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 March 15-21
Cambria Presbyterian Church
Rev. Penny Johnson
Commissioned Ruling Elder Sue Goebel
Co-Clerks: Ronelva Dauer and Keara Curtiss
Session members: Gene Rosenau, Keara Curtiss, Gene Walters, Gloria Bidwell, Howard Jones, Danielle Deopere, Verna Walters, Tim Stokes, and Darin Altmann

Prayer Concerns:
For those grieving from loss of family members; for the ill and homebound; for our 100th anniversary, but also remembering the small churches around us that closed.
Public Theology for the Common Good
Led by Phil Tom
Tuesday, March 24
Hope Presbyterian Church
7730 N Shore Dr, Spicer
$15 for Presbyterians
$25 for others

"Public theology is the Christian engagement and dialogue within the church and especially with the larger society. It seeks the welfare of the state and a fair society for all by engaging issues of common interest to build the common good. This is Christian theology that talks with society, not just to society." (Wikipedia)
The reality is that many congregations are disconnected from their communities. In our workshop, we will explore how the tool of faith-based community organizing can help your congregation to learn how to connect with and to serve your community.

Phil currently serves as Executive Director for the International Council of Community Churches, and as a consultant to The Riverside Church in New York City. He has served in the following capacities: the PCUSA General Assembly for 10 years as Associate for Urban Ministry Office, and three years as Associate for the Small Church Ministry Office (urban, rural, suburban); Co-Director of McCormick Theological Seminary Church and Community Ministry Project; pastored for 27 years with congregations in Chicago, St. Paul, MN, Indianapolis, IN and New York City; and as Director of the White House Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnership Office in the U.S. Department of Labor in the Obama Administration.

To register, email Karen Lange
Lenten Prayers
Gracious and Merciful God, you are our shepherd and we your flock! 

As many and various things of our lives and things of this world may scatter us in various directions, gather us to yourself. May the fear that this world provides due to runaway Coronavirus (covid-19), mass shootings, metastasized terror threats, financial upheavals, political storm clouds, countries and states going into states of emergency, and personal crises that rock to the bottom of our lives, leaving us and this world with constant earthshaking possibilities. Help us to remember that throughout Your Holy Word, you assure us and call us to trust in you. Over and over again we hear “Do not fear.” 

What are we to do? Where are we to turn? Help us to hear once again your word as it reminds us to “Trust in the Lord with all our hearts and lean not on our own understanding; but in all of our ways to submit to you and you will make our paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6). Let us receive your peace that surpasses all understanding (Phil.4:7) to enable us to be ports in the midst of whatever storm may threaten.  Let us bring the wondrous message of good news that in all of creation. There is nothing that shall separate us from your love given to us through your Son, Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:39).

In the merciful and powerful name of Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.

Submitted by Rev. Randy Knuth
First Presbyterian Church of Osakis
Report from Our
Visitors to Guatemala:
A Day at the Christian School
by Judy Jackson
Wow, what a wonderful experience it was for me to accompany six devoted Presbyterians on such an incredible journey.

One of the highlights of this journey was a visit to a Christian school where we met 283 students grades 1-12. They had prepared a two hour plus program for us that start with respective pledge allegiances and singing of our national anthems. No need to tell you which group shined the most. Each class had prepared a presentation, whether it was reciting, singing or dancing. One of our favorites was a couple of Mayan dances performed in their native costumes. How fortunate we were to have these experiences. After the program the scholarship was presented to a very appreciative young lad.
Pastor Mark's 6'3" son accompanied us on this trip too. He was a rock star, the girls were swooning over him and the boys stared in amazement, it was a sight to behold! Before we departed they served us bananas, cantaloupe, and watermelon , very refreshing as it was midday and very hot.

Although I couldn't speak the language, hugs and smiles are universally understood.
Iona hosts Lenten Meal and Worship
SanDawna attended the meal and worship service at the First Presbyterian Church of Iona on Wednesday, March 4. Six churches gathered, including Worthington; Round Lake; Brewster; Reading; Church of the Brethren; Iona. They begin with a light supper at 6:00 and services begin at 6:45. The sermon focused on Hope in a Culture of Fear.
Pastors and Clerks of Session: Survey Participation Requested from PCUSA Research Services
Last week congregations for whom we have emails began receiving invitations to participate in a short new “Church on the Corner” survey about their mission involvement and mission interests. Summaries of responses will go to Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) World Mission and other PC(USA) ministries and will help these ministries tailor their programs for these congregations.
The email invitations went to a mix of church email addresses, clerk of session email addresses, and pastor email addresses. According to our web survey software, the survey takes about six minutes to complete.

I wanted to let you know about our outreach to your congregations and ask you if you might help us remind congregational staff and other congregational leaders about this opportunity. With that in mind, I am going to attach a Church on the Corner logo and embed a link to the survey here:

The participation of every congregation in the survey is critical for enhancing mission partnership among congregations, presbyteries, and PC(USA) national ministries.

I appreciate support from you and your congregations during what I know is a busy time, with Lent, public health concerns, and so on.

Engaging Leaders: A Spring Learning Opportunity for Presbyterians
March 28-29

Join this weekend class to explore what it means to be an engaging leader and to engage other leaders. This course will be led by the Rev. Dr. Deb DeMeester who is Director of Leadership Development for the Synod of Lakes and Prairies. 

Who should consider taking this class?
  • Anyone who wants to grow in their faith and understanding of being Presbyterian
  • Session members and Deacons
  • Committee chairs
  • Commissioned Pastors/Ruling Elders
  • Those who might be called to be commissioned pastors/ruling elders

What will this class involve?
  • This class will explore how we, as individuals, have unique gifts and preferences in our leadership, how congregational systems and size impact the way things work, how to manage the gifts, pitfalls and preferences of conflict, as well as the importance of faith formation, self-care and boundaries for all leaders.
  • There will be one book to read in advance and two instruments to take prior to the class.
  • Class will meet at Lakeshore Center in Milford, IA or by Zoom if your presbytery has a group of 5 or more interested in the class.  Saturday 9:00-5:00 and Sunday 9:00-3:00.

What is the cost?
  • $150 plus room/board for those who choose to stay at Lakeshore Center. For those interested in the whole series of 11 classes in the Academy, there is a discount. 

Who is sponsoring this?
  • This is a class offered through The Academy, a series of classes for church members designed to deepen faith as participants encounter Christ in a new way. For those who are called or are exploring a call to become a Commissioned Pastor, this is a program that can help that happen. The Synod of Lakes and Prairies and the Presbyteries of Minnesota Valleys, North Central Iowa and Prospect Hill are the current sponsors of the Academy.

How do I register?
Prayer List

  • From Rev. Steve Boots: Betty has been released from the ICU but is still at United Hospital She will be there for about a week. She has been feeling better but is still weak. Hopefully we can be home soon. Thank you for your prayers and concern. We feel blessed to have such a caring community of faith.
  • 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."
Transformation Going Beyond Change Survey

We have created a survey to help us understand benefits and insights gained from our Transformation Going Beyond Change events over the past year. Will you please take a moment and answer the question in the survey we have linked?
Race and Christianity in the United States Video Series Available

by Dr. Sarah Ruble, a Ruling Elder at Union Presbyterian Church of Saint Peter and professor of religion at Gustavus Adolphus College

Her website:

Race and Christianity in the United States is an eight-part video series on the history of race and Christianity. It focuses on black/white relations and covers important episodes from before the beginning of the American colonies (we have to go back to Europe and Africa to talk about the development of race) to the 2016 election.

I designed this curriculum with church groups in mind. I know how hard it can be to find good, accessible material for Sunday School classes and small groups–particularly if your adult education budget is limited! I also know that many Christians want to explore history, but don’t know what sources to trust or where to begin amid the reams of books and articles on their topic. This series brings together some of the most current, respected research on race and religion in a format that is easy to understand.

I have also created a curriculum to accompany the video series. The curriculum includes a pre-session, reflection questions for each episode, and episode outlines. The curriculum does not demand any prep (unless you count printing and copying the pages), although having a leader willing to facilitate the sessions might be helpful.

If you are going to trust me as your historical guide, you should probably know something about me. My name is Sarah Ruble and I am an associate professor of religion at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, MN. I earned a Master’s of Theological Studies from Duke Divinity School and a Ph.D. in U.S. Religious History from Duke University. (I also, for several years, pretended to care about A.C.C. basketball.)

I am both an active scholar and teacher. I am the author of one book, The Gospel of Freedom and Power: Protestant Missionaries in American Culture After World War II. I’ve written articles for publications like Christianity Today and Christian History as well as book chapters for academic books. In addition to teaching undergraduates, I also present for lay audiences–which is how I came to this project. Although my primary area of specialization is not the history of race and Christianity, I found that many people wanted to learn more about it. As I presented on the topic, I saw a need for easily accessible sources, particularly for church groups. Hence this video series.

I also created the series because I’m a Christian*. I care deeply about the church and the witness of the faith in the world. As a Christian, I believe that we are called to be people who tell the truth about ourselves and the world. That means, sometimes, that we will have to say difficult things about the past and its implications for the present. It sometimes means saying that people who we love or who were a lot like us got some things very wrong (thankfully, it also means acknowledging that some times people got things very, even miraculously, right).

I know, as a historian, that learning about the past can be challenging. I also know, as a Christian, that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. Of all people, we should be the first to confront hard truths, because we know that we are safe in God, and that, no matter what we must confront or the way the past challenges us, we cannot shake the love that God has for us, our neighbors, our enemies, and the world.

(*I’m an historian of U.S. religion so I know that some folks will want to know a little bit more about what I mean by “Christian.” I mean that if you are looking for me between 9 a.m. and noon on a Sunday morning, your best bet is to check for me at my church and that I can–to steal a line for Justin Welby–affirm the Nicene Creed without crossing my fingers.)
Four Students from Dubuque Seminary Looking for Summer Internship

Are you open to serving as a ministry learning site? If so, students from Dubuque Seminary are looking for summer placements. Congregations will provide housing and a monthly stipend. Summer internships are paid at the rate of $1,000 a month. The work-week includes 40 hours, Sunday and mid-week worship leadership, mission engagement and mentor conversations. Students will receive training in pastoral ministry, sit on the session with voice, participate in the presbytery, be assigned to a presbytery commission, engage in community outreach, and participate in the presbytery transformation training. Additionally, interns will receive a mentor.
A successful internship will include a learning experience that prepares new leaders to serve the church with a greater sense of vocational clarity. Interns will gain cultural competence, develop skill in adaptive leadership, and grow in their pastoral identity.

For More Information:
Rev. Dr. SanDawna Gaulman Ashley
Executive Presbyter
An Invitation to Spiritual Leaders

This is your invitation to submit a short video of yourself offering a meditation of your favorite passage from the Bible for the Presbytery YouTube channel. If you are interested, please contact Steve Tyykila ( ) or Andy Davis ( ). We'll give you more parameters and information, but we are looking for informal (not from the pulpit), personal, short (less than five minutes) videos on your favorite passage that you can record from your phone or computer. Thanks!
Transformation Testimonies Sought

We are preparing the reporting for the Transformation Going Beyond Change Initiative grants. Please think about how you have been using the information gleaned from these events and email Karen or SanDawna a short testimony about how you have benefited.
Pastor Cohort Groups

We are creating pastor cohort groups for interested pastors. Each group will meet monthly via Zoom. The format will include prayer, a book study, case studies, special speakers, cross-pollination of resources and active listening. Interested? Email SanDawna
Pastoral Leadership Opportunities

First Presbyterian Church, Ashby  - Pastor, yoked parish
Ministry Information Form -  12363.ABO

First Presbyterian Church, Fulda  - Solo Pastor
Ministry Information Form -  03782.AD1

First Presbyterian Church, Lake Crystal - 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 --
Church and COVID
Learn Respect
Teach Refugees