The Valley Bridge
The weekly newsletter from the
Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys
March 29, 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: April 2-8
First Presbyterian Church of Iona

  Session: Clerk of Session Erv Smith,  Grace Hart,  Suzie Gengler,  Larry Rosenberg,  Glen Hart
  Secretary: Suzie Gengler
  Treasurer: Betty Rosenberg
  Custodian: Valerie Veld
  SS Leaders: Judy Cowan, Grace Hart
  Adult Bible Study: Deb Klaassen
  Pastor: Deb Klaassen, CLP
Our Annual Pancake Supper will be held Wednesday, April 19th from 5:00-7:00 p.m. at the church. Free will offering.
Prayer Concerns
  • Our members and friends who are ill, recovering from surgeries or are in a care facility.
  • Pray for continuing guidance and direction from the Lord as He continues to bless us in many different ways.
  • We pray for Ancy in India, our sponsored child through Compassion International, as our support for her has been discontinued because of India's government interference. We pray that she may continue learning about Christ and that her and her family's needs are met as well as her dream of becoming an English teacher.
The Word from Rick: 

Many of you will undoubtedly recognize the photo to the left. It is the title photo-clip from the final episode of my all-time favorite television series, M*A*S*H! On February 28, 1983, Colonel Sherman T. Potter, along with Majors Margaret Houlihan and Charles Emerson Winchester, Captains "Hawkeye" Pierce and B.J. Honeycutt, and Father Francis John Patrick Mulcahy departed Uijeongbu, Korea, leaving Sergeant Max Klinger and his Korean bride to seek out her family in the aftermath of the Korean War.
The title of the episode "Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen," I think, conveyed three very significant actions that were part of that final episode. "Goodbye" - first, there was the action of leave-taking. They were saying goodbye and leaving a place that had been home for eleven seasons, which in real time only encompassed about three and one-half years. During that time of war, the team forged some incredible friendships and did some amazing work. While they were happy to say goodbye to the war and all that it brought, they found it hard to leave behind the friendships and the work that was accomplished.
"Farewell" - next, there was the action of well-wishing. To say "farewell," is to wish the very best for those around. When you take your leave from those with whom you have spent a significant portion of your life, you want the very best for them. You want them to fare well and thrive in their life's new  adventures, and so the intrepid unit led by Colonel Potter took their leave, extending warm wishes for the future to one another.
"Amen" - while religion was not always cast in a positive light, the final action, I think, was that of thanksgiving and relief. The word "Amen" is an affirmation - "so be it." As the unit went its separate ways, I sense that prayers of thankfulness were offered, and with it comes a feeling of relief. Perhaps the whole experience for the M*A*S*H Unit was one continual prayer for peace, healing, wholeness, and hope, and the "Amen" acknowledged that not only that the prayer has been prayed, but that it has been heard.

With the words "Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen" many experiences of life had ended and new ones were set to begin; and this brings me to my final episode here in the Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys (three and one-half years) and in "active ministry" (42 years and a few months). In as much as "Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen" has already been taken, let's go with - "So Long, Take Care, and God Bless"!
As I strike out into my next vocational adventure, that of retirement, I first take my leave by saying "So Long or See You Around." In the Christian faith and in this family that we call the Presbyterian Church, we learn that we only say "goodbye" when we are certain that we will never return to a place or see another person, at least in this life. I may be saying "goodbye" to this position and to "active" ministry, but that's about it. I suspect that I will see many of the folks here somewhere else in this crazy world, so, no "goodbyes" - just "so long, for now - I will see you around"!
Second, "take care"! We have created some very good relationships over the past few years. I want you to have the very best that God has to offer. I want to see you thrive as individuals and as congregations. So, take care! Take care of yourselves, of your pastors and congregational leaders, and of the ministries to which God has called you and this presbytery! Take care of one another and pray for each other. Your congregations are doing some great ministry - take care and grow those ministries. At the same time, we have started some good things as a presbytery. Take care to nurture and grow what we have started. Most especially, please take care of Pam and Karen, and your new presbytery leader when they arrive on the scene.
Finally, "God bless", or even better, as we say down in my soon to be adopted home - "Vaya con Dios." "Go with God"! God holds our futures and makes all things possible. So, walk with God and seize the possibilities!
The three and one-half years here in this presbytery have been a great experience for me. It has not always been smooth, but God has blessed us on each step of this journey together. Over all, we built and re-built some relationships and restored some loose connections. The Church is living amid some challenging times, but the challenges are being met because of the faithful and committed people that God calls into the Church of Jesus Christ. Go forth in faith, with confidence and hope! God bless you all!
Hasta la vista --
Grace and Peace,
On the Road with Rick
The Unsung Hero

This is what the odometer on my car said as I returned from Redwood Falls on Sunday afternoon. Before the end of this week, I have one final short road trip, and then my travels will be concluded.
My car had 93,000 miles when I began here, and of the 107,000 miles that it has traveled since October 2013, just under 59,000 of those miles have been in the service of this presbytery.
One of my great blessings, and perhaps an unsung hero of my time in this presbytery has been "The Grey Ghost," my 2009 Mazda. The only time that it truly failed me was on Sunday, December 18, 2016. My trip to Brainerd in -27 degree weather was cut short when the thermostat gave out north of Saint Cloud.
Not only have I been surrounded by great people here in Minnesota Valleys; I have been blessed with a great car!
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 pray as we search for our new executive.

Grace and Peace,

Andy Davis
TE, Union Presbyterian Church
Saint Peter, MN
Office hours

Presbytery office hours beginning in April will be 7:30 - 3:30 Monday - Friday.
Wanted: Three Adventurers
The Young Adult Mission trip to Guatemala is looking for three intrepid adventurers to complete our team. Ages 16 to 25. June 26 to July 8, 2017. Cost is $1500, but special price of only $1250 if registered before April 14. Contact Mark Ford, 218-232-8131, or for additional information.
Partnering for Presbyterian progress: Ennenga, Krapf maintain ties with Guatemalan churches  

reprinted from the Worthington Daily Globe from March 3
article by Jane Turpin Moore

WORTHINGTON - Ten trips to Guatemala: That wasn't exactly at the top of LeRoy Ennenga's bucket list, but to date the former farmer has notched that total on his passport.

"I first went in 2006, and there were two years I didn't go - but then, there were two years I went twice," Ennenga tallied.  Ennenga's lifelong alliance with the Presbyterian denomination is at the root of his frequent travel to Central America, and while he has no firm plans at present for another trip, the active 77-year-old Worthington resident also hasn't ruled out the possibility.

A passion for ministry and mission is what has drawn Ennenga and retired Westminster Presbyterian Church pastor Jim Krapf to and from Guatemala over the past decade.
Their most recent Guatemala journey took place from Jan. 30-Feb. 10.

Presbytery partnerships

Worthington's Westminster Presbyterian Church, which Krapf served from 2004-2012, is one of 56 Presbyterian churches comprising the Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys. Serving 37 counties in the western half of the state, the presbytery oversees the churches' governance system, coordinates mission efforts and Presbyterian camps - and also includes the Occidente Partnership.

"It's an international partnership committee with the Guatemalan presbytery based in the city of Quetzaltenango - more commonly referred to as Xela," explained Krapf, 70.  Xela, Guatemala's second-largest city, rests near Guatemala's western border with Mexico.

Until last year, 60 Guatemalan Presbyterian churches were part of the presbytery with which the Minnesota group was involved; growth resulted in the division of the presbytery into three groups of 20 churches each.

"Our initial contact with these Guatemalan churches dates back to the early 1980s," noted Ennenga. "A missionary there knew a pastor in our presbytery, and the trips and exchanges started in 1994."

"Our presbytery sent people there to train lay leaders and encourage women, in particular, to take on leadership positions with the church. That's really been one of our primary focuses."
A degree of success on that front has been realized, with Ennenga reporting that five years ago, a woman within the Occidente Presbytery became the first female Presbyterian pastor in Guatemala.

Cultural awareness

Because Guatemala experiences a lengthy rainy season, with hurricanes expected from May through September, January and February are the months in which the Minnesota Presbyterians have most commonly visited.  "There's pretty calm weather during February, most times," said Ennenga.

Earlier in the partnership, Krapf said the Minnesotans stayed with host families.  "That helped build deeper relationships, but we realized we were imposing on people who had very limited resources," Krapf said. "They are always very giving, and their presbytery provides all our transportation there, which is significant."

Xela is a nearly five-hour drive from the airport at Guatemala City. Besides working with churches in Xela, the Minnesota Presbyterians typically visit churches in smaller communities outside the city.

"They provide us with most of our meals," said Krapf of their hosts' generosity. "There's lots of chicken, and beans are often on the breakfast menu. Rice is also common, and we get many varieties of fruits and vegetables because Guatemala is a major producer of those."

Laughed Ennenga, "I'm not real fond of the food - I have a touchy stomach - but I can live through it."

Nevertheless, Ennenga marvels at the ingenuity employed by Guatemalan farmers.  "It's amazing that on a 45-degree angle mountain they're raising crops," he commented. "Sometimes they tie a rope around a tree and to themselves, and work a one-acre patch of ground, or pick crops that way."

With 10 trips under his belt, Ennenga has picked up some Spanish words, but he's definitely far from fluent in Spanish.  "Edith Alvarez of Brainerd always travels with us and serves as our main interpreter," said Ennenga. "She taught college Spanish for years, and her husband is Hispanic."

Thus equipped, the Minnesota Presbyterians have done their best to help their Guatemalan counterparts advance the Presbyterian Church in Central America.

Building each other up

An early effort was ensuring a ready supply of clean water for the Guatemalan churches and their members; hence, over a five-year period, the Minnesotans installed water purification systems in five separate churches.

"I went to training in Tennessee with another guy, and yes, I was part of the hands-on installation of these systems," said Ennenga. "The systems use ultraviolet light to purify the water.  We took each system down there, bought the rest of what we needed to assemble them, and put the whole thing together at the churches."  About $1,500 was required for each water purification system, and the clean water has been a boon for the Guatemalan parishioners.

"They give free, clean water to their congregations, and to schools and others in their communities," noted Ennenga. "It's a way for them to spread the Gospel and minister to others."

"Having clean water is critical for them, and for everyone," asserted Krapf. "Healthy water, without parasites, allows people to regularly go to work or school without getting sick.  Last month we were informed that all five are functioning and allowing the churches to offer clean water as an outreach ministry."

Another years-long effort of the Occidente Partnership was constructing four basic manses, at an approximate cost of $4,000 each, for Guatemalan ministers.  "Like with the water purification systems, we always respected their input and let them pick the location and make the choices," said Ennenga.  "We'd help for a week each time; houses are built a lot different there than here, mostly out of blocks and cement due to the earthquakes and hurricanes."

"They're simple homes for the pastors, and we used some Habitat for Humanity connections to make the plans," credited Krapf.  "A really heartening experience for me was talking with one of the pastors for whom we built a manse, and he said, 'You were the spark that lit our fire.'"

Noted Ennenga, "Most of the churches have congregations of anywhere from 50 to 200 people, and one of the churches in Xela has over 1,000 members.  Some of the pastors might have only fifth-grade educations and others are graduates of theological schools, so there's a wide range," he continued.  "These people are paid very little, and for most it's likely a second job. That's why they're always asking for help with more theological education."

Hands-on approaches

Approximately every two years, the partnership attends network meetings in Guatemala City.  "We discuss the nature of our partnership, what we learn from each other and what the upcoming priorities need to be," listed Krapf.

Once in Xela, the Minnesota contingent divides its time between city churches and those in outlying areas. Last month's mission included daylong workshops in three different locations.

"In the mornings we offered classes in quilting, because their women members had requested that," said Krapf. 

Happily, Ennenga was able to readily assist.  "My mother was a quilt maker, so I know something about that," said Ennenga.  "Many of the women there had never used sewing machines, and we brought a portable Singer that we left for them to keep using."

"They were so grateful for what we had to offer," assured Krapf, "and they had a great time. 
They'll evaluate the quilting to see if it's something they might continue to do to generate more income for their families, or they might make quilts and give them to other needy people."

Afternoons were devoted to sessions on women's health issues. Two nurses in the group facilitated those informational meetings.  "They went over basic health issues and discussed symptoms of various diseases," mentioned Ennenga, while Krapf said, "I bowed out and played with the kids, but many, many questions were raised and the women showed real gratitude for getting needed and important information they hadn't previously received."

An extension of service

In addition to Ennenga and Krapf, other Westminster church members, including Chuck and Jackie Moore, Phyllis Pederson and Doris Hemp, have traveled to Guatemala as part of the Occidente Partnership in past years.

For Ennenga, involvement with the Occidente Partnership is an expansion of other service efforts. Over time, he's held many positions within his church and the Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys, and he is currently board chair of the Manna Food Pantry, but he hadn't traveled internationally until his first trip to Guatemala.

"I'd done several domestic mission trips - to Mississippi, New Mexico, Tennessee, maybe four or five times - and I was kind of hesitant to go to Guatemala, but once I was there, I got stuck on it," admitted Ennenga.  "The people are so outgoing and friendly, and they treat you like a member of the family."

Additionally, Ennenga's work with the food pantry had introduced him to many Guatemalan immigrants who now call Worthington their home.  "That piqued my interest first, and it's kind of heartwarming," said Ennenga, admitting he's now more open-minded about Worthington's diverse populace.

"I enjoy it [the Occidente Partnership], and I think it serves a purpose. My thought is, if we can help improve people's lives there, they would have less need to try to come here, and fewer families would be separated."

Krapf emphasizes that the Occidente Partnership isn't just about Minnesotans performing mission work for Guatemalans.  "We come at their invitation to equip and empower them to perform their ministries," Krapf said.


Over the course of 10 visits to Guatemala, Ennenga has noticed certain changes.  "We're starting to see more farmers using machinery; there are more backhoes and pay loaders, where earlier most of the work appeared to be done by hand," he said.  "You'd even see people mowing the roadsides with hand scythes, so I'd say there have been dramatic improvements, at least in some areas."

Ennenga also observed that the Guatemalan Presbyterian churches are reminiscent of churches here during the 1950s.  "Youth are really active in the churches there, and when I was young, church activities were a social center for everyone," Ennenga reflected. "Technology is affecting how people interact, and that's good in some ways and bad in others."

Krapf has noticed that racial discrimination against the Mayan natives is less pronounced than in the past.  "Now, in our meetings, they'll translate information for the Mayans and let them be a part of the proceedings; it's definitely more inclusive," Krapf noted.

"I also think the indigenous Mayans relate to the Scriptures and identify with Jesus in a way that is unique and refreshing, because they believe that in His culture and time on earth, He related to people like them."

Krapf was privileged to preach in a Guatemalan Presbyterian church during his recent visit, with his words translated into Spanish.  "The power of the message that God offers grace frees us to in turn be gracious to other people," stressed Krapf. "That kind of grace can bring healing to the brokenness of our world."

Both Ennenga and Krapf feel they have gained more from their association with the Guatemalan churches than they have given. 

"Personally, I've seen a strengthening of my faith in developing friendships with people who have such a joyous and trusting relationship with God in the midst of struggles like poverty, violence and natural disasters," said Krapf.  "It's a joy to worship with them."

Added Ennenga, "It's definitely made me more aware, because there was a time when I was pretty set in my ways.  I think that has changed for the better. Everybody ought to experience something like this."

Occidente Presbytery Prayer Requests (March 2017)


Edith Alvarez


From Occidente Presbytery for the Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys:

  1. For the organization of the Synod of Presbytery (includes Occidente, Altiplano, San Marcos and various indigenous presbyteries that geographically overlap the "original" Occidente Presbytery.)
  2. For the movement of the Holy Spirit in the 20 churches of Occidente Presbytery.
  3. For the wisdom of the Lord for the different pastors that are guiding the churches of Occidente Presbytery.
  4. For the programs outlined by UJPRO (the Union of Presbyterian Youth of Occidente Presbytery) and for all the youth of Occidente Presbytery.
  5. So that the youth will commit themselves to the Lord and will serve Him.
  6. For the sisters and women's societies that make up the PW so that they will be in agreement about the ministry of women. (Not all of them agree on having women pastors, elders, deacons and other leaders, even some of whom are leaders of the PW.)


From the Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys for Occidente Presbytery:

  1. For the search team for the new Executive Director of Presbytery Mission and for the candidates looking for a "good fit."
  2. For farmers as they prepare for the growing season and for optimal moisture.
  3. For the eight MVP churches in transition (of the 54 churches.)
  4. For the commitment of the youth to the Lord and for the use of their talents for His service.
  5. For issues of immigration, especially in the southern part of the Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys.
  6. For the planning of the visit of the Occidente delegation coming to help us celebrate the pact renewal of the two presbyteries at the May 16 presbytery meeting in Worthington and for their visit throughout the presbytery (May 12-26.)
Hello from Africa

Owar Ojulu

I had limited internet connection for the last four days since I arrived in Ethiopia. But yesterday, a good friend of mind tried to configure my phone and made it work so that I was able share some pictures on Facebook. I hope everything is going well with you. I am fine and healthy except for the heat and sun in Gambella, Ethiopia.  It's about 80*F in Gambella. 
I preached a sermon on peace and unity and performed a hand washing for about 500 people as a sign of purification and washing off spiritual dirt.. Isaiah  1:16-20.
The Church has been in conflict for the last 7 years, and I wanted to help them see God in their midst as they walk with God. I asked them to wash hands and come back to God in unity. It was a blessing
I had talked to one of the church leaders when I was in the United States. He invited me to do their wedding. Though I resisted not to do so, his church insisted, and I invited the couple to come to counseling sessions before their wedding. So, I will be performing a wedding ceremony in the coming weekend. 
Tomorrow, I am going to visit my father in the village and spend whole day before I come back to Gambella. My brother has two goats to butcher for my arrival as a welcoming ceremony. Everyone is excited seeing me coming back as an ordained pastor and want me back.

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 --

Additionally, there will be other opportunities arising in the near future. Please keep your eyes open as Fulda begins a pastoral search and Foley will begin seeking an Interim Pastor. 
Registration open! More info
Six New Things
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