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 January 20-26
First Presbyterian Church of Beaver Creek
Pastor: OPEN
Moderator: Jason Cunningham
Church Secretary: Lori Taubert
Session: Rick Tatge, Leroy Schroeder, Tricia Wingert, Debbie Brondsema, Jake Rauk, Clair Crawford, and Clerk of Session Shirley Walraven

Prayer concerns:
  • That we get more members and children.
  • Joy that we have been preparing meals for the shut-ins in our community once a month.
Highlights from the Week

On January 19, I attended a meeting at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Minneapolis. Diane Givens-Moffett, new President of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, presented the 2019-2020 Tri-fold Mission Initiative: “Vital Congregations, Systemic Poverty and Structural Racism”
  • Building congregational vitality by challenging people and congregations to deepen their faith and get actively and joyfully engaged with their community and the world.
  • Dismantling systemic poverty by working to change laws, policies, plans and structures in our society that perpetuate economic exploitation of people who are poor.
  • Eradicating structural racism by advocating and acting to break down the systems, practices and thinking that underlie discrimination, bias, prejudice and oppression of people of color.

At the meeting the group was introduced to The Matthew 25 Initiative and action approved by the 223 rd General Assembly. The Matthew 25 Initiative is designed to bring about what an initiative brochure calls “radical and fearless discipleship” among congregations and mid councils by engaging in three targeted missions described above. Our presbytery is invited to discuss how our mission might fit in with the national initiative.

On Sunday, sixty people gathered at First Presbyterian Church of Willmar for the Ecumenical Service for Christian Unity. Using the theme of Justice ... Only Justice, my sermon focused on Deuteronomy 16:18-20. As God established the festivals of Tabernacles, Unleavened Bread and Weeks, the text reminds the reader that those with a memory of an Egypt Experience are more likely to be concerned about justice. For those who have no memory of a time when they or their ancestors have suffered, relocated to a new land, or were treated unfairly, can these individuals understand the importance of justice making? A memory of when ... creates empathy and compassion for those in need of fair treatment. Using the definition of scholar Peter Paris, justice is defined in two forms: 1) the individual’s obligation to the community as mediated through the many dealings individuals have with one another; and 2) the community’s obligation to its members and itself. 
Heads of Communion from Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, The Catholic Dioceses of New Ulm, the United Methodist Church participated in the service. We are especially thankful for First Presbyterian Church Willmar’s hospitality, Revs. Leanne and Scott Thompson, Rev. Mark Ford, and John McKay that provided special music. From the offerings, donations will be made to two local non-profit agencies, Community Basics. Inc. and Community Integration Center. Thanks to everyone who made the special service a success.

Yesterday the presbytery was led in a daylong training on Hopeful Conversations: About Human to Human Relationships . The Reverend Samuel Son, Manager for Diversity and Reconciliation, Presbyterian Mission Agency, led the discussions. The meeting started with discussion norms the group wanted to use to relate to each other during the training. I believe these norms establish ways to engage relationship building in general.
  • Confidentiality
  • No Assumptions
  • Mutual Respect
  • Using “I” language to tell your own story and speak your truth
  • Having a willingness to learn

Son used scripture to focus on Paul and Peter’s exchange around inclusion and building relationships. According to Son the main point of the Gospel is full-inclusion. The group discussed the themes of the day and name the following insights:
Hate-mongering is a learned behavior. Based in fear, hate-mongering is about group-thinking, bias, losing power, and unknown identity. Scarcity is the belief that resources are limited therefore access must be restricted. Miseducation is about smalls lies that become big truths, emotional attachment to lies and ignorance.

Each event fits well in our effort to stretch and grow in our theology, practices and relationships. I am thankful for all who participated.

SanDawna
Awakening to God’s Beauty –
A Lenten invitation to pray with art
2019 Presbyterians Today Lenten Devotional
 
This year’s stunning devotional invites us on a spiritual and visual pilgrimage through the holy season of Lent . . . through the final days of our Lord’s ministry . . . his passion . . . his death on the cross . . . and finally his glorious resurrection at Easter.

Relying on the powerful words of the Psalms, we peer at the heartbreaking ravages of the world through Jesus’ eyes: poverty, racism, sexism, corruption, violence and so many other social ills that afflict God’s beloved children. For those of us intent on bending the arc of history toward justice, it might be tempting to become agitated and exhausted. But with God, there is always hope.

So, through magnificent photography and a spiritual discipline called  visio divina  — praying with art — we open our eyes with new awareness and gratitude for the beauty of creation. The devotional offers a dazzling smorgasbord of soul-stirring original photographs, each with a short, guided meditation to lift our hearts and fortify us for the rest of our Lenten journey.

The text, meditations and original photography are all the loving work of the Rev. Krin Van Tatenhove, long-time Presbyterian pastor, hospice chaplain, substance abuse counselor, traveler, photographer, and amazing storyteller.
The 2019 Lenten Devotional is perfect for congregations, families and individuals.

You can order through the presbytery office for a discount. If our presbytery's pre-order reaches 100 copies, we will place the order and your congregation's cost for these devotionals will be $2.40 per copy through the presbytery office. The deadline to order is Monday, January 28. Please call or email your order to Karen at the presbytery office: 320-235-7910 or  karen@minnesotavalleys.org .
Presbyterian Foundation offers free webinar series
Themes include boosting stewardship, talking about money

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

LOUISVILLE

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.

Topics in the webinar series are:

Click on the links above to register for the webinars. You’ll receive an email before each webinar goes live. The webinars will begin at 10 a.m. PST/ 1 p.m. EST. Each session lasts one hour. Sessions will be recorded, so you can view them later or even share them in your own church.

Translating numbers into stories

In Sessions 1 and 2, attendees will learn how tools such as a narrative budget and stewardship calendar help reach all four types of givers: gifted givers, thoughtful givers, casual givers and reluctant givers. Many church members need someone to translate the annual budget into stories about the work of the church that the budget makes possible. To reach members who know why they are giving, but want more accessible methods, these sessions will also cover online giving tools, email campaigns, and text donations.

Session 3 will focus on setting up an endowment. This is important from a pastoral care perspective because endowments offer members an avenue to share their faith with their loved ones after they die. Endowing one's pledge also addresses the problem of having a small number of members whose giving accounts for a large percentage of the church budget.

Sessions 4 and 5 will challenge congregations to tell about the impact of their ministry through methods that can increase year-end giving. They will also address how the church can compete with all of the end of the year asks by other worthwhile charities and will reflect changes in the tax code that impact all types of giving.
Money as a spiritual discipline

Money conversations can be a challenge. However, knowing who gives money to the church and how much is important - not only because it allows leaders to manage resources effectively, but also because it allows for relationship building. Changes in giving can be a helpful indicator of spiritual needs in the congregation.

Pastors, ruling elders, trustees, and financial staff all have a role to play in annual stewardship and sharing the vision of the church so that members are continually inspired to give. Sign up for the webinar series and learn how you can nurture these vital conversations in your church.

Susan Herman is a freelance writer and editor. She worships and volunteers on the music team at Carmichael Presbyterian Church near Sacramento, Calif.
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. The Zoom discussion on chapters 3 and 4 will be on Thursday, Jan 24, at 11:00 am. Zoom instructions follow:
Jan 24, 2019 11:00 AM
By phone, find your local number: https://zoom.us/u/aehPzh7OmP
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)  

Deadlines

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

Questions?
Contact Mark Giese:  mark@fpcstcloud.org  ∙ 320-251-8277 (church) ∙ 320-493-8272 (cell)

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/
Upcoming Events

Big Tent - August 1-3, 2019 in Baltimore
Work for MCC!
Clergy Age and Congregations
Build a Multi-Faith Network in MN
Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys
4055 Abbott Drive
Willmar MN 56201