The Valley Bridge
The weekly newsletter from the
Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys
March 22, 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 26 - April 1
First Presbyterian Church of Holland
Session Members: Lou Perli (Clerk of Session), Mary Huber, Larry Thomsen and Brian Winsel
Trustees:  Rod Perli, Bill DeZeeuw, Kyle Minett, Terry Smith and Darrell Stout 
Treasurer: Barbara Winsel
Custodians: Marlyn Kuyper and Laura Perli
Sunday School Superintendent:  Barbara Winsel
Sunday School Leaders: Kelli Wiering, Lou Perli, Rev. Lynne Matthews, Alvin Buysman
Youth Leader: Rev. Lynne Matthews
Young Adult Leaders:  Ron and Cathy Moffitt
Music Leader:  Judy Oldemeyer
Audio-Visual Coordinator:  Deb Wolfswinkle
Newsletter Publication:  Anita Thomsen
Women's Association - Lou Perli, President
Pastors: Rev. Kendrick Matthews (Pastor Emeritus) and Rev. Lynne Matthews
God continues to bless this congregation with new people attending and new opportunities to serve God and the community. In cooperation with the Holland Christian Reformed Church, we celebrate weekly Lenten services on Wednesday nights. Our Sunday School and Youth Group have been very active: several of the youth are looking forward to camp again this summer and are involved in fundraising to help their efforts. The youth are also treating the congregation to their annual "Congregation Appreciation Day" and are busy organizing that event. Our music director, Judy Oldemeyer, has organized a Community Choir which is practicing for an Easter Cantata (to be performed both in our church and at the Pipestone Christian Reformed Church).  

Prayer Concerns:
  • Our members and friends who are house-bound or in care facilities
  • Those who are ill, including Rev. Kendrick Matthews
  • As many of the older members "graduate to heaven" and other individuals join with us, the dynamics of the congregation is changing. Please pray that we will have wisdom to know how to meet the needs of all.  
  • Pray that the surrounding communities may see the love of Christ through the life of this congregation. 

The Word from Rick: Boundaries

As part of its work, our presbytery's Commission on Leadership developed a new document entitled "Separation Ethics for Pastoral Leaders: When Pastoral Leaders and Congregations Say 'Good-bye'." It is still being tweaked, as we use it with congregations in this presbytery. On Tuesday night of this week, Lynn Olson and I will be sharing it with another one of our congregations, as they prepare for a pastoral transition.
We are keenly aware that pastoral relationships are unique in many ways, and when they come to their ending, there is such a web of experiences and deep spiritual relationships from which to disconnect, that it often makes the leave-taking difficult and painful. But, "take our leave" we must, so that new chapters can be written.
It was in response to the challenges of leave-taking and separation that are faced when a congregation and pastoral leader come to the end of their journey together, that the commission did this work. We are aware that at the close of a pastoral relationship, there is a need to affirm what those years of ministry have accomplished and celebrate the journey; yet at the same time, acknowledge that the journey has concluded and that healthy boundaries should be established so that the transition time can move comfortably forward and there will be room for new pastoral relationships to be created and to succeed. Healthy transitions are a critical part of creating healthy congregations and ministries.
In a short time, I will be concluding my ministry among the saints of this presbytery, and it will be necessary for me to pay attention to certain boundaries and commitments, as well. I recognize that I will need to let go of the responsibilities that I have carried both as the presbytery leader and as a teaching elder member of this presbytery. I have been in conversations with both the Personnel team of the Commission on Presbytery Operations and the Commission on Leadership. We will be creating a version of the Separation Agreement that will fit my situation, and recognizing that there are three loose ends here that still need my attention, the agreement will contain those exceptions and include a pastoral provision that I will adhere to:
The exceptions:
    1. I will be able to complete my commitment as PNC Liaison to First Presbyterian Church of Osakis and help them install their new pastor who won't arrive until after my retirement begins
    2. I will be able to complete a project for the Finance Team that we cannot complete before April 1 as a colleague in the project needs to attend to tax season
    3. I will be available to share an initial conversation/consultation with the new Executive Director of Presbytery Mission, once that person is in place
The pastoral provision:  I will be able to participate in the worship and fellowship life of First Presbyterian Church in Willmar as my "home church." It will be nice to be a visiting parishioner and continue to hang out with the guys in the Tuesday morning Bible study group.
Those will be the places that my boundaries, and the presbytery's, will have some give. I will not be available to preach, consult with congregations, or be involved in the work of the presbytery going forward. That will be the work of those who continue guiding the life of the presbytery - our staff, our Stated Clerk, and our elected and volunteer leadership. When I gather with friends and colleagues for the occasional lunches, or hoppy libations, all conversations will be on non-presbytery topics.
I may not have said it often enough, but I deeply appreciate the people of this presbytery. I am grateful for the many Teaching Elders and Ruling Elders who have committed themselves to faithfully live out their ordination vows, including that one that commits those in Ordered Ministry to serve in the councils of the church - both in their communities and beyond. Amid busy lives filled with other commitments that could easily become excuses for not taking on a role with the presbytery, these saints of Minnesota Valleys believe in what we are doing and continue to give of their time and energy to serve presbytery and its congregations. They continue to look outward! We are a connected people. We need what each individual brings to the table and what each congregation invests in the ministry of this presbytery. There is so much more that God needs y'all to do! Together, we will be stronger and better!

Grace and Peace,
On the Road with Rick
March 21 - Session Meeting, First Presbyterian Church, Foley
March 26 - Worship Visit, First Presbyterian Church, Redwood Falls
Dear Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys

I am happy to report that the search for our new Executive Director of Presbytery Mission continues with several candidates currently being interviewed and vetted.

However, it is evident that our new executive will not be in place before Rick's retirement. To bridge this gap, the Presbytery Life Commission has asked Pamela Prouty to serve as "Temporary Head of Staff." Her duties will include doing executive checks as necessary in support of congregations seeking pastors, answering questions and referring people to the appropriate commission, supporting the work of the commissions and committees, serving as head of staff, and other related tasks. Her salary will be an additional $1200 per month for an approximate ten hours of additional work per week. She will begin April 1, 2017.
Please welcome Pam to this role and please continue to pay as we search for our new executive.

Grace and Peace,

Andy Davis
TE, Union Presbyterian Church
Saint Peter, MN
Invest in Hope and Justice with SDOP

By Jim Krapf

You have heard the axiom: "Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day; teach a community to fish, you enable them to feed themselves for a lifetime." But there is more. Going beyond skills to the justice of opportunity raises the question: "Who owes and controls the lake?"
SDOP (Self Development of People) projects address that question. These implementations respond not only to hunger and disaster relief, but to empowerment of people.

In the Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys, we are doing that with African immigrant communities in St. Cloud and Worthington. We are supporting the ways people, pastored by Rev. Elizabeth Tot and Rev. Owar Ojulu, are improving their lives.

The South Sudan Cultural/Language project in St. Cloud is focused on language and cultural education with exchanges between two generations. The parents are learning English and the U.S. culture. Their children are learning the Nuer language and culture. This helps facilitate effective conversation between the two generations, assists parents in interpreting at medical appointments, paying bills, completing job applications, and securing drivers' licenses. It also enables the generations to worship together.

In Worthington the project is a coffee shop/refugee learning center for African immigrants. It will be a safe place to meet, reconnect, host a computer section, and receive speakers on subjects of securing jobs, holding families together, the values of staying in school, and navigating social and health care systems. It will also be a hub for cultural awareness.

SDOP Sunday is April 2; it is also "Justice Sunday" on our Presbyterian calendars. This is significant. As our MVP's SDOP Committee chair, I pass on our new national director Alonzo Johnson's encouragement to use the resources they have developed to understand the impact and to promote the support of One Great Hour of Sharing offering. Incredible stories of community building, self-reliance, and hope invite you to engage in creatively addressing some of the most important issues of our time. When you watch the news, you need not only feel sad for desperate people; you can feel good that you are making a difference.

Go to the PCUSA website and search OGHS and SDOP. Download and plan to use a Minute for Mission, sing a SDOP hymn, tell the stories, pray--and give generously. It matters.

As Alonzo Johnson says, "SDOP is about people investing in people, which means we share in the work of making justice and hope real for all in our communities."
Youth of Guatemala

By Dennis Peterson-Harrison Presbyterian Church-Spicer
The Occidente Presbytery Office was the host again on February 3, 2017 where more meetings took place. One meeting in particular had a huge impact on me. Six young adults and their advisor met with us. The secretary of the group presented us with a written plan of their proposed projects that they wish to carry out.
This is a brief summary of the report of UJPRO (Union of Reformed Presbyterian Youth of Occidente)
1.  "Blessed Women" (to celebrate Mothers' Day - always May 10 in Guatemala)
Biblical basis - Proverbs 31: 10-31
Rationale: The most important responsibility that God has given women is to bear children and be a spiritual influence in their lives.
On Sunday, May 14 they plan to visit the maternity ward of the regional hospitals to take baby supplies and a New Testament to the new mothers. This should help the youth show the example of Jesus to love and respect ones mother and to learn to appreciate all of the effort and love that mothers use in raising their children. They will share a devotion with the recipients of the gifts.
They plan to distribute 75 bags of gifts (toothbrush, toothpaste, roll of toilet paper, liquid baby soap, disposable diapers, bath soap, NT.) They project that each bag will cost 23 quetzales for a total of 2,250 quetzales. There are three regions in Occidente (the central region - Xela, Huehuetenango, and the southern region - Boca Costa) The 75 bags will be divided among them and presented in the maternity wards of the corresponding regional hospital. They will say a prayer with the mother receiving the gift.
2.  "The Beauty of Old Age" (to celebrate the day of the Grandparent - June 26)
Biblical basis - Proverbs 20:29, Psalms 71:18
Rationale: "Old people" should be valued for their experience and respected.
On Saturday, June 24 the youth plan to visit nursing homes to build a bond with other youth from other churches, to provide some entertainment for the old folks, to show appreciation for the work that has been done by their elders in society and how it has affected the lives of the young people, to listen to the stories of the older people and learn from them, and to appreciate the value of life.
The young people will take hygiene products (e.g., toilet paper, toothbrushes and toothpaste, adult diapers, wet wipes, bath soap, disinfectant/bleach, powder detergent) and food products (e.g., rice, beans, sliced bread, eggs, sugar, salt, oatmeal, milk, etc.) These products will be distributed in a nursing home in the three regions at a cost of about 3,235.50 quetzales.
3.  "The Simplicity of Children" - The Day of the Child - October 1
Biblical base :  Matthew 18: 1-5
Rationale: Childhood is the nicest stage of humans, it is when values and habits are formed.
On Sunday, Oct. 1 the young people plan to visit orphanages to not only provide an activity for them to get to know each other better, but also to carry out the Great Commission - to take the Good News of salvation to all people that don't know Christ. This will be a day of recreation for the orphans with lunch, "dynamic" games (singing songs with "silly" movements, etc.), pinatas, surprises, and a talk about "the fear of God."
They plan to include 150 children in different orphanages in the three regions at an estimated cost of 2,838.50 quetzales.
WOW!!!  After listening to their report of what they want to do, I couldn't have been more impressed!! I was very intrigued by their enthusiasm and excitement, so I asked them a question, "how did you get involved in the church, and why is it important to you?"  Each young adult spoke of their faith journey and how it was important to them, most of them having a positive experience of being brought up in the church at an early age. They each had a deeply moving story that came from their heart. Because of the harsh conditions and difficulties in their culture, their faith was something they could hold on to and it gave them hope for a better future. This was such a different contrast from 2 years ago when I was there, as then they were just trying to get a youth group together and they did not have any formal plans. At this group's last meeting they had approximately 175 youth in attendance!!
This Youth Group is very excited about extending an invitation to youth from our MVP to come to Guatemala to do some mission projects. Another area that they are excited about is going around to their communities to evangelize and witness the Good News of our Lord and Savior.  What a great opportunity this would be for youth in both our presbyteries to come together and do a mission project.
I am very grateful that I had the opportunity to meet with these fine young women and men.  They are a blessing and serving the Lord well.

Owar Ojulu travels to Ethiopia, asks for prayers

I want to share with you my grieving and need your help and prayer. People HAVE been killed in two villages in Gambella by armed South Sudan tribes. 
I will be traveling to Ethiopia and to this region next week. Please pray for my trip and too for the children that have been kidnapped. This village needs help but I'm not sure how to coordinate as am leaving soon. I had once preached in one of these villages, a tiny village that was totally burned down. If am allowed by the government security, I will visit this village and share some pictures.

Resourcing the Presbytery: The Next Installment

This is the final 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. These are sites that all Christian Educators (and Pastoral Leaders) should know about! We invite you to check out these resources, and encourage you to share other resources that you have found helpful in your congregation.
  • APCE (Association of Presbyterian Church Educators) --
    • The official "journal" of APCE is presented in a weekly blog format.
    • Articles written by Presbyterian and Reformed educators
  • Presbyterian Church (USA) - PARC: Presbyterian Association of Resource Centers -
    • On-line Resource Center
    • Includes lists of recommended, Reformed, online resources for children, youth and adults, as well as seasonal material, that will be updated four times a year
    • Resources have been carefully vetted by a team of Presbyterian Church (USA) Directors of Resource Centers and other Christian Educators.
    • Compatible with Reformed Theology and are appropriate for the development stage of the targeted ages.
  • Presbyterian Church in Canada -
    • Christian Education resources from our partner denomination north of the border
  • Faith Formation Learning Exchange -
    • Research, practices, and approaches in Lifelong Faith Formation
  • Hope4CE -
    • A place where innovative ideas and lesson plans can be shared.
  • -
    • Christian formation and inspiration
    • Virginia Theological Seminary
  • Worshiping with Children -
    • Including children in worship using the Revised Common Lectionary
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 --
Six New Things
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