The Valley Bridge
The weekly newsletter from the
Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys
October 3, 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 7 - 13
Grace First Parish - Russell
Church Council
Aaron Alasker (Council/Session Secretary)
John Alexander (Vice President)
Steve Bush
Matthew Erdmann
David Hook (President)
Dennis Petersen
Mary Petersen
Judi Peterson
Arlene Williams
Ministry Teams
Building & Maintenance
Office Staff
Pam Moat (Office Secretary)
Christina Peterson (Treasurer)
Vicar Jeff Greathouse
Church News
Ordination of Jeff Greathouse (into the ELCA) on Sat. Nov. 3
Election Day Dinner: Tuesday, November 6
Sunday School is in full swing. 30+ children (age 4 - 5th grade)
Mission Highlight
We supplied 18 filled back-back's for going back to school
Children Collecting $$ in "water jug" for mission/outreach
Prayer Request
Jeff's last Sunday is October 28
Sunday School Ministry
Individuals unable to attend church due to health
World House...Christ Body

The story goes that, "Some years ago a famous novelist died. Among his papers was found a list of suggested plots for future stories, the most prominently underscored being this one: 'A widely separated family inherits a house in which they have to live together.' This is the great new problem of humanity. We have inherited a large house, a great 'world house' in which we have to live together-black and white, Easterner and Westerner, Gentile and Jew, Catholic and Protestant, Muslim and Hindu-a family unduly separated in ideas, culture and interest, who, because we can never again live apart, must learn somehow to live with each other in peace." (Martin Luther King, Jr., Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?  The Pluralism Project, Harvard University). Dr. Martin Luther King, before he died, began to preach about the concept of the "World House." This week at the Synod of Lakes and Prairies meeting, the concept was mentioned in the Sunday evening sermon by Minnesota Council of Churches CEO the Rev. Dr. Curtis DeYoung. We were reminded of our connectedness and our need to bear witness as Christ body by showing that we are one family of God.

As the Church celebrates World Communion Sunday, we can be proud that Presbyterian minister Dr. Hugh Thomson Kerr, General Assembly Moderator and pastor of Shadyside Presbyterian Church, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, initiated the global celebration in 1936. Four years following, the Federal Council of Churches, the predecessor of the National Council of Churches, adopted the day. The focus of the day was on the Body of Christ. Today, the language of Kin-dom and the beloved community is used to describe followers of Christ. The 21st Century Church emphasizes not the things that distinguish denominations but the foundation that brings us together. Christian unity does not mean sameness. Unity does not mean uniformity. As denominations, we stand in our own beliefs which may be displayed in different worship styles, governance, and even political views. However, we share One Bread and One Cup, Jesus Christ.

More than symbolic, the Holy Spirit, through Communion, empowers and sustains the Church for ministry. As you imagine a World House, how does this image move you to act on behalf of Christ? When the Apostle Paul taught the Corinthians about Communion, he spoke against the societal norms of the "haves and the have-nots." When you partake in Communion, does bridging the gap between those with access to wealth and those without access to wealth come to mind? Do you think about Jesus' words, "I am the bread of life, those who come to me will never be hungry; those who believe in me will never be thirsty"? (John 6:35) Who are the hungry today? How might your congregation help individuals find spiritual food for daily living?

Given that the needs of the hungry are great, are you led to share in mission with neighboring congregations to eradicate hunger in your community? We are thankful for the congregations who participate in eradicating hunger through Back Pack Food ministries, food shelters, and weekly hot meals.

I found it interesting that the lectionary text for this Sunday includes the story of Job. How does this story relate to a World House, bread, unity, and daily living? The story of Job is one of suffering. Suffering is one reality of life that touches everyone. All people seek to understand the ebbs and flows of life that include pain, loss, grief, ups and downs. These are the things that make us human. The Church is the place where some of these answers can be found. The church is also the community that can advocate and be the balm of healing. I was surprised to learn that farmers have the highest rate of suicide than any profession, for more information about this subject see Were you aware of this fact? Do you have a sense of call to work with others to support farmers, families, and others impacted by this problem? The Synod of Lakes and Prairies will host one-day trainings in Iowa on November 9 (in Washington) and November 10 (in Jesup) to equip churches in addressing this mental health issue. As more information becomes available, please consider attending the training.

We are in this life together. Together we are strong. Together we can make a more significant impact on the communities in our area. I hope in the days to come you will collaborate with ecumenical partners to bear a witness to Christian unity as we work together to resolve social needs. We are sustained by the promises of faith which points back to a large family with one Father and Creator of all, Jesus Christ our Redeemer, and the Holy Spirit that empowers us to be an image of Christ's Good News in the world.

Let us pray...God, good beyond all that is good, fair beyond all that is fair, in you is calmness, peace, and concord. Heal the dissensions that divide us from one another and bring us back to a unity of love bearing some likeness to your divine nature. Through the embrace of love and the bonds of godly affection, make us one in the Spirit by your peace which makes all things peaceful. We ask this through the grace, mercy, and tenderness of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (BCW, p. 812)

Sunday, October 7, 2018 
World Communion 

By Rev. Patrick D. Heery 

Hebrews 1:1-4, 2:5-12 For this reason Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters, saying, "I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters." 

Reflection: What does it mean to receive Communion with the whole world on this day? Will we love each other better? Will we learn to appreciate, celebrate, and understand our differences, such that they are elevated as blessings, rather than denigrated (or erased) as losses? 

Jesus on this day is not ashamed to call anyone his brother or sister. That includes our enemies; that includes people different from us; and that includes us. And maybe that last one is the hardest to believe sometimes. Perhaps what often restrains our peacemaking is that we're not sure we're worthy of it, capable of it. How can we offer the world peace when we feel nothing like peace within? 

On this day, as we receive the sacrifice of Christ's love, and as we draw this devotional to a close, I invite us to recognize our own need for transformation. And one of the first things we have to change is this whole idea that peace is something we make. Peace isn't our job. It isn't a strategy or a project. We do not bring peace to others, just as we do not bring God to others. 

Peace, like Communion, is a gift. It is grace, already abundant, already here, just waiting for us to accept it. If peace truly consists of vulnerability, relationship, experience, witness, and practice, then it must be also-and first, and last-a gift. 

Today we receive the gift of peace, and we offer it to others. It works in us, so that we may be at peace and become instruments, vessels, channels of that peace.

Action: Experience the gift of Christ's peace as you celebrate the Sacrament of Communion today. Be a channel of that peace by giving generously to the Peace & Global Witness Offering. Consider those around the world whom you are not ashamed to call sisters and brothers. 

Prayer: O God of peace, at all times and in all ways, you give us peace and invite us to share it with others. Accept our gifts of peace and help us be at peace, love mercy, walk humbly, and act justly. Amen.
Contribute to  Disaster Relief-Hurricane Florence (DR000169)
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 12: This is the last day to submit your final 2019 Employer Agreement on Benefits Connect.
  • 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
Ending Racism Conference

The synod is offering the presbytery one registration scholarship to the 10th annual Overcoming Racism Conference: Overcoming Racism In Spite Of... , November 2-3, 2018 at the Metropolitan State University in St. Paul . If you are interested in attending contact the presbytery office. For conference information see:
October is Pastor Appreciation Month

Minnesota Valleys pastors actively serving congregations are invited to a Pastor's Appreciation Day at 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.

Pastor Appreciation Ideas
  • Words of Affirmation. Make copies of notecards for everyone in the congregation to fill out and present to the pastor, spouse and family.
  • A night out. Give clergy families a night out to a local restaurant.
  • PrayerOrganize a prayer calendar so each pastor is prayed for every day of the month.
  • Daily Gift for the Month. Each day one member delivers a gift to the pastor. Choose something of special interest to the pastor such as a bag of their favorite candy, fishing lure, tickets, etc.     
  • Sabbath Retreat. Time for the pastor to attend a spiritual retreat for their own spiritual well-being.
  • New Equipment. Some examples include: Ipad, laptop, cell phone.
  • Library Addition. Provide a gift card for the pastor to choose what is needed for his/her library.
  • Continuing Education. Offer financial assistance to further the pastor's education.
  • Fitness Tracker. A great idea for helping your pastor maintain physical health by tracking anything from steps, heart rate, sleep, calories, and more.
  • House Cleaning. Go as a group or hire a professional to care for the house inside and out. Consider a house washing, vehicle detailing, lawn maintenance, window cleaning and more.
  • Pay for a gym membership. Gym memberships might be out of the range of many pastors. The gift of a gym membership can lead to greater health, vitality, and community connection.
All are welcome to attend Safety Training Event in Mankato

Thursday, October 11
9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Bethany Lutheran College
700 Luther Drive
Mankato MN 56001

Church Mutual is proud to partner with ALICE, a leading active shooter response training organization, to help you act in the face of violence and save lives.
Snacks and hors d'oeuvres will be provided by Church Mutual Insurance Company

9:00 - 9:05    Welcome and Intro 
Tim Marks, Church Mutual Insurance Company
9:05 - 10:40   Premises Security and ALICE Training Overview 
John Aunan, Risk Control Consultant, Church Mutual Insurance Company. Mike Christianson, Department of Homeland Security. Justin Neumann and Chris Baukol, Mankato Police Department
10:40 - 10:45  Break
10:45 - 11:15  Legal Aspects of Security Programs 
Virginia Cronin, Henningson & Snoxell, Ltd
11:15 - 11:45  Introduction to Background Checks and Employee and Volunteer Screening 
Lori Lord, Trusted Employees
11:45 - 12:00  Questions for the Panel

On the day of the event, use the main entrance to the Bethany Lutheran College campus, and follow the signs posted to be directed to the location of the event.

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.

Support Education for Children in Our Sister Presbytery in Guatemala
by Jim Krapf
Education yields opportunities. You can support 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.

Their next school year begins in January. We send the scholarships in late October.  You can mail your checks made out to the Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys 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.

This support would be in addition to the six scholarships that are provided through our presbytery's Occidente Partners budget. Keeping our donations at current levels could support more children beyond elementary into middle and high school.

Donors will receive photographs, academic reports, and thank you notes from children and/or their parents. We do not reveal the 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.
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.
Website builders

Are you in the process of building or updating your church's website but don't have the budget for a costly web design company? Perhaps your church needs its website to be launched but doesn't have time to have the site built through a  design agency? Whether it's budget constraints or time issues in building your website, the best way to solve the problem may be to create your own website with a website builder.

These days, there are several website-building tools available that will allow you to make a website quickly, easily, and inexpensively. Website builders utilize preset design formats and layouts that allow you to simply insert your own graphics and customize the templates just by clicking a few buttons.

Prior to starting your search for a website builder product, you should have defined the needs and set goals for your site. If you haven't set goals, then how will you know what you want your website to accomplish? First, determine what you want your website to do and then select a builder that best meets your church's needs.  Below is a list of a few suggested website builder services. - free domain name, professional design layouts, and point-and-click editing - free hosting, drag-and-drop website builder, responsive themes - domain registration, easy-to-use website builder, free hosting - affordable, easy-to-use, various hosting features

If any or all of this seems overwhelming and complicated, you might want to take an online course. Here is a site that offers online learning courses. - platform for online learning in any category
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
Scholarship Funds for Racial Ethnic Students available from Synod of Lakes and Prairies

The Student Scholarship Fund is an educational assistance program designed to encourage racial ethnic students in their preparation for academic success in higher education. Students must have a permanent residence within the Synod of Lakes and Prairies and be active members in a Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) congregation. The synod is committed to partner with students and schools for leadership development and quality instruction of clergy and lay persons for lifelong service. Application awards are based on personal achievement, financial need and recommendation from a teacher and pastor. Completed applications are due September 30 and must include an official transcript and financial aid statement.

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