May 15, 2016 Pastor’s Corner

Every four years, The United Methodist Church convenes a ‘General Conference.’ Currrently, 864 delegates —half of them clergy and half laity — are gathered in Portland, Oregon, for General Conference 2016. The clergy delegate for our Yellowstone Conference is our associate pastor, Tyler Amundson.  The delegates are considering more than 1000 petitions that will order the work of our churches, pastors, and agencies, and set official positions on a variety of subjects.

Some highlights from previous General Conferences

Through the years, during General Conferences, Methodists have made decisions about the life of the church, and social issues. Sometimes we have been a leading voice. Other times we have been a bit slower in our decision-making.

            Abolishment of slavery: Slavery was a social topic discussed by The Methodist Episcopal Church almost from the very beginning. Many saw the evil of slavery, and a Committee on Slavery reported to General Conference through the early 19th century. At General Conference of 1800, The Methodist Episcopal Church issued a pastoral letter on abolishing slavery, and passed legislation further reinforcing their rules that no Methodist preacher should be a slaveholder or slave trader. Slavery wouldn’t be abolished in the United States until 1865.

            Women clergy: Though the church had appointed women as class leaders from the time of John Wesley, and ordained women as early as 1866, it wasn’t until General Conference of 1956 that women received full clergy rights in The Methodist Church. This year’s General Conference will recognize the 60th anniversary of that decision.

            Education: In the early 1980s, several United Methodist bishops from Africa dreamed of a university that would educate young people from all over Africa. Working with the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, they brought the idea before the 1988 General Conference where it was overwhelmingly accepted, and Africa University  (AU) was established. AU, the first private university in Zimbabwe, has graduated more than 4,000 students.

            Global health: The 2008 General Conference showed the commitment of The United Methodist Church to global health with the establishment of Imagine No Malaria. This was part of an international effort to eradicate Malaria. Nearly $75 million have been raised and used to purchase mosquito nets, fund health facilities, train medical providers, and so much more.

            The week to come is when most of the major decisions of General Conference will be made.  You can follow GC activities through the UMC website ( or get a more personal view through Pastor Tyler’s blog (easy access through our website at

Please keep Tyler and the other delegates in your prayers!

Grace and peace, Marianne

May 8 2016 Pastor’s Corner

As we celebrate Mother’s Day, I offer you a beautiful litany, written by Rev. Patty Lawrence and found on her blog (  Marianne

We remember Sarai who was taunted by others in the household

because of her inability to have children.

All-encompassing God, we pray for those who feel excluded

when we emphasize one kind of family as normal.


We remember Esther, who was adopted and raised by her cousin.

God who embraces us all,

we pray for those who cannot be raised by their parents,

for a short time or permanently.


We remember Jochebed, the mother of Moses,

who placed him into a raft on the river.

Saving God, we pray for parents who struggle to raise their children

in oppressive circumstances.


We remember Hannah,

who loved her child so much she handed him over to another to raise.

Loving God, we pray for parents who have placed their child in another family.


We remember Naomi, who grieved the death of her sons.

God, who grieves with us, we pray for parents who mourn the death of a child.


We remember Ruth, who gave up her family to be family to another.

Inclusive God, we pray for those who choose to be family

to those isolated by culture or language or distance.


We remember Elizabeth, who had a child in old age

and we remember Mary, who had a child as a teenager.

Ageless God, we pray that as a community we accept people of varying life stages

and responsibilities and relationships.


We remember Rachel, crying for her children

God of justice and hope, we pray for those whose children are killed,

and look to a time when children can live safely in their communities.


We remember Lois and Eunice, who taught Timothy faith by example.

Faithful God, we pray for those who teach us faith by their lives,

may we remember that we also teach about you in the way we live.


We remember other people not named in the Scriptures,

like the mother of the prodigal son.

Companion God, we pray for those who wait for a phone call or a visit,

cut off from family and friends by distance and disagreement.


Nurturing God, we give thanks for those who enrich our lives by their presence

who teach us about your abundant love  and who encourage us to journey in faith. Amen.

A Message from Pastor Marianne


Dear Members and Friends of St. Paul’s,


Ten years ago, I had the privilege of taking a sabbatical, funded largely by a grant from the Lilly Foundation for Clergy Renewal.  Lyle and I spent most of 4 months traveling in Europe, doing some research, reading, taking time for retreat and renewal. I had made most of our arrangements for the trip over the Internet.  After months of planning, when Lyle and I finally set out, we were excited but we also had some anxiety.  Like most travelers, we had the usual questions  . . . Would our various reservations be honored?  How would we handle the trains?  Would the taxi drivers understand us?  Would we make our connections?  So, each time we left one location and set out for the next, we always began the day by looking at each other and saying . . . now we’re off to our next adventure! Somehow, thinking of the next challenge as an adventure made it seem more doable!  It was a simple strategy – but it worked.


Last Sunday, May 1 st , at both St. Paul’s and Covenant, I announced that I have decided to begin the process of moving to my ‘next adventure.’  I plan to retire at the end of June in 2017. At that time, I will have served as pastor at St. Paul’s for 23 years.    I first began this process last September when I talked with the Bishop and the Cabinet about my plans.  Several months later, when Lyle was diagnosed with cancer, the wisdom of moving toward retirement became even clearer.  Lyle and I both know that this is a good next step for us and I hope, though it will bring change to St. Paul’s, you too might see it as a ‘next adventure’ in the life of this wonderful church community.


Throughout the 14 months to come, I plan to work closely with Tyler, the staff, and leadership of St. Paul’s to provide for a good and healthy transition.  We are still working out the details of that process but I will do all I can to ease the way.  In the end, this is a rather ‘non-traditional’ process of pastoral change because even before my public announcement, the Cabinet had already begun working with our Staff Parish Relations Committee. In dialogue with the SPR and with Tyler, they plan that, upon my retirement, Tyler will continue as a pastor at St. Paul’s.   In the year to come, we will be looking at how we will continue our partnership with Covenant through HUMM (Helena United Methodist Ministries).  There is still much to explore but the process has begun.  As questions or concerns arise or, when you have words of encouragement, please feel free to contact our SPR chair Dave Nielsen, our Lay Leaders Marti Johnson and Matthew Dale, Tyler or me.   A healthy and good transition will be built on healthy communication and on our trust in God’s power working through us and through one another.


By embarking on this journey as a ‘transition process’ rather than a transition announcement, I hope we can all move into our ‘next adventure’ with faith and confidence!




May 2016 Newsletter

May 1, 2016 Pastor’s Corner

Good communication is important in today’s world. Communication is how we invite people in the Helena community to join with God and us to transform the world. Last month our Church Council met to define its goals for the next year and one goal is communication. Over the next year we will be learning about new methods of communication, seeing how well we share our message, and developing resources for our entire congregation to better share the things we are working on. St. Paul’s has a unique and powerful message of loving our neighbor that people are hungry to be a part of and we want more people to join us in this sacred work.

In a world with increasing complexity around ways to communicate, it is important that we use all the media available to reach people. Our pastors, congregation and staff work very hard to develop ministries that are hospitable, provide a chance for personal growth, allow us to serve, and to go into our world to share God’s love in action. One way we honor this as a church is helping provide professional and diverse communication to reach as many people as possible. I would like to share all the ways we currently communicate and encourage you to find a method(s) to stay connected to the life of St. Paul’s.

Enthusiastic Peace – Pastor Tyler
Bulletin: Each week a bulletin is printed for weekly worship. This contains the most up- to-date information about what is happening around the church. In the bulletin is a Presence Form that we encourage people to place in the offering plate. This form lets us know of any area of interest you might have, provides updated contact information and a place to offer prayers.

Newsletter: A monthly newsletter is created and available through mail, email, or on our website. If you wish to receive the newsletter, sign up on the Presence Form or contact the office.

App: Yes we have an App for that! St. Paul’s app is most easily downloaded by going to and hitting the app download button on the home page. Via the app you will receive regular church updates and sermons, which you can download to listen to on the go.
Website: Our mobile-friendly website has current information on our programs, ministries, and basically everything happening around the church. Go to

Livestream: We have been streaming the 11 AM service for a year now. With an online worship attendance of about 15-20, turn on Livestream if you are unable to make it to church due to illness, kid craziness, or just forgetting to set the alarm. Also, you can watch the service later to catch up, share with Grandma and Grandpa when kids do something silly during Children’s Time, or if you accidently slept through the sermon. This is also a great way to invite friends to church who want to experience it before they come.

Facebook/Twitter: Find us on social media at or Here you will find moments of devotion, news updates about the church and much more.

April 24 2016 Pastor’s Corner

We have almost completed two full years working in our partnership with Covenant UMC in the ministry we have called HUMM: Helena United Methodist Ministries. This has been a unique and exciting way for us to find ways to maximize impact and multiply ministry throughout our area. Let me share a few of the upcoming events that we share as an area. They are a great illustration of how we are indeed able to expand our outreach.
Grace and peace, Marianne
1. April 28 – 6:30 PM – My Destiny “Rainbow Reflections Continued” – Covenant
Helena United Methodist Ministries is in partnership with AARP Montana to provide special programs associated with our community outreach program Bridges – Pathways to Abundant Living. On April 28 Marsha Goetting, PhD and Montana State University returns and will present a program on Estate Planning – discovering ways that we can continue our service to others in perpetuity. The first program last fall was standing room only and we anticipate a full-house on April 28. Dr. Goetting addresses Health Care and Financial Powers of Attorney, Personal Representatives, Probate, and Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment Trusts. Be sure to call AARP Montana to register for this free public event to ensure sufficient space and refreshments. Call: 877-926-8300 and request registration for the April 28th event.
Dr. Goetting is a Family Economic Specialist who combines her career-long obsession about estate planning with her recent passion for Montana wildflowers in a creative and unique presentation titled Wildflower Reflections: Property, Family and Legacy Planning. You will not want to miss this visually-enhanced presentation that has been offered to 350 groups across Montana!
2. May 6 – Noon – Bridges: Pathways to Abundant Living – Covenant
Bridges is a community outreach program exploring paths to abundant living for those contemplating retirement, or experiencing retirement. Helena United Methodist Ministries and AARP Montana partner to provide free catered lunches on first Wednesdays at 12 PM at Covenant UMC. The final program for the year, until we start again in September, will be provided by AARP Montana and focuses on life after employment. AARP will lead us in thinking about the myriad of options to keep us active, engaged and happy! Call AARP Montana to reserve your free lunch by Monday, May 4, and look forward to 90 minutes of meeting people, good food and an exciting program. Call 877-926-8300 to reserve your lunch for this, May 6 event. Space is limited so call early.
3. May 26 – 6:00 PM- Mission Shares Pot Luck Dinner – Covenant
On this evening, we will join with Covenant for a special pot-luck dinner and a program about the multi-dimensional mission program of the United Methodist Church. This program will help us learn what is accomplished with our money combined with contributions from United Methodist congregations around the world.

4. June 2 – 6:00 PM – What is happening at Annual Conference? – St. Paul’s Fireside Room
We will gather to look at issues that will be coming to us at Annual Conference. The primary discussion will be around the shared futures legislation (the plan to merge with the Rocky Mountain Conference).

April 17, 2016 Pastor’s Corner

It is already three weeks since Easter.  For many of us that seems like a long time ago . . . and we are already moving on to the other events of spring – and I know there are many events.

And obligations.  And activities.  Spring is busy, right? But, did you know that, actually, Easter is not yet over?  Officially Easter is more than a day.  It is a season.  The Easter season lasts for 50 days and only ends with the celebration of Pentecost which, this year, is on May 15.  So we still have some time for Easter celebrating!  And I believe that through a long Easter season, the church reminds us each year that resurrection was not just an event of long ago.  For Christians, it is literally meant to be a way of life.  We are a ‘resurrection people,’ and, fundamentally, that means that we are challenged to notice and celebrate and invite new life wherever and however we can.

And so, once again, we have the Easter season where we are invited  to look for hope, to celebrate life, and to imagine possibilities.  How do you do that?  I find hope as another baseball season begins.  As someone who grew up on the north side of Chicago, opening day of baseball season gives me a great reason to hope – that  maybe this year the Cubs will win!  Being a Cubs fan is all about hope.  I’ve had a lifetime of practice in hoping!

But there are other things too.  The season of Easter is a time to practice seeing the harbingers of new life that are around us.  Take a walk and notice the greening of the trees and the blooming of daffodils.  Enjoy the longer days.  Notice the sunrise and the lingering light in the evening.  I enjoy  hearing the sounds of children playing outside.  I like feeling a breeze come through open windows.  I like waking to the sound of rainfall outside and the smell of wet grass.

How do you celebrate the season of Easter?  I encourage you this week to consider how it is you experience new life and hope.

May resurrection moments fill your Easter season!

Grace and peace,


April 10 2016 Pastor’s Corner

May 10 – 20 in Portland, Oregon the United Methodist General Conference will be taking place. General Conference is the top legislative body of our church and sets policy for the church every four years. The conference can revise church law, as well as adopt resolutions on current moral, social, public policy and economic issues. The group also approves plans and budgets for global church-wide programs.

During General Conference I have been elected to serve as the clergy delegate from Yellowstone Conference and the head of the delegation. This is a great honor and responsibility as we only get 2 voting delegates from all of the Yellowstone Conference(Montana, Northern Wyoming and a tiny part of Idaho). The 854 delegates present in Portland will represent United Methodists from around the globe, 504 from the United States and 350 from Europe, Africa and the Philippines.

Over the last several months working with other delegates from our area I have been preparing for Portland by studying petitions, learning about the legislative process, and building relationships. As another pastor informed me lately, “You have to be a little crazy to want to do this.” He is probably right. Working to get people to work globally together to share God’s love could be seen as crazy in a lot of ways. Hoping to follow the original madman into this endeavor, aka Jesus.

If you are interested in following along I will be posting on my blog as I prepare for General Conference at, you can follow me on twitter @zestyreverend, and find more news about general conference from by going to

Your prayers are welcome in this process.

Enthusiastic Peace,

Pastor Tyler


You’ve heard about them. You’ve always wanted to go. You’ve seen the joy and sense of value in others when they return from a trip.  Now, it’s your turn. Don Skillman is putting together a team to go to Manaus, Brazil in late July 2016.  We will probably leave the USA on July 22, arriving in Manaus on July 23.  We will leave Manaus and come back to the USA on either July 31 or Aug 1.  It’s an overnight flight, so you’ll get to the USA a day after you leave Manaus.

Once we get to Manaus we’ll have 36-48 hours for tourism and acclimation while staying in a comfortable hotel.  Then we’ll go to a large boat where we’ll sleep in cabins with bunks (or possibly in hammocks) for the next five nights.  The boat will have a kitchen, bathrooms, showers, cooks, a meeting room, bathrooms, and perhaps a dental suite.  Pastor Augusto in Manaus is choosing the boat and we’ll use it to travel to several very small communities along the Amazon River where we will provide basic medical care, teach dental hygiene, distribute toothbrushes, assess vision and give away reading glasses, play with children, and make friends with everybody.  These last two items may be the most valuable thing we do, and it will be the part you enjoy the most.

We are not on a mission to recruit people to our church or any other with preaching and evangelism.  It’s all about selfless service and building relations.  As John Wesley said “Preach constantly! When necessary, use words!”  (He also said, “Don’t send help to the needy.  Take it!”)

I won’t promise that a trip like this will change your life, but I certainly won’t be surprised if it does.  You will serve some of the very poorest people in the world. They are people with the warmest smiles, people with the most gracious hearts, people with a spirit just like your own.

Major expenses are airfare, a passport, a Brazilian visa, and possibly some vaccines.  (There are rumors that Brazil will waive the visa requirement this summer because of the Olympic games being there!)  Please contact Don Skillman for more information – and don’t delay!  406-461-8061;
brazil boat don s