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 June 21-27
First Presbyterian Church of Lake Crystal
Susan Blythe, Andy McLeod, Vicki Pritchard, Wayne Hughes, Jackie Jones, David Williams, Kent Williams, Melanie Miller, Tom Hamberg
Moderator of Session: Interim Pastor Rev. Henry Campbell
Clerk of Session: Rhonna Nilson
Janet Ellanson, Judie Edwards, Jay Walters, Heidi Karels, Laurie Williams, Helen Balcome, Sandy Hollerich 
Pastor: Rev. Henry Campbell
Administrative Assistant: Rhonna Nilson
Treasurer: Tom Hamberg
Custodian: Jay Richardson
Organist: Ryan Jones
Organist: Adam Jones

FPC Lake Crystal continues to record weekly worship services to post on the web via YouTube; and mailing service bulletin and sermon to folks without web access.
Our church participated in a community Inter-Faith "March for Justice" event on June 15th.
Our prayers continue for: 
  • All who are directly involved in helping to overcome the Covid-19 crisis  
  • Healing, justice, and peace in response to the tragic death of George Floyd
  • Government leaders
  • Law enforcement agencies
  • Schools, teachers and students
  • Care Center residents and workers
  • Farmers
  • Our churches and the wider Church

Mission activities include: supporting Lake Crystal food shelf, Meals on Wheels,
Special gifts for Christian Ed families; Gifts for graduates

We continue to pray for the Shared Ministry PNC Committee of FPC Kasota and FPC Lake Crystal as they continue their good work.
Heritage and Traditions
Juneteenth is the celebration of the end of slavery for more than 250,000 enslaved African Americans in Texas. The name means June and nineteen. On June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger of the Union Army landed in Galveston, Texas, and informed slaves that the Civil War had ended and slavery had been abolished. Granger and roughly 2,000 Union soldiers enforced President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which had actually gone into effect more than two years earlier, on January 1, 1863. The enslaved African Americans in Texas were shocked to hear the years old news.
History buffs might enjoy reading the book Lone Star Pasts: Memory and History in Texas by Felix Haywood. Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. writes  that, over generations, Juneteenth became: “an occasion for gathering lost family members, measuring progress against freedom and inculcating rising generations with the values of self-improvement and racial uplift. This was accomplished through readings of the Emancipation Proclamation, religious sermons, and spirituals, the preservation of slave food delicacies as well as the incorporation of new games and traditions, from baseball to rodeos and, later, stock car races and overhead flights.”
As we seek to understand the many ways we are different in culture, experiences, and traditions, add Juneteenth to your list. At the heart of the Juneteenth celebration are prayer and Church attendance. Songs like “How We Got Over” composed in 1951 by Clara Ward and made famous by the voice of Mahalia Jackson speak to the agency of God on behalf of Black people.
The Christian tradition is rich in memory and ritual. Our country is rich in heritage and traditions. We are formed and shaped by our people and the territories we call home. As you think about Fathers’ Day and July 4, how have these celebrations shaped you? Fathers’ Day brings back memories of the things fathers taught us. Today many People of Color are contemplating what it means to be free. My father taught us that nothing is free in life. Everything has a cost. Someone made a sacrifice for your freedom. If you take full advantage of the opportunities you are afforded, then the sacrifices of others are well worth the cost. 

Rituals and celebrations are critically important for our wellbeing. Throughout Hebrew history, the people are instructed to establish memory points. The etymology of cities is connected to life-changing events. Special days like the Feast of Booths commemorate the shelter of the Israelites during their 40 years in the wilderness. Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement. Both holidays points back to Yamim Tovim, translated “Good Days.”
We are strongly encouraged in light of the challenges, unrest, and unknown to celebrate the “good days” for our personal and spiritual health. Do not stop making memories. Celebrate what’s life-giving. Look back to move forward. Discuss the principles of life that have held generations together.

Many African Americans will celebrate Juneteenth this week with Psalm 126 in mind:
When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then it was said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us,
and we rejoiced.
Restore our fortunes, O Lord,
like the watercourses in the Negeb.
May those who sow in tears
reap with shouts of joy.
Those who go out weeping,
bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
carrying their sheaves.

What Psalm, metaphor or Scripture passage speaks to your heritage and culture?

Grace and Peace,
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
Upcoming General Assembly Events link

June 19: Moderator Election at 8:00 PM Central Time
June 20: Poor People's Campaign March at 9:00 PM Central Time
June 23: Youth Rising at 2:00 PM
June 27: Stated Clerk Election at 10:00 AM

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 on June 30 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
Submitted and Recommended by the Commission on Congregational Transformation and Development

To be a "neighborhood church" we have to get to know our neighbors, and we have to reach out and help our neighbors know who we are. 
Authors/pastors Krin Van Tatenhove & Rob Mueller share an example from a church in Indianapolis. The church website includes a "Who We Are" section (pp. 23-24):
  • We are a joyous community. We celebrate one another's successes and "pass the peace."
  • We see abundance. Everybody is a child of God with gifts to offer the world.
  • We have conversations and have faith. The Spirit of God is alive in all people.
  • We believe in extravagant grace. God loves us all, and nothing we do can change that.
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: Meeting ID: 232 179 218; 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

Osakis: Our COVID 19 worship is accessible via our church's Facebook page Osakis Presbyterian Church.

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 @ 10:15

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
From the Ministry Lab at United Theological Seminary
Anti-Racism Resources and Upcoming Webinars

To help clergy, faith formation leaders and parents, The Ministry Lab has compiled two lists on Anti-Racism and Ending White Supremacy Culture: one for Adults and one for Youth & Children . Both can be accessed on our At-Home Tips & Resources page.
We have also created a list of resources for parents on   Talking with Children and Youth about Trauma . It includes evaluations for noticing trauma or PTSD symptoms in children, teens and adults; tips on talking about big emotions; and mindfulness tools available online or through books. This is available on our Mental Health  page. We hope they are helpful in your ministries!

The Ministry Lab's   Co-Lab Webinar series continues on Tuesday, June 23 @ 2:00 PM CST with Jenny Schroedel, Optage Hospice Chaplain and former Clinical Director of Camp Erin Hawaii (a grief camp for kids), sharing Tools for Talking with Children & Teens about Grief & Trauma.
Jenny Schroedel offers grief groups and grief education across sites and in the community. She created a YouTube video for Mental Health Connect on Collective Grief & Covid-19   and on Saturday, June 27th, will be part of The Basilica of Saint Mary's,  Zoom: Grief in Our City - Can We Talk? , with Don Samuels, addressing the grief around this pandemic as well as the unfolding grief surrounding George Floyd’s death and the events that followed.
Contact Emily Meyer at to register.
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
Regarding Ruling Elders: A Monthly Series for Serving Faithfully
Praying for Others in the Time of Pandemic

Susan Forshey - June 16, 2020 (from PCUSA News)

Alice was one of the first hospital patients I visited during clinical pastoral education. We chatted about her many grandchildren. Her eyes danced with joy as she talked about Jesus. My own heart ached for such beautiful, joyful faith. I had just finished seminary and while I had been working in churches and teaching about prayer for years, my own prayer life had become an abyss of doubt and questions. The thirst-quenching flow of prayer that I had once enjoyed had dried up and now I stood by the bed of a woman dying of cancer, a wordless and prayerless desert.

When I hesitated to pray with her, she diagnosed the problem immediately. She took my hand and started to pray, effortlessly, the patient becoming the chaplain. She prayed for my ministry and that I would trust God and depend on him for all my needs. Alice modeled that God was already present and prayer simply invited God into our conversation. She taught me that prayer was not about me and my doubts but listening in on God’s love for the world. All I could do was say amen at the end, tearful and thankful. In that moment, her prayer was a flood in the desert and a seed for the future, giving me back my own ability to pray.

That was almost twenty years ago. I still remember standing by her bed like it was yesterday.

We are all mourning the sudden loss of physical connections—handshakes, hugs, fellowship, communion, in-person worship. Prayer is always a good idea, but right now, especially, praying for family, a friend, or congregation member in their hearing or reading—by phone, Zoom, email, or letter—can be a way to cross the distance and communicate God’s love. Your prayer can become for them a reminder of God’s care.
We might wonder: Does prayer work? Does it make a difference?

Jesus modeled that prayer was an integral practice of his life. In Luke 6:12, he spends the night in prayer before calling the disciples; before raising Lazarus (John 11:41–42); for his disciples and future followers (John 17:1–26); before his arrest (Matthew 26:42); and from the cross (Luke 23:34, 46), to list just a few examples. That Jesus took time to pray in the moments of his life, even as the Son of God, suggests that we as disciples are called to a similar practice.

Theologian Marjorie Suchocki’s beautiful little book, In God’s Presence, defines the work of prayer in this way: “God works with the world as it is. Quite simply, prayer changes the ‘isness’ of the world.”1 Prayer changes the world because the act of prayer changes us and those hearing our prayer. We are each part of the world, and praying opens us, if only for a brief moment, to how God is present and working in the world. That openness can lead to new choices, new ideas, and new hope for the future. It gives God a new world with which to work.

Alice could not have known that her act of praying for me would be remembered, or even now, be shared to encourage your own practice of prayer. Her act planted and watered a seed of prayer that continues to bear fruit in my life and those who hear the story.

Today, I invite you to stop, take a friend’s virtual hand, and pray.

And the world has changed!

When has prayer opened you to God’s presence and guidance in a new way?
Write a prayer for someone and send it via mail or email, or call and ask if you may pray for them over the phone.

1Marjorie Suchocki, In God’s Presence: Theological Reflections on Prayer, (St Louis: Chalice Press, 1996), 49.

Susan Lynn Forshey, Ph.D., is the assistant professor of Discipleship & Christian Formation at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary. A retreat leader and spiritual director, she writes and speaks about the brain and spiritual practices, prayer, Christian education, monasticism, and contemplative living. Her cat, Minerva, is patiently teaching her to put down the smartphone and pay attention.
PW Synod sponsored
Racial Justice Challenge
What can we do in response to the racism that exists across the U.S. and in our communities? There is a growing awareness among Presbyterians that racism is a crisis and must be addressed. The PC(USA) and PW in the Synod of Lakes and Prairies are strongly committed to the struggle for racial justice.  PW in our Synod believes that it begins with education and dialog.
You are invited to begin to dismantle structural racism through your participation in the   "Racial Justice Challenge" . This  "Racial Justice Challenge"  will help raise awareness about the perniciousness of racism and encourage action in response to that awareness. Through discussions surrounding the PC(USA)'s anti-racism policy, scripture and a variety of other resources, participants may develop an increased understanding of how racism is systemic rather than simply personal.

This study is open to women and men across the synod. It will meet for six-sessions on Mondays, beginning June 29 and ending August 31. There are two sessions offered each time, 1:30-2:30 PM (Central Time) or 6:30-7:30 PM (Central Time). There is no cost involved, yet you must register to participate via Zoom.

To register, email your name, presbytery, email address, phone number and preference for afternoon or evening participation to Marilyn Stone at .

Kathleen Keefer and Marilyn Stone
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
  • Rev. Araceli Itzep from the Occidente Presbytery
  • For Bety Cifuentes, the treasurer of the Partnership Committee, who is beginning 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 going to share 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, will also be training Christian policemen in what they learned from "Men in the Mirror."
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 --