Pastor’s Corner – June 4

As many of you know, I returned just last week from spending almost two weeks in Norway.  Most of my time there was spent attending a meeting of the Connectional Table of the UMC which was held in Oslo.  The actual work of the Connectional Table is a bit difficult to describe but the over-arching goal is to bring together representatives from all over the denomination to identify and address the challenges of, and opportunities for, working together as a worldwide church.  In a sense, the Connectional Table is a kind of ‘church council’ on a large scale.
 
When the meeting ended, Lyle and I spent an additional 3 days exploring Oslo and then traveling into the fjords of Norway. We visited the mountain village of Flom, rode a ferry through the Sognefjord and stayed the night in Bergen before riding the scenic train back to Oslo for our flight home.  To say the least, it was magnificent scenery – and we had long days during which to enjoy it all. Currently, sunrise in Norway is at 4:07 a.m.  and sunset is at 10:22 p.m.!
 
We flew in and out of Edmonton, Canada so upon our return, we took advantage of our trip to spend a night at the peace park in Waterton before heading home.  As you might imagine, we were a bit tired but as we sat in the lobby of the Prince of Wales hotel, watching the sun set and the shadows deepen on the lake, I was struck with the fact that the beauty before us bore a striking resemblance to the beauty of the fjords we had just left.  My point?  Beauty abounds everywhere!  Or, to borrow from the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins  . . . The world is charged with the grandeur of God. It is for us to notice and appreciate the gifts that surround us. 

 

And, isn’t that the invitation of summer?  As school ends and as the days lengthen, be sure to find time to enjoy the beauty around you!  Though visits to Norway or countless other places are tremendous opportunities, the reality is that we don’t need to travel far to see the treasures of the natural world.  We are surrounded by them.  May you take time this summer to appreciate the blessings that beckon all around.
 
Grace and peace, Marianne


Pastor’s Corner – May 28

This June, two of our staff will be stepping away from their roles at St. Paul’s.  Meladie Brandle, our interim youth coordinator and Renata Strauss, our Administrative Specialist.  This week and last week’s Pastor’s corners have highlighted the amazing ministry they have done for St. Paul’s.  We are accepting applications for open positions at St. Paul’s through stpaulshelena.org/jobs.
 
Meladie Brandle began serving us a youth coordinator in January of 2016.  We were in need of mid-year support and Mel stepped right up.  She has taken leadership in providing safe and fun space for our middle and high school youth.  Mel has continued through her work to come up with creative ways to help our youth engage their faith, to explore who God is, to ask questions about their world, and to grow in knowledge and experience. 
 
One the most inspiring aspects of Meladie has been her desire to learn more about scripture and her own faith in the process.  She developed games, activities and programs that made learning about the Bible and Christianity interesting and inspiring.  One example is the time Meladie had youth hand in their cell phones, and then the kids made apps for their prayer phones, paper phones with little paper apps on them.  These apps were things like being thankful for friends, prayers for health in the family, hope for fun the next day, and prayers for mom. Meladie will be finalizing her service as staff to St. Paul’s person mid-June.  We are so thankful for her service and for giving us time to set up for our next person to fill this role. 
 
Renata Strauss began her service to St. Paul’s a year and half ago.  We were in need of support to cover the front desk, help us with publications, and to provide a welcoming atmosphere in the office.  Renata quickly stepped beyond these basic rolls to offer new ideas and insights, and provide quick answers to challenging situations.  The front desk job at St. Paul’s has you greeting the entire community of God from members and friends of St. Paul’s to the everyday traveler who stops in asking for assistance.  Renata has handled every aspect of her job with skill and quick thinking.
 
One of the skills we will miss most is Renata’s extensive experience with graphic design.  She has created many of the advertising screens you see in worship, the logos we use for different ministries, and has inspired many of us in the office to think more creatively.  Renata not only designs well, but she incorporates feedback quickly.  Her willingness to work as a part of the team and her skill to help us share our ministry creatively will be greatly missed. Renata will be finishing up her ministry with us at St. Paul’s on Thursday, June 1.  We are so thankful for her service and creativity. 
 
There will be a celebration of Meladie and Renata’s service on June 4th in worship and a reception after the eleven o’clock service.  Please join us in recognizing their faithful service to St. Paul’s.
 
With thankfulness,
Pastor Tyler


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