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 7-13
First Presbyterian Church of Mankato
Lindsay Conrad, Pastor
Lynnette Stadtherr, Administrative Assistant
Jamie Goulson, Church Accountant
Stacy Grunden, Christian Education Director
Ben Marti, Organist
Cheryl Holicky, Bell Choirs
Britt Fleming, Head Building Manager
George Johnson, Assistant Building Manager

Prayer concerns: Church members undergoing cancer treatments and suffering from illness, and for mission partners Charles and Melissa Johnson making their way to share with us all the way from Zambia on Wednesday, August 14th (all are invited!). We also ask prayers for our neighborhood as we re-engage and re-focus our work in this downtown area. 

First Presbyterian Church has signed up as a Matthew 25 congregation and is working hard on congregational vitality - particularly in mission. For ten weeks this summer, each Sunday a nonprofit or mission partner will be joining us in worship as we hear about God's hands and feet at work, and how we may come alongside our neighbors. As a beautiful, old, downtown church, we are excited to be in the midst of this new chapter! As mission partners join us each week, we welcome them to coffee hour to continue to engage and share how we can be in partnership with them. Starting this week, book groups are forming around the PCUSA-wide church read called Neighborhood Church , as we continued to discern how God is calling us to use our space, our hearts, our lives, and our money. More information can be found in our newsletter and website ( )
The Presbytery office will be closed Thursday, July 4 and Friday, July 5.
Last week my worked included representing the presbytery at the National Black Presbyterian Caucus (Atlanta) and the World Mission People of Color Consultation (Louisville). Both groups grappled with the issues of vital congregations, eradicating racism, and what it means to walk alongside the poor. My sermon Saturday focused on midcourse evaluations, the big questions “how close are we to reaching our goals around the issues?” and “How far have we come since we began our work?” The group was invited to assess our current efforts with particular conversation partners: God, the expectations of others, the needs of the world, and our aspirations and sense of call.

At the World Mission People of Color Consultation, the meeting culminated four conferences focused on the changing philosophy of mission. The mixed history of mission work was the primary topic. In many ways, missionaries, in effort to “save uncivilized” foreign countries, stripped people from their culture, language and humanity, This hard truth was explored with people from Africa, Thailand, South America and within the United States. Efforts to save without full awareness of the implicit biases of the superiority of Western values and White cultural norms left unintentional harmful consequences. Historically, missionaries lacked the values of amplifying the people’s power and knowing that every culture has something to give. Long listening is essential, real mission is “mission with” versus “mission for.” Joan Chittister says it best, “God is not contained in any one people, in any one kind of place, or in any one tradition. God wills the care of the poor as well as the reward of the rich. God wills the end of oppressors who stand with the heel on the neck of the weak. God wills the liberation, dignity and full development of all. God takes the side of the defenseless.” (Joan Chittister, Prophets Then, Prophets Now)

The outcome of the meetings will be a new mission strategy. The new strategy will contrast "sending" based in a philosophy developed from Matthew 28:19-20 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.” with a theology of transformation. More information will follow from the national church.

As we celebrate July 4th and look to the future, the phrase “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” has powerful implications that vary based upon your history in this country. Let us be mindful that much healing work is needed for the American Dream to be a reality for many people. Let us give thanks for a nation that includes many opportunities for peace, liberty, and dreaming of a better tomorrow.

May you have a safe and joyful holiday.

A Prayer for Independence Day
from the Book of Common Worship

Almighty God, you have given us this good land as our heritage. Make us always remember your generosity and constantly do your will. Bless our land with honest industry, sound learning, and an honorable way of life. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Make us who come from many nations with many different languages a united people. Defend our liberties and give those whom we have entrusted with the authority of government the spirit of wisdom, that there might be justice and peace in our land. When times are prosperous, let our hearts be thankful; and, in troubled times, do not let our trust in you fail. We ask all this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Prayer List

Rev. Araceli Itzep from the Occidente Presbytery
Sue Thompson, Clerk of Session at First Presbyterian Church, Maynard
Rev. Lynne Matthews, pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Holland - knee replacement surgery on August 5
Session Records Review

The three scheduled Session Records Reviews have been completed. Thanks to all the clerks and treasurers who came. Another Session Record Review has been scheduled for Wednesday, August 7 at the First Presbyterian Church in Redwood Falls at 6:30 p.m. Please let the Presbytery office know if you are coming.

News from the clerks and congregations shared at the reviews:
  • Lakes Area Presbyterian, Baxter (formerly First Presbyterian, Brainerd): Relocation of a church and changing the name is a major undertaking, with some surprises along the way.
  • First Presbyterian, Blue Earth: After a major mold abatement in the church basement, we are pleased with how fresh and clean it looks. It was necessary to purchase new tables and chairs. We have used it to host a graduation reception and funeral lunch. Due to a hair storm last summer, our roof has been reshingled.
  • Cambria Presbyterian, Cambria: Cambria will be celebrating its 100th church anniversary beginning December 2019-2020.
  • Federated Church, Fergus Falls: Pastor Doug Dent received his Doctor of Ministry this spring!
  • First Presbyterian, Fulda: We held Community Worship in the Fulda City Park during our June Wood Duck Celebration.
  • First Presbyterian, Holland: We celebrate our Vacation Bible School.
  • First Presbyterian, Kasota: Hosted a Garage Sale on May 24-25, Vacation Bible School July 15 thru 18, In August we will have a Confirmation Open House August 14th and Ice Cream Social. Fall brings our Annual Church Bazaar. Dates and Times will be posted on our website. Our Activities: weekly worship service and Sunday School, Communion Services seven times a year, Christmas Eve Candlelight Communion Service, Easter Sunrise Service and Breakfast, Lenten Soup and Stories, participating in the presbytery four designated special offerings,include hosting and participating in the Adopt a Family Program for Christmas-we sponsor 1-3 families each year, participating in the Food Shelf Program twice a year March and November, Holding annual Pancake Supper, donation to the LeSueur County Sheriff's Department Drug Awareness and Bullying Programs, donations to Habitat for Humanity. We continue to support other community outreach such as National Night Out.
  • First Presbyterian, Mankato: We celebrate our pastor, Lindsay Conrad, and appreciate her youthful energy.
  • First Presbyterian, Maynard: We are planning a birthday celebration of the church, but the date hasn't been set yet. Also, we had three new members!
  • First Presbyterian, Osakis: We celebrate our Over 80s birthday celebration, Friendship Table Meals and Backpack Attack/Osakis Hunger Coalition.
  • First Presbyterian, Round Lake: We join with the Bethel Lutheran Church of Round Lake (Missouri Synod) in serving a community breakfast and Easter egg hunt, and a Christmas community breakfast. Also, we join annually with serving at the TAG Banquets with Sioux Falls, SD.
  • Emmanuel Presbyterian, Rushmore: We receive a monthly Loud Offering which is used to buy Christmas gifts for a local family identified by County Family Services Agency. Church families also purchased gifts for five more needy families.
  • First Presbyterian, Saint Cloud: April 16, 2019, Mission Committee sponsored a dinner party as a fundraiser for Sargodha Schools in Pakistan. We have completed the new westside entrance to the church.
  • First Presbyterian, Saint James: We are beginning preparations to celebrate the church's 150th Anniversary in 2020.
  • First Presbyterian, Slayton: We celebrate Family Fair Booth/MCC School, Youth Hanging of the Greens, CE Palm Sunday Breakfast and Relay for Life.
  • Harrison Presbyterian, rural Spicer: We are thankful for our new pastors, Galen and Marcia Sylvester, who started November 1, 2018.
  • First Presbyterian, Willmar: We celebrate Family Promise and our mission trip to Louisiana.
  • First Presbyterian, Windom: Our mission projects include Lunch Buddies and Kidz Closet.
  • Westminster Presbyterian, Worthington: A Backpack Giveaway was held in August with 400+ given away to area students.
Rev. Scott Prouty of First Presbyterian Church of Redwood Falls baptized quadruplet girls on Sunday, June 30.
Books of Order now available

The PDF of the 2019-2021 Book of Order has been added to the PCUSA Store website and is available for free download now at

The Presbytery will order Books of Order for congregations at a cost of $8.50 each. Please place your order with Karen by phone or email by July 18. We hope to hand them out at the August presbytery meeting. We will ask for postage reimbursement if we mail them out.
Dianna Wright to lead OGA Ecclesial and Ecumenical Ministries

Interim leader to work with Stated Clerk to discern future ministry work

Rick Jones | Office of the General Assembly - June 27, 2019

The Reverend Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), has named Dianna Wright as the interim director of Ecclesial and Ecumenical Ministries within the Office of the General Assembly. For the past ten years, Wright has been serving as associate presbyter with the Presbytery of Salem in Clemmons, North Carolina.

“I’ve been serving as a Christian educator for Equip in African American ministries,” she said. “Most of the work has been with congregations and helping them discern the work
that God is calling them to do.”

Wright is no stranger to the OGA, having served as a member of the Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations (CEIR) for the past six years. It is her second term on the committee.

“In my conversations with the Stated Clerk about his vision for this interim period, he wants me to help to discern what this position in ecumenical relations will look like in the future and where God is calling us to go,” said Wright. “I think some of the work that I’ve been doing with congregations will help as we move forward.”

Wright fills the vacancy left with the passing of the Reverend Robina Winbush earlier this year. She says she has big shoes to fill.

“Robina was the walking history and work we’ve been doing in ecumenical relations. Her passing leaves a big hole,” she said. “What I’m holding on to is the groundwork she laid and passion for ministry.”

Wright says ecumenical staff has been trying to carry out some of the projects and committee meetings Winbush had already scheduled.

“One of the first things we’re going to do is to see what we need to complete or set it aside until we complete the discernment process,” she said. “Robina was all over the world. I am just trying to determine what the landscape looks like. We are working on a consultation that comes in September, continuing to resource the ecumenical committee as well as preparing for the 224th General Assembly (2020) next year, so there’s a lot to do.”

Nelson says he is looking forward to what Wright brings to the table. “We are overjoyed to have Dianna join us in this interim capacity. Her commitment to this ministry, and the people we serve, will help us determine what ecumenism in the PC(USA) will look like in the 21st century,” he said. “Robina would be overjoyed to see her friend and colleague step into this role at this time.”

Wright begins her new duties on July 22nd.
Counting Down to Presbyterian Youth Triennium 2019

The 2019 Presbyterian Youth Triennium is getting closer. On July 15, 60 youth and 7 adult leaders representing 14 congregations in Minnesota Valleys presbytery will board two buses to travel to the campus of Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN. There they will join with thousands of youth from the Presbyterian Church USA and the Cumberland Presbyterian Church for five days of worship, Bible Study, games and activities.

The congregations sending youth to the 2019 Presbyterian Youth Triennium are Blue Earth; Browns Valley; Ellsworth; Foley; Lismore; Luverne; Pipestone; Randall; Redwood Falls; Renville; St. Cloud; St. Peter; Spicer, Hope; Willmar; and Worthington. The Adult leaders this year are Jill Boeyink, Willmar; Sheila Erwin, Lismore; Amy Gasca, Renville; Mark Giese, St. Cloud; Calvin Lebakken, Foley; Shawna Seaman, St. Cloud; and Galen Smith, Worthington.

A packet of information including bus schedules and roommate assignments has been mailed to each of the registered participants from Minnesota Valleys.

The theme of Triennium this year is “ Here’s My Heart ,” taken from the final line of the hymn Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing . Below is a prayer you may include in your worship service on July 14 the Sunday before Triennium. A commissioning service template can be found on the Presbyterian Youth Triennium website:

Holy God, through never ending streams of mercy, guide and protect our young people and their leaders as they attend the Presbyterian Youth Triennium. Tune their hearts to sing your praise and fill them with your wondrous grace. Transform their lives through this experience so that they may further build your Kingdom through their gifts and leadership. Through Christ, we pray. Amen.
Join the movement of Presbyterians in Baltimore for a Big Tent like no other.

The theme, Called to a Movement beyond Institution, will emphasize our hope of the Gospel and its power to challenge institutional conventions. The goal is to come together and live in this moment, immersed in our current cultural context of racial division, gender inequality, and economic disparity to be renewed, refreshed and reformed, so that we may be sent out to affect change in our own communities. Big Tent will provide a place where our Presbyterian polity and identity is the foothold by which we proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ in action and answer the call to discern the will of God together.

Through worship, Bible study, learning opportunities, and active engagement with one another and the community, attendees will encounter the Church participating in God’s mission for the transformation of creation and humanity. 

Organizers for this year’s Big Tent celebration have lined up the guest preachers and leaders for the three-day gathering in Baltimore this summer. The Rev. Dr. Soong-Chan Rah will be the featured speaker at the opening plenary on Thursday, Aug. 1.

“Conversations are taking place about the changes that are occurring in our society, especially in terms of our demographics. Churches are experiencing change, including decline and diversity,” said Rah. “I will touch on those, but I really want to touch base on what the appropriate response to these changes should be.”

The FPC Mankato you to hear Mission Co-Workers in August

Charles and Melissa Johnson, mission co-workers in Zambia, are visiting First Presbyterian Church of Mankato on Wednesday, August 14th. The event will be from 5:00-8:00pm. We're going to have a potluck supper and will enjoy time with Charles and Melissa as they share about God's mission happening in Zambia, how they were called into mission partnership, and how churches might hear their call into mission partnership.
The Synod of Lakes and Prairies Presents
The Art of Transitional Leadership
Learning Ministry Skills for Today’s and Tomorrow’s Church
Pastors, Staff, COMs and Congregational Leaders
September 16-20, 2019
Christ the King Retreat Center in Buffalo, Minnesota
Track 1: September 16-20, 2019
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.

Track 2: September 18-20, 2019
Congregational leaders seeking to serve God faithfully are invited to Part Two of the Art of Transitional Ministry Event. The Wednesday–Friday training is for ruling elders, deacons, and other congregational leaders. Workshops for this group will focus on the vital role you play in collaborating with pastors to lead congregations through ministry transitions. Participants can expect to learn about core value mission planning, leadership development, congregational systems, stewardship, and creating spiritual energy in congregations.

Save the date for Boundary Training
Tuesday, October 15 from 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
First Presbyterian Church of Redwood Falls
Boundary Training is required for all minister/teaching elder presbytery members and commissioned ruling elders. The Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys will be holding a boundary training on Tuesday, October 15 from 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church in Redwood Falls. The Rev. Mark Sundby from Leaderwise will be leading the boundary training. The training will focus on a holistic approach to boundaries, looking at overall resilience and well-being as the best prevention against impaired decision making and boundaries violations. More information will be coming.
Save the Date :
Pastors’ Retreat
November 11-13, 2019

Leaning Tree Lodge
Presbyterian Clearwater Forest
16595 Crooked Lake Rd
Deerwood MN 56444
Begins with lunch on Monday and ends before lunch on Wednesday.
Cost: $40, includes meals and lodging

Come and enjoy the fall beauty of Presbyterian Clearwater Forest and spend time with presbytery colleagues. We will reflect on the year of transformation and take a deep breath. The retreat is in the planning stages, but mark your calendars to attend.

Retreat Speaker Rev. Jennifer Hope Kottler is a spiritual director/certified life and leadership coach and yoga teacher in private practice in Florence, SC. An ordained pastor in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) with standing in the United Church of Christ, Jen serves clergy and lay leaders who want to deepen their own spirituality and lead their communities with intentionality and grace. Jen facilitates retreats and events for congregations, non-profit organizations, and church leaders. In all her work, Jen incorporates ancient spiritual practices with modern techniques including Energy Leadership Coaching and Conversational Intelligence®. Jen is married to Rev. Gavin Meek, Transitional Executive Presbyter and Stated Clerk in New Harmony Presbytery (NE South Carolina) and she enjoys hiking, tennis, cooking for family and friends, and traveling with Gavin.
Church Staff: Schedule a Day with Karen

Associate for Administration Karen Lange is available to spend a day with church office folks to share tips on setting up bulletins, newsletters, making a Facebook page or to help with any general questions. The cost is Karen’s mileage to and from the church plus providing lunch. Please email Karen to schedule.
Pastoral Leadership Opportunities

First Presbyterian Church, Fulda - Solo Pastor, 3/4 time up to full-time
  Ministry Information Form -  03782.AD1

Faith Presbyterian Church, Silver Lake - Part-time Solo Pastor
  Ministry Information Form -  03851.ACO

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

The Ministry Information Forms for these opportunities are posted on the Church Leadership Connection web site --