Pastor’s Corner – July 9

When I was in college I took a public speaking class. One of my assignments was to write a short speech on a favorite saying. I chose, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” I don’t know why I remember that, but it came to mind this week as I was reflecting back on my life and the joys and challenges I have faced. I guess I have always tried to see all experiences, whether good or bad, as opportunities to grow. Otherwise bitterness, anger, and resentment can take over my heart and joy eludes me. Perhaps the biblical equivalent is Romans 8:28, “in all things God works for good.”
 
I’m reading an inspiring book, Spiritual Formation: Following the Movements of the Spirit, by Henri Nouwen. The title is a good summary of his theme: spiritual formation is not so much religious practices we add into our lives, but rather paying attention to how we experience the spirit of God moving in our daily lives. In the first chapter he talks about time. We typically view time as chronos, the series of events that make up our days. And we never have enough of this kind of time! He encourages us to view time as kairos, which I’ve heard defined as God’s time.
 
When we view time as kairos then we train ourselves to see God’s hands at work in our everyday moments and every moment becomes a potential connection to God, whether we are doing chores, spending time with someone, resting, playing, or serving another. Each moment and each activity becomes an opportunity to receive the love of God, to be transformed by the love of God, and/or to share the love of God. Our days then, become a mosaic of God’s work in our lives. This sounds all too simple, but it is challenging for me. My “To Do” list tends to control my life. But, in the moments I can focus on kairos, and increase my awareness of God’s activity in my life, life becomes lemonade!
 
How do you see God at work in your daily life? I would love to hear your story!
 
Walking in Grace,
Patti


Pastor’s Corner – July 2

This Sunday we welcome our new pastoral team to Helena. They will be celebrating communion with us at both Covenant and St. Paul’s. They will be serving as the new pastoral team in Helena covering pastoral duties at both St. Paul’s and Covenant. This new pastoral configuration will allow both congregations to get to know Pastor Patti and Pastor Sami as their spiritual and faith community leaders. Pastor Tyler will remain with us through mid-September to serve in an interim capacity and support the new team.

MEET YOUR NEW PASTORS:
Rev. Dr. Patti Agnew
Patti Agnew grew up on the beaches of southern California, in Pacific Palisades. She got her bachelors degree in Mathematics, from the University of California at Santa Barbara, always intending to be a high school math teach. But God redirected her and she got her Master of Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary and was ordained as a United Methodist elder In the Rocky Mountain Conference in 1994. In 2016 she completed her Doctor of Ministry degree, also from Fuller. She has served rural and suburban churches throughout Colorado in her 23 years as a pastor.
 
Patti is a single mom with two daughters in college, Amanda and Natalie, who will both be here the last week of July. She also has a dog, Molly. Patti loves hiking in the mountains, she already hiked up to the top of Mt. Helena last Sunday. She is a Colorado Rockies baseball fan. She loves chocolate, gymnastics, and ice cream. And she feels closest to God when she is out in nature. She is excited to begin this new chapter of life here in Helena with the great people of St. Paul’s and Covenant!
 
Rev. Sami Pack-Toner
Sami grew up in Sheridan, Montana and then moved to Great Falls for college. She was a lifeguard through high school, college, and seminary. She moved to North Carolina for seminary, and worked at churches there for 3 years. After graduation, she was appointed to Choteau and Pendroy United Methodist Churches and have served there the past 3 years. Sami was just ordained this last month by our Bishop. Sami and her husband Shane enjoy golf, swimming, snowboarding, dirt biking, fly fishing, and hiking.


Pastor’s Corner – June 25

As I write this final Pastor’s Corner, I do so filled with gratitude for the past 23 years of ministry with and to you, the friends and members of St. Paul’s and Covenant United Methodist Churches. As you know, Rick Hulbert and I both preach our final sermons today as your pastors. Tyler’s final sermon will be in early September.
 
Over the past weeks, I have had several questions about ‘what’s next?’ for me and for my involvement with our churches. First, let me share that Lyle and I have decided to put our home of 23 years up for sale and to make a move – hopefully sometime this summer or fall – to Florida. We plan to live somewhat near my parents and my sister in central Florida. We both plan to stay ‘actively retired’ which will hopefully include some travel, some relaxation, and perhaps work on a book.
 
Part (though certainly not all) of our reason for making the move so quickly has to do with the ‘ethics’ required of departing pastors. These expectations apply whether a pastor retires or moves to another appointment, remains in town or leaves the area. Departing pastors are not available for any kind of pastoral services – preaching, funerals, weddings, etc. – for at least a year. We are also expected to be absent from any involvement in the life of the church community – including attendance at worship – during that time. This allows a new pastoral team time and space to get to know a congregation and to become immersed in congregational life. Pastor Patti and Pastor Sami will bring their own unique gifts and abilities to the life of Covenant and St. Paul’s – and they need time to get to know you and you, them. Change for all of us is difficult – and pastoral changes can be particularly hard. But I trust that both St. Paul’s and Covenant will discover new possibilities for growth and new opportunities to flourish as you embrace your new leadership.
 
Lyle and I are certainly both anxious and excited about our next steps. Please know that we will remain interested in the unfolding of life at St. Paul’s and Covenant. You will be in our prayers and we will tune in to your activities through the website, Facebook postings, newsletters and livestreaming. Most of all, know that you, HUMM and both churches will be in our prayers. Please hold us in yours.
 
 
Grace and peace – and with gratitude,
Marianne


Pastor’s Corner – June 18

This is my last Sunday serving as your Associate Pastor of Young Adult Ministries.   In July, August and September I will be serving as an Associate Pastor of Transition to your new Pastoral team of Rev. Dr. Patti Agnew and Rev. Sami Pack-Toner.  This two pastor team will serve both Covenant and St. Paul’s, and you will get to know them both in July.  Over the next few months I will write a letter each month asking you to be in prayer over a specific question to share our hopes with the new pastoral team.

 

This month I ask you to pray over the question: “What is your prayer for St. Paul’s and Covenant?”

 

When I ask that we pray daily over these questions, please don’t feel guilty the day you forget to pray.  Instead take this story to heart:

 

When I was young, each night before bed my mother would have me pray for each of my family and my friends.  I would add certain friends at points in my life, and forget certain people at other times.  It became disconcerting for my 5-year-old self to think that at times I was forgetting people.  So, at the beginning of my prayers I began to say, “I pray for these family and friends, and everyone even if I forget them tonight.” 

 

Sometimes we feel like we are trying to pray harder and better as adults, and we forget it is designed to be a playful and grace-filled conversation with God.  When I as a pastor ask you to pray daily over this question, I don’t ask you to feel guilty when you forget.  Instead I ask you to playfully and gracefully put this question where you will see it daily.  Then when you see it, take a deep breath and simply offer the question up to God to see where God directs your mind. 

 

As you find answers or nudges in prayer I ask you to write them down and share them with me.  Please share your prayers with me by emailing me at tamundson@stpaulshelena.org.  I will share these prayers with the new pastoral team and the leadership of both churches as we chart the next phase of our journey.    

 

My prayer for St. Paul’s and Covenant is that you become a deeply spiritual people, learning from the ways of Christ, and dreaming with God how to make our community a place where all people know the love of God.

 

In prayer,

 

Pastor Tyler