The Valley Bridge
The weekly newsletter from the
Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys
January 17, 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 21-17
First Presbyterian Church of Blue Earth
Moderator: Rev. Michael Roys
Administrative Assistant/Treasurer: Connie Hedland
Session Members: Connie Hedland, Zac Huntley, Debby Johnson, Jo  Kraayenhof, Roy Lindokken, and Tom Plocker.
Prayers for the following leadership transitions:
  • We will be appointing a new clerk of session. We are thankful for the many years that Cindy Peterson served in this position and her dedication to the church.
  • Visitation Minister: We are negotiating with a new person to fill this position. We are thankful to the Rev. Kathy Blair for providing this service the past two years.

We are grateful that we can come together to worship God and share the good news of his love with the community.

Cell block A at Sing Sing Correctional Facility in Ossining, New York. This is the largest cell block in the country. About 1,800 men are incarcerated at this maximum-security prison.
Minute for Mission: Criminal Justice Sunday

January 21, 2018

Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them. -Hebrews 13:3a

Let us, on this Criminal Justice Sunday, be reminded of these sad facts:
  • That our country is the world's leader in incarcerating our own
  • That the United States of America, which holds 5 percent of the world's population, holds 25 percent of the world's prisoners
  • That the vast majority of people incarcerated in our country are from poor, inner-city neighborhoods and are of predominantly African-American and Latino descent
Let us be reminded also that our stance on punishment is in sharp contrast to our Christian gospel's redemptive message of repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation, as expressed in Luke 4:18; and that our salvation, individually and collectively, is linked to our treatment of those in prison, as declared in Matthew 25:41-43.

Society's stance on criminal justice is historically a pendulum swinging between restorative and punitive. Our country is long overdue for prison reform based upon rehabilitative and restorative principles, as practiced in other developed cultures with which we compare ourselves. This should include the "Mandela Rules," reflecting the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as the abolition of for-profit prisons and an end to capital punishment.

Today, on Criminal Justice Sunday, join with fellow Presbyterians and others of all faiths in seeking to raise awareness about our outdated, punitive and costly criminal justice system, so that those sitting in darkness behind tall walls and barbed wire may experience hope.  

Hans Hallundbaek, DMin, Coordinator, Prison Partnership Program, Hudson River Presbytery,
UN NGO Representative for the International Prison Chaplains Association and Citizens United for the Return of Errants

Let us pray:
Dear God,
We pray for the criminal justice system; for the victims of crime and their families, that they find healing; for the offenders, that they find redemption, and for law enforcement, court systems and correctional facilities.
We pray also for solutions to the root causes of crime in communities:
poverty, discrimination, and segregation.
May we learn to be slow in judgement, and to truly love our neighbor, especially those waylaid onto a wrongful path. We pray this in the name of the best-known Convict of all time, Jesus Christ.

From the PC(USA)'s Mission Yearbook
Highlights from the Leadership Retreat

Many thanks to the 50 plus people that attended the Leadership Retreat at the First Presbyterian Church of Willmar on Saturday! It was a day of learning, connecting, creating goals and planning the year for each commission, committee and task force represented.

We started the day with worship, and Stan Menning talked about the Ministry Plan and Mission Design. SanDawna Ashley led an icebreaker game in which we took turns asking the person across from us questions, such as where our names come from and what our most difficult task has been in ministry.

SanDawna talked to us about adaptive leadership, handling/coaching change, and working as a unit. We were given a hypothetical situation to handle while wearing and taking on the defined persona one of six thinking hats.

Pamela Prouty discussed the Book of Order, Robert's Rules of Order, and How to Make a Motion.

The commissions, committees and task forces met individually and talked with their members about what their commission does, established core values, set goals and meeting dates for 2018.

SanDawna closed the meeting with worship and blessed our hands for service.

We are grateful to the congregation at First Presbyterian Church of Willmar for letting us use their building. Thank you to the Nurture & Fellowship Committee for the hospitality and help during the day, for serving the food and answering all of our questions; to Jerry & Sue Schiro for the set up and take down for the meeting. Thanks to Scott Thompson for all of his work with the technology, and to Richard Lange and Murphy Ashley for final setup of the room and help during the day, and to those who stayed after the meeting to help clean up.

It was a wonderful day, and we are looking forward to a productive and blessed year together in service.
Prayer Concern:

Please keep our former executive presbyter Rick Carus in prayer. He was traveling back home from Wisconsin and has landed in the Iowa University Hospital, Iowa City, and is being treated for pancreatitis.
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.
2018 Lenten Devotional - Jesus and the Prophets - Order from the presbytery office now

There is a potent connection between Jesus and the prophets. The prophets communicated the word of God; Jesus is the Word of God. The prophets predicted the coming of the prince of peace; Jesus is the Prince of Peace. Not only did Jesus continue the prophetic ministry, he is the fulfillment of the prophetic mission.

The Rev. Jimmie Hawkins, PC(USA) pastor, board trustee for Union Presbyterian Seminary and director of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Office of Public Witness in Washington, D.C., has assembled a collection of challenging daily reflections, Scripture and prayers to help us on our Lenten journey. The Lenten Devotional features oil paintings by Steven Burgess, an artist from upstate New York who is a member of First United Presbyterian Church in Salem, N.Y.

The 2018 Lenten Devotional is perfect for congregations, families and individuals.

If our presbytery's pre-order reaches 100 copies, your congregation's cost for these devotionals will be $2.25 per copy through the presbytery office. The deadline to order is Monday, January 29. Please call or email your order to Karen at the presbytery office: 320-235-7910 or .
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.
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.AC

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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