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 July 5-11
First Presbyterian Church of Litchfield
Session:  Sue Berg-Clerk, Don MacKay, Amy Levinski, Judy Holmes, Bob Powers
Deacons:  Barb Bremseth, Stephanie Rech, RaNae Olson, Rosie Graphenteen, Darlene Kotelnicki, Bev Driver
Staff:  Julie Pennertz-Administrative Assistant, Jayne Ackman-Music Director, Leetha Waldron-Treasurer, Heidi Pennertz-Custodian, Gordon Pennertz-Commissioned Pastor

On May 31, we resumed worship in our sanctuary for the first time since the shutdown. It was great to have bodies in the pews once again. At the same time we continued our worship sharing via Zoom. We had roughly a dozen people in the pews and three dozen people online, all of us sharing music and prayers and the word.

Prayers for our shut-ins who have been isolated from their loved ones.
For our leaders, local, state and national, that wise decisions and a spirit of cooperation can be achieved. For health care workers and those who are sick with COVID and other health concerns at this time.
The office is closed Friday, July 3
Karen is on vacation on Tuesday, July 7
Liminal Times
Yesterday, nine pastors discussed the book  How To Lead When You Don’t Know Where You’re Going.

The author Susan Beaumont focused on liminal times. This is our current space. Although published in 2019, we could imagine as one participant named that the book was about the present COVID19 world.
The similarities are apparent yet; liminal spaces are best described as “seasons when we stand on both sides of a threshold. We have one foot rooted in something that is not yet over, whereas the other foot is planted in a thing not yet defined, something not yet ready to begin” (Susan Beaumont, pg. 7). The book reminded us that we are leading with limited sight. No one can say for sure, when our current challenges will end. We are not certain what will solve the problem. There is a collective effort to understand what this is and what can be done about it. Its summer, we want to play, we need social connectedness. We want this thing to be over. Give me an order of normality with a side of peace, please. Can I get an Amen?
Last week’s General Assembly theme was from Lament to Hope, although we may wonder whether we are moving toward something that resembles what used to be. We are learning something valuable. We are learning our limits. We are learning our strengths again. We are learning how to wait and listen. We are learning more about creativity. We affirm that it is okay to name our discomforts. No one enjoys not knowing how long a transition or trouble will last. We can be honest about what we do not know. According to Beaumont, we survive these unusual times by accepting the limits of our ability to control the circumstances. Faith leaders can and should be vulnerable about their own questioning. As difficult as it is to allow things to happen, as they will, in doing so, we open ourselves to possibilities of creating something new. This is not the time to second guess. It is a time to affirm that we are in this struggle together with the goal that all will survive this crisis.
In this season, we are building our ambiguity muscles. Spiritually, this comes down to our ability to manage the anxiety that comes with the unknown. The best gift that pastors can give at this time is presence. You are not tasked with fixing what cannot be fixed at this time. Your work is presence. Hold steady, maintain a less anxious presence, and connect yourself and others with the Divine. Additionally, in this time, leadership presence is a quality of awareness in your work try to open the people to wonder about what can be—experiment, take risks, and learn from mistakes are suggestions from Beaumont.
For everyone, this season of life invites us to take a more in-depth look into our consciousness. What is the quality of our awareness? What is our inner source? How will we respond to these unknown days? Victor Frankl, Austrian psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor, says: “Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. The space between allows us to interpret and choose, this is our consciousness.”
I sense a spirit of hope amid this period of unknown. God is making something new; can you perceive it? I hope you will consider joining the next book discussion. The next book discussion is July 21 at 11 a.m. 
Enjoy a safe Independence Day. May God’s grace and peace keep your mind, body and spirit.

Welcome to the 224th General Assembly (2020)!
Unprecedented circumstances have brought us to this historic moment. GA224 will bring us together online, live-streaming at the GA224 website and on  Facebook.   
‘Just keep stirring’
224th GA commissioners overwhelmingly approve a second four-year term
for the Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II
  Read More
Commissioners address issues related to theological education during full fifth plenary
Co-Moderators’ statement speaks to dispute between the University of Redlands Graduate School of Theology/San Francisco Theological Seminary and COTE
  Read More
Eight minutes, 46 seconds of silence
224th General Assembly winds down by keeping still

  Read More
Historic 224th General Assembly (2020) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is in the books
Organizers call first online assembly a success
  Read More
PC(USA) Crystal Teardrop Awards
recognize women of NASA
Mathematicians portrayed in the book/movie 'Hidden Figures'
awarded by the Stated Clerk
Read More
Presbyterian Planning Calendars 2020-2021
It's time to order 2020-2021 Presbyterian Planning Calendars. This year's cost is $10.00 each plus the cost of shipping the calendars to you. Please email Karen to order. Pay after receiving the calendars. Order deadline is July 10.
From the Minnesota Department of Health

We wanted to make you aware of updates to the Faith-based Guidance under the Governor’s Stay Safe MN Phase III plan. These Guidance documents are attached and referenced via their website links below.

There are 3 documents that specifically apply to faith-based communities:
1.       Your faith community must develop a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan prior to offering any in-person services or gatherings. Detailed guidance for this plan can be found at:
2.       New! Guidance for Gatherings: Faith-based Communities, Places of Worship, and Ceremonies found at:
This document describes the type of in-person activities faith-based communities may offer, capacity limits, and guidance regarding social distancing and best practices to prevent the spread of COVID-19. It is important to consider that large gatherings continue to present significant risk for increasing the spread of COVID-19, and at this time when in-person gatherings are allowed, it is important to consider the values and risk to your community members when planning such events. Persons at higher risk, over 65 years old and those with underlying health conditions, are strongly recommended to stay at home and not attend large events.
3.       New! Guidance for Providing Food and Beverages for on-site consumption at Indoor and Outdoor Gatherings, can be found at:
This guidance gives social distancing, best practices, and participant capacity limits for gatherings that often occur after weddings, funerals, or other services or celebrations. Please note that the gathering size may be different from your faith-based services and gatherings for a worship service or ceremony.

Thank you for your adherence to these guidelines and commitment to protection of our communities as you make decisions about how to support your members and the larger community.

Warm Regards,
Marge Higgins
COVID-19 Faith-based Outreach
Health Systems Coordinator | Refugee and International Health Program
Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Prevention and Control (IDEPC) Division
Please be aware that my COVID-19 responsibilities take priority over my usual projects. Thank you for your patience.
Minnesota Department of Health
Office: 651-201-4034 Cell: 612-521-5241
In Case You Missed it ...
The Church Financial Leadership Academy is Here!

We are pleased to announce the launch of the Church Financial Leadership Academy (CFLA). The CFLA is an E-learning platform designed to help pastors institute best practices for church financial leadership, introduce them to new models of giving and stewardship, and offer new ways to talk about money and form generous disciples within their congregation.

The CFLA will enable you to:
  • Complete the courses at your own pace
  • Use the courses as a resource later
  • Share your playlist with other congregational staff
  • Access courses and resources at no cost to you

Experience the interactive online educational tool for pastors today. Simply visit and create an account using the registration code: PCUSA
If you have questions or comments feel free to contact us at , or 800-858-6127 ext. 5904.

Paycheck Protection Program Forgiveness Application
How to Lead When You Don't Know Where You're Going
New presbytery book study: How to Lead When You Don’t Know Where You’re Going: Leading in a Liminal Season by Susan Beaumont speaks to where we are today. We will discuss Chapter 4 and 5 on Tuesday, July 21 at 11:00 AM by Zoom.

How do you lead an organization stuck between an ending and a new beginning—when the old way of doing things no longer works but a way forward is not yet clear? Beaumont calls such in-between times liminal seasons—threshold times when the continuity of tradition disintegrates and uncertainty about the future fuels doubt and chaos. In a liminal season it simply is not helpful to pretend we understand what needs to happen next. But leaders can still lead.
Neighborhood Church: Transforming Your Congregation into a Powerhouse for Mission
The Listening Lesson

Submitted and Recommended by the Commission on Congregational Transformation and Development

Rev. Krin Van Tatenhove writes about how he got "schooled" about listening from a Navajo neighbor while living in New Mexico. They would sit and converse on the walkway of their apartment building. As an extremely verbal person, Krin noted that after sharing his animated thoughts, his Navajo friend would simply sit in silence with open eyes and a wide smile. Krin admits to a discomfort about the silence. This was a different kind of conversation.

But then he learned if he remained silent in the awkward pause, his Navajo friend would finally respond with words that were often wise and precise. He explained to Krin that this is Navajo custom. Before speaking, and especially after listening, they let blessed silence permeate the present. This allows the other person to ponder the message and add to it. It is a sign of respect and an effort to make sure that they have heard the whole story before responding or acting. Navajos believe listening is a sacred part of hozho, being in harmony with the world and others.
Online worship opportunities in our presbytery

Amboy: Weekly video devotions available on Facebook at First Presbyterian Church of Amboy or on YouTube at Pastor Amboy

Baxter: ; worship at 10:15

Browns Valley: 9:45 Sunday mornings, and 6:00 Wednesday evenings

Edgerton: 10:30 Sunday mornings  Worship on church Facebook Page, and 11:30 Sunday mornings  Worship Audio Version available on church website

Fergus Falls: our sermon available on our website ( ) and our YouTube channel ( FF Federated Church ) Friday afternoons. We will also post a devotion video in the middle of the week.

Jackson: Facebook Live - Facebook site is Salem Lutheran Church, Jackson, MN
Sunday 9:30 a.m., Wednesday 5:30 p.m., Holy Week - daily devotions, MT and GF 5:30 p.m.

Lake Crystal: Our church is sending Worship bulletin content and sermon via email and regular mail to our membership for each Sunday.  Also recording a service from Sanctuary of myself and musician to be accessed on You Tube on the Friday before the given Sunday.

Lismore: 9:00 Sunday mornings - Worship on church Facebook Page

Litchfield: 10:00 am Sunday mornings and Tuesday morning Bible study by Zoom. Contact Gordy Pennertz for instructions.

Luverne: 10:15 am Sunday mornings on Facebook Live. Also carried by local cable company.

Maine: Services available at 

Mankato: - archive of all resources listed below
SUNDAYS on Facebook 
10AM sermon/prayer with Pastor Lindsay
10:20 (ish) Children's Time with Bailey DeVetter
10:30 (ish) Music Selection by Ben Marti posted

Randall: 10:00 am Sunday worship service is on Facebook and webpage

Redwood Falls: 10:15 am worship on Facebook Live on First Presbyterian Redwood Falls page

Saint Cloud: Services available online at  

Saint James: Facebook Live worship @ 9:30

Slayton: Uploaded to their YouTube channel:

Spicer Hope: Facebook live at 10:00, link on Hope Presbyterian Church website Also services are uploaded there later in the day.

Willmar: Facebook Live at 10:00 am Sunday mornings and at noon weekdays

Worthington: online worship services via Zoom and Facebook live Sunday at 10:00 am. The link for Zoom is on our website . For Facebook go to @WestminsterPresby
Coronavirus/COVID-19 Resources for Congregations and Members

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?—Psalm 27:1
Along with our brothers and sisters all around the world, we’re now coming to terms with the “new normal” brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. It is our hope and goal to equip churches and worshipers with useful information and resources during these trying times. Please check back often for updated information. If you have ideas or resources that might be of interest to the wider church, we invite you to email them to us at .
Guidance for Faith-Based Communities from the MN Department of Health Link to guide
Stewardship Kaleidoscope is moving online!

Make me know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all day long.
Psalm 25: 4-5

These are extraordinary times and while we can’t “do church” the way we are used to, the needs of our communities and our call to be stewards of God’s kingdom has not been put on hold.

This year Kaleidoscope will offer learning over three weeks in the fall to help you respond to the needs of your community, adapt to change, and think about how to engage as a church in new ways. We hope you can join us on three consecutive Tuesdays: September 22, September 29, and October 6 at 11:30am central time.

On September 22nd hear from Eric Barreto of Princeton Theological Seminary on the Acts of the Apostles in the 21st century - imagination, vision, and creativity in responding to our call;

September 29th we will learn with consultant Bonnie Ives Marden about the ways in which faith shapes our financial health, and get practical tools for church financial management;

October 6th Rev. Bruce Reyes-Chow will provide perspectives on engaging congregations
across generations, cultures, and ethnicity to imagine building the church for forward thinking funding and functioning.

Registration will be open soon. See more at
Prayer List

  • For Rev. Bill Yueill, retired pastor, Zimmerman
  • For Rev. John Lindholm, retired pastor, Fergus Falls
  • 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
  • For Rev. Elaine and Kent Boyd at First Presbyterian Church of Amboy

Pray for Our Occidente Partners in Guatemala
  • Rev. Araceli Itzep from the Occidente Presbytery
  • For Bety Cifuentes, the treasurer of the Partnership Committee, beginning new type of chemotherapy
  • For the "Men in the Mirror" program. Men from Occidente that MVP supported financially to attend the classes a couple of years ago 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."
  • The Executive Committee met in April, but has not been able to meet since as folks in Guatemala cannot travel between cities. Occidente Presbytery has not met; the projected purchase/buying of buildings is on hold; pastoral elections are on hold; they do hold services via Zoom; the economy is very bad.
  • They continue praying for us and ask that we continue to pray for them and for all of the things they cannot get to, and for their living conditions that get more complicated every day.
Pastoral Leadership Opportunities

Zion Presbyterian Church, Ellsworth; Emmanuel Presbyterian Church, Rushmore; First Presbyterian Church, Rushmore
Interim Pastor  Description

First Presbyterian Church, Fulda  - Solo Pastor
Ministry Information Form -  03782.AD1

First Presbyterian Church, Lake Crystal; First Presbyterian Church, Kasota - Pastor, yoked parish
Ministry Information Form - 03709.AB0

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

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

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

First Presbyterian Church, Winnebago - Interim Pastor

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