The Valley Bridge
The weekly newsletter from the
Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys
November 15, 2017
 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)
Regular Presbytery office hours are 8:00 - 5:00 Monday - Friday
Congregation of the week of November 19-25
First Presbyterian Church of Windom
Pastor: Rev. Bonnie Roys 
Administrative Assistant: Christy Lohse
Musicians: Joanne Nelson and Shelley Lovell

Pray for hearts of thanks, minds of disciples, words of peace, and deeds of kindness for all in this congregations and all the congregations of our Presbytery. 
In Response to God

Last Sunday I had the privilege of worshipping with the Mankato congregation and preaching the message "In Response to God." The congregation celebrated Stewardship Sunday, and I observed the members joyfully offering commitments to give of their time, talents, and resources. The congregation was invited to think about Psalm 27:6-7 and Luke 12:13-20. Both texts invite us to think about what brought us to the faith and what keeps us faithful. Consequently, should our experience of God as a transforming agent in our lives cause us to live differently? David would respond to this question with a resounding yes.
 
David wrote song lyrics that weaved a story of his victorious and at times tragic life. The narrative of David includes being hunted by the egotistical and jealous King Saul. Like a mystery novel with twist and turns, we learn of the story of a son that hated his father so much that he, Absalom, and a band of outlaws tried to kill him. Political war was always a threat for David the king. The slingshot giant-killer would often look back on this incident for courage to conquer new challenges. David, like all human beings, suffered from his own demons of lust, shame, greed and bad judgment. Psalm 27 is a beloved psalm. Like Psalm 23, it speaks of faith based upon the experience of God as a deliver. God acts on David's behalf in tangible ways, transforming him from a person who feared, worried, and suffered from misplaced priorities to a person after God's own heart.
 
As Jesus tells the parable of the Rich Fool there was no problem with the rich farmer saving for the future or having a bumper crop. His problem was a soul issue. He found completeness in life with himself. His security came from things and not in a relationship with God or others.
 
I am intrigued by the psalmist's words "Now my head is lifted up, I will offer sacrifices with Joy."  This is a very Reformed approach to faith. We return to God our gifts of time, talent, and resources in response to God's grace in our lives. It begins with a grateful heart. Our faith reminds us that we are gifted with a good life, wellbeing, family, resources, intellect, privilege, access and power. Mindful of this truth we return to God a portion of our blessings to be used for God's purposes here on earth. 
 
David asked himself a question "what can I return to the Lord for all His blessings?" Here are a few things we know:
  • Rarely does the dying person say I wish I had kept more for myself
  • Generous people are happier people
  • Generous congregations are growing congregations
  • Faithful givers are not poor
  • The more open our hearts are to doing for others, the more we feel fulfilled and complete in life
As Reformed believers, our way of worship is to live in response to God. What is the chief end of man? Our chief end  is to glorify God and enjoy God forever through giving of ourselves in tangible, faithful ways of service to the church and others.
 
Blessings and Peace,

SanDawna
Financial Health Assessment

Where is your church on the road to financial health? Do you have all the resources you need? Is there room for improvement in the areas of stewardship and generosity? Use this free and confidential assessment tool from the Presbyterian Foundation to help answer these questions.  The resulting report provides customized recommendations of best practices and other identified opportunities and will help your congregation maximize giving through tithes, offerings, and other means of support for your mission and ministry. 

 


Advent Devotionals

Published by Presbyterians Today. Dual English-Spanish edition.

Let love speak: words and actions to pave the way of the Lord
Deja que el amor hable: Palabras y acciones para preparar el camino del Señor

During the holy season of Advent, we are invited to contemplate the powerful words of the Psalms. The Scriptures - and Jesus, the Word Incarnate - impel us to speak and act in more just and loving ways, especially towards the strangers and foreigners among us. Magdalena I. García, PC(USA) minister of Word and Sacrament and hospital chaplain for Vitas Healthcare in Chicago, has put together a collection of challenging daily reflections and prayers based on the Psalms to help us experience the promise and power of Christ's coming. Perfect for congregations, families and individuals each day provides a Psalm excerpt, meditation and prayer to deepen the Advent experience.

The presbytery office will order in bulk for interested congregations. Please order from Karen at the presbytery office by November 22. If our order reaches at least 100, we'll place the order, and the cost will be $1.50 per copy.
Be a part of supporting Presbyterian schools in Pakistan

by Lynn Miller

Over the years, congregations in our Presbytery have supported education in Pakistan through the Presbyterian Education Board (PEB), a mission that arose from the vision of United Presbyterian missionaries over 150 years ago. The schools of PEB continue to this day to provide educational opportunity to over 6000 of Pakistan's poorest children. Following a period of government control (1972-1998), today PEB is challenged with rebuilding, restoring, and renewing the schools and the quality of academics.

Around 2011, Minnesota Valleys Presbytery donated funds to construct a classroom in a new building at Christian Girls' High School, Sargodha, making it possible for students to have a safe and inviting place to learn. The campus continues to grow, including construction of a new dormitory to replace a 100-year old building that was no longer safe for occupancy. First Presbyterian Church of St. Cloud is one of the churches in our Presbytery that has partnered with PEB over the past five years to raise funds for scholarships and new construction on the Sargodha campus.

Numerous congregations and individuals in the Presbytery have supported PEB in various ways, most notably by donating funds for scholarships. So many parents of the PEB students are in difficult financial situations, making it difficult for them to pay even $2 per month toward their children's school fees. Scholarships supplement the small parental contribution. PEB is grateful that God's people in Minnesota recognize the need and respond so generously.

Many of you have met Veda Javaid Gill, Executive Director of PEB, during one of her visits to Minnesota. We look forward to seeing her in 2018 as she tours the USA in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the return of the PEB schools from the Pakistani government in 1998. You will hear more about this in future newsletters. If your congregation is interested in participating in the Minnesota area celebration, please contact Margy Trimble (Executive Director of Friends of PEB) at margy.trimble@friendsofpeb.org or phone 320-493-6243.

In the meantime, please consider becoming involved in this vital ministry. Speakers in our area who have previously visited PEB in Pakistan are available to share the story with your congregation. You can also participate financially through individual gifts or mission giving. A current opportunity is the Christmas Challenge that is focused on building a new school for boys in Martinpur (a majority Christian village) and completing the Sargodha girls' dormitory. Click here for more information about this campaign.

We also invite you to join Friends of PEB's #100Challenge on Giving Tuesday, November 28, by being one of 100 friends who donate any amount to encourage the 100 Christian girls in the Sargodha dormitory. The girls are awaiting completion of Phase II of their dormitory so they will no longer have to share beds or sleep on floor mats. Click here to participate, or visit givingtuesday.org and search for "Friends of Presbyterian Education Board" to make a donation.

Thank you for showing your concern for young people in a distant part of our world.

FYI - Friends of PEB is a US 501(c)3 non-profit organization that promotes PEB in the USA.
Seeking Nominations for Women of Faith Award
2018 Theme: Clergywomen Who Challenge Racism and Injustice

Basis for the Theme: Many of us are blessed to know clergywomen who have been advocates for racial and intercultural justice, with a respectful awareness and appreciation for each other's different races, ethnicities, cultures and languages. At the Women of Faith breakfast, we will show gratitude and recognize clergywomen who are "woke" and who challenge systemic racism and oppression.

Purpose of award: This award recognizes clergywomen who challenge racism and injustice.

FPC Lake Crystal packs cleanup buckets

On October 11 for our monthly family night, we packed ten cleanup buckets for hurricane relief. Marilyn Buss delivered them to Saint Cloud for the "Fill the Truck" challenge.

Front row: Emma Nilson, Abby Nilson, Evan Jones. Back row: Jackson Born, Hope McLeod, Phena Jones
Save the Date

We are holding the annual Commission/Committee/Task Force Orientation and Initial Work Day on Saturday, January 13, at the First Presbyterian Church in Willmar. All those serving on presbytery commissions, committees and task forces are invited. More info coming later.
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.


Discipleship: Pam Bush, pambush@woodstocktel.net , 507-823-4697
EvangelismAnne Veldhuisen, aveldhuisen@gmail.com, 507-215-5617
Mission: Richard Lawrence, richlawrence66@gmail.com , 320-260-9639
Mission: Darlene Scherbing, darlenescherbing@yahoo.com , 320-292-2610
Spiritual Leadership: Tom Voigt, tvoigt1960@hotmail.com , 612-875-6398
Stewardship: Rick Hauge, rdhmnara@mchsi.com , 507-829-5227
Worship: Darin Seaman, pastordarin@fpcstcloud.org , 320-251-8277
Pastoral Leadership Opportunities

The following congregation within the bounds of our presbytery is currently seeking pastoral leadership:

Randall Presbyterian Church, Randall
- Pastor
   Ministry Information Form - 03892.AC

First Presbyterian Church, Fulda - Solo Pastor, 3/4 time
   Ministry Information Form - 03782.AD

Hope Presbyterian Church, Spicer - Interim Pastor
   Ministry Information Form - 09565.AC

The Ministry Information Forms for these opportunities are posted on the Church Leadership Connection web site --  http://oga.pcusa.org/section/mid-council-ministries/clc/
2018 Per Capita is $40.13

$27.00 for Presbytery
   5.40 for Synod
   7.73 for GA
$40.13 Total
Mosaic of Peace Conference

Witnessing for Peace and Wholeness in a Land called 'Holy'
A Presbyterian Peacemaking Conference in Israel/Palestine
April 29-May 12, 2018

For more information, including a sample conference schedule and information from past conferences, visit presbyterianmission.org/mosaic or contact the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program at 800-728-7228 x5805 or 502-569-5805.

November eNews
Six New Things
Support Refugees
Respect and Interfaith relationships as you Give to the Max
$150,000 in grants
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