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 October 18-24
Emmanuel Presbyterian Church of Rushmore
Clerk of Session: Joyce Jacobs
Treasurer: Janet Smid
Ruling Elders: Dean Hokeness, Lynel Hokeness, Matt Larson, Joyce Jacobs, Vernette Wiertsema
Church Secretary: Darcey Groen
Moderator: Rev. Galen Smith
  • Pray for members of our church that are healing from various conditions.
  • Pray for members who are isolated due to COVID.
  • Pray for those who are grieving in our congregation and community.
  • Pray for a safe and productive harvest.
  • Pray for our church and our sister congregations, Zion Presbyterian Church of Ellsworth and First Presbyterian Church of Rushmore, as we continue to work together in a shared ministry.
  • Pray for our Transition Team as they search for a new pastor for our congregations.
  • Pray for healing and unity in our communities and across our nation.

Although the pandemic has cancelled many of our church activities, we are excited that our Sunday School students were able to start classes again during our morning worship. As we look forward to Christmas, we are grateful that members of our church will again participate in the “Adopt-A-Family” program to provide Christmas gifts for children and families in our community.
The November 14 Stated Presbytery Meeting will be
meeting via Zoom from 10:00 am-12:00 noon.
Out of the Office: Karen Lange will be on vacation
Thursday, October 15 - Monday, October 19
Dear Church Leaders,

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 are attached to this email, but in short, here is what we are looking for:
  • Small and mighty churches willing and open for change
  • Resources (financial and otherwise) to support a full-time pastor call meeting Presbyterian Minimum Guidelines (potential salary assistance up to $5,000)

If you are interested in this exciting new opportunity, we will host ZOOM conversations on Thursday, November 12 at 6:30 pm and 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
Are you called to serve?

The Committee on Representation has the responsibility to prayerfully consider the needs of the presbytery and the gifts of those who desire to serve the church through the presbytery. Below is a link to the Personal Interest Form. Please check those areas where you would feel called to serve in the ministries of our presbytery, and at the end of the form, list the gifts and interest you bring to those areas. For more info on each commission or committee, see the appropriate page on our website. Also see the Committee on Representation page at for info on skills needed and time commitment for each.

Link to form
Race and Christianity
Race and Christianity Series with Sarah Ruble webinar 2 is on YouTube link: Join us next time (yet to be scheduled) for our final session with Sarah Ruble. Meanwhile, we are invited to watch Episodes 5-8 at in preparation for the discussion.
Next Book Discussion:
Jesus and the Disinherited
by Howard Thurman
Zoom scheduled for
Tuesday, October 20
10:00 - 11:00 AM
For the first meeting, read the forward and chapters 1 and 2.

In this classic theological treatise, the acclaimed theologian and religious leader Howard Thurman (1900–81) demonstrates how the gospel may be read as a manual of resistance for the poor and disenfranchised. Jesus is a partner in the pain of the oppressed and the example of His life offers a solution to ending the descent into moral nihilism. Hatred does not empower—it decays. Only through self-love and love of one another can God's justice prevail.
Support Education for Children in Our Sister Presbytery in Guatemala

by Jim Krapf

Education yields opportunities. We are grateful for your support of this possibility for children in our sister presbytery of Occidente. Donating $250 scholarships provides funds for a student's required uniforms, books, and other expenses for a year. It makes a difference for that child’s future.

Their next school year begins in January. You can mail your checks made out to the Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys and noted for scholarships to the presbytery office. Any amount is appreciated; but $250 per student is the goal. You may consider making this more than a one-year commitment.

You might also added 22% of your donated amount. Five percent is given to the national office of the Presbyterian Church in Guatemala as a part of our partnership agreement. This money assists in paying their administrative and program cost at the national level. Seventeen percent is given to our national office of the PCUSA, to pay for promotional efforts and to ensure the funds are used as intended.

Your donations will be in addition to the six scholarships that are provided through our presbytery’s Occidente Partners budget. Our goal for several years has been a total of $4000, providing 16 children with $250 each. Keeping our donations at this level can support more children beyond elementary into middle and high school.

After their school year ends in December, donors will receive photographs, academic reports, and thank you notes from the children and/or their parents. Many churches display these to express appreciation and promote further contributions. Examples will be on exhibit at the next Presbytery meeting. We do not reveal the names of donors to the recipients to avoid further requests for assistance. We have found presbytery-to-presbytery arrangements are a fairer more manageable way to offer assistance. Occidente's Committee on Ministry will continue to select the recipients from among their now 20 churches.

Thank you in advance
Around the Presbytery
First Presbyterian Church of Winnebago
Mark 10:13-16 (Contemporary English)

Some people brought their children to Jesus so that He could bless them by placing His hands on them. But His disciples told the people to stop bothering Jesus. When Jesus saw this, He became angry and said, “Let the children come to me! Don’t try to stop them. People who are like these little children belong to the kingdom of God. I promise you that you cannot get into God’s kingdom unless you accept it the way a child does.” Then Jesus took the children in His arms and blessed them by placing His hands on them.
Imagine a sweet little boy, wearing his covid mask, reverently and prayerfully standing in front of an evergreen tree, his young hands folded, and behind him a cross.

On Sunday, September 20, the First Presbyterian Church in Winnebago dedicated a large evergreen tree in front of their church as a community prayer tree. It is meant to be a place of hope, and praise, and prayer and healing not only for members of their church, but for the community. The idea is simple... People are invited to come and simply stand by the tree, alone or with a friend, and in the silence and shade of the tree, pray. The prayers may be personal prayers, or prayers for families, for the church, for the community, the state, the nation, or the world. They may be prayers of thanksgiving and praise.

For those persons who would like to actually leave a prayer or a prayer request on the tree, there are specially prepared supplies for them to do that. You might be able to spot some of the prayers already placed on the tree, in little plastic bags, with bright colored snap clothes pins.

The picture above is titled by the photographer “Somebody Got What It Was All About.” That somebody was a little boy named Juan, who stayed after others had gone to reverently and innocently offer his prayers. Adults, including me, sadly, hurried off to our apparently busy lives, the task of dedicating the tree complete. Juan stayed behind to pray.

If I have learned anything in my life as a pastor it is that we have much to learn from the innocent, totally trusting, simplicity of the faith of a child. The greatest lessons I ever learned about communion were literally in the hands and the face of a four-year-old little boy named Tim, and in the question an extremely indignant three-year-old Amy, asked about communion in such a big voice it reverberated throughout one of the largest sanctuaries in Sioux Falls as her parents shrunk under the pew.

If you have a child, or a grandchild, or a great grandchild, or a great god daughter, or simply a child you love, take time to listen to their explanations of God, of Jesus, and listen to their prayers. Their words may not always be totally accurate, the pureness of their hearts is. Listen and learn. They may have much to teach us. Juan certainly did!

Bible Study by Rev. Penny Ritter
Presbyterian Women News

PW's 2021 Churchwide Gathering is August 5-8, 2021. The PW Churchwide Gathering is now less than a year away! WOOHOO! St. Louis, MO is the place to be to be inspired, energized, and challenged; to grow in one’s faith and to learn from the many knowledgeable speakers. Events will be held at the Grand Marriott and St. Louis Convention Center. Registration books will be available in the next few weeks and registration begins in January 2021! Continue to dream and make plans to attend!

The Board approved 125 grants at $450 each (cost of registration) for financial support to attend the 2021 Churchwide Gathering in St. Louis. A grant application form and three reference letters must be submitted to Churchwide by May 2021.

The Board approved gift cards as a mission project for the Churchwide Gathering. The cards will support work in three areas:
  • PW disaster recovery efforts in Puerto Rico
  • USA Mission Experience to the Finger Lakes Region in New York
  • Women’s health in the St. Louis area.

Book Study: Justice and Peace Book Study Group
Read a book every two months
Receive study guide or questions for each gook to inform your reading
Meet via Zoom for a two-hour discussion

2020-2021 Proposed Books are Waking Up White by Debby Irving, A Good Provider Is One Who Leaves by Jason DeParle, Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson, Climate Justice by Mary Robinson, The White Devil's Daughters by Julia Flynn Siler, and The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein.

This Book Club will meet by Zoom on October 19 at 12:30-2:30 and 6:30-8:30PM to discuss Waking Up White. Register by contacting Kathleen Keefer at Read the books which interest you and register for each separately. You don't have to read all of them to be in the book club. The book club is open to EVERYONE.
Prayer List

  • For Beverly Raske, Renville, former Interim Executive Presbyter, broken shoulder
  • For Rev. Al Jergenson and family, on the death of his mother
  • For Rev. Bill Yueill, retired pastor, Zimmerman
  • For Rev. John Lindholm, retired pastor, Fergus Falls
  • 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 --
From Mount Olivet Conference & Retreat Center

Mount Olivet Conference & Retreat Center is a ministry affiliate of Mount Olivet Lutheran Church (Minneapolis). Just as so many communities of faith and nonprofits are adjusting their outreach in different ways due to the pandemic, we are also thinking creatively about how we continue to foster and encourage individuals and groups to retreat. In addition to now once again welcoming pastors and small church and nonprofit groups for in person retreats, we are also offering online workshops, classes and retreats. Links to upcoming virtual offerings and our complimentary retreat offerings for those who are doing racial equity and justice work to pastors and faith communities.