October 4 Pastor’s Corner

As we enjoy the beautiful fall colors, full moon nights, and visually crisp days it’s a reminder of the blessings God has offered to all of us. This past week I gathered with clergy from around the Yellowstone Conference (Montana, Northern Wyoming, and a sliver of Idaho). We shared our joys in ministry and were challenged by how to share God’s love in a world whose needs are constantly changing. As I listened to colleagues one of the great ways we are sharing love is service to our local schools. Our local schools are incredible blessings in our lives for educating and supporting our children into their future.

At the end of August many of us participated in Education Sunday. We blessed our children’s backpacks and wrote letters offering support to the local teachers at Central School and other schools in our community. We then left those messages in God’s hands to see how teachers and staff might respond. We got some amazing responses!

One paraprofessional at Central-Linc shared that our letter was one of the most meaningful offers of support she got at the beginning of the year. A kindergarten teacher asked if St. Paul’s could have a group help her prep art projects because she is assisting the other 1st year kindergarten teacher with all art projects. Another professional at Kessler contacted us about having members volunteer in classrooms to offer teachers additional support. As a congregation that values education we have shared our desire to be God’s hands and feet and the community has responded.

I would like to invite you to prayerfully consider these two requests we have been given. If you feel a desire and want to help out please sign up on the Presence Form or email the office.
We are seeking:
1. An individual or group that would be willing to cut/organize/prepare art supplies for both kindergarten classes at Central School. These supplies would be delivered to your group and picked up when completed.
2. Individuals who feel they have the skills and desire to serve in a classroom at Kessler School as a volunteer on a regular basis.

Thank you for your prayers and service to Helena,

Pastor Tyler

September 27 Pastor’s Corner

Hasn’t it been a wonderful beginning of our fall season? Our Welcome Home Sunday was a success . . . lots of good energy and some marvelous music. The armchair tour of the many homes of St. Paul’s – written by Ellen Baumler and read by Dorothy and Rusty Harper – was also a great way to continue our Jubilee celebration. Last Sunday we celebrated our connection with Intermountain. We have also welcomed back our Sunrise Singers and Sunrise Players at the 8:30 service. We are all glad to have our Chancel Choir back at the 11:00 service – and we have welcomed our new Chancel Choir director, Tanya Anderson. All in all lots has happened already and it has all been a great launch of our ministry season.

As our worship and music programs have unfolded, so have our education programs. Promiseland and Godly Play are back. Our youth programs are in full swing. And just last Wednesday we once again began another Wednesday night dinner program.

During this busy time, we have also been going through a transition in our church office. On October 1, Sue McNicol will officially become our Parish Administrator. But, leading up to that, she has been learning that job even as she has continued the work you have appreciated from her at the front desk of our main office . . . answering phones, scheduling the building, working on the website, handling walk-in traffic, designing publications, working with the database, publishing the Covenant UMC bulletin, assisting with our bulletin . . . you get the idea. Both Sue and Lois Neal have worked hard to be certain the members and friends of St. Paul’s are well served!

It has helped tremendously over this time to have more limited office hours. The issue is not that people in the office have worked less . . . instead it has simply enabled Sue in particular to focus on learning the many facets of the work we need our Parish Administrator to do. We have had recent changes in both our database and our accounting software and that, along with a staff change, means a steeper learning curve.

With the blessing of our Staff Parish Relations Committee, we are going to continue with our more limited office hours at least through October. Again, let me be clear . . . this does not mean people are not working. Quite the contrary. They are working hard . . . and are simply able to target their work to the things that need to be learned and the systems that need to be developed.

Finally, I want to thank those who have volunteered to help in the office during this time. Our office volunteers have been invaluable. Thanks – your time, your energy and your willingness to give of yourselves is helping us all during this time of transition.

Thanks so much!

September 20 Pastor’s Corner

This Sunday Chaplain Chris Haughee is joining us in worship at 11:00 AM to share a Children’s sermon. Chris is one of the many committed people that are a part of Intermountain. Intermountain is an organization that has long been associated with Methodism in Montana and our commitment to share to gospel in the world through putting our belief in God’s love into action.

For the past 150 years, St. Paul’s and Methodists in Helena have lived this out in our practice. To celebrate this historical achievement we chose not to just sit and cheer, but to stand and make a difference. We want to Do Good… for Good and to continue to share the love of God.

Intermountain has been a part of our history from our very early days and so this fall we are teaming up with them to learn about ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences). The facility we founded, as the Deaconess Home for Children has turned into an organization that helps children with severe emotional and mental health needs through holistic, integrated services and a relationship-based approach. The education wing of Intermountain, Child Wise has begun a campaign to educate the community on ACEs to help us look at some big challenges our children and we are facing.

Chaplain Haughee will be working with area faith communities to find a way for faith communities to respond to ACEs together.

To learn more about all we are doing to learn and make a difference through our ACEs study, go to stpaulshelena.org/update.

Enthusiastic Peace for Good,

Pastor Tyler

September 13 Pastor’s Corner

As you know, just over a month ago Debbie Irby announced her retirement as our Church Administrator. We celebrated her ministry last Sunday and August 31 was her final day at work. Ever since we knew of Debbie’s intent, the Staff Parish Relations Committee, Tyler and I have been working on a plan for our next steps. Times of staff change are challenging but they also provide opportunities to re-think how things are done and what is possible.
The Staff Parish Relations Committee, Tyler and I are pleased to announce that Sue McNicol, currently our part time Administrative Specialist, has accepted the full time position of Parish Administrator (note the name change for the position). Sue’s dedication to the ministry of the church, her skills and abilities and her hospitable spirit make her uniquely qualified for this important position on our staff. Though the position does not officially begin until October 1, Sue has already been learning some of the job responsibilities. In particular, she has spent time learning from Debbie in the week before she retired. And, throughout September, while Sue will continue as our Administrative Specialist, she will also continue learning more aspects of the Administrator position. That is why, with the support of SPR, we made the decision to limit the number of hours our office will be open for walk-in traffic in September. This will allow Sue, in particular, some needed time to focus on training for her new position. It will also relieve some of the stress on staff as we reassess how we cover office responsibilities in a changing environment. We will, of course, continue to return phone calls and respond to parish needs. We do hope you will be patient as we negotiate this transition.
Our intent is to use this time of transition to assess the overall administrative and office needs of our church. For the immediate future, we will not be hiring a receptionist but will rely on current staff and volunteers. If you are able to volunteer to assist in our office over the next several months, please let us know by calling the office or by indicating an interest on the Presence Form.
I know I speak for all of the SPR and our staff when I say that we are thrilled that Sue has accepted this position. If you have any questions about our plans moving forward, please feel free to contact SPR chairperson Dave Nielsen (d.nielsen@bresnan.net), Marianne or Tyler. Change is always daunting but it brings with it exciting possibilities as well and we are definitely hopeful as we move forward.
Grace and peace,