The Valley Bridge
The weekly newsletter from the
Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys
November 16, 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 November 20-26
First Presbyterian Church of Blue Earth

  Moderator: Rev. Michael Roys
  Visitation PastorRev. Kathy Blair
  Clerk of SessionCindy Peterson
  Administrative Assistant/TreasurerConnie Hedland 
  Session Members: JR Huntley, Zac Huntley, Debby Johnson, Jo Kraayenhof, and Tom Plocker
We ask for prayers for the following:
  • The safety of hunters
  • Our country with the post election
  • All veterans
  • Church members and friends with health issues
The Word from Rick 

"The members of the church are emissaries of peace and seek the good of all  in cooperation with powers and authorities in politics, culture, and economics. But they have to fight against pretensions and injustices when these same powers endanger human welfare. Their strength is in their confidence that God's  purpose rather than human schemes will finally prevail." (from the Confession of 1967).
Last Tuesday, our nation participated in the election of its next president, along with countless other leaders at the national, state, and community levels. It was the culmination of a ritual that took nearly two years of preparation, cost billions upon billions of dollars, created tons of trash for the landfills, and involved about one-third of the nation's citizens. When all was said, and done, decisions had been made, individuals had been elected, ballot initiatives were settled, and for the most part we were left with two groups of people - the "winners" and the "losers"- and the hope that, maybe, they would all work with each other for the good of the whole.
Over the past week, I have thought of all the things that I have wanted and needed to say in response to the election. I thought back to our time in Redwood Falls three weeks earlier, to a day where many people gathered and looked into the future and tried to learn new ways of being inclusive and understanding, and now found myself wondering how the world will treat the people we met and prayed with that day. In my mind, I started this article at least two dozen times. I have generated tons of what I thought were insightful comments and pastoral reflections and reassurances, but I had trouble getting them to stick; and I have learned over forty-two years of ministry that saying or writing things in the heat of the moment are at best "knee jerk reactions" which serve no constructive purpose, and the people of this presbytery and its congregations deserve better.
This election cycle has been tough for all of us. It has been tense and contentious. It has jerked many of us around and showed us how divided we are on so many levels. The campaign has not always brought out the best of who we are as citizens of this nation, and more importantly as the followers of Jesus Christ.
Regardless of who we voted for, or against, there most likely have been those moments when our thoughts, words, and actions, have not fully reflected the image of the One who has created and called us. In the face of what we heard and saw from many of our brothers and sisters, our humanity caught up with us and that made it tougher for us in our witnesses to the faith. These past months have been challenging and have taken a significant toll on the hearts, minds, and the spirits of many of us, and there are many who feel very bruised and others who are broken.
The election has been over for a week, and while the president-elect is laying the foundation for the next administration, there are many who are still coming to an understanding of what took place. It is time to move ahead, but at the same time, we need to give people time to process their thoughts and emotions. Those who ended up on the "losing" side have something that they need to work through before they can become gracious in their response. Loss does bring a sense of grief and there are those who are dealing with that emotion, and it does not have a switch that can be flipped on and off. It is a process that goes through many stages and people go through the stages at their own pace. It takes a while to get from denial and anger to acceptance, understanding, and graciousness. Many people, good people, on both sides of the campaign were heavily invested. They bought into their candidate's visions and promises, heart, mind, and soul. This was a very emotional campaign; and when your hopes are dashed, there is a lostness and a grief that does not go away the next morning. Whether or not we like how that lostness and grief has been expressed, we need to acknowledge it and try to understand it so that we can start to work together to create what it is that God is calling us to create.
We are entering a different era in the life of this nation. We have no idea where this will lead us and what things will look like in three months or three years, but the one thing that we know for certain is that we have work to do and our responsibilities as "Church of Jesus Christ" have not changed. Or call -- our mission -- is the same today as it was before the election, and will be after the next election. Regardless of how our votes were cast or not cast, regardless of what political or social label we slap on ourselves or those around us, we know what we must be about and it is no easy task!
The Confession of 1967 which was quoted at the top of this article is a reminder of what we are to be about. We are "God's emissaries of peace" - and that means working together with others to make that happen, and also challenging and holding others accountable when the good of all people is at risk. As the church of Jesus Christ, Christ's mission is our mission, and in Luke's Gospel he made it clear - it is neither a Republican, Democratic, Libertarian, or Green Party "platform plank," it is to be the marching orders for all of us who are part of Christ's Party -
'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me (us),
because he has anointed me (us)
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me (us) to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.'
Friends, this is the real work at hand. I pray that we will be faithful - working together - to fulfill God's call to us in the days, months, and years that are ahead. Let us be confident, for we know who it is that holds the future!

Grace and Peace,
On the Road with Rick
November 28 - "Hanging of the Greens" - Presbytery Office
December 4 - Preach at First Presbyterian Church, Blue Earth
December 4-10 - Winter All Staff Conference, Mercy Center, Burlingame, California
December 18 - Preach at First Presbyterian Church, Brainerd
December 24 - Christmas Eve Worship at First Presbyterian Church, Fulda
January 21 - Presbytery Orientation and Organization Gathering, First Presbyterian Church, Willmar
January 24-31 - Association of Presbyterian Church Educators Annual Event, Denver
February 4 - Presbytery Meeting, First Presbyterian Church, Saint Cloud
Occidente Prayer Partner?

Would you/your church like to participate directly in the partnership the Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys has with Occidente Presbytery in Guatemala? There are 20 churches in the newly defined Occidente Presbytery and 14 of them are interested in having an MVP prayer partner. So far, nine of our churches have said they'd like to join in this venture. We need, therefore, to have five more. (It would be embarrassing to not be able to match their number....)

We ask that once a month up to five prayer requests be submitted from your congregation to your matched partner in Occidente. And once a month, you should be receiving up to five prayer requests from them. Have your elders make up a list as part of each session meeting. The requests you receive from your prayer partner can be shared in worship, with prayer chains, at session or other meetings. It will be your responsibility to arrange for translations. This could be an opportunity to reach out to Hispanic members of your church or community; check with students who are studying Spanish and/or their teacher.

We would like you to send photos of your church and members involved in activities, directories, etc. to your prayer partner with the MVP group going to Guatemala in January. If you have any questions, contact Edith at:
Edith Alvarez
22030 Gull Lake Drive
Nisswa MN 56468-2650

Thank you for your consideration of this project. If interested, contact Edith as soon as possible and get materials sent by January 15, 2017.
Come "Hang Out" with Us!

Advent is just around the corner, and that means it is time for the Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys annual "Hanging of the Greens" open house! People of the presbytery, especially those living close to Willmar, are invited to stop by the presbytery office on Monday, November 28, any time after 10:00 a.m. to help Karen, Pam, and Rick decorate our presbytery home for the Advent and Christmas season.
There will be holiday goodies, music, and good humor, and for all those who stop by between 12:15 and 1:00 p.m., there will be lunch! The menu has not yet been planned, but it will be tasty!

So, come join us as we decorate for this holy season. If you plan to come for lunch, please let us know so that we don't run short - Rick has not mastered the art of multiplying the loaves and fish! Just give Karen a call at 320.235.7910. See you on November 28!

Around the Presbytery

Maine Presbyterian Church of Underwood: Exciting things are happening with Maine Presbyterian Church in Underwood. During the months of October and November, patrons of Underwood Quik Stop Cafe get free coffee on Monday mornings. They get to use our new coffee mugs while enjoying their time with friends. To celebrate the beginning of the Advent Season, we will participate in the Perham Parade of Lights on November 25th. Members of the church will ride the float or walk while singing Christmas carols and throwing candy. It is a wonderful first of many special events in December.
Send Rev. Charlie Reid, honorably retired, birthday greetings!

Just want to make sure everyone knows that Dad's 85th birthday is November 21. It has been a very difficult year, but I think he is settling into his new home. I want to encourage everyone to shower him with birthday greetings (if you are so inclined). Snail mail is best:
Charlie Reid
Oak Gardens Place
342 Twin Oak Drive - Apt. 207
Altoona, WI 54720-3304

Kathy Reid Walker
Online Learning Opportunities: Pathways to Learning and Leadership

Pathways is an online program of Union Theological Seminary designed to educate church members in various areas of the Christian faith and life, with instruction by seminary professors and top practitioners in the field. It's a great way to increase discipleship without having high travel and lodging costs. 
Many presbyteries are also using these courses in their training of Commissioned Ruling Elders. Courses for winter and spring of 2017 meet online on Tuesday evenings for live class sessions from 7-9 p.m. ET (6-8 p.m. Central Time!) for five weeks. The course also includes some reading and assignments at home during the rest of the week. Each five-week course costs $100, and usually requires the purchase of one book.
Courses for early 2017 are:
  • The Christian Life - led by Cindy Kissel-Ito, Ph.D. Explores human spirituality, spiritual practices, Christian ethics, and Christian worship. This course begins on January 10.
  • Mission and Evangelism - led by John Vest, Ph.D. This course will help participants to discover reasons and strategies for the church's mission and evangelism efforts.  Begins on February 21.
There are a limited number of spaces in the Pathways courses, so register soon! For more information and registration, follow this link:
Give to the Max Day is JUST around the corner! We are so blessed with incredible support as we are over $18,000 in off-line gifts and over $800 has been scheduled to be donated this Thursday! Our goal is $27,000! Your gift of $15, $25, $50, $100, $250 or even $500 or more will allow our ministry to THRIVE!
Clearwater Forest changes lives! We have heard so many stories of how our ministry has made a life-changing and faith forming experiences. 
"Clearwater is my home away from home where I am accepted as who I am"
"My faith has grown tremendously each time I come"
"My annual mountain top experience gives me the faith to be who I am at home and school"

Please partner with us on Thursday to support our extraordinary ministry!
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