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 10 - 16
Crosslake Presbyterian Church of Crosslake
Pastor: Rev. Tony Oltmann
Clerk of Session: Arleen Steele

We are excited and blessed that Rev. Tony Oltmann has become our new pastor. His installation took place on Sunday, February 17.
During Lent, we will be focusing on Cultivating and Letting Go, with the theme running through worship, home devotions and activities.
Prayer List

Rev. Araceli Itzep from the Occidente Presbytery
Rev. Beverly Brock from First Presbyterian, Foley
The Presbyterian churches that were affected by recent tornadoes in Alabama
Today is Ash Wednesday, and I am returning to my roots of Lent where you give something up in hopes that you will gain something from the sacrifice. In my morning devotion, the text of Jonah 3:1-4:11, presented that Sunday School story of a disgruntled prophet angry with God because things did not work out quite as he hoped. The prophet wanted to see God act out in rage. Maybe he was wishing to see a demonstration of fire coming down from heaven or something along the lines of the flood in the days of Noah. Instead, he saw upfront what can happen when people take the call to repent…to seriously assume a different consciousness. He also observed what can happen when leaders get the message and citizens agree together that wrong has become an epidemic and the people as a whole need a change of consciousness. The solution became a national show of remorse and the beginning steps to setting things right. Call a fast. Sound an alarm. Everyone is expected to participate; not even animals can beg out of the fast.

At the same time, Jonah pouts and his prejudices grow. For good reasons he dislikes the Ninevites for years, they were enemies of Israel. Nineveh was a large capital city in the Neo-Assyrian Empire in Upper Mesopotamia. Today the area is on the outskirts of Mosul, Northern Iraq. The destruction of Nineveh would have been an answer to prayer according to Jonah. His religious beliefs were at odds with God, imagine that. For Jonah and some today, justice is about revenge and not reconciliation. The love of God is restricted to people like me (my ethnic group, those of my socioeconomic class, pedigree, and political party). We fail to realize that when we are wounded and are not healed, we so often become the one who wounds others. God chastises Jonah in chapter four, calling to his attention his internal conflicts:

“The LORD God appointed a bush, and made it come up over Jonah, to give shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort; so Jonah was very happy about the bush. But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the bush, so that it withered. When the sun rose, God prepared a sultry east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint and asked that he might die. He said, “It is better for me to die than to live.” Then the LORD said, “You are concerned about the bush, for which you did not labor and which you did not grow; it came into being in a night and perished in a night. And should I not be concerned about Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also many animals?”

Before we judge Jonah so harshly, let us grapple with our feelings around God’s extravagant grace. Lent calls us to grapple with what we believe and how we live. Lent calls us to fast not only from sugary foods, creature comforts, and indulgent activities. Lent calls us to grow spiritually to be changed more like the image of Christ. Fasting, prayer, study, quiet, and contemplation reforms us. We take this journey every year. We are pilgrims walking together to the familiar place of the Garden of Gethsemane, Golgotha, and the empty tomb. The outcome of our next 40 days is predictable…if we seek God we will find God. Like Sir Francis Drake, let's pray that God will disturb us.

 Disturb us, O Lord
when we are too well-pleased with ourselves
when our dreams have come true because we dreamed too little,
because we sailed too close to the shore.
Disturb us, O Lord
when with the abundance of things we possess,
we have lost our thirst for the water of life
when, having fallen in love with time,
we have ceased to dream of eternity
and in our efforts to build a new earth,
we have allowed our vision of Heaven to grow dim.
Stir us, O Lord
to dare more boldly, to venture into wider seas
where storms show Thy mastery,
where losing sight of land, we shall find the stars.
In the name of Him who pushed back the horizons of our hopes
and invited the brave to follow.
Amen.

Blessings for the journey,

SanDawna
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 and church leaders 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, Executive Presbyter SanDawna Ashley will lead a Zoom webinar for PNCs at 2:00 p.m. Contact Karen Lange to register and to receive the instructions.
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.
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 )
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.  

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
The internationally acclaimed University of Jamestown Concert Choir will be performing at First Presbyterian Church of Willmar on Saturday, March 9th at 7:30pm.

The Jamestown Choir, under the direction of J. Aaron McDermid, makes annual concert tours throughout the United States and travels abroad every four years. For more than 80 years the choir has toured domestically and internationally, visiting 38 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, 18 European countries, China, and three Canadian provinces. Choir members are chosen by audition and represent most academic majors on campus.

Please mark this special date on your calendar and come out and support this talented choir. Admission to the event is free. However, to off-set the costs of touring, a free-will donation will be offered during intermission.
Lenten Devotional Bulletin inserts
Hymns by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette
Hymns by Barrie Shepherd