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 November 10-16
Union Presbyterian Church of Saint Peter
Staff: Bob and Jean Passon, Todd Ruble, Holly Havemeier, Katha Chamberlain, Kathy Gumbel, Andy Davis

Prayers for the ministry of giving witness to the resurrection. This year, we have been privileged to commend twelve saints to the eternal care of the Lord. We know that many other congregations have also carried this heavy burden, so the members of Union pray with you as we mourn our losses and give thanks to God.
Prayers for strength as we seek to serve our community in many projects ranging from serving free meals to the hungry and lonely and helping new transitional housing.
Sign up today for the Pastors’ Retreat
November 11-13, 2019

Leaning Tree Lodge
Presbyterian Clearwater Forest
16595 Crooked Lake Rd
Deerwood MN 56444
Begins with lunch on Monday and ends before lunch on Wednesday.
Cost: $40, includes meals and lodging

Please email Karen Lange your attendance plans today!

Come and enjoy the fall beauty of Presbyterian Clearwater Forest and spend time with presbytery colleagues. We will reflect on the year of transformation and take a deep breath. The retreat is in the planning stages, but mark your calendars to attend.

Retreat Speaker Rev. Jennifer Hope Kottler is a spiritual director/certified life and leadership coach and yoga teacher in private practice in Florence, SC. An ordained pastor in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) with standing in the United Church of Christ, Jen serves clergy and lay leaders who want to deepen their own spirituality and lead their communities with intentionality and grace. Jen facilitates retreats and events for congregations, non-profit organizations, and church leaders. In all her work, Jen incorporates ancient spiritual practices with modern techniques including Energy Leadership Coaching and Conversational Intelligence®. Jen is married to Rev. Gavin Meek, Transitional Executive Presbyter and Stated Clerk in New Harmony Presbytery (NE South Carolina) and she enjoys hiking, tennis, cooking for family and friends, and traveling with Gavin.
Let's Talk about Money
It’s commonly known that Jesus preached about money more than any other human condition. Fall is well known to be the season of the Church when Stewardship becomes the focus, as congregations set financial and mission goals for the new year.
As you plan, keep in mind our theology—the Stewardship of Life—the complete offering of our time, talents and resources. Why Jesus spent so much time talking about money can be understood in this way: how we use our money is a spiritual issue.
 
Whether you tithe, pledge or regularly give a percentage of your income, these spiritual practices speak to your understanding of God as the source of all things. Regular giving comes from a heart of gratitude, worship and thankfulness. The principles of seed time and harvest in our region is well understood. Sowing and reaping is its own mystery. As an observer of the planting process, the whole concept is another sign to me that faith is intricately woven in everyday life. Money, for most people, reveals their faith. Take for example the widow who gave her all, and Jesus pointed to her as an example to follow. Zacchaeus, the modern day IRS agent, does not ask for forgiveness for his extortion and apologize for insulting others, but determines without prompting, "I will give half of my riches to the poor." Again, the rich young ruler is committed to following Jesus until he is told to give his wealth away. The rich man that assesses all his riches with pride pats himself on the back, and after considering all he has acquired in life cannot find anything else to do with his resources than to build a bigger barn.
 
Whether Christian or not. generous people gain more in life. When we give, sow into the lives of others, or invest in good things, we receive a return on our investment. As we know, it is not a dollar for dollar return; and I am not promoting giving only to receive in return. However, I am proposing a lifestyle change and an invitation for you to experience the difference generosity makes in a person’s life. The quote below is not new knowledge, but it comes from an interesting source. Forbes magazine asks the question, Is The Bible The Ultimate Financial Guide? The following is a quote by Peter Grandich.
 
"The writers of the Bible anticipated the problems we would have with money and possessions; there are more than 2,000 references,” he says. “Our whole culture now is built on the premise that we have to have more money and more stuff to feel happy and secure. Public storage is the poster child for what’s wrong with America. We have too much stuff because we’ve bought into the myth fabricated by Wall Street and Madison Avenue that more stuff equals more happiness.” He adds, “That’s the total opposite of the truth, and the opposite of what it says in The Bible.”
 
Jesus taught about making the choice between serving money and God. (No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money). He draws a hard line, and we have to make a choice around our priorities, and I will go so far as to say our loves.
 
As money becomes a clear sign of our faith, be encouraged that those who give will also have their needs met. Consider the many promises from Scripture Psalm 23 “The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want.” Consider reading as a congregation Dallas Willard’s new book Life Without Lack . Living by faith and in obedience to God is always the goal for the faithful. Let us all examine our values around giving. Are they in line with Scripture? What adjustments can we make to better align our finances with our faith? If we are enslaved to debt, what choices are we making and why?    My faith is emboldened by the belief that God will supply all my needs according to God’s riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
 
Blessings,
SanDawna
Highlights of the Presbytery meeting

Submitted by Pamela Prouty, Stated Clerk

We had a grand time with great hospitality at the November 2, 2019 Stated Presbytery meeting at Ebenezer Presbyterian Church, Renville, MN. The day started with a Presbytery Forum on restorative justice and adverse childhood experiences led by Andrew Peltz and ­­­­Ned Wohlman. The Presbytery Commissions and Committees also met in the morning. Following a delicious lunch served by the women of the Renville church, the business meeting was called to order by Presbytery Moderator Teaching Elder Mark Ford. The meeting was filled with reports from Presbytery Commissions, Lakeshore Center, Clearwater Forest and the Synod. The Presbytery approved a 2020 Presbytery balanced budget of $438,765.00 with withdrawing $58,404.00 from reserves. Also, new commission and committee members, General Assembly commissioners and officers were elected. The Rev. Anna Williamson from Renville and the Rev. David Lick from St. James were installed as moderator and vice moderator respectively. The Rev. Pamela Prouty was also elected for another five-year term as stated clerk. The Rev. Michael and the Rev. Bonnie Roys were honored for their retirement. The day ended with worship where we accompanied with a brass quintet made up of presbytery members Galen Smith on the tuba, Darin Seaman on the trumpet, Michael Hartwell on the trumpet, Leanne Thompson on the trombone, Paul Snyder on the saxophone and Wendell Bakker on the piano.

Presbytery has approved the following 2020 Presbytery Dates and hosts:
  • Saturday, February 15 at the Redwood Falls church; the General Assembly co-moderator Vilmarie Cintron-Olivieri will be preaching and leading an educational presentation on “Will You Be My Neighbor.”
  • Tuesday, May 12 at the Mankato church (hybrid meeting)
  • Tuesday, August 18 at the Silver Lake church
  • Saturday, November 14 in Spicer at Hope church (hybrid meeting)

Many thanks to the following for serving the presbytery with energy, intelligence, imagination and love on presbytery commissions and committees: the Rev. Bob Bartlett who served as chair of the Committee on Congregational Nurture and the Permanent Judicial Commission, Ruling Elder Jean Bauer who served on the Committee on Congregational Nurture, the Rev. Darin Seaman who co-chaired the Commission on Congregational Transformation and Development, Ruling Elder Sara McKay who served as chair of the Committee on Representation, the Rev. Jason Cunningham who served on the Permanent Judicial Commission, Ruling Elder Nancy Chamberlain who served on the Commission on Presbytery Life, and the Rev. Mark Ford who served as Presbytery Moderator and on the Commission on Presbytery Life.
The morning forum on restorative justice
The band video
Rev. Mark Ford's final meeting as moderator
Vice Moderator Anna Williamson anoints Jerry Peterson's hands for service
Retiring pastors Rev. Bonnie Roys and Rev. Michael Roys serve communion with Mark Ford and Anna Williamson
The laying on of hands for the new Presbytery Moderator Rev. Anna Williamson and Vice Moderator Rev. David Lick
Committee on Representation wants you to help us be the best presbytery we can be!

We have been busy these last few weeks finding folks to serve the presbytery on several commissions, and we are still looking for:

Commission on Presbytery Life
1 ruling elder to serve a one-year term

Committee on Congregational Nurture
1 ruling elder to serve a three-year term
1 ruling elder to serve a one-year term

General Assembly
1 ruling elder to serve as an alternate

Please, if you feel called, or know of someone who would be great on one of these commissions, contact Audrey Knuth at 507-830-0520 or David Lick at 414-334-9385.
Prayer List

  • For the family of Sara McKay, Chair of the Committee on Representation
  • For Rev. Michael Roys, pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Winnebago
  • For Rev. Elaine and Kent Boyd at First Presbyterian Church of Amboy
  • Sue Thompson, Clerk of Session at First Presbyterian Church, Maynard
  • Rev. Araceli Itzep from the Occidente Presbytery; surgery scheduled for Oct 23
  • For Beatriz (Betty/Beti) Cifuentes, the treasurer of the Partnership Committee, who is beginning chemotherapy.
  • For the "Men in the Mirror" program. Men from Occidente that MVP supported financially to attend the classes a couple of years ago are going to share the information they gained with different churches in the eastern and central parts of Guatemala. They, along with the chaplains of the national Presbyterian church, will also be training Christian policemen in what they learned from "Men in the Mirror."
Upcoming events at a glance

Nov 11-13: Pastor Retreat at Presbyterian Clearwater Forest
Dec 16: Gerald Lui's second webinar on preaching at 1:00 p.m.
Support Education for Children in Our Sister Presbytery in Guatemala

by Jim Krapf

Education yields opportunities. We are grateful for your support of this possibility for children in our sister presbytery of Occidente. Donating $250 scholarships provides funds for a student's required uniforms, books, and other expenses for a year. It makes a difference for that child’s future.

Their next school year begins in January. You can bring your checks made out to the Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys and noted for scholarships to the November 2 Presbytery meeting in Renville. Or you can mail them prior to that date to the presbytery office. Any amount is appreciated; but $250 per student is the goal. You may consider making this more than a one year commitment. 

You might also added 5% of your donated amount, which is given to the national office of the Presbyterian Church in Guatemala as a part of our partnership agreement. This money assists in paying their administrative and program cost at the national level.

Your donations will be in addition to the six scholarships that are provided through our presbytery’s Occidente Partners budget. Our goal for several years has been a total of $4000, providing 16 children with $250 each. Keeping our donations at this level can support more children beyond elementary into middle and high school.

After their school year ends in December, donors will receive photographs, academic reports, and thank you notes from the children and/or their parents. Many churches display these to express appreciation and promote further contributions.. Examples will be on exhibit at the next Presbytery meeting. We do not reveal the names of donors to the recipients to avoid further requests for assistance. We have found presbytery-to-presbytery arrangements are a fairer more manageable way to offer assistance. Occidente's Committee on Ministry will continue to select the recipients from among their now 20 churches.

Thank you in advance
Join the mission trip to Occidente

An opportunity to "do it to the least of these" is open to you. In these relationships, an encounter with Jesus will be experienced by you. Our presbytery's commitment to be a part of a Matthew 25 church can be advanced by you.

How? Participating in the mission trip to Occidente, our sister presbytery, and in the Guatemalan Network Meeting will give you the opportunity to:
  1. Minister with struggling people including projects that increase income and decrease the urgency to migrate.
  2. Be blessed by their faith and joyful worship.
  3. Understand the threats that do motivate migration.
  4. Reflect on a shared ministry that implements the biblical call to resist greed and to pursue the common good in our communities.
  5. Learn best practices from other partnerships
Please click on the link for further information and an application form.
Leadership Training for Elders, Deacons, and those serving on Presbytery Commissions

On Saturday January 11, 2020 at the First Presbyterian Church, Willmar we will be hosting a training event for Ruling Elder, Deacons and Presbytery Commission/committee members. Registration will start at 9:30. The morning will start with devotions and a plenary on 2020 Leadership by the Rev. Corey Schlosser-Hall, Executive Presbyter of the Presbytery of NW Coast. Following lunch, which is provided, Presbytery Commission and Committees will meet to set 2020 goals, meeting dates and other business. At the same time Ruling Elder training led by Stated Clerk Pam Prouty and Deacon training led by the Rev. Leanne Thompson will be held. The day will end by 4:00 p.m. Plan to attend and bring a car full. This event has had positive feedback for the past two years.
Advent Resources - Order devotionals TODAY
Straw for the Manger: Creating a Matthew 25 Advent season
 
During this holy season of Advent, we are invited to follow Jesus’s command epitomized by Matthew 25:31–46 to love one another and care for “the least of these.” 

This year’s devotional is very special. The Rev. Sherry Blackman, a Presbyterian pastor, chaplain and award-winning writer and poet, challenges us to fill our days of Advent with simple, practical and loving deeds that help our neighbors — calling each act of kindness a piece of “straw” for the manager to make a soft bed for the Christ child when he arrives on Christmas. It is our hope that you invite family, church friends and those in your community to join you in adding straw this Advent season, so that together you prepare for Christ’s birth. An added bonus to this year’s devotional is the space provided each Sunday of Advent to jot down your reflections and prayers.

Perfect for congregations, families and individuals, each day provides a Scripture excerpt, meditation and prayer to deepen the Advent experience.

The presbytery office will order these Advent devotionals in bulk for interested congregations. Please order from  Karen  at the presbytery office by November 4. If our order reaches at least 100, we'll place the order, and the cost will be $2.00 per copy, plus any shipping to each church.


From the Presbyterian Outlook:
Bulletin Inserts: Are you looking for theologically sound, inspiring and affordable Advent devotions for the congregation? 

The Presbyterian Outlook has you covered. Download the PDF, print as many as you need and insert them into your weekly worship bulletin. Written by Outlook editor Jill Duffield, each week includes a reflection, daily Scripture readings, suggestions for living out the Bible reading and a short prayer for each day. 



Hymns for Advent and Christmas: Beloved Presbyterian hymn writer, Carolyn Winfrey Gillette, has composed hymns set to familiar Christmas tunes and well-loved hymn melodies. 
Hymns for each Sunday of Advent and Christmas use the lectionary Scriptures to enhance your worship.

And, " The Candle of Hope " follows the themes of each of the Sundays in Advent (Hope, Peace, Love and Joy). If you light Advent candles as part of your worship during the season, this hymn is ideal!

Don’t miss out — make your elections for 2020 benefits by November 15!

Annual enrollment — your chance to make changes or elect benefits for 2020 — starts today and ends Friday, November 15.

Unless you have a qualifying life event during the year (such as getting married or adopting a child), annual enrollment is your only chance to make changes or elect benefits for 2020.

Pastoral Leadership Opportunities

First Presbyterian Church, Ashby - Pastor, yoked parish
Ministry Information Form - 12363.ABO

First Presbyterian Church, Fulda - Solo Pastor
  Ministry Information Form -  03782.AD1

Faith Presbyterian Church, Silver Lake - Solo Pastor
Ministry Information Form - 03851.AC3

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/
Falling in Love with Conflict

by Mary Kay DuChene

I was recently with a group of friends, and a polarizing subject came up: climate change. It was apparent very quickly that there existed a very diverse set of opinions on the topic at the table. At first, I sat back and observed the conversation. And then I was triggered. I spoke before I thought about the best thing to say and the best way to say it. Immediately I regretted how I showed up. I thought about it a lot that evening and then tried again to have the conversation more effectively. It went better the second time.
Here are some things I’ve learned along the way about conflict:
  1. No significant change happens without conflict. So if we want a better world, system, or relationship, we are going to have to, at times, step into conflict.
  2. No one really loves conflict. Some people like to spar or debate, but when it comes to emotional, significant issue conflict, most of us resist jumping in readily.
  3. Healthy conflict is aimed at ideas, not people. So, if it’s getting personal, it’s time to take a break, reflect on what’s really going on, and then try again later when emotions are more neutral or settled.
  4. Being in touch with emotions is important. When conflict touches you deeply, it’s important to reflect deeply on triggers, baggage, and feelings, and get right with those things that are causing the emotion.
  5. It’s vital to understand your own relationship with conflict itself - how you feel about it, where you are skilled, and where you could use practice.

These points about conflict are not in order of importance. As a matter of fact, if you are feeling right now like conflict is a development area for you (it is for all of us!), focus on number 5 first. In understanding your relationship with conflict and creating a development plan around it, you will be amazed at how quickly you can improve your skills. Because the truth is, different conflict situations call for different approaches, and we default to whichever approach (style) is most comfortable for us. Practicing different conflict styles in different situations can help us quickly become better partners in resolving problems.

To that end, we invite you to attend our December 10 mini-workshop on conflict , and then stay for our open house to celebrate the 50th anniversary of LeaderWise. Find more information about the mini-workshop below .

Conflict and You
In a condensed workshop on Tuesday, December 10 (5:00 to 6:00 pm), you'll learn about conflict styles and why being adept at conflict is vital to effective leadership. Prior to the workshop, you'll complete a conflict styles assessment (TKI) and gain awareness about your own conflict styles. Click here to register . Find more information about our December 10 event here .
From the Presbyterian Historical Society

Preserve vital church records for free at the Presbyterian Historical Society. Order digital copies at a PC(USA) discount. Join our Church Membership Program and receive further digitization savings. Find out more at www.history.pcusa.org/records, email records@history.pcusa.org or call 215-627-1852