The Valley Bridge
The weekly newsletter from the
Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys
December 5, 2018
 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)
December Presbytery Office Schedule

Dec 6: SanDawna, Pam and Karen meet with Personnel for lunch
Dec 7: Office closed - SanDawna and Karen vacation
Dec 10-14: SanDawna attends Midwest All Staff Meeting
Dec 10-11 and 14: O ffice closed - Karen Birthday holiday and vacation
Dec 17: SanDawna vacation
Dec 18: Karen vacation
Dec 19: SanDawna out of the office
Dec 21: SanDawna vacation
Dec 24-Jan 1: Office closed
Congregation of the week of December 9-15
First Presbyterian Church of Willmar
Rev. Leanne Thompson & Rev. Scott Thompson,  Co-Pastors
Shara Goldenstein,  Administrative Assistant
Jill Boeyink, Christian Education & Youth Ministries Director, Music Team Director
Deb Lang, Financial Secretary
Sue & Jerry Schiro, Custodians
Erica Boeyink, Nursery Supervisor
Katie Gluth,  Nursery Assistant
Bea Ourada, Treasurer 
Betty Knutson, Clerk of Session

Please pray for: those experience a first Christmas without someone they love; the nurture and care of our children and youth as they learn to love God and follow Jesus; the spiritual leadership of our Elders and Deacons as they follow their Rabbi into the world; the passion of the gospel to take root in our hearts; the care and nurture of the spiritual lives of our congregation.
Mission focus: College campus meal ministry; the Family Promise Day Center; our local mission service project outreach; interfaith understanding initiatives.   

December comes and goes too fast. Unlike the other months, I hope for a slower December. Before jumping into a new year, I want time to savor the current year before anticipating the good and bad that each new year can bring. As discussed at the Christmas Open House, many family traditions are celebrated during the holiday. For our family, it has always been finding other days to celebrate time together. Being a clergy couple, the big holidays are typically spent doing church work. I am not complaining; I love the life to which we are called. However, there are times when I would like to be just mom, wife and sister. Murphy and I have often talked about taking a cruise and forgetting about coordinating schedules with family. What would it be like to honestly act like empty-nesters? At some time, we may act on this intuition; but for now, we will celebrate the Ashley Family Christmas in Georgia on the third weekend of December.
The holidays are what we make of them. For some, this season brings grief and the sorrowful memories of those who have passed on. For others, the holidays are for merrymaking and giving thanks. This is the season for both. Healing can come from tears if we remember the promise, "You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book." This is indeed the work of Emmanuel God with us. Services of Blue Christmas help to affirm for those who are blue this season that they are not alone. As you plan worship, take many opportunities to reach out to those who are less joyful this season.

One member of my immediate family is a Christmas Hallmark Movie fan. I bore of the movies, they are all the same...romantic tales of finding love in usual places, reconcile relationships, loss and finding things new. You are probably saying is not this the essence of Christmas? It is, but Hollywood somehow removes the real parts. In my opinion, the answers are too easy, they are too predictable and often miss the ebb and flow of things that make life what it is.
For me, Christmas is messy. The original story is about a teenage girl becoming a mother. It is about an almost broken engagement. It is about how many doors were closed to a young family seeking shelter in a town too preoccupied to be compassionate. It is about a God who breaks into history in unexpected ways. The season is about messages that if you are not prepared for the return of Christ, you may miss the Lord. It is about questions, "where is your wedding garment" as Jesus asked in the Matthew 22:12 parable. Christmas to me is wonder and reality all wrapped in one. Christmas from the Backside by J. Ellsworth Kalas is one of my favorite resources for Christmas studies. The book lifts the backstories from Scripture and brings to life scenarios I believe the world today can identify with.
May you enjoy the season in ways that are meaningful to you and yours. In all ways, let us begin the holidays taking our clue from Isaiah 40:9
You who bring good news to Zion, go up on a high mountain. You who bring good news to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the towns of Judah, "Here is your God!"

Christmas Open House

Here are a few photos from our time together on Monday - we had so much fun!

Pastor Elizabeth Tot's visit to Canada

Submitted by Thijin Gatwech

These are some pictures of Pastor Tot's visit to Canada.  Over 350 people came for this South Sudan Youth for peace and unity of North America. There were people from different states in USA such as Omaha Nebraska, Des Moines Iowa, St. Cloud MN, and few other states. People came from the United States, Australia, and Canada where the service was hosted.
Pastor Tot says that she was really happy to be there, and the unity of South Sudanese Christians in North America is inspiring, and is experienced in these services that happen once a year. She felt a real sense of happiness and joy worshiping with hundreds of Nuer people and praising God and praying for peace and unity in South Sudan to be permanent in all our hearts.

Commissioner, Ruling Elder, Deacon Training

On January 12th the presbytery will hold a joint Presbytery Commission/Committee member and New Ruling Elders and Deacons training event at the Hope Presbyterian Church of  Spicer from 9:30 - 4:00. All commission members are asked to attend the January 12th full day training.

The schedule for the day:
9:30       Registration
10:00     Opening Devotions and Plenary Speaker Deb DeMeester in the Sanctuary
11:45     Lunch
12:30     Ruling Elders, Deacons, Commissions/Committees meet separately 
(15 minute break at 2:00)
3:30       Closing in the Sanctuary
4:00       Departure
Ecumenical Prayer Service Celebrates Annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Ecumenical Prayer Service Celebrates Annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity at First Presbyterian Church of Willmar, Minn.  Area congregations will come together for an Ecumenical Celebration of the Word of God on Sunday, January 20.

The service, which will be held as part of the area's observance of the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, will take place at First Presbyterian Church of Willmar beginning at 3:00 p.m.  Rev. Dr. SanDawna Gaulman Ashley, Executive Presbyter at the Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys, will  deliver the message. Special music will be provided by John McKay, an accomplished pianist from Saint Peter, Minn.

Begun in 1908, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is celebrated each year in cities and towns across the country and around the world.

The theme for the 2019 observance is Justice, Only Justice, You Shall Pursue (Deuteronomy 16:18-20). The theme and text for each year's observance of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity are chosen and prepared by representatives of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and representatives of the World Council of Churches. The international texts are developed, adapted, and published for use in the USA by the Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious Institute.

The Willmar service is sponsored by the Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys. The public is cordially invited.
Leadership Development and Educational Training
All pastors and congregational leaders are invited

Hopeful Conversations About Human to Human Relationships:
Moving beyond hatemongering, fear, scarcity, and miseducation

Tuesday, January 22 -  9:30 - 3:00
Presbytery office, Willmar

Speaker: The Rev. Samuel Son, Manager for Diversity and Reconciliation, the Presbyterian Mission Agency

Religious, community, and education leaders are invited to a conversation about human to human relationships hosted by the Minnesota Valleys Presbytery and the Presbyterian Mission Agency PC(USA). Participants can expect a safe place to dialogue around issues on how we see and hear the other. The day-long event will work to equip participants to return to their communities tooled with enhanced listening attitudes and better equipped to positively enhance relationships in our diversifying communities.
Reservation Fee: $15.00 lunch, please bring a check payable to the presbytery that day.
Location: Minnesota Valleys Presbytery office, Willmar, MN
Registration is open - email Karen at the presbytery office
2019 Per Capita  - $41.35 Total
$27.00 for Presbytery
$5.40 for Synod
$8.95 for GA
November Book Read: Rebuilding the Foundations

Join the Presbytery in a book study of Rebuilding the Foundations: Social Relationships in Ancient Scripture and the Contemporary Culture by John Brueggemann and Walter Brueggemann, Westminster John Knox Press. The Zoom discussion on chapters 3 and 4 will be on Thursday, Jan 24, at 11:00 am and 6:30 pm. Zoom instructions will be included in the Valley Bridge in mid-January.

Mid Council Financial Network - Sharing Resources

November 6-9, Karen attended the Mid Council Financial Network meeting in Austin TX, and shares here some of the resources from that event.

For your Session, Personnel & Budget Committees:
Your Church: Employer & Small Business -  provides basic guidance regarding your church's obligations as an employer and a business. It includes information about employment and governance along with valuable links to resources on taxes and labor law. From the Insurance Board.
Per Capita - The General Assembly Per Capita Budget
Inspiring Generosity - Texas Presbyterian Foundation - A guide available on their site with five keys to inspiring generosity - hard copies available to order on their site.

For Church Treasurers:
Church Treasurer's Manual - put together by the people from the Presbytery of San Jose. They will also be coming out with a shorter manual for small churches.
Payment Fraud Controls - from PNC Financial Services

Legal Issues:
Update from Legal Counsel - Cory Halliburton. Includes sample policy regarding sexual harassment.

Thank You Lens of Stewardship - Rosemary Mitchell - Presbyterian Mission Agency

Theological Education:
Theological Funds Development - Lee Hinson-Hasty - As the baby boomers retire, there will be an even greater need for pastors. Giving to the Theological Education Fund will decrease these pastors' student debt load.

Cyber Security:
Cyber Security Threats - David Dinkel. Top learnings - Never click on attachments or links from unknown senders AND be careful even with businesses you know. Call the sender before acting on any asked-for payment that you don't recognize, especially if it's not the address you have on file for that business. Upgrade/update devices regularly and backup daily.

2019 Presbyterian
Youth Triennium

Get Ready  for the 2019 Presbyterian Youth Triennium - a gathering held every three years for high school age students in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Youth from all churches (across sponsoring denominations) come together for this life changing, life giving, faith growing gathering! Five days that help form a younger generation of active Presbyterians. Five days that shape the leadership gifts and deepen the discipleship awareness for a generation who are already achieving a strong presence in this church and in this world!

Event Essentials

DATES:                      Monday, July 15th - Sunday, July 21st (includes travel days)
LOCATION:                Purdue University - West Lafayette, IN
AUDIENCE:                High School Age youth entering freshman through graduated seniors
THEME:                    "Here's My Heart"
REGISTRATION FEES: Anticipated Cost - $625.00 to $650.00
                                (Registration fee includes all programming, food, lodging and travel)  


Congregation RSVP Forms  Are Now  Due with $100 deposit per participant
JANUARY 7TH:    Registrations Forms Available (Presbytery Website)
FEBRUARY 4TH:   Registrations due, along with $250.00 payment for each participant
MAY 6TH:            Final Payment Due

Contact Mark Giese: ∙  320-251-8277 (church) ∙ 320-493-8272 (cell)

Young Adult Volunteers Sought
Spread the word! Applications for the 2019-20  Young Adult Volunteer (YAV) program open Oct. 1. All  sites  available.  
The YAV program is an ecumenical, faith-based year of service for young people, ages 19-30. Volunteers accompany local agencies faithfully working to address root causes of poverty and reconciliation. YAVs serve during the academic year, August to July.
Help plants seeds of service and share!

Per Capita and Mission Dollars

The Commission on Operations is asking congregations to henceforth send their per capita and mission dollars directly to the presbytery office - 4055 Abbott Drive, Willmar MN 56201. If checks have already been sent to the Synod, that is just fine.
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.

DiscipleshipAnne Veldhuisen,, 507-215-5617
Evangelism: Randy Knuth,, 712-540-8243
Evangelism :  Darlene Scherbing,, 320-292-2610
Mission: Richard Lawrence, , 320-260-9639
Mission: Kathy Terpstra,, 320-815-8158
Spiritual Leadership: Tom Voigt, , 612-875-6398
Stewardship: Rick Hauge, , 507-829-5227
Worship: Darin Seaman, , 320-251-8277
Pastoral Leadership Opportunities

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

Crosslake Presbyterian Church, Crosslake - Pastor (for a designated term)
   Ministry Information Form -  11950.AD0

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

The Ministry Information Forms for these opportunities are posted on the Church Leadership Connection web site --
Six New Things
Stand up and raise your heads this Advent
Reaching thousands
Staying creative under stress
Youth Ministry workshops
Advice for funerals
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