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