The Valley Bridge
The weekly newsletter from the
Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys
October 11, 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
SanDawna Ashley will be out of the office through Oct 18
Karen Lange will be out Friday, Oct 13 and Monday, Oct 16
Pamela Prouty, SanDawna, and Stan Menning 
are attending meetings in Saint Louis.
Congregation of the week: October 15-21
First Presbyterian Church of Saint James
Clerk of session: Jerry Olson
Session: Larry Anderson, Bill Brown, Julie Englin, Dawn Lillevold, Jake Oldenburg, Jim Paulson, Margaret Smith, Wayne Sondag
Deacons: Cathy Vande Braak, Chris Beckius, Carolyn Curry, Larry Curry, Carol Friesen, Gloria Lewis, Elaine Modeen, Louise Paulson, Mary Shupe, Gus Zender

Pastor - Rev. Dr. Leah Elrod
Secretary - Courtney Fritz
Health Minister - Linda Becken
Choir Director - Jerry Olson
Organists - Patty Brandts, Gloria Lewis
Treasurers - Natalie Oldenburg, Courtney Brey
Offering Steward - Elaine Smith
Custodian - Jon Wilson

Prayer concerns:
  • For the church as they prepare to call a new pastor.
  • For discernment and guidance for the Forum on Race as we develop new partnerships with the Hispanic Community in St. James.
  • For safety for our farmers during the harvest.
  • For those in our community who struggle with the high cost of health care, housing, and food insecurity.
  • For First Lutheran Church, the St. James Ministerium, and the family of Rev. Maggie Cumings who died unexpectedly from complications during a routine surgery. 
God Chat Apps: A Life of Prayer Wrap Up!

by Deb Hess, Moderator, Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys

What a blessed day! Learning from our plenary and workshop speakers, time spent at the different prayer stations, through our closing worship, we were reminded of ways to pray and learned about new ways to talk to God. The attendees were asked to share one idea or thought they would take home to put into practice, we received comments like these:
This tree was in full glory on Saturday
  • Talk to God like a friend. 
  • Recommit to prayer life.
  • Soul feeding.
  • God is present to us in every activity of life. The challenge is to offer ourselves to God in every activity of life.   
  • Whenever I am having a bad day to just pray. 
  • Truly a soul feast! The sessions I went to were well done and well worth attending.
Incorporating prayer into our daily lives is what God calls us to do. We are to bring everything to him. And we are to be open to what he is calling us to do here on earth to glorify our Triune God. I want to thank all of you that attended, our speakers, Hope Presbyterian Church for being such gracious hosts, and the Equipping Day Team for all the work that went into putting on the day. And we were grateful for the perfect weather that allowed us to move about the grounds in sunshine. Gracious and loving God, we give you thanks above all else. 

SanDawna and Deb (ask them what this picture is about, you will get a good story)
Kara Root, our plenary speaker
One of the classroom workshops
Reformation Sunday: Oct 29
and Luther's Bible

This year Presbyterians celebrate the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther's 95 Theses. The theses, which criticized the sale of indulgences by church officials, are considered the opening salvo in the Protestant Reformation--a movement that emphasized individual relationships with God and salvation through faith alone. Luther is also celebrated for a second piece of writing: his translation of the Bible into German. After Pope Leo X excommunicated Luther in 1521, the reformer took refuge inside Wartburg Castle. There he completed his translation of the New Testament, based on Erasmus's 1516 Bible text. First printed in September 1522, the "September Testament" does not include Luther's name on the title page, an elision meant to limit church reprisals

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.
Occidente Presbytery Holds Education Events

Each year we have been able to send $1250 to support educational experiences in Occidente, our sister presbytery in Guatemala. We pass on to you their thanks for making recent events possible. Pastor Ranferi Marcos, the secretary of their Committee on Ministry, sent the following reports.

A session entitled "Getting to Know Us as Pastors' Wives" was held at the Maya Quiche Institute on June 24 with 13 sisters in attendance. He writes: "They felt that this activity was of great support for them and they send their thanks to us for providing this kind of event."

A pastors' workshop at Jehova Jireh Presbyterian Church in Xela was held on July 29 with 14 pastors attending. The topic was "Priorities in Ministry." Each person there examined a book with the same title, and was given a certificate of attendance, a pencil, and other materials. Copies of the book along with helpful notes were also sent to all other pastors that were not able to attend.
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 November 4. 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.
Buckets for Hurricane Relief

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance needs buckets! They are currently out of clean-up buckets to be sent to areas affected by flooding in Texas and Florida, etc. First Presbyterian Church in St. Cloud has secured a (donated!) semi truck to ship as many buckets as we can to the PDA warehouse in Little Rock, Arkansas. What once was a congregational challenge to "adopt a bucket" in St. Cloud has now become a call to "Fill the truck." We'll take your completed buckets and include them in our shipping. Or, don't have the time or interest to shop for items and assemble the buckets? We'll also take donations (money or specific items on the list). We are currently arranging with local retailers to order items by the case and then will assemble the clean-up buckets here. We are hoping to ship by mid-to-late October. The need is real, folks. Consider how you and your congregation, family, workplace, neighborhood might choose to respond. This is not to replace your congregation's or personal giving to the PDA ministry - this is a tangible way to encourage those who've thought about how to respond to Hurricane Relief but haven't yet, or want to do more. Contact Mark Giese ( at First Presbyterian Church in St. Cloud for more info, or with specific questions and/or donations. Ph. 320-251-8277  Or visit to download a list along with more info. 

Claim these donated books

We recently received a generous donation of books for giveaway. Those in the Lay Academy may find them especially helpful. Please contact Karen at the presbytery office to claim yours and arrange for pickup or shipping (at your cost).
  • Companion to the Constitution: Polity for the Local Church, Presbyterian Church (USA), 1999
  • The Book of Confessions, 1996, Presbyterian Church (USA)
  • Practicing Our Faith, by Dorothy C. Bass
  • A History of Israel, by John Bright
  • The New Pastor's Guide to Leading Worship, by Barbara Day Miller
  • Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew, by Bart D. Ehrman
  • Presbyterian Polity for Church Officers, Third Edition, by Joan S. Gray, Joyce C. Tucker
  • The Left Hand of God: Taking Back Our Country from the Religious Right, by Michael Lerner
  • Introducing the Reformed Faith: Biblical Revelation, Christian Tradition, Contemporary Significance, by Donald K. McKim
  • Finding Your Religion: When the Faith You Grew Up with Has Lost Its Meaning, by Rev. Scotty McLennan
  • First Easter: The True and Unfamiliar Story in Words and Pictures by Paul L. Maier
  • Why Religion Matters: The Fate of the Human Spirit in an Age of Disbelief, by Huston Smith
  • The Story of the Reformation, by William Stevenson
  • The Evolution of God, by Robert Wright
General Assembly alternates sought
The Commission on Representation (COR) is reviewing applications received to be a General Assembly Teaching/Ruling Elder commissioner, alternate or Young Adult Advisory Delegate. The ruling elder alternate opening is still available. If you are interested, please fill out the personal information form or the application for GA. If you have questions about any of the positions, please talk with Stated Clerk Pam Prouty or Sara McKay, chair of the COR.
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
Lakeshore Center at Okoboji,  October 13
Pastors and CREs: Here is a great opportunity for you to spend a day with preacher/teacher/author Tom Long.  He will be in the area to teach a class for the new Academy and will be doing this day long workshop at the Lakeshore Center at Okoboji on Friday, October 13
Teaching Fish to Walk: Church Systems and Adaptive Challenge
featuring Dr. Peter L. Steinke

Today's culture offers us both great challenges and opportunities for ministry. Easy answers won't cut it; we need to change and adapt. That's hard work. But there are people who can guide us.

"Teaching Fish to Walk: Church Systems and Adaptive Challenge," will draw on the deep and long experience of Dr. Peter L. Steinke, author and internationally respected church consultant. The workshop will begin with lunch at 12:00 noon on Monday, November 13, and conclude at 12:00 noon, Tuesday, November 14, 2017, at Mt. Olivet Conference and Retreat Center in Farmington, Minnesota.

This lifelong learning event will support and equip congregations in their exploration of faithful means to follow the Holy Spirit into a changing world. Clergy, Commissioned Pastors, and lay leaders are encouraged to attend as individuals or by forming a small team from a congregation. Through support from the Presbytery of Twin Cities Area and the Omaha Presbyterian Seminary Foundation, we are able to keep the cost reasonable.


  • $100 ... Resident Rate
Five sessions with Peter Steinke, lodging on-site (double-room), three meals (lunch and dinner Monday, breakfast Tuesday), and all workshop materials.
All rooms are double rooms, in order to maximize on-site participation. You will be assigned a roommate unless both you and your desired roommate list each other on your registration form.
  • $80 ... Non-Resident Rate
Five sessions with Peter Steinke, two meals (lunch and dinner Monday), and all workshop materials.
Registration for Presbyterian Church USA teaching elders and leaders opens Wednesday, September 20.
If there are open slots, other denominational clergy and leaders will be invited to register beginning Monday, September 25, 2017.

Contact Jeff Japinga, executive presbyter, PTCA:, 651-357-1150. 
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 --
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 Giving Magazine

This magazine has become a premier stewardship resource for churches and denominations throughout North America. Each magazine is packed with resources to support stewardship in the local church. Articles explore the intersection of faith and giving, offer practical information on Christian stewardship for all generations, and critique the newest resources on stewardship.  Click here for more information.

Link to Pastor's Tool Box for Stewardship:
Six New Things
God is our strength
Presbyterian Peace & Justice Monthly
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