January 10 – From Our Parish Administrator

As we begin the New Year, I am excited to introduce you to our newest staff member, Renata Strauss. Renata became a member our team on January 3 and is quickly acclimating to St. Paul’s and her role as Administrative Assistant.

A conventional “first day” for a new employee at St. Paul’s might include an introductory brunch with staff, a tour of our buildings, an overview of our various programs and ministries and perhaps a chance to settle into the workspace. However, as we all know, St. Paul’s is not exactly conventional. Consequently, let me describe Renata’s first day at St. Paul’s. She arrived at 9 AM to an office bustling with activity. Two volunteers were hard at work assisting with office functions and the pastors were meeting with coordinators of ministry and worship to plan for upcoming services. Staff were bouncing from phones to computers trying to address immediate needs and schedule events. All the while, Renata was patiently observing, asking relevant questions and greeting new faces. At some point she did receive a tour and an overview, however the best part of her orientation came from you…the St. Paul’s community. It was exciting for me to watch Renata experience the vibrant energy of St. Paul’s in action. Our office was abuzz with people dropping by to sign up for classes, deliver donations, and provide assistance in preparation for committee meetings and so much more. Renata was blessed with an opportunity to meet our remarkable Christian community in action…FULL THROTTLE!

No employee handbook can begin to describe the activity and culture of St. Paul’s. It must be experienced. The past few months have been especially challenging for staff as we have struggled through busy times and learning new tasks. It has been all of you who have made the work of St. Paul’s possible through this transition and who continue to make St. Paul’s an extraordinary missional community. We have selfless volunteers assisting us at every juncture and as a result are able to weather change and provide continuous service and ministry. My heartfelt thanks to all of you.

I invite you to stop by the church office and introduce yourself to Renata (she works 9 AM – 1 PM). Share your name, but more importantly, share with her your involvement with St. Paul’s. You are the living, breathing handbook for those new to St. Paul’s. Please join me in welcoming Renata, her husband Eric, son Mack (age 5) and daughter Ada (age 6) to our community.

Forever grateful –

Sue McNicol – Parish Administrator


January 3 2016 Pastor’s Corner

Greetings to you this Christmas Season,

Youth are an incredibly important part of our mission here at St. Paul’s. As a Christian community we value creating ways for young people to build community and explore their spiritual lives. At the core of this belief is our commitment to having a Youth Ministry Coordinator as an integral part of our church staff.

Over the past 9 years, Meg White has served in this capacity with an incredible amount of grace and love. Meg has helped us explore the issues facing youth, helped the youth build safe community to grow in their faith, and pulled together an incredible cohort of adult leaders to support the youth of St. Paul’s. Meg’s work has been a testament to our hope that we can be a loving faith community for all ages. Thank you Meg! We look forward to honoring you in a celebration later this winter.

With Meg’s resignation we must now explore how we continue this legacy of ministry with young people. This means we want to take adequate time to search for our next full-time Youth Coordinator. In the interim, we have asked Meladie Brandle to serve as an Interim Youth Program Manager. Meladie has been the adult serving our Youth Leadership Team this year. She is also a dedicated member of St. Paul’s. Meladie’s primary responsibility will be organizing and maintaining our Wednesday evening and Sunday morning youth programs. We are thrilled to have Meladie’s help with these vital parts of youth ministry.

Over the next few months the Staff Parish Relations Committee will put together information and materials for an extensive Youth Ministry Coordinator search. We hope to complete this interview process sometime later in the spring. In the meantime we can use your help. First, please support Meladie by your prayers as she continues the Sunday and Wednesday programs. Please offer to help her, if you are able. Contact Pastor Tyler if you are interested in helping to coordinate an extra program for youth – such as campfires, a day at the lake, organizing rides to Convo or Junior High Retreats, or some other creative activity. We are able to offer a few of these kind of activities for youth, but we need your help to do so.

We are thankful for the ministry of Meg, and hopeful for a strong continuation of our youth program.

Blessings,

Pastor Marianne and Pastor Tyler


December 27 Pastor’s Corner

May the blessings of Christmas be yours in abundance!
 
I don’t know about you but I immensely enjoy the week between Christmas and New Year’s. It always seems to be a more restful time, especially after the frenzy of preparation for Christmas. I hope you get some of that restful, playful, enjoyable time in the week to come.
 
For Lyle and me, this year’s Advent preparation was even busier than normal. Just before Thanksgiving, a health concern was raised during Lyle’s annual physical. He has spent the weeks of Advent undergoing various tests. As many of you know from experience, medical tests often involve a lot of waiting and hoping and wondering – all of which is very much in keeping with the spirit of Advent! From very early in this process, we knew that his diagnosis included cancer so we have been working with the Cancer Center at St. Peter’s. We both want to affirm the excellent care we have received. We are incredibly blessed to have such a high quality of medical care here in Helena.
 
On December 18, we received the diagnosis that Lyle’s tumor is an unusual and rare cancer and is found on his bladder. The recommendation for treatment is surgery as soon as possible. This kind of surgery cannot be done here in Helena so this past week, in the midst of Christmas Eve preparations, we have been to Missoula for a consultation. We hope surgery will be there in the near future. When we have more information, we will be glad to pass it along but, until then, we both simply ask for your prayers and support.
 
The St. Paul’s staff has been so helpful as they have covered things I could not get to. Many thanks to them and to all of you who have offered help. I’m sure we will take you up on your offers in the future but, for now, we simply ask for your understanding if calls are not returned immediately or if we are unable to respond to requests.
 
As you know, we are both the leaders of the group which leaves for the Holy Land in mid-January. Lyle will not be able to go but we are hoping that I will indeed be accompanying the group. Again, we are still awaiting further word.
 
Again, thanks for your prayers! Lyle and I consider ourselves richly blessed to be part of a community like St. Paul’s. Though there is much we do not know about what the future holds, we do indeed trust in the One who holds the future!
May 2016 bring an abundance of blessings to us all!
 
Grace and peace,
Marianne


December 20 Pastor’s Corner

Welcome to this year’s Christmas Choir Sunday! Today you will be treated to hearing the Christmas choruses of Handel’s Messiah. This is a wonderful way to enter the spirit of the season during this final week leading to Christmas. I am hoping you will take a minute to thank Tanya Anderson, our Chancel Choir director, for her work in making this possible. She has done an amazing job leading our awesome Chancel Choir this fall. She and Dave Buness have worked hard to make the transition from Dave’s leadership to her leadership a smooth one. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to work with such great talent and I know today’s music will be a blessing to us all!

Tomorrow night, we will be celebrating our annual Solstice Service featuring the Wilbur Rehmann Jazz Quintet. This has become one of the most popular events of the season as we simply spend time listening to wonderful music, reflecting, praying and learning together. We have traditionally shared this service with the Helena Jewish Community and this year will be no exception. Together we will reflect on the theme Leaning Toward the Light, which seems especially appropriate as we all deal with the challenges in our personal lives and in our world. This year’s Solstice event will again include the young fiddle player and singer Brigid Reedy and her Dad, John Reedy. I am told Brigid’s younger brother will also be joining them.

Next Sunday will be an opportunity to celebrate the joy of the season by remembering the many ways we have been ‘going in mission’ this past year. If you think about it, the service on Dec. 27 is the last service of our first 150 years of ministry! I sometimes wonder what those pioneers who began the community that would become St. Paul’s would think of what we have become and of all we have done. I personally think they’d be amazed and proud. I also think they are some of the saints in the ‘great cloud of witnesses’ who are cheering us on and supporting our ever expanding mission.

May the joys of Christmas be yours! If you are traveling this season, may your journey be safe and your time blessed. If you are here in Helena, I hope to see you at one of our Christmas Eve services. The Christmas pageant – the service especially geared toward families – is at 5 PM. That will be followed by the Christmas candlelight services at 7 and 9.

May the blessings of the coming of the Messiah be yours in abundance!

Grace and peace,

Marianne