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 22-28
First Presbyterian Church of Canby
Elders: Doug Frazeur, Pat Gubrud, Karen Houtman (Clerk of Session), Tom McCammon, Genevieve Tyykila, Barb Vanstrom
Deacons: Dede Burlingame, Marian Cordiner, Chuck Houtman, Kathy Merrill, Jody Olson, Betty Rehn
Treasurer/Bookkeeper: Marge Frazeur
Custodian: Robin Enstad
Pastor: Rev. Steve Tyykila

Prayer Concerns:
For those suffering from the COVID-19 virus
For those in our congregation who are grieving the loss of a loved one
For the economy and all those whose jobs are affected by the current turmoil
For those in our community with food insecurity

Currently all in person church events have been cancelled or postponed. We are happy to be able to share our services on our Facebook page:
Lenten Prayers
Jesus, Lamb of God, when You walked this earth You did not consider heavenly equality, though that was Yours to choose, but took the role of servant, and in humility and obedience allowed the rough nails of our sin to be hammered into Your flesh for the sake of our salvation. And so it is as we come before you with every knee bowed and every tongue confessing, we worship and praise You as Lord of all, to the glory of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the Three in One. Amen.

Based on Philippians 2:6-11
Submitted by Commissioned Ruling Elder Deb Klaassen
First Presbyterian Church of Iona
A Message from SanDawna
March 17, 2020

Dear Pastors and Clerks,

Greetings in the strong name of Jesus Christ. The impact of COVID-19 is resulting in an unprecedented global response to reduce its spread. Governor Tim Walz has declared a State of Emergency requiring non-essential retail outlets close, placing restrictions on restaurants to carry out only, and schools and entertainment centers to close for a period. The Church is asked to join the efforts of community mitigation by practicing social distancing. Recommendations about the size of gatherings continue to change as researchers work to find resolutions to the virus. Our prayers go out to all impacted. Our highest concern is to put no one at greater risk, especially those most vulnerable, the elderly and those with underlying health conditions.

Each congregation must decide how it is called to participate in reducing the spread of the virus. Within the Presbyterian Church (USA), the councils (sessions) of the church are the body that will decide whether it is appropriate to continue with in-person worship. The presbytery and the national offices will offer advisory opinions. Minnesota Valleys Presbytery is advising a period of social distancing. We have come to this decision after much prayer, counsel, and the advice of the national offices and the wisdom of our moderators, pastors and staff.

In this high Holy Season, we fully understand the challenge you face. Still, with every challenge comes an opportunity. Worship will not end. We are not closing church, nor are we keeping people from showing compassion. Rather, we are called to employ the part of the Ordination Vows that speaks of “energy, intelligence, imagination, and love.” Online worship will be provided using various platforms. For those who need different options, we encourage telephone conversations for prayer, sharing the Word, and pastoral care. Remember, prayer transcends brick and mortar and genuine concerns can be felt through words spoken at the right time.

It seems that the most important ministry we can provide is caring for others and ourselves. Several times this week the words “For Such A Time As This” have been rehearsed. Although we have not experienced COVID-19 before, we have experienced the global challenges of war, disease, the Great Depression, and uncertain days. We are people of resilience and faith. We are also called to be the voice of calm and reason. Already, families with limited access to loved ones in nursing homes and hospitals are afraid and worried. People without health care worry that they will receive less care than those with insurance. Employees worry that they will lose their jobs if they do not continue to work. Business owners worry about the economic impact of the virus. Is there a word from the Lord during this time? The answer is yes, as always. There is a word from the Lord even now. Our greatest resource is Scripture and faith.

Pastors are invited to share sermons each week with the presbytery. The sermons will be posted on YouTube and Facebook. Additionally, the presbytery website will include resources to assist congregations in preparing online worship. Zoom will also be available for use. To schedule a time for meetings, worship or Bible Study contact Karen Lange. Bi-weekly, pastors will gather via Zoom for prayer and conversation; see the Valley Bridge for meeting times. We ask that grace be extended to church employees and pastors to care for themselves and family during this time. Individuals should be granted appropriate flexibility to work remotely and should receive adequate leave if quarantined.

You are in our prayers. We are available to assist you in whatever way we can.

Grace and Peace,

Rev. Dr. SanDawna Ashley, Executive Presbyter
Rev. Pamela Prouty, Stated Clerk
Rev. Anna Williamson, Presbytery Moderator
Rev. David Lick, Presbytery Vice-Moderator

  1. PCUSA Office of Theology and Worship's Pastoral Statement on "Faith not Fear"
  2. "Light Our Way"(a longer resource for Spiritual Care in times of Disaster)
  3. 10 Guidelines for Pastoral Care during a coronavirus outbreak (Christian Century)
  4. Pastoral Statement on the Coronavirus

  1. Worship in the Midst of an Outbreak (a 1-2-3 type resource for thinking about providing worship on-line from the Greater NW Area of UMC)
  2. 4 Tips for using Zoom and video conference call software to stream your event
  3. Guidelines on Live-streaming (PCUSA)

  1. CDC Resources for Community and Faith-Based Leaders 
  2. World Health Organization (WHO)
  3. Presbyterian Disaster Assistance Guidance for Congregations
  4. Presbyterian Disaster Assistance Preparedness for Pandemics
  5. Minnesota Department of Health

Public Theology for the Common Good

"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 May 12 Stated Presbytery Meeting has been canceled.
Report from Our
Visitors to Guatemala:
Cooking Lesson
by Rev. Elaine Boyd
First Presbyterian Church
Amboy MN
While helping paint some of the new rooms built on the second floor of “Jesus, the Rock of Ages” Presbyterian Church in Xela, Guatemala, I was drawn to the sound of laughter and an unfamiliar “tap, tap, tapping” sound. 

Walking into another section of the upstairs floor, I found a group of women of the church, expertly patting out tortillas between their hands. They were then wrapping the tortillas around a piece of chicken dredged in a sauce, and then wrapping the whole things in a damp banana leaf to be put into a big pot over an open fire and steamed for an hour. Intrigued, I stood and watched for a while and asked in my broken Spanish if I could take a photo, to which they readily agreed. Before I knew it, however, I was handed a ball of dough and there commenced my chuchito-making lesson. As you might imagine, I was not nearly so expert as those experienced cooks. I was joined in my fumbling by Colette Meidinger from Winnebago, and there was a lot of laughter and picture taking of us as we each made one to go in the pot. Although language was a barrier to some communication, it was no barrier to graciousness and generosity and Christian sharing between Presbyterians---different, but so alike in many ways.

Although women are not yet so visible in the leadership of the Guatemalan Presbyterian Church, their leadership is strong and their contribution to the work of the church is extensive. Hearing about the women’s organization, both locally and nationally, I realized we could learn a lot from their organization, their seriousness, and their commitment to outreach, visitation and prayer---not to mention their generosity and sense of fun. Let us continue to pray for and support these sisters in Christ.
Prayer List

  • From Rev. Steve Boots: Just an update on Betty’s recovery. She is at home, still on one antibiotic. She sleeps a lot but is feeling better. We do have home health care and continued support and prayers from family, friends and our community of faith. We will be housebound until the 23rd or maybe longer. Blessings to all who are feeling the stress of lives upended and an uncharted future.
  • 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?
Ordination Anniversaries
“But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim Him?”  (Romans 10:14 NRSV)

We recognize March ordination anniversaries of the following ministers. Thank you for your service to the Church .
John Lindholm: 15 years
Chris Conlin: 9 years
Tom Voigt: 4 years
Kathy Blair: 6 years
Thomas Gard: 37 years
Easter Is a New Way of Life

The Stated Clerk, J. Herbert Nelson and Presbyterian Mission Agency President, Diane Givens-Moffet will hold an online Easter service from the chapel of 100 Witherspoon in Louisville for those of you who would like to be part of a national experience. Easter is a new way of life — in which we are “dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 6:11) and called to “walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4). Live Streaming Information to follow in the next couple of weeks.

Letter from the PC(USA) National Offices
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
Executive Search

The Search Committee for the Iowa Tri-Presbyteries Leadership Team is actively seeking candidates who might consider a call to serve the presbyteries of Des Moines, North Central Iowa and Prospect Hill as one of their three executives. If you or someone you know may be interested in such a position or interested in learning more, please connect them with the search website:  Letters of interest are being received until April 24.  
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 --