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 12-18
First Presbyterian Church of Ashby
The First Presbyterian Session Members are: Lois Ellingson, Judy Grecco, Kyle Rylander, Jim Rylander, Cindy Welch, Judy Helle, Barb Dewey (Clerk of Session) and Jim Risbrudt (Treasurer). We offer prayers for all those dealing with illness as well as our members serving in the military. We ask for prayers as we prepare to say farewell to Pastor Matt Zelie as he moves to Washington and we begin the process of searching for a new pastor.  We support a Pakistan student through Presbyterian Education Board as an on-going mission. The first Sunday of the month the coffee money offering goes to our local food shelf.
Commissioner, Ruling Elder, Deacon Training

On Saturday, January 12, 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

Clerks/congregations: please send Karen Lange the names of those attending and note if they are elders or deacons.
Ecumenical Prayer Service Celebrates Annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Please contact  Karen Lange  by Tuesday, Jan 15 if you are willing to bring a plate of 24 baked treats to serve following the event. 

Ecumenical Prayer Service Celebrates Annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity at First Presbyterian Church of Willmar. 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.

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.
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 .
Omaha Presbyterian Seminary Foundation offers Webinar
You will be equipped to:
  • Recognize what privilege is and how it functions in our culture.
  • Identify the ways social divisions harm vulnerable people through the injustices of exclusion as well as the ways social divisions harm the very people they supposedly benefit .
  • Understand Jesus' approach to social divisions and apply a model of healing to our broken world.
For our area (Central Time) this seminar is at 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday, January 15. This 90-minute webinar will offer congregations and pastors alike a way to address the challenging topic of privilege and social divisions with generosity, humility and hope. This webinar will be particularly useful in the context of predominantly white congregations with members who want to explore the concept of privilege and consider whether a loving response is possible.

Live webinar with replay - $29.95 (1-6 participants from the same church/ministry)
Presented by Amy Julia Becker, the author of "White Picket Fences: Turning Toward Love in a World Divided by Privilege."
On-demand video replay allows you to watch the video recording on the Outlook's website whenever it is convenient for you and as many times as is helpful.
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.

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.

Register now:

Susan Herman is a freelance writer and editor. She worships and volunteers on the music team at Carmichael Presbyterian Church near Sacramento, Calif.
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
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 and 6:30 pm. Zoom instructions will be included in the Valley Bridge in mid-January.
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)  


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

Contact Mark Giese:  ∙ 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 --
Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys
4055 Abbott Drive
Willmar MN 56201