The Valley Bridge
The weekly newsletter from the
Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys
September 21, 2016, part 2
 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)
From the Board of Pensions: This Is Important!

All of the congregations and employers within our presbytery's bounds received a letter from Michael Roys at the end of August, and an email on September 15 regarding the September 30 deadline for Employer Agreements. Don't ignore these important messages!
 
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 pensions.org!

News from Louisville

Back in October 2014, Ann Philbrick visited our presbytery to introduce the New Beginnings initiative in which nine of our congregations would become engaged. This past week, we received this letter from the Presbyterian Mission Agency and share it with you. Keep Ann and our national church staff in your continued prayers.
 
September 12, 2016
 
I am writing to you to celebrate the ministry of Ann Philbrick and to inform you that she has decided to leave the Presbyterian Mission Agency.  As many of you already know, the Offices of Church Transformation and Evangelism were combined to form the new Office of Vital Congregations last spring during the budget process for 2017-2018.  Ann and I have worked together over the summer to put shape to the ministry that will be provided by this office.   Ann has also been testing her own continuing sense of call and I am disappointed to tell you that she has now decided to move on from service with the PMA.
 
We will miss Ann's expertise in church transformation and her commitment to the work of the church. Ann has served well the denomination through the ministries of church transformation and New Beginnings. She has been instrumental in helping us transition the provision of New Beginnings back to the Hope Partnership for Missional Transformation.  She has provided good leadership in the initial stage of the formation of the new office. Ann's knowledge of transformation and her heart to see the church be the body of Christ it was created to be have made a huge difference in the life of our denomination.
 
Our hope is to have a better sense of next steps by the end of the month. We will be searching for a person to fill this position. If you have suggestions, please let us know. If you need assistance or have questions, please feel free to contact me at ray.jones@pcusa.org.
 
As Ann moves into the future discerning a new call, I know that God will continue to use her gifts and give her all that she needs for this journey. Please keep Ann and the work of this ministry in your prayers as we live together into the future.
 
Grace,
 
Ray G. Jones III

Invitation to the 2017 APCE (Association of Presbyterian Church Educators)  Annual Event

Grace and peace to you. It is with great joy that we extend an invitation to 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 www.apcenet.org today! Assistance may be requested through the Commission on Congregational Transformation and Growth!

Scenes from the Road

Saturday, September 17 - Cluster Gathering in Saint Cloud
 
On Saturday, September 17, representatives of congregations in the northeastern corner of our presbytery (Brainerd, Crosslake, Foley, Randall, and Saint Cloud) gathered for their semi-annual meeting and fellowship. Guest speaker for the day was the Rev. Dr. Jon Armajani, Parish Associate at Foley and Professor at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University. Jon recently returned from a summer trip to Lebanon where he is doing research for his next book. Jon spoke to the group about Christians in Lebanon. It was a most fascinating presentation - good information for all of us!
 
This week's "Scenes from the Road" are from Saturday's gathering.







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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