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 28 - May 4
First Presbyterian Church of Fulda
First Presbyterian Church of Fulda is currently seeking a full-time pastor. Our PNC has been busy and prayerfully at work seeking a good match for our congregation. Kasey Konrady serves as our church secretary, Ruth Carlson is our treasurer, Doug, Becky and Tara Tuin are the custodians and Loren Carlson is our Clerk of Session. Session members are: Jonathon Curry, Melissa Danneman, Jodie Getting, Kasey Konrady, Dean McNeal, and Mary Winter.

Our youth planned and carried out a great outreach project for Easter. They hid 300 plastic eggs around the city of Fulda on Good Friday. The eggs were filled with a treat and a message from everyone at First Presbyterian Church and wished everyone a Happy and Blessed Easter! Don't be discouraged if you find an empty egg. It is a simple reminder of Jesus' empty tomb for He Is Risen!  

Following the ice storm there are lots of branches to clean up in our city park so our Sunday School youth are doing a "Earth Clean-up Day" so they can get the park back in good shape. They will finish off the day by having hot dogs and root beer floats and a pool party.

We will be holding confirmation on Sunday, May 5 for seven confirmands. Our original date was April 14 but because of the ice storm and no electricity in Fulda we had to change the date.  

Prayer request for the PNC as they search for our pastor, our confirmands and our congregation members who are in need.
Presbytery Meeting Update & Mission Project

The May 21 Presbytery Meeting being held at First Presbyterian Church in Willmar will be a hybrid meeting. Registration will begin at 9:00 a.m. and meetings of the commissions/committee of the Presbytery will begin at 10:00 a.m. Those church commissioners and pastors who are not yet serving on a Presbytery commissions will be putting together hygiene kits for the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance program while the Presbytery commissions are meeting. Presbytery Life is providing materials to put together a few kits, but we are asking churches to also send items from the list below (or money) with your commissioner/pastor so that we can complete as many kits as possible. Please invite members of your church to collect the following items and bring them to the May 21st Presbytery meeting. Please contact Presbytery Moderator Mark Ford at foxfire1691@yahoo.com or 218-232-8131 if you have questions.   
Hygiene Kit
(Value $15)
1 — hand towel (approximately 16" x 28", no fingertip or bath towels)
1 — washcloth
1 — wide-tooth comb (remove from package)
1 — nail clipper (UPDATE: nail clippers with metal files or emery boards attached are now accepted; remove from package)
1 — bar of soap (bath size in wrapper)
1 — toothbrush (in original packaging)
10 — Band-Aids® or other adhesive bandage strips

Please do not add toothpaste to the Hygiene Kit. Toothpaste which has an extended expiration date will be added to international Hygiene Kit shipments just prior to shipment. Seal all items in a one-gallon plastic bag with a zipper closure.
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
PC(USA) membership decline has slowed
New worshipping communities are on the rise
Rick Jones, Office of the General Assembly

After years of seeing hundreds of churches leave the denomination, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is starting to see the number of departing churches decrease. The Office of the General Assembly has wrapped up its latest review of membership statistics  which indicates the decline in membership may be slowing down. 
 
In 2015, the total number of PC(USA) members was listed at more than 1.5 million. Within a year, membership declined by nearly 90,000. Last year, the decline was just over 62,000. The number of churches leaving the denomination between 2015 and 2016 totaled 203. In 2018, it was 34.


2018 Comparative Summaries of Statistics
Foundation accepting applications for Church Financial Leadership Grants
Grants offer new ways to talk about money and help form generous disciples
by Susan Herman for the Presbyterian Foundation | Special to Presbyterian News Service

Applicants must be a pastor, commissioned ruling elder or leader of a 1001 New Worshiping Community within the  Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) .

The grants will help pastoral leaders institute best practices for church financial leadership, introduce them to new models of giving and stewardship, and offer new ways to talk about money and form generous disciples within their church.

“Grantees have reported transformative effects on their ministry context from increased giving, feeling more comfortable talking about money,” says  Rev. David Loleng , director of Church Financial Literacy and Leadership for the Presbyterian Foundation. “They are learning that financial leadership isn’t just about fundraising but is also about forming generous disciples and churches that make an impact in their communities.”

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
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 (TODAY!) at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/QNGS62F  

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 --  http://oga.pcusa.org/section/mid-council-ministries/clc/