The Valley Bridge
The weekly newsletter from the
Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys
September 28, 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 October 2-8
First Presbyterian Church of Willmar

Co-Pastors: Scott and Leanne Thompson
CEYM and Music Team Director:  Jill Boeyink
Music and Arts Coordinator:  Sue Carus
Treasurer:  Bea Ourada
Financial Secretary:  Deb Lang
Custodians: Jerry & Sue Schiro
Nursery Supervisor:  Nicole Reich
Office Administrator:   Katie Gluth
Clerk of Session:  Betty Knutson
Prayer requests: Prayers for peace and reconciliation; prayers for the ministry of Family Promise of Kandiyohi County which operates out of our church; prayers for members recovering from surgery, dealing with long term illness, or grieving; prayers for our children and youth ministries; prayers of thanksgiving for God's grace and provision for our congregation.
The Word from Rick: Making Connections

This past Sunday was one of those rare Sundays when I was not out on the road, and as a result, I had a chance to worship in the "home" congregation, First Presbyterian Church here in Willmar. I must say that I picked a good Sunday to be present, as ten members of the congregation shared their experiences and learnings from a recent mission trip to North Dakota.
In the week leading up to the Labor Day Weekend, nearly twenty individuals from First Presbyterian Church in Willmar and First Presbyterian Church in Amboy, joined forces to travel to the Bdecan Presbyterian Church near Devils Lake. Bdecan is one of the congregations within the non-geographical Dakota Presbytery which serves the people of the greater Native-American Dakota community. Significant to the group's going to Bdecan was a connection with Joe Obermeyer, a native of Amboy and a one-time candidate under the care of our presbytery.
During their brief sojourn in North Dakota, the mission team not only contributed significant work efforts for the benefit of the Bdecan congregation and community, but they also began the process of developing relationships between with one another. This trip was not designed to be a "one time" effort, but rather the beginning of a longer term commitment. As a result, significant time was invested in learning about the people and the culture of the Dakota people in that part of our country and the issues that challenge their very existence - particularly those timely concerns that relate to water and oil pipelines.
The participants - both those from Willmar and those from Amboy - came back energized and determined to build upon the experience of this trip. Plans are already being laid for a week-long trip next summer that would expand the number of participants and continue to deepen the relationships between our two Minnesota congregations and the people of the Bdecan congregation and community. Believing that there is much more than can happen in this relationship, I am seeing a willingness of our congregations to invest time, energy, and resources to making it all happen.
As I reflected with members of the Willmar congregation following worship, I commented that this partnership - between Willmar and Amboy, and between these congregations and Bdecan  - is one of the things that we want to encourage among our congregations as we lived into the vision that the Next Pres Team sought to cast. It was the hope that congregations would see needs, make connections, invite others to share their passions, and create opportunities and partnerships that would engage in new mission and ministry ventures, and that is what is happening here. Our congregations in Willmar and Amboy, through a connection with Joe Obermeyer, learned of a need, and came together to respond to that need. What was started is a relationship that will bring strength and energy to the congregations that are venturing into God's new thing for them. As a symbol of the new relationship that was begun, the mission team unveiled a "spirit quilt" (see picture below) that was a gift from the Bdecan community.
I hope this will be one of many ventures that will spring up among our congregations in the years to come. Continued blessings on the journey!
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 11 - Session Meeting, First Presbyterian Church, Osakis
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
November 13 - Preach at Emmanuel Presbyterian Church, Rushmore and Zion Presbyterian Church, Ellsworth
December 4-10 - Winter All Staff Conference, Mercy Center, Burlingame, California
December 18 - Preach at First Presbyterian Church, Brainerd
The Twins Have Arrived!
Additions to the Rev. Jason and Annalisa Cunningham family (Luverne): After what has been a very long and challenging journey, the identical twins arrived on September 23--Knox Cunningham at 4 lbs. 14 oz. and Sawyer Cunningham at 5 lbs. 2 oz.
This Sunday Is World Communion Sunday
Consider participating in the Peace & Global Witness Offering 
"Blessed are the peacemakers . . ."   

ABOUT the Peace and Global Witness Offering
What you've known as the Peacemaking O­ffering has been transformed into the Peace & Global Witness Off­ering. This new Off­ering will have a greater global reach, more significant impact, and bring peace to people through Christ.

The Peace & Global Witness Offering is received during the Season of Peace , which ends on World Communion Sunday, October 2, 2016.

HOW this Offering is used:
A gift to the Peace and Global Witness Offering enables the church to promote the Peace of Christ by addressing systems of injustice across the world. Individual congregations are encouraged to utilize up to 25% of this Offering to connect with the global witness of Christ's peace. Mid councils retain an additional 25% for ministries of peace and reconciliation - in our presbytery this also includes what we call "Missions Inside and Outside Our Borders", supporting new congregation and individual mission connections. The remaining 50% is used by the Presbyterian Mission Agency to advocate for peace and justice in cultures of violence, including our own, through collaborative projects of education and Christian witness.

We sincerely hope that your congregation will be participating in this special offering on Sunday. More information can be found on the Presbyterian Church (USA) web-site:

Did you complete the Board of Pensions Employer Agreement?

If you haven't done so, please act now and submit your Employer Agreement on Benefits Connect by September 30, 2016, so that your employees will be able to make 2017 benefit elections.

Employer Decision Support allows employers to model costs and select the 2017 benefits available to employees. By submitting your selections on Benefits Connect by September 30, you will create an Employer Agreement, detailing benefits you will offer to your employees during annual enrollment (October 17 - November 11).

For additional information:
All of these resources are available at!
Grace and peace to you. It is with great joy that we extend an invitation the the 2017 APCE Annual Event!

Psalm 46 reminds us that  God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble ... that though the waters roar and foam and the mountains tremble with its tumult, God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved.
In Baltimore, we were challenged: Fear Not!  In Chicago, we were called to see, hear, and live the new thing God is doing! We want you to know that we know how brave you are, and how challenging it can be to step into new thing.  It can feel like the mountains are quaking and falling into the heart of the sea! In Denver, Colorado, we invite you to be still, and know that God is God..."
This is a quality event for individuals who are involved in the educational ministries of our congregations. Check out the information at today! Assistance may be requested through the Commission on Congregational Transformation and Development!

In the German town of Landstuhl, by the city hall and within walking distance of the U.S. military hospital, is a small square dedicated to the sixteenth-century Protestant Reformer Martin Bucer. This memorial may seem surprising. The region is staunchly Catholic, and Bucer served as parish priest for little more than a year there. However, the juxtaposition of a monument to a Reformer now largely forgotten in a place where the results of his ministry have been swept away by the Counterreformation is somehow appropriate. Martin Bucer is one of the forgotten Reformers, perhaps the most important early Protestant most people have never heard of. 

To read the complete article, please click the following link:
Pulpit Supply Opportunity

The session of the First Presbyterian Church of Osakis is seeking individuals to help provide pulpit supply for their congregation while they continue their pastoral search. If you are a teaching elder or ruling elder who has time that you would like to offer to your friends in Osakis, please contact Elder Shirley Helberg -  - or the Session Moderator, Rick Carus, at the presbytery office.
Protecting Ourselves

by Jim Krapf

A week ago, I heard the report of three women terrorists stabbing a police officer in Mombasa, Kenya. And now, I learned of nine people being stabbed by a supposed terrorist in St. Cloud.
Currently I am in Nairobi being hosted by Dr. Solomon Kimuyu and his assistant Lila Farmer. We are tracing the path of the first Christian missionary to Kenya, my great, great, grand uncle, Dr. Johann Ludwig Krapf. Dr. Solomon is devoting himself to instilling Christian moral integrity in the church and political leaders of Kenya. We have discussed Rev. Rick Carus' Valley Bridge article "God, in Your Mercy, Hear Our Prayers." Our conversation yielded significant insights that I want to share with you and invite your response. They are numbered for that purpose. My email address is
First, because the attacker is dead, we will not fully know his motives. But if he dropped out of college, he may have felt like a loser. Perhaps he felt the failure of not being accepted. Coming from a desperate situation in Somalia and receiving free assistance in the U.S., he may have had little self-sustaining initiative. As a loser, perhaps he felt the failure of not achieving. Influenced by certain elements of Islam, he may have thought that his only remaining hope was to glorify Allah by taking the lives of infidels, believing a reward awaited him in the afterlife. These speculations should not create false accusations or excuses. A stable community requires people knowing they will be held accountable for their destructive behavior.
Second, devout Shiite Muslims in St. Cloud, if they had known of the attacker's plans, would have stopped him. They do not want to have their opportunity for a good life disrupted by these incidents. Their sacred writings also contain the command to love your neighbor along with prohibitions against killing and stealing. We need to differentiate them from radicalized Muslims who have distorted their faith.
Third, Kenya (where Christians have political control) and Tanzania (where Muslims have political control) are prime examples of how Christians and Muslims live together peacefully. They attend one another's weddings and funerals. On the International Day of Peace (9/21), I attended a United Religious Initiative conference whose purpose includes "to end religiously motivated violence." But there are those who are concerned that clashes between civil legislation and Sharia law have the polarizing potential to fracture family and community unity.
Fourth, we need to recognize that fear is the result of evil attacks, not just lack of understanding. The real origins of our fears must be addressed, without creating excuses that dismiss dangerous threats by spiritualizing the situation.
Fifth, our fears call us not only to protect ourselves, but also to protect those we fear will be attacked because they are unjustly perceived to be terrorist. How much of this burden we can realistically carry needs to be evaluated. But we must be faithful to a Lord who calls us to deny ourselves, take up our crosses (the burdens of others) and follow Him. We must ask whether we protect best by building walls or bridges.
Sixth, the false hopes of a distorted Muslim faith must be countered by the realistic hopes of a true Christian faith. We need to demonstrate to those who feel like losers (or who even by their own actions make themselves losers) that their only choice is not to take lives with the illusion they will be rewarded. Christian hope has to do with valuing lives for whom Jesus gave his life. We have a Savior who redeems lives.
Seventh, Christian hope is also built on justice. People being fairly rewarded for good efforts and everyone being given the opportunity to do so creates the community that God desires. Christians should make no apologies in sharing their faith that even in the midst of the evils of fallen humanity, God gives us security and power to conquer evils. God wants us to live in the peace that Rick described in his first two paragraphs.
I look forward to joining you in our dialogue with Dr. Sayyid Syeed and bringing the perspectives that I am gaining in Kenya. In the meantime, I join you in praying for the injured and grieving, for the community of St. Cloud, and for our faithfulness as followers of Jesus Christ in Minnesota Valleys Presbytery.
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: 
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
Worship Chairs for Sale

Submitted by Steve Tyykila

The Canby ministerial association's after school program was recently given the building and contents of an LCMC church that dissolved. Included in that was a wooden lector stand/pulpit, communion table, and baptismal font we want to give away. We also have 80 almost new worship chairs that hook together, many of them with racks for Bibles and hymnbooks. We would like to sell them for $40 apiece.  Link to pictures

Interested? Contact Pastor Levi Bollerus, Our Savior's Lutheran Church, 507-223-7072.
Show Up - Be Seen - Live Brave

Monday, October 3, from 6:00-9:00pm
Campus Religious Center
Southwest Minnesota State University
Marshall, Minnesota

The Daring Way™ is a highly experiential methodology based on the research of Dr. Brené Brown. The method was developed to help men, women, and adolescents learn how to show up, be seen, and live braver lives. The primary focus is on developing shame resilience skills and developing a courage practice that transforms the way we live, love, parent, and lead.

Our Presenter: Sarah Ciavarri

The cost for this event is free. We will have a basket out if you would like to give a donation to help us to continue to provide these type of events to the campus and community.

Presented by Lutheran Campus Ministry Network, ELCA
October Ordination Anniversaries

10/02/1999  Mark Ford
10/05/1999  Karen Anderson Dent
10/05/1971  Jim Krapf
10/08/1989  Sue DeNio
10/09/2011  Sara Drew
10/18/1981  Dwight Johnson
10/19/2008  Cory Germain
10/24/1984  Mark Chamberlain
10/24/2013  Andrew Turner
10/31/2010  Anne Veldhuisen
Out of the office

Karen Lange will be out of the office Thursday, October 6 - Friday, October 7, attending the National Administrative Personnel Association's annual meeting and classes.

Join us for a great event on innovation in Youth Ministry with Kenda Creasy Dean November 3-5!  

Village Presbyterian Church is hosting Professor Dean at an event co-sponsored by Youth Ministry Institute Midwest, Presbyterian Youth Workers' Association, and the Synod of Mid-America in Prairie Village, Kansas!

An information and registration page is now online. Costs vary from free to $70.

 YMIM and  PYWA will present several pre-conference classes beginning on Thursday, November 3. Kenda will join us for a presentation and forum beginning on Friday afternoon and continuing through Saturday morning as part of the church's  Meneilly Conference.

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