The Valley Bridge
The weekly newsletter from the
Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys
March 15, 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 19-25
First Presbyterian Church of Fulda
Session Members: Loren Carlson (Clerk of Session), Sheila Beeck, Jonathon Curry, Melissa Danneman, Jodie Getting, Mark Knorr, Mary Winter
Church Secretary: Peggy Rachuy
Treasurer: Ruth Carlson
Custodians: Doug & Becky Tuin & family
Adult Bible Study Leaders: Jodie & Cindy Getting
Sunday School Leaders: Jonathon Curry, Melissa Danneman, Nancy Fischer, Kari Fransen, Chad Ouellette, Shirlene Pritchard, Trudy Renneke
Youth Leader: Jonathon Curry
Pastor: Vacant
We are very grateful for the many families that have been worshiping and participating in church activities. Our Sunday School and Youth Group has been very active and have enjoyed many different activities. Our youth had a wonderful experience last summer on their mission trip and are making plans for another mission trip this summer.

Prayer Concerns:
  • A Fulda family who lost their home and possessions to a fire
  • Our members and friends who are in care facilities or home-bound
  • Our church as they begin the search for a new pastor
The Word from Rick: For the Inquiring Minds

Even though the words sometimes slip out of my mouth, I really am not counting the days until my work here is completed and I move on to the next chapter of my life's adventure. The fact that I need to pause for a moment to remember the current date, and then do the math, I believe, is a sign that there is no countdown clock going on inside my head, or even on my smart phone. The fact of the matter is that I have chosen not to be mentally, emotionally, or physically out the door and off the clock until the precise  time comes.
In October 2013, I made a commitment to give my full attention to serving this presbytery as long as I am here and a part of this staff team. And, as I look at my calendar and my "to do" list, there is plenty to keep me busy until the very last moment. We are still living into our different way of being - this is a transitional ministry, and that means that there is always one more opportunity to do some coaching or ironing out of details, and so that's what is being done. On Tuesday of last week, we spent time with the Personnel Team to tend to details there, and on Friday, we spent time working on finances with Alex DeVeyra from the synod office. We keep working on policies, procedures, and practices.
Over next few weeks, there will be Zoom meetings with just about every ministry team. There is a great deal going on in their worlds and we keep moving ahead, while working together to be ready for the next chapter in this presbytery's life. I owe that to you all, to my successor, and to those who will bridge the time from my departure until the arrival of the Executive Director of Presbytery Mission.
While all of this is going on, Sue and I are making plans for what comes next. As part of the staff team at First Presbyterian Church in Willmar, Sue still has numerous things on her calendar. So, we will be hanging out here for a few months more, enjoying the Minnesota spring and early summer. My first official day of retirement is Monday, April 3, and that coincides with Opening Day at Target Field. I have never skipped school, or played hooky from work in order to attend a Major League Opening Day. This year, I will get to see the Twins and Royals get the season started. I am looking forward to it!
The long-term plan is for Sue and I to head to the great Southwest. We are in the process of building a home in Rio Rancho, New Mexico that we anticipate will be ready in mid- to late-summer. Rio Rancho is a city of just under 100,000 residents, located to the northwest of Albuquerque. It really does not like to be viewed as a suburb, but I believe that most Albuquerquenos see it that way.
Why New Mexico? I have a long history with the northern part of the state, going back to my high school days. It was the place where my call to ministry began to take shape during a youth mission trip, and it is a place that feels very much like my holy ground. It is a place to which I have gone on several occasions when I need to revitalize my spirit. As Sue and I considered places where we could live, New Mexico kept sticking on our list, and in late January, we made the commitment to head that way.
We will not go as strangers, as there are people that we both know who live in the area, but we also will go to meet new people and make new connections. There are several mission agencies with whom I have worked over the years that will be good places to volunteer, and Sue will be finding those opportunities that will fit her interests. Albuquerque will provide a good place for us to learn more of the Native American and Spanish cultures - particularly the culinary and religious aspects of those people, as well as a good jumping off point to explore National Parks and Monuments across the West.
We are looking forward to the future, but right now, my focus on this presbytery and its congregations. We still have work to do!

Grace and Peace,
On the Road with Rick: The Pre-Retirement Tour
March 19 - Moment for Mission, First Presbyterian Church, Willmar
March 21 - Session Meeting, First Presbyterian Church, Foley
March 26 - Worship Visit, First Presbyterian Church, Redwood Falls
A Visit to My Prayer Partner Church

by Edith Alvarez, First Presbyterian Church of Brainerd

When our session met in December, 2016, and was making up the monthly list of prayer requests to send to our prayer partner church in Occidente Presbytery - Bethel Church in Huehuetenango -, I suggested that we add one for productive and safe travels for the delegation - including myself -  going to Occidente in February, 2017. Right away Dr. Billcar Calderón, the person with whom I correspond, responded saying that we have never gone to his church - would we, please, make an effort to go there? I told him he would have to contact the Occidente International Partnership Committee. They immediately made arrangements for this. So, on the Sunday we were in Occidente, we got an early start for the 2 hour trip to Huehue. The potholes and the speed bumps were serious and numerous! Jairo, our trusty driver, sometimes took us to the far left side of the road, sometimes we headed down the middle of the road - whatever looked less treacherous IF no vehicle was coming from the opposite direction. What an adventure!!!

God was with us and we arrived about on time to a wonderfully warm welcome by Pastor Manuel Juarez and his family, Billcar and his family, Sara Ramos (a PW member who had visited my church in 2004 when in MN with a delegation from Occidente) and the other members of the congregation. The enthusiastic music/worship part of the service got underway and we all marveled at the drummer, a 10-year old boy that didn't "miss a beat." Pastor Jim Krapf, the moderator of the Occidente Task Force, had been asked to give the sermon. He did so; I translated. Communion was served after the sermon.

When the service was over, Pastor Juarez invited the MN group to go next door with him and a deacon to serve the Lord's Supper to Pastor Bernardo Calderón, Billcar's father and the founder of the church. Pastor Calderón is basically blind due to complications of diabetes, so seldom leaves his home. However, Sunday afternoons he does make an exception and goes to a small church nearby - the 7th church that he is founding. We returned to Bethel Church for a delicious lunch prepared by Sara Ramos - the best chicken yet that we have had in Guatemala.

After checking into our hotel for that evening, we changed clothes and went with a group from church to see (climb on?) the Zaculeu Mayan ruins. Later we all went to a unique restaurant where local foods are served - and sold. Watch for the black salt from Guatemala!

The prayer partnership between Brainerd and Bethel is the only one of the original partnerships set up several years ago that is still functioning. It has helped that Pastor Mark Ford and I have met Pastor Juarez and his family, Sara Ramos and Dr. Billcar Calderón on previous trips to Occidente Presbytery. During this trip 14 churches from the Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys (MVP) were matched with 14 churches from Occidente Presbytery. It would be wonderful if people from these churches would make an effort to meet the delegation from Occidente that will be in MN for the May presbytery meeting to be held in Worthington and, possibly, join one of our next delegations going to Guatemala. Being able to put a face to the person/people/city you are in contact with, really makes the partnership more personal and meaningful. Contact me or one of the other members of the Occident Task Force if your church would like to host the delegation of 5 (plus at least 2 from MVP) coming in May. My phone: 218-963-4812; my email: As far as we know, the prayer partnerships they represent are the Fuente de Luz Church in Quetzaltenango (Xela) - Worthington, Jehova Jireh in Xela - Amboy, and El Redentor in San Felipe - Crosslake.

Bethel Church has a prayer service every Monday evening and I know they are praying for us especially during that time. Pastor Mark prays for them on Sundays and we include their prayer requests in our weekly bulletin so that individuals can pray for them. Prayer is one activity that we can all participate in that doesn't require physical stamina or money; we are told to "pray constantly." Our Guatemalan friends are diligent prayer warriors; are we?

Here is the church!

Our group and the folks from Bethel

Claudia, me, Billcar, Claudia's parents (her father is the pastor) in front of the altar - with a Jewish menorah (that was a surprise....)
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"

This is the third installment of a curated list of resources that is being in the Valley Bridge. The resource list was compiled by the Rev. Roberta Dodds-Ingersoll of First Presbyterian Church in Libertyville, Illinois.
We invite you to check out these resources, and encourage you to share other resources that you have found helpful in your congregation.
On Line Resources for Learning:
  • Theocademy -
    • High-quality video series for:
      • New Members
      • Ruling Elders and Deacons
      • Confirmation
    • Produced by the Synod of Mid-America in partnership with other synods and at least two seminaries
    • Study Guides are available for download
  • Opening Doors to Discipleship -
    • A series of four course in the Presbyterian/Reformed traditions
    • Register on web site. Get log-in from denominational representative
  • TED Talks -
    • Technology, Entertainment, and Design: ideas worth spreading
    • Search by topic:
  NEXT WEEK: Sites that All Christian Educators (and Pastoral Leaders) should know!

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 --
Guatemala Young Adult Mission Trip
June 26th-July 8th
Sign-Up Bonus
Send in $250 and this registration and a  matching $250 will be credited to your cost
Estimated Cost $1500
Sign Up Deadline-March 15-TODAY!!!
(special offer only for the first 9 who send deposit)
Benefit Connections

Would you like to...
  • better understand the Benefits Plan for your pastor(s)?
  • expand your network of colleagues with whom you can share ideas/challenges?
  • increase your understanding of the new options available for non-installed pastors and other employees?
  • have an opportunity to address your questions to knowledgeable peers facing the same challenges you have in the area of employee compensation and benefits?
  • have a chance to direct questions or concerns to senior leadership of the Board of Pensions?
  • come to Chicago in the springtime?
Put May 9th on your calendar and bring a colleague to the one-day Benefit Connections gathering at Yorkfield Presbyterian Church in Elmhurst, IL.

Go to to register or just find out more.

You'll leave with newly established peer relationships, new strategies for being the best employer you can be, along with a better understanding of the Benefits Plan of the PC(USA).
2017 Church Growth Leadership Summit
April 24-25
Westminster Presbyterian Church
21110 Sheridan Blvd
Lincoln NE 68502

Join a two-day summit to discover practical strategies to grow your church! How do churches grow? There is no "one size fits all" answer. 

A diverse group of successful church leaders will share a variety of strategies. Come, listen to these leaders, listen to other engaged churches, and listen for the Spirit to move! Your church can grow!
Featured speakers include: Susan Forshey, Ross Thompson, and Richard Brown.

You are invited to attend 
the 2017 Great Plains Wee Kirk Conference
May 1-3, 2017
at Calvin Crest Camp and Conference Retreat Center
Fremont, Nebraska
Grace to you and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: 
Do you need to be encouraged?
Do you desire to worship the Lord?
Do you long to have your soul fed?
Then this invitation is for you. And all those with whom you minister. This invitation is for Pastors/Teaching Elders, Commissioned Ruling Elders, Spouses, Ruling Elders, Deacons, Lay Leaders, Members, Friends. Anyone who loves and serves the Lord.
Come, be encouraged.
Come, worship the Lord.
Come, have your soul fed.
Grace and Peace,
Kim Nofel & Newell Krogmann
Great Plains Wee Kirk Ministries
Confirmation: Equipping children, parents and congregations for the journey of faith

A LIVE 90-minute webinar presented by Rebecca Kirkpatrick
Tuesday, March 28, 2017 at 1 p.m. CT
Webinar (with on-demand replay) - $29.95 (1-6 participants)

In the majority of our congregations, we continue to value the study and celebration that accompany confirmation as a significant rite of passage for young people, even as Sunday school attendance numbers fluctuate.  This webinar will examine our expectations for confirmation classes and why it feels like more and more students are coming to this pivotal year unprepared to have the experience we want them to have. Should confirmation be an introduction to the Christian faith and life for young people, or a moment when their faith is transformed into something new?

Together we will look at specific examples of how foundational biblical stories, liturgies or congregational traditions can be expanded into confirmation conversations. We'll explore how we can best equip and inspire parents and grandparents to take a more active role in teaching the basics of the Bible and the Christian faith to children. Drawing from " 100 Things Every Child Should Know Before Confirmation," we'll explore the building blocks that help youth get the most out of their confirmation experience. Participants will be encouraged to think creatively about how to examine and even tweak the curriculum we are using to best serve the long-term goals of Sunday school and confirmation from preschool through high school.
Participants will be able to:
  • Talk more openly and honestly with parents about how they can be partners in their child's Christian nurture;
  • Give parents simple tips and techniques to initiate good habits of Bible reading and conversation at home;
  • Work with Christian education committees and Sunday school teachers to shape curriculum to fit confirmation goals;
  • Think more creatively about students' confirmation experience.
Who should attend? This webinar will be especially helpful to pastors, Christian educators, Sunday school teachers and Christian education committee members.

REBECCA KIRKPATRICK is associate pastor for mission and adult education at Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. Rebecca is the author of " 100 Things Every Child Should Know Before Confirmation: A Guide for Parents and Youth Leaders." She served for 10 years as associate pastor at Sunnyside Presbyterian Church in South Bend, Indiana, where she focused on ministry with children and youth. Rebecca blogs at

Purchase the Webinar
If you have a group larger than six, please contact  Jana Blazek  for group pricing.
Twenty-five scholarships for this webinar have been generously provided by the Omaha Presbyterian Seminary Foundation. If a scholarship would be helpful to you or your church and you live in the following states: Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming, please contact

Purchase the webinar
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