The Valley Bridge
The weekly newsletter from the
Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys
November 22, 2017
 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)
Regular Presbytery office hours are 8:00 - 5:00 Monday - Friday
Office closed for Thanksgiving - Nov 23 and 24
Congregation of the week of November 26 - December 2
First Presbyterian Church of Winnebago
Pastor: Michael A. Roys
Associate Pastor: Minister of Music -- Kathy  Blair
Secretary: Carol Ricard
Clerk of Council: Dan Ricard
Organist: MaryJean Miller
Custodian: Amber Franklin
Ministers: the congregation
Two special ministry groups the church offers are the  Next-to-New (a thrift shop run by our  women) and the Presbyterian Men's Club (who serve the church and community and operate a burger/brat stand on Wednesdays from Memorial Day to Labor Day).
We just completed our annual Swiss Steak Dinner, at which we serve roughly 425 people.

Prayer concerns:
  • safe travels for people during the holidays
  • successful completion of the harvest and tillage work
  • appreciation for those completing, continuing and beginning leadership roles on council
  • celebration of our Lord's birth and Advent
  • fair and just resolution for all affected by assault of local youth
Happy Thanksgiving

As we approach the holiday season, I wish you the very best as you enjoy family and friends. The holidays are my favorite time of the year ... decorations, music, reconnecting, great food, and memories. Deuteronomy 8:12-18 was my devotional text this morning:
When you have eaten your fill and have built fine houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks have multiplied, and your silver and gold is multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied, then do not exalt yourself, forgetting the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, who led you through the great and terrible wilderness, an arid wasteland with poisonous snakes and scorpions. He made water flow for you from flint rock, and fed you in the wilderness with manna that your ancestors did not know, to humble you and to test you, and in the end to do you good. Do not say to yourself, "My power and the might of my own hand have gotten me this wealth." But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, so that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your ancestors, as he is doing today." (Deuteronomy 8:12-18, NRVS)
As I read Deuteronomy 8 it was my grandmother's voice I heard, not Moses. Growing up, in our household, we were reminded that good things in life were gifts. No sense of entitlement was allowed. God blessings afforded us to have the basics of a good life and extra bonuses of wealth and some riches. Thanksgiving was less about the pilgrims landing on Plymouth Plantation than it was about family and thankfulness. The harvest we celebrated was growing relationships of closeness and love. Our close-knit family valued deeply togetherness, good health, and faith. After  watching football games Thanksgiving evening, we included a ritual of welcoming new babies to the family. We bathed them with kisses and hugs to make sure they knew that they were loved. Lots of photos were taken to share in the next family newsletter. Stories were told of loved ones who had passed on. Sometimes there were tears, but quickly laughter prevailed. The stories continued with imitations of granddad, grandmother, aunts and uncles. These memories keep me grounded. God has truly been good!
As you celebrate the holidays may you be richly blessed with goodness.
A Thanksgiving Day Prayer

Lord, so often times, as any other day
When we sit down to our meal and pray

We hurry along and make fast the blessing
Thanks, amen. Now please pass the dressing

We're servants to the olfactory overload
We must rush our prayer before the food gets cold

But Lord, I'd like to take a few minute more
To really give thanks to what I'm thankful for

For my family, my health, a nice soft bed
My friends, my freedom, a roof over my head

I'm thankful right now to be surrounded by those
Whose lives touch me more than they'll ever possibly know

Thankful Lord, that You've blessed me beyond measure
Thankful that in my heart lives life's greatest treasure

That You, dear Jesus, reside in that place
And I'm ever so grateful for Your unending grace

So please, heavenly Father, bless this food You've provided
And bless each and every person invited


--Scott Wesemann

Christmas Open House - December 11
Come to the presbytery office on Monday, December 11, to our Christmas Open House from 11:00-2:00. The staff will make lunch; we will visit, sing some carols, and Lynn Miller from Saint Cloud will share some lovely harp music.

Hanging the Greens

Also, anyone that has time is welcome to come on Monday, Nov 27 to help us decorate the office for Christmas. Come anytime in the morning.
Financial Health Assessment

Where is your church on the road to financial health? Do you have all the resources you need? Is there room for improvement in the areas of stewardship and generosity? Use this free and confidential assessment tool from the Presbyterian Foundation to help answer these questions.  The resulting report provides customized recommendations of best practices and other identified opportunities and will help your congregation maximize giving through tithes, offerings, and other means of support for your mission and ministry. 


Free Advent Devotional from
Pittsburgh Theological Seminary
Seeking Nominations for Women of Faith Award
2018 Theme: Clergywomen Who Challenge Racism and Injustice

Basis for the Theme: Many of us are blessed to know clergywomen who have been advocates for racial and intercultural justice, with a respectful awareness and appreciation for each other's different races, ethnicities, cultures and languages. At the Women of Faith breakfast, we will show gratitude and recognize clergywomen who are "woke" and who challenge systemic racism and oppression.

Purpose of award: This award recognizes clergywomen who challenge racism and injustice.

Save the Date

We are holding the annual Commission/Committee/Task Force Orientation and Initial Work Day on Saturday, January 13, at the First Presbyterian Church in Willmar. All those serving on presbytery commissions, committees and task forces are invited. More info coming later.
Steering Congregations to Formational Resources

The Commission on Congregational Transformation and Development exists to resource congregations. We have identified six critical areas: discipleship, evangelism, mission, spiritual leadership, stewardship and worship. Each area has one or two individuals who serve as point persons. The point person's goal is to steer you in the right direction toward valuable resource. Please let us know how we can come alongside of your congregation.

Discipleship: Pam Bush, , 507-823-4697
EvangelismAnne Veldhuisen,, 507-215-5617
Mission: Richard Lawrence, , 320-260-9639
Mission: Darlene Scherbing, , 320-292-2610
Spiritual Leadership: Tom Voigt, , 612-875-6398
Stewardship: Rick Hauge, , 507-829-5227
Worship: Darin Seaman, , 320-251-8277
Pastoral Leadership Opportunities

The following congregation within the bounds of our presbytery is currently seeking pastoral leadership:

Randall Presbyterian Church, Randall
- Pastor
   Ministry Information Form - 03892.AC

First Presbyterian Church, Fulda - Solo Pastor, 3/4 time
   Ministry Information Form - 03782.AD

Hope Presbyterian Church, Spicer - Interim Pastor
   Ministry Information Form - 09565.AC

The Ministry Information Forms for these opportunities are posted on the Church Leadership Connection web site --
2018 Per Capita is $40.13

$27.00 for Presbytery
   5.40 for Synod
   7.73 for GA
$40.13 Total
Mosaic of Peace Conference

Witnessing for Peace and Wholeness in a Land called 'Holy'
A Presbyterian Peacemaking Conference in Israel/Palestine
April 29-May 12, 2018

For more information, including a sample conference schedule and information from past conferences, visit or contact the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program at 800-728-7228 x5805 or 502-569-5805.
The University of Dubuque Theological Seminary is pleased to announce that we will be offering eight online courses for Commissioned Ruling Elders in our CLP/CRE lay ministry program.  The spring term is scheduled from January 29 to May 12, 2018.  We would appreciate it if you would pass on this information within your presbytery/church and advertise it in your newsletter or other publications. 
  • Introduction to Old Testament - Rev. Stephanie Schlimm
  • Introduction to New Testament - Kathleen Rupert, MDiv
  • Christian Education - Dr. Susan Forshey
  • Pastoral Care - Dr. Beth McCaw
  • Introduction to Preaching - Dr. Lyle Vander Broek
  • Presbyterian Polity - Dr. Gary Eller
  • Reformed Theology -  Dr. David Congdon
  • Reformed Worship & Sacraments - Dr. Richard Shaffer
The tuition rate is $390.00 per course.  As always, current students can register by going online and paying via PayPal at  or by contacting me ( or 563-589-3630 / 1-888-207-8218), to pay by credit card or check.  We would also ask you to pass this email on and encourage anyone you may know with gifts for ministry to consider exploring their call through our CRE lay ministry program.  Application, program information and details regarding our Certificate in Congregational Leadership can be found at the above link in the green box titled "Quick Links".  We review applications on a rolling basis each semester and all new applicants are required to take the Online Learning Course as an introduction to distance education. 
Please feel free to call or email me or Dr. Annette Huizenga, Dean of the Seminary ( ahuizenga@dbq.eduĂ‚  or 563-589-3858), with any questions or comments.
Thanksgiving blessings from UDTS!
Carla Gibbons
Coordinator of Lay Education
University of Dubuque Theological Seminary
2000 University Avenue, Dubuque, IA  52001

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