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 28 - July 4
First Presbyterian Church of Lismore
Our Session members are Candace Joens, Kathy Altman, Dean Knips, Joyce Gengler, Sheila Erwin and Kathy Knips. Our Clerk is Lorna Van Der Linden; Dean Knips is treasurer; Rev. Tom Voigt is our pastor.

After nearly three months of online services, we met together on June 7th for a time of outdoor worship with social distancing guidelines in place. What a joy it was to see one another face to face and to know that God has been protecting, guiding and blessing each of us as we journey through COVID-19 together!  

Recognizing that we are being led through these times by One who loves and cares for us, has strengthened our desire to listen to our shepherd's voice. To that end, we are resolved in three main areas;

We want to be fervent in prayer for one another and our communities. We are determined to keep our eyes, ears and hearts open to how we can serve our neighbors and one another in Jesus' name. We want to continue to praise God, knowing that the challenges of these days hold the potential of a great harvest in Kingdom work.

It is a joy to a part of the Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys and we desire to be faithful alongside you as we serve God together in the name of Jesus! 
224th General Assembly elects Street-Stewart, Bentley co-moderators

Pair garners 304 votes in first-ballot election Saturday

by Mike Ferguson | Presbyterian News Service
Elona Street-Stewart and the Rev. Gregory Bentley were elected Saturday to be co-moderators of the 224th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

LOUISVILLE — Elona Street-Stewart, executive of the  Synod of Lakes and Prairies , and the Rev. Gregory Bentley, pastor of  Fellowship Presbyterian Church  in Huntsville, Alabama, were overwhelmingly elected to be co-moderators of the 224th General Assembly Saturday.

The two garnered 304 votes, easily winning on the first ballot. The Rev. Marie Mainard O’Connell and Arthur Fullerton received 90 votes. The Rev. Sandra Hedrick and Moon Lee got 65 votes.

Immediately after their election, the two were installed as co-moderators by the co-moderators of the 223rd General Assembly, the Rev. Cindy Kohlmann and Ruling Elder Vilmarie Cintrón-Olivieri, as well as the Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

“I am hippopotamus happy and dinosaur delighted,” Bentley said.

“This is just wonderful,” Street-Stewart said. “We look forward to meeting the fabulous expectations our current co-moderators have established for us.”

“The world needs a church that has no fear over its diversity,” said Street-Stewart, a descendant of the Delaware Nanticoke tribe and the first Native American to serve as a moderator as well as a synod executive in the PC(USA).

“We believe the denomination is headed in the right direction,” especially with the  Matthew 25 invitation , Bentley said. “We want to heed Christ’s call to not be afraid … We want to run this race with perseverance, looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.”

Street-Stewart noted the synod she leads was the first to say yes to the Matthew 25 invitation in the spring of 2019. “Diane,” she said during a post-election news conference, referring to Presbyterian Mission Agency President and Executive Director the Rev. Dr. Diane Moffett, “has a very powerful message.”

“We believe in those goals” of building congregational vitality, dismantling structural racism and eradicating systemic poverty, Bentley said. “We just need to get more workers in the vineyard.”

His said the congregation he serves has  five core practices . The one that sticks out for him is radical hospitality. “It’s not just being nice and polite,” he explained. “We need to create space to say, ‘You are welcome here’ — not just with words, but a space to genuinely share our lives.”

Asked about protests over police killings and the intractable problem of white supremacy, Street-Stewart said the PC(USA) “already has incredible statements and social witness policies.” The denomination needs to be at the center of economic and social change, she said. “It’s going to take a greater understanding of what we have said we are about,” she said. “White supremacy is a hard issue because there’s a lot of fear involved.”

Studying and talking together can be helpful tools for the nearly 90 percent of Presbyterians who are white, she said, as are going to conferences and serving in organizations led by people of color.

“Let’s come with the attitude that says, ‘You are the ones to be the teachers. Tell us what you are doing,’” she said.

Both said they plan to travel to Louisville in the next few days to prepare for the scheduled two days of online plenary sessions set for Friday and Saturday, June 26 and 27.

“They gave us the option that you can do this from home,” Bentley said. “But if something hinky goes on, you’re right there. We felt that was best.”

“We need to be at the place where the best of the best are working with us to guide us,” Street-Stewart said.

She said that when travel restrictions are no longer in effect, the new co-moderators will visit places “where we are unimagined. We aren’t going to fit the profile. We aren’t going to fit the measurements that people want in all places.” In fact, “we might fit the description of something that people fear or couldn’t imagine.” She said sometimes when she meets people, “I am not what they imagine a synod executive would be.”
Most Americans “don’t understand the long relationship” that Indigenous people have had with Black people, she said. “Every moment is a teaching opportunity.”

Asked about the possibility of stretching the virtual assembly by a few days, Bentley said, “Let’s put the pedal to the metal. If that’s the desire of the assembly, I’m on board with that.”

However, “I’d much rather be two miles deep and two inches wide,” rather than the other way around, he said. “Let’s drill down on a few things and really get a handle on it.”

Asked how Presbyterians can be in prayer for their new leaders, Bentley identified three prayer requests: for stamina, perseverance and patience.

“We are going to pack a lot into the next two years,” he said. “We are excited about it, but we know it will be taxing.”

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 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

We offer our Discussion Guides for use by members of the other Commissions as well as by groups of pastors, church leaders, and congregations in the Presbytery. We will have two more (3 total) discussion guides covering the Introduction and five chapters of the book.  Link to Discussion Guide #1
The theologian Paul Tillich once said, "The first duty of love is to listen."

Krin Van Tatenhove & Rob Mueller write that "In America…it seems we are losing both our ability and desire to listen. We know how to take polarized sides and argue. We know how to quickly respond with… our own entrenched opinions" (p. 31).  

To be a "neighborhood church" that connects more effectively with our neighbors, we need to develop our listening skills and practices.

"This attention to the present is needed in our ministries. It opens our ears to the treasure-filled stories of those in our neighborhoods, trusting that they hold the exact lessons we need to hear. Listening like this is sacred, the foundation of our struggles for peace and justice" (p. 33). 
Jesus gave us numerous examples of listening patiently, encouraging persons to "tell their stories."  One is the conversation with the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well, overcoming barriers and taboos that existed in both their cultures and tribes (John 4:1-26).
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

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
The Irish Blessing
submitted by Edith Alvarez
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!

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
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, 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."
From FPC Willmar : Due to the uncertainties of the COVID-19 Pandemic, First Presbyterian Church of Willmar has postponed our 150th Anniversary celebration until 2021.
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 --