The Valley Bridge
The weekly newsletter from the
Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys
January 3, 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
All Things New

Many traditions inform how we approach the year. In China, people pour out their money to buy presents, decorations, material, food, and clothing. Every family thoroughly cleans their house to sweep away any ill fortune in hopes to make way for good incoming luck. Windows and doors will be decorated with red color paper-cuts and couplets with popular themes of "happiness", "wealth", and "longevity." In Greece, St. Basil's bread is baked with a coin buried deep in the dough; the sweet bread is sliced by the head of the household and then divvied up among family members. The tradition says whoever receives the piece of bread with the coin is assured luck in the coming year. Germans drop melted lead into cold water and take turns interpreting the results. What you see is believed to be what you get in the new year. The Irish hold customs of opening the door of the house at the last stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve to allow the old year out and the new year in.

Superstitions abound with don'ts on New Year's Day:
  • Don't wear shoes which have a hole in them or financial problems will stay with you the whole year long.
  • Don't wear new clothes on this day.
  • Don't sweep the floor; else you'll sweep a friend away.
  • Don't do any washing, as throwing out water on this day is considered unlucky.
  • Don't remove the ashes from the fire or take a burning ember from one house to another.
  • Don't let the fire go out.
  • Don't make any money deals as money made on New Year's Day will only bring bad luck.
  • Don't carry any debts over into the New Year.
  • Don't pay out any money on the first Monday of the New Year.
Scots honor the tradition of "first footing" in which the first person who enters the house in the New Year brings either good or bad luck for the next twelve months, depending on whether or not she or he conforms to the local idea of being 'lucky.' Additionally, the new year must begin on a happy note, with a clean break from all that may have been bad in the previous year. It is this underlying hope that the most Hogmanay traditions have its root. 

Historically African Americans honored the New Year with Watchnight Services.  The origin of the service goes back to December 31, 1862, also known as "Freedom's Eve." On that night, Blacks came together in churches and private homes all across the nation, anxiously awaiting news that the Emancipation Proclamation actually had become law. Then, at the stroke of midnight, it was January 1, 1863, and all slaves in the Confederate States were declared legally free. Over the years the worship service evolved into a time of thanksgiving; testimonies are offered to proclaim God's provisions, care, healing, and grace in the previous year. An essential part of the tradition includes entering the new year bowed on bending knees.

Traditions are often linked to superstitious and culture, however, a continual theme is captured in all. At heart is a desire that life in the new year will be prosperous, that danger would be averted, that seeds grown in faith would reap positive results, health is received, peace gained and happiness realized.

Standing on the promise of Isaiah "God will do a new thing" (Isaiah 43:19), we place our trust in the providential care of God. Although our country faces many challenges a new thing is possible and shall come forth. From this economic crisis, new values are forming. Families are returning to better values of money management. Workers are learning new ways of making money. Some who have depended on wages from employers ... work for themselves using hidden talent to make a living. Others have had to pack up and move to new places to start again. As challenging as this is, it sets the stage for building new relationships and sometimes "shaking the dust off one's feet as encouraged by Christ." The Church is challenged with looking for God's new vision for ministry in the world. As such we endeavor to discern what God is up to and where the Star is shining these days.

Our next 362 days is not predetermined as some believe. We have the opportunity to write our history. What will you write? As you think about this, pray for God's strength to help you complete unfinished business. Ask for boldness to try something new. Step out into the unknown unafraid but with purposefulness. Make a commitment to live purposefully. No longer do things for the sake of doing them. Vow to spend your energy on the things that matter most to you. Give less energy to the things that you have to do but do not enjoy. Find a way to make the things that matter most to you, your work and pleasure. We are most productive if our heart is in our work and life. (In singleness of heart, fearing God: whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto others. Colossians 4:2).
Bonne Année !
¡Felíz año nuevo!
Prosit Neujahr!
Felice anno nuovo!
Happy New Year!!!
Rev. SanDawna Ashley
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.
Many wonderful and good things come from worshiping together as a Presbytery

submitted by Peter Mann, chair of Ethiopia/South Sudan Mission Network Task Force of our Presbytery

At the November Presbytery meeting Chuck Lucht, an active member of First Church, Jackson, and I discovered a need and solution for their December 3rd combined worship service with two Lutheran churches, for Communion and Confirmation.  Rev. Owar Ojulu was available to preach and lead the Communion Sacrament and Confirmation.

Above are photos of Rev Ojulu leading the service. Rev Ojulu is the ordained Presbyterian pastor of Hope Christian Ministry in Worthington. Hope is a recipient of two grants from 1001 New Worshiping Communities, and Rev Ojulu leads the Sunday afternoon service for the Anuak folks that have immigrated to Worthington from Ethiopia.

Owar was well suited for this Jackson combined service, as he completed one year of seminary in a Lutheran seminary in Philadelphia and completed his M Div at Dubuque. The founder of Dubuque seminary was from the Jackson church years ago.
Save the Date - Committee/Commission/Task Force Members

Thank you for offering your gifts in service to the presbytery. Your gifts will assist the presbytery's larger mission "to be a collective expression of the Body of Christ joyfully participating in Christ's ongoing life and work." As a part of your orientation, please plan to attend the full day of Leadership Training January 13 from 9:00 - 4:00.  For those who want to arrive the night before contact Karen Lange at  for hotel suggestions.

This Leadership Event is intended for all commissions, committees and task forces. The day will consist of building relationships and training in tooling for the future, implementing the vision, adaptive leadership, and working together effectively.

Confirm your participation via email to  by January 10th.  Please indicate if you have special needs or dietary restrictions. Chairs, please make sure that all members of your commission, committee or task force are informed.
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.

Discipleship: Pam Bush, , 507-823-4697
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:

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.
Six New Things
A True Believer in Reconciliation
Empathetic Listening in Minnesota Schools
Great events in 2018!
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