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 August 2-8
Maine Presbyterian Church of rural Underwood
Rev. Ed Morgan
Session: Marian Wasvick, Jim Crouse, John Moe, Catherine Barner, Ethelynn Snyder, Connie Anderson
Treasurer: Lindsey Moe
Clerk: Linda Gronner

We are collecting funds for the Otter Cove Children's Museum in Fergus Falls
We continue to support the Salvation Army and Hospice 
We are having outdoor services whenever possible
August 9th we will be holding our annual Lakes Country Garden Service

Prayer concerns
All the summer visitors that aren't coming to Otter Tail County this year
Vacation/Out of the office

SanDawna Ashley will be on vacation through August 9
August 18 Presbytery Meeting

The next presbytery meeting is Tuesday, August 18, from 10:00 - 12:00, and will be by Zoom. To register, email Karen with the names and email addresses of the commissioners and visitors. Zoom instructions will be emailed. The August presbytery meeting will also include communion, so please prepare bread and wine (or crackers and juice - or whatever works for you) for communion.
Electronic Meetings and More

Submitted by Pamela Prouty, Stated Clerk

This pandemic has changed how we as a church do our business. Many Councils of the Church (Session, Presbytery, Synod and even General Assembly) have been meeting electronically. Electronic meetings are allowed by Robert’s Rule of Order as long as two criteria are met
  1. They must be authorized in an organizations’ governing documents (Bylaws, Manuals of Operations and so forth)
  2. The technology employed must allow for “the opportunity for simultaneous aural communication.” This essentially means that everyone must be present, must have the ability of discuss and discern.

I have had many questions about electronic meetings and what to do if the governing documents don’t allow for electronic meetings. So if the need arises for the Session and/or the Congregation to meet electronically and the governing documents do not allow for it, the first item of business at a meeting would be to take action to allow for electronic meetings to occur. Since this action needs to be in the governing documents this would be a congregation decision. All changes to bylaws must be approved by the congregation.

If electronic meetings are authorized, Robert’s Rules of Order, 11 th Edition advises to adopt additional rules pertaining to their conduct regarding methods for seeking recognition, for taking and verifying votes, for determining quorum, how a person can raise a question or point of order and the type of equipment required and whether the organization must provide such equipment.

The language for the governing documents could be as follows:
“Electronic meetings (telephone, video conferencing or other technology) are allowed for the Congregation, the Session and other committees and/or task forces of the (insert church name) with the following conditions: the opportunity for simultaneous aural (spoken and heard) communication is possible, notice is given and adequate instructions are available for members to participate.

If you would like to talk with me more about best practices for such a meeting, please be in touch. 
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.       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.       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.
Minnesota Grant to improve safety and air quality

Please go to this link for more information about this program:
'What Will We Tell Them?'

Online Synod School is a virtual hoot. And, as always, it’s inspiring and thought-provoking

by Mike Ferguson | Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE — Having as much fun as they could via Zoom, more than 330 Presbyterians gathered from across the country and across borders for the opening night of Synod School Monday. They were treated to a childhood faith story from the Rev. Dr. Rodger Nishioka and laughed with — not at — a Synod School mainstay, the Rev. Burns Stanfield and his online band of tie dye-clad musicians.

Stanfield, senior pastor at  Fourth Presbyterian Church  in Boston, has, along with other members of his talented family, used the annual  Synod of Lakes and Prairies  week-long event as a family reunion every summer. For  the first-ever online Synod School , Stanfield performed a composition he called “Zooming in the Love of the Lord” and sang updated lyrics for “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.” A sample lyric: “Now I’m Zooming with my sisters, and my brothers and my friends, and we all can Zoom together, ‘cause the circle never ends.”

Synod of Lakes and Prairies Coaching Program

The Synod will be offering a four-part certified coaches training beginning in September 2020 to support our strategic priority of coaching being available for pastoral leaders and congregations as a means of attracting, supporting and retaining great leaders in the Synod. The training is certified by the International Coaching Federation (ICF), meaning participants who complete the four segments as well as 100 hours of coaching, will be eligible to apply to the ICF for official certification as a coach.

Why coaching? Many church leaders have found it helpful to work with someone on what they want and how to get there. Coaching is about asking good and helpful questions that help us listen to ourselves, become more effective, authentic or resilient as leaders and focus on that which gives us life.

Who will be doing the training? Rev. Dr. Laurie Ferguson, a professional certified coach, consultant, and therapist will be our leader. To learn more about Laurie, visit her website: She has been coaching and training for a number of years and has been wanting to offer a program like this! She is delighted to be working with us on this coaching program.

What is involved? There will be 60 hours of training delivered in several segments, hopefully two face to face and the rest through tele-classes.

  1. Foundations of Coaching: This two-hour Zoom class will require pre-work that includes both reading and writing a paper. Early September.
  2. Basic Coaching Skills: 15 hours of basic training on coaching skills offered over two days (all day Monday and Tuesday until 3:00). September 13-15, 2020 and two two-hour Zoom classes. Note this is TBD whether it will be held in person or virtually. Participants will be encouraged to start coaching others after this training.
  3. Advanced Coaching and Team Coaching Skills is another 15 hours (Monday-Tuesday) in May 2021 at Christ the King Retreat Center. Note this is TBD whether it will be held in person or virtually.
  4. Tele-classes (six two-hour classes) that will focus on a variety of topics during summer 2021.

What are the expectations and possibilities? In order to be ICF certified, in addition to the training students must have 100 hours of coaching others. Because the goal of this program is to create a pool of coaches for the pastoral leaders and congregations in the Synod, each participant will be asked to provide five hours/month of reduced price or three hours of free coaching over 12 months. Although you may have people in your own presbytery to coach, there is also interest in having folks be able to have coaches from another presbytery. A directory of the participants will be shared with presbytery staff so they can refer others to you. In between the classes, there will be monthly cohort gatherings of smaller groups coordinated by the Synod to provide a learning community for each other. Once the training has been completed, an official Synod Network of coaches will be established, providing information on the Synod website about certified coaches within the bounds and an annual gathering of the Coaching Network to refresh practice, renew relationships, and learn together.

What is the cost? The cost per participant will be $700 for the 2020 training and $500 for the 2021 training. Room and board as well as 25% of the cost will be covered by the Synod of Lakes and Prairies.

How do I apply? Complete the attached application and send to by August 10, 2020. We will notify you of acceptance into the program in early August after the committee has reviewed your application.

Application for Coaching Program

We encourage you to copy this into another Word document to complete.
Name   _________________________________________________________
Address  _______________________________________________________
Email _______________________________Cell ________________________

What interests you about becoming a coach?

What do you hope to give to those you coach?

How would a colleague who knows you well describe your gifts for being a coach?

What, if any, personal experience have you had with coaching – whether a professional coach or not?

A reference who could speak to your gifts as a coach (name and email): ________________________

Please check one: Laurie knows that there will be attrition between the time we begin this program and the time it ends. It would be helpful to get a sense of what you are thinking as you begin. Your choice will not impact your selection. It is for our information and planning purposes only.

_____   I have full intentions of completing this whole program and am willing to provide the five-reduced price or three free coaching sessions/month between the first and last training. I want to have the credentials to become certified if that is what I feel/think I am called to do.

_____   I am interested in exploring this but am not sure about actually becoming a certified coach. I want to discover if this is something that is energizing and a potential part of my future work/call/ministry. As long as I am in the program, I am willing to provide five reduced price or three free coaching sessions/month.

_____  I am curious about coaching and hope to pick up some tools from at least the first session that will be useful in my relationships and settings.

_____   Other:

______________________________________________               __________________
Signature                                                                                                      Date
Union Presbyterian Church of Saint Peter shares how they have been participating in the Matthew 25 initiative

Submitted by Marge Johnson

Union Presbyterian Church in St. Peter continues to be committed to the Matthew 25 initiative. To begin to address structural racism, Pastor Andy Davis is preaching a series of six sermons – Facing Racism: A Vision of the Intercultural Community. A study guide has been provided. The sermons are available on YouTube after the original Sunday morning airing.
Union Presbyterian continues our long time commitment to support the St. Peter Area Food Shelf (SPAFS). Every Tuesday for two hours we are encouraged to come to our picnic shelter with donations for the SPAFS and enjoy fellowship at a physical distance with Pastor Andy and other members of our Union family. 
One of our major projects each year is providing the “Everyone’s Birthday Party” for the children attending the Mankato area Royal Family KIDS camp. This is a week long camp for children in the foster care system. Union is pleased to sponsor several campers each year. We also decorate and provide refreshments for this event. In addition, each camper receives a “bin” of birthday gifts. Unfortunately, there could not be a camp this year because of Covid-19. We still wanted to celebrate each camper and let them know they are special and loved. So, an “I am Awesome” bag was filled with gifts and mailed to each camper. 
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 Chapters 6 and 7 on Thursday, August 27 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
Essential Practices
( New article coming next week - time to catch up!!)

Submitted and Recommended by the Commission on Congregational Transformation and Development
Rob Mueller tells about a conversation he had with a former Roman Catholic theologian in Costa Rica, about tensions between Catholics and Protestants. Pablo Richard told him "The scandal of the church is not that we are different, that we see the sacraments differently, interpret the Bible distinctly, or worship and make decisions differently. The scandal of the church is that we attempt to use these differences to work against one another. We seek to possess the people of God instead of serve the people of God. What we fail to grasp is that the people belong to God and not to us. We should always be using the gifts and uniqueness of our traditions to serve them, rather than to possess them."

Rob Mueller recommends the following practices as essential in forming transformational partnerships with other churches and denominations in our community:
  • Listen together, especially to pains and frustrations, then imagine a new future.
  • Maintain an abundance mentality, recognizing resources that are already present.
  • Don't let monetary concerns steer the boat!
  • Forge agreements that respect the dignity of each partner, then review them regularly.
  • Take time to play! (from pp. 60-63).
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: 11:00 Sunday mornings online:

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 ).

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 Wednesdays

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 Ch urch, Ellsworth; Emmanuel Presbyterian Church, Rushmore; First Presbyterian Church, Rushmore - Interim Pastor
Ministry Information Form - 09163.AE0

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.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

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 --
An Opportunity to Help Fulfill the PW Mission & Purpose
The Churchwide PW Board held a special meeting to become informed and updated regarding PW finances. The recent pandemic has caused the cancellation of PWP Spring Gatherings, Synod Gatherings, and Circle meetings ... which may be repeated with PWP Fall Gatherings moving online.
The impact resulting from these cancelled events has had a tremendous impact on PW's income, including the receipts of quarterly payments, individual donations, sale of resources, purchase of Horizons Bible study, as well as declining subscriptions to Horizons magazine itself. Not everything can be blamed on the pandemic itself, although circumstances are such that the Board needed to become informed and take action.

There is always good news and the good news certainly needs to be heard! The good news is that the mission and purpose of PW is very healthy! The program of PW is very strong! So one might say the "engine" is working hard and effectively on our behalf, yet we are in need of "fuel" to keep the "engine" going. We need a boost in PW financial support.

The PW Board is currently focused on our second annual "PW Gives Day" which is July 31st. On this day, individual Presbyterian women are encouraged to "celebrate the many ways that Presbyterian women give to witness to the promise of God's realm" through a gift to PW's ANNUAL FUND. July 31st has been set aside to commemorate the "founding" of a reunited PW in 1988. Each PW is encouraged to support our beloved organization on this day as solidarity for the long history, current work and the future of Presbyterian Women.

The Board is asking PW in synods, presbyteries, and congregations to take on a self-determined PW Challenge to get 100% participation in this giving opportunity. We know that small giving is transformative and huge impacts can be realized if everyone gives "something". Think about Fellowship of the Least Coin and the impact it has around the world with just small contributions.

Contributions can be made online, by phone, or via USPS mail beginning now. Online donations are a minimum of $10 and there is a transaction fee that you can also choose to pay.

To give online: Select PW Gives Day and your gift amount. Select a gift of $10 or more (and add a bit extra for a transaction fee).
Scroll down to comments box and type "PWGDAY20, your church and presbytery information"

To contribute via phone/credit card:
Contact Carissa Herold by phone (844/PW-PCUSA, ext. 5322)
To mail via USPS:
Presbyterian Women, Inc.
PO Box 643652
Pittsburgh PA 15264-3652
Indicate annual fund and PWGDAY20 in the memo line of your check, along with the name of your church or presbytery.

Individuals or congregations that send in a donation, follow the guidelines above but also send Gloria Rust, Presbytery Moderator, an email, as our Synod Moderator would like the name of the individual and the congregation, so please email that info: Any questions, please feel free to text or call Gloria at 507-227-7393. Blessings to all!