The Valley Bridge
The weekly newsletter from the
Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys
December 20, 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
The office is closed Thursday, December 21 - Monday, January 1.
God Is with Us

For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6).
May we never tire of hearing the Christmas Story. Mary, who said yes, "I am the Lord's servant, may it be unto me as you have spoken." Joseph, a man of integrity, who answered the call of God to take a risk and accept a new vision for his life. Each time we hear that there was no room in the inn for an expecting mother. This reality is a marquee of inhospitality. It is also a reminder that we should always make room in our lives for strangers in need. The Magi traveled far and long to worship the Christ child. The star in the Bethlehem sky was a sign of the fulfillment of years of prayers and prophesies. And the angels sang. With a look towards the cross, this glorious story includes each of us. Author Anne Weems reminds us that:
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.
If there is no forgiveness in us, there is no cause for celebration. If Christmas is not now, if Christ is not born into the everyday present, then what is all the noise about?
(Anne Weems, Poem The Cross in the Manger).
Christmas is a season of proclamation...God is with us. Today we are the prophets who must proclaim God is here!  Hope and inspiration is a priceless gift that everyone can give. Take the extra time this season to listen with empathy to those who are hurting. There are many Herods in the land who perpetuate fear, hate, dominion and superiority over others. If possible they would snuff out the message that God's love is not limited to national interest, cultures, kingdoms, bias, abundance or need. The reconciling God is for everyone. We have much to sing go tell it on the mountain. Congregations, you have a strong witness to make in the communities in which you are housed. Pastors, your service is not in vain. Congregants, the ministry requires many laborers, thank you for your service. Let us hope in the miracles of the past and the promises of a bright future. For nothing is impossible with God.
Now may your days be merry and bright,
may you hear the angel's halleluiah,
may you find guidance in your seeking,
and may you experience Emmanuel.
Merry Christmas,
Rev. SanDawna Ashley
Prayer concern

The Rev. Dr. James R. Carbaugh, Metamora, IL, died November 29 from cancer. A private family service is being planned for a later date.
Rev. Carbaugh was Pastor at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Worthington MN 1989-1992 and Harrison Presbyterian/Zion-Irving Lutheran near Spicer/Atwater from 1992-1998, and served on several presbytery committees.
Expressions of sympathy and condolences may be sent to his daughter
Karin Earl
99 Commerce Dr
Morton, IL 61550
Congratulations, Thijin, Gatwech!

submitted by Peter Mann

The presbytery is happy to celebrate the college graduation of Mr. Thijin Gatwech.  Thijin is the son of Reverend Elizabeth Tot. Both emigrated from South Sudan and reside in St Cloud.
Thijin completed his Bachelors Degree in Business Administration at the Herberger School of Management at St Cloud State University on Friday, December 15, 2017.

Thijin hopes to secure employment in the fields of Finance or Insurance, and would welcome any connections/networking you could suggest.  We congratulate Thijin on this tremendous accomplishment when faced with the many challenges of language,culture and economics.

Thijin has been active in our Presbytery serving on the Ethiopia/South Sudan Mission Task Force and Self Development of People(SDOP). He also  coordinated 45 South Sudanese to Clearwater Forest for a three day retreat, and ran Vacation Bible School for South Sudan youth at First Church, St Cloud this past summer under a Grant from SDOP.

Elizabeth Tot,Thijin Natwech and Thijin's sister, Nyakim
Save the Date - Committee/Commission/Task Force Members

Thank you for offering your gifts in service to the presbytery. Your gifts will assist the presbytery's larger mission "to be a collective expression of the Body of Christ joyfully participating in Christ's ongoing life and work." As a part of your orientation, please plan to attend the full day of Leadership Training January 13, 2018 from 9:00 - 4:00.  For those who want to arrive the night before contact Karen Lange at  for hotel suggestions.

This Leadership Event is intended for all commissions, committees and task forces. The day will consist of building relationships and training in tooling for the future, implementing the vision, adaptive leadership, and working together effectively.

Confirm your participation via email to  by January 10th.  Please indicate if you have special needs or dietary restrictions. Chairs, please make sure that all members of your commission, committee or task force are informed.
A big thanks to Al Jergenson and Richard Lange for installing the dishwasher at the presbytery office today! AND many thanks to the First Presbyterian Church of Redwood Falls congregation for donating the funds--it is a wonderful Christmas gift!
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
EvangelismAnne 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
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, 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 --
2018 Per Capita is $40.13

$27.00 for Presbytery
   5.40 for Synod
   7.73 for GA
$40.13 Total

This is a Southwestern Minnesota Synod ELCA event. There is no charge - but as a non-Lutheran participant each person buys their own lunch. People can attend through Livestream as well. Congregations are encouraged to attend as a group; however, it is the same day as our Commission Retreat for everyone serving on presbytery commissions, committees and task forces.

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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