The Valley Bridge
The weekly newsletter from the
Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys
January 10, 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 are 8:00 - 5:00 Monday - Friday
Congregation of the week of January 14-20
First Presbyterian Church of Beaver Creek
Commissioned Ruling Elder: Michael Blank
Session members: Pam Hanson, Mike Hageman, Tricia Wingert, LeRoy Schroeder, Richard Tatge, Jake Rauk, Deb Brondsema

Prayers for discernment, vision, conviction and adherence to the Word of God. We continue to support Tuff Memorial Home as one of many mission projects and are in the process of launching our newsletter. Prayers are appreciated for both.
When I think about justice

Across the country on Sunday many congregations will honor the life and work of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. We will forever remember many of his speeches such as the I Have a Dream Address, A Letter from the Birmingham Jail, the Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech and The Poor People's Campaign.  Dr. King's speeches are so prolific that this short article cannot do them justice. The wisdom of his words are still a challenge for us. 
  • "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. The true neighbor will risk his position, his prestige, and even his life for the welfare of others."
  • "There are some things so dear, some things so precious, some things so eternally true, that they are worth dying for. And I submit to you that if a man has not discovered something that he will die for, he isn't fit to live."
  • "When our days become dreary with low-hovering clouds of despair, and when our nights become darker than a thousand midnights, let us remember that there is a creative force in this universe, working to pull down the gigantic mountains of evil, a power that is able to make a way out of no way and transform dark yesterdays into bright tomorrows. Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice."

Within the United States including Puerto Rico 900 cities have streets named after the slain civil rights leader. This is truly an honor for one who gave up his life for the work of justice. Yet, it is also a reality that most of the MLK Drives are in areas of low income, high crime, and in urban centers where many cautiously travel.

Yet, it would be an injustice not to recognize that our country is moving towards the dream that all humankind are accepted as equals. With the intense racial conflicts in 2017, many have felt as if we have gone one step forward and two steps back. In the places we have improved, it is because people have made a concerted effort to live out the teaching of Galatians 3:28 "There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus." The key to our continued progress in this area is relationship building. Through getting to know one another better, we are able to dismiss the falsehoods of prejudice, hate, and bias. In 2011, I served as the denomination's Associate for Gender and Racial Justice; my role included developing resources to assist the PC(USA) in becoming a racially just church. I visited many presbyteries and facilitated dialogues on race and equality. As you could imagine these were hard conversations. Yet, I observed Christian doing the hard work of staying the course. I observed barriers between people being broken. I am thankful for this experience. Our denomination is working hard to live countercultural to the world. With every effort to reject bias, open ourselves to new leaders, speak to power, share our wealth, and work for justice, we are making the effort to live the social gospel that Jesus taught. This work can only be done through humility and love.
One of my favorite quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King is "The Christian Gospel is a two-way road. On the one side, it seeks to change the souls of men and thereby unite them with God; on the other side it seeks to change the environmental conditions of men so that the soul will have a chance after it is change" (MLK "Strength Love, pg. 102). Our prayers must be paired with action. Our faith must include reconciliation. Our service must go beyond the convenience of those who come to us. We are called to engage with the least of these. Desmond Tutu said "In order to enter the gates of Heaven we will need a letter of reference from the poor." This saying squares with the teaching of Mathew 25:35-3 "For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me."
The ministry to which we are entrusted is a sign to the nations that God is real. Are there still reformers out there? What about Martins? Mother Theresa? As a presbytery, I am impressed with the obvious efforts you have made in race relations. Let's continue this good work. I hope in the near future to see more diversity in our congregations.  In the years ahead I hope to see Latino, Asian, Mid-Eastern and African American congregations among our membership. Though smaller in number in many of the towns in our presbytery, the diversity of people continues to spread as our communities become more global. We will be ready for whomever God will send to be a part of our ministries if we can make peace and justice core spiritual values in which we live.
Minute for Mission: Race Relations Sunday; Speak Antiracism
from the Presbyterian Mission Agency Mission Yearbook

January 14, 2018

If your mother is white and your father is African-American, what race are you?
a. White
b. African-American
c. Before 1989, African-American
d. 1989 or later, white

Would it surprise you to learn that the answer is both c and d? For those who live in the United States, the race of a child as listed on a birth certificate has been based on a changing set of rules. If both parents were white, the child was white. Before 1989, if only one parent was white, the child was assigned the race of the nonwhite parent. Since 1989, the race of the infant has been determined by the mother's race.

If a person can be identified as African-American for several years and then later be identified as white, it is clear that race, as understood in the United States, is a social construct - rather than an objective, scientifically or biologically consistent characteristic of a person or group of persons. There is only one race, the human race. Evidence from the Human Genome Project indicates that the genetic code for all human beings is 99.9 percent identical. There are more differences within groups (all races) than across groups.

Race Relations Sunday is a reminder for those of us in the church to recommit ourselves to end racism. When Peter preached his "Race Relations Day" sermon, he said, "I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears God and does what is right is acceptable to God" (Acts 10:34-35). The translation in the Good News Bible is my favorite. It reads, "Those who fear God and do what is right are acceptable to God, no matter what race they belong to." God shows no partiality. It doesn't matter how you look. The color of your skin does not correlate with your value.

Implicit bias is revealed when we make snap judgments about the characteristics of a person based on factors as arbitrary as skin color, hair texture, other physical features, abilities, age, sexual orientation or gender, believing that this makes some people more valuable or less valuable and placing some in a privileged category and others in a disadvantaged category. These snap judgments are quick and unconscious associations toward a group. What is challenging for many is that these biases may be in direct conflict with their explicit beliefs and values. A person may believe that s/he thinks one way, but react in a contrary way. The best way to interrupt implicit bias is, first, to become aware of it, to admit that these biases exist. Next, we can train ourselves to counter bias by changing our reactions and actions and joining intercultural coalitions of people who are working to think and behave differently.

We were anointed at our baptisms, and a new humanity, a new people, a new race was created, where all are one in Christ Jesus. So today we reaffirm our baptisms, joining the intercultural community, of every race and people, created equally in God's image, and anointed to God's service.

Rhashell Hunter, Director of Racial Ethnic & Women's Ministries, Presbyterian Mission Agency

Annual Report Forms

Pastors and Commissioned Ruling Elders, here are links to this year's annual report forms. The form for pastors of churches is still being edited, but should be up soon. The deadline to return them to the presbytery office is March 1. Karen will be emailing the links out next week, but here they are now if you'd like a head start.
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 to Karen Lange at the Presbytery office at, so lunch can be planned accordingly.
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 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 TODAY. 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.
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.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 --
2018 Per Capita is $40.13

$27.00 for Presbytery
   5.40 for Synod
   7.73 for GA
$40.13 Total
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.
Washington Island Forum

The Washington Island Forum is a 40 year tradition and is sponsored by the Wisconsin Council of Churches and The Christian Century magazine. It is four and one half days of worship, workshops, discussion, and contemplation in an ecumenical retreat setting on Washington Island, just north of Door County Wisconsin. The week begins with a welcome and opening picnic Monday afternoon at Trinity Lutheran Church. Tuesday through Thursday enjoy morning prayer and workshop sessions at the Trueblood Performing Arts Center (TPAC) and optional afternoon discussion groups. Friday begins with a Eucharist, a final workshop and discussion, with departure at noon.

This year's presenter is Anna Carter Florence with the theme "Reading the Verbs: Finding the Script in the Scripture". She is Professor of Preaching at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia and an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA).
In the past we have had participants from all four corners of the country and many places in between attend. More information can be found on our web site at:
We have a couple workshops coming up at United Theological Seminary with renowned playwright Christina Ham that might be of interest to your clergy and/or congregations. More information can be at the links below.
Six New Things
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