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)
Resiliency, Building Spiritual Fortitude for Leading
Tuesday, June 4
10:00 a.m.
Speaker: Rev. Laurie Ferguson, Ph.D.
This 75-minute webinar is free
Laurie Ferguson is a coach, a consultant and a psychologist. She served as a parish pastor for over twenty years before returning to school and getting her doctorate in psychology. She specializes in helping people and organizations grow their resilience skills. She consults with judicatories that want to develop a vision and plan for going forward with faithful courage. She has coached leaders for over fifteen years and works with Columbia Seminary in their Coach Training program. More information can be found on her website:

Ministry is challenging. Every day you spend your energy listening, planning, leading, praying, and even worrying. This “spend down” of mental, emotional and spiritual energy is constant, and unless you have ways to recharge, you will lose not only your momentum, but perhaps your sense of meaning and call in your work.
This workshop is designed to give you some practical tools to re-charge and upgrade your mental and spiritual resilience.

Resiliency is a combination of beliefs, practices and attitudes. One of the most significant components is resonance. Resonant leadership has the quality of being awake, aware and alive, able to inspire and move others, while caring for oneself and engaging in renewal. The concept of resonant leadership is based on the work of Richard Boyatzis. We will look at how resonance can be nurtured as a primary way to sustain our resilience for ministry.
Congregation of the Week of June 2-8
First Presbyterian Church of Lake Crystal
Interim Pastor: Rev. Hank Campbell
Clerk of Session and Administrative Assistant: Rhonna Nilson
Treasurer: Tom Hamberg
Custodian: Jay Richardson
Organists: Ryan Jones and Adam Jones

Session: Cindy Hamberg, Ruth Ledwein, Rhonna Nilson, Susan Blythe, Wayne Hughes, Kent Williams, Andy McLeod, Jackie Jones, Melanie Miller

Deacons: Jessica McDougall, Sandy Hollerich, Rose Tinklenberg, Janet Ellanson, Heidi Karels, Helen Balcome, Judie Edwards, Laurie Williams

Missions: Lake Crystal Food Shelf, Mankato ECHO Food Shelf, Salvation Army's Red Kettle Campaign, Meals on Wheels, Shoe Box Ministries, Angel Tree, VINE, CADA House

May 19 we observed Rural Life Sunday with a Blessing Ceremony of Seeds, Soil and Water, along with recognition of the hard work, dedication and stewardship of those who care for the land and bring forth the fruit of the harvest.  Upcoming activities include an outdoor worship service on June 30, Community Band Concert and Ice Cream Social on July 24, and Community Vacation Bible School in August

Our prayer concerns include:
  • Those who have served in the armed services and their loved ones
  • Farmers as the new season has begun
  • Recent tornado storm victims 
  • Our eight recently confirmed students - may they continue reaching for God in their lives and continue to be active in our church activities.
  • Our church as we move forward in a healthy process from the past to a new and hopeful future.
  • Those who are ill and those fighting diseases along with those who are in care facilities that through God’s healing and care they may get well and be provided for in their everyday needs. 
  • For the presbytery
  • For peace wherever there is conflict in our world
Do You Want to Be Healed?
On Sunday, I had the privilege of leading worship at Osakis Presbyterian Church. My sermon focused on John 5:1-9, the story of the man that lay at the Pool of Bethesda for 38 years. Jesus asks this man a strange question, “Do You Want to Be Healed?” What a peculiar question. Was it rhetorical?
From the text, we know that Jesus was looking for an answer. After reading several commentaries on the text, I am divided in my understanding. In one way, I agree that the response of the healed man is unusual; we do not hear appreciation for his healing. The man seems to be more afraid of the Jewish authorities than he appears to be excited about what life will be like now that he is well.

Was he really immobilized by 38 years of memory when he was stuck, unable to move forward and victimized by his health? We should proceed cautiously in our judgment. I somewhat know what it is like to be stymied by health. For four years in the 1990s, every summer, I found myself in the Crawford Long Hospital in Atlanta. Like clockwork, a kidney infection would land me in the hospital.

Additionally, at the time, I developed ovarian tumors. Although benign, I couldn’t help but recall that my mother died from ovarian cancer. There was no question whether I wanted to be well. However, at the time, I questioned whether I would ever get over these chronic health issues. I would be less than honest if I did not admit that at least privately, I raised the question “why me.” I just knew enough not to say it aloud. Many people had suffered more, and at least after treatment, I could see a future bright with health.

As a child, my grandmother, who was Baptist, took me with her to visit the sick. Sometimes she would prepare me for what to expect when we walked into a room, and sometimes she did not. Often I was shocked at the deformity of persons young and old. Most of the patients were in nursing homes because they could not receive proper care at home. I would never forget one story my grandmother told of a woman with no arms or legs. This woman was a mother, and she would care for her children moving around on the floor in a snake-like motion doing what she needed to care for self and family. It was not by chance I learned this story; my grandmother wanted me to understand that nothing should stop you in life. You needed grit, an inner-strength, and determination in this life, regardless of what conditions you might have.

With this lens, I read the text. How could a person stay in the same condition for 38 years? Each time we raise this question, we know well that it is possible. There are many kinds of impediments in life, some biological, some emotional, some environmental, some related to justice, some a failure to thrive, some fear, and some the lack of faith. My grandmother had another saying, “you don’t know someone else’s feelings.” Two thousand years later, with hindsight, we analyze the actions and non-action of the man who lay at the pool 38 years. We can infer a few things about him. He was stuck. He does not express enthusiasm about being healed. He is afraid of the authorities. He knows how to follow orders. He picks up his bed and walks as Jesus commanded. He knows something about faith, because Jesus finds him in the temple.

Stand up! Jesus says, emphatically! Walk! Unlike with other healings, no demon is cast out of the man. There are no demonic forces at work. However, Jesus does speak to the core of the man’s soul and similar to the scenario in Ezekiel 37:1-14 “The Valley of the Dry Bones”...Jesus commands, "Live”! Jesus speaks to the man’s will to come alive. He is resuscitated, and the desire to live is breathed into him. He responds, taking the first step in the process of reversing what 38 years of incapacitation can do to a person. I can only imagine what can happen when the Church responds to Jesus’ command to stand and take up your mat and walk. What are our mats? What do we need to unlearn? Are we afraid of any authorities?

Finally, the legend of the angel that troubles the water does not meet with my theology! Humans and not God create systems of only one winner. Symbolically, do we think the same about ministry? Some churches are winners because of their size and resources while others must be missing the opportunity because they lack the resources to do ministry at a particular level. Are we stuck by a memory of when? History can be an excellent motivator for present and future ministry and it can also be an impediment that stymies forward movement.

In the Gospels, individual stories of healing are highlighted. However, for every person healed the hope that healing is possible grows in everyone that learns the story. A system for a few privileged enough to have the resources to align themselves just in the right place to be blessed sounds like Empire. Empire is the human systems that benefit the already blessed and disadvantages the oppressed. God tears down these systems of privilege. God cares for the least of these and broadens the compassion of those who already have what they need, so they are generous towards others. In my opinion, the miracle in the text is convincing a person who has lost all hope that there is a reason to give life another chance. This is the work of the Church. “I come that you might have life and it abundantly” are Jesus’ words to us.

Blessings for the journey,
Prayer List

Rev. Araceli Itzep from the Occidente Presbytery
Rev. Randy Knuth, First Presbyterian Church, Osakis
Sue Thompson, Clerk of Session at First Presbyterian Church, Maynard
For Clerks of Session and Treasurers

This year, the treasurers will receive financial training from Presbytery Business Consultant Bea Ourada while the clerks of session are reading session records. So send your clerk and your treasurer (and/or anyone interested in learning more about church finance) to one of the following trainings in June:
Monday, June 3 from 2:00-4:00 at the presbytery office in Willmar
Monday, June 10 from 4:00-6:00 at the First Presbyterian Church of Osakis
Monday, June 24 from 4:00-6:00 at the First Presbyterian Church of Windom
During Pentecost, we celebrate that the Holy Spirit has opened the doors to faith in Jesus Christ. While serving survivors of human trafficking, Presbyterian Young Adult Volunteer Cherokee Adams was changed in ways she wasn’t expecting. She sensed the Holy Spirit was shaping her. “It was kind of like the Pentecost story,” she explains. “The Holy Spirit took me and changed me in ways that I wasn’t expecting.” She now wants to attend seminary and be a parish pastor or a chaplain. Her goal is to “go out and tell the story.” The Pentecost Offering unites us in a churchwide effort to support young people in Christ and inspire them to share their faith, ideas, and unique gifts with the church and the world. Our support today helps nurture the faith of those who are the church to come — children, youth, and young adults.

The Pentecost Offering helps our youth begin life with a strong start--a solid foundation of faith formed in the years from childhood through young adulthood.

  • 40% stays with this congregation to develop and support programs for young people in our own church and community.
  • 25% supports Young Adult Volunteers (YAV), serving in communities around the world, and growing as leaders through transformative Christian service.
  • 25% supports Ministries with Youth to help guide our youth by uniting them in Christ and lifting them up as leaders and messengers of God’s word.
  • 10% is devoted to children at-risk to improve education and provide safe havens.

Our presbytery is joining the whole church in building for our future, in building individual lives of faith. Won’t you join in your support? 
What is a Matthew 25 church?
Matthew 25:31–46 calls all of us to actively engage in the world around us, so our faith comes alive and we wake up to new possibilities. Convicted by this passage, both the 222nd and 223rd General Assemblies (2016 and 2018) exhorted the PC(USA) to act boldly and compassionately to serve people who are hungry, oppressed, imprisoned or poor.

How the vision unites all Presbyterians
By accepting the Matthew 25 invitation, you can help our denomination become a more relevant presence in the world. We recognize Christ’s urgent call to be a church of action, where God’s love, justice and mercy shine forth and are contagious. And we rejoice how our re-energized faith can unite all Presbyterians for a common and holy purpose: our common identity to do mission.

We invite you to join us on this journey!
Become a Matthew 25 church.

From the PCUSA Store:
PC(USA) Store has gathered a list of resources to help you with your goals. Key among these is the Co-Moderators selection for church-wide book study, Neighborhood Church . Perfect for a fall or winter study book selection, you can find a free, downloadable study guide and other resources for using this book in your congregation, session, or presbytery, here .
Synod Gathering for Presbyterian Women in the Synod of the Lakes and Prairies
June 20-23, 2019

Gateway Hotel & Conference Center
2100 Green Hills Dr
Ames, Iowa

Full registration is $200 and includes meals and programming.

Link to Flyer
Join the movement of Presbyterians in Baltimore for a Big Tent like no other.

The theme, Called to a Movement beyond Institution, will emphasize our hope of the Gospel and its power to challenge institutional conventions. The goal is to come together and live in this moment, immersed in our current cultural context of racial division, gender inequality, and economic disparity to be renewed, refreshed and reformed, so that we may be sent out to affect change in our own communities. Big Tent will provide a place where our Presbyterian polity and identity is the foothold by which we proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ in action and answer the call to discern the will of God together.

Through worship, Bible study, learning opportunities, and active engagement with one another and the community, attendees will encounter the Church participating in God’s mission for the transformation of creation and humanity. 

Organizers for this year’s Big Tent celebration have lined up the guest preachers and leaders for the three-day gathering in Baltimore this summer. The Rev. Dr. Soong-Chan Rah will be the featured speaker at the opening plenary on Thursday, Aug. 1.

“Conversations are taking place about the changes that are occurring in our society, especially in terms of our demographics. Churches are experiencing change, including decline and diversity,” said Rah. “I will touch on those, but I really want to touch base on what the appropriate response to these changes should be.”

The FPC Mankato invites whoever might be interested to hear Mission Co-Workers in August

Charles and Melissa Johnson, mission co-workers in Zambia, are visiting First Presbyterian Church of Mankato on Wednesday, August 14th. The event will be from 5:00-8:00pm. We're going to have a potluck supper and will enjoy time with Charles and Melissa as they share about God's mission happening in Zambia, how they were called into mission partnership, and how churches might hear their call into mission partnership.
The Synod of Lakes and Prairies Presents
The Art of Transitional Leadership
Learning Ministry Skills for Today’s and Tomorrow’s Church
Pastors, Staff, COMs and Congregational Leaders
September 16-20, 2019
Christ the King Retreat Center in Buffalo, Minnesota
Track 1: September 16-20, 2019
Whether it is a change in leadership or a changing community, leading a congregation through change is both challenging and rewarding.It takes knowledge, skill, resilience and spiritual strength to navigate the waters of change in a way that leaders and congregations thrive. This training is for individuals who are considering ministry in temporary settings (as an interim, transitional or designated pastor) or are experiencing ministry in these transitional times. Materials presented will include the basics of transitional ministry and will be of value to all congregational pastors regardless of their ministry setting. Best practices in transitional ministry include ways to enter the congregation and community, how to analyze a congregation’s strength and growing edges, and how to assist a congregation in moving toward a vibrant future. This training will delve into navigating change, the pastor as a spiritual interpreter of transition, family systems, mission focus ministry, conflict mediation, and building resiliency.

Track 2: September 18-20, 2019
Congregational leaders seeking to serve God faithfully are invited to Part Two of the Art of Transitional Ministry Event. The Wednesday–Friday training is for ruling elders, deacons, and other congregational leaders. Workshops for this group will focus on the vital role you play in collaborating with pastors to lead congregations through ministry transitions. Participants can expect to learn about core value mission planning, leadership development, congregational systems, stewardship, and creating spiritual energy in congregations.

Save the date for Boundary Training
Tuesday, October 15 from 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
First Presbyterian Church of Redwood Falls
Boundary Training is required for all minister/teaching elder presbytery members and commissioned ruling elders. The Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys will be holding a boundary training on Tuesday, October 15 from 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church in Redwood Falls. The Rev. Mark Sundby from Leaderwise will be leading the boundary training. The training will focus on a holistic approach to boundaries, looking at overall resilience and well-being as the best prevention against impaired decision making and boundaries violations. More information will be coming.
Church Staff: Schedule a Day with Karen

Associate for Administration Karen Lange is available to spend a day with church office folks to share tips on setting up bulletins, newsletters, making a Facebook page or to help with any general questions. The cost is Karen’s mileage to and from the church plus providing lunch. Please email Karen to schedule.
Pastoral Leadership Opportunities

First Presbyterian Church, Fulda - Solo Pastor, 3/4 time up to full-time
  Ministry Information Form -  03782.AD1

Faith Presbyterian Church, Silver Lake - Part-time Solo Pastor
  Ministry Information Form -  03851.ACO

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

The Ministry Information Forms for these opportunities are posted on the Church Leadership Connection web site --
Be family to a refugee
'Mother' Emanuel movie
Indonesia looks to Minnesota