The Valley Bridge
The weekly newsletter from the
Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys
March 14, 2018
 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 18-24
First Presbyterian Church of Doran
Clerk of Session: Riley Williamson
Treasurer: Beverly Christensen, Co signer: Mary Ann Layton
Sunday School Superintendent: Mike Wanek
Elders: Sarah Tolbert, Jerry Layton, Mike Wanek  
Music: Sarah Tolbert

Prayer Concerns
  • Elderly members dealing with health issues
  • Homebound members 
  • Our small church
  • For continuing service for our community 
  • Our country
God Sightings

"Where have you seen God lately?" is a commonly asked question. Whenever I hear this question, it is a reminder that we can get so busy that we miss what God is up to in the world. This Lent I am reading Kalas J. Ellsworth's book The Pleasure of God: Finding Grace in the Ordinary. One recurring theme throughout the book is that God can be found in most places if we are open and perceptive. The photos below show some of the places I have seen God this week.

I observed God in the congregation of Foley Presbyterian Church as the whole congregation was invited by Pastor Brock to come and lay hands on two teenage brothers that were baptized on Sunday.

Yesterday, I participated in the Joint Religious Legislative Coalition Day on the Hill Event. I provided the opening prayer for the Interfaith gathering. The day was designed to meet with State Representatives and to mobilize around social issues that most religious bodies could support.  We began with the recognition that we were one human family Christians, Jews and Muslims. Our conversations went beyond politeness to honest respect and mutual forbearance. There was little disagreement about the issues of fair housing, childcare, and economic development for rural communities. I was impressed by the high school youth who showed great interest in being an active part of social reform, like the youth from Parkland Florida who organized a nationwide School Walk Out against gun violence. The youth were at the Capitol yesterday learning about how to implement change through state legislation. They were aware that if society is to change, they will need to be a part of what happens next.

One of the most inspiring God sightings was the Streetsongs Choir. The choir is made up of homeless individuals and those who care about them. The choir participated in the event by singing songs of joy, unity, and peace. These individuals' stories included falling on hard times, poverty, displacement, and mental illness, yet their songs told a different story. They lifted the spirits of those gathered.

Book Discussion scheduled

SanDawna is inviting us to read The Pleasure of God: Finding Grace in the Ordinary by J. Ellsworth Kalas. A book discussion is scheduled for March 28 at 1:00 p.m. by Zoom. Readers, let Karen ( know your email address, and she will email out a link to the scheduled Zoom discussion. If you are new to Zoom and would like to practice getting on a Zoom conference, Karen can set one up for you, just let her know.
What is transformation? Can you define transformation in 20 words or less?
Please take a moment and answer this question as creatively as possible. All out-of-the-box thinking is welcome. Your responses will be posted on the presbytery's website and used at the upcoming Transformation Training.
Transformation 2018 Ministry Event
Location: First Presbyterian Church, St. Cloud, Minnesota
April 5-7, 2018

Please register TODAY! Hotels are filling fast due to a hockey tournament in Saint Cloud, so make your lodging reservations now. You may choose to let  Karen know your attendance plans by email, and send your $60 to the presbytery office (4055 Abbott Drive, Willmar MN 56201).
Info needed:
City/State/Zip Code
Email Address
Special needs, including dietary
Workshop Choices for
Thursday Afternoon
Thursday Evening
Friday Morning
Friday Afternoon 1
Friday Afternoon 2

The cost for registration is $60, which includes lunch on Thursday and Friday, dinner on Thursday and breakfast on Sunday -- a fantastic deal! Pastors are asked to bring a group of folks from their congregation.

Minnesota Valleys Presbytery is partnering with Midwest Initiative for Leading Transition to host a two and half day transformation training event. The event is designed for congregation teams and will focus on the complexity of leading churches through a transformation process. The faculty will address the misconceptions of the one size fits most concepts of church growth strategies. Trained in building the capacities of leaders to enter systems, coach change and resourcing various congregational systems this event will assist participants in retooling for ministry in the 21st century.

Participants can expect to return home with a greater understanding of:
  • Leading change in the 21st Century Church
  • Working within systems
  • Cultural and systemic challenges to ministry today
  • Transformation models
  • Vocational Discernment
  • Visioning for the future
Calling all Elders and Deacons! Please register (or re-register) for this postponed event.

On Saturday, March 24 from 10:00 - 2:00 p.m., officer training will be held at the First Presbyterian Church, Redwood Falls 235 East 4th Street). Deb DeMeester, Director of Leadership at the Synod of Lakes and Prairies will offer a keynote about leadership in 2018. Then after lunch clerks of sessions, deacons and ruling elders will have their own sessions led by Lynn Olson, Galen Smith and Pamela Prouty. Worship will also be part of the day. This training is for active and inactive church officers as well as anyone who wants to learn more about leadership in the local church.  Please RSVP by Monday, March 19 to Karen Lange at the Presbytery office at, so lunch can be planned accordingly.
Grants Available from FPC Madelia

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 May 1, 2018. Grants will be selected and distributed by May 31, 2018.
Mission Redevelopment Committee
PO Box 156
Madelia MN 56062
New Book of Common Worship

The Book of Common Worship, 2018 edition, will be published in 3 editions in Spring 2018. See the following link for more information:
Links to Resources

From Church Mutual:
From the Insurance Board:
Keep scrolling down the page for lots more resources!

Employee Assistance Program
from the Board of Pensions
The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a confidential resource included with your healthcare benefits at no cost to you. The EAP can help you with a variety of personal concerns, from handling everyday stress and anxiety, to dealing with disasters and other traumatic events, to achieving better work/life balance. The program offers phone, video-based, and in-person support, personalized assistance, and referrals to licensed counselors and professional resources in your community.

Who's Eligible
You must be
  • an active member enrolled in Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield PPO or EPO
  • an eligible family member (regardless of residence)
  • any person living in an active member's household (not necessarily a member of the plan)
The EAP is not available to those enrolled in the Medicare Supplement Plan.

What an educational bargain!!!

Edith Alvarez
For just $250 a year you, your family, your church, your organization could educate the child of a pastor in our sister Occidente Presbytery, Guatemala. This would include enough money to buy a uniform, a pair of shoes, books, and other school supplies and might mean the difference between a child's being able to attend school or not. Pastors in Guatemala earn very little money and are often forced to hold one or two jobs other than preaching to provide for their family. The Occidente Committee on Ministry selects which children receive scholarships based on need.

Thank you from Khaled Mazen Nouri Castillo, scholarship recipient
Occidente Presbytery, 2017
December 9, 2017
To the Scholarship Committee of Minnesota Presbytery:

Brethren, I greet you in the name of Our Savior Jesus Christ, trusting that you are having success in your labors.

The reason I am writing this letter is to thank you for the financial help that you are giving me. It has been of great benefit for my life as it permits that I can continue with my studies.

May the Lord Jesus Christ pour many blessings upon your lives.
Khaled Mazen Nouri Castillo
Note: The report from Khaled's school indicates that he did pass all of his subjects in 2017.


The school year in Guatemala begins in January; in order to get the scholarship money sent in time for preparation, it needs to be sent in October. If you would like to help, money should be sent to the Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys, 4055 Abbott Drive, Willmar, MN 56201 by early October. Indicate that it is for a Guatemalan scholarship. We do not reveal who the donors are to the recipients to avoid further requests for financial assistance, but we do try to provide you with a photo, academic record and thank you note of a recipient.

If you have any questions, contact Edith at 218-963-4812.
Steering Congregations to Formational Resources

The Commission on Congregational Transformation and Development exists to resource congregations. We have identified six critical areas: discipleship, evangelism, mission, spiritual leadership, stewardship and worship. Each area has one or two individuals who serve as point persons. The point person's goal is to steer you in the right direction toward valuable resource. Please let us know how we can come alongside of your congregation.

DiscipleshipAnne Veldhuisen,, 507-215-5617
Evangelism: Randy Knuth,, 712-540-8243
Evangelism :  Darlene Scherbing,, 320-292-2610
Mission: Richard Lawrence, , 320-260-9639
Mission: Kathy Terpstra,, 320-815-8158
Spiritual Leadership: Tom Voigt, , 612-875-6398
Stewardship: Rick Hauge, , 507-829-5227
Worship: Darin Seaman, , 320-251-8277
Pastoral Leadership Opportunities

The following congregation within the bounds of our presbytery is currently seeking pastoral leadership:

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

Randall Presbyterian Church, Randall
- Pastor
   Ministry Information Form - 03892.AC1

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

The Ministry Information Forms for these opportunities are posted on the Church Leadership Connection web site --
Synod School Catalog is online!

Registration open!

Even though the catalog is here, registration doesn't begin until March 1. For now, however, browse the catalog to see what Synod School offers, and take a look through the class list to see what interests you. In an environment of hospitality, healing and hope, Synod School offers so much.

This year ...

We're planning 76 classes for adults, running the gamut from fun to serious, from entertaining to informative, and almost always at the same time. There will also be a full program for children and youth.

Convocation Speaker:  Jason Santos
Worship Leader:  Jana Childers
Music Leader:  Hans Peterson, Dakota Road
Artist in Residence:  Gina Penn, dancer

Six New Things
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