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 24-30
First Presbyterian Church of Winnebago
Pastor - OPEN
Secretary - Carol Ricard
Custodian - Amber Franklin
Organist - Maryjean Miller - Mary Conklin
Receiving Treasurer - Duane Larson
Paying Treasurer - Cheryl Goraczkowski
Clerk of Session - Dan Ricard
Elders: Dan Ricard, Doug Baxter, Scott Robertson, Mike Butler, Linda Jones, Carol Ricard, Melinda Sifuentes, Shirley Leagjeld and Retha Rasmussen
Church Missions:
  • Men's Group (serving church & community) The men's group grills hamburgers on Wednesday's during the summer. The men give continuing education scholarships to high school graduate members who are planning to continue on with college. Sometimes the hamburger stand hosts a benefit for someone in the community who has experienced life changing events. The men occasionally help out in the community doing small projects. With the COVID restrictions in 2020 the burger stand was not able to operate. They are looking forward hopefully to being open again in the summer of 2021.
  • Next to New - The Next to New sells recycled clothing, books, toys, baby items, and kitchen supplies. Donations come in and get sorted, the good items get marked with prices and get put on the shelves. The unuseable items get passed on to other places that can use them or to the dumpster. Items are priced low to help community members who cannot afford much, similar to garage sales. There are at least 20 different entities who receive monetary donations at the end of the year from all the sales. Again COVID restrictions hampered the operation of Next-to-New, but by observing the stringent rules they were able to be open and able to finish the year on a high note.
  • Quilting - COVID again hampered the quilting program, but in spite of it, five quilts were taken to the Kentucky Homeless Center. A quilt was presented to our summer intern, and a baby quilt was presented to them on the birth of their daughter. A wedding quilt was given to a member of our congregation and his new bride, and a quilt was given to a local family in need after a fire.
  • Church & Community - Restrictions, restrictions, restrictions. In spite of it all, the Church and Community Committee tried to stay in touch with members of the congregation through cards, letters and phone calls. Two couples celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary and this committee organized a parade of cars and good wishes to each couple.

Requesting prayers for: members of the congregation who have health issues or are facing surgery in the near future; for people who have suffered losses during this year of COVID; for all of those ill with the virus and those recovering from it; for our nation and its leaders; for our massive building restoration project; and for our congregation during the time of searching for a new pastor. We have been one of the churches chosen for the Small Church Residency Program, and are asking for prayers for the success of that program.
Elder and Deacon Training by Zoom Jan 20 and Jan 21
Register by emailing Karen Lange

Wednesday, January 20 from 5:30 - 7:30 PM led by Rev. Pamela Prouty
Ruling Elder Training 101, come and learn about the duties and responsibilities of being a Ruling Elder and meet other REs from around our presbytery.

Thursday, January 21 from 5:30 - 7:30 PM led by Rev. Leanne Thompson
Deacon Training 101 – More Than Just a Social Visit: Practicing the Ministry of Caring in Your Congregation
February 6: Stated Presbytery Meeting by Zoom
10:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon
Theme: Matthew 25
Speaker: Raj Nadella - "God at the Margins: The Roman Empire and Matthew's Theology of Kin(g)dom Community"

Raj Nadella is the Samuel A. Cartledge Associate Professor of New Testament at Columbia Theological Seminary. His research and teaching interests include postcolonial biblical interpretation, migration and New Testament perspectives on economic justice and their ethical implications for the Church and society. He is the author of Dialogue Not Dogma: Many Voices in the Gospel of Luke (T&T Clark, 2011) and an area editor for Oxford Bibliographies Online: Biblical Studies. He is the co-author of Postcolonialism and the Bible and co-editor of Christianity and the Law of Migration, both forthcoming in 2021. He has written for publications such as the Huffington Post, Christian Century and Working Preacher.

Nadella is actively involved in the academy and the Church on issues such as race, economic justice and immigration. He serves on the National Council of Churches USA’s Faith and Order Commission and chairs the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL)’s Committee on Underrepresented Racial and Ethnic Minorities in the Profession (CUREMP).

To register for the presbytery meeting, email Karen Lange
Unmasking the Post-COVID Church

Saturday's Leadership Event led by Rev. Dr. Ross Lockhart engaged the presbytery in a conversation about the Post COVID19 Church. Below are questions we encourage you to discuss with your congregations.

  • What are the most significant changes in the church's life on a Sunday morning during COVID19?
  • What is the most effective initiative you've started during COVID19?
  • What will you continue after the pandemic?
  • What did you start new during COVID19 that you will continue?
  • What is one thing that you hope the congregation will not pick up and start doing again after the pandemic is over?
  • What has COVID19 taught you about the nature and necessity of your church building?
  • What new dreams has God been planting in your congregation during COVID about how you might better your property for mission engagement?
  • Describe your spiritual practices at home. How have these changes been adapted during COVID to strengthen your relationship with Jesus and the people around you?
  • How did your congregation prepare you for discipleship in isolation? What is one thing that the congregation could do more effectively to equip its people for faithful practice when scattered?
  • What has the COVID experience taught you about human nature, and how might you respond effectively with an evangelistic witness?
  • Tell a story about a sign of hope that you've witnessed during this challenging time that might be evidence of God's light breaking into a darkened world?
  • How has your understanding of incarnational ministry been transformed during this pandemic?
  • What do you think God is trying to teach us about how we form community in person or virtually?

Rev. SanDawna Ashley
Unmasking the Post-Covid Church Links
YouTube Video:
Church Safety/Security Resources

Mitigating Attacks on Houses of Worship Security Guide: A DHS Guidebook for both thinking about the security of Houses of Worship and achieving a security plan best suited to the unique circumstances of every community.

Houses of Worship Security Self Assessment: A CISA developed baseline
security self assessment tool designed for a person with little to no security

PDA Resource Guide for Human Caused Disasters
Position Available
Gap Executive Presbyter

PURPOSE OF THE POSITION: The Gap Executive Presbyter will serve as the presbytery leader and head of staff for the Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys during the search process for the permanent Executive Presbyter. The Gap Executive Presbyter will work with the leadership of the presbytery, holding the presbytery’s vision before the collective body, and providing the coordination, nurture, and encouragement necessary to promote the ministry and mission of the presbytery through its officers, committees, congregations and members. 

TYPE OF POSITION: This is a half-time, exempt position appointed by the Commission on Presbytery Operations for a one-year term or until permanent Executive Presbyter position is filled, reviewed at 6 month intervals or at intervals deemed appropriate.

Letters of application due to LeRoy Ennenga by February 5, 2021.
Contact LeRoy Ennenga for detailed position description, questions or comments.  
Phone: 507-360-9254  
Beginning January 1, 2021 the standard mileage rates are:
56 cents per mile for business use
16 cents per mile for medical, or moving purposes
14 cents per mile for service of charitable organizations
2021 Per Capita
$43.00 Total
$28.52 for Presbytery
$5.50 for Synod
$8.98 for GA
2021 Sam & Helen Walton Awards

The Office of Mission Program Grants would like to take this opportunity to share the current nomination forms for the 2021 Sam & Helen R. Walton Awards for outstanding new church developments that have placed an emphasis on site acquisition. Please refer to the attached documents for additional information.
The Mission Development Resources Committee (MDRC) will make decisions on Walton Awardees during their March 2021 meeting.
If you have any questions or comments about the Walton Award or Mission Program Grants, please contact our office. We are sure that we will be able to answer your questions and assist you through this process. Please visit our webpage,, to download our resources and application form.

Learning Ministry Skills for Today’s and Tomorrow’s Church for Pastors, Staff, COMs and Congregational Leaders
February 8-12, Online

Whether it is a change in leadership or a changing community, leading a congregation through change is both challenging and rewarding. It takes knowledge, skill, resilience and spiritual strength to navigate the waters of change in a way that leaders and congregations thrive. This training is for individuals who are considering ministry in temporary settings (as an interim, transitional or designated pastor) or are experiencing ministry in these transitional times. Materials presented will include the basics of transitional ministry and will be of value to all congregational pastors regardless of their ministry setting. Best practices in transitional ministry include ways to enter the congregation and community, how to analyze a congregation’s strength and growing edges, and how to assist a congregation in moving toward a vibrant future. This training will delve into navigating change, the pastor as a spiritual interpreter of transition, family systems, mission focus ministry, conflict mediation, and building resiliency.

Participants completing the full 30 hours of training will meet the requirements for Week I Transitional Ministry Education. If you want a certificate of completion, you must actively participate in all sessions in their entirety. We will meet Monday-Thursday from 9:00-11:30, 1:30-4:30 and Friday from 9:00-noon. Tuition and fees cover the tuition as well as the costs of taking the Thomas Kilman Inventory and the Intercultural Development Inventory. Continue reading for additional information.

Prayer List

  • For Rev. John Lindholm, retired pastor, Fergus Falls, health concerns
  • For Rev. Mark Chamberlain, retired pastor, Willmar
  • For Rev. Bob Bartlett, First Presbyterian Churches of Brewster & Round Lake
  • For Rev. Michael Roys, retired pastor, Winnebago

Pray for Our Occidente Partners in Guatemala
  • For the families of the three Occidente pastors that have recently died
  • For those who have contracted the Covid virus
  • For the "Men in the Mirror" program. Men from Occidente that MVP supported financially to attend the classes are sharing the information they gained with different churches in the eastern and central parts of Guatemala. They, along with the chaplains of the national Presbyterian church, are training Christian policemen in what they learned from "Men in the Mirror."
Pastoral Leadership Opportunities

Zion Presbyterian Church, Ellsworth; Emmanuel Presbyterian Church, Rushmore; First Presbyterian Church, Rushmore - Interim Pastor
Ministry Information Form - 09163.AE0

First Presbyterian Church, Lake Crystal; First Presbyterian Church, Kasota - Pastor, yoked parish
Ministry Information Form - 03709.AB1

Maine Presbyterian Church, rural Underwood - Solo Pastor
Ministry Information Form - 03870.AB0

Faith Presbyterian Church, Silver Lake - Solo Pastor
Ministry Information Form - 03851.AC3

First Presbyterian Church, Slayton - Pastor
Ministry Information Form - 03805.AB0

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

First Presbyterian Church, Winnebago - Interim Pastor
Ministry Information Form - 03811.AA1

Ministry opportunities are posted on the Church Leadership Connection website --
Pastoral Care

A Winter Learning Opportunity for Presbyterians

February 1-March 8
Join this class to explore what it means to reflect on what it means to provide pastoral care in a variety of settings and concerns. Rev. Lisa Watson, a long-time hospital chaplain, who currently serves as a Marriage and Family Counselor is the instructor.

Who might want to take this class?
  • Deacons who provide pastoral care and make pastoral visits
  • Commissioned Pastors who would like to improve their pastoral care
  • Those who might be called to be commissioned pastors as it meets the criteria of participating presbyteries

What will this class involve?
This course is designed to introduce you to pastoral care and the issues that commonly arise in this ministry. Our goal is to address topics that are directly relevant and applicable to your ministry work. Through readings, discussion, and self-reflective exercises, you will:
  • Increase your understanding of the essence of pastoral care.
  • Identify theological, scientific and awareness resources for future use in pastoral care
  • Deepen self-reflection awareness and skills needed to provide thoughtful pastoral care. There will be one book to read in advance and two instruments to take prior to the class.
The class runs asynchronously, meaning, you will participate in weekly activities at your own pace, based on your schedule. Each week, you will be expected to complete an assigned reading, participate in a discussion, respond to two of your classmates’ discussion posts, and complete an assignment. We estimate that you will spend about two hours weekly on coursework. There will be two Zoom meetings with the instructor: February 15 and March 1 from 7-8 p.m.

What is the cost?
  • $125 for those whose presbyteries support The Academy. $150 for those whose presbytery is not a partner. For those interested in the whole series of 11 classes in the Academy, there is an additional discount. 

Who is sponsoring this?
  • This is a class offered through The Academy, a series of classes for church members designed to deepen faith as participants encounter Christ in a new way. For those who are called or are exploring a call to become a Commissioned Pastor, this is a program that can help that happen. The Synod of Lakes and Prairies and the Presbyteries of Minnesota Valleys, North Central Iowa, Northern Waters and Prospect Hill are the current sponsors of the Academy.

How do I register or find additional information?
Formation for Mission: Dipping into the Well of PC(USA) Resources

A Spring Learning Opportunity for Presbyterians

March 13-14
This weekend class offers participants the opportunity to learn more about the breadth and depth of resources available for Presbyterian church leaders. This course provides the opportunity to interact with a number of national staff people for the PC(USA) and to become acquainted with the resources their offices offer to aid and further the ministry of local congregations. 

Who should consider taking this class?
  • Anyone who wants to grow in their faith and understanding of being Presbyterian
  • Session members and Deacons
  • Committee chairs
  • Commissioned Pastors seeking a helpful continuing education opportunity
  • Those who might be called to be commissioned pastors

What will this class involve?
  • Through a series of interactive panel discussions with national staff for the PCUSA, participants will dip deep into the well of resources for:
  • Understanding and engaging the Matthew 25 initiative of the denomination and its focus on building congregational vitality, eradicating system poverty and dismantling structural racism.
  • Forming lifelong disciples who are grounded in the reformed tradition and equipped for evangelism, equipped to be peacemakers and witnesses to the world, and who engage the reformed tradition to work towards justice and equity for all God's people. 
  • The Presbyterian Publishing House will share new resources for faith formation of all ages and participants will explore a variety of resources and how they can be used in local congregations.
  • This class will meet by Zoom on Saturday 9:00-5:00 and Sunday 9:00-3:00 CT.

What is the cost?
  • $125 for participants from partner presbyteries. $150 for participants from non-partner presbyteries. For those interested in the whole series of 11 classes in the Academy, there is a discount. 

Who is sponsoring this?
  • This is a class offered through The Academy, a series of classes for church members designed to deepen faith as participants encounter Christ in a new way. For those who are called or are exploring a call to become a Commissioned Pastor, this is a program that can help that happen. The Synod of Lakes and Prairies and the Presbyteries of Minnesota Valleys, North Central Iowa, Northern Waters and Prospect Hill are the current sponsors of the Academy.

How do I register or find more information?
New online and printable Lenten devotional for 2021 from Presbyterians Today
The Way to Shalom
A Lenten Journey to Peace and Wholeness

Lent is all about spiritual renewal. It is a sacred time of preparation for Easter and a time to reflect on what God has done to redeem us and how we can live a whole and full life as a child of God.

Many of us see Lent as a season of penitence, fasting, service and contemplation — but at the top of our list should be a prayer for the acquisition of peace. In our devotional this year, we invite you to reflect upon the gift of shalom, the Hebrew word with a host of meanings: peace, security, well-being, health, completeness. Our spiritual goal: exploring how can we receive this gift of shalom and, in turn, bestow it upon the world.

Now, more than ever, we deeply crave shalom. Our world is in desperate need of peace. The United States has just come out of a contentious election, a struggle with a global pandemic, and painful racial violence. Poverty, misery and despair fill many corners of the world. Yes, we desire peace. We need peace.

Every week from Ash Wednesday (February 17) through Easter (April 4), this year’s devotional focuses on shalom — and what it can mean in our lives and how we can bring it to the world. We explore themes of justice, peace, healing, hope, repairing and reconciliation. You’ll find Scripture readings along with beautiful meditations and prayers written by the director and staff of the Presbyterian Office of Public Witness in Washington: the Rev. Jimmie Hawkins, Catherine Gordon and Christian Brooks. You’ll be challenged and moved — and hopefully, spiritually enriched.

The Way to Shalom is online and free for download or printing. You’re invited to use it, share it, excerpt from it and make it your spiritual companion this Lent.

Journey to Freedom: Embracing God's Cultural Diversity

The Ministry Lab is excited to share access to Rev. Jia Starr Brown’s transformative series, Journey to Freedom: Embracing God’s Cultural Diversity of People. All 23 videos are now available - free to Ministry Lab member congregations - on our Vimeo page.

We highly recommend this series - produced and facilitated by MN clergy and leaders - as powerful tools to utilize throughout Black History Month (February) and/or Lent to either introduce folks to anti-racism work or re-energize and expand diversity conversations.

For further information and links to the videos, please see our full post.