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 November 22-28
Union Presbyterian Church of Saint Peter
New Custodian: John Dunn
Administrative Assistant: Kathy Gumbel 
Choir Director: Katha Chamberlain
Organist: Holly Havemeier
Pastor: Andy Davis
Bats: Too numerous to name, but each one is loved by God

Please pray for us as Union members struggle with cases of COVID-19 and for all churches as we approach the holiday season.

"The mini pantry movement is a grassroots, crowdsourced solution to immediate and local need. Whether a need for food or a need to give, mini pantries help feed neighbors, nourishing neighborhoods."

We continue to support our local food shelf with diapers, toilet paper, and food items.

Soon, we will have a "free pantry" set up outside to supply needed items to passing pedestrians. For for information about little free pantries, follow this link:
Jesus is Lord!

This Sunday is Christ the King Day. Christ the King Sunday was instituted in 1925 by Pope Pius XI. In celebrating the day, the Church proclaims that Jesus is Lord as stated in Philippians 2:9-11(NRSV).
"God also highly exalted him and gave him the name
that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and
under the earth, and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

We affirm Christ is the Head of the Church, and all other rules and rulers are secondary to Christ's authority. The Book of Confessions includes The Theological Declaration of Barmen, written in 1934. The confession opposed Christians in Nazi Germany who revered Hitler as lord. Using six themes, the Reformed Church emphatically stated:
  1. The source of revelation is only the Word of God
  2. Jesus Christ is the Lord of all aspects of personal life.
  3. The message and order of the Church should not be influenced by the current political convictions.
  4. The Church should not be ruled by a Fuhrer.
  5. The State and Church are limited to their own business.
  6. The Church is not subordinated to the State
(The Barmen Declaration, Douglas, J.D. Wright)

In proclaiming the Lordship of Christ, the Church disavows human leaders' lordship, making it clear that our utmost alliance is to Christ alone in the face of Empire. Therefore, we place our trust, not in earthly systems of power. Instead, we recognize that worldly systems of authority and power are in themselves ever challenged by sin. We can never forget that power corrupts good judgment. As Christians, we are called to join the Church in making a definitive confession that "In Christ, we live and move and have our very being." These words compel us to live knowing who and what we are, what we believe, and what we are resolved to do. Our sense of wholeness is a gift of grace regardless of the seasons of life; we are held safe in the promise of divine protection. The rule of love guides us. We live with the assurance that God is at work in life, shaping and changing the earth and the living things upon it. God controls the regularity of the universe and the apparent random happenings that unfold in daily life. All of life is ultimately subject to God's will and purposes. Working for our good, we are gracefully moving toward the new creation promised in Christ Jesus.

Let our good news this Sunday signal to the masses that Christ reigns on the throne. May we find comfort in these days of political divide by putting our trust in the Matchless name of Christ. On Sunday, I will sing my favorite hymns, Crown Him with Many Crowns, Lift High the Cross, and Ride on King Jesus. Join me in singing.

Rev. SanDawna Ashley
Christ the King/Reign of Christ Sunday is November 22, 2020 and the Gospel Lectionary Reading for that day is Matthew 25:31-46—the focus of the Matthew 25 Vision for the PC(USA). Diane Moffett, J. Herbert Nelson, and the leadership of the Mission Agency are preparing a recorded worship service based on the Matthew 25 Vision for congregations to use however and whenever they like. It should be available for downloading on Thursday, November 19. Here’s the link to the service: Liturgical materials are drawn from the “Worship in a Matthew 25 Church” resource available on the Matthew 25 website. Diane is preaching and her sermon title is “Seeing Jesus.”
 Also, the Presbyterians Today Advent Devotionals are being published in an exclusively online formant this year. They are available free at:
Presbytery Meeting – November 14, 2020 - Highlights

Submitted by Pamela Prouty

The Presbytery of MN Valleys met on November 14, 2020 for their Stated Meeting via zoom. The meeting started with a recognition of the people who lived on the land previous to us – the Dakota and the Ojibwe. Then we were led in worship by the Rev. Anna Williamson and the Rev. David Lick. Anna preached on the text Matthew 25: 31-40 sharing stories from her ministry in Alaska. We were encouraged to give to the PCUSA special offering Christmas Joy.

During the business portion of the meeting we heard a report about the Fall Synod meeting from the Synod Commissioners, Ruling Elder John McKay and the Rev. Murphy Ashley, reports from the Executive Presbyter, the Rev. Dr. SanDawna Ashley and Stated Clerk, the Rev. Pamela Prouty as well as from each of the Presbytery Commissions and Committees.

Some of the actions included approving the 2021 proposed budget, which will raise per capita to $43.00 per member. Also, we heard a history of the relationship (which is also in the VB) we have the Presbytery of Occidente in Guatemala and approved the Pact of Companionship with them.

Other actions included the approval of the 2021 Presbytery meeting dates which are Saturday, February 6 which will be via Zoom, Tuesday, May 18 in Willmar, Tuesday, August 17 in Mankato and Saturday, November 6 in St. James. Whether we meet in person continues to be decided meeting by meeting.

New presbytery officers and commission and committee members were elected. The Presbytery is thankful for the service of the Rev. Anna Williamson, pastor from Ebenezer Presbyterian Church in Renville, MN for serving this past year as Presbytery Moderator. She has remained a calming presence in the midst of the pandemic and has served us well. She installed the next Presbytery Moderator, the Rev. David Link, pastor at the First Presbyterian Church, St. James and Vice-Moderator, Ruling Elder Nancy Skoog member at First Presbyterian Church, Randall, MN

The meeting ended with the Presbytery sharing in the Sacrament of Holy Communion. The next Presbytery meeting will be Saturday, February 6, 2021 at 10:00 a.m. via Zoom.
A Brief Summary of the Relationship between the Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys and Occidente Presbytery

Submitted by Edith Alvarez

Years ago (date unknown), the government of Guatemala invited the Presbyterian Church of the United States to initiate a ministry in Guatemala. In the 1940s Stan and Betty Wick from the Blue Earth area of Minnesota began a ministry in the Quetzaltenango (Xela) region of Guatemala that lasted into the late 1980s. Their long-time financial support from the First Presbyterian Church of Willmar led to a trip by seven members of Hope Presbyterian Church of Spicer in 1986 to provide construction assistance to a hospital in Chichicastenango, a Presbyterian/Methodist mission badly damaged by the earthquake of 1976. That led to return trips over following years.

In 1988 the General Assembly of PCUSA initiated a program of developing partnerships in the US and foreign countries to develop mutual understanding. Countries in Africa and Guatemala were considered, but the proximity of Guatemala and the prior relationships formed were considered to be of prime importance.

In 1989 an MVP task force made trips to Occidente to set up an official partnership agreement. Over the years the partnership has evolved and in 1999 Executive Presbyter Wayne Purintun and Gary Woehler met in Guatemala to sign the formal partnership agreement. The agreement is revised, if needed, and renewed every four years.

In the past, five water purification projects and seed money for the construction of four manses for churches in extreme poverty have been undertaken. Due to decreasing funds available in MVP for such projects, recently we have purchased some sewing machines and supplies for quilting classes for interested PW groups with financial support from not only MVP, but also interested congregations and individuals in MVP. Scholarships for pastors’ children ($250/year) have been provided – 6 through the MVP budget and many others from churches, organizations and individuals. [Most pastors in Guatemala receive very little financial support from their congregations and are required to find other work to provide for their families. Children in the public schools need to purchase uniforms, books, school supplies, etc. Without these scholarships, many children would not continue their education.] Money has also been provided for reformed theological training for the pastors and seminary students as well as training for the Men in the Mirror program given by Pastor Mateo Gonzalez. He has been asked to work with the national General Assembly and some of the police units throughout the country.

The major change in the 2021-2014 Pact of Companionship in Mission is the transmission of funds to Occidente for these various projects. We used to try to take money with us on our trips to Occidente. In February, 2021 when our delegation was at the Network Conference in Guatemala City, with Guatemalan and American representatives of presbyteries from both countries, a discussion was held as to how best to send money to our partners in Guatemala. It was agreed that the most effective way to safely send funds was to go through the Presbyterian Mission Agency of the PCUSA which charges a 17% transaction fee (part of which is also used to help support mission workers in Guatemala) and the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Guatemala which charges a fee of 5%. That results in 21% being added on to the amount agreed upon for a given project, but in the past money has been “lost”/stolen and this is an effort to avoid that.

The pact itself was revised word by word by four members of the Occidente International Partnership Committee and Pastor Mark Ford, Pastor Elaine Boyd and Edith Alvarez on the last day of the Network Conference. I did the translation of the English and Spanish versions of the pact with lots of cooperation from the folks from Occidente.

We usually have a signing ceremony, but Covid has made that impossible at present, so we will try to set up a Zoom meeting when Occidente Presbytery has a chance to meet and vote on acceptance of the Pact.
Register for Small Church Residency Conversation by Zoom
Saturday, November 21 at 9:00 am
Email Karen Lange to register

We are a small and mighty group from the Presbytery inviting you into a new possibility for ministry in your specific contexts. Knowing you are a vibrant congregation seeking pastoral leadership, we are exploring the gifts of early-in-ministry pastors who would love to come and lead and create alongside you in a “Small Church Residency.” This would mean an early-career pastor would be designated for two years at your church for transformation, regeneration, reimagining, and mutual growth in ministry. Through a generous grant from the Presbyterian Mission Agency and Minnesota Valleys Presbytery, resources would be available to come alongside you to support this new minister and help you all rise and change and grow together.

Qualifications for this ministry opportunity in short:
  • Small and mighty churches willing and open for change
  • Resources (financial and otherwise) to support a full-time pastor call meeting Presbyterian Minimum Guidelines (salary assistance of $5,000)

If you are interested in this exciting new opportunity, we will host a ZOOM conversation on Saturday, November 21 at 9 am to answer questions and explore possibilities about what this ministry format could look like. If these aren’t an option for you, but you think your church is up for the adventure in Small Church Residency, do reach out to the presbytery, and we’ll find a way and time to enter conversation with you!

Dreaming into the next phase of ministry with you,
The Small Church Residency Task Force
Rev. SanDawna Gaulman Ashley, Executive Presbyter
Rev. Beverly Brock, First Presbyterian Church of Foley
Rev. Lindsay Conrad, First Presbyterian Church of Mankato
Rev. Randy Knuth, First Presbyterian Church of Fulda
Rev. Paul Snyder, First Presbyterian Church of Ashby
Movie Discussion via Zoom: Same Kind of Different As Me
November 23 at 10:00 AM
For those with access to Netflix or another movie streaming service, watch the movie "Same Kind of Different as Me." We will discuss the film on Monday, November 23 at 10:00 a.m. Zoom link:
or you may contact Karen Lange for the link to be emailed.
Minnesota Department of Health Coronavirus Resources
Updated November 10: Preparedness Plan Requirements for Faith-Based Communities, Places of Worship, Weddings, and Funerals

Stay Safe Minnesota
Prayer List

  • For Rev. Bill Yueill, retired pastor, Zimmerman, well on the way to recovery from a serious heart event
  • For Rev. John Lindholm, retired pastor, Fergus Falls, health concerns
  • 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."
Pastoral Leadership Opportunities

Zion Presbyterian Church, Ellsworth; Emmanuel Presbyterian Church, Rushmore; First Presbyterian Church, Rushmore - Interim Pastor
Ministry Information Form - 09163.AE0

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.AC3

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 --