May 15, 2016 Pastor’s Corner

Every four years, The United Methodist Church convenes a ‘General Conference.’ Currrently, 864 delegates —half of them clergy and half laity — are gathered in Portland, Oregon, for General Conference 2016. The clergy delegate for our Yellowstone Conference is our associate pastor, Tyler Amundson.  The delegates are considering more than 1000 petitions that will order the work of our churches, pastors, and agencies, and set official positions on a variety of subjects.
 

Some highlights from previous General Conferences

Through the years, during General Conferences, Methodists have made decisions about the life of the church, and social issues. Sometimes we have been a leading voice. Other times we have been a bit slower in our decision-making.

            Abolishment of slavery: Slavery was a social topic discussed by The Methodist Episcopal Church almost from the very beginning. Many saw the evil of slavery, and a Committee on Slavery reported to General Conference through the early 19th century. At General Conference of 1800, The Methodist Episcopal Church issued a pastoral letter on abolishing slavery, and passed legislation further reinforcing their rules that no Methodist preacher should be a slaveholder or slave trader. Slavery wouldn’t be abolished in the United States until 1865.

            Women clergy: Though the church had appointed women as class leaders from the time of John Wesley, and ordained women as early as 1866, it wasn’t until General Conference of 1956 that women received full clergy rights in The Methodist Church. This year’s General Conference will recognize the 60th anniversary of that decision.

            Education: In the early 1980s, several United Methodist bishops from Africa dreamed of a university that would educate young people from all over Africa. Working with the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, they brought the idea before the 1988 General Conference where it was overwhelmingly accepted, and Africa University  (AU) was established. AU, the first private university in Zimbabwe, has graduated more than 4,000 students.

            Global health: The 2008 General Conference showed the commitment of The United Methodist Church to global health with the establishment of Imagine No Malaria. This was part of an international effort to eradicate Malaria. Nearly $75 million have been raised and used to purchase mosquito nets, fund health facilities, train medical providers, and so much more.

            The week to come is when most of the major decisions of General Conference will be made.  You can follow GC activities through the UMC website (www.umc.org/topics/general-conference-2016) or get a more personal view through Pastor Tyler’s blog (easy access through our website at www.stpaulshelena.org)

Please keep Tyler and the other delegates in your prayers!

Grace and peace, Marianne



May 8 2016 Pastor’s Corner

As we celebrate Mother’s Day, I offer you a beautiful litany, written by Rev. Patty Lawrence and found on her blog (http://apearldownunder.blogspot.ca/2011/05/litany-for-mothers-day.html).  Marianne

We remember Sarai who was taunted by others in the household

because of her inability to have children.

All-encompassing God, we pray for those who feel excluded

when we emphasize one kind of family as normal.

 

We remember Esther, who was adopted and raised by her cousin.

God who embraces us all,

we pray for those who cannot be raised by their parents,

for a short time or permanently.

 

We remember Jochebed, the mother of Moses,

who placed him into a raft on the river.

Saving God, we pray for parents who struggle to raise their children

in oppressive circumstances.

 

We remember Hannah,

who loved her child so much she handed him over to another to raise.

Loving God, we pray for parents who have placed their child in another family.

 

We remember Naomi, who grieved the death of her sons.

God, who grieves with us, we pray for parents who mourn the death of a child.

 

We remember Ruth, who gave up her family to be family to another.

Inclusive God, we pray for those who choose to be family

to those isolated by culture or language or distance.

 

We remember Elizabeth, who had a child in old age

and we remember Mary, who had a child as a teenager.

Ageless God, we pray that as a community we accept people of varying life stages

and responsibilities and relationships.

 

We remember Rachel, crying for her children

God of justice and hope, we pray for those whose children are killed,

and look to a time when children can live safely in their communities.

 

We remember Lois and Eunice, who taught Timothy faith by example.

Faithful God, we pray for those who teach us faith by their lives,

may we remember that we also teach about you in the way we live.

 

We remember other people not named in the Scriptures,

like the mother of the prodigal son.

Companion God, we pray for those who wait for a phone call or a visit,

cut off from family and friends by distance and disagreement.

 

Nurturing God, we give thanks for those who enrich our lives by their presence

who teach us about your abundant love  and who encourage us to journey in faith. Amen.
 



A Message from Pastor Marianne

 

Dear Members and Friends of St. Paul’s,

 

Ten years ago, I had the privilege of taking a sabbatical, funded largely by a grant from the Lilly Foundation for Clergy Renewal.  Lyle and I spent most of 4 months traveling in Europe, doing some research, reading, taking time for retreat and renewal. I had made most of our arrangements for the trip over the Internet.  After months of planning, when Lyle and I finally set out, we were excited but we also had some anxiety.  Like most travelers, we had the usual questions  . . . Would our various reservations be honored?  How would we handle the trains?  Would the taxi drivers understand us?  Would we make our connections?  So, each time we left one location and set out for the next, we always began the day by looking at each other and saying . . . now we’re off to our next adventure! Somehow, thinking of the next challenge as an adventure made it seem more doable!  It was a simple strategy – but it worked.

 

Last Sunday, May 1 st , at both St. Paul’s and Covenant, I announced that I have decided to begin the process of moving to my ‘next adventure.’  I plan to retire at the end of June in 2017. At that time, I will have served as pastor at St. Paul’s for 23 years.    I first began this process last September when I talked with the Bishop and the Cabinet about my plans.  Several months later, when Lyle was diagnosed with cancer, the wisdom of moving toward retirement became even clearer.  Lyle and I both know that this is a good next step for us and I hope, though it will bring change to St. Paul’s, you too might see it as a ‘next adventure’ in the life of this wonderful church community.

 

Throughout the 14 months to come, I plan to work closely with Tyler, the staff, and leadership of St. Paul’s to provide for a good and healthy transition.  We are still working out the details of that process but I will do all I can to ease the way.  In the end, this is a rather ‘non-traditional’ process of pastoral change because even before my public announcement, the Cabinet had already begun working with our Staff Parish Relations Committee. In dialogue with the SPR and with Tyler, they plan that, upon my retirement, Tyler will continue as a pastor at St. Paul’s.   In the year to come, we will be looking at how we will continue our partnership with Covenant through HUMM (Helena United Methodist Ministries).  There is still much to explore but the process has begun.  As questions or concerns arise or, when you have words of encouragement, please feel free to contact our SPR chair Dave Nielsen, our Lay Leaders Marti Johnson and Matthew Dale, Tyler or me.   A healthy and good transition will be built on healthy communication and on our trust in God’s power working through us and through one another.

 

By embarking on this journey as a ‘transition process’ rather than a transition announcement, I hope we can all move into our ‘next adventure’ with faith and confidence!

 

Gratefully,

Marianne



May 1, 2016 Pastor’s Corner

Good communication is important in today’s world. Communication is how we invite people in the Helena community to join with God and us to transform the world. Last month our Church Council met to define its goals for the next year and one goal is communication. Over the next year we will be learning about new methods of communication, seeing how well we share our message, and developing resources for our entire congregation to better share the things we are working on. St. Paul’s has a unique and powerful message of loving our neighbor that people are hungry to be a part of and we want more people to join us in this sacred work.

In a world with increasing complexity around ways to communicate, it is important that we use all the media available to reach people. Our pastors, congregation and staff work very hard to develop ministries that are hospitable, provide a chance for personal growth, allow us to serve, and to go into our world to share God’s love in action. One way we honor this as a church is helping provide professional and diverse communication to reach as many people as possible. I would like to share all the ways we currently communicate and encourage you to find a method(s) to stay connected to the life of St. Paul’s.

Enthusiastic Peace – Pastor Tyler
Bulletin: Each week a bulletin is printed for weekly worship. This contains the most up- to-date information about what is happening around the church. In the bulletin is a Presence Form that we encourage people to place in the offering plate. This form lets us know of any area of interest you might have, provides updated contact information and a place to offer prayers.

Newsletter: A monthly newsletter is created and available through mail, email, or on our website. If you wish to receive the newsletter, sign up on the Presence Form or contact the office.

App: Yes we have an App for that! St. Paul’s app is most easily downloaded by going to
stpaulshelena.org and hitting the app download button on the home page. Via the app you will receive regular church updates and sermons, which you can download to listen to on the go.
Website: Our mobile-friendly website has current information on our programs, ministries, and basically everything happening around the church. Go to stpaulshelena.org

Livestream: We have been streaming the 11 AM service for a year now. With an online worship attendance of about 15-20, turn on Livestream if you are unable to make it to church due to illness, kid craziness, or just forgetting to set the alarm. Also, you can watch the service later to catch up, share with Grandma and Grandpa when kids do something silly during Children’s Time, or if you accidently slept through the sermon. This is also a great way to invite friends to church who want to experience it before they come.

Facebook/Twitter: Find us on social media at facebook.com/stpaulshelena or twitter.com/stpaulshelena. Here you will find moments of devotion, news updates about the church and much more.