The Valley Bridge
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 of January 6-12
First Presbyterian Church of Amboy
Pastor: Rev. Elaine Boyd
Clerk of Session: Nancy Runge
Administration Assistant: Rhonda Martin

Prayer concerns:
  • Thanksgiving and prayers for discernment for God's leading in this our 150th year.  
  • Wisdom and encouragement for elders going on session: Joel Caldwell, Jane Caldwell and Keith Larson.
  • Prayers for congregation members with personal and health challenges.
God Is the Unmoved Mover
Richard Rohr, the writer of the Center for Contemplation , reminded me of my understanding of God “the Unmoved Mover.” Aristotelian philosophy understood the unmoved mover as a force beyond the universe that controlled all movement. Additionally, Aristotle acquainted this force to be a solid substance sitting above somewhere. Thomas Aquinas and others baptized the Aristotelian philosophy, giving it a Christian understanding of how God interacts with humanity. The unmoved mover, in my theology, is an attribute for God who does not change in God’s love and care for us…in the past as in the present or the future. Every day God walks before and with us. For those who are keenly aware of the dangers of life and how fragile life is, this is a comforting reminder that we do not have to be stymied by fear. God is sovereign. Jesus said not to worry, reminding us that God cares for the birds of the air, so God will provide for our every need. Paul tells us that nothing in life or death can separate us from the love of God. Each new year, I reflect upon the Isaiah 40 prophecy that the Lord will make crooked paths straight. As a realist, I know that each year brings its challenges to overcome. Nevertheless, these challenges will not be insurmountable; they are temporary. Additionally, each year brings opportunity and blessings. I anticipate both and rest in faith knowing that all things are under the control of God.

As we walk into 2019, let’s live into the hope of a promising future of meaningful life and ministry. I look forward to serving with you. I anticipate seeing God work within our area, touching lives and restoring hope in communities. Pull out all the stops, do the things you always wanted to do. Try something new. Test your intuitions. Trust the Holy Spirit. Risk being wrong and discovering what might be right. Love deeply. Forgive. Be bold and courageous. Preach in season and out of season. Reflect on your understanding of God’s consistent love for you. How does this understanding give you the courage to live boldly in the new year?

God, the unmovable mover, is with us!

Happy New Year,
The Lord is an Iron Shield for those who hide behind Him
(Psalm 18:30)
Submitted by Owar Ojulu

I am bringing to you New Years’ greetings and a great news of a MIRACLE. I thought I could share this even if it wouldn’t make sense to others. It’s my story, a story of deliverance, and I would love to share it with you. In the 21 century, the world of scientific reality of logic, and media centered system, talking about Divine interventions and miraculous works of the almighty God may be alien to many and hard to believe.

On Friday December 28, 2019 at 2:49pm, I posted a picture with this Bible excerpt, “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour" 1 Peter 5:8. On the same day, I listened to a news story about an Ohio man who was declared dead by doctors but miraculously came back to life after his son’s prayer.

These are few things I could remember that, now when I look back, were signaling something bigger to happen to me personally. As a living testimony and witness to such God’s intervention, I am here to tell you what the Lord has done in my life a few days ago. David once said,
For when the ropes of death wrapped around me
  and terrifying torrents of destruction overwhelmed me,
taking me to death’s door, to doom’s domain, 
I cried out to you in my distress, the delivering God,
  and from your temple-throne you heard my troubled cry. (Psalm 18:4-6 TPT)

On Friday, December 28th around 9:00-9:15pm, “the snares of death confronted me” and I was led to “death’s door,” to the domain of doom (Ps. 18:5). Yet, the loving God, the Lord of victory, snatched and rescued me from death that night. It’s hard to believe and I am still amazed as I write at this moment.

Here is how it happened. Friday night, I decided to walk to a Walgreens store as I usually do when I exercise. Just wanted to grab something for my little one before I had to visit with a friend and before the store closed at 10 pm. It was snowing, and it was cold that night. I don’t even recall why I decided to walk to the store rather than drive. I should have taken the car, because it was freezing and windy. But I was lured! “The cords of the grave coiled around me,” (Psalm 18:5). It was already stronger than any decision I could have made. Yes, the spirit of death had lured me to the grave that evening.

I left our home and then came to the light. I stopped, waiting for the light and my right-of-way to crossover. I didn’t know and I don’t remember how I crossed the road. Death was near and the angel of death had overshadowed my presence. There was only one black car stopped to my left side that I can recall while waiting for the light. I saw cars from the turning light on Humiston Avenue, were turning toward Oxford Street going east (for those who are familiar with Worthington). I tried to cross to give way to the car that was turning south on 59. Suddenly, I heard a loud and thick noise. I felt heavier while spinning. Then I was on the ground—it was a great and dangerous fall. I knew I was hit. But how, where, what etc.? I couldn’t remember, because I briefly passed out.

While I was trying to crawl away, I heard a voice of a lady from the other side of the road “Are you okay?” I was holding my jaw tight (first spot I felt hurt). She was a Samaritan indeed! My left jaw was hurt and a big cut on my lower lip locked my mouth. This lady, whose name I couldn’t remember, ran toward me and held my arms and walked me to her vehicle. While she was trying to get me to safety, the car that hit me fled away. None of us was able to record the plate number. I foolishly trusted my guts that they might stop, step out, and ask me of my injuries. But no, they escaped the scene.

However, as they were pulling to the side of the road before they fled, I saw two teenagers in the car with one on the passenger side wearing yellowish shirt. The Samaritan and Godsend lady was concerned about getting me to the ER, and only at the ER were the police notified. Two police officers came, and I gave any description I could remember. They went and looked at the CCTV cameras in the area, but told me none shows that far on the road where I was hit and there was no any record of the incident. The police are still searching for the escapees.

Yet, here is the good news and the reason I am convinced to share my story. Friends, God is now and always a secure shelter and an iron shield to those who love him and the ones he loves. I was spared by the heavenly Father. I was dead, but miraculously I am alive! For the last three days, I still wake up from my sleep, thinking that what had happened was a dream. But it’s real! I was rescued from the snare of the devil, I am alive and living for God.

With all X-rays and CT scans, there was no broken bone ever noticed. Even my thin ribs were made into an IRON PILLARS that night. It was a miracle! God has a plan for me and for you my friends. It was a plan to live through the New Year 2019 and beyond; not a plan to have power of death claiming victory over my life. My bones wouldn’t shatter and fracture on New Year’s Eve. The Lord has prevented my family from a devastating and traumatizing news at the wake of the New Year and my children’s birthdays.

It's hard to believe when we logically imagine the impact and a damage a car might cause to a body. I myself am amazed at God's miracles. I was hit from the edge of the headlight. And even if the car was not in full speed, due to the presence of snow on the ground that night, without the presence of the living God, the accident would have left a great damage on this small body or even the loss of my life. I could have been dead today. Surprisingly, there was no major damage. Only my jaw ligaments were injured, knee and rib bruises with only fractured teeth. They thought I might have some blood bleeding to my brain as I was experiencing persistent headaches after the accident. Amazingly, it was ruled out during yesterday’s visit—“YOU ARE OK!” said my doctor. Only one thing was recommended, to take time for healing and, that I should abstain from driving long distance to give time for my ribs to heal. This is incomparable to what the Lord has done—praise the God of the living!

I am conscious and the Lord’s promises are proven to be true, that, “One who is living in you is far greater than the one who is in the world” John 4:4. The Lord, who abides in us, makes us strong against our adversaries. He is the shield, the solid rock and mighty fortress around those he loves; “a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46). Yes, he is, “our guardian will not fall asleep, nor slumber” (Psalm 121)
Now join me in singing David’s best hymn saying, Lord:
You’re as real to me as bedrock beneath my feet,
like a castle on a cliff, my forever firm fortress,
my mountain of hiding, my pathway of escape,
my tower of rescue where none can reach me.
My secret strength and shield around me,
you are salvation’s ray of brightness shining on the hillside,
always the champion of my cause. (Psalms 18: 2 TPT)

This is my song, this is my story; it’s my miracle and I am alive! Thank you for my Godsend angel; thank you to everyone who has been remembering me and my family in your prayers daily; and thank you to you all who have called and visited us during this tough time. Please continue praying for quick recovery.

May the New Year bring us blessings, health, joy and renewed hopes
Happy New Year 2019
Commissioner, Ruling Elder, Deacon Training

On Saturday, January 12, the presbytery will hold a joint Presbytery Commission/Committee member and New Ruling Elders and Deacons training event at the Hope Presbyterian Church of Spicer from 9:30 - 4:00. All commission members are asked to attend the January 12th full day training.

The schedule for the day:
9:30      Registration
10:00    Opening Devotions and Plenary Speaker Deb DeMeester in the Sanctuary
11:45    Lunch
12:30    Ruling Elders, Deacons, Commissions/Committees meet separately 
(15 minute break at 2:00)
3:30      Closing in the Sanctuary
4:00      Departure

Clerks/congregations: please send Karen Lange the names of those attending and note if they are elders or deacons.
Ecumenical Prayer Service Celebrates Annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Ecumenical Prayer Service Celebrates Annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity at First Presbyterian Church of Willmar. Area congregations will come together for an Ecumenical Celebration of the Word of God on Sunday, January 20.

The service, which will be held as part of the area's observance of the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, will take place at First Presbyterian Church of Willmar beginning at 3:00 p.m. Rev. Dr. SanDawna Gaulman Ashley, Executive Presbyter at the Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys, will deliver the message. Special music will be provided by John McKay, an accomplished pianist from Saint Peter.

Begun in 1908, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is celebrated each year in cities and towns across the country and around the world.

The theme for the 2019 observance is Justice, Only Justice, You Shall Pursue (Deuteronomy 16:18-20). The theme and text for each year's observance of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity are chosen and prepared by representatives of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and representatives of the World Council of Churches. The international texts are developed, adapted, and published for use in the USA by the Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious Institute.

The Willmar service is sponsored by the Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys. Please contact  Karen Lange  if you are willing to bring a plate of 24 baked treats to serve following the event. 

The public is cordially invited.
Leadership Development and Educational  Training
All pastors and congregational leaders are invited

Hopeful Conversations About Human to Human Relationships:
Moving beyond hatemongering, fear, scarcity, and miseducation

Tuesday, January 22 - 9:30 - 3:00
Presbytery office, Willmar

Speaker: The Rev. Samuel Son, Manager for Diversity and Reconciliation, the Presbyterian Mission Agency

Religious, community, and education leaders are invited to a conversation about human to human relationships hosted by the Minnesota Valleys Presbytery and the Presbyterian Mission Agency PC(USA). Participants can expect a safe place to dialogue around issues on how we see and hear the other. The day-long event will work to equip participants to return to their communities tooled with enhanced listening attitudes and better equipped to positively enhance relationships in our diversifying communities.
Reservation Fee: $15.00 lunch, please bring a check payable to the presbytery that day.
Location: Minnesota Valleys Presbytery office, Willmar, MN
Registration is open - email Karen at the presbytery office
Book Study: Rebuilding the Foundations
Join the Presbytery in a book study of Rebuilding the Foundations: Social Relationships in Ancient Scripture and the Contemporary Culture by John Brueggemann and Walter Brueggemann, Westminster John Knox Press. The Zoom discussion on chapters 3 and 4 will be on Thursday, Jan 24, at 11:00 am and 6:30 pm. Zoom instructions will be included in the Valley Bridge in mid-January.
2019 Presbyterian Youth Triennium
Get Ready for the 2019 Presbyterian Youth Triennium - a gathering held every three years for high school age students in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Youth from all churches (across sponsoring denominations) come together for this life changing, life giving, faith growing gathering! Five days that help form a younger generation of active Presbyterians. Five days that shape the leadership gifts and deepen the discipleship awareness for a generation who are already achieving a strong presence in this church and in this world!
Event Essentials

DATES: Monday, July 15 - Sunday, July 21 (includes travel days)
LOCATION: Purdue University - West Lafayette, IN
AUDIENCE: High School Age youth entering freshman through graduated seniors
THEME: "Here's My Heart"
REGISTRATION FEES: Anticipated Cost - $625.00 to $650.00
                (Registration fee includes all programming, food, lodging and travel)  


Congregation RSVP Forms  Are Now Due with $100 deposit per participant 
JANUARY 7: Registrations Forms Available (Presbytery Website)
FEBRUARY 4: Registrations due, along with $250.00 payment for each participant
MAY 6: Final Payment Due

Contact Mark Giese:  ∙ 320-251-8277 (church) ∙ 320-493-8272 (cell)

Pastoral Leadership Opportunities

First Presbyterian Church, Fulda - Solo Pastor, 3/4 time up to full-time
  Ministry Information Form -  03782.AD1

Faith Presbyterian Church, Silver Lake - Part-time Solo Pastor
  Ministry Information Form -  03851.ACO

Hope Presbyterian Church, Spicer - Solo Pastor
  Ministry Information Form -  09565.ADO

The Ministry Information Forms for these opportunities are posted on the Church Leadership Connection web site --
Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys
4055 Abbott Drive
Willmar MN 56201