The Valley Bridge
The weekly newsletter from the
Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys
November 8, 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
Congregation of the week of November 12-18
First Presbyterian Church of Willmar
Co-Pastors: Rev. Leanne Thompson & Rev. Scott Thompson
Administrative Assistant: 
Shara Goldenstein
Christian Education & Youth Ministries Director:  Jill Boeyink
Financial Secretary:  Deb Lang
Custodians:  Sue & Jerry Schiro
Nursery Supervisor:  Erica Boeyink
Treasurer:  Bea Ourada
Clerk of Session:  Betty Knutson
Please be in prayer for the Family Promise program, which houses homeless families and is an ecumenical ministry of the Kandiyohi County churches. The Day Center is housed in our building. Please pray for racial reconciliation and unity for our diverse community which has many Hispanic and Somali individuals. Please pray for our staff and members as we meet the missional needs of our community as we strive to be the hands and feet of Jesus.
Watch and Pray

Today the saying "watch and pray" has new meaning. When Jesus spoke these words to the disciples as recorded in Luke 21:36 and Matthew 26:41, the exhortation was to stay awake. Jesus recited the phrase that lonely night in the garden when he needed friends the most. Facing death and knowing that his ministry on earth was coming to an end, Jesus uttered the words "Father, let this cup pass from me...not my will but thy will be done." Warning against not paying attention to life, and on the other hand not being too preoccupied by life that you become overwhelmed, Jesus talked about watchfulness. Watch and Pray because the days of judgment are near. These Eschatological beliefs pointed to End Time Theology. Considering today when basic decencies seem to have escaped humanity, watch and pray is a call to stay alert in modern times. We cannot ignore that something is happening. Why the evil? Why this level of violence? Is anything sacred anymore?

"Keep us safe from seen and unseen dangers" should be our consistent prayer. Life is uncertain, but God's love for us is not. I would imagine that many pastors and Christian Educators will grapple this week with explaining the shadow side of creation, evil and why bad things happen to good people. My prayers are with you as you engage in faithful conversations around these age-old questions.

On the practical side, church leaders should take precautions to ensure that congregations are prepared for emergencies and armed violence. Violence is not restricted to urban areas or terrorist from other countries. Since 2007, gun violence in America has included the Virginia Tech shooting 32 killed; Newton, Connecticut 20 elementary school children killed (2012); Washington Navy Yard 12 killed (2013); Chattanooga five killed at an Armed Forces Recruitment Center, Charleston Nine (2015); Pulse Orlando Night Club 49 killed (2016); 58 people killed at the Las Vegas concert shooting (2017); and 26 killed at First Baptist Church, Sutherland Springs, Texas (2017).

Mental illness, hate, ignorance, unresolved anger, domestic disputes and the lack of self-control causes individuals and groups to harm others. Churches are no longer safe holy ground. A review of history will tell us that churches were never violence free. However, when religion was more respected and church had a greater value in the minds of most people, fewer hideous crimes happened on church grounds.

People bring their troubles to church figuratively and literally. How does the church address the multiplicity of these issues? Watch and pray, know the people in your community, build relationships with civil authorities, health care workers and school officials. Be discerning and aware of what's happening around you. Pray with your eyes wide open is a staying that means to seek God while being aware of everyday happenings. Do not assume that all is well in your community because you believe that you are isolated from the troubles of the world. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the highest jail incarceration rates are in America's rural counties. Additionally, the opioid epidemic greatly affects rural America. No matter where we live, being aware means making the correlation between low educational attainment, poverty, under-employment, isolation and high-risk behaviors. In order for the good news preached on Sundays to really be good news, it must assist in changing the environmental conditions in which people live.

On the practical side, here are resources to help you keep your congregations safe during worship.

Resources from Church Mutual Insurance:
Safety During Worship YouTube -

Resource from Presbyterian Mission Agency:

Blessings and Peace,

Presbytery Meeting Highlights

Thanks to the folks at First Presbyterian Church of Redwood Falls for hosting the Stated Presbytery Meeting on Saturday. We celebrated the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, including a surprise visit from John Calvin himself! Those in attendance were given the gift of the book "Prayers of the Reformers" by Thomas McPherson. We were honored to have General Assembly Co-Moderator Denise Anderson with us. She preached, led communion with Scott Prouty, shared her experiences as co-moderator, and held a question and answer session. We got together in small groups to discuss some questions asked by the 2020 Vision Team from the 2016 General Assembly, including What do you feel lifts up God's heart in your local community? and How could our denomination do things even more effectively than we have been doing? We heard about the Youth Trip to Occidente Presbytery this summer. Deb Hess was thanked for her year as presbytery moderator, and she led the installation of the next moderator and vice moderator--Stan Menning and Mark Ford. Below are a few pictures from the day.
SanDawna, Denise, Stan, Deb, Pamela
Galen Smith as John Calvin
Discussion Groups

Hunter Clark talks about the Youth Trip to Guatemala
GA Co-Moderator Denise Anderson
Stan Menning and Mark Ford

Be a part of supporting Presbyterian schools in Pakistan

by Lynn Miller

Over the years, congregations in our Presbytery have supported education in Pakistan through the Presbyterian Education Board (PEB), a mission that arose from the vision of United Presbyterian missionaries over 150 years ago. The schools of PEB continue to this day to provide educational opportunity to over 6000 of Pakistan's poorest children. Following a period of government control (1972-1998), today PEB is challenged with rebuilding, restoring, and renewing the schools and the quality of academics.

Around 2011, Minnesota Valleys Presbytery donated funds to construct a classroom in a new building at Christian Girls' High School, Sargodha, making it possible for students to have a safe and inviting place to learn. The campus continues to grow, including construction of a new dormitory to replace a 100-year old building that was no longer safe for occupancy. First Presbyterian Church of St. Cloud is one of the churches in our Presbytery that has partnered with PEB over the past five years to raise funds for scholarships and new construction on the Sargodha campus.

Numerous congregations and individuals in the Presbytery have supported PEB in various ways, most notably by donating funds for scholarships. So many parents of the PEB students are in difficult financial situations, making it difficult for them to pay even $2 per month toward their children's school fees. Scholarships supplement the small parental contribution. PEB is grateful that God's people in Minnesota recognize the need and respond so generously.

Many of you have met Veda Javaid Gill, Executive Director of PEB, during one of her visits to Minnesota. We look forward to seeing her in 2018 as she tours the USA in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the return of the PEB schools from the Pakistani government in 1998. You will hear more about this in future newsletters. If your congregation is interested in participating in the Minnesota area celebration, please contact Margy Trimble (Executive Director of Friends of PEB) at or phone 320-493-6243.

In the meantime, please consider becoming involved in this vital ministry. Speakers in our area who have previously visited PEB in Pakistan are available to share the story with your congregation. You can also participate financially through individual gifts or mission giving. A current opportunity is the Christmas Challenge that is focused on building a new school for boys in Martinpur (a majority Christian village) and completing the Sargodha girls' dormitory. Click here for more information about this campaign.

We also invite you to join Friends of PEB's #100Challenge on Giving Tuesday, November 28, by being one of 100 friends who donate any amount to encourage the 100 Christian girls in the Sargodha dormitory. The girls are awaiting completion of Phase II of their dormitory so they will no longer have to share beds or sleep on floor mats. Click here to participate, or visit and search for "Friends of Presbyterian Education Board" to make a donation.

Thank you for showing your concern for young people in a distant part of our world.

FYI - Friends of PEB is a US 501(c)3 non-profit organization that promotes PEB in the USA.
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.
Giveaway:  First Presbyterian Church of Willmar is giving away plastic handbell stands. Call 320-235-1263 with questions.
Hurricane Cleanup Buckets: update from Mark Giese

The response for this project has been amazing, and overwhelming. We have received donations from so many among our Presbytery (Lake Crystal, Fergus Falls, Windom, Brainerd, Spicer, St. Cloud, Randall, Underwood, and Ashby). We've even received donations from out of state! As of this publication, we have over 250 buckets packed and ready for shipment! Thank you for all of the support and efforts in your communities.
Send us pictures!

We would love to use pictures from our congregations during presbytery meetings, on our website, and in the newsletter. Do you have some great stained glass windows, unique symbols or art in your church? Some great action shots of congregation members, children and youth? If you are out and about and see some great images, send those too. Please email these high quality png or jpg images to Karen Lange. If sending pictures of children or youth for our use, please get permission from their parents.
What an educational bargain!
by Edith Alvarez
For just $250 a year you, your family, your church, your organization could educate the child of a pastor in our sister Occidente Presbytery, Guatemala. This would include enough money to buy a uniform, a pair of shoes, books, and other school supplies and might mean the difference between a child's being able to attend school or not. Pastors in Guatemala earn very little money and are often forced to hold one or two jobs other than preaching to provide for their family. The Occidente Committee on Ministry selects which children receive scholarships based on need.

The school year in Guatemala begins in January. If you would like to help, money should be sent to the Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys, 4055 Abbott Drive, Willmar, MN 56201 by soon. Indicate that it is for a Guatemalan scholarship. We do not reveal who the donors are to the recipients to avoid further requests for financial assistance, but we do try to provide you with a photo, academic record and thank you note of a recipient.
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.

Seeking Director of Music Ministry - Wheaton, IL

First Presbyterian Church of Wheaton, Illinois, is seeking a talented and enthusiastic Director of Music Ministry, who is committed to growth both individually and collectively. This is a full time position responsible for leading our Music Ministry in collaboration with the Senior Pastor/Head of Staff. The ideal candidate will have a vision for music ministry that connects our souls with God in a profound and dramatic way in worship. First Pres is open to a variety of musical styles from those that are rich in tradition to those which are newly inspired.
If you are a dynamic, creative person who is looking to celebrate, journey and serve with us, we look forward to hearing from you. Please send a cover letter and resume to Jan Buscher, Church Administrator.  A complete job description can be downloaded here .
Jan Buscher, CCA,  Church Administrator
First Presbyterian Church of Wheaton
715 N. Carlton
Wheaton, IL 60187
(630) 668-5147 x19
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