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 March 31 - April 6
First Presbyterian Church of Edgerton
Ruling Elders: Jerry Evink, Sue Fraser, Brian Gilbertson, Dave Hulstein, Debbie Johnson, Sandy Klingenberg
Teaching Elder: Rev. Thomas Voigt

Prayer Notes
  • Several families have suffered tragic losses in the past weeks, including a couple whose 7 month old child died of SIDS and a widow whose son died in a traffic accident. Pray for those who are grieving and those who are offering care.
  • Our annual Lenten Fish Fry drew a good crowd from the community and great food and fellowship was experienced. In the month of April, we will join together for our yearly church auction (no, not the church itself, just a bunch of fun stuff.)
  • Exciting things are happening in our Christian Education Department.  Two of our ruling elders are leading a new adult Bible Study class, a youth group has been formed with plans to meet regularly, and a men's breakfast group is meeting on Saturday mornings during the season of Lent. An emphasis on nurture (both giving and receiving) is being experienced among us, and we thank God for stirring us.
Prayer List

Rev. Araceli Itzep from the Occidente Presbytery
Being Made New
As we continue our Lenten walk towards the cross, I wonder if the concept of dying to the old life and putting on a new life can be understood in a different way. Richard Rohr tells the story of a Japanese tradition of discharging your loyal soldier.
At the end of World War II, some Japanese communities had the wisdom to understand that many of their returning soldiers were not prepared to reenter civil, peaceful society. The veterans’ only identity for their formative years had been as a “loyal soldier” to their country, but now they needed a broader identity. So the communities created a ceremony whereby a soldier was publicly thanked and praised for their service to the people. After the soldier had been profusely honored, an elder would stand and announce with authority: “The war is now over! The community needs you to let go of what has served you and us well up to now. We now need you to return as a parent, a partner, a friend, a mentor—something beyond a soldier.” Rohr call this process “discharging your loyal soldier.” 

This reminds me of the process of being made new in Christ, as suggested by Matthew 5:30 “ And if your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off, and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to go into hell.” and Hebrews 12:1 “ let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us.” Here, Jesus and Paul teach about giving up the things in life that no longer serves us well. At the conclusion of Lent, will we be visibly able to see how we have grown spiritually? Ken Wilber suggests that we “transcend and include” as we grow, recognizing the value of what has come before while shedding old skins and identities that no longer fit us.” One key element in Lent is identity. Whose identity do we claim? How do we see ourselves? How do we see others?

Like many of you, I am focusing on the second half of my life. No longer am I just trying to find who I am. I am focused on being. Being for me begins and ends with being fully formed in a relationship with Christ. My identity is in God who created me and sealed me in baptism.

As you journal, write a poem, share your faith story, can you see yourself “discharging your loyal soldier” and taking on a new identity that serves you and others well? This is truly the Lenten journey at best.

Blessings and Peace,
SanDawna
Cambria honors Presbyterian Disaster Assistance
At Cambria Presbyterian Church, the Minute for Mission on March 17 was Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA). On a day most would be wearing green, the congregation gathered in blue in honor of the PDA!
Presbyterian Hymnals to Give Away

Harrison Presbyterian Church of rural Spicer has 100 blue Presbyterian Hymnals to give if anyone can use them. Contact Dennis Peterson at dkp56@tds.net.
Pastor Nominating Committee Webinar

On Thursday, April 4, Executive Presbyter SanDawna Ashley will lead a Zoom webinar for PNCs at 2:30 p.m. Contact Karen Lange to register.

Join Zoom Meeting: https://zoom.us/j/487827516
If joining by phone, find your local number: https://zoom.us/u/adKp6DlC2k 
Meeting ID: 487 827 516
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.  
Save the date for Boundary Training
 
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.
The Stewardship Navigator is a new online tool to help you create a year-round stewardship program. The Stewardship Navigator includes tools and resources along with customized materials for your congregation.

It is important for churches to develop a creative and comprehensive annual stewardship program. Successful stewardship programs are generally not one-time, fall events but rather ongoing, year-round initiatives that keep members challenged and engaged.

To help you with your stewardship program, the Stewardship Navigator offers …
  • Usable Templates
  • Year-Round Guidance
  • Stewardship Calendar
  • Assistance from Presbyterian Foundation Ministry Relations Officers

Get started with the Stewardship Navigator today by registering your church at StewardshipNavigator.com . For assistance with setting up your account contact serving@presbyterianfoundation.org or 800-858-6127.

Church Staff: Schedule a Day with Karen

Associate for Administration Karen Lange is available to spend a day with the person or persons in the church office 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.
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 )
Is God calling you to a new adventure?  

You are invited on a double adventure: attending Synod School AND beginning an exciting spiritual journey with the Academy. A new series of Academy classes begins at this summer’s Synod School with Old Testament and Spiritual Formation. This series of 11 classes is a necessary step for becoming a commissioned pastor, or to enhance your ability to serve God and your church many different ways.

See the Academy brochure for more information. Questions about the classes may be directed to:
Elaine Boyd pastoramboy@gmail.com /  507-674-3895 or
Deb DeMeester at the Synod office  ddemeester@lakesandprairies.org  / 800-328-1880

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. The Zoom discussion will be on Thursday, April 4, at 1:00 PM, and instructions will be in the Valley Bridge on April 3.
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
Registrations are now 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
Faithful Innovation Summit
July 24-26
University of St. Thomas, Minneapolis

The church is changing. What is God calling us to do about it? At Luther Seminary’s Faithful Innovation Summit, gather with fellow Christian leaders who want to lead the church more deeply into God's life and love for the world. Discover what it means to trust God's leadership in times of disruption, hear real-world stories of innovation from leaders in a variety of ministry settings, and come away with a realistic plan for transformational change.  Learn more and register.