The Valley Bridge
The weekly newsletter from the
Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys
May 25, 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 29-June 4:
First Presbyterian Church of Osakis

Staff/Leader List:
Chad Schwanke is conducting our services while we are searching for a new pastor.
Jan Larsen is Clerk of Session/secretary
Keven Withers is our custodian
Ellen Bangtson is our organist
Session members: Shari Maloney, Randy Neumann, Chad Schwanke, Ellen Bangtson,
Barb Neumann, Don Larsen, Shirley Helberg, Matthew Herberg

Prayer Concerns: 
For our Pastor Nominating Committee and their success in finding the right person as a new pastor for our congregation.
For guidance for our congregation and its leaders during this time of change.
The Word from Rick: Coming Alongside Congregations

"It's all about the congregations!"
"Our congregations are at the heart of who we are as a presbytery!"
Simply said, as the Next Pres Team went about its work, these two phrases stood front and center as the team worked, determined that the mission focus of the Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys would be clearly focused upon the congregations that make up this presbytery, and those who lead them!
Now, as we move forward and live into what the Next Pres Team has authored, we are committed to live out those priorities. We are working to do what we can to empower, encourage, and enable strong and creative congregational leaders - pastors, CREs, ruling elders and others - who will nurture and sustain healthy congregations that will network and partner together to do creative and transforming ministry in this part of God's kingdom and beyond. The big work is now ahead of us, and step by step, things are beginning to take shape.
One of the initiatives that is taking shape is the Committee on Congregational Nurture. This group is "new" to the presbytery, and as a result, they continue to brainstorm ways to fulfill their call. If you were present at the May presbytery meeting, you experienced the committee's presentation. You learned that this group has been entrusted with the care and nurture of our congregations and their leaders. They are not the problem solvers, nor are they the conflict managers, they are the relationship builders, the folks entrusted with bringing the presbytery alongside of congregations. The CoCN folks claim the "4 C's" as the focus of their ministry - Care . . . Communication . . . Connection . . . Community, and they are working on ways to best do that.
The Committee on Congregational Nurture is composed of nine members, and each member has committed to be the prime contact for a particular group of congregations. We have yet to give these folks a special title. We have thrown suggestions around - deacon, shepherd, liaison, etc. - but nothing has stuck, yet! At the same time, we have tried to decide what to call the groups of congregations, and have offered the old standby, "cluster," as well as neighborhood. At this point, the titles and labels are not important. We will wait for the Holy Spirit's "aha" moment and proceed from there.
Right now, the committee is working to establish connections with our congregations and begin to build the relationships and the trust needed to become effective in this ministry. It is my hope that our pastoral leaders, sessions, and congregations will welcome these connections as hopeful and helpful indications of our desire to become a supportive, relational extended family of faith here in southwest and west-central Minnesota.
And, lest I forget, this group also understands itself to be the heart of a presbytery-wide circle of prayer. They are the ones who have committed to themselves to receive prayer requests and offer prayers for our congregations and the concerns that are shared with them. They have also committed to start a ministry of providing a "chaplain" at each presbytery meeting, a person who stands ready to listen and pray with individuals during our times together.
I am excited by the creative, positive spirit of this committee as they seek to build strong and trusting connections among the congregations of this blessed presbytery family. Please encourage them in their efforts to be our servant leaders!
Grace and Peace,



Ashby, First PC
Browns Valley, UMC-PC
Doran, First PC
Fergus Falls, Federated Church
Maine Township, Maine PC
Western Township, Western PC
Liaison: John Lindholm
Brewster, First PC
Fulda, First PC
Jackson, First PC
Round Lake, First PC
Westbrook, First PC
Worthington, Westminster PC
Worthington, Hope Christian
Liaison: Jan Prehn
Beaver Creek, First PC
Edgerton, First PC
Ellsworth, Zion PC
Lismore, First PC
Luverne, First PC
Rushmore, Emmanuel PC
Liaison: Bob Bartlett
Brainerd, First PC
Crosslake, Crosslake PC
Foley, First PC
Osakis, First PC
Randall, First PC
Saint Cloud, First PC
Liaison: Mary Tyler
Cambria, First PC
Lake Crystal, First PC
Madelia, First PC
Mountain Lake, First PC
Saint James, First PC
Windom, First PC
Liaison: John McKay
Holland, First PC
Iona, First PC
Pipestone, First PC
Russell, Grace-First Parish
Rushmore, First PC
Slayton, First PC
Liaison: Keith Lohse
Litchfield, First PC
Maynard, First PC
Silver Lake, Faith PC
Spicer, Harrison PC
Spicer, Hope PC
Willmar, First PC
Liaison: Bill Yueill
Amboy, First
Blue Earth, First
Kasota, First
Mankato, First
Saint Peter, Union
Winnebago, First
Liaison: Sue Goebel
Canby, First PC
Dawson, First PC
Marshall, Christ United PC
Milroy, Ashford PC
Redwood Falls, First PC
Renville, Ebenezer PC
Liaison: Herb Rotunda

On the Road with Rick
June 1: General Assembly Commissioner Briefing, Redwood Falls
June 9: Presbytery Meeting Planning Team, Redwood Falls
June 12: Preach at First Presbyterian Church, Randall
June 14: Session Meeting at First Presbyterian Church, Osakis
June 17-26: General Assembly - Portland, Oregon
Save the Date: Required Boundary Training

Teaching Elders and Commissioned Ruling Elders, Boundary Training is scheduled for Tuesday, September 13, from 10:00-2:00 at the First Presbyterian Church of Willmar. The training is required for Teaching Elders and Commissioned Ruling Elders, but anyone interested is also welcome to register.
PW Spring Gathering 

Tuesday, June 7 at Harrison Presbyterian Church of Spicer. Coffee & treats at 8:45 a.m.
Meeting at 9:30 a.m. 
Registration deadline: June 1 
Around the Presbytery

From the May newsletter of the First Presbyterian Church of Pipestone: How to prepare for a sermon

There is a rule of thumb about preaching that I was taught in seminary. It goes something like this: For every minute you preach, you should have an hour of study to back it up. So, for the 15 minute sermon, the pastor should be preparing and studying about 15 hours of the week. Now, obviously experience and years of preaching can help cut that time down, but even so, most Presbyterians take preaching pretty seriously. Since the pastor is doing all this work to bring you a terrific sermon, all you have to do is sit back and enjoy. But is that really the case?

No, coming to worship on Sunday morning brings a responsibility just as serious as the pastor who is spending a good bit of her week in study. Your job, First Presbyterians, is not to be a pew-sitter, but a participant in the work of God. In fact, God is depending upon you to be a part of the preaching process.

Here's how:
  1. Get to church early. Take five extra minutes to get to church early so you can say hi to friends, do any committee business, shake a few hands and smile at friends you haven't seen for a week or so.
  2. Pray for the sermon. Get quiet after you have found your seat. Take a look at the worship service, read through it, pray for your pastor and the people around you. Ask God to quiet your mind from all the things that have crowded in on your thoughts. Let the troubles of the week fall on the floor, and remind yourself that you're not going to pick them up again until after church. 
  3. Pray for the pastor who is preaching. Pray that the pastor will be focused and at peace. Ask God to strengthen her to say the tough things to you and the people around you. Ask God to help her speak in clear ways and if at first it doesn't seem to make sense, the Word might stick in your mind for you to think on later in the week. 
  4. Pray for yourself as you prepare to hear the sermon. Pray that God will speak to you through the message. Pray that you will not be distracted. Pray for clarity of mind and an open heart to receive the message.
  5. Read the biblical text before the sermon is preached. If possible, read the text from which the pastor will preach. Read it thoroughly. Read it prayerfully. At the bottom of every bulletin you can find next week's text that the pastor will be using. There are four scriptures. Read each one and look for something new in the scripture.
  6. Take notes. Take notes as the pastor preaches. (And you thought all that white space on the bulletin was for decoration.) It will help you keep track of what's going on. Then, later in the week, review the notes during the next week and see if there are any other new insights God might be saying to you.
  7. Seek an application to your life. Ask God for discernment to help you understand how the sermon should change your life. Seek to understand the sermon not only in its biblical context, but in your life as well.
  8. Share with the pastor "one thing." If possible, share with your pastor one significant takeaway from the sermon. Pastors hear countless "good job, pastor," or "nice message, pastor," but they long to know if God really made a difference in the lives of the church members through the preached word. An even better sharing would be with friends. Talk to other members of the church about the sermon and what you heard. You would be amazed that many people will hear different things from the same sermon.
The preaching of God's Word is central to the life of the church. It makes sense that pastors should give it the highest priority. But doesn't it also make sense that church members should prepare as well?

From Thom Rainer and shared by David Hicks
Ministry Opportunities

The First Presbyterian Church of Osakis is continuing its search for 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!  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 of 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 online. 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 someone you know would be the right person for this opportunity, please have them contact Rick Carus at the presbytery office.
Coming Soon - First Presbyterian Church of Pipestone - Watch for announcements about their upcoming search for a Designated Pastor.

2016-2017 Presbyterian Planning Calendar

This 19-month, official PC(USA) calendar (June 2016-December 2017) is an outstanding and well-loved resource for pastors, church leaders, and everyone interested in the life and mission of the church. It features monthly planning and worship suggestions, lectionary readings, a liturgical color guide, foldout synod, presbytery and world maps, plus directories of PC(USA) staff, offices, synods and presbyteries. The wirebound calendar measures 8-1/2 x 11" and is punched to fit a standard binder.

Order copies today!  Individual calendars are $14.95 each; $12.50 each for 10-49; $8.50 each for 50 or more. Shipping is additional. When you order, ask for ISBN 978-0-9858964-8-5. Order online or call (800) 524-2612.

The calendars we ordered at the presbytery office for churches have all been sold, so this is the option if you would like to buy a Presbyterian Planning Calendar.
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