The Valley Bridge
The weekly newsletter from the
Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys
February 8, 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 12-18
First Presbyterian Church of Edgerton
Reverend Thomas J. Voigt
Session Members:  Jerry Evink,  Bobbi Jo Fleischman,  Sue Fraser,  Brenda Hadler,  Dave Hulstein,  Dean Wieck, and Clerk of Session  Jan Bos

Growing congregation
Spirit of unity
Forward looking
Upcoming Centennial Celebration, June 17-18th, 2017
Confirmation students
Continued outreach into our communities
The Word from Rick: A Full Day!

The weather behaved itself last Saturday, allowing for a great turnout at our February presbytery meeting. For many of the saints, particularly those from Beaver Creek, Ellsworth, Worthington and other points to the southwest, it made for an extra-long day, but I was pleased that so many of you - from all corners of our presbytery stayed with us to the very end.

As I look back, I see several moments that helped to make this day special.

The First Moment: Worship
Over the past three-plus years, I have gotten to share many good conversations with Jon Armajani over lunch at Star of India, and we have developed a special friendship. To hear Jon preach, and then to co-officiate at the Lord's Table with him, was a gift. As Jon mentioned later in the day, we do have a connection that goes back longer than the past three years. Jon's great-uncle, Dr. Yahya Armajani, was one of my professors at Macalester College. Small world, indeed.

Second Moment: Our Common Life and Ministry
I felt exceptional energy flowing from a number of our presbyters as they shared with passion visions for ministry that are ahead of this presbytery in 2017. The last year was a learning curve for many of us, as we tried to figure out how to live into a different Mission Design. We knew it would take time for people grow into the vision, and we have spent time walking with folks into this really. As the vision becomes more widely understood and embraced, we will be able to move into meaningful ministry, and some of it is getting closer.

In that spirit, we heard:
  • Candace Adams enthusiastically share the Commission on Congregational Transformation and Development's intentions for becoming a greater resource to our congregations and their leaders. CCTD's commission members will become point-persons, knowledgeable about resources in key ministry areas, available to help make resource connections. She indicated that we would hear more in May.
  • Bob Bartlett speak of how the Committee on Congregational Nurture intends to grow its ministry and increase its visibility among our congregations. The nine members of this team have committed to visiting their neighborhood churches this year.
  • Stan Menning share information about "The Academy," a venture that is being shared with two other presbyteries to provide training for ruling elders who might wish to pursue commissioning.
Things are beginning to happen, and it is exciting!

The Third Moment: A Guatemala Visit
We got to spend some time with our Minnesota Valleys team down in Guatemala, along with some of the Guatemalan Presbyterians present with them. Mark Ford arranged for a video link that took us inside the home of one of our Occidente Partners where we received an update on the events of the last week. The wonders of technology do help bring us closer together! In May, the wonders of modern transportation will bring some of them to our meeting in Worthington!

The Final Moment: Retirement
I would be remiss if I did not include the recognition of my upcoming retirement. It has been a privilege sharing this part of your journey as a presbytery with you all. You will never fully understand what this experience has meant to me, and I hope that in some ways I have been helpful to the journey. I will admit that I am not wired like a lot of other Executive Presbyters--being an educator and youth ministry person, I approach things in my own way, with my particular personality, trusting that it had helped create a vision and plan in response to what God wants to do through you all.

Scott Thompson probably told the presbytery more about me than you needed or wanted to know, but it was fun having him share all that. It was a gift to have our Synod Executive, Elona Street-Stewart, and her husband, David, present, along with Virginia and Chuck Molitor. I thank you all for the gifts and the words of affirmation - you are way too kind! I now have a certificate that says "Honorably Retired," but we all know that this title does not kick in until April 1. We still have over 50 days together and a good amount of work to do!

From my perspective, Saturday was a good day for this presbytery. Our friends in Saint Cloud were exceptional hosts. The young people of the congregation did an exceptional job of preparing and serving the noon meal. It was a big highlight of our day. Hats off to Mark Giese, the youth and their parents, and those who work with these youth for a job extremely well done! The cookies and the cake at the end of the day topped it off just right. One thought, however, unless you want the ultimate calorie and sugar highs, never allow me to cut a cake ever again!

As we pulled out of the parking lot, with a backseat filled with cake that the group could not finish off, Sue and I took with us the good feelings of having spent the day with some truly wonderful people who are indeed a significant part of my cloud of witnesses! This journey has been, and will continue to be - for a little while longer - the trip of a lifetime! Thank you!

Grace and Peace,
Link to pictures from the presbytery meeting on Facebook
On the Road with Rick: The Pre-Retirement Tour
February - March
February 8 - Session Meeting, First Presbyterian Church, Fulda
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
Prayers, please

Prayers are requested for the Rev. Don Crissinger-Clark, former pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Saint James. Don has been placed on hospice care and is currently receiving care at Park-Nicollet in Saint Louis Park.
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
Leadership Summit

Karen Houtman, Lynn Olson, Paul Snyder, Bonnie Roys, Pamela Prouty and Kathy Knips (pictured below, right) attended the Leadership Summit which the Synod put on last week in Buffalo, MN at the Christ the King Retreat Center. The picture of the retreat center (pictured below, left) is taken from the Buffalo Lake. At the Summit we heard about reports and programs from the Board of Pensions and Presbyterian Foundation related to pastoral leaders.  Also SanDawna Ashley from the Office of the General Assembly gave the keynotes about bi-vocational ministry and the future. Workshops were held on a variety of topics all related to caring for and training pastoral leaders. People from across the Synod were present as well, so a lot of sharing of resources and best practices was done. It was a good few days together.

Pastoral Leadership Opportunities

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

Randall Presbyterian Church, Randall, Minnesota - Ministry Information Form - 03892.AC
First Presbyterian Church, Osakis, Minnesota - Ministry Information Form - 3890.AC4
The Ministry Information Form for these opportunities are posted on the Church Leadership Connection web site --

The Ministry Information Form for Crosslake's Interim Pastor position is in the process of becoming active, the Church Leadership Connection shows it as "Incoming." Its MIF # is 11950.AC0.  The search team has begun its work and the contact person is Norton (Butch) Lund -- (218) 831-0045 -- . Please check out this opportunity and share it with folks who might be interested!
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
LILLY ENDOWMENT CLERGY RENEWAL PROGRAM 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 .
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
2017 Liturgical Colors from the 2016-2017 Presbyterian Planning Calendar
Six New Things
Free online Youth Ministry Institute event from Montreat on 2/16 - try it out!
Now More Than Ever - Presbyterian Peace & Justice Monthly
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