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 February 17-23
United Methodist-Presbyterian Church of Browns Valley
Council members: Tiffany Myrum, Kelli Rinehart, Laurie Appel, Dale Dobbs, Ken Warren, and Peg Kuschel
Church secretary: Maria Roark
Pastor: Rev. Abigail Ozanne

Missions: On February 24, we will hold our annual Soup and Chili Warm Up (11am - 1pm if you want to attend). This is typically attended by around 100 people from the area. It is a time of connection and fellowship as well as a way to raise money for the work of the United Methodist Presbyterian Women. The church has been focusing on reaching out to the community in a variety of ways, including meals, movie nights, and providing accessible space. Pastor Abigail is planning to lead a Bible study in the community during Lent, since there are no Bible studies in town.

Prayer concerns:
  • for all whom have lost loved ones recently
  • for members of our church family having health or personal issues  
Don’t Throw Me Under the Bus
If the title of this article raises a painful memory for you, take comfort in the fact that most people feel the same. When someone is thrown under a bus, it means that the person doing the throwing may not have considered the other person’s feelings before taking action to lay blame on someone else.
Last week during the Transitional Ministry Education Consortium meeting in Princeton, New Jersey, the faculty for the ten PC(USA) Transitional Ministry Education Sites learned from Rachel Rosenthal, an improv performer from New York City. Rosenthal taught the group the concepts "yes, and..." and how this language can be transformative for our congregations and mid-council bodies. In improv, no one is thrown under the bus, because the performers build off one another. As a rule-of-thumb in improv, the actors expand on the line of thinking of the other performers. This concept works as one actor says for example “I am sunshine” the other person responds with “and you light up the entire sky.” In the Rosenthal group, each performance begins with a pat on the back and the words “I got you!” The performers are a team, and having each other’s back is more important than a perfect performance.

The concept of “yes, and” invites us to trust our colleagues, to respect individual gifts, and trust that all will go well even if compromises and detours are needed. Additionally, to utilize the “yes, and” concept, egos have to be checked at the door and individualistic leadership cannot be a core value for pastors or congregations. Grace abounds in this setting, and mistakes are gifts. As the gifts of the performers are utilized, the drama is strengthened. Simply said, play to the strength of those on your team. The connection to leadership is easily made. “Will you be a friend among your colleagues in ministry, working with them, subject to the ordering of God’s Word and Spirit” (W-4.0404e)? Ministers of Word and Sacrament, elders and deacons must answer this question in the affirmative when taking their ordination vows. Beyond collegial courtesy, the vow assumes we value honoring the spiritual gifts and graces of others. It also implies that we will make room for each other’s gifts.

I believe we can learn much from the concept of “yes, and.” The concept creates collaboration, strengthens teams, and places all involved on the same page in times of visioning, planning, conflict, and difficulties. In the future, we will also explore the value of “yes, but.” Unlike “yes, and,” but reduces creativity and does not foster growth and new possibilities.

Grace and Peace,

Removing Internal Barriers to Success and Implementation
When: Tuesday, March 19, from 9:30 am - 4:00 pm
Location: Minnesota Valleys Presbytery, 4055 Abbott Drive, Willmar
Cost: $15 payable at the door, checks payable to Minnesota Valleys Presbytery are preferred.
Speaker: Rev. Felicia LaBoy, MA, MDIV, Ph.D. Dr. LaBoy is known for her inspirational, practical, and common-sense approach to ministry and business. She is a popular speaker and expert in the fields of faith- based community, economic and leadership development; evangelism; and race relations.

Many clergy spend countless hours reading and in live and webinar training on how to move their congregations forward. However, movement forward is often hard or non- existent. In this highly interactive seminar, participants work on what is really holding them and their congregations back from achieving their vision for the future. Utilizing biblical and theological resources, as well as best practices from transition and change management, participants will begin to develop strategies for how to help their congregants deal with uncertainty, loss, and change.

More About the Speaker
Dr. LaBoy academic credentials include a B.S. in Marketing from Lehigh University, an MBA in Marketing and Finance from Duke University, an M.A. in Christian Ministries from Indiana Christian University, and an M. Div with a concentration in Evangelism and a Ph.D. in theology, history and ethics from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary and Associate Dean in Black Church Studies, Louisville Theological Seminary. She is an Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC) trained life transitions coach.

Her books include Table Matters: The Sacraments, Evangelism and Social Justice ; Unstuck: 8 Steps You Can Take Right Now to Possess Your Promise; and Not For Women Only: Leadership Lessons From Women in the Bible – A 40-Day Devotional (Spring 2019) .

Pastor Nominating Committee Webinar

On Thursday, March 28, SanDawna Ashley will lead a Zoom webinar for PNCs at 2:00 p.m. Contact Karen Lange to register and to receive the instructions.
Called as Partners

Elaine Boyd, member of Occidente Task Force

“May we learn the art of sharing, side by side and friend with friend, equal partners in our caring to fulfill God’s chosen end.” (Called as Partners in Christ’s Service)

These words from one of my favorite hymns convey so well what we as Minnesota Valleys Presbytery are working toward in our mission partnership with Occidente Presbytery in Guatemala. 

Future partnership projects will be those proposed by Occidente Presbytery and will have as their focus the support and encouragement of the mission of Occidente Presbytery in their communities. 

How can you join in this partnership?  The Occidente PW has requested help with the purchase of sewing machines in order to finance the needs of the PW groups in churches there. We have funding to purchase three machines at about $330 each, to be purchased locally in Guatemala. Perhaps your PW or others in your congregation would like to donate additional money so that more machines could be purchased. The Occidente PW is also suggesting help with knitting supplies in order to make items to sell. Because shipping is difficult and because we want to support the local economy, we can only take donations of money, not supplies.

Another project that we are working on with our partners are requested health classes involving CPR training or education in other health issues. Details are still to be worked out.

But the most important focus of future partnership is the building of relationships—person to person. By sharing our stories, barriers of distance and culture and language disappear, and strangers become family.

Would you like to meet our partners face to face? The Occidente Task Force is planning a trip to Guatemala in February of 2020 to join with them in their mission to their members and communities. Some Spanish is useful but not required. If you have skills to share, or if you just have a passion for meeting these brothers and sisters in Christ---and would like to go along, contact the presbytery office. Donations should be sent to the presbytery office and designated for Occidente as desired. Gracias.( Brochure )
Poems shared by Sara McKay

Here is the poem that Sara read during her Committee on Representation report at the Stated Presbytery meeting on February 2.

Use Me, O God     
C. Rossetti (1830-1894)

Use me, O God, in Thy great harvest-field,
Which stretches far and wide, like a wide sea.
the gath'rers are so few
I fear the precious yield will suffer loss.
O find a place for me.

A place where best the strength I have will tell.
It may be one the other toilers shun.
Be it a wide or narrow place,
'Tis well, so that the work it holds be truly done.
So that Thy work be done!

Here is another poem also relevant to those looking for volunteers and those who are already volunteering on committees and commissions.

The Carpenter of Nazareth   
Rev. G. Studdert-Kennedy (1883-1929)

Close by the heedless worker's side 
Still patient stands the Carpenter of Nazareth,
His pierced hands outstretched to plead 
Unceasingly His love's demands.
Longing to pick the hammer up and strike a blow, 
Longing to feel His plane swing out steady and slow.
The fragrant shavings falling down,
Silent as snow.
Because this is my work, O Lord, it must be Thine.
Because it is a human task, it is divine.
Take me and brand me with Thy Cross,
Thy Slave's proud sign!
The Academy

Would you like to
·      grow in your faith and knowledge? 
·      grow as a leader? 
·      have more opportunities to serve God as needed in your area? 
We invite you to consider joining The Academy, a unique, cohort-based learning community.  

Needed: Teaching Elder with a heart for developing Presbyterian Christian leadership

Beginning at Synod School on July 23-27, 2019, a facilitator is needed to accompany a new group of students taking classes from the Academy.  The facilitator accompanies the students, attending classes with them over a two year period to support and encourage. During and after classes, facilitators receive assignments, make comments on them, and record completion. Responsibility would be for students from MN Valleys and possibly a few from other presbyteries, up to about 6 students. 

The training of people interested in becoming a commissioned pastor is becoming more and more vital in today’s church. If you are interested in this important and and fun position, the contact Commission on Leadership—Paul Snyder and Bev Brock, co-chairs. Have questions? Current facilitator is Elaine Boyd 320-212-6456
PC(USA) Store: Introducing Our New Christian Education and Church Ministries Catalog!
You can view the digital catalog that links the resources directly to our website by clicking the button below. If you would prefer a physical copy of the catalog, please contact our customer service team by calling 800.533.4371 Monday-Friday from 9am-5pm EST to request that a catalog is sent to you. You can also email the team at any time with your mailing address. 

Presbyterian Foundation offers free webinar series
Themes include boosting stewardship, talking about money

Susan Herman | Special to Presbyterian News Service - January 8, 2019


Rob Hagan and Karl Mattison of the Presbyterian Foundation will lead a free five-part webinar for congregations.

The  Presbyterian Foundation  is offering a series of five webinars in 2019 on engaging church givers in stewardship and money-related conversations.

Pastors, business administrators, stewardship chairs, treasurers, session clerks and others involved in the financial life of the church are invited to register. The webinars are free. Sign up for the whole series, or just topics that interest you the most.

Rob Hagan and Karl Mattison will present the webinars. Hagan is a  Ministry Relations Officer  for the Presbyterian Foundation. Mattison is the Foundation’s Vice President of Planned Giving. They have teamed up many times to educate church leaders on financial topics and say they’re excited to offer webinar participants tools for building generous, vital communities of faithful givers who want their resources to change people's lives for Jesus Christ.

Book Study: 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. Next chapters to discuss: 5 & 6.
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 15 - Sunday, July 21 (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)  

Registrations are now due, along with $250.00 payment for each participant
MAY 6: Final Payment Due

Contact Mark Giese:  ∙ 320-251-8277 (church) ∙ 320-493-8272 (cell)
Young Adult Volunteer (YAV) international placements open until March 1 st APPLY  to a transformational year of service in  South Korea , Zambia , Colombia , Scotland , Peru & the Philippines  by March 1 st  - or encourage young adults (ages 19-30) you know to consider! More info online at . National sites open until June 1.
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 --
Upcoming Events

Big Tent - August 1-3, 2019 in Baltimore
Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys
4055 Abbott Drive
Willmar MN 56201