The Valley Bridge
The weekly newsletter from the
Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys
October 17, 2018
 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 21-27
First Presbyterian Church of Saint James
Pastor: David Lick
Clerk of Session: Jerry Olson
Secretary: Aly Style
Choir Director: Jerry Olson
First Presbyterian of St. James has been a very active congregation in the community for many years. We are very involved in the Meals on Wheels program, the St. James Backpack program, and the Food Shelf. This year, with the help of Linda Becken (a member of our church and the pastor at Mountain Lake), the backpack program is expanding by including a food shelf that will be housed inside the schools in our two communities, allowing students to pick up necessary items without having to make a trip to the food shelf (which is only open during work/school hours, making it difficult for families to receive necessary items). We look forward to continuing to grow in service and in faith for many years to come!
Unpleasant Things

October is Domestic Violence Month, with the current #MeToo Movement and the recent political fights on the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, the imprisonment of Bill Cosby and the number of celebrity and powerful men who have stepped down from office because of sexual harassment, I wondered if we have completed talks on this subject? Throughout the denomination, churches have been asked to use this opportune time to raise the issues of domestic violence, harassment, and the abuse of power in relationships, management and policy interpretation. Again, have we completed talks on this subject? The following quotes are from the Presbyterian Outlook, December 2017 issue. Leslie Scanlon makes the statement "People come to worship for an hour on Sunday, but they live in the world. I'm the mother of two young adult daughters. I assure you, almost every woman I know, from the grandmothers to the 14-year-olds, has a #MeToo story." I agree with Scanlon's statement and most of my colleagues would agree also. I must warn you if you continue reading, the next comments may be hard to hear.
Marcia Mount Shoop, a pastor from Asheville, North Carolina who has spoken publicly about her experience of being raped as a teenager, wrote this in a recent blog post
I have had male parishioners comment on my clothing and appearance almost every day of my professional life. I have had a male colleague with lesser training than me say, "why do you think you should be able to call yourself Dr." When I pointed out that I have a PhD so that is an appropriate part of my title, he did not relent with his judgment that it was arrogant of me to use that title. I have had male colleagues in positions of power over me in the church sexually harass me. I have had a male parishioner try to get me fired because I am just a "cheerleader" in the pulpit. I have had men come in the church after hours and block my office door with their bodies while they asked me for everything from money to personal information to a date. And that is just a partial list of what the church has taught me about women in ministry and the nature of our power.  (The Presbyterian Outlook, #MeToo, silence and the church, December 4, 2017)
As the Church seeks to be relevant, meeting people at the places of pain is the answer. We know that sexual abuse, domestic violence and the misuse of power are not limited to women or any socioeconomic class; sin in this area does not discriminate. The Church's call in this area is to be advocates in transforming pain. Jesus saw the wounds and tended to them. Author Richard Rohr wrote, "If we could see wounds as the way through, as Jesus did, then they would become scarred wounds rather than scars to deny, disguise, or project onto others. If we do not transform our pain, we will most assuredly transmit it--usually to those closest to us: our family, our neighbors, our co-workers, and invariably, the most vulnerable, our children."
Unfortunately, abuse begets abuse. The prophetic tradition of naming and lament is needed for such a time as this. Over the next few weeks, try posting resources on shelters, mental health assistance, anger management, and other resources for those injured by domestic violence. What would it be like to preach about these issues found in scripture? Taken from the words of Paul in II Timothy 4:2 I charge you to " Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage--with great patience and careful instruction."
Volunteers Needed for Presbytery Meeting
The Presbytery Planning team wants to have break out sessions around three topics: Stewardship, Building Issues, and Christian Education. While we have found people who are willing to talk about innovative uses of church buildings, we need one more person to speak about stewardship, and three people to talk Christian Education. It would involve a short Ted-Talk like presentation from each person followed by a time of questions and discussion. If you would be willing to help with these discussion, please contact Mark Ford at 218-232-8131 or by e-mail at
We know there are churches who have innovative Stewardship and Christian Education programs and we would be really appreciate you sharing that with the Presbytery.
Presbyterians Today publishes 'God Lifts the Lowly' based on Mary's Song of Praise

LOUISVILLE - As a pastor, I am reminded weekly during Sunday's prayers of people that life is not easy. I listen as those in the pew ask for comfort, guidance, healing and hope. I listen, and then I pray for our laments to turn into songs of praise.
Mary had a song of praise - one that thanked God for looking favorably upon her and the plight of her people - and so in planning this year's Advent devotional, I thought it was fitting to hear from Mary and to be reminded once again that God sees us, hears us and is with us always. 

Presbyterians Today's new Advent devotional for 2018 is based on verse 52 from Mary's Song of Praise - also known as The Magnificat -found in Luke 1: He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly.

After reading verse 52, I began thinking about my low moments in life and how God raised me up out of the muck. I began thinking about all those who have gifted me with their songs of praise - beautiful notes of God looking on them with mercy. I especially began thinking about the special-needs saints God has brought into my life, and how their songs of praise, sung amid adversity, made me realize God has a song for us all. It doesn't matter who we are or what our circumstances or challenges might be. Songs of praise can come from our lips.

Just ask Andrew Weatherly, who wrote the poems and created the original oil paintings for this devotional. Andrew was in my Sunday school class while I was a seminary intern at South Presbyterian Church in Bergenfield, New Jersey. Born with Down syndrome, Andrew hasn't let anything stop him, and he now uses his art to raise awareness of the capabilities of those with special needs. Recently, Andrew was inducted into Closter, New Jersey's Hall of Fame. His name now displayed on a wall in the library next to the names of professional athletes, actors, scientists, doctors, professors and other artists.

Kris Van Tatenhove joins me in writing this devotional. The father of a special-needs son, Krin knows what it is like to fight "the system" so that his son can have the same opportunities as those who are labeled "normal." Krin and I have spoken about the challenges and blessings of those who are called "different" and we find ourselves often wondering who can define "normal."

As for me, this project is close to my heart. I have a special-needs brother who struggles to find his place in the world. Born in the 1960s at a time when doctors, teachers, social workers, even my parents, didn't know what do with him, his time of Advent waiting seems endless. It's hard at times to keep the faith that God is working on my brother's song of praise. But isn't that what the season of Advent invites us to do - to trust God even in our darkest days?

May this devotional, inspired by Mary's song, be an Advent blessing to you. May it be the reminder we need that no matter what, God lifts us up. And so, get ready to sing a song of praise!

Donna Frischknecht Jackson is editor of Presbyterians Today and a rural ministry networker in Washington County, New York.

The presbytery office will order these Advent devotionals in bulk for interested congregations. Please order from  Karen  at the presbytery office by November 16. If our order reaches at least 100, we'll place the order, and the cost will be $2.00 per copy, plus any shipping to each church.
November Book Read: Rebuilding the Foundations

Join the Presbytery in a book study of Rebuilding the Foundations: Social Relationships in Ancient Scripture and the Contemporary Culture by John Brueggemann and Walter Brueggemann, Westminster John Knox Press. The Zoom discussion on the introduction and first two chapters will be on Thursday, November 29, at 11:00 am and 6:30 pm. Zoom instructions will be in the newsletter closer to that date.
Board of Pensions News and Deadlines

Sessions, it is time to begin building your Board of Pensions employee contracts. See the BOP site for new benefits videos, calculators to estimate cost and much more.
  • October 29-November 16: Annual enrollment is open for employees to elect 2019 benefits.
Selecting 2019 Benefits page link: 
Don't miss the video at the bottom of their page to view the "What's New for 2019" video/slideshow.

Downloadable guide:  Guide to Selecting 2019 Benefits
Thank You for Your Service to the Presbytery!
October is Pastor Appreciation Month, and currently serving Commissioned Ruling Elders and Teaching Elders of churches are invited to a Pastor's Appreciation Day at the Green Lake Bible Camp in Spicer on Monday, October 22 from 11:00 - 3:00. Lunch will be provided. Please let Karen know your attendance plans.
Minnesota Valleys Presbytery Receives Grant from Omaha Presbyterian Seminary Foundation

We are happy to announce that our request for funding the "Going Beyond Change, Part II" event was approved for 2019. The grant application was approved in the amount of $3,000.

2019 Presbyterian
Youth Triennium

Get Ready  for the 2019 Presbyterian Youth Triennium - a gathering held every three years for high school age students in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Youth from all churches (across sponsoring denominations) come together for this life changing, life giving, faith growing gathering! Five days that help form a younger generation of active Presbyterians. Five days that shape the leadership gifts and deepen the discipleship awareness for a generation who are already achieving a strong presence in this church and in this world!

Event Essentials

DATES:                      Monday, July 15th - Sunday, July 21st (includes travel days)
LOCATION:                Purdue University - West Lafayette, IN
AUDIENCE:                High School Age youth entering freshman through graduated seniors
THEME:                    "Here's My Heart"
REGISTRATION FEES: Anticipated Cost - $625.00 to $650.00
                                (Registration fee includes all programming, food, lodging and travel)  


DECEMBER 1ST:   Congregation RSVP Forms Due with $100 deposit per participant to reserve spot
JANUARY 7TH:    Registrations Forms Available (Presbytery Website)
FEBRUARY 4TH:   Registrations due, along with $250.00 payment for each participant
MAY 6TH:            Final Payment Due

Contact Mark Giese: ∙  320-251-8277 (church) ∙ 320-493-8272 (cell)

Young Adult Volunteers Sought
Spread the word! Applications for the 2019-20  Young Adult Volunteer (YAV) program open Oct. 1. All  sites  available.  
The YAV program is an ecumenical, faith-based year of service for young people, ages 19-30. Volunteers accompany local agencies faithfully working to address root causes of poverty and reconciliation. YAVs serve during the academic year, August to July.
Help plants seeds of service and share!

Youth Retreat at Clearwater

What: Clearwater's Annual Fall Youth Retreat
Who: Junior and Senior High Youth
When: November 2 - 4, 2018
This year's theme is " The Missing Peace"
Activities and discussions will revolve around problem solving, individuality, inclusion, cooperation, and peace.

Planning Calendars  Order from Karen Lange at $9 each. You can pick them up at the presbytery office, or if you would like yours mailed to you, we ask that you would pay the postage.
Per Capita and Mission Dollars

The Commission on Operations is asking congregations to henceforth send their per capita and mission dollars directly to the presbytery office - 4055 Abbott Drive, Willmar MN 56201. If checks have already been sent to the Synod, that is just fine.
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.

DiscipleshipAnne Veldhuisen,, 507-215-5617
Evangelism: Randy Knuth,, 712-540-8243
Evangelism :  Darlene Scherbing,, 320-292-2610
Mission: Richard Lawrence, , 320-260-9639
Mission: Kathy Terpstra,, 320-815-8158
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:

Crosslake Presbyterian Church, Crosslake - Pastor (for a designated term)
   Ministry Information Form -  11950.AD0

First Presbyterian Church, Fulda - Solo Pastor, 3/4 time up to full-time
   Ministry Information Form -  03782.AD1

First Presbyterian Church, Mankato - Full-time Solo Pastor
   Ministry Information Form - 03792.AEO

Faith Presbyterian Church, Silver Lake - Part-time Solo Pastor
   Ministry Information Form -  03851.ACO

The Ministry Information Forms for these opportunities are posted on the Church Leadership Connection web site --

Also: First Presbyterian Church, Lake Crystal - Interim Pastor, 3/4 time
                Link to position description
Clearwater Forest seeks Director of Outreach and Programs

Applications are being received until October 30 or until filled. The position is full-time, year-round.
Large Cross to Give Away

Western Presbyterian of rural Fergus Falls has a cross, approximately 8 feet by 4 feet, that was used in our sanctuary. Is anyone interested in this cross?
Contact John Lindholm at
Spaghetti Supper in Pipestone

First Presbyterian Church of Pipestone invites you to their Community Meal Spaghetti Supper on Thursday, October 25, from 5:00 - 7:00 pm with takeout available. Cost: $8.00 for adults, $4.00 for ages 6-19, Free for children 5 and under, $20.00 for a family.
Six New Things
See what's happening on our Facebook site:
Like us on Facebook