The Valley Bridge
The weekly newsletter from the
Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys
February 14, 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)
Regular Presbytery Office Hours: 7:30 - 5:00
Karen and SanDawna are out of the office on Friday.
Congregation of the week of February 18-24
United Methodist-Presbyterian Church of Browns Valley
Church Council Members:  Tiffany Myrum,  Jean Karst, K elli Rinehart,  Laurie Appel,  Dale Dobbs,  Ken Warren
Church Coordinator: Maria Roark
Pastor: Abigail Ozanne

Prayers for:
All who have lost loved ones recently
M embers of our church family having health or personal issues
Places of Natural-Unnatural Disasters - World Leaders - Our Enemies,  and all of the Men and Women Serving Our Country.

Noteworthy: We hold contemporary Blue Jean Services each Wednesday in addition to the Sunday service.
Our Journey to the Cross

Don't tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead. Return to the LORD your God, for God is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. God is eager to relent and not punish. (Joel 2:13)

It is that time of the year again when we prepare for our journey to the cross. Each year we make the journey not as if it were our first time. No, we are experienced sojourners. We know where we are going and what we hope to find when we arrive. We hope to find Jesus, risen and alive in our hearts and church.

Annually, pilgrims make this spiritual journey. We begin February 14th with Ash Wednesday and conclude our journey on April 1st Easter Morning. Our private devotions will open us to a greater connection with God; this is a time to be worked on, healed, and spiritually awakened. Howard Thurman calls it "centering down." In the Gospels, we get the image of "stealing away."

The practice of Lent began in the first century. The 40 days of preparation focused on baptism and fasting. The significance of the number "40" draws from Scripture Moses stayed with the Lord for "40 days and 40 nights" on Mount Sinai preparing to receive the Ten Commandments (Ex 34:28); Elijah walked "40 days and 40 nights" to the mountain of the Lord, Mount Horeb (I Kings 19:8). Most importantly, Jesus fasted and prayed for "40 days and 40 nights" in the desert before He began His public ministry (Matthew 4:2).

In every example, the spiritual practices of pulling away from the busyness of life to spend time in prayer, contemplation, and study are emphasized. Jesus practiced stealing away. We hear about His practices in the Gospels as the evangelists tell us they found Jesus alone in prayer. Moses, Abraham, and most of the prophets described a time when they separated themselves for an intentional time of spiritual renewal. Imagine them fasting, praying, sitting in silence, offering sacrifices and turning away from the things that separated them from God.

Historically, Lent was a time for "reentering" the Church after a period of denial of the faith. New Christians were received into membership at the end of Lent, and those who had strayed away from the faith were welcomed back into the fold. Lent includes the practice of giving something up. Over the next few weeks, people will begin announcing their Lenten sacrifices of giving up caffeine, sweets, meat, alcoholic beverages, television, shopping and so on. What we give up should be replaced with healthier spiritual practices that will sustain the soul in greater ways. It is fine to give up sweets, television, and shopping for Lent but more beneficial will be to give up the things that beset your spiritual walk. May I be so bold to raise this both personal and corporate question? Are we the Body of Christ committing sins that are besetting us? Given the political climate and the mixed message of the Church would anyone wonder whether we truly know Jesus? Gandhi's comment "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ" always causes me to wonder about the witness of the church. Thinking about our corporate witness as believers is a good place to start this Lenten Season. How can we grow deeper together spiritually? Some congregations within the presbytery are joining together for weekly Lenten Worship. Others will engage in joint mission outreach. A prayer group will meet via Zoom for monthly intercession. I invite you to join me in reading The Pleasure of God: Finding Grace in the Ordinary by J. Ellsworth Kalas.

A book discussion webinar is scheduled for March 28 at 1:00 p.m.

May you find grace for the journey:
Almighty God,
you alone can bring into order
the unruly wills and affections of sinners:
Grant me, your grace,
to love what you command and desire what you promise; 
that, among the swift and varied changes of the world, 
my heart may surely there be fixed 
where true joys are to be found;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you 
and the Holy Spirit, 
one God, now and forever. Amen.

(Adapted from the Book of Common Prayer)

Rev. Ashley
Lenten Devotional 2018

Each year Pittsburgh Theological Seminary offers our free Advent and Lent devotionals as our gift to you! We invite you to read and listen to daily messages written by members of our community. Download the pdf to learn more about the various ways you can read the daily Lent devotionals.
Calling all Elders and Deacons!

On Saturday, February 24 from 10:00 - 3:00 p.m., officer training will be held at the First Presbyterian Church, Redwood Falls 235 East 4th Street). Deb DeMeester, Director of Leadership at the Synod of Lakes and Prairies will offer a keynote about leadership in 2018. Then after lunch clerks of sessions, deacons and ruling elders will have their own sessions led by Lynn Olson, Galen Smith and Pamela Prouty. Worship will also be part of the day. This training is for active and inactive church officers as well as anyone who wants to learn more about leadership in the local church.  Please RSVP by Monday, February 19 to Karen Lange at the Presbytery office at, so lunch can be planned accordingly.
Transformation ... going beyond change
Transformation 2018 Ministry Event
Minnesota Valleys Presbytery
First Presbyterian Church, St. Cloud, Minnesota
April 5-7, 2018

Minnesota Valleys Presbytery is partnering with Midwest Initiative for Leading Transition to host a two and half day transformation training event. The event is designed for congregation teams and will focus on the complexity of leading churches through a transformation process. The faculty will address the misconceptions of the one size fits most concepts of church growth strategies. Trained in building the capacities of leaders to enter systems, coach change and resourcing various congregational systems this event will assist participants in retooling for ministry in the 21st century.

Participants can expect to return home with a greater understanding of:
  • Leading change in the 21st Century Church
  • Working within systems
  • Cultural and systemic challenges to ministry today
  • Transformation models
  • Vocational Discernment
  • Visioning for the future
Annual Report Forms

Pastors and Commissioned Ruling Elders, here are links to this year's annual report forms. The deadline to return them to the presbytery office is March 1.
Our top three giving congregations to One Great Hour of Sharing, averaged to per member giving in 2017 are:
  Western Presbyterian Church, rural Fergus Falls: $38.48 
  First Presbyterian Church of Willmar: $12.48
  First Presbyterian Church of Maynard: $12.14

One Great Hour of Sharing Webinar for Congregation Leaders is Wednesday, February 21, 2018 at 12:00 Noon (EST).  These webinars will be hosted by Director, Bryce Wiebe, and myself, and we plan to review the themes, resources, and even some ideas on integrating OGHS into your particular ministry setting. (See bottom of article for link)
Mailings -
Any congregation with a standing order for supplies should have received a sample package of this year's OGHS materials by now.  If more supplies are needed , visit and look under "Church Resources", or reach out to us at 

Congregations should receive their year-end Special Offerings giving reports by March 15.
Thank you for your support of Presbyterian Mission through the Special Offerings.
Richest blessings,
The Rev. Jonathan H. Reinink
Church Support Associate, Special Offerings
Presbyterian Mission Agency
100 Witherspoon St | Louisville, KY  40202
502-569-5082 (office)
502-974-6878 (cell)
Webinar Announcement:  The Office of Special Offerings is hosting a Webinar to discuss the 2018 One Great Hour of Sharing Offering, its themes and resources, and ways to encourage your church to participate! Wed. Feb. 21 at Noon (EST) - Register here:
Thank you from Joselyn Nicolle Chay Orellana, 
Scholarship Recipient,  Occidente Presbytery 2017
Dear Brethren of Minnesota:

Pastor Rogelio Orellana (father)
Scholarship recipient: Joselyn Nicolle Chay Orellana

Dear Brethren:

I greet you in the name of Our Lord Jesus.

I greatly thank you for having given me a scholarship for my studies during the 2017 school year. It was very useful. May God bless each of the brethren that contributed.

We pray to God daily for His continued blessing on the Presbytery of Minnesota and all of the Presbyterian churches in the United States.

This year in school I participated in "Valuable Leaders" and in the student choir. I got good grades and am sending a copy of my school results.

Again, I profoundly thank you.
Joselyn Nicolle Chay Orellana
Note: The report from Joselyn's school indicates that she did receive good grades in all of her subjects. (No photo was sent.)
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.

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:

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

Randall Presbyterian Church, Randall
- Pastor
   Ministry Information Form - 03892.AC1

First Presbyterian Church, Fulda - Solo Pastor, 3/4 time
   Ministry Information Form - 03782.ADO

The Ministry Information Forms for these opportunities are posted on the Church Leadership Connection web site --
Live Generously. Live Happier:

Lessons from "The Generosity Project"
Saturday, March 10 from 9:00 - 2:00
Southwest Minnesota State University (SMSU)/Marshall
Conference Center, Marshall, MN
Livestream Option Available

"The Generosity Project"    is designed to equip your congregation-and especially family units or single persons--- in the spiritual practice of generosity. It teaches "why" and "how to" talk about generosity, stewardship, abundance and money practices. It does this through a day filled with interactive, fun, full of laughter, faith centered lessons and practices. Begin 2018 by learning so you can bring these practices to your setting. Join us as together we learn to "live generously and live happier" 

Please register online by  clicking here
  • Registration Cost is Free! Resource materials and snack are included. The event costs are provided by the Lilly Grant and our Embrace God's Mission + Equip God's People Funding Initiative.
  • Non-SW MN Synod groups and other denominations are welcome. Lunch will not be provided. SMSU will have snacks provided but groups must pay for their own lunch at the SMSU cafeteria or other locations.
All groups are invited to make a contribution to the Funding Initiative, but not required. Send gifts to: SW MN Synod, PO Box 499, Redwood Falls, MN 56283. To make an online gift  click here.

To receive the Livestream link you must register online.
Livestream groups commit to have at least 4-6+ persons in attendance in their location and provide their own technical support at that location re: video and audio projection. 

 From Southwestern Minnesota Synod (ELCA)
  submitted by Deb Hess
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.

NextChurch 2018
"The Desert in Bloom: Living, Dying, and Rising in a Wilderness Church"
Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel, Baltimore, MD
February 26-28, 2018

The NEXT Church National Gathering is filled with church leaders (pastors and lay people) sharing stories of their experiences of ministry, new ideas they are trying, and honest conversations about ministry today. Creative worship centers us around God's presence. Multiple opportunities to engage in workshops and conversation about particular aspects of ministry foster new and deeper connections. We hope you will join us!

Sooner or later, our sacred stories - individual and communal -  return to the desert. Jacob. Moses. Miriam. Hagar. Jesus. The Desert Mothers and Fathers. Sometimes we retreat there. Sometimes we are driven there against our will. Sometimes it is simply where we find ourselves. Regardless, we eventually dwell in that harsh and empty place where the line between life and death grows thin. However improbably, Scripture says that this is precisely the place where God's promises begin to bloom. The prophet Isaiah wrote to a people in despair: "The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom" (35:1).

For many of us, wilderness is a metaphor. It can be understood as a spiritually renewing place to strip away distraction and re-center on God. It can represent the isolation sometimes felt in ministry and life. It can symbolize times of testing and temptation. It can suggest moving outside our comfort zones to places of uncertainty and risk, creativity and opportunity. Wilderness is also found in real places - from dying towns and blighted city neighborhoods, to the retreat spaces where we seek discernment and clarity.
Throughout Scripture and the history of the people of God, the wilderness is a place of radical change and reliance on God's unwavering care.

At the 2018 NEXT Church National Gathering, we will ask how the church can embrace a wilderness identity in pursuit of the hope, resilience, clarity, and resurrection so often found there. We'll bear witness to promises blooming in desert spaces - from the corners of Baltimore City to wide open places to sprawling suburbs to coastal towns and every other space God calls us to be present. We'll seek desert blossoms in our politics, our prayers, our pews, in each other and ourselves. We will find fellow travelers on the Holy Way.  We will embrace the wildernesses of our present moment, trusting with the prophet Isaiah that there we "shall see the glory of the Lord" (35:2).
NEXT Church Post-Gathering
Forming Generous Disciples
February 28, 2018 1:00 pm - March 1, 2018 12:00 pm

How can your church form generous people to support and engage God's mission? Gain practical tools and theological underpinnings for a successful and sustainable approach to stewardship. Explore spiritual practices that can help the people in your pews become more generous. Learn to tell your church's financial story in compelling ways. Conquer fears of talking about money.

If you would like to participate in this post-Gathering seminar, you must register for it when you register for the entire National Gathering.

This Post-Gathering is $50 due to the generous support of the Presbyterian Foundation with support from the Lilly Endowment, Inc.

Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel
Baltimore, MD 21202

Leadership and Anxiety in the Church: 

  A Family Systems Perspective 


This is one-day workshop looks at the challenges presented by the rising levels of anxiety being experienced in churches today, as well as the role that self-differentiated leadership can play in calming such anxiety.  You will learn practical skills that will help you defuse anxious situations and maintain a non-anxious presence.  This interdenominational workshop will be hosted by Minnetonka United Methodist Church in Minnetonka, MN (Minneapolis area) on May 16, 2018.  It is sponsored by the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center in Lombard, IL.  Discounts are available for individuals and church groups who register by May 2, 2018.  For more information about this workshop, click here. To register or to download a group discount coupon, click here

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs): A Faith Filled Response

March 1, 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
First Lutheran Church
424 S 8th St, Brainerd, MN 56401

The Adverse Childhood Experience (ACEs) study looked at how events in our childhood influence the rest of our life. At the event, we will look at the ACE study, its implications, how we move forward, and how we can have a faith-filled response. It will be an awesome workshop. 

  • ACE Interface Presentation
  • Learn from clergy:
  • How the ACEs information has shaped my perspective on ministry
  • Lunch
  • Discussion regarding our faith communities:
  • What are we already doing to address/heal trauma and ACEs?
  • What are the biggest challenges/needs facing our community?
  • If we are to design new approaches to address ACEs, how might we build them?
  • How might we proceed in our local congregation?
Cost: $10. Lunch included.
For special dietary needs or other questions contact Lowell Johnson at
Register online at:

Submitted by Tony Oltmann
Six New Things
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