July 12 pastor’s Corner

This past week I returned from Intergenerational 4th of July Camp at Flathead Lake. Camp always is a powerful reminder to me how time away and time in nature can bring a new awareness of God’s presence in my life. It is as if the playfulness of nature gives me a new sense of God’s hope in my own life, and new perspective to see where life is stirring around me. The camps of our church were founded for this very purpose and I would invite you to take advantage of these facilities for an organized camp, family getaway or personal retreat as a chance to connect with God and ourselves in our journey of faith.

Here is a short description of each of our Montana camps:

Camp on the Boulder is a pure and holy place set apart from life’s distractions, located on 79 acres set in the Absaroka Mountains of south-central Montana surrounded by wilderness. The recreational opportunities include a low ropes course, a PDGA registered Frisbee golf course, mini golf course, volleyball and basketball courts, great hiking and many other recreational activities including fishing on the Boulder River! The lodging facilities include cabins, lodges and dorms for youth that can sleep 250 comfortably. There is a wonderful prayer chapel, an outdoor chapel, and a Tabernacle that can seat 300. You will find meeting space and good food. You will also find a ministry team ready to help you have a wonderful time in the mountains with Jesus.
Flathead Lake UM Camp is a year-round campground retreat facility. The camp is bordered by 3,000 feet of pristine shoreline of Flathead Lake and is set amidst 30 acres of lush forest and grounds. Recreation opportunities include canoeing, swimming, basketball, volleyball, horseshoes, baseball, hiking, fishing, table tennis, campfire circle. Facilities include 12 cabins with sleeping capacity of 180, dining hall and retreat center, restroom and shower facilities, large indoor chapel, fire pit area, outdoor chapel area, four classrooms, dock, swimming area, basketball and volleyball courts. Food services are available for groups of 40-180. The staff provides wholesome and tasty meals. Heated cabins support 50 overnight guests during the winter.

Luccock Park Camp offers individuals, families and groups of all sizes a mountain setting in paradise ~ literally located in Paradise Valley south of Livingston, Montana. Luccock Park can offer you the opportunity of many venues. Take an easy hike to Pine Creek Falls, play basketball on the open court, enjoy an old fashioned game of horse shoes or just pull up a lounge chair and enjoy the peace and quiet that can only be found at Luccock Park.

Learn more at yacumc.org/camps

Prayers that we all find a glimmer of God’s peace in nature this summer,

Pastor Tyler



July 5 Pastor’s Corner

We have so much to celebrate as a people on this Independence Day weekend. But, this year what strikes me most powerfully is the witness of grace and forgiveness that we have experienced in the actions the people of our sister denomination, the African Methodist Episcopal Church, as they have responded to the horrific killings at Mother Emanuel Church last month. (There is an AME congregation in Great Falls.) Rooted in faith and empowered by love, they have extended love in the face of fear, forgiveness in the face of evil and humanity in the face of unmitigated racism. They challenge us to remember that real freedom will always be found in following the way of Jesus. Their actions remind us that following Jesus really can change the world. Today I offer us excerpts of a litany, written by AME Bishop Adam J. Richardson.
Leader: “The doors of the Church are open” is an announcement regularly spoken at Emanuel Church of Charleston, known as the “Mother” of African Methodism in the Deep South.
People: O God, “The doors of the Church are still open.”
Leader: Hate and Evil – armed and dangerous – came Wednesday night to Mother Emanuel, accompanied by unfathomable horror, leaving a trail of blood and hurt across the African Methodist Connection, Charleston and the world.
People: O God, “the doors of the church are still open,” and still we believe that “We sorrow not as those who have no hope.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13)
Leader: The “Emanuel Nine” had names – and families, and lives, and careers, and places to go and things to do. They were colleagues, friends and kin: the Honorable Rev. Clementa Pinckney (41), the Rev. Daniel “Super” Simmons (74), the Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton (45), Brother Tywanza Sanders (26), Sister DePayne Middleton Doctor (49), Sister Cynthia Hurd (54), Sister Myra Thompson (59), Sister Ethel Lance (70), and Sister Susie Jackson (87).
People: O God, “The doors of the church are still open,” and we affirm Your Word that “Perfect love casts out fear.” (1 John 4:18)
Leader: Our faith will not be stolen, even by violence as heinous as the assassination of nine innocent people, and the terror that left bodies wounded and souls injured among those who survived the attack.
People: O God, “The doors of the church are still open,” and “our faith looks up to Thee” and “will not shrink though pressed by every foe.”
Leader: He wanted a race war, instead there came an outpouring of love, sympathy and tears from white people;
fervent prayers offered for him by black people. With shock and anger still wafting in the air, family members amazingly spoke words of forgiveness, and the community sang together and spoke of hope. We have learned at least this much in our walk with God in Christ: “Unmerited suffering is still redemptive.”
People: O God, “The doors of the church are still open,” and we affirm the words of Christ, “Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. (John 14:27b)
To our AME brothers and sisters – thanks! Your witness to the transforming power of love and forgiveness blesses us all.

Grace and peace,
Marianne



June 28 Pastor’s Corner

 

As United Methodists from across our conference gathered in our sanctuary last week we heard the terrible news of the shooting deaths at Emmanuel American Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. One of the striking pieces of our tradition is how we are connected to so many Christians worldwide, and in difficult moments we know we can gather in prayer and seek justice for our brothers and sisters. The Bishop has requested that we share the following prayer from Pastor Kelly Addy of Bigfork UMC, to embody our sorrow and our need for God’s love in this moment.

Dear Lord,
We come to you as your children, seeking your wisdom and patience in the midst of our bewilderment. You have made humankind so magnificently and so powerfully, but we lose our way before we can arrive at the kind of love with which you made us. We know it is there because we are the work of your hands and we ask your gentle hand to guide us to it and place it at the center of all things and nations, and races and peoples.

We gathered to learn of the riches of your abundant love, which overcomes all the violence the world can muster. And then shots rang out across this great land of hope and freedom, infecting people with fear and suspicion.

We turn to you and to you alone, as we cry out once again that we are love because you are love and we are from you. How can anyone hope to love anyone if they do not love everyone? How can anyone seek to overcome darkness with darkness? How can anyone hate anyone without hating everyone?
Turn our hearts to neither the left nor the right, but only to you. We read your Word and hear your love in it even when people in Egypt and Syria and South Carolina die for it.

We lift up:
Our brother, Honorable, Rev. Clementa Pinckney, 41, pastor and state senator
Our sister, Cynthia Hurd, 54
Sister, Ethel Lance, 70
Our brother, Rev DePayne Middleton-Doctor, 49
Sister, Rev. Sharonda Singleton, 45
Our brother, Rev. Daniel Simmons, Sr., 74
Sister, Myra Thompson, 59
Sister, Susie Jackson, 87
Brother Tywanza Sanders, 26
And our brother, the suspected shooter,
Dylann Roof, 21.

We pray for peace. We lift up those who suffer violence anywhere in the world and we do not look down on them, but up to you.

Give us your peace. Give us your love. Give us your will, abundantly as we trudge onward and upward and homeward together to you.

And when we go back into the world from this place may our light so shine that other would see the Christ in us and be led in the Way, by the Truth, to the Life Everlasting. Amen.

As we begin a new week, I invite us to hold this prayer in our hearts. May our life be a prayer that our world will see a day when racial violence and systemic hatred are no more.

Blessings,
Pastor Tyler



June 21 Pastor’s Corner

Welcome to our 150 Year Jubilee Sunday. We hope this is a joyous celebration of the ministry completed in the last 150 years and a launch for our future ministry. We are thankful to have Bishop Elaine J.W. Stanovsky preaching at the Jubilee service, our choir for singing, the Junk Man’s Choir performing at our picnic, and for all of the people who helped make this day possible. We are especially thankful for everyone who could be here to share this Sunday of celebration. This Jubilee Sunday we wanted to share with people the new ways in which they can stay connected with St. Paul’s as we each go out to share ministry with the world.

St. Paul’s App
“There is an App for that.” In the ever-increasing pace of the world we want people to stay connected to their faith community. Our App is designed to get you things like our sermons, which you can download to your phone or stream right from the Internet. We hope this is a way you can stay connected to the ministry of our church. To get the App go to stpaulshelena.org and click on “Download our App.”

PushPay
For 150 years the generosity of people with St. Paul’s has been tremendous. We want to continue to make it possible for people to give and this means we have to provide ways for electronic giving (credit, debit cards). We have partnered with a company that works with non-profits and churches to make this possible, PushPay. There are two ways to use this multi-platform giving solution to give to St. Paul’s. 1. Text “stpaulshelena” to 77977 on your mobile phone and you will receive a link to give a one-time gift, and then will be invited to download the PushPay App. 2. Go to stpaulshelena.org/giving and follow the links to give.

Livestream and HCTV
For a significant portion of our history we were on the radio Sunday mornings. We have now moved to Livestream and Helena Civic Television. If you are unable to join us for worship on a given Sunday, we invite you to participate by watching live online at livestream.com/stpaulshelena or by watching our broadcast on HCTV channel 189 on cable at 7 PM on Wednesday nights. These ministries are designed to keep you connected to worship as you share your ministry in the world.

Thank you for your connection to our church and for the ways you will keep us Grounded, Growing, Giving and Going for Good in the future of our ministry.

See you in 2065,

Pastor Marianne and Pastor Tyler



June 14 Pastor’s Corner

This is a big week here at St. Paul’s.  First, we have the privilege of hosting the 47th meeting of the Yellowstone Conference.  Practically speaking, that means that some 300 clergy and laity from churches around Montana and northern Wyoming and Salmon and Lemhi, Idaho will gather to worship, learn together, elect delegates to General Conference, conduct business and celebrate our ministry as United Methodist disciples of Jesus.  The last time the Yellowstone Conference met in Helena for our annual meeting was in 1964.  Actually, at that time, we were still the ‘Montana Conference.’  We didn’t officially became the ‘Yellowstone Conference of the United Methodist Church’ until 1969 when churches from Northern Wyoming and the former E.U.B. (Evangelical United Brethren Church) merged with the churches in the Montana Conference.

All sessions of the Annual Conference which begins in the St. Paul’s sanctuary with worship at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, June 18th are open to any who might be interested.  The Conference speaker this year is theologian Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parker who co-wrote  Saving Paradise: How Christianity Traded Love of This World for Crucifixion and Empire, with Rita Nakashima Brock. Her sessions might be of particular interest.  Also of interest might be the mission celebration on Thursday evening (hosted at Covenant UMC) and the ordination service in our sanctuary at 7:00 p. m. on Friday evening.   Rev. Jim Barth will be ordained. Check our website at www.stpaulshelena.org and find the link to “Resources for YAC participants’ for more detailed schedule information.  There will also be a Cokesbury bookstore set up in the west end of our Fellowship Hall – and that too is open to everyone.  It is a daunting proposition to have 300 guests for several days.   Special thanks to all of the St. Paul’s folks who have volunteered your time to offer hospitality to those who will be joining us!

But that’s not all!  After Annual Conference ends at noon on Saturday, we will turn our energy and attention to our Jubilee!   Our Bishop will be with us and will preach.  We will commission our Guatemala Youth Mission Team.  Our Chancel Choir will sing and we will all raise a joyful noise in thanks to God for the blessings of the past 150 years.   Following worship, we will have a Jubilee party with food, fun, bluegrass music and, maybe even some dancing in the streets!!  Thanks to the generosity of several donors, we will have a Jubilee Booklet available that day as well.  It is a snapshot of St. Paul’s at age 150.

This is indeed a big week here at St. Paul’s.  I hope you will plan to drop in for some or all of it . . . and don’t miss the celebration next Sunday!

Grace and peace and Jubilee blessings to us all!

Marianne



June 7 Pastor’s Corner

It’s A Jubilee…

Dave and Fay Buness, our Chancel Choir and wonderful instrumentalists made last Sunday quite a celebration! I hope you were with us as we were all blessed with hearing ‘Songs that Built our Faith.’ If you weren’t here, however, you can still experience the event by watching it online. The link is on our website. Our choir now takes a couple weeks off but they’ll be back again in two weeks, on Jubilee Sunday.

The central celebration of our Jubilee year is on Sunday, June 21 at the 11:00 service. Following immediately after the meeting of our Yellowstone Annual Conference (which we host this year), we will have a grand worship celebration. Our Bishop will be with us and will preach. We will commission our Guatemala Youth Mission Team. Our Chancel Choir will sing and we will all raise a joyful noise in thanks to God for the blessings of the past 150 years. Following worship that day, we will have a Jubilee party with food, fun and dancing in the streets!! The Junk Man’s Choir will be with us for the dancing part of things. Outside. In the street. Or on the patio. Thanks to the generosity of several donors, we will have a Jubilee Booklet available that day as well. It is a snapshot of St. Paul’s at age 150.

Today I want the opportunity to offer a special thanks to the members of the Jubilee Committee who have planned for the events of the year. Maleen Olson has been doing a marvelous job leading the committee. Where would we be without a leader? Others involved in the committee have been Tim Holmes and Marty Thieltges who have been going through pictures that highlight special moments in the history of the church. You have seen some of their work in the pre-worship slides that Sue McNicol has designed for projection. Judy Nielsen and Maleen have provided the historical tidbits that have been in the bulletin. Ron Waterman, Ed Glenn, Marti Johnson, Frank Montibeller and Phaedra Raymond have helped with ideas and plenty of behind-the-scenes legwork. Maggie Long has written our press release. Tim Holmes has done some hard work locating the actual site of that first pile of logs and we are working with Ellen Baumler and the City of Helena to get a plaque on that site. Sue McNicol has designed our Jubilee logo (which you now see on our bulletin cover) and has worked tirelessly to pull together the copy and do the layout for the Jubilee booklet. There will be lots more to do as our Jubilee year unfolds but, for now – thanks to all who have helped so far.

The celebrating continues . . . be sure to mark your calendars for the next event – 11:00 Sunday, June 21. (We will also have our regular 8:30 worship that day, with time for reflection, prayer and communion.)
Grace and peace,
Marianne


May 31st Pastor’s Corner

It’s a Jubilee!

As you know by now, we are in the midst of celebrating our Jubilee Year.  The church we know as St. Paul’s began when a young preacher gathered a small congregation, preached the word and began a ministry.  Helena was just a mining camp in those early days.  But, as it grew to become the Capitol City of Montana, so did St. Paul’s grow into a thriving, active, progressive community, welcoming all people into the full life and membership of the congregation.

 

We officially began our Jubilee year on Easter Sunday.  Today is another big Jubilee event as Dave Buness and the Chancel Choir present our very own Cantata, Songs that Built Our Faith, at both services.  After spending time reading our history and looking in our archives, he compiled a wonderful potpourri of music and commentary.  And, even our coffee hour today picks up on the theme. Using recipes from one of our St. Paul’s Cookbooks from years past, volunteers have made cookies and treats for your tasting pleasure.  Come to the Fellowship Hall today after worship and enjoy!

 

The central celebration of our Jubilee year is still to come and will take place at the 11:00 service on June 21st.  Following immediately after the meeting of our Yellowstone Annual Conference (which we host this year), we are planning a grand worship celebration.  Our Bishop will be with us and will preach.  We will commission our Guatemala Youth Mission Team.  Our Choir will sing and we will all raise a joyful noise in thanks to God for the blessings of the past 150 years.   Following worship that day, we will have a Jubilee party with food, fun and dancing in the streets!!  (Seriously, we are planning to have a band that day … we’ll provide the music but you’ll need to provide the dancing!)

 

We have more ideas for celebrations that will continue into the fall, through the Christmas season, with it all culminating next Easter.  More on that to come.

 

For now, though, do mark your calendars . . .  Plan to be with us on June 21st at 11:00 worship! (We will also have our regular 8:30 worship that day, with time for reflection, prayer and communion.)

Grace and peace,

Marianne



May 24 Pastor’s Corner

“The Jubilee is upon us!” If you ran down Last Chance Gulch yelling the aforementioned statement it would probably not strike fear in people. Instead the sight might bring laughter and hope like our St. Paul’s 150th celebration is meant to strike hope in people about what God is still doing in our community. We hope the events of the next year inspire our community to continue to seek ways to be of service to one another, and invigorate St. Paul’s to continue to be the source of that Spirit. On this Pentecost Sunday it feels right to share with you the spirit of the next two celebrations at St. Paul’s as a part of our 150th and remind us that the Jubilee is about planning for the future as much as celebrating the past.

Next Sunday, May 31, will be a Choir Sunday, featuring “The Songs That Built Our Faith,” to celebrate the music of the past and our song for the future. Dave Buness has been our Chancel Choir Director for 41 years, and his amazing direction has helped us to have music to inspire our worship. This Sunday presentation has been a special project of Dave’s and promises to give us inspiration for the future of our ministry, as well as honor the work of our past.

On Sunday, June 21 following our hosting of the Yellowstone Annual Conference, we will have our Jubilee celebration. As Marianne shared a few weeks ago, we will have a worship service with our full choir, a commissioning of the Guatemala Mission team, preaching from our Bishop Elaine J.W. Stanovsky, and lots of celebration of the hope God gives us for our ministry past and future. Following the service we will have a grand party with the bluegrass group “The Junk Man’s Choir” performing, food, dancing (if you choose), and fun for all ages. Please mark your calendar and plan on attending.

Let’s pray that the Spirit continues to move among us and through us for 150 years to come.

Enthusiastic Peace,

Pastor Tyler