Pastor’s Corner – May 14

            It was the medieval mystic Meister Eckhart who said If the only prayer you ever said was ‘thank you’ it would suffice.  And while that may well be a good principle of the spiritual life, those words don’t seem quite sufficient when it comes to expressing my gratitude to all of you for the retirement celebrations and notes and gifts you have shared with me over the past 2 weeks!  But, whether it is enough or not, expressing a hearty thank you is precisely where I am going to begin. Thanks for your welcome of my family and friends on April 30. They loved being here for worship that Sunday and attending the party later that afternoon at the Intermountain Community Services Center. In so many big and little ways, you helped each one of them feel comfortable.  For me, personally, it was such a blessing to have my parents, siblings and spouses and my cousin and spouse here to share the fun.  It was also a treat to have Marianne Borg with us.  And, of course, there were others . . . too numerous to list.   I especially enjoyed having time to spend with them all last week. 
 

            Thanks too for the beautiful pendant and ring I received.  I know many of you contributed to make that gift possible – thanks!  Your generosity – to the ministry of the church and to our wider mission has always been a blessing. This personal gift to me will always remind me of the special people who make up St. Paul’s.  I am truly humbled by your expressions of affection and support. 

            As you read this, I am on my way to Oslo, Norway for a meeting of the Connectional Table of the UMC. Created at the 2004 General Conference, the Connectional Table was formed to serve as both the visioning body of the church and the steward of resources to carry out the vision of the denomination worldwide.” The membership of the CT consists of Bishops, General Agency leaders, and representatives of the various caucuses and Jurisdictions of the church. I was nominated and elected to represent the Western Jurisdiction.  I confess that it is difficult for me to be away when I have such limited time remaining to be with you. However, the meeting is an important one and the responsibility to attend out-weighed my reluctance!  Lyle is going with me.  Since his cancer diagnosis and re-occurrence, we have resolved that we would not miss an opportunity to travel together. I will return at the end of May, will be in worship on May 28 and will preach again June 4.
 

            In the meantime, please know how grateful I am for your generosity and for the recent celebrations. Although I know the focus has been around my retirement, in reality we are celebrating all we have done together over the past 23 years!

            Gratefully, Marianne



Pastor’s Corner – April 30

Today we get to celebrate 23 years of Pastoral ministry that Rev. Marianne Niesen has shared with our congregation and our community. Marianne will officially retire June 30 of this year, but as good Methodists, we methodically figured more people would be around in the spring to celebrate Marianne’s years of service.
 
 
Over her tenure, Marianne has been an amazing witness to faith in the public sphere. She has led us faithfully from our old building into this new and incredible space. Marianne’s leadership brought us dynamic speakers on faith from Marcus Borg, to John Domnic Crossan, to Amy Jill Levine, and Bishop John Shelby Spong.
 
 
I personally will always remember Marianne as my pastor and one of my greatest colleagues. She is the first pastor I saw use a video illustration for her sermon when she showed a clip from Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. Just like that movie, Marianne has also broken down a barrier for us as the first woman to serve as our Senior Pastor. She has led us with grace and integrity for the past two decades.
 
 
I hope you will join us today at noon in the Fellowship Hall or this afternoon from 4-6 PM at the Intermountain facility at 3240 Dredge Drive to celebrate Marianne’s ministry.
 
Join us in the celebration,
Pastor Tyler


Pastor’s Corner – April 23

To the people called Methodists within the Mountain Sky Area:
Grace and Peace to you in the name of our Risen Savior, Jesus. In this season of new life, we look upon the Mountain Sky Area with great hope as God’s Spirit is creating Beloved Community in our midst. Yet Resurrection does not mean the end of all challenges for God’s church.
 
We write to keep you informed of an important matter involving the Mountain Sky Area and our United Methodist Church. We believe it is important to keep the people of the Mountain Sky Area apprised of developments in the questions raised over Bishop Oliveto’s election last July.
 
Immediately after the Western Jurisdictional Conference’s episcopal election concluded, the South Central Jurisdictional Conference asked our denomination’s top court, the Judicial Council, for a declaratory decision on the validity of the election. The Judicial Council will hear arguments in the matter when it meets in Newark, New Jersey, on April 25, with a ruling expected within days. This process is outlined in our Book of Discipline.
 
As the Joint Cabinet of the Mountain Sky Area and the Lay Leaders of the Yellowstone and Rocky Mountain Conferences, we believe that Bishop Oliveto’s election is valid. It is our prayer that the Judicial Council will confirm this position. Nonetheless, we know there are several potential outcomes. We know the ruling will have implications for the entire denomination, but as Bishop Oliveto is our episcopal leader, we will be affected most.
 
Accompanying this letter is an information sheet prepared by Western Jurisdiction and Mountain Sky leaders for distribution in our churches. We ask pastors and church leaders to make this letter and the accompanying material available to congregations as soon as possible. After the ruling, we will provide more information and guidance for our churches and leaders.
 
No matter what the decision is, we know some among us will not agree. Some will feel hurt. Some will feel distanced from the church. That is why we must be in prayer for one another and for our church. In addition, we ask you to pray for Bishop Oliveto, the Cabinet, our conference leaders, members of the Judicial Council, and all who will participate in the hearing on April 25.
 
We do not believe agreement, even on major issues like this, has ever been a requirement for loving each other and remaining one family in Christ Jesus who, in the week of his death and resurrection, prayed that we may be one (John 17:21).
 
Although the Council’s decision could have significant implications on our life together, we have faith that the Resurrection of Jesus is what most determines our future. The United Methodist Church, and its predecessors, have faced many challenges and disagreements in the past and has lived to witness to the grace of God in Jesus Christ through our distinctive Wesleyan voice we offer the world. We know God will see us through this time as well.
 
Yours in Christ,
Melanie Rosa, Dean of The Rocky Mountain Cabinet
Jeff Rainwater, Dean of The Yellowstone Cabinet
Don McCammon, Lay Leader of The Yellowstone Conference
Margaret Hotze, Co-Lay Leader of The Rocky Mountain Conference
Kunle Taiwo, Co-Lay Leader of The Rocky Mountain Conference


Pastor’s Corner – April 16

Dear Friends and Members of St. Paul’s,

Easter is here and this year it comes with a clear start to spring. New life is happening all around us and it can be seen in budding plants and the fits and starts of warming weather. The birds have started to return and nature itself is attempting to remind us of the way in which new things can happen. It is a great reminder of how we are called to nurture and affirm new life as people of Christ who “practice resurrection.”

In September of this year I will take my leave from Helena and begin serving the faith community of Shiloh UMC in Billings. The coming months will involve a transition of pastoral leadership from Marianne, Rick and myself to Rev. Dr. Patti Agnew and Rev. Sami Pack. I am excited to see the new life that our incoming Pastoral team will bring to Helena. As we prepare for new life it seems important to highlight some of the things we have accomplished during my 6-year tenure here. None of these would have been possible without the leadership of the gifted friends and members of St. Paul’s, you make ministry in Helena happen.

-We became a reconciling congregation affirming “St. Paul’s United Methodist Church welcomes all people of any age, gender, color, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, economic status, or disability into the full life and membership of this congregation.” This statement has led to new connection and new ministry.
-We started new ministry in the brewery with “God After Hours.”
-We raised nearly 20,000 pounds of food doing the “Church Challenge” with area churches.
-We understood Adverse Childhood Experiences(ACEs) and supported a local coalition to help foster this understating in our community.
-We have welcomed many new people to St. Paul’s.
-We have continued to be a safe place for families without a faith home to turn for funerals and memorial services.
Our mission trips and service to our community and the world continue to support life.
-We celebrated 150 years of Methodism in Helena during our Jubilee year.
-We challenged Helena to think more deeply about issues of social justice including homelessness, hunger, and affordable housing.
-We began an incredible collaboration between Covenant UMC and St. Paul’s UMC called Helena United Methodist Ministry. And the list goes on…
 

We continue to “affirm life” and “practice resurrection.” This means that this list is just the beginning of things we will continue to do in the name of God’s love.

This year our Easter offering is an invitation to help us “spruce up our house” and prepare for the future. Our spaces here at the church are utilized to support the community as well as our faith life, and they are in need of upkeep. Your donations will allow us to get ahead on our maintenance and provide safe and inviting buildings for people to experience new life. Thank you in advance for continuing to support our ministry through your gifts and your service to our church.

Enthusiastic Peace,

Pastor Tyler Amundson