The Valley Bridge
The weekly newsletter from the
Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys
March 1, 2017
 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: March 5-11
Western Presbyterian Church of rural Fergus Falls
Pastor: John Lindholm
Council: Hollis Davenport, Mark Davenport, Joel Borowski, Clerk Melissa Davenport

Pray for Pastor John who injured his back and please pray for other health issues in congregation. Pray for the coming spring and field work (and the price of corn and beans). We are celebrating Jackie Borowski's confirmation, bringing kids (goats) into the world, and finding God is truly full of grace and mercy in the parts of our lives that need it. We pray for peace in the world and in our own community. We ask God what he's got planned for us as the "neighborhood" (farms) ages.
The Word from Rick: Glad I Stayed!

As many of you know, my retirement date was originally planned to be December 31, 2016. I spent some time during the fall working on the papers that would make that happen and had gotten things set up with Social Security and Medicare, as I needed to have that done before completing The Board of Pensions applications.
I had not quite completed those papers when the Commission on Presbytery Life and some other folks asked if I would consider staying three more months, thus creating more time for the Executive Director of Presbytery Mission search team to complete its work, and for the presbytery to move into the New Year, which would be our first full year of living into the mission design.
As I looked ahead, I didn't feel ready to retire, and an empty calendar was somewhat intimidating. In addition, there were some promised projects that I needed to complete and some events that I wanted to help happen. I was more than happy to say "yes" and agreed to stay on; and I am glad I did, because it allowed me to be a part of our "Charting the Course" organizational gathering, as well as the February presbytery meeting. It also allowed me to have a very special day this past Sunday -- a day that turned out to be one of the true highlights of my time in the Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys.
On Sunday, I traveled to the snowy reaches of southwestern Minnesota where I had the opportunity to preach for the saints at First Presbyterian Church in Luverne, and while that was a wonderful gift in itself, it was not the highlight of the morning. That honor fell to the presence of two little guys who along with their parents and family have been the recipients of many prayers across this presbytery since last spring. I had the privilege of baptizing "The Twins" - Knox Finn and Sawyer Luke Cunningham, the sons of Jason and Annalise Cunningham. In the presbytery leader world, opportunities to share in moments like this are rare and they are treasured. Knox and Sawyer were perfect gentlemen throughout the whole experience, sleeping soundly in the midst of their big moment. While they were unaware of what was going on around them on Sunday, I am confident that it was a moment that their parents, their older sister and three big brothers, as well as the congregation, will share with them as they grow up. It was a day that I will remember for a long time, and am thankful for being given such an opportunity to welcome these new disciples into our extended family.
As I rolled out of Luverne, there was still more to the day. Sunday was one of those "doubleheaders" that can make my work within this presbytery truly enjoyable. On the heels of worship in Luverne, we gathered asa presbytery in Pipestone and celebrated the beginning of a new chapter in the life and ministry of the First Presbyterian Church. After a two-year transition, the Reverend Nathan Lamb was installed as the pastor of that congregation. Nathan was a colleague of mine in Des Moines Presbytery and began his ministry in Pipestone earlier this month - many of you got to meet him at the February presbytery meeting.
Nathan's sister, Sara, a teaching elder from the Presbytery of North Central Iowa, preached the afternoon's sermon, while teaching elders Paul Snyder and Galen Smith charged the pastor and congregation respectively. The music in the service reflected a portion of Nathan's personal and spiritual journey, as well as the Native-American history of the Pipestone area.
It was a day of celebration in the Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys: a day of blessed beginnings. There is a good spirit bubbling in the southwest corner of our presbytery! It was a long day, and I was somewhat wiped out by the time I rolled into the driveway, but it was one of those days that made me glad that I came to this presbytery and that I stayed these three extra months! Thank you for the opportunity to be a part of this extended Presbyterian family!
May you all have a great and blessed week!

Grace and Peace,
On the Road with Rick: The Pre-Retirement Tour
The list is getting shorter each week!
March 5 - Preach at the Crosslake Presbyterian Church, Crosslake
March 7 - Session Meeting, First Presbyterian Church, Osakis
March 12 - Worship and Congregational Meeting, First Presbyterian Church, Osakis
March 19 - Worship Visit, Grace-First Parish, Russell
March 21 - Session Meeting, First Presbyterian Church, Foley
March 26 - Worship Visit, First Presbyterian Church, Redwood Falls

by Jim Krapf

This is the second in a series of three articles describing connections with our Occidente partners.

At the Network Meeting we met a Mayan Presbyterian woman who was displaced. The land she cultivated to feed her family was taken by a multi-national corporation. The Mayan people have been socially oppressed for centuries. She told her story in Quichi (one of the many languages of the indigenous people); it was translated into Spanish and then into English. There ensued a discussion/debate on the proper role of pastor and/or prophet. Guatemalan Presbyterians could teach us the necessity of combining evangelism and social justice. There we experienced the benefit of both. With the laying on of hands, we prayed for her. In the closing worship service, we took an offering to help her buy another plot of land.

We gained cultural awareness as we paid for a tour of the Mayan ruins at Zaculeu just north of Huehuetenango. There we saw the slanted court where ancient Mayan two-men teams competed to put a small ball through a vertical hoop with "soccer" moves. Priests gave religious interpretation to the game and judged who won. We climbed the stairs of the pyramid temple, where some say the losers were sacrificed and others say it was the honor of the winners to be sacrificed.

Whatever our ethnic bloodline, our Reformed Faith proclaims it is the shed blood of Christ who saves us. This good news is freeing people of traditional Mayan spirituality which struggles to appease the gods. Mayan Presbyterians are gifting the church with a joyful reliance on this gift of grace. As they read and discuss the Bible, they identify with Jesus who ministered among the poor. They invite the Holy Spirit into their community to give them dignity and power to care for one another. It is our Lord who commanded us to "love our neighbors as we love ourselves" who connects us.


Report on Occidente Presbytery Mission Trip of February 2017

by Shirley Leagjeld

I was invited to join the members of the team going to Guatemala for the Occidente Presbytery Partnership mission trip as part of the medical team. I readily accepted and certainly have not been sorry. It was an experience of a lifetime. We left at home many of the comforts we are accustomed to but gained in ways we are not accustomed to.

Guatemala is a country of contrasts. It is beautiful, with mountains, foliage and flowers in abundance. Unfortunately, the trash along streets and roads is equally abundant.  The people are warm, friendly and generous, but uniformed guards armed with assault rifles are stationed at every bank and ATM machine and more.

The roads are often in poor condition, actually terrible conditions, but the drivers manage to get where they need to go with a skill that I had to admire. Streets are narrow, winding and steep, but I never saw anyone hit another car or a pedestrian, and there seemed to be a minimum of directional signs.

The children are beautiful and obviously loved, well cared for and well disciplined, which says a lot for a country. Yet dogs roam the towns and countryside without any control evident. There seems to be no regular food source as they are rail thin, nor was there any sign of human care for them. Yet I never saw a dog be mean or act afraid.

These people go about their lives as people do everywhere. Those that we went to help accepted it graciously and gratefully. They fed us well, and no apologies were offered for the simple fare or the fact that their toilet facilities left much to be desired. It seemed not to concern them, and we knew they had given us the very best they had.
A Special Invitation to FPC Redwood Falls

On Sunday, March 26th the First Presbyterian Church in Redwood Falls will be celebrating its 150th Anniversary at 10:15 a.m. The guest preacher on that day will be the Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, our Stated Clerk of General Assembly. He is known to be one of the best preachers in the Presbyterian denomination. Our Synod Executive Elona Street-Stewart will be greeting the congregation on behalf of the Synod of Lakes and Prairies. Our Transitional Executive Presbyter the Rev. Rick Carus will be greeting the congregation on behalf of the Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys as one his last official acts before he retires. The Chancel Choir and Youth Choir will be singing. Those that have been members of the Redwood Church for fifty years or longer will be honored. Following the service a group picture will be taken of everyone that is there. Then there will be a catered roast beef dinner, followed by a cake reception from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. 

I realize you all have your own worship services on Sunday morning but you are welcome to come to our cake reception to have fellowship and meet J. Herbert Nelson. If you are able to come on Sunday morning please let us know by March 20th so we order enough catered meals. Everyone is welcome. 

Pastor Scott Prouty


Save the Date!
June 17-18, 2017
Centennial celebration for First Presbyterian Church of Edgerton

We invite friends and family to help celebrate 100 years of service to the Lord! Information is on the church's website: or contact Wendy Evink at 507-442-5061.
Resourcing the Presbytery: Sharing Some "Goodies"

At the recent Annual Event of the Association of Presbyterian Church Educators (APCE) in Denver, the Rev. Roberta Dodds-Ingersoll of Libertyville, Illinois, offered a workshop that introduced On-Line Resources for Christian Formation. Over the next few week, portions of a curated list of resources will be shared here in the Valley Bridge. We invite you to check out these resources, and encourage you to share other resources that you have found helpful in your congregation.
This week - Bible Resources:
Next week - Prayer and Devotional resources.
Coming Soon: The Academy

Simply put, it is a series of 11 courses designed to develop well equipped, thoughtful people to better serve councils in a variety of capacities. For some this may lead to becoming commissioned ruling elders (CREs) while others delight in learning and growing as a leader.  We are lining up some of the finest instructors we can find! The brochure
Pastoral Leadership Opportunities

The following congregations within the bounds of our presbytery are currently seeking pastoral leadership:

Randall Presbyterian Church, Randall, Minnesota  - Pastor
   Ministry Information Form - 03892.AC
Crosslake Presbyterian Church, Crosslake, Minnesota  - Interim Pastor
   Ministry Information Form - 11950.AC0

The Ministry Information Forms for these opportunities are posted on the Church Leadership Connection web site --
Register Now!
for the
Healthy Congregations Workshop
from Lombard Mennonite Peace Center
hosted by
First Presbyterian Church
St. James, MN
March 24-25, 2017
Registration deadline - March 12
Follow the link below for a brochure and registration information.

Note:  there is a Super 8 Motel in St. James for people who want to make overnight arrangements. They do fill up, so it is good to make reservations early. They will honor a church's tax free ID for folks to save a little money. Call 507-375-4708 for reservations.
Ring a Bell? First Presbyterian Church of Lake Crystal earns recognition in Red Kettle Campaign
The First Presbyterian Church of Lake Crystal congregation earned the a few distinctions. Most bell ringing hours (55) by any group. And most total dollars raised by a group at $3,680.99. Red Kettle Campaign "Oscar" for the nth (at least 7) year in a row. Way to go, First Presbyterian Church, Lake Crystal! Pictured are Rev. Randy Lubbers (right) at the Salvation Army banquet with Program and Community Relations Coordinator Leslie Nibbe-Johnson.
Grants Available!

The Mission Redevelopment Committee of First Presbyterian Church, Madelia is seeking applications to receive grants. Qualifying projects may include:
  • Development, formation, or redevelopment of Presbyterian churches
  • Evangelism or recruitment of new members
  • New building construction
  • Renovations or capital improvements
  • Presbyterian-sponsored mission projects
A written letter of application describing the project and the amount of grant being requested should be submitted to the Mission Redevelopment Committee and postmarked by March 31, 2017. Grants will be selected and distributed in April.
Mission Redevelopment Committee
PO Box 156
Madelia MN 56062
Summer Youth Mission Opportunity

SUMMER YOUTH MISSION OPPORTUNITY The Rocky Mountain Mission program began in July 2014 and is offering six weeks of service opportunities for youth again this summer. Youth who travel to Nederland, Colorado, will have the chance to share in a few different projects that might include working on homes in need of repairs, helping with VBS, providing outreach to the homeless community, adopting the local cemetery, continuing recovery following floods and fires, and more.
For information, visit , or call Pastor Hansen Wendlandt at 303.258.3579.
Register today!
 Six New Things: February 28
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