The Valley Bridge
The weekly newsletter from the
Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys
July 20 and 27, 2016
 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 24-30
Grace First Parish of Russell

Church Update:
We are approaching our one-year anniversary for being a recognized federated congregation. It has been a great year as we are growing together in Christ. We are averaging 76 on Sunday mornings for the year. We look forward to what God has n stored for us.
We have ten individuals serving on our leadership team: Church Council/Session. we strive for equal representation within the leadership. Thus, we have five Lutherans and five Presbyterians serving. They are the following: Mark DeBeer (President), John Alexander (Vice President), Steve Bush, Angela Buchert, Scott Peterson, Arlene Williams, Erik Williams, Linda Sand and Yvonne Johnson. 
Vicar: Jeff Greathouse
Church Secretary: Angela Buchert
Church Treasurer: Christa Peterson
We are working on developing our worship teams, education teams, financial, property and audit. 
Even with a lower attendance during the summer, great things are occurring. We have had a fantastic children vacation bible school, a great youth vacation bible school, our youth are headed to the Triennium. We have also had baptisms and a wedding this summer. Life is sprucing up around us.
  • Continual patience as we learn how to do life together (PCUSA/ELCA)
  • Our community members who struggle with illness
  • Children as they wrap up the summer and begin a new school year
  • Christian Education at Grace First as we transition into a new season of life

We are asking for prayers for:

Rev. Mark Ford's (Brainerd) parents are both in the hospital in North Platte, NE
Rev. Jason and Annalisa Cunningham (Luverne) - she is pregnant with twins, and there have been some concerns and surgery.
Everyone at Youth Triennium this week.
On the Road with Rick
July 16-23 - Presbyterian Youth Triennium, West Lafayette, Indiana
July 24-29 - Synod School, Storm Lake, Iowa
July 31 - Preach at Ebenezer Presbyterian Church, Renville
August 7 - Preach at First Presbyterian Church, Randall
August 9 - Presbytery Meeting at Browns Valley
August 14 - Morning Worship at Cambria and Madelia Presbyterian Churches
August 21 - Preach at First Presbyterian Church, Willmar
What's Next for Our YAV (Young Adult Volunter) 
Mindy Vande Brake

Well it's now July and I have a little less than a month left of my YAV year in New Orleans. I can't believe how fast this this year has gone. It feels like yesterday I was getting off that plane from orientation last August.

Well as usual I'm quite the procrastinator, so of course it took me to almost the end of my year to get my plans together! So here it is, I have been accepted back in the the YAV program for a second year. I will be serving in New York this time though! Yep, that's right-- from the Big Easy to the Big Apple!

So I'm a little (OK, a lot) nervous for my next steps, but I know I will muster up the courage. I also know that God will be walking with me too. So we will have to see if this small town girl can take on the big city of New York.

I am very excited that I do get to go home for at least a little bit in between my years of service. So if you want to catch up and hear a little more about my YAV experience, I will be back in Minnesota for almost the whole month of August. So feel free to hit me up!

Be the Light: Go Disciple Live Conference

Scholarships available from the Commission on Congregational Transformation and Development!

Board of Pensions Update

Edward Thompson, our current Board of Pensions Regional Representative, is coming to Minnesota Valleys in August. It will most likely be Edward's last visit to our area, as the board's regions are being reshaped. Later this fall, Kenneth Green will become our representative. Hopefully, he will get a chance to see us, perhaps even before the year is out!
Edward's visit will have three public portions to it, as follows:
  • Monday, August 8 - 11:00 a.m. -- Lunch and conversation with Retired Pastors and Spouses at the Green Mill in Willmar. All retired pastors should have received an invitation from the Board and RSVPs are requested. If you did not get an invitation, please contact the presbytery office!
  • Monday, August 8 - 3:00 p.m. - The 2017 Benefits Plan: Changes and Updates. There are some changes and transitional provisions coming within the Benefits Plan for 2017, and in a short report to the presbytery meeting, Edward may not have enough time to be fair to this. Pastors, church treasurers, session members, and other interested folks are invited to come to the Presbytery Office in Willmar for an unhurried conversation with Edward.
  • Tuesday, August 9 - Presbytery Meeting in Browns Valley - Edward will share news and information with the presbytery. He will also be able to chat with interested individuals.
An overview to the 2017 Benefits Plan can be found on line at the Board of Pensions web site --
Take time before August 8-9 to check it out!
Ministry Opportunities

The First Presbyterian Church Osakis is continuing its search for a Pastor to lead them as they live out the visions that have been generated by their New Beginning conversations. If you, or someone you know, has a passion for small towns and energetic small-member congregations, please encourage consideration of this opportunity!  The Ministry Information Form for this opportunity is posted on the Church Leadership Connection web site. It is MIF#: 03890.AC0. For more information, please contact PNC Chairperson, Shari Maloney, at 320.859.3098 or by e-mail - .
Camp/Synod School Scholarships Available

The Commission on Transformation and Development wants to be sure that you are aware that there are scholarships available for camps and synod school. Churches may request $75 per camper. Scholarships for $100/person are also available for Synod School.

Scholarships are also available for individuals interested in attending PC(USA)-sponsored conferences or events.

A Ken Stinson Grant is available for churches interested in sponsoring seminars or workshops pertaining to substance abuse/health.

Application is very simple. Just go to the Presbytery web page. Click on Resources. In the drop box, click on forms. Scroll down until you find Loans, Grants, Scholarships. Then click on Scholarship Application Form. Fill it out and submit it to the Presbytery office.

Camp and Synod School forms are usually approved the same day. Other scholarships will be considered at the next monthly meeting.

Planning Ahead

During the week of July 24-29, Rick Carus and Karen Lange, as well as Stated Clerk Pam Prouty, will be attending Synod School in Storm Lake, Iowa. This will be a vacation week for Karen and she will be unavailable during this time. Pam is on the Synod School Planning Team and Rick will be using this time as study leave, but also plans to do some work!
During this time, the Willmar office of the Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys will be closed, but Rick will have an off-site presbytery office in Storm Lake, Monday, July 25 through Thursday, July 28 from 11:00 a.m. through 12:45 p.m. each day. We will also have a volunteer at the office daily from 10:30-11:30 a.m. (On Wednesday, beginning at 11:00 a.m.) This volunteer will check the mail and voice messages, answer any calls that come in during that time, and have a daily check in call with Rick, so that nothing gets lost during the week. The Valley Bridge newsletter will take a break next week.
We hope that this arrangement will be helpful in keeping touch with, and serving our presbytery, while our staff and Stated Clerk are sharing in our of our synod's most significant ministries.
Useful Link for Church Treasurers: 
PWP Fall Spiritual Retreat

The PWP Fall Spiritual Retreat happens Monday, September 26 - Tuesday, September 27 (noon to noon) at the Green Lake Bible Camp. This year we will hear from Rev. Elaine Boyd on the " Sweet Life Café." Registration deadline: September 1.

Flyer and registration form
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