Pastor’s Corner – Dec. 31, 2017

For over twenty years, on Christmas eves, St. Paul’s received an anonymous poem from The Christmas Poet of St. Paul’s. The poem would arrive in the Christmas offering as a gift from the poet. Some years later, The Christmas Poet of St. Paul’s also began contributing a poem to the Easter offering. In 2014 this anonymous poet included a letter with the poem stating, “this is the final delivery,” but included a challenge for others to take up the tradition. In 2015, The Anonymous Christmas Poet of St. Paul’s II emerged. Here is our Christmas gift from the poet this year:
Unwrapping Christmas
A beautifully wrapped gift
Oh how it brings us joy.
What could it possibly be?
A blanket, a scarf, a toy?
A gift given us from our family or our friend.
A time of year we show our love
through the gifts we send.
I think it must be Gods’ favorite time of year too.
For God gives us the gift of life then sees what we do.
We continually think of others and our generosity flows,
The good that is in our hearts spills over and grows.
By giving we are happier, for we are designed this way,
It lifts our spirits to share our love by giving it away.

Our gift to God may just be time to give someone in need,
It may be to volunteer and to plant a seed.
It may be a simple hug or a supportive word,
An encouragement to let someone know that they are heard.
The most precious gifts are not always wrapped in boxes and in bags,
with frilly ribbon and colored bows and pretty Christmas tags.
So this year as Christmas comes and you are buying things in part,
Just know that some of the greatest gifts …come straight from the heart.

– The Christmas Poet of St. Paul’s II

Pastor’s Corner – Dec. 17, 2017

Advent Quiz!

Test your knowledge about the tradition of Advent!

(answers at bottom of page)

  1. What does the word Advent mean?
    1. Before Christmas
    2. Arrival or coming
    3. To go on an adventure
    4. A website for online Christmas coupons
    5. All of the above
  2. Like Lent, Advent is a fixed number of days before Christmas.
    1. True
    2. False
  3. According to tradition, how far did Mary travel to visit Elizabeth?
    1. 10 miles
    2. 50 miles
    3. 100 miles
    4. 500 miles
  4. What is a Jesse Tree?
    1. Another name for a Christmas tree
    2. The tree decorated with Chrismons
    3. A tree that blossoms at Christmastime
    4. A representation of Jesus’ family tree
  5. What is the meaning of the Hebrew word “Emmanuel”?
    1. Mighty king
    2. Christ Child
    3. God with us
    4. All of the above
    5. None of the above


How did you do? What is your favorite part of Advent? What would you like to learn more about during this season in the church? This season of prophecy and answered prayers is a season of preparation, but it is also a season of joy and hope and realization that God is with us forevermore.

For more information on Advent and the United Methodist traditions surrounding this season, visit


Merry Christmas!

Pastor Sami

Answers: 1.) B  2.) False  3.) C  4.) D  5.) C

Pastor’s Corner – Dec. 10, 2017

I have this tiny little Christmas tree with 9 lights on it that I keep lit by my bedside. Each night I spend 5-10 minutes in quiet with all the lights off except this little tree. I sit and relax into the beauty and stillness of the night and I breathe. It is a small act to counteract the hustle and bustle of these days. But it stills my heart and calms my soul.

Instead of filling your mind with even more words in these season of overload, I just want to offer this simple prayer and an invitation to spend time in quiet each day.

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
And be light for our darkness,
Be comfort in our grief,
A guide for our path.
Be a friend in our loneliness,
An oasis in our searching,
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
Restore our joy,
heal our wounds,
and bring us peace.

Walking toward the crèche,

Pastor Patti

Pastor’s Corner – December 3

The Holiday Dinner Table

Ah. The holiday dinner table. A place of wonderful memories, delicious food, and high anxiety. Along with the common stress during holidays and meal planning, our country’s political tension the last few years has caused disruption with the holiday dinner table. Even with the general election completed over a year ago, there are still repercussions of the outcome amongst families, friends, and co-workers. When we are able to control the news we read and see, being bombarded with opposing views is not our favorite dessert for the holidays.
Unfortunately, this tension can extend past meals and into cancelled wedding invites, vacations, and life-long grudges are cemented. What do we do about this? Whether we carry our own hurts about this topic or see others hurting around us, what do we do?
Conversations around delicate topics are difficult, vulnerable, and often passionate and painful. But, they are also very important. Those conversations are important because they are happening less and less, which just make the holiday dinner table more tense.
So, as vulnerable and tough that these conversations can be, the work is crucial for our relationships within and outside our families. Working through anxiety and tension will help us reconnect with those whom we love. Serving one another will also help. We see the needs of others instead of focusing on our personal needs. Most importantly, remembering our hope is found in God’s grace, not in winning arguments will help us heal and find peace in tense and high-stressful times.
As we enter into the season of company parties, family gatherings, and possibly tense holiday dinner tables, I invite us all to strive for health, peace, and respect toward those whom we love. May we lean in to situations outside of our comfort zone, create peace with those we interact with, and reconnect with friends and family.
Pastor Sami

Pastor’s Corner — Nov. 5

Those to Glory Gone
I sing a song of the saints of God, patient and brave and true, who toiled and fought and lived and died for the Lord they loved and knew…

This week we celebrate All Saints’ Day. It is a day to celebrate those who have gone before us, who stand with us still, and who unite as the “great cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12). It is a day that can mean many things to many people. Some Christian traditions honor saints more or less than others. No matter what, it is a day to remember and honor those who have shaped our church, our lives, and our faith.

My last semester in seminary, I received a care package in the mail. It was from my future appointment home, Choteau UMC. I had already been appointed to begin in July of that year, but I wasn’t there quite yet. Twice a year, the church assembles care packages for affiliated college students during finals week. They knew I was finishing school, so they sent me a box of goodies. There was a main card from the congregation, but stuffed in the corner was another little card with a dollar enclosed. It was from a parishioner who wanted me to choose a place to donate the dollar. I didn’t think much about it and dropped the dollar in a children’s offering at church.

I arrived at Choteau and began to get to know the parishioners. In October of that year, an active parishioner had a massive heart attack and passed away. The funeral was difficult for all involved. Her ministry and love were great, and the loss of her weighed on everyone’s hearts.

A few weeks later, I was picking through a box of school stuff, and I found that little card from my care package. It happened to be from the parishioner who had just died. That saint from May, the name that meant little to me then, was now my friend. I read her note again with different eyes. I read her name with a different tune; a saint of God, patient and brave and true, who toiled and fought and lived and died for the Lord she loved and knew.

Let us give thanks for both the saints in glory and those on earth, who have connected us to God. May we add our voices so someone else may hear about the grace and love of God.


Pastor Sami

Pastor’s Corner — October 29

A year or so after I moved from California to Colorado, it was time for my husband and me to start our family. I got pregnant and our extended family was ecstatic. But we were living in a small town on the plains of Colorado and felt very isolated from our family. Soon it was December and packages started arriving in the mail. Day after day, more and more packages came. The postmaster even noticed. Our living room was filling up with wrapped packages and at that point it was still just the two of us! All those packages filled our hearts. It really didn’t matter what was in the packages; just receiving them lessened the miles separating us from our family. An abundance of love flowed from our family members miles and miles away, through those packages and into our hearts. Our family was very generous!

Generosity. That is the focus of our stewardship series this year. Generosity is said to enlarge our souls, realign our priorities, and strengthen us to fulfill our God-given mission. To be generous is to place ourselves, our time, our talents, and our financial resources in the service of God. When we are generous with what we have, we find unexpected blessings flowing back into our lives. That is the way God’s economy works.

Remember the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000? After a long day’s work of teaching and healing, Jesus dismisses the crowd and retreats with his disciples. But the crowd follows them. When Jesus sees the crowd, instead of running away or hiding or saying “I’ve had enough, come back tomorrow,” Jesus is filled with compassion. He begins healing and teaching some more. Then his disciples, practical as they are, draw Jesus’ attention to the fact that it is almost supper time and they are out in the middle of nowhere. In their opinion Jesus ought to dismiss the crowd so they can all go get some food and rest. But Jesus instead looks at the disciples and says, “You feed them.” They don’t know how that is possible. Jesus says, “How much bread do you have?” They count–5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. Jesus says, “Perfect. Give them to me.” Jesus gives thanks for the bread and fish, and he hands it back to the disciples, who then distribute it to the crowd. And there is enough for everyone to eat and be satisfied. A crowd of 5,000!
Miraculous. Those disciples offered what they had, as meager as it was in the face of the need. Jesus took it, blessed it, multiplied it! That is how our God operates. When we offer what we have in service to God, God takes it, multiplies it, and does miracles.

But there is another part of the story I want to focus on … the leftovers. Not only was there enough for everyone to eat and be satisfied, but there were also 12 baskets left over! God does not provide just enough…our God provides abundantly. Our God is a generous God! Think of God’s gift of grace that is available to all. Abundant grace! God doesn’t limit forgiveness to 7 times, or 70X7 times. God’s forgiveness is limitless. Our God is a generous God. Love spills over from the heart of God into our lives and then flows into the lives of others. And that is my vision for our church…that we would be a place where the love of God spills over into our neighborhood. So let’s place ourselves, our time, our talents, and our financial resources, as meager as they may seem in the face of the needs around us, and see what God does in and through us. I bet we see some miracles!


Walking on the path of Grace,

Pastor Patti

Pastor’s Corner — October 22

AMEND Together to End Domestic Violence

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and though there is so much violence against the vulnerable in our society, there are groups and people working diligently to change the statistics. Shan Foster, a former NBA player, is using his public visibility to bring awareness. Shan reflects on his travel experience with basketball and mourns the amount of violence he has seen. He also mourns our own culture that supports violence. He is the senior director of external affairs of the YWCA of Nashville and Middle Tennessee, and he has partnered with United Methodist Men to lead a group series that will teach men to recognize, respond to, and prevent violence against women, girls, boys and other men.

The group visits middle and high schools in the Tennessee area to teach healthy manhood, healthy masculinity, respect of women, and practical ways to hold each other accountable. Shan’s goal is to engage good men to be a part of the solution by challenging and changing the culture that supports violence.

“At the end of the day, this is a men’s issue,” Shan states. So, they are encouraging men to not stand on the sidelines but to be a part of the solution. The groups become a safe place for men to express how they are feeling and to be heard and supported. They allow men to be vulnerable and talk about possible violence they have experienced as well.

This partnership with United Methodist Men allows the movement to reach further than Tennessee. Let’s help them by spreading this program here in Helena!

How are we starting conversations with older men about what it means to be good role models of being a good partner and spouse, a good father-figure, and a productive citizen of society? How are we teaching our young boys and young men to function in a violent society? How do we create safe spaces for men to be vulnerable and feel supported?

For more information on this wonderful program, visit or


Pastor Sami

Pastor’s Corner – October 15

I am pleased to announce that we have hired Dominic Tuttle as our Director of Young Peoples Ministry! Dominic, his wife Hannah, and their 2-year-old daughter, Sienna, currently live in Anaheim, CA. They are packing and preparing to move to Helena by November 1. Dominic and Hannah are attracted to Helena for two main reasons. First, because of the opportunity to do youth ministry full time. Dominic has felt a call to youth ministry since he was a teen. He felt like it was time to take the leap into this profession. Second, they are attracted to the lifestyle Helena offers—a smaller community with outdoor recreation opportunities year-round.

Dominic comes to us with sixteen years of experience in youth ministry. He has served in New Mexico, England, and Southern California. He and Hannah love teens and hanging out with them on their turf. On his visit he jumped right in with the youth, sitting on the floor with them and learning their names quickly. He is able to relax and have fun, but also settle into meaningful conversations. I was most impressed with his passion for working with youth and helping them grow in faith. He has a host of other talents as well, which we will all discover!

Interesting fact—Dominic and Hannah have written and illustrated two children’s books, The Caterpillar Princess and Ollie Poppet.


We do need to help them relocate to Helena. If you can help with any of these tasks in the next few weeks, please contact me!
  • We need to find them temporary housing. Do you know any snow birds who could make their house available to a few months? Or do you know of an appropriate rental property for a short-term lease? Other creative ideas?
  • Anyone want to make a road trip? We could fly you down to Orange County California, and then you would drive the U-Haul to Helena, so Dominic and Hannah and their 2-year-old can care for one another on the long drive in their car.
  • Any leads on mortgage brokers or real estate agents? They would like to purchase a house here in Helena.
  • Any help we can give Hannah to find a job here in Helena would be great.

It has been a long process finding the best candidate for this position. I believe our patience will pay off. Dominic brings a lot to this position and will be a great asset to our staff. And, most importantly, he will help our youth grow in faith.


Walking in Grace,


Pastor’s Corner – October 8

Our Call to End Gun Violence – We are called as United Methodists to eradicate the many forms of violence that destroy the integrity of individuals, families, communities, and nations. The Book of Resolutions of The United Methodist Church contains our official positions on many issues, including gun violence. The 2016 version includes some of the ways in which to prevent gun violence. As we sit in the rubble of yet another mass shooting, I invite you to meditate on these practices and how we as a community can do more:

1.) For congregations to make preventing gun violence a regular part of our conversations and prayer times.

2.) For congregations to assist those affected by gun violence through prayer, pastoral care, creating space, and encouraging survivors to share their stories, financial assistance, and identifying resources for victims and families.

3.) For individuals who own guns as hunters or collectors to safely and securely store their guns and to teach the importance of practicing gun safety.

4.) For congregations that haven’t experienced gun violence to form partnerships with faith communities to have experienced gun violence in order to support them and learn from their experiences.

5.) For congregations to lead or join gatherings for public prayer at sites where gun violence has occurred and partner with law enforcement to help prevent gun violence.

6.) For congregations to partner with local law enforcement agencies and community groups to identify gun retailers that engage in retail practices designed to circumvent laws on gun sales and ownership, encourage full legal compliance, and to work with groups that organize faith-based campaigns to encourage gun retails to gain full legal compliance with appropriate standards and laws.

7.) For congregations to display signs that prohibit carrying guns onto church property.

8.) For congregations to advocate at the local and national level for laws that prevent or reduce gun violence.

If you would like to read more about the United Methodist Church’s stance on violence, particularly gun violence, explore the website. This website provides helpful information, prayers, statistics and articles!


Pastor Sami

Pastor’s Corner — October 1

“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. … A time to hold on and a time to let go.” Ecclesiastes 3:1, 6

The seasons demonstrate for us that the world, God’s beautiful creation, is constantly transitioning from what was, to what is, and eventually to what will be. Sept. 22nd was the autumn equinox. It is officially fall. A season of transition from the heat of summer to the cold of winter. The days are getting shorter. The leaves are turning color and soon will fall off. As this happens, may it be a que for us in our spiritual lives. May we use this season of fall as a time to let go.

It is our natural human tendency to hold on, to want things to remain the same, and to resist change. But truly, the only thing that we can count on is change. 

An important life skill is learning what to hold on to as if our life depends on it and what to let go of. In general, we should hold on to that which gives us life and let go of that which negatively impacts us. So, what are you holding on to that is bearing on you negatively? It may be guilt and regret. It may be anger, resentment, bitterness. It may be unrealistic expectations for yourself or others. It may be that you are too busy and need to let go of some activities or commitments. It might be time to let go of some stuff. This is difficult work. It can take more courage to let go than to hold on. But it is also life giving work. If it helps, write down the things you want to let go of on a piece of paper and dispose of it in some way. Sometimes a physical act can help us feel the spiritual work that is going on. What is holding you back? 

As you observe the leaves falling off the trees this fall, ask God to help you identify and let go of those things that are hindering you. For letting go makes room for new life.

Walking on the path of grace,

Pastor Patti