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 April 4-10
First Presbyterian Church of Canby
Moderator: Rev. Anne Veldhuisen, Marshall
Ruling Elders: Tom McCammon, Doug Frazeur, Carol Tobin, Sherry Nelson, Keith Rehn, Karen Houtman  
Deacons: Jody Olson, Pat Gubrud, Kathy Merrill, Chuck Houtman, Kathryn Groenhoff, Erica Arends
Treasurer: Marge Frazeur
Clerk of Session: Karen Houtman
Pulpit Supply during this time of vacancy: Stan Menning, Dawson; Karen Houtman
  • We have faced the challenges of worship during the past year by recording a service on power point and broadcasting on Facebook. We are currently meeting again in person, but find the recording and broadcasting a valuable tool to reach those who are homebound or not, as yet, comfortable attending for health reasons. Each week, we email bulletins, sermons and newsletters to members with available technology and support the local postal service for those who do not have such available. 
  • The Deacons are responsible each week for delivering bulletins, when such is possible or making other contact via phone or cards when not.
  • Two of our members have developed a personal ministry of calling a different member each week or calling all members on the occasion of birthdays or anniversaries.
  • Each week we remember in prayer: a church of Minnesota Valleys Presbytery, a family/person from the congregation and Caanan Presbyterian Church Solola in Guatemala
  • We participate in all four of the Presbyterian Special Offerings and distribute printed information for each as well as present a Minute for Mission for each.
  • Our Mission Committee is funded by a monthly “Clunky Can” Sunday whereby pockets are emptied of loose change and dropped into small metal containers.
  • We help our beautiful countryside through twice a year cleaning a two mile stretch of highway.
  • We currently have at least five young people who are looking forward to attending Clearwater Forest Camp this summer having been disappointed when attendance was not possible in 2020. The congregation covers the cost of camp through donations and fundraisers.
Prayer requests for: A reliance on God’s guidance as we seek clarity for the future plan God has for us. God’s tender care and strength for those facing health issues and loss of loved ones. Confidence in discussion and ultimate decision on ownership of our manse.
Good Friday is a holiday for the presbytery staff.
Karen Lange is normally available Monday through Friday from 7:30 - 3:30, checking emails until 4:00 or 5:00 (except after 2:00 on Thursday afternoons for banking).
Short Survey from Transformation & Development

The Commission on Transformation and Development is working to make sure we are serving you and your churches the best we can in this next year. In order to best serve you, we need to hear from you! Please take this brief survey so we can plan our events and opportunities to serve the greatest needs of our Presbytery.

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. Please feel free to contact any of the members of the Commission on Congregational Transformation and Development as to what might be areas that you may be seeking assistance with locating valuable resources. Those currently serving on the Commission on Congregational Transformation and Development are: Randy Knuth, chair, Anne Veldhuisen, Michael Hartwell, Darlene Scherbing, Barb Wawrzyniak, Gerri Mitchell, Lindsay Jacaruso. Please let us know how we can come alongside of your congregation.  Please contact Randy Knuth, the chair, at 712-540-8243 or via email at Please complete the survey monkey in order that we might best know how to help serve you. 

WANTED: Youth Mission Trip ideas and information. If you wouldn't mind sharing info and ideas, please contact Randy Knuth, Pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Fulda.
Summer camp programs at Clearwater Forest are expected to resume in 2021 with new regulations in place to ensure the safety of our entire community. Register before April 1st for $25 added to your store account!

At Clearwater Forest each session of camp for children, youth, adults and families is rich in a variety of activities, fresh air, engaging worship, and connection building. The loving, enthusiastic and dedicated summer staff provide guidance and support for campers to take healthy risks through fun, challenging and adventurous activities. Whether its learning to paddle a sea kayak or completing the high ropes course, these activities help any camper stretch and grow in a safe Christian community. Leadership opportunities abound for all ages – from choosing daily activities, participating in planning and leading worship, to leading a cabin or quest group through the various daily activities.

We are offering rooms in Leaning Tree Lodge, Eagle Lodge and the Carriage House for a discounted price! Renting at 25% occupancy. Contact the office for more information: or (218) 678-2325.

Clearwater Forest stands firm in our Christian beliefs that each Black life is created in God’s image, because every human is created in God’s image. We commit to using our shared voices to speak against systemic injustice.

Visit for more information or to register online for camp!
Lakeshore Center at Okoboji is located in a secluded setting of 55 acres on the west shore of West Lake Okoboji, with 600 feet of sand beach, complete with a canopy of large oak trees. It is located away from the centers of activity in the Lakes Area, resulting in a tranquil setting. It is an ideal location for family reunions, church retreats, youth group events, choir retreats, church leadership retreats, quilting retreats, summer camp, business meetings, and much more! 

​Contact us today to learn how Lakeshore can meet your needs for your next event! Call 712-337-3313 or email here.

Register for summer camp below: 
2021 Synod School
July 25-30

Registration opens
April 1 (click here)

2021 Theme: Called Out
Just as God called Lazarus out of the tomb, God calls us out of our slumber, out of our sleep, out of our complacency, out of our grief, out of our past, out of our comfort, out of our quarantines and more. God has plans for us and never stops calling us. Join us as we embrace the newness 2021 brings and what it means to faithfully wake up, rise, and respond to God’s call. “Sleeper, awake. Rise from the dead. And Christ will shine on you.”
Ephesians 5:14, NRSV
On Monday, March 29, the Synod School Committee made the decision to move ahead with holding Synod School at Buena Vista University with some online options for those who are unable, for whatever reason, to join us in person this year. The first two columns of the linked document show you whether a class will be held online or in person (or both). 

Online classes are being offered in a couple of different ways:
  • If there is a “yes” in the online column and a “no” in the in-person column, this particular class and time is only online. All participants will be on Zoom.
  • If there is a “yes” in the online column and a “yes” in the in-person column, this particular class is being offered in a hybrid manner. This means both the online students and the in-person students will be in the same class.
  • People who are planning to be on campus are welcome to take online classes. You will need to bring your own device to use to join the class via Zoom from somewhere on campus.

In-person classes:
  • Due to pandemic regulations and continuing expectations of social distancing, some class capacities need to be reduced/limited and other instructors have chosen to cancel their classes due to the difficulty of conducting the class with social distancing. 
  • We are adding an option for you to request being put on a waiting list so if a class you want is full because of the reduced capacities, let us know. If capacities can be increased, we will let you know you can have the class you want.
  • A few faculty members have offered to do a second class:
  • Wading into Watercolors will be offered in the morning by Howard Chapman in the morning (all morning) with 10 participants in the morning class in addition to the 10 in the afternoon class.
  • Looping over a Mold with Sandy and Hannah Maxa will be offered online AM2 and in person PM1. 10 participants in each class.
  • THAT’S in the Bible?! With Katie Stryt will be offered online AM2 and in person AM1.
  • International Relations in Flux with Bill Davnie will be offered in person AM2 and online PM1.

Canceled classes:
  • Cultivating Compassion with Dede Johnston
  • A Divine Madness: Mysticism and Mental Illness through Christian History with Jim Dumerauf
  • Silk Paining/dyeing with Janey Nottage-Tacey
  • Ballroom and Latin Dance with Jason and Jill Johnson
  • Cards for Special Occasions with Liz Snyder and Carol Ferrell
  • Synod School Band with Steve Bowie

We will post regular updates on the Synod website as other decisions are made. We have four subcommittees working on details and want to make sure you have the information to make the decisions you need to make.
Hope Presbyterian Church of Spicer seeks CE Director

Hope Presbyterian is seeking a Christian Education Director. The position's salary will be a minimum of $12.50 per hour dependent upon qualifications (education and experience), for 10-15 hours per week. Applicants, please send a cover letter and resume to the attention of the Personnel Committee at our church address, 7730 N Shore Dr, Spicer MN 56288. Link to the job description.
Vocabulary of Faith Lenten Study
Hosted by Darin Seaman (Saint Cloud), Mark Ford (Baxter), Michael Hartwell (Randall), Pam Prouty (Windom) and Beverly Brock (Foley)
Learning to live a Reformed faith by
Videos and Discussion will be a part of the study.
Topic: Lenten Study
Mar 31, 2021 06:30 PM
Contact Karen Lange for Zoom links.
The U.S. Congregational Vitality Survey

What is it?
The U.S. Congregational Vitality survey (USCVS) is designed to help you understand the attitudes, opinions, and perceptions of worshipers and leaders in your congregations. It was created through a collaboration between sociologists, theologians, and Christian educators in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). USCVS has been helping congregations measure their vitality since 2001. If you would like more detailed information you can check it out on the website:

Why should we participate?
The USCVS is designed to help a congregation assess its strengths based on seven marks of congregational vitality—discipleship, outward focus, evangelism, servant leadership, worship, caring relationships, and ecclesial health. The church will receive a report that can help do future planning. As you move forward with planning, it can be helpful to know what areas need some work and where you shine. The USCVS is not a test. There are no right or wrong answers.

What happens if we sign up?
Churches involved in this survey will be sent a packet with surveys, instructions & tips. The survey can be taken in worship or online. Completed surveys will be tabulated and the results presented to you with a congregational vitality report and assessment. The church can use the report and resources to reflect and plan for the future.

What is the cost?
The survey costs $200 when done through the presbytery. SanDawna negotiated a discount for our presbytery. Small churches that find $200 a hardship may apply for a grant through Congregational Transformation and Development.

To be included in the survey:
Have approval by session and name a contact person
Send to Karen or Kathy:
  • Your church name
  • The contact person with their title or role
  • The e-mail address and phone number of contact person

In order to get this special rate, we will be sending in all the churches who are applying at one time. If you are interested, get your information in by April 1.
Help People Improve Their Lives

With your donations to the One Great Hour of Sharing offering during Lent, you are a channel of Christ’s love. The more money given in our Presbytery, the more funds will be available for Self-Development of People grants in our Presbytery. Last year we were able to award a grant for just under $6000 to support education for the children of Somali refugees in St. Peter.

You can become more personally engaged by serving on our Presbytery’s SDOP Committee. There is a place for you in this ministry if you have a compassion for struggling people and value the approach of self-development, not just hand-outs. We can better serve our communities by having additional representatives from across the Presbytery. If you or someone you know would like to serve, please contact Rev. Jim Krapf, chair of the Committee, at 808 4th Ave., Worthington, MN 56187;; 507-350-1662.

The majority of the committee is to be people of color; they do not have to be Presbyterian. But the majority of the committee needs to be Presbyterians, including the chair. Members can serve on the committee as long as they feel called to this ministry.

Responsibilities of the members include: 1) Certification training (required every three years; we are due this year; virtual training is scheduled for April 10 from 10:00-12:00) 2) Soliciting donations to the One Great Hour of Sharing offering which funds SDOP grants  3) Soliciting applications for grants (this may include reaching out to congregations or community organizations through various means of communication--when we can, in-person informational meetings could be the best) 4) Review applications to see if they met the criteria, including conducting an on-site or virtual visit (this process may include working with the applicant to revise the application). 5) Submit the application to the national office for their approval  6) Make sure the checks are sent. 7) Review the project (usually six months later) and submit a report to the national office.
Minnesota Department of Health Coronavirus Resources

Cultural, Faith, and Disability Communities COVID-19 Updates -March 29
Relevant documents are at Places of Worship Entities / StaySafeMN
Regarding Matthew 25: What does poverty look like in America? (from the Presbyterian Mission Agency)
Worship Opportunities

If you are interested in having someone new give a Sunday Message via Zoom or have something recorded to show, here are some PCUSA mission co-workers currently in the states who would be willing to do a sermon or talk about mission on Sunday or another time. They are open to share their stories with anyone interested.

Any groups that might like to have a guest, please contact one of these folks. Do you have a Bible Study group or maybe your Presbyterian Women's group? Please consider making this wonderful resource available to your congregation. 

In this time when we are home a lot and not traveling around, wouldn't it be fun to travel virtually and learn about the world through the eyes of these wonderful people. Please consider using them and their information. They are so willing and anxious to connect with you. Let your congregation be blessed by them.

Kathy Terpstra

Eliane Menezes
Eliane Menezes: Mission co-worker in Guatemala, Serving with the National Union of Presbyterian Women of the National Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Guatemala (IENPG)
Contact: Eliane Menezes (
Tyler Holm
Mission Co-worker in Malawi since 2013, Serving at the University of Livingstonia, College of Theology

Betsey and Eric Moe
Mission co-workers in Guatemala
Serving with the Presbyterian World Mission and CEDEPCA
Contact Betsey Moe (
Jose Jones
Mission co-worker in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo.
Serving at the Presbyterian Community of Kinshasa (CPK) Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo.
Contact Jose Jones (

Cheryl Barnes, Malawi
My name is Rev. Cheryl H. Barnes. I am currently serving in Malawi, Africa as an Education Facilitator.  I would like to forward a taped update of my work for use to Facebook or Lenten services. Please let me know the procedure for getting this update to you. My email address is

Ryan and Alethia White - Iran
We are very comfortable either creating video messages to send to congregations or joining a church live online, having done both often enough especially in the past year. Our family has been living in Berlin, Germany since 2014 and working with the Iranian Presbyterian Church here in the city. Our work now includes various projects and partners in Berlin and Germany, mostly based on migration practices and the role of the church. We are also expanding our work to include partners across Europe around the issues of migration and racism, although this is still relatively new. Below our signature is a link to our PCUSA web page in case that is helpful. Please feel free to be in touch with any questions or ideas! 

Rev. Ryan and Alethia White
Iranische Presbyterianische Gemeinde Berlin
Richardstr 97
12043, Berlin
TEL: +49 176 280 379 69
Presbyterian Church (USA) Mission Co-workers
To subscribe to our letters click here
Elmarie and Scott Parker, Lebanon
My husband, Rev. Scott Parker, and I are based in Beirut, Lebanon serving with partners in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. We are very interested in discussing with you how we may be of service to you all at this time. We do have some internet limitations, but we have found some good work-arounds that we can discuss as we see what interests a church might have for our involvement in worship.
We look forward to hearing from you! 
In Christ’s Peace,
Rev. Elmarie E.R. Parker
PCUSA Regional Liaison to Iraq, Syria, Lebanon
Lebanon Mobile/WhatsApp: +961 76-375-823
USA Mobile  (for Spring 2020): +1 971-888-2590
Skype: elmarie.parker
Skype Phone #: 503-213-3532
Lebanon Mailing Address:
The National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon
Att: Rev. Elmarie Parker
P.O. Box 70/890
Antelias – Lebanon 
USA Mailing Address:
1015 Oak St. #63
Silverton, OR 97381 

Melissa Johnson - Zambia
Mary Nebelsick let me know that the Presbytery of Minnesota was looking for mission co-workers to connect with your congregations. I would love to participate! I already have a YouTube moment for mission ready to go or I would be happy to discuss any other options. I am including the link to the presentation so you can take a look and decide if you would like to share it with some of your congregations.

I look forward to hearing from you. 
Melissa Johnson
+260 97 7969328 (Zambia)
+1-210-218-9847 (U.S.)

Betsey Moe - Guatemala
My name is Betsey Moe, and my husband and I are (fairly) new mission co-workers with CEDEPCA in Guatemala. We are currently residing in Spokane, WA. Thank you for reaching out to mission co-workers in the PC(USA)! I'd love to talk with you about opportunities for virtual sharing in your presbytery. I'm open to preaching, a minute for mission, informal Zoom coffee hour, etc. A few of my co-workers at CEDEPCA are fully bilingual and would be open to participating as well -- if congregations would like to hear firsthand about what is going on in the aftermath of the hurricanes, for example.

I preached for a congregation in Denver on Transfiguration Sunday and would be happy to record that same sermon for another congregation. I have a YouTube channel that shows a sampling of what we could do. If you go to "playlists," there are also links to CEDEPCA videos that may be shown in congregations.

I look forward to talking more with you!
Betsey Moe
(509) 951-7837

Jose LaMont Jones - Congo
I am available and am at your disposal. I am (pandemic permitting) on my way to the Democratic Republic of Congo to work with the schools of the Presbyterian Community of Kinshasa. We are in the throws of our Congo Mission Network Virtual Conference and I also include a link to a video presentation I put together a couple weeks ago to give you an idea of what I do (will do) and with whom I will work when I get to the DRC. The link is:

Mark and Miriam Adams US/Mexico Border
My spouse Miriam Maldonado and I serve as Mission Co-workers on the US/Mexico border in Agua Prieta, Sonora and Douglas, AZ.

Mary Nebelsick of PCUSA World Mission shared your invitation to Mission Co-workers to join some of the congregations in the Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys to provide worship leadership via a recorded message, a sermon, or a talk highlighting their mission work etc.  

Check out this video by Steve Jeeter of National Community Church in Washington DC

We would be honored to participate.

Mark S. Adams
PCUSA Mission Co-worker
Serving with Frontera de Cristo

Rachel and Michael Ludwig, Niger
We heard that you are looking for videos to offer to the churches for worship. We have some available, if they are helpful for your worship services, please use them. 

It is a little helpful to know when they are used so that we know where connection has been made with a congregation. It is not absolutely necessary though. 
Sermon - with Scripture reading from Romans 12:1-8 (Theme: Offering ourselves to God in worship with perspectives from Niger)
Children’s sermon to go with the above sermon - 4 mins.
Learning from our neighbors - local ways of using scraps for toys (4 mins)
Learning from locals - local ideas for practical handwashing (4 min)
Recent Sermon - based on John 4:5-26 and Proverbs 25:25 (Theme: Being open for mission means being vulnerable and listening)
Peace be with you,
Rachel and Michael Ludwig
Prayer List
  • 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

Pray for Our Occidente Partners in Guatemala
  • For the families of the three Occidente pastors that have recently died
  • For those who have contracted the Covid virus
  • For the "Men in the Mirror" program. Men from Occidente that MVP supported financially to attend the classes are sharing 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, are training Christian policemen in what they learned from "Men in the Mirror."

Rev. Harold E. Stepanek, a member of Prospect Hill Presbytery, has passed away. Harold died on January 23, 2021 at the age of 90 and was able to be at home in hospice care and with family members at his side. Harold served five three-year terms as Stated Clerk in the Presbyterian Synod of Lakes and Prairies, from 1978 to 1993, when he retired. He served in three primary pastorates (yoked Congregational/Presbyterian in Graceville/Browns Valley, MN, Madelia, MN and a yoked field of Presbyterian/United Methodist in Guelph, N.D./Ellendale, N.D.) and eight interim Presbyterian pastorates in MN, IA and WI before retiring. Harold served as both a commissioner to the National Presbyterian General Assembly as well as special assistant to the GA Stated Clerk. Harold was blessed to have made many friends throughout those years and to have been able to serve his church in many ways and places.
Pastoral Leadership Opportunities

First Presbyterian Church, Lake Crystal; First Presbyterian Church, Kasota - Pastor, yoked parish
Ministry Information Form - 03709.AB1

Maine Presbyterian Church, rural Underwood - Solo Pastor
Ministry Information Form - 03870.AB0

Faith Presbyterian Church, Silver Lake - Solo Pastor
Ministry Information Form - 03851.AD0

First Presbyterian Church, Slayton - Pastor
Ministry Information Form - 03805.AB0

Hope Presbyterian Church, Spicer - Solo Pastor
Ministry Information Form - 09565.ADO

First Presbyterian Church, Winnebago - Interim Pastor
Ministry Information Form - 03811.AA1

Ministry opportunities are posted on the Church Leadership Connection website --
Worship and Music Conference

June 20-25 - in person at Montreat
June 27 - July 2 - online
This intergenerational conference is for children, youth, adults, pastors, directors, organists, pianists, guitarists, percussionists, ringers, worship leaders, choir members, and anyone who loves and takes part in the worship and music of the church.

Conference Highlights
  • *NEW* Multi-generational Hymn Festival Choir led by Tom Trenney
  • Daily Worship Reflections focused on collaborative worship planning for congregations of ALL sizes
  • A variety of practical offerings to explore the cultivation of inspirational worship
  • Living SCRIPTure: Biblical Storytelling for Middler and Senior High conferees
  • A select number of programs will be streamed and available virtually – join us from anywhere!

General Information
The Ministry Lab announces Spring/Summer 2021 Colab Feedback Loop
The Ministry Lab is excited to announce the launch of our Spring/Summer 2021 Colab Feedback Loop. This cohort is geared toward progressive congregational leaders as we emerge from Covid-19 precautions. It will be a sharing ground for innovative and transformational approaches to community building and congregational life, resourcing for meeting challenges, and mutual support and affirmation.
Our Spring/Summer 2021 Loop will meet on the second Tuesday of each month, April through July (April 13: Summer Plans; May 11: Hybrid Worship; June 8: Outreach and Service; and July 13: Planning for Fall) from 2:00-3:30 PM CST. Click here to register.