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 31 - February 6
Westminster Presbyterian Church of Worthington
LeRoy Ennenga, Clerk of Session
Cindy Ira-Smith, Lois Bruns, Co moderators Board of Deacons
Diana Vallego, Administrative Assistant
Holly McCuen, Financial Secretary
Lidia Heredia, Custodian
Jeff Nelson, Janitor
Darlene Rautenkranz, Organist
Nancy Hofstee, Organist
Galen Smith, Pastor

Westminster was organized in 1873 with the stated intent of “bringing about the Kingdom of Christ in our midst.” We continue in that calling as we share God’s love in Worthington and the world. A couple of the organizations we partner with are the Manna Food Pantry and Love in the Name of Christ (Love INC)

Westminster started Manna 30 some years ago as a food shelf. It has grown into an organization that serves over 11,000 individuals each year. Manna is housed in the church building and Westminster members are faithful volunteers, donate food and money and serve on the Manna board of directors.

Love INC is partnership of about 18 congregations in Worthington as a way of serving “the least of these.” We refer individuals seeking assistance to Love INC where volunteers and staff work with them to assess needs and help them with getting assistance. As part of our partnership, we organize the Kitchen supplies
GAP ministry. We collect good used kitchen items such as dishes, flatware, pots & pans, mixing bowls, and a variety of other kitchen supplies. As Love INC volunteers and staff refer the individuals in need to us we then supply them with the kitchen items they need.

In 2020 we provided kitchen items to 21 households. Sometimes it is a request for specific items such as the woman with two kids. All she really wanted was four storage containers for her flour and sugar. Other times it is a large number of items such as one family of six who were using paper plates, plastic utensils and cooking with one small pan. We were able to provide 8 plates, bowls, glasses, coffee cups, and sets of flatware, along with a frying pan, a couple of pots, serving bowls, spatulas, kitchen knives, stirring spoons, whisk, can opener, hot pads, and plastic storage containers.
Prayer concerns:
  • For the shut-ins and those in nursing homes and assisted living facilities and those who work in them.
  • For those who have suffered the loss of loved ones.
  • For those who are suffering from COVID-19 and caring for those with COVID-19
  • For our teachers and others working in our schools.
  • For the staff and volunteers at Love INC as they minister to those in our community
  • For the staff and volunteers at Manna Food Pantry
  • For those who serve in the military.
  • For those who serve as elected leaders and representatives on school boards, city, county state and national government.
  • For our nation as we continue to deal with the pandemic, economic crisis, political crises and natural disasters.
General Assembly Statistical Reports due Jan 31

As of today, 25 churches have submitted their annual statistical reports. The due date is January 31. Information about these reports were emailed to the Clerks of Session and moderators. If you are having any challenges with the submission of this report, please talk with me. You can email me at or call me at home at 507.627.5486.
Ruling Elder Training 101, learn about the duties and responsibilities of being a Ruling Elder and meet other REs from around our presbytery
led by Rev. Pamela Prouty

Ruling Elders Rule! We had a great time together albeit more than a few glitches at the Ruling Elder training. Following are some books which I recommended. The recording of the training is above. And as always if you have questions or concerns or ideas for other trainings which could be done, please contact me.
  • Spiritual Leadership for Church Officers by Joan Gray
  • Presbyterian Polity for Church Leaders 4th Edition by Joan Gray and Joyce Tucker
  • Principles of Presbyterian Polity by Carlos Wilton
  • Ten Dumb Things Churches Do and How to Avoid Them by Philip Wiehe
Deacon Training 101 – More Than Just a Social Visit: Practicing the Ministry of Caring in Your Congregation
led by Rev. Leanne Thompson

Here are links to the handouts Leanne is sharing with viewers.
February 6: Stated Presbytery Meeting by Zoom
Beginning at 10:00 a.m.
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
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  
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
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
Worship Opportunities

If you are interested in having someone new give a Sunday Message via Zoom or have something recorded to show, here are some PCUSA mission co-workers currently in the states who would be willing to do a sermon or talk about mission on Sunday or another time. They are open to share their stories with anyone interested.

Any groups that might like to have a guest, please contact one of these folks. Do you have a Bible Study group or maybe your Presbyterian Women's group. Think about it!

This might even be a good idea for Lenten services. Please consider using this wonderful resource available to your congregation. 

Eliane Menezes
Eliane Menezes: Mission co-worker in Guatemala, Serving with the National Union of Presbyterian Women of the National Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Guatemala (IENPG)
Contact: Eliane Menezes (
Tyler Holm
Mission Co-worker in Malawi since 2013, Serving at the University of Livingstonia, College of Theology
Betsey and Eric Moe
Mission co-workers in Guatemala
Serving with the Presbyterian World Mission and CEDEPCA
Contact Betsey Moe (
Jose Jones
Mission co-worker in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo.
Serving at the Presbyterian Community of Kinshasa (CPK) Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo.
Contact Jose Jones (
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

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 --
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.

From Minnesota Department of Health

We have received many requests and questions about “clergy” qualifying as essential workers when it comes to vaccine prioritization distribution.
We recognize that faith leaders and clergy are critical to our communities during the COVID19 pandemic. We acknowledge that each of you may play a single role, or a variety of roles, under the umbrella of your title: Pastor, Counselor, Critical support staff, Nursing home/hospital/hospice clergy, Food shelf distributor, Administrator, Preacher, Home care provider, and the list goes on. Faith leaders and clergy also include a full representation of the diversity of our population, including some of those at high risk for COVID-19 due to age, health conditions, and other social vulnerabilities. Because of all of these variables, there is no one category that “clergy” falls under in terms of vaccine priority. Please evaluate your specific situation to determine where you fit. Right now vaccine eligibility is as follows:
  • If you are a staff member of or provide direct patient services in a health care or long-term care facility, access vaccination through that facility. Go to the link above for specific information about who is eligible for Phase 1a.
  • If you are 65 and over, a child care worker, or educator for pre-k through grade 12, make an appointment to be vaccinated by going to this State of MN website: Find My Vaccine / COVID-19 Updates and Information - State of Minnesota (
Please note: There continues to be a very limited supply of COVID-19 vaccine in Minnesota. It will be quite some time before these two eligible categories of people receive vaccine. We encourage Minnesotans to remain patient as more vaccine arrives in the weeks and months ahead.
As more vaccine becomes available in Minnesota, health care providers will be reaching out to their patients as they become eligible for vaccination.
The Minnesota Department of Health will also keep the public informed about eligibility and availability of vaccine through our website, public announcements, social media and all other methods available to us. We will continue to also rely on trusted partners, like yourselves, to spread accurate and timely information about vaccination as it becomes available.
If you are interested in having a presentation or hosting a discussion with MDH, please contact us at
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.

Living Well, Leading Well

A monthly series of virtual workshops sponsored by Mount Olivet Conference & Retreat Center promoting wholeness, wellbeing, and renewal in our personal and professional lives. Each workshop will be taught by specialists in the areas of counseling, biblical studies, peace-making, and pastoral ministry. See below for details on our next two topics in this series.

Thursday February 11, 6:30-8:30pm | $20
Every day brings a new flood of information. It’s difficult to take it all in, much less to discern what bits are trustworthy, significant, and true. Perhaps what’s missing is not information so much as wisdom. In this workshop, we’ll explore what the Bible’s wisdom tradition has to offer Christians as we face the peculiar challenges of life today. Join Rev. Dr. Carol M. Bechtel, Professor of Old Testament at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan, for this timely and interactive online event. Register here.

Thursday March 11, 6:30-8:30pm | $20
Join Rev. Chris Dorsey to learn about our call to “do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God” (Micah 6:8). Dorsey is President of Higher Education & Leadership Ministries and has worked as a university chaplain and professor of preaching. An engaging, insightful teacher, Dorsey has significant leadership experience in racial justice and equity in churches and seminaries. Register here.
Meet our Presenters and Preview the Workshops

On March 2, the Presbyterian Foundation will present a Day of Learning covering practical tools for stewardship and financial sustainability.

10:30 a.m. CST - Church Mission and Sustainability with Stephen Keizer and Rev. Gail Monsma

Ensuring the long-term viability of your church mission in the face of evolving cultural pressures means it is important for churches to develop creative and comprehensive stewardship programs.

This workshop will provide ideas for creating a culture of generosity through a comprehensive stewardship program. We will talk about how people give, donor motivation, how to craft your mission story, leadership’s role in stewardship, provide giving tools as well as discuss how planned giving fits into a stewardship.

1:00 p.m. CST - Virtual Campaigns and Online Giving with Rev. Ellie Johns-Kelley and Karl Mattison

2020 forced everything into a distanced and virtual environment. Stewardship included. There are some blessings in disguise. Join us to call out some of the most important lessons learned for conducting efficient and effective stewardship campaigns. In this seminar, we will share the top five features that we can leverage from a virtual stewardship campaign and how we can effectively use these tools going forward. The pandemic has been a miserable experience, but let’s grasp and grow from lessons learned.

4:30 p.m. CST - Practical Tips for Church Budgeting with Olanda Carr and Rev. Dr. Jonah So

In this workshop we will cover the basic items to consider when creating a
church budget. An overview of the various types of church budgets – zero-based, program, line-item, and narrative – will be provided. Additional time will be allocated to the narrative budgeting process, including beginning steps and resources.

Questions? Please contact the Presbyterian Foundation at
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?
Happy New Year and Blessed Epiphany from The Ministry Lab!

We’ve got a couple of wonderful news items to share with our member congregations:

We’ve added a staff member! Meet Marion Hunner, our new, very-part-time assistant. While keeping our online presence more up-to-date, she’ll also help coordinate our Co-Lab Feedback cohort groups. We’d love to know how these groups can best serve you, so please fill out our five-question survey to inform their creation. Your invitation is coming soon!

Please take a few minutes to read through our 2020 Annual Report: we’re humbled and grateful to have walked with congregations and leaders in “pivoting” - many times! - to create and curate new resources and information.

We look forward to curating, collaborating, and creating with you all throughout 2021 - A Year of Making All Things New!!