The Valley Bridge
 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 February 16-22
First Presbyterian Church of Blue Earth
Moderator: Rev. Cory Germain
Administrative Assistant/Treasurer: Connie Hedland
Clerk of Session: Cindy Peterson
Session Members: Jacqui Dikken, Connie Hedland, Debby Johnson, Roy Lindokken, Cindy Peterson, and Tom Plocker
Visitation Minister: Russ Steele

Mission Activities:
  • We participate in activities at St. Luke’s Lutheran Care Center during the year including: Bingo, Pie & Ice Cream Social, Spring and Fall Bake Sales.
  • Our Fifth Sunday Pocket Change Mission continues to be a great way to help others. Last year we were able to make a donation to the Faribault County Humane Society, provide a Pizza Supper and snacks for the youth and chaperones going to the Youth Triennium in Indiana, provide gas cards to the Faribault County Veterans Service to be distributed to local veterans, and a donation to the Winnebago Area Treatment Center Auxiliary which provides necessities and other items for young people in treatment

Prayers for the following:
  • Our members who are experiencing health issues.
  • The three congregations of Amboy, Winnebago, and Blue Earth as they meet to discuss future needs.

We are thankful for:
  • All those who have helped us with pulpit supply over the past seven years.
  • Our 123-year-old building which has been rejuvenated after flooding/mold and hail/windstorms from 2018 caused much damage.

We are grateful that we can come together to worship God and share the good news of his love with the community.
What I Learned
Last week during our visit to Guatemala, the speaker gave a history lesson on migration. It was one of the most interesting takes on hi story I have had heard in a long time. The presenter, Lizbeth Gramego Bauer from Universidad Rafael Landivar, traced the moveme nt of people from 1492 – 2019. We learned that United States policies greatly encouraged the migration of the Guatemala people. The second major cause of migration was the basic desire for safety and a better life. It was a reminder that history is told from the lens of the storyteller. History includes known truths and less known events. As a result, history is almost always skewed and should be understood as such.
My grandfather would often say, “Don’t believe everything you read or much of what you think you see.” As a man growing up in the South, he spent much of his adult life weeding through the stories he was told. He weeded through dinnertime conversations, what he learned at school and even what he learned at church. Around this time last year, I wrote a similar article entitled “History: the Good, Bad and the Changeable.” That article asked about our response to knowledge once we know the truth. This question still gives me pause. I wonder how truth affects the way we feel and how we respond in the future. Abraham Lincoln said, “I am a firm believer in the people. If given the real facts.”

Without being cynical, does truth make a difference today? Depending on where you stand politically, the answer is no. Truth is not the driving force for right or wrong. Money, loyalty, power, and relationships are the strongest influencers on society. The events of the past are regularly shaped by greed, dehumanization, empire, and incompassion. T he Greek word for “truth” is aletheia, which means to un-hide or hiding nothing. The website Biblical Answers offers the following understanding about truth:

Truth is not simply whatever works. This is the philosophy of pragmatism—an ends-vs.-means-type approach.
Truth is not simply what is coherent or understandable.
Truth is not what makes people feel good.
Truth is not what the majority says is true.
Truth is not what is comprehensive.
Truth is not defined by what is intended.
Truth is not simply what is believed.
Truth is not what is publicly proved.

The question, “What is truth?” is an old question with many answers. The faith question is “What does our belief in Jesus say about truth?” Jesus said, “you will know the truth, and truth will make you free” (John 8:32). The word “free” is key for me. To be free implies that falsehood carries with it a burden. How far does one have to go to keep a lie from being revealed? The tragedies of history are often the answer to this question.
In John 8:32, Jesus spoke to new disciples. He emphasized that one’s capacity for discerning truth begins with an understanding of Scripture and looking at life through many lenses. The imperative here is to be open and curious. As we judge whether something is true or not, we must consider the source. Does Scripture provide a perspective on the subject? Who benefits in the end? Does this pronouncement of truth promote peace and well-being for all? Let’s keep talking about the issue of truth. How will we define truth through our ministries in response to how God is at work today? For more information about migration, see the resources below. The Presbyterian Church has produced two award-winning documentaries available online: Locked In A Box and To Breathe Free . Study Guides are included to encourage group conversations. As we grapple with the many truths that present challenges today, consider including the recommended films in future Christian Education programming.

A prayer:
Disturb us, O Lord
when we are too well-pleased with ourselves 
when our dreams have come true because we dreamed too little, 
because we sailed too close to the shore.
Disturb us, O Lord
when with the abundance of things we possess, 
we have lost our thirst for the water of life 
when, having fallen in love with time, 
we have ceased to dream of eternity 
and in our efforts to build a new earth, 
we have allowed our vision of Heaven to grow dim.
Stir us, O Lord
to dare more boldly, to venture into wider seas 
where storms show Thy mastery, 
where losing sight of land, we shall find the stars.
In the name of Him who pushed back the horizons of our hopes 
and invited the brave to follow. Amen
(Desmond Tutu, adapted from an original prayer by Sir Francis Drake).

Grace and Peace,
SanDawna
Committee on Representation wants you to help us be the best presbytery we can be!

We have been busy these last few weeks finding folks to serve the presbytery on several commissions, and we are still looking for:

Committee on Congregational Nurture
1 ruling elder to serve a three-year term
1 ruling elder to serve a two-year term
1 ruling elder to serve a one-year term

General Assembly
1 ruling elder to serve as an alternate

Please, if you feel called, or know of someone who would be great on one of these commissions, contact Audrey Knuth at 507-830-0520 or David Lick at 414-334-9385.
Prayer List

  • For Rev. Mark Chamberlain, retired pastor, Willmar
  • For Rev. Bob Bartlett, First Presbyterian Churches of Brewster & Round Lake
  • For Rev. Michael Roys, retired pastor, Winnebago
  • For Rev. Elaine and Kent Boyd at First Presbyterian Church of Amboy
  • Rev. Araceli Itzep from the Occidente Presbytery
  • For Beatriz (Betty/Beti) Cifuentes, the treasurer of the Partnership Committee, who is beginning chemotherapy.
  • For the "Men in the Mirror" program. Men from Occidente that MVP supported financially to attend the classes a couple of years ago are going to share the information they gained with different churches in the eastern and central parts of Guatemala. They, along with the chaplains of the national Presbyterian church, will also be training Christian policemen in what they learned from "Men in the Mirror."
Transformation Going Beyond Change Survey

We have created a survey to help us understand benefits and insights gained from our Transformation Going Beyond Change events over the past year. Will you please take a moment and answer the question in the survey we have linked? https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/8GKLCM2
"Will You Be My Neighbor”
Led by Vilmarie Cintrón-Olivieri, GA Co-Moderator
at the Stated Presbytery meeting in Redwood Falls
Saturday, February 15
10:00—3:30

Vilmarie Cintrón-Olivieri is a teacher and a Presbyterian Ruling Elder. A life-long Presbyterian, she considers serving as a Youth Advisory Delegate (YAD) to the 205th General Assembly (1993) a pivotal experience in understanding for the first time the scope of being a connectional church. Soon after serving as a YAD, Vilmarie was ordained as a ruling elder at the Iglesia Presbiteriana en Caparra Terrace, San Juan, Puerto Rico. At some point in her life, she has served at the session, as a member and chair of several presbytery committees —including the Committee on Preparation for Ministry and Nominating Committee—, vice moderator of Synod Boriquén and council member, a commissioner to the 212th General Assembly and as a member of the General Assembly Committee on Theological Education. Vilmarie has found great joy in working as an interpreter (Spanish/English) at the biennial General Assembly meetings since 2006 and at the past two Presbyterian Women Churchwide Gatherings. At a professional level, Vilmarie holds a B.A. in Education (English as a Second Language) from the University of Puerto Rico and a Master’s in Education (Curriculum and Teaching) from Turabo University. Dedicating most of her adult life to education, teaching high schoolers and adults, she began her teaching experience as a Sunday School teacher. In 2011, Vilmarie and her husband, Rev. José Manuel Capella-Pratts, moved from San Juan, Puerto Rico to Miami, Florida, where he is the pastor of First Spanish Presbyterian Church. Since moving to Miami, Vilmarie has taught ESL to adult students from all over the world in a language school in Miami. A member of First Spanish and a PW You (Presbyterian Women) , she has served as the Moderator of the Presbytery of Tropical Florida (2017), is currently a member of the Leadership Council, serves as clerk of the Presbyterian Hispanic Latino Caucus, Synod of the South Atlantic chapter, and is a faculty member of a CREDO team. An organizer at heart, she loves arts and crafts, decorating and…Christmas! Vilmarie also enjoys spending time with friends and family relaxing over a good cup of Puerto Rican coffee.
Upcoming Webinar

Join the next webinar zoom on Thursday, February 20, at 2:00 p.m. with Gerald Liu for part three of Preaching in Times of Transition
Gerald C. Liu is assistant professor of worship and preaching at Princeton Theological Seminary. He earned his BA in Music at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, his Master of Divinity from the Candler School of Theology at Emory University (during which time he was also a theological fellow at Georg-August Universität in Göttingen, Germany), and his PhD from Vanderbilt University with a concentration in homiletics and liturgics. He has previously served as a British Methodist Minister in Nottingham, England before becoming ordained in the Mississippi Conference of the United Methodist Church. Currently he volunteers as a minister in residence at Church of the Village, a United Methodist congregation in Manhattan. His classes and publications explore curiosities about the arts as theological resources and phenomena, Asian American identity, multicultural worship, and the production of believable public Christian witness.

Join Rev. Liu in a discussion about how the biblical canon can shape weekly preaching into an arc of messages rooted in the ever-expanding call to new identities in Christ, adaptive living, and welcoming all people for the glory of God.

Contact  Karen Lange to register.
Public Theology for the Common Good
Led by Phil Tom
Tuesday, March 24
9:00—4:00
Hope Presbyterian Church
7730 N Shore Dr, Spicer
$15 for Presbyterians
$25 for others

"Public theology is the Christian engagement and dialogue within the church and especially with the larger society. It seeks the welfare of the state and a fair society for all by engaging issues of common interest to build the common good. This is Christian theology that talks with society, not just to society." (Wikipedia)
The reality is that many congregations are disconnected from their communities. In our workshop, we will explore how the tool of faith-based community organizing can help your congregation to learn how to connect with and to serve your community.

Phil currently serves as Executive Director for the International Council of Community Churches, and as a consultant to The Riverside Church in New York City. He has served in the following capacities: the PCUSA General Assembly for 10 years as Associate for Urban Ministry Office, and three years as Associate for the Small Church Ministry Office (urban, rural, suburban); Co-Director of McCormick Theological Seminary Church and Community Ministry Project; pastored for 27 years with congregations in Chicago, St. Paul, MN, Indianapolis, IN and New York City; and as Director of the White House Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnership Office in the U.S. Department of Labor in the Obama Administration.

To register, email Karen Lange
An Invitation to Spiritual Leaders

This is your invitation to submit a short video of yourself offering a meditation of your favorite passage from the Bible for the Presbytery YouTube channel. If you are interested, please contact Steve Tyykila ( styykila@gmail.com ) or Andy Davis ( revrn1973@gmail.com ). We'll give you more parameters and information, but we are looking for informal (not from the pulpit), personal, short (less than five minutes) videos on your favorite passage that you can record from your phone or computer. Thanks!
Transformation Testimonies Sought

We are preparing the reporting for the Transformation Going Beyond Change Initiative grants. Please think about how you have been using the information gleaned from these events and email Karen or SanDawna a short testimony about how you have benefited.
Pastor Cohort Groups

We are creating pastor cohort groups for interested pastors. Each group will meet monthly via Zoom. The format will include prayer, a book study, case studies, special speakers, cross-pollination of resources and active listening. Interested? Email SanDawna
Pastoral Leadership Opportunities

First Presbyterian Church, Ashby  - Pastor, yoked parish
Ministry Information Form -  12363.ABO

First Presbyterian Church, Fulda  - Solo Pastor
Ministry Information Form -  03782.AD1

Maine Presbyterian Church, rural Underwood - Solo Pastor
Ministry Information Form - 03870.AB0

Faith Presbyterian Church, Silver Lake - Solo Pastor
Ministry Information Form -  03851.AC3

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

First Presbyterian Church, Winnebago - Interim Pastor

Ministry opportunities are posted on the Church Leadership Connection website --  http://oga.pcusa.org/section/mid-council-ministries/clc/