September 13 Pastor’s Corner

As you know, just over a month ago Debbie Irby announced her retirement as our Church Administrator. We celebrated her ministry last Sunday and August 31 was her final day at work. Ever since we knew of Debbie’s intent, the Staff Parish Relations Committee, Tyler and I have been working on a plan for our next steps. Times of staff change are challenging but they also provide opportunities to re-think how things are done and what is possible.
 
The Staff Parish Relations Committee, Tyler and I are pleased to announce that Sue McNicol, currently our part time Administrative Specialist, has accepted the full time position of Parish Administrator (note the name change for the position). Sue’s dedication to the ministry of the church, her skills and abilities and her hospitable spirit make her uniquely qualified for this important position on our staff. Though the position does not officially begin until October 1, Sue has already been learning some of the job responsibilities. In particular, she has spent time learning from Debbie in the week before she retired. And, throughout September, while Sue will continue as our Administrative Specialist, she will also continue learning more aspects of the Administrator position. That is why, with the support of SPR, we made the decision to limit the number of hours our office will be open for walk-in traffic in September. This will allow Sue, in particular, some needed time to focus on training for her new position. It will also relieve some of the stress on staff as we reassess how we cover office responsibilities in a changing environment. We will, of course, continue to return phone calls and respond to parish needs. We do hope you will be patient as we negotiate this transition.
 
Our intent is to use this time of transition to assess the overall administrative and office needs of our church. For the immediate future, we will not be hiring a receptionist but will rely on current staff and volunteers. If you are able to volunteer to assist in our office over the next several months, please let us know by calling the office or by indicating an interest on the Presence Form.
 
I know I speak for all of the SPR and our staff when I say that we are thrilled that Sue has accepted this position. If you have any questions about our plans moving forward, please feel free to contact SPR chairperson Dave Nielsen (d.nielsen@bresnan.net), Marianne or Tyler. Change is always daunting but it brings with it exciting possibilities as well and we are definitely hopeful as we move forward.
 
Grace and peace,
Marianne


September 6 Pastor’s Corner

As you know, just over a month ago Debbie Irby announced her retirement as our Church Administrator. We celebrated her ministry last Sunday and August 31 was her final day at work. Ever since we knew of Debbie’s intent, the Staff Parish Relations Committee, Tyler and I have been working on a plan for our next steps. Times of staff change are challenging but they also provide opportunities to re-think how things are done and what is possible.
The Staff Parish Relations Committee, Tyler and I are pleased to announce that Sue McNicol, currently our part time Administrative Specialist, has accepted the full time position of Parish Administrator (note the name change for the position). Sue’s dedication to the ministry of the church, her skills and abilities and her hospitable spirit make her uniquely qualified for this important position on our staff. Though the position does not officially begin until October 1, Sue has already been learning some of the job responsibilities. In particular, she has spent time learning from Debbie in the week before she retired. And, throughout September, while Sue will continue as our Administrative Specialist, she will also continue learning more aspects of the Administrator position. That is why, with the support of SPR, we made the decision to limit the number of hours our office will be open for walk-in traffic in September. This will allow Sue, in particular, some needed time to focus on training for her new position. It will also relieve some of the stress on staff as we reassess how we cover office responsibilities in a changing environment. We will, of course, continue to return phone calls and respond to parish needs. We do hope you will be patient as we negotiate this transition.
Our intent is to use this time of transition to assess the overall administrative and office needs of our church. For the immediate future, we will not be hiring a receptionist but will rely on current staff and volunteers. If you are able to volunteer to assist in our office over the next several months, please let us know by calling the office or by indicating an interest on the Presence Form.
I know I speak for all of the SPR and our staff when I say that we are thrilled that Sue has accepted this position. If you have any questions about our plans moving forward, please feel free to contact SPR chairperson Dave Nielsen (d.nielsen@bresnan.net), Marianne or Tyler. Change is always daunting but it brings with it exciting possibilities as well and we are definitely hopeful as we move forward.
Grace and peace,
Marianne


August 31 Pastor’s Corner

Endings and Beginnings . . .
As we come together today, we do so knowing that it is time to leave the lovely days of summer behind. But, the end of summer also means the beginning of new adventures. School has begun and by the time we reach Labor Day, our children and their teachers will have the entire first week behind them! I loved seeing the excitement in the eyes of our children last week as they brought their backpacks to church for a special blessing. The summer is ending but new adventures await as the fall unfolds.
Of course, we would all like to also bid farewell to the smoky skies of the last weeks as well! As I’ve struggled with the smoke, I’ve tried to keep in mind the firefighters all over the West who are dealing with much worse conditions than we have. I use the smoke here to remind me to pray in gratitude for their service and for their safety.
Today also marks another milestone in our church family. We say goodbye to Debbie Irby who has been our church administrator for the past 15 years. Debbie has seen us through the move into our new church building and all the challenges that entailed. She has helped us weather staff changes and reconfigurations in almost every area of our program. She has seen us through a computer server crash, phone service changes and software updates. She has paid bills, negotiated contracts, tried to keep track of keys, and scheduled weddings, concerts and presentations in our buildings. And, of course, that is just what I am thinking of today as I write this. Like all of our staff the ‘other duties as assigned’ is part of what keeps life interesting in this growing, thriving church community! And Debbie’s life at St. Paul’s has indeed been kept interesting! Blessings to you, Debbie, as you end your years of service as a staff member. Blessings as you begin the next phase of your life . . . retirement! At 9:45 in the Fellowship Hall the Staff Parish Relations Committee will host a reception to celebrate Debbie’s time among us. Stop by and/or send her a note of thanks!
Finally, today the Guatemala mission team will share some of their insights and new awarenesses from their mission experience. In a sense, this brings to an end their Mission Team commitment . . . they are doing what they committed to do at their commissioning: sharing what they learned with us. (And, by the way, we committed to listen and learn from them!) Thanks for sharing with us . . . and blessings as you let what you have learned impact your lives.

Grace and peace in this time of
transition for us all!
Marianne



August 23 Pastor’s Corner

Education has long been a centerpiece of the United Methodist tradition. This goes back to John and Charles Wesley who received a strong education from their mother Susanna. Susanna was a woman who had an incredible education background for a woman in her era. Susanna knew several languages, knew the Bible well, and passed on her vast knowledge to her children. In Montana, Methodists have long worked for education. One great example is the founding of the college that is now Rocky Mountain College in Billings. Due to this history we believe that people can change the world when empowered through a good education and with the support of a spirit-filled community.

In this spirit it is important for us to continue learning, as a congregation, how we can help our community to be a place that supports education. The only way for us to do this is by learning to be missional and connecting with our schools.

miss-ion-al – Adverb/Adjective
1. Describing an act of sharing God’s love in the community.
2. Existing as part of the above act.

Today, during worship we are going to be missional in several ways. First, we are going to bless the backpacks of our students heading back to school. We want our children to know that we care about their education and that we are supporting them as they learn. As we bless backpacks we know that God’s love is at work in our schools through children, educators, and staff. Second, we will take a student offering to support students through scholarships administered by our United Methodist connection. This shows we support people connecting with knowledge in our global community. Finally, we will be invited to write letters to educators and staff in our schools. Specifically, we will write messages of support to all Central Elementary School staff and teachers as they are our neighborhood school, and then write letters to others in our school districts we want to support. Then in September and October our Promiseland children will nurture our connection to Central by gathering clothing for children who have accidents or other clothing needs at school.

Gracious God bless our teachers, staff, and students as they return to another year of learning.
Enthusiastic Peace,

Pastor Tyler



August 16 Pastor’s Corner

As I was working on designing and coordinating activities for St. Paul’s and HUMM this fall, it seemed it would be a good time to share with everyone the ways we have grown young adult ministry in the past 4 years. As many know, my primary responsibility at St. Paul’s when I was appointed was to explore young adult ministry. Young adult’s ages range from 18-35, ages that often do not find a home in churches to explore their spirituality. St. Paul’s decided to take a leadership role in creating an Associate Pastor position to explore this area of ministry.

Over the past 4 years I have worked to attempt several different avenues to attract, engage and provide spaces for young people to engage Christianity and their spirituality. The first year our primary focus was a young adult small group that allowed for young adults to meet each other and explore their faith. The group served its purpose, but felt like it segregated young people from the life of the church. The next year we shifted focus to Sunday’s @ Six, a coffee-shop style worship and discussion experience. This again had some real energy at the beginning, but required a large amount of energy for a very small group. This last year we put a lot of energy into Challenge Helena (facebook.com/challengehelena), an exciting way to engage the whole community in social justice that had an intergenerational planning team, including some young adults. Along with these specific projects we have worked to ensure that our website, classes, worship, and church are welcoming to young people.

No one of these things has been a huge success, but each one of our efforts in young adult ministry has let young people know that church is about more than just letting them know about Jesus. Young people know that as Christians we care about the community, the world and them. This last Wednesday we had 25 people at our Young Adult BBQ, mostly people exploring St. Paul’s as a possible faith community. Many of these people are sharing that they found St. Paul’s because they want a safe and accepting place to explore their faith.

I think we have learned some valuable lessons through our experiments and some of our experiments will be growing into successes over the coming years. We have grown some young adult leaders who will begin to take roles in the church. We plan to have some new styles of small groups, classes and conversations for young adults. We will also continue looking at how Challenge Helena might be a new way to engage young adults in social justice. God is doing some amazing things through our willingness to create space for experiments in ministry. We can be proud that we are partnering with God and each other as we continue to seek ways to invite all ages into the life of our faith community.

Enthusiastic Peace,
Pastor Tyler



August 9 Pastor’s Corner

From July 18-23 I was in Nashville, Tennessee to participate in the final meeting of the 2012-2016 Division on Young People’s Ministry. This group is made up of representatives of the United Methodist church ranging from youth (12-18), to young adults (18-35) and adult workers with young people from all corners of the world (The Philippines, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sierra Leone, Angola, the United States, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Norway, Kyrgyzstan, and more). Since 2012, we have met each summer in different locations to support the church in providing resources to youth and young people in their ministry to the world. If you want to see more of the work we helped support go to globalyoungpeople.org.

The part I value most about my experience was the opportunity to share ideas about ministry with peers who are in completely different cultural contexts. Our church is raising some of the most creative and inventive leaders who are beginning ministry as we speak. Two weeks ago in church, I shared a story about Pierre my friend from the Congo who taught 300 people the positives and negatives of Internet usage. Another friend in Germany is a part of a ministry involving an inflatable church building they take from one community to the next, having church services and supporting local ministries in multiple towns. These ideas and others have practical application in our ministry here in Helena and they could span all ages.

This opportunity to meet such a diverse groups is made possible because we are a part of a global church and due to our continued work at St. Paul’s to support the United Methodist Church in its ministry and witness of Christ’s love. Based on what I experienced interacting with my peers I think the church is in for a lot of fun, some incredible witness, and transformation as we see them begin leading the church. Thank you St. Paul’s for supporting me as your pastor and providing the opportunity for me to participate in this group. The stories and the connections I have made will be a valuable part of my ministry.

Enthusiastic Peace,

Pastor Tyler



August 2 Pastor’s Corner

As you read this pastor’s corner, you’ll notice that Marianne is preaching here at St. Paul’s. Tyler is preaching today across town at Covenant UMC. Rick Hulbert is still away. He returned from his trip to Russia last Thursday but needed to leave almost immediately for Pensacola. While he was away, his sister died unexpectedly and he returned to Florida for her funeral. Please keep Rick and family in your prayers.
As I mentioned last week in the pastor’s corner, we are beginning our second year as the Helena United Methodist Ministries (HUMM). This is a concept that Tyler and I presented to the Yellowstone Cabinet over a year ago. We envisioned the possibility for maximizing impact and multiplying ministries for good as an area wide United Methodist ministry encompassing both St. Paul’s and Covenant. To that end, the Cabinet has appointed Marianne as the leader of the clergy team and as the lead pastor at St. Paul’s; Rick Hulbert is appointed as the lead pastor at Covenant and a member of the clergy team, and Tyler is appointed as associate pastor at St. Paul’s and as a member of the clergy team. Tyler’s particular emphasis at St Paul’s and for HUMM is young adult ministry and mission outreach.
Rick, Tyler and I did some review of our first year and identified the following as some of the good that we have seen happening as a result of our efforts:
• Both congregations treated to variety with three pastors’ presence and services
• Positive congregational response to clergy team
• Cross fertilization of ideas
• Shared classes with both congregations
• Worshippers exploring both churches
• Improved communication/coordination on joint ministries
• Shared youth group responsibilities and support
• A Coordinated fall stewardship program with strong results
• Shared clerical/office support insures communication is effectively enhanced
• Continuity across congregations on seasonal/sermon topics
• Shared advertising and posting notices for all three services
• Purchasing materials in volume
• St Paul’s providing Website development support to Covenant
• Clergy team coordination facilitates congregations awareness of each other’s programs
• Worship service coverage with existing pastors eliminates need for outside substitutes
• St. Paul’s benefits from use of Covenant kitchen and fellowship hall for events
• Joint hosting of Annual Conference
• HUMM model provides for pastors to support one-another
• Shared calendar for efficient use of church spaces and resources
• Capacity for growth with both congregations and options for United Methodists in Helena
• Reassuring to know our counterparts at the other church are a resource for ideas

We are excited about our progress and ready to launch into another year. If you have feedback or observations or suggestions for us, please let us know by email or phone or in conversation.
Grace and peace,
Marianne



Guatemala Mission Team Report – 2015

GuatemalaA group of youth and adults from St. Paul’s went to Guatemala to share in mission this past summer.  On Sunday, August 30th they shared a powerful reflection during church.  We invite you to learn more about the work our team did, and consider supporting or going on Mission Trip with St. Paul’s in the near future.

Click Here to read about the adventures on the team’s blog.



July 26 Pastor’s Corner

As you read this pastor’s corner, you’ll notice that Tyler is preaching here at St. Paul’s. I am preaching today across town at Covenant UMC. Rick Hulbert, who is the lead pastor at Covenant, is away on vacation.
We are beginning our second year as the Helena United Methodist Ministries (HUMM). This is a concept that Tyler and I presented to the Yellowstone Cabinet over a year ago. We envisioned the possibility for maximizing impact and multiplying ministries for good as an area wide United Methodist ministry encompassing both St. Paul’s and Covenant. To that end, the Cabinet has appointed Marianne as the leader of the clergy team and as the lead pastor at St. Paul’s; Rick Hulbert is appointed as the lead pastor at Covenant and a member of the clergy team, and Tyler is appointed as associate pastor at St. Paul’s and as a member of the clergy team. Tyler’s particular emphasis at St. Paul’s and for HUMM is young adult ministry and mission outreach.
Rick, Tyler and I did some review of our first year and identified the following as some of the good that we have seen happening as a result of our efforts:
• Both congregations treated to variety with three pastors’ presence and services
• Positive congregational response to clergy team
• Cross fertilization of ideas
• Shared classes with both congregations
• Worshippers exploring both churches
• Improved communication/coordination on joint ministries
• Shared youth group responsibilities and support
• A coordinated fall stewardship program with strong results
• Shared clerical/office support insures communication is effectively enhanced
• Continuity across congregations on seasonal/sermon topics
• Shared advertising and posting notices for all three services
• Purchasing materials in volume
• St Paul’s providing Website development support to Covenant
• Clergy team coordination facilitates congregations awareness of each other’s programs
• Worship service coverage with existing pastors eliminates need for outside substitutes
• St. Paul’s benefits from use of Covenant kitchen and fellowship hall for events
• Joint hosting of Annual Conference
• HUMM model provides for pastors to support one-another
• Shared calendar for efficient use of church spaces and resources
• Capacity for growth with both congregations and options for United Methodists in Helena
• Reassuring to know our counterparts at the other church are a resource for ideas
We are excited about our progress and ready to launch into another year. We also welcome your feedback and observations as we continue to do this new thing!
Grace and peace,
Marianne


July 19 Pastor’s Corner

Greetings everyone!
Happy Midsummer! Though the days are still long, they are getting shorter. The summer symphony is now over but the County Fair is still to come. It is indeed ‘midsummer.’ There are still some wonderful summer days ahead and yet we all know they will be over all too quickly. Soon, we will find ourselves saying ‘where did the summer go?’ It happens every year – so this is your friendly reminder to do everything you can to enjoy the blessing of each day!
I am often asked for tips or advice on how to pray. Volumes have been written about that subject but the practice of prayer still seems elusive to many of us. I suggest that the ‘art of appreciating summer’ can be a helpful strategy in learning to pray. Prayer is fundamentally about attention, about focus, about learning to be present to the moment. Summer is a good time to practice such things. Rather than thinking about learning a method or doing a Bible study, let the ‘practice of appreciating summer’ be a spiritual practice for you these days. Breathe the early morning air; notice the lingering sunlight late in the day; enjoy the flowers; appreciate the blessing of rain – and when it falls, choose to get wet, really feel the water on your toes in the lake, marvel at the produce at the Farmer’s Market, take special delight in the first Flathead cherry you find. We live amidst great beauty. People travel from all over to visit our state and this place. So, don’t let the (to us) ordinariness of our surroundings blind you to the extraordinary beauty we call home. Be attentive. Give thanks. And as you do so, you will have learned to pray for, as the opening words of the poem God’s Grandeur by poet Gerard Manley Hopkins , assert . . .
The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze
of oil
Crushed . . .
May your summer days be blessed with the luxury of lingering a bit and laughing with friends and feasting with family. May you become skilled in the art of appreciating the summer!

Grace and peace,
Marianne