The Valley Bridge
The weekly newsletter from the
Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys
October 24, 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 28 - November 3
Union Presbyterian Church of Saint Peter
Please pray for our upcoming community Hymnfest on November 18, that our music and song may become worship. For our new diaper drive for our local foodshelf, that babies may be clean and comfortable.
Prayer for Deacons: Mary, Deanne, Linda, Sandy, Thalia. Elders: John P., Dean, Kate, John C., Jonathan, Hayden, Jalean, Debora, Kevin, Sara, Dawn, and Jen. Staff: Bob and Jean, Katha, Kathy, Holly, and Todd. For Pastor Andy.
Pastor Appreciation Day at Green Lake Bible Camp

We started out with yoga
Pastor Scott Thompson
Pastor Michael Hartwell
Executive Presbyter SanDawna Ashley
Murphy, Bev, Leanne and Mark. Yes, we played musical chairs
A little friendly Family Feud - Leanne, Anna, Darin, Mark and Steve

On October 22, twelve pastors attended the Pastors' Appreciation Retreat at Green Lake Bible Camp sponsored by the Commission on Leadership. The event was planned to thank those who are charged with caring for the souls of others. Statistically, we know that those who are named as the ones with beautiful feet as stated in Isaiah 52:7 and Romans 10:15, so often have tired feet worn from 70-hour workweeks, little rest, and little care for their own bodies and spirits. For a few hours, pastors were invited to consider the Theology of Play. I read that C.S. Lewis said "the greatest thing that the Psalms did for him was express the joy that made David dance." In Living By the Gospel, Reverend Frank Clark Spencer, President of The Board of Pensions, wrote "God's desire is that all people experience shalom - the flourishing of life. This desire is reflected in the repeated refrain of the creation narrative: God saw that it was good. The ensuing portrayal of life in the Garden of Eden illustrates an ideal in which humanity dwells in mutual care and well-being."

The retreat began with yoga, followed by personal reflection, a delicious lunch, and games. We even played musical chairs. I hope this will become an annual event and look forward to more pastors attending. There is healing in laughter as stated by Proverbs 17:22: "A cheerful heart is a good medicine, but a downcast spirit dries up the bones." Pastors are curates, Latin for those invested in caring for the souls of others. For this important work we extend our thanks for those who said yes to ministry. If you have not done something special to recognize the work of your pastor, it is not too late.


Prayer concerns

Randall Knuth - prayers for health

We have received word that Rev. Vern Maxa has passed away. His service will be Saturday, Oct 27 at 11:00 in Brainerd. He has served at both Crosslake as part-time interim and been a valuable asset at Brainerd.
Cards may be sent to his wife, Marilyn, at
11357 Executive Ln
Brainerd MN 56401
Link to obituary
'The Message' author Eugene Peterson dies at age 85

Longtime 'pastor to pastors' served at PC(USA) church in Maryland

By Kathy Melvin | Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE - The Rev. Eugene Peterson, a pastor, author and scholar, died Monday morning at his home in Montana. He was 85.

He had been hospitalized since early October because of a serious infection, according to his son, Eric Peterson.

In 1962, Eugene Peterson was a founding pastor of Christ Our King Presbyterian Church, a PC(USA) church in Bel Air, Maryland, where he served for 29 years before retiring in 1991. He wrote over 30 books but is best known for  The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language , a paraphrase of the Christian Scriptures that sold over 16 million copies worldwide. More
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.
Reformation Sunday 2018
Sanctuary Geneva 

Download the bulletin insert (PDF):  Full Page |  Half Page (letter) |  Half page (legal)Black-and-white bulletin insert (PDF):  Full Page |  Half Page (letter) | Half page (legal)Download a Reformation Sunday advertisement for your church newsletter:  JPEG |  PDF

Saint-Pierre Cathedral, Geveva, Switzerland, from Les hommes et les choses de son temps, vol. 3, published 1905.

Not long after Roman Catholic Mary Tudor rose to the English throne in 1553, the outspoken Scottish reformer John Knox felt compelled to leave the British Isles. After a spell in Frankfurt, Knox joined a fellowship of religious refugees from across Europe who had thronged to Geneva.

The Swiss city's most famous resident, the French lawyer and humanist John Calvin, was himself a Geneva immigrant. His first prolonged stay in the city came years before, when war in Germany prevented him from traveling to Strasbourg.

Calvin helped create an atmosphere in Geneva welcoming to outsiders. A hospital was established for refugees, as well as an academy for their education. Knox ministered to a congregation of English-speaking refugees that met in the same auditorium where Calvin lectured, the Calvin Auditory, a building still in use today for English worship. The bustling mid-sixteenth century city reverberated with the polyglot theological and political ideas of the Reformation. Knox marveled at his time in Geneva, calling it "the most perfect school of Christ that ever was in the earth since the days of the apostles."

Geveva, Switzerland, from Les hommes et les choses de son temps, vol. 3, published 1905. [Pearl ID: 101263]

Calvin's emphasis on placing full trust in God, as opposed to any earthly ruler, aimed to infuse Genevan life with gratitude and faith. He hoped that the doctrine of salvation through election would ease the anxieties of a people living in an age of plague, war, and dislocation. For Calvin and for Knox, growing in trust of God and love for God enlarged a community's ability to respond to God's call to love and service, no matter where its residents came from.

A longer version of this history by PHS Executive Director Beth S. Hessel can be found in Presbyterians Today, October 2017. Pictured: Geneva's Saint-Pierre Cathedral, adjacent to the Calvin Auditory.
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

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!

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
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