The Valley Bridge
The weekly newsletter from the
Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys
September 21, 2016
 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 September 25-October 1
United Presbyterian Church of Westbrook

Pastor: Keith A. Carey
Treasure: Marilyn K. Carey
Clerk of Session: Lois Reynolds
Prayer concerns: Lois Reynolds: knee replacement in Oct.
                          Elder Char Cooley: knee replacement in Nov, hip replacement in Dec.
Pray that the weather holds so our one man paint crew can finish painting the church.
Pray that we can continue to be a light For Christ in the community 
The Word from Rick: God, in your mercy, hear our prayer...

I was in the Crossroads Mall in Saint Cloud on Saturday afternoon. It is one of my favorite places to go when I am up there for other activities, or just passing through on my way back from Clearwater Forest or the northern reaches of our presbytery. I like to stop there and get in some of my walking for the day, shop at JC Penney, or as was my reason on Saturday, to get a haircut at Great Clips - their lines are so much shorter and their staff is much more attentive than here in Willmar.
It seemed to be a typical Saturday at Crossroads. There was an abundance of families with kids in tow, high school and college kids more interested in what was on their cell phones than anything else, and many individuals representing the diversity of the Saint Cloud community. The mall was buzzing with positive energy when I left at 4:30 p.m.  Little did anyone know what would take place roughly four hours later.
When I first heard the news Saturday evening, my heart sank - and there was that, all too common these days, flood of anger and frustration. Information on Saturday evening was sketchy and guarded. I wondered if any of the folks I had interacted with during the day at the mall, at First Presbyterian Church, or at several other businesses I had been at during the day were involved with the events that had unfolded.
In my mind, any attack like this is an act of terror, regardless of its motivation, or who it is that causes it to take place. What happened in Saint Cloud dramatically altered normal routine, and a place that many of considered to be a safe haven will for some time to come take on a different feel. This was an attack on our small city, Midwestern way of life, and it makes all of us a little bit more wary.
The attack and the attacker is still being investigated and a good deal is yet to be discovered. We are deeply relieved that it was not worse. Thanks to the heroic efforts of one man who understood the threat and acted decisively to end it, the situation did not escalate. Because the attacker lost his life, unfortunately this means that we may never know exactly what his motivation was and why he did what he did. We will be left to our speculations, and our anxieties, mistrust, and fear of those unlike us will most likely grow. Life in Saint Cloud and central Minnesota will never be the same and the hill we climb to understand and end incidents like this will only get steeper.
The fragile relationships that we have with our African immigrant neighbors, be they Muslim or Christian, will take another serious hit. Our Somali neighbors, who are overwhelmingly Muslim, will bear the brunt of a community's anger and frustration, and once again, all Somalis and Muslims will be considered terrorists. Nothing could be further from the truth, and I would imagine that the Somali and Muslim communities are just as distressed over what happened on Saturday evening as many of our European-American neighbors. Taking this one step further, I am fearful that some of our Sudanese immigrant neighbors, a good number of them who are the products of Presbyterian mission activities in Africa, will also catch some of the heat. Angry people do not take the time to make distinction between the different communities. We tend to fear and distrust those unlike us, and that fear and distrust, which is born largely out of a lack of understanding, is greatly heightened by attacks such as the one in Saint Cloud.
Jesus commanded his followers to love our neighbors as each one of us loves our self. It was not a suggestion, or simply a good idea. It was a command. As Presbyterian, Christian Americans, we need to take time to learn about those with whom we share this blessed piece of God's creation that we call Minnesota. I encourage you to learn about the Muslim faith - not from the media or political figures on both sides and extremes of our society, but from the people who live it every day. I am not asking that you embrace it or agree with it, but that you understand it, so that you can see what a truly faithful Muslim is trying to do and be.
More importantly, I would humbly encourage each one of us to help our Muslim neighbors learn about our Christian faith - not so that they will necessarily come to embrace it, but so that they understand us and our motivations. Help them to see what real Christians can be like. Just like there are those in the Christian and mainstream American communities who believe that all Muslims are terrorists and want to destroy our nation, there are those in the Muslim community who believe that all Christians are terrorists seeking the destruction of their faith and life. The fear and mistrust is present on both sides and we cannot keep living this way.
I believe that it is time - long overdue, perhaps -- for us to engage the conversation and seek to build some interfaith bridges, not just because of what happened on Saturday night, but because it is the right thing to do. I strongly encourage the people of this presbytery to come to Redwood Falls on Saturday, October 15 to hear Dr. Sayyeid Syeed, and to engage a panel of Christians and Muslims in a conversation that might just begin to open a door to living and working together across faith traditions. We need to claim Christ's command to love one another, and the first step is to build understanding, trust, and respect.
In the meantime, keep the Saint Cloud community in your prayers, along with the Somali, Muslim, and South Sudanese residents all across central Minnesota.
See you in Redwood Falls on October 15.
Grace and Peace,
Opportunities to Serve in the Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys

The Committee on Representation will be nominating individuals to serve in the following areas of our presbytery's ministry:
  • The Commission on Leadership
  • The Commission on Presbytery Life
  • The Commission on Presbytery Operations
  • The Commission on Congregational Transformation and Development
  • The Committee on Congregational Nurture
  • Vice-Moderator of Presbytery
  • The Committee on the Self-Development of People
Descriptions of these groups and their ministries can be found on the Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys website, using the Commissions/Committees tab -

On the Road with Rick
October 2 - Preach at First Presbyterian Church, Osakis
October 2-4 - Synod of Lakes and Prairies Meeting, Mount Olivet
October 4-5 - Synod Presbyters' Forum, Mount Olivet
October 15 - "Building Interfaith Bridges," First Presbyterian Church, Redwood Falls
October 16 - Worship at First Presbyterian Church, Redwood Falls
October 23 - Preach at Hope Presbyterian Church, Spicer
October 30 - Preach at Maine Presbyterian Church
November 5 - Presbytery Meeting at Union Presbyterian Church, Saint Peter
November 6 - Preach at First Presbyterian Church, Osakis
Please note: these are the Rick's available Sundays between now and the end of the year:  November 13, December 4, December 11, and December 18. Rick would love to be invited for a Sunday worship, a special event, or even to preach! Just give him a call at the presbytery office, or e-mail him at
Ministry Opportunities

The First Presbyterian Church of Pipestone  is seeking a Designated Pastor to lead them as they seek to grow and develop active disciples. First Presbyterian Church desires to be a congregation that will embrace new ideas that will lead them into a new and exciting future. 
If you, or someone you know, might be the dynamic, committed pastoral leader that FPC-Pipestone needs, please take a serious look at this opportunity! The Ministry Information Form is posted on the Church Leadership Connection web site -- It is MIF ID#03796.AC0. For more information, contact Rick Carus at the presbytery office - 320.235.7910 or .

The First Presbyterian Church Osakis is continuing its search for a Pastor to lead them as they live out the visions that have been generated by their New Beginning conversations. If you, or someone you know, has a passion for small towns and energetic small-member congregations, please encourage consideration of this opportunity!  The Ministry Information Form for this opportunity is posted on the Church Leadership Connection web site. It is MIF#: 03890.AC1. For more information, please contact PNC Chairperson Shari Maloney at 320.859.3098 or by e-mail - .

The First Presbyterian Church of Randall is currently developing its Ministry Information Form in preparation for a pastoral search. As soon as this document is posted, we will make an announcement through the Valley Bridge.
Useful Link for Church Treasurers: 
Compass to Explore Shortage of Preachers in Rural Areas September 25th
Father Steve Verhelst of the Catholic Church Diocese of New Ulm and Rick Carus of the Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys in Willmar talk about how rural congregations in Southwestern Minnesota are finding creative ways to address preacher shortages in the next episode of Compass airing on Pioneer Public Television on Sunday, September 25, 2016, at 12:30 p.m.
Appleton, MN 

How rural congregations are dealing with a shortage of preachers will be the focus of the upcoming Compass public affairs program airing on Pioneer Public Television on Sunday, September 25, 2016, at 12:30 p.m.  Compass producer Laura Kay Prosser travels to Hills, Minnesota to learn about how the Bethlehem Lutheran congregation there addressed a recent vacancy.  Pioneer's General Manager, Les Heen, hosts an in-studio discussion with Transitional Executive Presbyter Rick Carus of the Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys in Willmar and Father Steve Verhelst of the Catholic Church Diocese of New Ulm.

There are many creative ways that rural congregations are ministering to the needs of faithful citizens in the region. Larry Warner, who served on the call committee for Bethlehem Lutheran, is interviewed as he recalls the process his congregation went through to find Pastor Maggie Berndt-Dryer -- who was originally from Spring Grove, PA. and who recently recently graduated from Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque, IA.

"Something we as ministers in small towns can do, is to speak to the gifts of the people here." said Pastor Berndt-Dyer. "There is an abundance of opportunity and when you have small churches, you can build better, deeper, more authentic relationships," she added.

For more information visit:

Compass is recorded, produced and edited by Laura Kay Prosser, Pioneer's Public Affairs journalist.  Viewers with story ideas and issues they would like to see discussed on Compass are encouraged to contact Pioneer Public Television via email at or call the station at 1-800-726-3178.
It's time to order your Presbyterians Today 2016 Advent Calendar: A Journey of Memories

Advent is a time of remembering. In the weeks before Christmas, we watch, wait, and prepare for the coming of the Messiah. We read Scriptures and practice church traditions that have been around for 2,000 years. This year's devotional is a journey of memories-of so many sights, smells, tastes, and sounds that point to the promise of God in Jesus Christ. These are the daily incarnations of our faith. When does a touch remind us of Jesus? Can a candle bring God's hope to a dark room? Can a smell take us to a holy place?

Sue Washburn-pastor and editor of Presbyterians Today-has put together a collection of daily reflections and prayers to help us experience the joy and wonder of Christ's birth with the senses God has given us.

Susan Blank's exquisite handmade quilts add to the beauty and remembrances in this year's Advent Calendar.

Perfect for congregations, families, and individuals, A Journey of Memories provides a Scripture reading, meditation, and prayer for each day of Advent.

Order copies for your congregation now to ensure delivery before Advent. 

Your congregation is invited to order these Advent Calendars at $1.50 per copy through the presbytery office. The deadline to order is Tuesday, October 18. Please call or email Karen at the presbytery office: 320-235-7910 or
Out of the office

Karen Lange will be out of the office from Tuesday, September 20 - Thursday, September 22, attending the Synod of Lakes and Prairies Presbytery Staff Retreat. She will return calls and answer emails on Friday.
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