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,

Marianne



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 zestyreverend.com/gc2016PDX, you can follow me on twitter @zestyreverend, and find more news about general conference from UMC.org by going to http://goo.gl/yqhn5O

Your prayers are welcome in this process.

Enthusiastic Peace,

Pastor Tyler



MISSION TRIP – BRAZIL – JULY 2016

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; donskillman24@gmail.com
brazil boat don s

 



150th Jubilee Year-Draws to a Close

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Over the past year we have been celebrating the 150th year of Methodism in Helena with the St. Paul’s Jubilee.  It began last Easter with Marianne preaching about our church rising from a pile of logs, then we had an incredible Jubilee celebration in June with Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky presiding, during the fall we invited the congregation to focus with Intermountain on Adverse Childhood Experiences(ACEs) and how this study would help us see new ways we could share God’s love in our community.  Our study and effort in this area helped to propel our community to found a coalition of people who are hoping to transform Helena through understanding ACEs.  We are going to draw this Jubilee Year to a close on Holy Humor Sunday, April 3.

 

As a part of this Jubilee year wrap-up we will be screening a 30-minute video on ACEs in the Church Library at 9:45 on April 3.  This video is a presentation by Schylar Canfield-Baber who identifies as resiliently overcoming 10 ACEs and Dr. Elizabeth Kohlstaedt, Ph.D. a member of our church and the Chief Clinical Officer of Intermountain.  Dr. Kohlstaedt and Pastor Tyler will be present to answer questions about why ACEs continues to matter and what our community is doing to use ACEs to transform how we work to help people better their life situation and be more resilient.  Please join us for this great opportunity.

 

To learn more about ACEs and why it matters to us as United Methodists read our introduction letter to ACEs at

http://goo.gl/vqQ2aF



March 27, 2016 Easter Pastor’s Corner

Easter Blessings to all the Friends and Members of St. Paul’s!
 
Early in March, I wrote an Easter letter which many of you received. Today, in the Pastor’s Corner, I want to share some highlights from that message.
 
Last year, on Easter, we began our Jubilee, celebrating 150 years of ministry in Helena. Since then, we have remembered various parts of our history. On June 21, our Bishop was with us for a grand worship service and picnic on our patio. That was a great way to celebrate our past. We unveiled a Jubilee booklet (there are copies available today in our foyer if you would like one).
 
Then, in the fall, we turned our attention deliberately toward our future, choosing to work with Intermountain to make an impact for good in our community. After all, it was the Methodist preacher Brother Van, whose vision started Intermountain as a ministry of healing and hope for hurting children. And it was the Methodist Deaconesses who kept it all going, handing the ministry over eventually to a staff whose continuing vision for how to help hurting children and families today has blossomed into the ministry we know as Intermountain. And throughout that time, St. Paul’s provided financial and hands-on support. So, building on our history and our long partnership with Intermountain, we chose to help raise awareness about ACES . . . ‘adverse childhood experiences’ . . . as part of our Jubilee year celebration. You perhaps attended the talk last fall on the evening of the Art Walk. Or, perhaps, you saw the Challenge Helena presentation about ACES. Or perhaps you attended the screening of Paper Tigers in January. There is another Paper Tigers screening right here in our sanctuary on Tuesday, April 19 at 6 PM.
 
The point is, when we began our Jubilee year, we didn’t want it to be only about the past (though we have lots to celebrate). We wanted to celebrate the past and move into the next 150 years by taking deliberate steps to make a difference. We have done that for sure.
 
Our Easter offering this year will again focus on our relationship with Intermountain. It will support the remodeling project that will provide a chapel at the Helena Intermountain campus on Lamborn. Today, the chaplain’s program serves children of many faith backgrounds. The chapel has been a long hoped for vision that is finally taking shape and nearing completion. It is planned as a flexible space for reflection and spiritual growth for the many and varied needs of the children Intermountain currently serves. Brother Van and the Deaconesses would be thrilled! To contribute to that offering, just use the Easter envelope or mark your check ‘Easter offering.’
 
Yesterday, on March 26, 2016, we officially began our 151st year! As we move into our future, be assured that the celebrating continues through our ongoing ministry and outreach for good. We are still going strong, moving forward into our future with joy and a continued commitment to make a difference. Congratulations St. Paul’s . . . and may the story continue!
 

Pastor Marianne Niesen



March 20 2016 Pastor’s Corner

Today, Palm Sunday, marks the beginning of the week Christians call ‘Holy Week.’ Before Christians celebrated anything else . . . even Christmas . . . they recalled the last week of Jesus’ life. They recalled Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem on a donkey (which we will talk about today). They remembered the acclamations of the people who saw in Jesus one who led them in paths of peace and justice
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From the praise of the crowds, the early believers remembered the last supper Jesus ate with his friends at the Upper Room. It was a meal of love – as well as a time of farewell for, when Jesus left the meal to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane, he was arrested and taken away. For Catholics, that day is called ‘Holy Thursday.’ Protestants know that same day as Maundy Thursday. ‘Maundy’ is a shortened form of ‘mandatum’ – Latin for ‘commandment.’ At that meal on that day, according to John’s gospel (John 15:12), Jesus gave his followers a new commandment (or mandatum) to love one another. Holy or Maundy Thursday reminds us that at the heart of Jesus’ teaching – even at the moment of his greatest suffering – is his commandment to love.
 
And then the remembering turns to the crucifixion. On a day that, in retrospect, Christians called ‘good,’ Jesus was condemned to the ultimate Roman form of capital punishment: death by crucifixion. The traditional ‘time’ of his crucifixion and death was noon – 3 p.m. (which is why many Good Friday services are during that time). However, of course, while that is tradition, we have no idea of the actual time.
 
Holy Saturday was remembered as a time of loss and waiting. The male disciples fled in fear. We are told the women – like Mary Magdalene – stayed to the end, accompanied his body to burial, and stayed to mourn.
And then came Easter . . . the magnificence and wonder of Resurrection upended the mourning and the morning! Over the years, as the early believers pondered what had happened, they proclaimed every Sunday as a ‘mini’ Easter. But, once a year, during a week called ‘holy’ they recalled the whole story.
 
Years later, a longer period of preparation got attached to Holy Week. It was called ‘Lent.’ And years after that, the tradition of Christmas took root. But first, there was a Holy Week.
 
So, today we begin the oldest remembrance of Christianity. I encourage you to attend our Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services. Thursday will be a communion service, ending with the old custom of ‘stripping the altar’ of everything on it, recalling the desolation of those who saw their beloved friend arrested and taken away. Friday’s service will be a Tenebrae (Latin for ‘shadow’) service. After music and reflections, we will gradually extinguish candles as we remember Jesus’ seven ‘last words.’ The exuberance of Easter will follow on Sunday . . . and, for me, the joy of Easter is more vibrant after sharing in the solemn remembrances of the week.
 
Join us in celebrating Holy Week at St. Paul’s!
Marianne


March 13, 2016 Pastor’s Corner

You’ve probably noticed that over the past two weeks, I have been taking some time away from the office. When I returned from the trip to the Holy Land, I realized that I simply needed to have some time with Lyle. We both needed time to learn our ‘new normal’ and I in particular had a lot to learn to help him with some of his new medical requirements. So, working with Tyler and the Staff Parish Relations Committee, I have taken some ‘medical leave.’ I will likely take a bit more time over the next month or so as we adjust and learn.
 
In January, Lyle had surgery to remove his bladder. It was the only way for them to remove the cancer which had unexpectedly been found on the bladder. It was not as simple as removing a tumor. That means that Lyle has a urostomy and now wears an ostomy bag. Some folks have asked me if this is permanent – and yes, it is. This kind of surgery is, as you might imagine, life changing. Others of you have been through it. And, while the ostomoy protocol after this kind of surgery is well known and relatively similar for most people, each person responds differently and so part of our learning is through trial and error. Some things that work for others don’t work for us. We simply need to work to find the protocol that is right for Lyle and that we can maintain. Frankly, it is exhausting and far more time consuming than either of us were aware at the beginning.
 
As Lyle and I discussed this over the past few weeks, we made a decision to share this with you. We thought it might help you understand the fact that I am not quite as available as I have been in the past. It also helps us to not need to explain such things over and over.
 
Having said all of that, please know that we are doing well. We both have appreciated all of the offers of help. Your generosity – of time, presence and food – has been a true gift to us both. If we haven’t called on you, it is not because we don’t appreciate the offers. In the end, there are simply some things only we can do . . . like learning ostomy care and making visits to the cancer center and hospital for out-patient help.
 
The final thing we wanted you to know is that the medical care we have received here in Helena through St. Peter’s – at the medical clinic, hospital and the Cancer Center – has been outstanding. Lyle’s surgery was in Missoula because that kind of surgery is not done in Helena. But all of the follow-up and his continuing care is being handled by people here. We truly feel blessed by the competence and genuine caring of the people with whom we have worked.
 
So, thanks so much for being the community of caring you are!
 
Gratefully,
Marianne


March 6, 2016 Pastor’s Corner

What do people say about St. Paul’s in our community?

When I introduce myself as a pastor at St. Paul’s to members of our Helena community I get mixed responses, “Oh…that big gray building just down from the Cathedral.” “That is the church that does so many efforts in our community to serve the poor.” “Which church is that again?” “That church has been so welcoming to our community group.” “Love that church, they speak out on important issues.” “Oh…THAT church.”

I am guessing many in our church community struggle to know when to talk about our faith community, unsure of the response you will get. What has your experience been? Talking about church and how faith is important to your life can be challenging in the current time. As a pastor even I struggle to talk about our community and navigating an engagement with someone to make sure they know I am not always on a recruiting venture. This navigation of non-recruitment is especially true now that I wear a collar while working. However, I also find that people really want to know what churches are doing and are intrigued when they run into a person of faith at a science conversation, in a community conversation about justice issues, or sitting next to them at the local hangout. Many want to learn more about the church living in the world.

A part of our Lenten discipleship series is exploring how we might find ways to invite others into a life of faith. Perhaps there is someone in your life who is really seeking something like our church, but asking him or her to join us brings about a fear of what that might lead to. Will everyone think you are out recruiting for Jesus? One of the best pieces of advice I have ever heard on this is, “Build a relationship before you ever invite someone to church.” Get to know people in our community like you already do. Then when the topic of our church comes up or we get excited about a church event don’t shy away from sharing about it. Remember not everyone likes sports, but no one is afraid to talk about how much they love their team. Our church is your team and if this faith experience means something to you then it probably can mean something to others out there that are curious about faith practices in their life.

Blessings on your Discipleship journey,

Pastor Tyler