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)
Take pictures! We would love to share photos from all over our presbytery on our new website. As you're out and about this fall, snap a few photos of Minnesota's beauty. Share some photos of your congregation at worship, work and play, in masks or from pre-mask days! Please email pictures to karen@minnesotavalleys.org ASAP. Send the images at actual size, if possible.
Congregation of the Week of October 11-17
First Presbyterian Church of Round Lake
Ruling Elders: Patti Jo Bartlett, Jewel Garms, Bob Widman, Ronda Sammons, Arnold Meyer, Brenda Vogelaar, Neil Robinson, Jolene Thomsen, and Kyle Wendland.
Clerk of Session: Brenda Vogelaar
Church Secretary, Treasurer and Organist: Becky DeJong
Church Co-Treasurer and Financial Secretary: LaRae Wood
Multi-Media Coordinator: Jerry Wood
White House and Grounds Caretaker: Donna Watje
Custodian: Shellie Williams
Christian Education Committee: Jennifer Rehnelt, and Anna Robinson
Memorial Committee: Jolene Thomsen, Shirley Geertsema, and Bobbi Habben
Concerned Christians Committee: Bob Widman, Linda Koning, and Donna Anderson
Ministers: Members of the Congregation and our Church Family
Pastor: The Rev. Robert D. Bartlett
 
We pray for our ministries:
  • Monthly financial support of the Helping Hands Pregnancy Center and the Manna Food Pantry in Worthington
  • Monthly support of the Lakeside Center at Okoboji
  • Annual serving of a meal at The Banquet in Sioux Falls, SD with the First Presbyterian Church of Brewster and the Bethel Lutheran Church
  • Sharing in worship, fellowship, ministry, as well as sharing the pastoral services of our pastor, with our sisters and brothers in the Brewster Presbytery Church
  • Ministry of hospitality to those who receive lodging in our Parish House when visiting family and friends in Round Lake
  • Join with the Bethel Lutheran Church in hosting an Easter Breakfast and a Christmas Breakfast for our community at the R.L. Community Center
  • Provide camp scholarships for children attending Summer Church Camps         
  • Join with the local boy scouts in packing and providing food baskets/gift certificates to local residents in need (including gifts for their children) during the Advent/Christmas Season
  • Annual participation in the Samaritan's Purse Operation Christmas Child
  • Assist Round Lake Residents with paying their heating bills during the winter
  • Provide assistance and support to local people who are having to make frequent trips to the hospital for treatments, etc.
 
We remember in prayer: 
  • The congregations, pastoral leadership, staff and other faithful servants of the Presbytery
  • The continuing members of Presbytery who are dealing with medical issues within their families and for all of our sisters and brothers as we deal with the challenge of being the church in the midst of a pandemic.
  • All victims of natural disasters (such as Hurricane Delta which is approaching the gulf coast, and the wild fires burning on the West Coast, etc.); as well as those who are struggling through a variety of personal tragedies!
  • Farmers, for a safe harvest as the harvest continues amidst drought conditions and red flag warnings. 
  • Those dealing with health issues of every kind including our custodian Shellie Williams as she continues to battle cancer, the many sisters and brothers who are rehabilitating from knee replacement surgeries, those who are healing from cataract surgery, those who are dealing with failing eye sight and diminished hearing.
  • Those who are struggling with the burden placed upon our society by those who riot and destroy neighborhoods in so many cities and spreading the anarchy into our suburbs.
The November 14 Stated Presbytery Meeting will be
meeting via Zoom from 10:00 am-12:00 noon.
From the Synod

The Fall Synod Meeting was held this week. John McKay from Union Presbyterian Church of Saint Peter was thanked for his just completed service has Synod Moderator, and our own Pamela Prouty was elected for another term as Synod Stated Clerk. Congrats!
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
News from the Board of Pensions and the Commission on Leadership

The Commission on Leadership invited our Board of Pensions Church Consultant, Kenneth Green, to our meeting to discuss some of the new options for participants for 2021. The good news is that the Board of Pensions (BOP) program for installed full-time pastors remains the same, though the percentages for a couple of the components have changed. BOP dues is 37 percent of Effective Salary. New Cafeteria options are available for those who are in temporary pastoral relationships. You can find First Call Pastor benefit options on pensions.org.

The bigger news is the addition of Temporary Disability coverage. That and a new bundle of benefits for Pastors without the medical coverage, “Minister’s Choice” is being introduced as well.

Here are some highlights - the links take you to the pages within the Board of Pension website:
  • Minister’s Choice. provides a new benefit package designed for those not in an installed position and not covered under the Pastor’s Participation. New. Watch the video.
  • Pastor’s Participation Plan. Beginning January 1, 2021, ministers enrolled in Pastor's Participation will be provided with a new benefit as part of this package. The Temporary Disability Plan provides financial protection in the event of short-term disability for up to 90 days after a 14-day waiting period.
  • Temporary Disability Plan. In the event of a short-term disability, this financial protection benefit provides employees with a partial income for up to 90 days after a 14-day waiting period. This plan will be included in the Pastor’s Participation and the new Minister's Choice benefits packages. Watch the video.
  • Long Term Disability Plan. This benefit offers financial protection for employees with a long-term disability that extends beyond 90 days, providing them with a partial income throughout their disability. Employers may provide this plan to employees who are not enrolled in the Death and Disability Plan. Watch the video.
  • Employee Assistance Program. The Employee Assistance Plan (EAP) is a confidential resource provided at no cost to employees enrolled in medical coverage through the Board of Pensions or the Pastor's Participation or Minister's Choice benefits package. Through the EAP, employees have access to counseling sessions, financial and legal assistance, resources for child and elder care, and more. 

We highly encourage session members and ministers to check out this page:
to learn about the theology behind the decision making process for The Board of Pensions of the PC(USA).

The deadline for submitting your Employer Agreement is October 9. You can submit Agreements as often as you want before October 9. The last Agreement submitted by October 9 will determine the benefits you'll offer during annual enrollment beginning October 26.

Christ's blessings!
Bev Brock and Deb Hess
Commission on Leadership, Co-chairs
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 www.minnesotavalleys.org 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: https://youtu.be/cp-P3GABO2Y. 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 sarahruble.com 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.
The Academy Offers Hope for the Future

Many churches across America and here in Minnesota are finding it difficult to find and/or afford a full-time ordained pastor. However, several churches are finding what might even be a better solution: Commissioned Pastors (CP), also known as Commissioned Ruling Elders. CP’s are commissioned by the Presbytery to fulfill the role of a pastor for a specific ministry or congregation.

The Presbytery is responsible for training CPs, and the Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys, working with the Synod, have developed The Academy. The Academy is a series of 11 courses over two years, designed to develop and equip ruling elders to serve in the Presbytery. 

I have been the Presbytery’s facilitator for the past year and am extremely impressed with the program, especially the quality of the instructors. Students completing the two-year program are clearly qualified to serve churches. However, the classes are open to anyone. The classes are excellent Continuing Education for current CPs or anyone desiring to learn and grow as a leader in their congregation. Take a look at The Academy’s brochure.*

The next class is “PC(USA) Polity” taught by the Presbytery’s own Stated Clerk, the Rev. Pam Prouty. The class will be held at the Lakeshore Center at Lake at Okoboji Lake, IA, October 10-11. Contact the Presbytery for more information about cost and expenses for this class or contact me for more general information.

The Rev. Dr. Michael Hartwell
Randall Presbyterian Church
New Robert’s Rules of Order Edition

“Meetings shall be conducted in accordance with the most recent edition of Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised, except when it is in contradiction to this Constitution” (Book of Order, G-3.0105). Link to document regarding changes.
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
Minnesota Grant to improve safety and air quality

Please go to this link for more information about this program:
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.

Register today to join a book study . . .
A Warrior of the People:
How Susan LaFlesche Overcame Racial and Gender
Inequality to Become America’s First Indian Doctor
by Joe Starita

This book study is sponsored by Presbyterian Women in the Synod of Lakes and Prairies and led by members of the PWS Native American Concerns Committee. It is open to interested women and men across the synod, via Zoom teleconferencing (using computer or phone) There is no charge to participate nor to use Zoom, yet registration is required.

Daytime study begins: Monday, September 28, 2020 at 1:30-2:30 PM (CST)
Evening study begins: Monday, September 28, 2020 at 6:30-7:30 PM (CST)
Groups will meet every two weeks for four sessions

Synopsis: “On March 14, 1889, Susan LaFlesche received her medical degree becoming the first Native American doctor in U.S. history. She earned her degree thirty-one years before women could vote and thirty-five years before Indians could become citizens in their own country. By age twenty-six, this fragile but indomitable Indian woman became the doctor to her tribe. Overnight, she acquired 1,244 patients scattered across 1,350 square miles of rolling countryside with few roads. Her patients often were desperately poor and desperately sick with tuberculosis, small pox, measles, and influenza, families scattered miles apart, whose last hope was a young woman who spoke their language and knew their customs, This is the story of an Indian woman who effectively became the chief of an entrenched patriarchal tribe, the story of a woman who crashed through thick walls of ethnic, racial and gender prejudice, then spent the rest of her life using a unique bicultural identity to improve the lot of her people physically, emotionally, politically and spiritually. A Warrior of the People is the moving biography of Susan LaFlesche’s inspirational life, and it will finally shine a light on her numerous accomplishments. The author will donate all royalties from this book to a college scholarship fund he has established for Native American high school graduates.

Register by contacting Marilyn Stone at mmstone52@att.net and provide the following information: Name, Email address, Phone number, Presbytery, Afternoon or evening study preference

Another Book Study: Justice and Peace Book Study Group (aka Book Club)
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 kathleenkeefer20@gmail.com. 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
  • For Rev. Elaine and Kent Boyd at First Presbyterian Church of Amboy

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 Bety Cifuentes, the treasurer of the Partnership Committee, undergoing chemotherapy
  • 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 -- http://oga.pcusa.org/section/mid-council-ministries/clc/
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.