The Valley Bridge
The weekly newsletter from the
Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys
January 11, 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: January 15-21
First Presbyterian Church of Canby
Rev. Steven Tyykila
Clerk of Session: Karen Houtman
Session elders:  Pat Gubrud,  Randy Lopau,  Tom McCammon,  Carol Tobin,  Genevieve Tyykila,  Barb Vanstrom,  Charleen Wallert
For those members who are dealing with health issues.
For the members that are down south for the winter, or are heading there.
For the Canby Area Ministerial Association and its after school program called The Connection.
The Word from Rick 

I don't know how many of you heard the news, but this past Saturday night/early Sunday morning, a vandal or vandals broke into the Christian Education building of St Stephen Presbyterian Church in Fort Worth, Texas. Windows were shattered and furniture was busted. Books had been ripped apart, and food and containers had been stacked on a stove and torched. As a result of these actions, the church was forced to cancel Sunday morning's services.
This resulting damage was bad enough, but it could have been much worse, as an attempted act of arson was stopped by an attentive member of the congregation who called law enforcement officials. The person or persons responsible have yet to be apprehended, and so the motive is unclear, and to speculate would be unfair.
I know the St. Stephen congregation, and I know their pastor, Fritz Ritsch. Their DCE, Beth Fultz, helped me create a mission trip ministry for the youth of the presbytery, and saints of the church like Bob and Carol Adcock were trusted colleagues who served the church with great enthusiasm. The music ministry was unequaled. St Stephen tended to be "high church," but it was one place where I felt at home, and very Presbyterian.
The church building is modeled after a Scottish castle and sits on a hill near Texas Christian University. Friends and neighbors lovingly call St. Stephen, "Fort God." At first, the structure overwhelms you, but when you engage the people, you find a loving, engaged, welcoming group of people. St Stephen has historically had a passion for serving the community, whether it be students from TCU, or the homeless of Fort Worth. It has been intensively involved in inter-faith conversations and ministry. It is a welcoming and inclusive place, and I am saddened that someone apparently took exception to its presence and sought to destroy it. Thankfully, someone was watching over this congregation!
Reading the reports from the newspaper, as well as postings on Facebook, I am encouraged by the resilient spirit of the saints at St Stephen. I know that the damage to the facility will be repaired and that ministry will remain vital and will grow in the months and years to come.
I ask that you pray for the saints of St Stephen and for their ministry. If you wish to read a little bit more, here is the link to the Star-Telegram:

Grace and Peace,
On the Road with Rick: The Pre-Retirement Tour
January - March
January 16 - Session Meeting, Faith Presbyterian Church, Silver Lake
January 21 - Presbytery Orientation and Organization Gathering, First Presbyterian Church, Willmar
January 22 - Preach at First Presbyterian Church, Osakis
January 24-31 - Association of Presbyterian Church Educators Annual Event and Related Meetings, Denver and Albuquerque
February 4 - Presbytery Meeting, First Presbyterian Church, Saint Cloud
February 5 - Preach at Faith Presbyterian Church, Silver Lake
February 14 - Session Meeting, First Presbyterian Church, Osakis
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 19 - Worship Visit, Grace-First Parish, Russell
March 26 - Worship Visit, First Presbyterian Church, Redwood Falls
Office Closed

The presbytery office will be closed on Monday, January 16, in observance of the Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.
The Prayer Service for Christian Unity
January 15, 2017 at  2:00pm
Church of St. Boniface
551 Main St.
Stewart, MN 55385
(Just off of US-212  between Buffalo Lake and Brownton)
"Charting the Course"
Saturday, January 21, 2016 - 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
First Presbyterian Church in Willmar
Participants in this event are reminded that the RSVP deadline is Tuesday, January 17!!!
Important Communication has been sent to all congregations

The annual report form for pastoral leaders, the presbytery's compensation policy, and the manse inspection form has been emailed to all pastoral leaders and clerks of session. The reports are due at the presbytery office by March 1.
The annual report form is new and asks for significant information from all of our pastoral leaders. It is part of the Commission on Leadership's effort to support our congregation's leaders. The report not only asks for compensation information, but it also asks for reports on continuing education, vacation, personal leave, and sabbaticals. COL is responsible for  all aspects of the pastoral call, and this new form is intended to assist the commission in it relationships with our pastoral leaders.
Pastors with salary changes are also reminded to report changes of salary to the Board of Pensions through Benefits Connect. The presbytery does not send this information to the Board of Pensions which requires pastors to notify them within 31 days of the effective change. 
If you have questions or concerns regarding completion of this report, you may call Stated Clerk Pam Prouty at 507-627-5486 or Bea Ourada at 320-796-5310.
Congrats, Terry!

On December 9, Rev. Terry Olthoff earned his Doctor of Ministry degree from Newburgh Theological Seminary in Newburgh, Indiana. Currently retired and living in Arizona, Terry has served our Presbyterian Churches in Edgerton, Lismore and Litchfield.
Terry's address:
11066 W Winchester Dr
Sun City AZ 85351-1559
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 --
In addition, our congregation in Crosslake is seeking individuals who would be willing to provide pulpit supply on Sundays as they are living into a time of transition. For more information, please contact the Rev. Mark Ford who is currently serving as moderator of the session at Crosslake Presbyterian Church. Mark can be reached at
Lenten Devotional 2017: Meeting Jesus
This year's Lenten devotional by Jodi Craiglow invites us to  join 47 biblical figures--one for each day of Lent--who encounter Jesus during his earthly life and ministry. Speaking in unique, first-person conversational form, these characters tell us "in their own words" what they've seen and learned. They draw us in to share their joys and struggles, and help us understand Jesus in a newer, richer way. The narratives are rounded out with a daily Scripture reading and short prayer.

Along with the text, Meeting Jesus includes a collection of multimedia artwork from Creation Lab in Chicago featuring ancient Lenten symbols expressed in a contemporary, urban style.

Meeting Jesus is perfect for congregations, families, and individuals.

Your congregation is invited to order these devotionals at $2.25 per copy through the presbytery office. The deadline to order is Monday, January 30. Please call or email Karen at the presbytery office: 320-235-7910 or
The Joint Religious Legislative Coalition has a few questions

This year the JRLC will focus on helping Minnesota families and children in economic pressure - seeking an increase for those families participating in the MN Family Investment Program (MFIP), expanding programs surrounding marriage rights, and increasing the Working Family Credit for lower income Minnesotans.

The JRLC is currently putting together fact sheets for each Minnesota County, sharing the number of households living in poverty, the percentage of children on free and reduced lunch, and other data surrounding economic pressure. They want to show the real and growing needs of our communities. They need information from all over the state.
Please take a few minutes to humanize the face of Minnesotans most in need. We only need 3 or 4 lines.  If it helps, responding to any of these four questions would be wonderful.
What stories do you hear from your community members about how they are doing economically?
How do financial challenges impact the children and families with whom you work?
Please share any changes you've seen in the number of families and individuals dealing with unemployment, lack of affordable housing or transportation challenges.
What would you like legislators to know about the families in your parish?
You can send the responses directly to the JRLC Executive Director, Anne Krisnik at

News Briefs
Here is a possible resource for you to consider:
Lenten Reflections on the Confession of Belhar, with an introduction by Allan Boesak, and edited by Kerri Allen and Don McKim. This reflection has been written by a variety of Presbyterians, reflecting on a portion of the confession in relation to Scripture texts that are associated with the confession. It can be ordered through the PC(USA) Store - Call (800) 533-4371.
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 .

Six New Things

Two Resources from Omaha Presbyterian Seminary Foundation

90 Minute Webinar by Nate Phillips - No More "Church as Usual"
 - Inviting God to Do a New Thing (or Two)
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