The Valley Bridge
The weekly newsletter from the
Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys
May 11, 2016
 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 May 15-21:
Ashford Presbyterian Church of Milroy

Church leadership:  
Our services are served by Troy Krause and Doug Bengtson. Patricia Rosa is clerk of session; Dan Leach, Clay Rosa are session members. Carolyn Datwyler is treasurer. Members maintain the building and lawn. We have no children or staff.

Prayer concerns and joys:
Prayers for all our members would be wonderful.
The Word from Rick: A Reflection or Two

Yesterday's presbytery meeting is now in the books, and as I drove to Osakis for their session meeting, I had a chance to reflect upon the day's events.  In those reflections, several events from the day stood out as significant points in our time together.
The first significant moment was the examination of Owar Ojulu for ordination. It has been a long journey for Owar, but Owar has been determined every step of the way, and yesterday, his patience, hard work, and faithfulness to God's call reached a high moment. I pray that we will share in the excitement of the Hope Christian Ministry, our presbytery's first official PCUSA "New Worship Community", as they prepare for Owar's ordination and a long, fruitful ministry. I know that many people had a hand in bringing this about -- in the Worthington community and at Westminster Church, across this presbytery, and at the General Assembly level. It will be exciting to watch this new ministry, and its leader, grow together in faith!
Next on my list was the commissioning of David Hollis. Another long journey reached a significant moment. Like Owar, David has walked a long road to get to this moment and the people of Slayton have patiently walked it with him. From David's remarks, we heard how much the tutelage of Lynne Matthews has meant to him and the people of the congregation at Slayton. I suspect that a very special relationship will continue into the future!
My third highlight was Scott Prouty's sharing of the experiences that he had last month, representing the Presbyterian Church in inter-faith conversations and news conferences in Washington, D.C., an invitation that came as the result of a phone call that he made in doing a reference check. Scott is making plans for an Islamic leader, Dr. Syeed, to come to our presbytery for conversations in the Redwood Falls school and with us this October. Please save October 16 so that you can be a part of what will be planned!
In addition to these three moments, there were other important moments that will remind me of our day together:
  • Having Beth Ehlers and Rich Swartwood stir up excitement for summer camping at the Lakeshore Center on Lake Okoboji and Clearwater Forest - we are blessed to have two wonderful outdoor setting in our neighborhood, along with two awesome directors;
  • Approving a position description for the Director of Presbytery Mission, which will begin on January 1, 2018, along with the Search Team - Candace Adams, Deb Hess, Keith Lohse, Darin Seaman, Ross Stone, and Scott Thompson -- to seek the person to fill that position; and,
  • Commissioning our General Assembly Commissioners - Andy Davis and Chuck, Alternates - Deb Hess and Leanne Thompson; and YAAD (in absentia) - Elizabeth Prouty. They have a full week ahead of them . . . and a lot of reading before then!
It was a good and full day, and I want to express my personal appreciation to all who helped to make it happen:
  • Pastor Anna Williamson, Clerk of Session Lenae Wordes, the staff, and the people of Ebenezer Presbyterian Church, for their graciously wonderful hospitality;
  • Moderator Andy Davis and Vice-Moderator Deb Hess for their leadership through the day;
  • Owar Ojulu for his message, delivered with great passion and good humor;
  • Leanne Thompson for a wonderful and awesome prayer - thanks for including my good friends Harold Armstrong and James Lee;
  • Our Stated Clerk Pam Prouty for keeping us safe from any constitution missteps;
  • Our Recording Clerk Kathy Terpstra for recording it all; and
  • You, the people of this presbytery for your presence and your investment in the mission of Jesus Christ in this part of God's Kingdom. Without you and your congregations, this presbytery is nothing! Blessings to all of you!
Grace and Peace,

Pictures of the meeting taken by Karen Lange
On the Road with Rick
May 12 - Session Meeting -- Randall
May 17 - Minnesota Council of Churches Board Meeting -- Minneapolis
May 22 - Preach at First Presbyterian Church, Holland
June 12 - Preach at First Presbyterian Church, Randall
June 17-26 - General Assembly - Portland, Oregon
It's On: Retired Pastors and Spouses Lunch Coming This Summer!

A luncheon for retired pastors and their spouses is being planned at the Green Mill in Willmar on Monday, August 8, from 11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. Edward Thompson, our Regional Representative for the Board of Pensions, will host that gathering, and invitations will be coming from his office in the next few weeks.

Ethiopia Mission Network

by Peter Mann

Four members of our presbytery, Owar Ojulu, Rev Jim Krapf, Rev. Galen Smith and Elder Peter Mann, attended the Ethiopia Mission Network meeting of the PC(USA) in Lincoln, Nebraska, in April. Mission Networks from many countries exist within our denomination to educate, support and encourage the work of the church in their specific country.
We met Rev. Ding Gach, Synod Executive of the Gambella region of Ethiopia. He shared with us that his Synod has 114,000 members in a region with 600,000 citizens.
Reports and presentations were made by Rev. Michael and Rachel Weller who serve as PC(USA) Mission Co-workers in Ethiopia. Rachel is heavily involved with community health evangelism that identifies and addresses issues of clean water, kitchen gardens, improved sanitation, schools, and gender violence.
Mrs. Deborah Braaksma, Africa liaison for PC(USA), also made a presentation. She oversees the 81 mission co-workers of our denomination that are located in Africa.
We also met and heard from Paul Lindberg of St. Paul who runs a "Talking Bibles" program whereby the Bible has been translated into many languages and dialects and is available to indigenous folks who cannot read but can hear. Tape players are solar powered.
Gwen and John Haspels, mission co-workers in Ethiopia, shared their harrowing experience of being hit by a bullet, causing permanent bodily injury, but offered us a real-life analysis of forgiveness.
About 30 people attended this Mission Network meeting with about 1/3 Ethiopians and 2/3 white Americans. We came away with a much better understanding of the Ethiopian culture, their issues and a good explanation for why there is unrest in the Western, Gambella region. There are more South Sudan Neur refugees in Gambella, Ethiopia than there are Ethiopian, Anuak citizens.
It helps us in our presbytery have a better understanding of where our South Sudan and Ethiopian Immigrants come from. More information can be obtained by contacting Peter Mann

Occidente Partnership: Building Relationships

By Mark Ford

I was reading an article about a mission trip a group took to build a house in Nicaragua, and when asked what they learned, one of the participants said, "I learned that this trip was not really about building things. It was about building relationships."

As many of you, as my fellow Presbyterians in the Minnesota Valleys Presbytery, should know, our presbytery has had a sister relationship with the Occidente Presbytery since around 1994. During that time, people have traveled back and forth to develop relationships. Since 2005, a group has gone down to help with five water projects and four manse projects. We have provided funding for Reformed theological education for pastors. Now we are at a crossroads as to where the future of this, our sister relationship with Occidente, is headed.
Read more
Ministry Opportunities

The First Presbyterian Church Osakis is seeking a Pastor to lead them as they live out the visions that have been generated by their New Beginning conversations. If you, or someone you know, has a passion for small towns and energetic small-member congregations, please encourage consideration of this opportunity!
While the primary work is with the Osakis congregation, the pastor of this congregation will also provide pulpit supply and pastoral care for the United Church of Christ in Sauk Centre.
The Ministry Information Form for this opportunity is posted on the Church Leadership Connection web site. It is MIF#: 03890.AC0. For more information, please contact PNC Chairperson, Shari Maloney, at 320.859.3098 or by e-mail - ; or Transitional Executive Presbyter, Rick Carus at the presbytery office.
First Presbyterian Church, Mankato is beginning a search for a well-trained intentional Interim Pastor, who will guide the congregation through its pastoral transition. The Ministry Information Form for this position - MIF# 03792.AD0 -- is now on-line. If you cannot access it through the Church Leadership Connection, please contact Rick Carus at the presbytery office ( and he can send you a copy of the form.   If you, or some you know would be the right person for this opportunity, please have them contact Rick, or the Clerk of Session, Doug Otopalik - . Please help us spread the word!!  

The Art of Protest
Summer Institute in Spirituality and the Arts
June 20-24: United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities

The Summer Institute in Spirituality and the Arts is an annual, four-day mini-retreat for 1) clergy and church leaders to vitalize creative ministries and 2) artists and community members to experience the sacred in their work. Prepare for new awakenings.

Workshops, led by accomplished artists and leaders in their field, meet Tuesday-Friday, where participants learn to:
*  Experience the connection between the arts & spiritual life
*  Expand worship to include different art forms
*  Engage in empowering conversations and connections

Click here for more information
News for the Common Good, May 11, 2016
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