The Valley Bridge
The weekly newsletter from the
Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys
February 15, 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)
Congregation of the week: February 19-25
Zion Presbyterian Church of Ellsworth
Session Members: Twyla Schilling (Clerk of Session), Lance Becker, Mary Boom, Delores Boomgaarden, Stacey Roemen, Brian Wiertzema
Financial Secretary: Becca Dreesen
Treasurer: Michelle DeBeer
Church Secretary: Darcey Groen
Janitor: Kiara Heikes
Bible Study Leader: Miles Birkett
Sunday School Leaders: Becca Dreesen and Angela Jonas
Youth Leaders: Craig & Twyla Schilling, Chad and Tracy Schultz
Pastor: Rev. Paul Snyder

Prayer Concerns:
  • Families who have lost loved ones.
  • Those battling cancer and dementia.
  • Those healing from surgeries.
  • Our sister church, Emmanuel Presbyterian Church.
  • Peace in our nation and in our world.
The Word from Rick: Insights into a Changing Church

Monday morning always brings a flurry of newsletters to my inbox. Weekly, it is the latest issue of the Alban Weekly and "Perspectives" from the Congregational Consulting; more sporadically, it is the latest updates from the "Worship Times," the Center for Parish Development, and the office of Mid-Council Relations of our Presbyterian Church (USA).
This Monday, Kerry Rice, Director of Ordered Ministries and Certification in the Office of the General Assembly, in the news from the office of Mid-Council Relations, shared his "Musings from the Road." In his article, he offered some insights into the changing mid-councils in the denomination of which we are a part. It is no secret that the structure of our denomination continues to shift. Our work here in Minnesota Valleys, particularly what we did through the Next Pres Team, was in response to the denominational shifting, and it has been just a small sample of what is going on across the denomination.
I would like to share Kerry's insights with you all this week. Perhaps, it will give us a glimpse of what is taking place in our midst:
When I travel, one of the side benefits is getting to know the food of a particular city or region. I enjoy locally sourced ingredients that are informed by the culture of the people who live there.  But I must also admit, there are times when I also just crave predictable food-food that I know I will like. I appreciate a restaurant chain where I know that I can get a particular item and there is no guesswork.
Prior to the revision of our Form of Government, presbyteries and synods were a little like chains that served decent and predictable food. Back then, you could have gone to one of the then 173 presbyteries or 16 synods and things would have been more similar than different. Everyone had a committee on ministry and a committee on preparation for ministry. Most had someone who functioned as an executive presbyter (in addition to a stated clerk). There was a common vision for what a presbytery was and did.
But since the Form of Government revision in 2010, things have become more diverse. There are still core functions that a presbytery must perform, but the way in which it is organized, does its work, and sees itself can vary greatly. The work of synods varies greatly as well. We have synods that are reduced function (doing only those things deemed necessary and including at least the "provision of judicial process and administrative review of the work of the presbyteries" G-3.0404) and we have others that maintain a distinct and vital role in the life of their council.
We like to say now that there are 16 ways to be synod and 170* ways to be presbytery.
It is more complicated now-there is not the same sense that you can safely predict what a particular presbytery is like anymore. But what we lose in predictability (and perhaps comfort?) we gain in flexibility and the ability for a gathering of churches to determine its own needs. And now that the existential question about synods seems settled (at least for now), synods are wrestling with questions of "what" and "how" rather than "if."
General Assembly entities are still working to effectively partner with synods and presbyteries in this new era of difference. We hope that you'll let us know when we get it wrong, then forgive us and continue working with us. But we also hope that you'll tell us when we get it right-that you'll help us to establish some muscle memory and make it a habit!
The hospitality provided, whether a chain or local favorite, is what often keeps people coming back. ...
* Note-Since 2010, some presbyteries have been dissolved and or/merged with neighboring presbyteries, leaving us with 170 presbyteries currently.
Have a great week!

Grace and Peace,
On the Road with Rick: The Pre-Retirement Tour
February - March
February 16 - Session Meeting, Faith Presbyterian Church, Silver Lake 
February 19 - Preach at First Presbyterian Church, Brainerd
February 26 - Preach at First Presbyterian Church, Luverne
February 26 - Nathan Lamb Installation at First Presbyterian Church, Pipestone
March 5 - Preach at the Crosslake Presbyterian Church, Crosslake
March 14 - Session Meeting, First Presbyterian Church, Osakis
March 19 - Worship Visit, Grace-First Parish, Russell
March 26 - Worship Visit, First Presbyterian Church, Redwood Falls
Clerks! Clerks! Clerks!
We are now into February and hopefully you have completed your annual reports, but have you remembered to renew your incorporation status--especially if your church is incorporated with the MN Secretary of State? I hope the answer is yes. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, please contact me. This is an important annual step in order to have all your records in order.
Pam Prouty
2017 Mileage Rate Change Effective January 2017
  • 53.5 cents/mile standard business miles down from 54 cents in 2016
Pastoral Leadership Opportunities

The following congregations within the bounds of our presbytery are currently seeking pastoral leadership:

Randall Presbyterian Church, Randall, Minnesota - Pastor
Ministry Information Form - 03892.AC
Crosslake Presbyterian Church, Crosslake, Minnesota - Interim Pastor
Ministry Information Form - 11950.AC0

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

Save the date!
Healthy Congregations Workshop
First Presbyterian Church
St. James, MN
March 24-25, 2017

This workshop will help you . . .
  • Learn how you as a leader can influence the health of your congregation - how to detect and avoid unhealthy patterns of living together in community.
  • Learn how to keep anxiety from becoming infectious.
  • Gain confidence in responding to challenges and opportunities.
  • Learn how to put limits on invasive behavior, manage reactivity,and overcome sabotage.
  • Discover how leaders can function as the congregation's immune system.
  • Learn to focus on strengths, resources, options, and the future.

Note:  there is a Super 8 Motel in St. James for people who want to make overnight arrangements. They do fill up, so it is good to make reservations early. They will honor a church's tax free ID for folks to save a little money. Call 507-375-4708 for reservations.
Grants Available!

The Mission Redevelopment Committee of First Presbyterian Church, Madelia is seeking applications to receive grants. Qualifying projects may include:
  • Development, formation, or redevelopment of Presbyterian churches
  • Evangelism or recruitment of new members
  • New building construction
  • Renovations or capital improvements
  • Presbyterian-sponsored mission projects
A written letter of application describing the project and the amount of grant being requested should be submitted to the Mission Redevelopment Committee and postmarked by March 31, 2017. Grants will be selected and distributed in April.
Mission Redevelopment Committee
PO Box 156
Madelia MN 56062
News Briefs

FROM PROJECT HOMECOMING IN NEW ORLEANSProject Homecoming, born out of a partnership between Presbyterian Disaster Assistance and the Presbytery of South Louisiana, is one of several ministries in New Orleans that continues to share in the recovery efforts following Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

This past week, Tuesday, February 7, an EF-3 tornado with winds in excess of 140 mph hit New Orleans and destroyed Project Homecoming's Volunteer Village.  Volunteers serving in New Orleans at the time of the storm lost all their belongings.

For more information about last week's storm, as well as Project Homecoming, check their web site at:

The Lilly Endowment Clergy National Renewal Program provides funds to congregations to support renewal leaves for their pastors. Congregations may apply for grants of up to $50,000 to underwrite a renewal program for their pastor and for the pastor's family, with up to $15,000 of those funds available to the congregation to help cover costs for ministerial supply while the pastor is away. There is no cost to the congregations or the pastors to apply. The grants represent the endowment's continued investment in renewing the health and vitality of American Christian congregations. Application deadline is April 21, 2017. Application information can be found at .

SUMMER YOUTH MISSION OPPORTUNITY The Rocky Mountain Mission program began in July 2014 and is offering six weeks of service opportunities for youth again this summer. Youth who travel to Nederland, Colorado will have the chance to share in a few different projects that might include working on homes in need of repairs, helping with VBS, providing outreach to the homeless community, adopting the local cemetery, continuing recovery following floods and fires, and more.
For information, visit , or call Pastor Hansen Wendlandt at 303.258.3579.
Car for Sale

2015 Nissan Altima with 30,000 miles. Average gas mileage of 35 mpg. This car was used by Pastor Hicks when he was in Pipestone. If you are interested, make a reasonable offer to Bud Eernisse at 507-215-0584. Car may be seen at Southside Motors in Pipestone.
Greetings from the Way Forward Commission!  
As the Commission continues its work of initial discernment towards identifying a vision for the structure and function of the General Assembly entities of the PCUSA, we felt it was critically important to hear the perspectives of our mid-council leadership. Towards that end, I would like to invite you who have not done so already to provide the Commission with any suggestions, insights and comments on the future of the church and its structure.  
We appreciate the many mid council leaders who have already responded to the survey and welcome additional responses through the following online link prior to February 28, 2017, so that we may take it into consideration as we begin our work:
With gratitude,
Mark Hostetter, Moderator, Way Forward Commission
Six New Things: February 14

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