The Valley Bridge
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 April 21-27
First Presbyterian Church of Foley
Clerk: Bill Brauen
Elders: Deb Corrigan, Mike Schwarzkopf, Tom Albers, David Henry, Gloria Vande Brake, Candy Markfort, Caitlyn Schmitz
Sunday School Superintendent: Melody Henry
Pianist/Organist: Joan Brauen
Secretary/Treasurer: Lisa Bowland
Interim Pastor: Beverly Brock

Now that the snow has thawed, the church teams are gearing up for activities, especially the upcoming community Spring Carnival and Confirmation graduation (7 students). Our mission team is exploring different avenues of outreach, including community cookouts away from the church and possibly summer worship in one of the town parks. Keep Foley in prayer as we explore new ways of outreach.
Prayers for the church's PNC, stewardship growth and VBS.
Preach the Gospel
For many pastors, this is the most challenging week to preach. The pressure is on, the pews will swell with long-lost members, seekers, the faithful, and family members gathered to celebrate the holiday with loved ones. Confirmands will profess faith in Christ and the Church will rejoice in the Resurrection power that stills transforms the souls and lives of women and men.

So what makes preaching so difficult this week? First, the additional services, and second this is no new story. We have heard the story before. The preaching question is how to tell it in a new way. For 14 years as a pastor I also struggled with this same reality. Each year, I spent considerable time ensuring that I did not repeat what I preached the year before. This is almost comical. How can the story be different? I do not mean that different elements of the story should not be emphasized. What I mean is the story in itself is the same Christ and Him crucified.
Photo from Kasota Presbyterian Church
The New Testament Church was established by no other message but telling again and again the story of Jesus. God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, Jesus was born, lived, ministered, healed, righted wrongs, challenged governments, gave new understanding to the Law, and set the captives free. In the letter to the Thessalonians, Paul said that the purpose of his visit was for no other reason than to tell this same Gospel. This Gospel is soul transforming. Martin Luther King said, “The Christian Gospel is a two-way road. On the one hand, it seeks to change the souls of men [and women], and thereby unite them with God; on the other hand, it seeks to change the environmental conditions of men [and women] so the soul will have a chance to live after it is changed.” This quote speaks to the work of justice and the impact the Gospel has in bettering communities.

Paul reminded the Thessalonians that the Gospel is not about pleasing men but pleasing God. Thus, at times the message will be as the old saying goes, “to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted.” This saying was first quoted by Finley Peter Dunne, the Chicago newspaper journalist, who believed in the watchdog role of the newspaper. The afflicted were the victims of crimes and the comfortable were the offenders . Later, many preachers baptized the saying for the church.

The Gospel will rarely be popular, for it is not for those prone to low morality and low values. The Gospel will divide families, for how can two walk together except they agree. The Gospel will challenge institutions, especially those that foster systems of injustice, empowering the powerful and making weaker the powerless. The Gospel presents hope and healing. The woman at the well found out that Jesus had living water that quenches the places in life that we have tried to fill with other things. Zacchaeus found out that meeting Jesus will make you an honest man. The man at the pool of Bethesda discovered that Jesus will ask you “what are you waiting for? You have been in this position 38 years, it time to take up your bed and walk.”

The retelling of the Gospel is transformative. No gimmicks are needed. Can you find the storyteller within? The art of being a good storyteller is you believe the story yourself. Preach the Gospel. Christ has risen! He has risen indeed!

Prayer List

Rev. Araceli Itzep from the Occidente Presbytery
Sue Thompson, Clerk of Session at First Presbyterian Church, Maynard
Bev Raske, Ruling Elder at Ebenezer Presbyterian Church, Renville
Grant Applications Sought

The Mission Redevelopment Committee of First Presbyterian Church, Madelia is seeking applications to receive grants. Qualifying projects may include:

  • Development, formation, or redevelopment of Presbyterian churches
  • Evangelism or recruitment of new members
  • New building construction
  • Renovations or capital improvements
  • Presbyterian sponsored mission projects

A written letter of application describing the project, other funds available for the project, and the amount of grant requested should be submitted to the Mission Redevelopment Committee and postmarked by May 1, 2019. Grants will be selected and distributed by May 31, 2019.
Mission Redevelopment Committee
PO Box 156
Madelia MN 56062
Presbyterian Hymnals to Give Away

Harrison Presbyterian Church of rural Spicer has 100 blue Presbyterian Hymnals to give if anyone can use them. Contact Dennis Peterson at
Building a Congregational Immune System

Thursday, May 2 at Green Lake Bible Camp in Spicer from 9:30 – 4:00 – Registration is $40 and includes lunch
Our Speaker, the Reverend Peter Steinke, Ph. D, has been a church consultant for more than twenty years. Having studied Bowen Family System Theory under the tutelage of Edwin Friedman, he has attempted to incorporate the theory in his work. He has authored four books with an eye on Bowen Theory. He has developed the Bridgebuilder and Healthy Congregation programs and is initiating New Visions, a system-based project for leadership in congregations. Dr. Steinke is an ordained Lutheran (ELCA) pastor. A prolific author, Steinke is the guru of church systems, congregational health and building the capacity of leaders.

Dr. Steinke, a lead consultant to congregations and judicatories, will provide daylong training for church leaders on the congregation as an emotional system, triggers of anxiety, the immune response, and leadership in an emotional system. 

Register by April 24 at:  

27th Festival of Homiletics - 2019 Minneapolis
"Preaching as Moral Imagination"

Once upon a time, preachers and churches had a primary role in shaping the moral imagination of a community, a society, even a nation. What happened? “Preaching As Moral Imagination” will inspire and encourage preachers to embrace, once again, their identity as those called to give voice to God’s vision of goodness and mercy, to recover and re-imagine leadership in the church that seeks justice for all. Be inspired by God’s Word proclaimed by some of the nation’s finest ministers and teachers. Experience the fellowship of hundreds of preachers. Learn and worship in an atmosphere that’s dynamic, friendly, nurturing, and prophetic. Come renew, refresh, and recharge your spirit. Come and tap into God’s moral imagination for the sake of the world God loves.
For Clerks of Session and Treasurers

This year, the treasurers will receive financial training from Presbytery Business Consultant Bea Ourada while the clerks of session are reading session records. So send your clerk and your treasurer (and/or anyone interested in learning more about church finance) to one of the following trainings in June:
Monday, June 3 from 2:00-4:00 at the presbytery office in Willmar
Monday, June 10 from 4:00-6:00 at the First Presbyterian Church of Osakis
Monday, June 24 from 4:00-6:00 at the First Presbyterian Church of Windom
Spread the word to young adults (ages 19-30) that JUNE 1 is the FINAL date to apply to the 2019-20  Young Adult Volunteer  year ! National sites are available. Learn more online and  APPLY !!
Synod Gathering for Presbyterian Women in the Synod of the Lakes and Prairies
June 20-23, 2019

Gateway Hotel & Conference Center
2100 Green Hills Dr
Ames, Iowa

Full registration is $200 and includes meals and programming.

Link to Flyer
Join the movement of Presbyterians in Baltimore for a Big Tent like no other.

The theme, Called to a Movement beyond Institution, will emphasize our hope of the Gospel and its power to challenge institutional conventions. The goal is to come together and live in this moment, immersed in our current cultural context of racial division, gender inequality, and economic disparity to be renewed, refreshed and reformed, so that we may be sent out to affect change in our own communities. Big Tent will provide a place where our Presbyterian polity and identity is the foothold by which we proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ in action and answer the call to discern the will of God together.

Through worship, Bible study, learning opportunities, and active engagement with one another and the community, attendees will encounter the Church participating in God’s mission for the transformation of creation and humanity. 

Organizers for this year’s Big Tent celebration have lined up the guest preachers and leaders for the three-day gathering in Baltimore this summer. The Rev. Dr. Soong-Chan Rah will be the featured speaker at the opening plenary on Thursday, Aug. 1.

“Conversations are taking place about the changes that are occurring in our society, especially in terms of our demographics. Churches are experiencing change, including decline and diversity,” said Rah. “I will touch on those, but I really want to touch base on what the appropriate response to these changes should be.”

Save the date for Boundary Training
Tuesday, October 8 from 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
First Presbyterian Church of Redwood Falls
Boundary Training is required for all minister/teaching elder presbytery members and commissioned ruling elders. The Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys will be holding a boundary training on Tuesday, October 8 from 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church in Redwood Falls. The Rev. Mark Sundby from Leaderwise will be leading the boundary training. The training will focus on a holistic approach to boundaries, looking at overall resilience and well-being as the best prevention against impaired decision making and boundaries violations. More information will be coming.
Church Staff: Schedule a Day with Karen

Associate for Administration Karen Lange is available to spend a day with church office folks to share tips on setting up bulletins, newsletters, making a Facebook page or to help with any general questions. The cost is Karen’s mileage to and from the church plus providing lunch. Please email Karen to schedule.
Pastoral Leadership Opportunities

First Presbyterian Church, Fulda - Solo Pastor, 3/4 time up to full-time
  Ministry Information Form -  03782.AD1

Faith Presbyterian Church, Silver Lake - Part-time Solo Pastor
  Ministry Information Form -  03851.ACO

Hope Presbyterian Church, Spicer - Solo Pastor
  Ministry Information Form -  09565.ADO

The Ministry Information Forms for these opportunities are posted on the Church Leadership Connection web site --