas is not now, If Christ is not born into the everyday present, then what is all the noise about?

Emmanuel God is with us every day. I look forward to hearing your Christmas stories in the New Year.  May you experience God in your Silent Nights and hear the angels sing in your First Noels.  May miracles come from unexpected places. I began this letter saying if I could, I would direct the Hallelujah Chorus from Messiah. Handel wrote the piece after a tragic time in his life.  At the time he composed this masterpiece Handel had fallen on hard times. His health was poor from suffering a stroke which incapacitated him. He was out of the good graces of the royal family and he was near bankrupt. Handel, deeply affected by a libretto composed by Charles Jennens, wrote Messiah. The oratorio was composed entirely of Scripture portions, mainly from the Old Testament, divided into three parts: 1) prophecies about the coming Messiah (largely drawing on Isaiah); 2) the birth, life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Christ; 3) the End times with Christ's final victory over sin and death, largely based in the book of Revelation. In the summer of 1741 when the Hallelujah Chorus was completed, Handel's assistant is recorded as saying "I found him in tears saying "I did think I saw heaven open, and saw the very face of God". Each Christmas Carol has meaning. The 12 Days of Christmas taught children about the faith when the celebration of Christmas was illegal. Go Tell It On the Mountain is a Negro Spiritual that was passed from plantation to plantation. The song defied reality, the birth of Christ meant liberation was near.  Christmas Carols in their hymnody tell the story of God with us. As we sing this season may our faith be enriched through the retelling of God's love for the world.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Murphy, Joy and I.


Ecumenical Prayer Service Celebrates Annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Ecumenical Prayer Service Celebrates Annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity at First Presbyterian Church of Willmar, Minn.  Area congregations will come together for an Ecumenical Celebration of the Word of God on Sunday, January 20.

The service, which will be held as part of the area's observance of the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, will take place at First Presbyterian Church of Willmar beginning at 3:00 p.m.  Rev. Dr. SanDawna Gaulman Ashley, Executive Presbyter at the Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys, will  deliver the message. Special music will be provided by John McKay, an accomplished pianist from Saint Peter, Minn.

Begun in 1908, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is celebrated each year in cities and towns across the country and around the world.

The theme for the 2019 observance is Justice, Only Justice, You Shall Pursue (Deuteronomy 16:18-20). The theme and text for each year's observance of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity are chosen and prepared by representatives of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and representatives of the World Council of Churches. The international texts are developed, adapted, and published for use in the USA by the Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious Institute.

The Willmar service is sponsored by the Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys. Please contact Karen Lange if you are willing to bring a plate of 24 baked treats to serve following the event. 

The public is cordially invited.
Leadership Development and Educational Training
All pastors and congregational leaders are invited

Hopeful Conversations About Human to Human Relationships:
Moving beyond hatemongering, fear, scarcity, and miseducation

Tuesday, January 22 -  9:30 - 3:00
Presbytery office, Willmar

Speaker: The Rev. Samuel Son, Manager for Diversity and Reconciliation, the Presbyterian Mission Agency

Religious, community, and education leaders are invited to a conversation about human to human relationships hosted by the Minnesota Valleys Presbytery and the Presbyterian Mission Agency PC(USA). Participants can expect a safe place to dialogue around issues on how we see and hear the other. The day-long event will work to equip participants to return to their communities tooled with enhanced listening attitudes and better equipped to positively enhance relationships in our diversifying communities.
Reservation Fee: $15.00 lunch, please bring a check payable to the presbytery that day.
Location: Minnesota Valleys Presbytery office, Willmar, MN
Registration is open - email Karen at the presbytery office
2019 Per Capita  - $41.35 Total
$27.00 for Presbytery
$5.40 for Synod
$8.95 for GA
Book Study: Rebuilding the Foundations

Join the Presbytery in a book study of Rebuilding the Foundations: Social Relationships in Ancient Scripture and the Contemporary Culture by John Brueggemann and Walter Brueggemann, Westminster John Knox Press. The Zoom discussion on chapters 3 and 4 will be on Thursday, Jan 24, at 11:00 am and 6:30 pm. Zoom instructions will be included in the Valley Bridge in mid-January.

Many thanks to all of you who have encouraged Kristi and I during this time  following Kendrick's "graduation from this earth to heaven."  Your cards,  expressions of sympathy and especially your prayers have just really  helped us to walk in the strength of God's promises for eternal life.  To  those pastoral leaders who processed ahead of the casket, I thank you  for being at the service:  you supported not only our family but also shone as examples  (to the congregation) of the strength of being "family, in God."   Special thanks  for the beautiful flower arrangement; it was so pretty.  SanDawna, thank you for  calling even in the midst of your busy schedule in California.  May our God of  Peace bless all of you!
Sincerely in Christ the Savior,
Lynne Matthews 
Clearwater Forest Announces New Director of Outreach and Programs

It is with great joy that the Clearwater Forest Camp and Retreat Center Board of Directors introduces Rob Rathsack as the new Director of Outreach and Programs.

Rob comes to Clearwater with 17 years of experience as the former Camp Director of YMCA Camp Nan A Bo Sho, YMCA of the Fox Cities, WI. His emphasis on staff development and desire to build their leadership skills, his passion for working with children and youth, his laughter, questions, thoughtfulness and self-awareness, his extensive experience with the technical side of running a camp (including a strong understanding the American Camp Association accreditation process, high ropes maintenance, programming trends), as well as his experience in funds development all led him to stand out to the search committee.

Sorcha McGuire, who served as co-chair of the Search Committee with Jon Kirschhoffer, stated, "He is a strong communicator, talented relationship builder, and is excited to help us all tell our story. Rob is determined to maintain Clearwater's commitment as steward of the magnificent Creation before us. Finally, Rob will collaborate to build intentional, transformational experiences for all people who visit Clearwater Forest."

Rob will begin his work as Director of Outreach and Programs on January 1, 2019 He joins Tami Jacobs, Director of Operations and Guest Relations and Lance Bauman, Director of Buildings and Facilities to complete our Leadership Team.

2019 Presbyterian
Youth Triennium

Get Ready  for the 2019 Presbyterian Youth Triennium - a gathering held every three years for high school age students in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Youth from all churches (across sponsoring denominations) come together for this life changing, life giving, faith growing gathering! Five days that help form a younger generation of active Presbyterians. Five days that shape the leadership gifts and deepen the discipleship awareness for a generation who are already achieving a strong presence in this church and in this world!

Event Essentials

DATES:                      Monday, July 15th - Sunday, July 21st (includes travel days)
LOCATION:                Purdue University - West Lafayette, IN
AUDIENCE:                High School Age youth entering freshman through graduated seniors
THEME:                    "Here's My Heart"
REGISTRATION FEES: Anticipated Cost - $625.00 to $650.00
                                (Registration fee includes all programming, food, lodging and travel)  


Congregation RSVP Forms  Are Now  Due with $100 deposit per participant
JANUARY 7TH:    Registrations Forms Available (Presbytery Website)
FEBRUARY 4TH:   Registrations due, along with $250.00 payment for each participant
MAY 6TH:            Final Payment Due

Contact Mark Giese: ∙  320-251-8277 (church) ∙ 320-493-8272 (cell)

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.

DiscipleshipAnne Veldhuisen,, 507-215-5617
Evangelism: Randy Knuth,, 712-540-8243
Evangelism :  Darlene Scherbing,, 320-292-2610
Mission: Richard Lawrence, , 320-260-9639
Mission: Kathy Terpstra,, 320-815-8158
Spiritual Leadership: Tom Voigt, , 612-875-6398
Stewardship: Rick Hauge, , 507-829-5227
Worship: Darin Seaman, , 320-251-8277
NEW! Devoted to Generosity Year-Round Stewardship Resource: Save $10 by December 31

From the Ecumenical Stewardship Center

Based on the story of Tabitha in Acts 9:36-42, the Devoted to Generosity year-round stewardship resource has everything a congregation needs for a year-round stewardship emphasis.  Guidelines are included for spring, fall, and year-round emphases that are user-friendly for any size congregation. 

Devoted to Generosity includes worship and study materials for every month of the year, based on scriptures from the Revised Common Lectionary Year C. Adult studies, youth studies, and children's stories provide a stewardship focus for every generation. 

Here's what you'll find in Devoted to Generosity:

* Scriptural insights from the Old and New Testaments
* Outlines, including musical suggestions, for 12 worship services
* 12 adult studies
* 12 youth studies
* 12 children's stories
* Detailed guidelines for 5 different stewardship emphases
* DIY files to produce bulletin inserts, bulletin covers, commitment cards for adults and       children, theme-focused letterhead and envelopes, bookmarks, and posters
* Logo graphics for use in print and electronic publications

Order by December 31, 2018 and get a $10.00 discount. 
Pastoral Leadership Opportunities

The following congregation within the bounds of our presbytery is currently seeking pastoral leadership:

First Presbyterian Church, Fulda - Solo Pastor, 3/4 time up to full-time
   Ministry Information Form -  03782.AD1

Faith Presbyterian Church, Silver Lake - Part-time Solo Pastor
   Ministry Information Form -  03851.ACO

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

The Ministry Information Forms for these opportunities are posted on the Church Leadership Connection web site --
Six New Things
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