Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys Youth Retreat
Event Location: First Presbyterian Church of Willmar, Minnesota

It’s official. The Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys has just concluded its first ever, one-of-a-kind youth retreat this past weekend, February 10 & 11, at the First Presbyterian Church of Willmar! If you read the Valley Bridge, you have seen our event evolve in so many ways. From leaders to times, to how it would look, and everything in between. All Presbytery youth, grades 6-12 were invited to spend the weekend at this event planned around the Matthew 25 theme “When Did We See You?”. Activities included large and small group fun, meaningful worship services with communion on Saturday, great food and lots of wonderful fellowship together. Friday’s activities centered around the idea of “See and Be Seen” while on Saturday we learned what it means to “Know and Be Known.”

Back in October we learned of an event support grant of $1,000 being offered by the Office of Presbyterian Youth and Triennium (PYAT) to groups who would be open to hosting an event using PYT Connect resources they provided. The grant money awarded to each recipient would come from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Pentecost Offering funds. Kali Luther, our Presbytery Youth Coordinator at the time, applied for and received this grant. This was ultimately used to purchase baby items and household goods to be distributed to a fellowship of single women from South-Sudan and Ethiopia who live in the St. Cloud, Minnesota area and practice their prayers of faith at the First Presbyterian Church of St. Cloud. We were extremely happy to welcome the Rev. Elizabeth Tot and Nyanwa, one of the mothers, who joined us on Saturday to talk about the challenges these women face living in the United States while trying to make a living for themselves and their children. The youth packaged up all of the items in boxes and sent them with Elizabeth and Nyanwa to bring back to St. Cloud and their community of single mothers.

A special thanks of gratitude to the Presbytery for sponsoring this event, the Willmar church for hosting it, Kali for envisioning it and to the 14 youth and 7 adults who attended it, including our new Clearwater Forest Camp Executive Director, Erin Anderson, and Assistant Camp Program Director, Garrett Colten. Also to PYAT for their creative resources and gift bag swag! All were necessary to make this event successful – and we think it scored a 10 out of 10!