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 29 - December 5
Faith Presbyterian Church of Silver Lake
Session Members: Doris Jerabek, Bruce Svanda, Jerry Brooks, Mark Krcil, Brittany Jensen, Dorothy Merrill, Deb Jensen, Jake Wendolek.
Pastor: Rev Murphy Ashley

Please pray for Faith members and Silver Lake and the surrounding area as we all struggle with cases of COVID-19 and for all churches as we approach Thanksgiving, Advent, and the Christmas Holiday season.

We continue to support our local food shelf; as part of our mission work at Faith Presbyterian, we collect personal items given to the McLeod County Food Shelf, such as washcloths, bar soap, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrush, and deodorant. Because these items are not a food necessity, they are usually not available; however, this is an extra essential item for them. 
Give Thanks
Last Sunday, we focused on the Lordship of Christ. Tomorrow we celebrate Thanksgiving, a day that continues to evolve in meaning from celebrating the first pilgrims' arrival to Plymouth and the alliance established with the Wampanoag Indians. The complicated story continues to unfold around our nuanced history. David Silverman, in his book This Land Is Their Land: The Wampanoag Indians, Plymouth Colony, and the Troubled History of Thanksgiving, demystifies the real events of 1621. Today, Americans continue to learn that history's inaccuracies cannot be righted unless the impact of colonial land expansion, the spread of disease, and the exploitation of resources are fully told. An alternative celebration is to observe the holiday as a day to gather with family and friends to give thanks for God's manifold blessings.

Thankfulness is a spiritual virtue that is an exercise in remembrance. Through gratitude, we resist the tendency to forget the agency of God in our lives. Deuteronomy 8:7-18 is the Lectionary Old Testament text for the day. The text provides several warnings:
  • Do not forget the Lord
  • Keep the Commandments
  • When you reach the place of comfort and financial wealth and your wishes are fulfilled, do not forget who has blessed you with these things. Keep front of mind three aspects of personal and economic growth considering the term, “multiplied.” Recognize that God's favor adds value to the lives of believers. Here, the saying of the self-made man and woman is challenged. Here, individuals are cautioned not to be seduced by worldly beliefs of self-reliance and "pulling oneself up by your own bootstraps." Maintain a healthy balance in understanding the truth between self-determination, generational wealth, and blessings.
  • Remain humble be cautious not to put trust in false securities. There is a downside to unbridled greed and power. Please beware of the commercial society with its allure of invulnerability.
  • Remember God gives you the power to get wealth so that the covenant sworn to your ancestors is confirmed.

Why such emphasis on remembering God? The answer is obvious, spiritual amnesia. The people from generation to generation would forget God, assume personal interdependence, and engage in idolatry—as it was then, so it is now. The Gospel text Luke 17:11-19 makes the point. Ten lepers were healed, but only one return to say thank you.

This week will be a different kind of holiday for many, as COVID will change how families gather. We grieve this reality and pray for the 258k families who lost their loved ones. We also pray for those who lost family members to other causes. Generational stories are the remedy for this season in life. Thicken the narratives you share. Tell stories that not only acknowledge triumphs but also the lean years where resiliency, grit, perseverance, and faith carried you through seen and unseen danger. Be thankful. Give praise to God. Consider paying it forward to others from your abundance. Be renewed in spirit, and your will for this day and every day is a blessing.

Thanks Be to God.
Rev. SanDawna Ashley
Healing a divided nation post-election J. Herbert Nelson and Diane Moffett share thoughts on moving forward on Vimeo
New online and printable Advent & Christmas devotional for 2020 from Presbyterians Today

We are encouraged to be the light

Howard Thurman’s classic poem — "I Will Light Candles This Christmas" — says that the light that burns brightly is the light of Christ shining through us. It’s a light that dashes away sadness with joy, replaces fear with courage and banishes despair with hope.

This year has indeed been one in need of light. It’s been a year of pandemic, coupled with racial and political unrest. It’s been an unprecedented year that has pushed, dragged, budged and kicked us into speaking boldly and truthfully. It has dared us to step away from the comfort of doing things in the old familiar way and to try something new in our ministries.

Presbyterians Today’s Advent and Christmas devotional for 2020 is no exception. This year’s devotional is online only and is available for free at Churches are encouraged to share this link with members by clicking any of the social media share buttons. You can also download or print a PDF of each week’s section.

The devotional’s theme is based on lighting those candles featured in Thurman’s poem — challenging us to shine not only through the four weeks of Advent, but also through the 12 days of Christmas and ending with the celebration of Epiphany. Each week starts with a stanza from Thurman’s poem and reflection questions. Subsequent days feature a Scripture verse, reflection, closing prayer and an option to go deeper with suggestions for other activities.

SDOP Grant Awarded to Hikmah

Applications for Self Development of People grants were solicited to support groups in our Presbytery's communities who are seeking to improve their situations. Our committee reviewed and approved the one application that was submitted.

Hikmah Project in St. Peter will be receiving $5400 to help pay teachers in their tutoring program. Paying teachers who previously were volunteers will support more consistent instruction from qualified educators. Students will be able to advance their academic learning and their futures. These students face cultural and language barriers that make the communication between schools and parents and children difficult, Click the link to view a 4 minute video to hear their testimonies introduced by director Mohamed Abdulkadir. The first scene is a young boy reading the book "When I Grow Up." Hikmah is an Arabic word meaning wisdom.

Somalia has been going through a refugee crisis ever since a civil war erupted after the overthrow of dictator Siad Barre in 1991. The Presbyterian Hunger Program partnered with Somlian grassroots organizations to provide emergency food assistance. Vouchers also provided immediate access to food from local vendors. Three decades of violence, unstable government and droughts have caused civilians to flee their homes and dispersed across the world. Minnesota has the largest resettlement of Somali refugees in the United States. Hikmah serves the needs of Somali refugees who have made their home in St. Peter, where Pastor Andy Davis of Union Presbyterian Church encouraged them to apply for the SDOP grant. Hikmah builds a bridge that allows East African students and parents to obtain better access to the resources available to them. Hikmah wants to move the community forward by education and creating many paths of communication.

As followers of Jesus Christ, we welcome the East African refugees served by Hikmah. We stand against the attacks on refugees who are being made into cultural and political targets. We stand with our Lord who makes our treatment of the stranger a judgement of faithful discipleship. Granting our SDOP funds to Hikmah is a part of our Presbytery's commitment to be a Matthew 25 church.
Minnesota Department of Health Coronavirus Resources

Updated faith related guidance documents have just been posted. Anything you can do virtually, you should do virtually at this time.

New updated documents are:
Congregations can get up to $50k to help their pastors find renewal
Applications are now available for the Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Programs
by the Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Programs | Special to Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE — Congregations seeking renewal for their pastor are invited to apply to the Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Programs at Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, Indiana.

According to a news release from the program, congregations may apply for grants of up to $50,000 to underwrite a renewal program for their pastor and for the pastor’s family. Up to $15,000 of the funds are available to the congregation to help cover costs for ministerial supply while the pastor is away.

There is no cost to the congregations or the pastors to apply for the competitive grants, which represent the Endowment’s continued investment in renewing the health and vitality of American Christian congregations.

Details and applications for the 2021 programs are now available. To learn more about the Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Programs, view an informational video here. Listen to interviews with previous grant recipients here.

The deadline to apply is April 21, 2021. Congregations will be notified whether their proposal is funded or not by August 2021. Activities funded by a 20211 grant in the clergy renewal programs may begin anytime in 2022.

Through its religion grantmaking, Lilly Endowment, an Indianapolis-based, private philanthropic foundation, seeks to deepen and enrich the lives of American Christians. It does this largely through initiatives to enhance and sustain the quality of ministry in American congregations and parishes.

To this end, National and Indiana Clergy Renewal Programs provide an opportunity for pastors to step away briefly from the persistent obligations of daily parish life and to engage in a period of renewal and reflection. Renewal periods are not vacations, but times for intentional exploration and reflection, for drinking again from God’s life-giving waters and for regaining enthusiasm and creativity for ministry.

Learn more by clicking here.
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

First Presbyterian Church, Slayton - Pastor
Ministry Information Form - 03805.AB0

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 --
Pastoral Care

A Winter Learning Opportunity for Presbyterians

February 1-March 8, 2021
Join this class to explore what it means to reflect on what it means to provide pastoral care in a variety of settings and concerns. Rev. Lisa Watson, a long-time hospital chaplain, who currently serves as a Marriage and Family Counselor is the instructor.

Who might want to take this class?
  • Deacons who provide pastoral care and make pastoral visits
  • Commissioned Pastors who would like to improve their pastoral care
  • Those who might be called to be commissioned pastors as it meets the criteria of participating presbyteries

What will this class involve?
This course is designed to introduce you to pastoral care and the issues that commonly arise in this ministry. Our goal is to address topics that are directly relevant and applicable to your ministry work. Through readings, discussion, and self-reflective exercises, you will:
  • Increase your understanding of the essence of pastoral care.
  • Identify theological, scientific and awareness resources for future use in pastoral care
  • Deepen self-reflection awareness and skills needed to provide thoughtful pastoral care. There will be one book to read in advance and two instruments to take prior to the class.
The class runs asynchronously, meaning, you will participate in weekly activities at your own pace, based on your schedule. Each week, you will be expected to complete an assigned reading, participate in a discussion, respond to two of your classmates’ discussion posts, and complete an assignment. We estimate that you will spend about two hours weekly on coursework. There will be two Zoom meetings with the instructor: February 15 and March 1 from 7-8 p.m.

What is the cost?
  • $125 for those whose presbyteries support The Academy. $150 for those whose presbytery is not a partner. For those interested in the whole series of 11 classes in the Academy, there is an additional discount. 

Who is sponsoring this?
  • This is a class offered through The Academy, a series of classes for church members designed to deepen faith as participants encounter Christ in a new way. For those who are called or are exploring a call to become a Commissioned Pastor, this is a program that can help that happen. The Synod of Lakes and Prairies and the Presbyteries of Minnesota Valleys, North Central Iowa, Northern Waters and Prospect Hill are the current sponsors of the Academy.

How do I register or find additional information?
Formation for Mission: Dipping into the Well of PC(USA) Resources

A Spring Learning Opportunity for Presbyterians

March 13-14, 2021
This weekend class offers participants the opportunity to learn more about the breadth and depth of resources available for Presbyterian church leaders. This course provides the opportunity to interact with a number of national staff people for the PC(USA) and to become acquainted with the resources their offices offer to aid and further the ministry of local congregations. 

Who should consider taking this class?
  • Anyone who wants to grow in their faith and understanding of being Presbyterian
  • Session members and Deacons
  • Committee chairs
  • Commissioned Pastors seeking a helpful continuing education opportunity
  • Those who might be called to be commissioned pastors

What will this class involve?
  • Through a series of interactive panel discussions with national staff for the PCUSA, participants will dip deep into the well of resources for:
  • Understanding and engaging the Matthew 25 initiative of the denomination and its focus on building congregational vitality, eradicating system poverty and dismantling structural racism.
  • Forming lifelong disciples who are grounded in the reformed tradition and equipped for evangelism, equipped to be peacemakers and witnesses to the world, and who engage the reformed tradition to work towards justice and equity for all God's people. 
  • The Presbyterian Publishing House will share new resources for faith formation of all ages and participants will explore a variety of resources and how they can be used in local congregations.
  • This class will meet by Zoom on Saturday 9:00-5:00 and Sunday 9:00-3:00 CT.

What is the cost?
  • $125 for participants from partner presbyteries. $150 for participants from non-partner presbyteries. For those interested in the whole series of 11 classes in the Academy, there is a discount. 

Who is sponsoring this?
  • This is a class offered through The Academy, a series of classes for church members designed to deepen faith as participants encounter Christ in a new way. For those who are called or are exploring a call to become a Commissioned Pastor, this is a program that can help that happen. The Synod of Lakes and Prairies and the Presbyteries of Minnesota Valleys, North Central Iowa, Northern Waters and Prospect Hill are the current sponsors of the Academy.

How do I register or find more information?