The Valley Bridge
The weekly newsletter from the
Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys
January 25, 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 29 - February 4
First Presbyterian Church of Dawson
Minister: Rev. Herbert Rotunda (UCC)
Clerk of Session: Stan Menning
Elders: Vallerie Sather, Melva Larson, Thomas Hansen, Deb Koester, Dan Lee
Prayer Concerns
Thanks for our long-term shared ministry with the Appleton UCC; thanks to our members and friends who give generously to the life and work of the church; thanks for our Session work to widen our mission work both in our community and in the wider church; Prayers of hope and healing for those of our faith community who struggle with health issues that are both chronic and onset. We pray for those who serve the church in any and all capacities.  
The Word from Rick: The Course Is Charted!

Last Saturday, over 40 individuals, elected to serve on the five primary ministry teams of our presbytery gathered in Willmar to chart a course for the ministry of presbytery for 2017 and beyond. It is not often that all of a presbytery's ministry teams are able to be together, sharing fellowship, worship, and work in the same place, but when it does happen, it is a remarkable experience. That's what happened on Saturday!
From the moment that Pastor Leanne Thompson rang the chime to begin our worship, until the time that Pastor Scott Thompson rang the chime for that last time, First Presbyterian Church was buzzing with the energy, intelligence, imagination, and love that we commit to serving the family of God. The day was fast-paced and energizing as our Presbytery Life, Presbytery Operations, Transformation and Development, Congregational Nurture, and Leadership teams dug in and pursued the many tasks at hand.
Last March, we started living into a different Mission Design - a vision that came from the two-year experience of the Next Pres Team. During these past ten months, we have continuously massaged the vision, ironing out the rough spots in the design and making it the framework around which to build our common future. We have learned a great deal since March, and while we haven't perfected everything, the ministry teams are moving forward to make some good things happen in the year ahead.
As we disbursed and headed home, the buzz was still very real. I felt that our group had worked hard, had a little fun, and created a sense of community. Everyone who participated in the day's activity left, not only knowing where it was that their ministry team was headed, but they heard the dreams, visions, and intentions of the other teams. While each team has their own part of the ministry, they are able to see how it all fits into the bigger picture and feel a greater sense of ownership for what we have been called to do. Already, several follow-up meetings have appeared on the calendar, with others to follow. The plans will continue to take shape over the weeks and months ahead. On Saturday, January 21st, the course has been charted! Today, we invite the saints of the presbytery from Beaver Creek to Crosslake, and from Fergus Falls to Kasota and everywhere in between to come sail with us, as we share life and ministry together!  

Grace and Peace,
On the Road with Rick: The Pre-Retirement Tour
January - March
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 7 - Session Meeting, First Presbyterian Church, Osakis
February 14 - Session Meeting, First Presbyterian Church, Osakis
February 16 - Session Meeting, Faith Presbyterian Church, Silver Lake 
February 19 - Preach at First Presbyterian Church, Brainerd
February 20 - Session Meeting, Faith Presbyterian Church, Silver Lake
February 26 - Preach at First Presbyterian Church, Luverne
February 26 - Nathan Lamb Installation at First Presbyterian Church, Pipestone
March 14 - Session Meeting, First Presbyterian Church, Osakis
March 19 - Worship Visit, Grace-First Parish, Russell
March 26 - Worship Visit, First Presbyterian Church, Redwood Falls

Saturday's "Chart the Course" event did not happen in a vacuum. It happened due to the hard work and gracious hospitality and efforts of several people who gave time and energy to make the day a joy for us all. On behalf of the Commissions and Committees of The Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys, I want to thank:
  • The First Presbyterian Church of Willmar for being our gracious hosts, especially Renee Allen, Richard Lange and Jerry & Sue Schiro
  • Pastors Leanne and Scott Thompson for our worshipful moments
  • Karen Lange, our Associate for Administration, for everything (the list is extensive) that she did to ensure that we had everything we needed to have a meaningful day
  • Sue Carus for her work as Karen's support team and for providing Saturday's musical leadership
  • Anyone who I might have forgotten
It continues to be a joy to be a servant in your midst!   ...RCC
By the way - a computer speaker was left behind at the Willmar church during the January 21 meeting - please call 320-235-1263 between 9:00 and 12:00 to describe and claim it.
Photos from the Ecumenical Service on January 15, 2017

On behalf of the Presbytery, Moderator Deb Hess participated in the 2017 Prayer Service for Christian Unity on January 15 at the Church of St. Boniface in Stewart. Deb is pictured in the group of worship leaders above, third from the left in the front row. 

The theme for the week of prayer in 2017, "Reconciliation - the love of Christ compels us", is inspired by verses from the Second Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 5. The resources for the week have been prepared by members of different churches in Germany.

The freewill offering was collected for the Common Cup Ministry, based out of Hutchinson and Glencoe. The mission of Common Cup Ministry is to gather and share Spiritual and financial resources of area churches into one "Common Cup" so that we may minister to those in need.
Young Adult Volunteers
Who will be the next Mindy?

As many of you know, Mindy Vande Brake, from Foley, is now serving her second year as a Presbyterian Church (USA) Young Adult Volunteer. She spent one year in New Orleans and now, this year, is in New York City - yes, from the "Big Easy" to the "Big Apple."
The YAV program is one of the great things that our denomination does. It provides some great opportunities for service and growth among young adults, aged 19-30, and they are looking for people to serve beginning this summer. So, the question is, "who will be the next Mindy?" What young adult or young adults in this presbytery are looking for the kind of challenge the YAV's provides?
We have received a reminder from our friend in Louisville, Blake Collins, wanting us to be aware of some deadlines that were approaching. He noted that February 1 was the application deadline for people wishing to serve at one of the YAV international sites, and while that deadline is approaching rapidly, it is not too late for interested young adults in our presbytery to make applications to serve in the 2017-2018 term.
Information about the Young Adult Volunteer program of the Presbyterian Church (USA) can be found at: . Below are available sites and important dates for the 2017-18 application season. 
2017-18 National Sites
Albuquerque                         Asheville                             Atlanta
Austin                                   Boston                                 Chicago
Denver                                 Indianapolis                          Little Rock
Los Angeles                           Miami                                   New Orleans
New York City                     Tucson                                 Washington, DC
2017-18 International Sites
Colombia                               Scotland                             Peru
Philippines                            Zambia
Important dates for the 17-18 recruitment season:
*     Round 2: February 1, 2017 (Final date to apply for International Placement)
*     Round 3: April 1, 2017 (National Sites Only)
*     Last Call: June 1, 2017 (Final application date)
Continued blessings to your ministry and the new year!
-Blake Collins
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. They are currently assembling a Ministry Information Form. As soon as that is posted, it will be available on the CLC web site. In the meantime, for more information, please contact the Rev. Mark Ford who is currently serving as moderator of the session at Crosslake Presbyterian Church, or Lynn Olson, the Commission on Leadership liaison to that congregation. Mark can be reached at ; Lynn 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
Save the date!
Healthy Congregations Workshop
First Presbyterian Church
St. James, MN
March 24-25, 2017

This workshop will help you . . .
  • Learn how you as a leader can influence the health of your congregation - how to detect and avoid unhealthy patterns of living together in community.
  • Learn how to keep anxiety from becoming infectious.
  • Gain confidence in responding to challenges and opportunities.
  • Learn how to put limits on invasive behavior, manage reactivity,and overcome sabotage.
  • Discover how leaders can function as the congregation's immune system.
  • Learn to focus on strengths, resources, options, and the future.

Note:  there is a Super 8 Motel in St. James for people who want to make overnight arrangements. They do fill up, so it is good to make reservations early. They will honor a church's tax free ID for folks to save a little money. Call 507-375-4708 for reservations.
Grants Available!

The Mission Redevelopment Committee of First Presbyterian Church, Madelia is seeking applications to receive grants. Qualifying projects may include:
  • Development, formation, or redevelopment of Presbyterian churches
  • Evangelism or recruitment of new members
  • New building construction
  • Renovations or capital improvements
  • Presbyterian-sponsored mission projects
A written letter of application describing the project and the amount of grant being requested should be submitted to the Mission Redevelopment Committee and postmarked by March 31, 2017. Grants will be selected and distributed in April.
Mission Redevelopment Committee
PO Box 156
Madelia MN 56062
News Briefs
INSIDE OUT: Life in the Teenage Brain
If you have teenagers in your congregation, family, or neighbor, you might want to check out this week's offering from the advocate blog of the Association of Presbyterian Church Educators. Written by one of our denomination's most insightful educators, Dr. Rodger Nishioka, this short article is worth a read by many of us who truly want to know and understand the younger generation around us. Check it out:

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 .

Car for Sale

2015 Nissan Altima with 30,000 miles. Average gas mileage of 35 mpg. This car was used by Pastor Hicks when he was in Pipestone. If you are interested, make a reasonable offer to John McCallum at 507-215-0575 during the month of January and after January contact Bud Eernisse at 507-215-0584. Car may be seen at Southside Motors in Pipestone.
2017 Liturgical Colors from the 2016-2017 Presbyterian Planning Calendar
Six New Things
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