Pastor’s Corner – Oct. 9, 2016

You are invited to learn more,

One striking dynamic about church work in the 21st century is the speed by which we have to keep up with the culture around us.  The communication we do as a church is no exception and the methods by which we are required to communicate continue to grow.  Not long ago a church with a website was light years ahead of the rest, but now we have to keep up with social media, email, texting and an app.  All of these methods are things we do and the leadership of St. Paul’s has supported the development of our communication.

The reason we need to keep up with communication is that it is one of the primary ways we can stay connected to each other, but more importantly with our community.  If our community knows we are here, they know we share a vision of the deep love of God, and that we are willing to provide life giving resources to the community.  When I think about communication in this age I remind myself that there are three groups we are trying to reach with our information:

  1. Congregation – People who are already in our faith community.
  2. People associated with our church – People who want to be connected to our faith community.
  3. Community Members (Non and nominally religious people interested in our message.) – People that want to know a committed and caring church exists and who may want to be a part of our community at some point.

On Thursday October 13 at 5:30 PM, in the Fireside Room, we will be hosting a meeting on communications of the church.  This is our regularly scheduled Church Council, and we would like to invite anyone in the church who facilitates any communication for any reason.  The meeting will focus on how we use the communication tools available at St. Paul’s to reach the groups listed above.  We will learn about best practices of communication and how to use Facebook, our Church app, worship slides, newsletter, bulletin and other methods for communication.  It is the hope of our Church Leadership to increase communication knowledge and ability of our congregation this year. 

We invite you to join us for this learning opportunity,

Pastor Tyler

 

 



Pastor’s Corner – Oct. 2, 2016

            According to Wikipedia, the tradition of celebrating a World Communion Sunday began in the 1930’s by the moderator of the Presbyterian Church as “an attempt to bring churches together in a service of Christian unity—in which everyone might receive both inspiration and information, and above all, to know how important the Church of Jesus Christ is, and how each congregation is interconnected one with another.” It was officially adopted throughout the Presbyterian Church (USA) in 1936, and subsequently spread to other denominations. In 1940, the Federal Council of Churches (now the National Council of Churches of Christ) endorsed World Communion Sunday and began to promote it to Christian churches worldwide.

 

            World Communion Sunday is celebrated on the first Sunday of October throughout the mainline Protestant Church.  For me, each year, it is an invitation to remember that our need for bread and community is a human one and when we gather at the table, we celebrate not only with those present but also with sisters and brothers around the world.  I was especially touched by Jan Richardson’s ‘Table Blessing’ and share it here (with permission) as a prayer for us all on this day.                                  
Grace and peace, Marianne

 

To your table
you bid us come.
You have set the places,
you have poured the wine,
and there is always room,
you say, for one more.

And so we come.
From the streets
and from the alleys
we come.
From the deserts
and from the hills
we come.
From the ravages of poverty
and from the palaces of privilege
we come.
Running,
limping,
carried,
we come.
 
We are bloodied with our wars,
we are wearied with our wounds,
we carry our dead within us,
and we reckon with their ghosts.
We hold the seeds of healing,
we dream of a new creation,
we know the things
that make for peace,
and we struggle to give them wings.
And yet, to your table
we come.
Hungering for your bread,
we come;
thirsting for your wine,
we come;
singing your song
in every language,
speaking your name
in every tongue,
in conflict and in communion,
in discord and in desire,
we come,
O God of Wisdom,
we come
 
Prayer © Jan L. Richardson from

In Wisdom’s Path: Discovering the Sacred in Every Season

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Pastor’s Corner – Sept. 25, 2016

The United Methodist book of disciplines states, “No person deserves to be stigmatized because of mental illness (Paragraph 162x, 2012). As faithful Christians we believe this to be true and, as Helena United Methodists, we walk in the NAMI WALK each year. Additionally, Thursday night we will be hosting an interfaith gathering to help our community focus on the wellbeing of Montana’s children relating to their mental and physical well-being. This relates back to our work during our 150th celebration at St. Paul’s when we partnered with Intermountain to learn about Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES). This study has helped communities understand how trauma can inform how they offering support to children and adults. To learn more about ACES we invite you to watch the presentation from last year at www.goo.gl/bCeFGG

NAMI Montana is the Montana chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). NAMI Montana supports, educates, and advocates for Montanans with severe mental illnesses and their families. The 2016 Montana NAMI Walk will be held on today, 12:30 at Memorial Park in Helena. This is a great opportunity to join the fight against mental illness in Montana. Join us to help “stomp out stigma” by donating, joining our team, or offering a prayer to assist in this cause. If you would like to donate to our team go to http://www.namiwalks.org/team/HUMM. If you would like to join us for the walk today meet us on the north side of the playground at Memorial Park, by the picnic benches just after noon.

On Thursday, September 29 at 7pm we will be hosting an interfaith gathering for those concerned about adversity and trauma in children’s lives. This event is designed to help our community unify around the common cause of the wellbeing of Montana’s children. Chaplain Chris Haughee of Intermountain and Kimberly Konkel, Assistant Director of Faith Based Initiatives for Trauma-Informed Congregations in Washington, D.C. will be leading the gathering. The service will focus on creating space for different traditions to express their desire to support our children.

We hope both these events provide an opportunity for our faith community to grow our faith and go in mission.

Enthusiastic Peace,

Pastor Tyler


Pastor’s Corner – Sept. 18, 2016

loveYesterday was the installation of our new Bishop Karen Oliveto.  In an interview with the Denver Post she stated her hope for our churches was that each community would live better because one of our churches was there.  Bishop Karen’s work as a Bishop will be focused on helping our churches make an impact on our community through an expression of United Methodist grace and love.  I am personally thankful for Bishop Karen’s leadership and am excited about this dynamic vision of ministry in our area.  I encourage you to follow Bishop Karen’s letters and updates at http://www.mountainskyumc.org.

This Sunday I will be preaching on love, and our call as Christians to love our neighbors.  A few weeks ago I discovered a website called westandwithlove.org.  It is a movement starting in our country by authors, preachers, celebrities and everyday people to overcome the divisive rhetoric of this political and cultural time in our country.  The website states the following, “We are coming together to say NO to the hate rhetoric that threatens to divide us and YES to more just and generous ways of living with and loving one another.”  They do not advocate certain political views, but instead invite us to bridge the divide and listen to one another with respect.  This movement is an invitation for individuals and faith communities to step up when we hear hate and encourage rhetoric that is respectful of differing views. 

As a church it is our role to teach love to adults, youth and children.  Jesus gave us this example over and over again by telling us to love our neighbor and to love God.  Last month I shared my concern about the division in our country in a sermon and in an article for the Independent Record, Religion Page.  While my concern about our division is strong, my faith in a God who can overcome our division and bring love is stronger.  I invite us all this season to seek places to stand up for love and to follow Bishop Karen’s lead to make our community better.

Enthusiastic Peace,

Tyler Amundson



Pastor’s Corner – Sept. 11, 2016

Today we celebrate our annual ‘Welcome Home’ Sunday.  This is an event started years ago as a way to launch the new ‘ministry year.’  It is an opportunity to sign up for classes, to enroll children in Promiseland and Youth Group and to become more familiar with the wide array of activities that comprise St. Paul’s.  Even more, it is an official ‘welcome back’ from summer activities and vacations that often take us away on weekends.  Now things are more or less back to normal for many of us. Schedules are more regular and life settles down. Of course, my hope is that a ‘back to normal’ schedule will include regular involvement of some kind at St. Paul’s!

This year, Welcome Home Sunday includes a new display in the Fellowship Hall.  We have known for a while that, sometimes, people don’t know exactly how to get involved at St. Paul’s.  So, you’ll find a ‘what if’ table!  Tracie Kenyon from the Stewardship Team will be there, available to chat about interests and possibilities.  We don’t know if we’ll be able to create exactly what you might be looking for . . . but we certainly want to look at options and begin to lean into a future with new ideas.  Maybe your brainstorm is just what others are looking for too! 

As you look around today, you’ll notice a lot of gold.  We are celebrating today as our ‘golden birthday.’  Those of you with young children know that a ‘golden birthday’ is the birthday when you turn the same age as the day of your birthday.  My golden birthday was the October 22nd when I turned 22 (a few years ago now!).  It was exactly 11 years ago today, September 11, that we moved into this beautiful sanctuary.  There was a lot of excitement on that day as we worshiped here for the first time. And over the past years, we have grown into the space – gradually making improvements and getting comfortable with our church home.   Thanks to all of you who have done the hard work of weathering change and making adjustments and offering grace as we’ve made this space our home!  Happy Golden Birthday to us all . . . and, Welcome Home!  Even more, welcome to a year of new opportunities to live and grow as people of faith! 
 
Grace and peace,
Marianne


Pastor’s Corner – Sept. 4, 2016

            A week ago, Lyle and I were in The Villages, Florida for a 90th birthday celebration for my Dad.  It was a great gathering hosted by my sisters and their spouses, and my brothers and their spouses.  Some of the grandchildren were also there.  The ‘official’ part of the birthday gathering included a family dinner on Friday night and then an open house for Dad’s friends on Sunday afternoon.  Of course, we also spent time at the pool and Lyle even got an opportunity for a round of golf.  (However, with the temps hovering at 90 degrees, coupled with 90% humidity, I think the pool was the best option!) 

            When we gathered at my sister’s home for the open house, I had an opportunity to greet several people I have come to know over my years of visiting my parents in Florida.  There was a steady stream of people who stopped by to say hi.  At one point in the afternoon, my Dad asked me to come with him to meet a couple who had just arrived.  I was surprised when the man took my hand and declared . . . “I know you! I watch you every Sunday on the livestream from your church.  I love going to church at St. Paul’s in Helena, Montana!” 

            Now, that was a first!  I knew that we had a rather large email list for sermons but I did not know that our congregation now stretches as far as Florida! 

            It has been a year and a half now since we were forced to end the longstanding radio broadcast of our 11 a.m. service.  That was a big change and one that worried many of us. Still, when the radio station more than tripled the costs, we looked for other ways to make our worship service available to those unable to be in church on a Sunday morning.  In the end, we made the decision to livestream our worship service and to make that recording available to HCTV for re-broadcast on Wednesdays at 7 p.m.  

            None of this has happened without a great deal of effort. Tyler has organized and trained our camera techs.  Thanks to all of you who have taken on that responsibility!   There are others who work to make the online logistics of the livestream experience work.  Earlier this year, when Lyle was in the hospital, I livestreamed our service and was amazed at how user-friendly it is – and how connected I felt to the St. Paul’s community.  I was even able to make a donation through our PushPay app!

            Change can be difficult and yet, because we were willing to explore new options, we have an ever growing St. Paul’s congregation – even in Florida!   

            Don’t miss our Welcome Home event next Sunday . . . See you then!

            Grace and peace, Marianne



Pastor’s Corner – August 28, 2016

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 on 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 hope 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 of Central Elementary School’s staff and teachers as our neighborhood school, and then write letters to others in our school districts we want to support.  A form letter can be found at stpaulshelena.org/letters-to-educators/

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

Enthusiastic Peace,

 

Pastor Tyler

 



Letters to Educators

Thank you for taking the time to write a letter to a staff person or teacher at Central Elementary School, see sample below
.  This letter writing is a form of prayer and blessing that we can offer to one of the schools in our community.  Central was chosen because of its proximity to our church building (even while they are across town.)  If you feel called to write to a teacher or staff person at a different school, please feel free to also use the sample letter below.

You can locate other teachers and staff at helenaschools.org/contact/staff-directory.  Any connection we make to the education system will impact our community.  Thanks for doing this ministry together as a church.

 

 

 

 

Central Elementary School

1325 Poplar Street

Helena, MT 59601

 

(School Employee’s Full Name),

 

I am writing to thank you for all you do to support children and families in our community.  Your continued work educating, sharing compassion, and caring for our children makes a difference to the entire Helena community.  As a neighbor to Central Elementary School (even with you across town), we at St. Paul’s United Methodist want to offer you any support you may need. 

 

We have people of all ages in our church and we look forward to supporting you.  We are dedicated to letting you know this each year and hope you will take this offer seriously.  Perhaps you are seeking a retired person to read in a class, adults to provide support or special skills, or even teenagers to connect with younger kids. We hope you can dream of ways we may assist you.

 

As members/friends of St. Paul’s United Methodist, we are writing to Central School employees to offer our support.  A core value at St. Paul’s is supporting our community through service.  We offer this letter as a message of support for the work you do. 

 

Blessings on your work,

 

(Your Name)



Pastor’s Corner – August 14, 2016

You have perhaps noticed the announcement of a job opening here at St. Paul’s.  We are advertising for a Finance and Facilities Coordinator.  (Check out the job description at www.stpaulshelena.org/jobs )  Let me share a bit of information about what has brought us to this point.
 

As you know, over the past year we have had some staff changes in our office – and, of course, with my retirement next year, we anticipate more changes as well.  Personnel changes often provide an opportunity for an organization to review job requirements and needs.  They also provide an opportunity to look at ‘how we’ve always done things’ in new ways.  Over the past year – and particularly over this summer – we have been doing exactly that. In the process, some of us have taken on added responsibilities. Others have expressed an interest in new opportunities. Our Staff Parish Relations Committee has helped us assess skills and needs and develop appropriate job descriptions.  All of that has resulted in the current job opening.

The position for which we are advertising has not existed here before in exactly this form.  Let me assure you that Sue McNicol will continue as our Parish Administrator but some of her current duties will shift to the new position and she will assume some program responsibilities, especially in the area of Adult Ministry.  Tyler will assume other program responsibilities.  In particular, Tyler will be working with a team of people in a process called the ‘Whole Church Initiative’ which is designed to help us assess where we are and how God may be calling us as we move into a new and exciting future.   The responsibility for communications (i.e. bulletin, newsletter, social media, website) is shared by Sue, Tyler and Renata. 

As we move into the ministry year, Lynn will be continuing her amazing work as our Coordinator of Children’s Ministries as well as overseeing our Caring Ministries and the Wednesday Night Dinner program. Mel Brandle will be continuing as our Interim Youth Coordinator.

Overall, the desire in our assessing and planning and reorganizing in the office has been to be good stewards of our resources – and creative in looking at possibilities. We all know that this year will bring changes . . . it already has!  But, change, though difficult sometimes, also brings opportunity for growth and new life.  And, I trust that is exactly what is in store for the amazing community of St. Paul’s and the larger community we call HUMM (Helena United Methodist Ministries).

So, if you are interested, do check out the job description and consider whether you are being called to be part of our ministry at this exciting time! 

            Grace and peace, 

            Marianne