September 6 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 (, 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,

August 31 Pastor’s Corner

Endings and Beginnings . . .
As we come together today, we do so knowing that it is time to leave the lovely days of summer behind. But, the end of summer also means the beginning of new adventures. School has begun and by the time we reach Labor Day, our children and their teachers will have the entire first week behind them! I loved seeing the excitement in the eyes of our children last week as they brought their backpacks to church for a special blessing. The summer is ending but new adventures await as the fall unfolds.
Of course, we would all like to also bid farewell to the smoky skies of the last weeks as well! As I’ve struggled with the smoke, I’ve tried to keep in mind the firefighters all over the West who are dealing with much worse conditions than we have. I use the smoke here to remind me to pray in gratitude for their service and for their safety.
Today also marks another milestone in our church family. We say goodbye to Debbie Irby who has been our church administrator for the past 15 years. Debbie has seen us through the move into our new church building and all the challenges that entailed. She has helped us weather staff changes and reconfigurations in almost every area of our program. She has seen us through a computer server crash, phone service changes and software updates. She has paid bills, negotiated contracts, tried to keep track of keys, and scheduled weddings, concerts and presentations in our buildings. And, of course, that is just what I am thinking of today as I write this. Like all of our staff the ‘other duties as assigned’ is part of what keeps life interesting in this growing, thriving church community! And Debbie’s life at St. Paul’s has indeed been kept interesting! Blessings to you, Debbie, as you end your years of service as a staff member. Blessings as you begin the next phase of your life . . . retirement! At 9:45 in the Fellowship Hall the Staff Parish Relations Committee will host a reception to celebrate Debbie’s time among us. Stop by and/or send her a note of thanks!
Finally, today the Guatemala mission team will share some of their insights and new awarenesses from their mission experience. In a sense, this brings to an end their Mission Team commitment . . . they are doing what they committed to do at their commissioning: sharing what they learned with us. (And, by the way, we committed to listen and learn from them!) Thanks for sharing with us . . . and blessings as you let what you have learned impact your lives.

Grace and peace in this time of
transition for us all!

August 23 Pastor’s Corner

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, 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 know 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 Central Elementary School staff and teachers as they are our neighborhood school, and then write letters to others in our school districts we want to support. Then in September and October our Promiseland children will nurture our connection to Central by gathering clothing for children who have accidents or other clothing needs at school.

Gracious God bless our teachers, staff, and students as they return to another year of learning.
Enthusiastic Peace,

Pastor Tyler

August 16 Pastor’s Corner

As I was working on designing and coordinating activities for St. Paul’s and HUMM this fall, it seemed it would be a good time to share with everyone the ways we have grown young adult ministry in the past 4 years. As many know, my primary responsibility at St. Paul’s when I was appointed was to explore young adult ministry. Young adult’s ages range from 18-35, ages that often do not find a home in churches to explore their spirituality. St. Paul’s decided to take a leadership role in creating an Associate Pastor position to explore this area of ministry.

Over the past 4 years I have worked to attempt several different avenues to attract, engage and provide spaces for young people to engage Christianity and their spirituality. The first year our primary focus was a young adult small group that allowed for young adults to meet each other and explore their faith. The group served its purpose, but felt like it segregated young people from the life of the church. The next year we shifted focus to Sunday’s @ Six, a coffee-shop style worship and discussion experience. This again had some real energy at the beginning, but required a large amount of energy for a very small group. This last year we put a lot of energy into Challenge Helena (, an exciting way to engage the whole community in social justice that had an intergenerational planning team, including some young adults. Along with these specific projects we have worked to ensure that our website, classes, worship, and church are welcoming to young people.

No one of these things has been a huge success, but each one of our efforts in young adult ministry has let young people know that church is about more than just letting them know about Jesus. Young people know that as Christians we care about the community, the world and them. This last Wednesday we had 25 people at our Young Adult BBQ, mostly people exploring St. Paul’s as a possible faith community. Many of these people are sharing that they found St. Paul’s because they want a safe and accepting place to explore their faith.

I think we have learned some valuable lessons through our experiments and some of our experiments will be growing into successes over the coming years. We have grown some young adult leaders who will begin to take roles in the church. We plan to have some new styles of small groups, classes and conversations for young adults. We will also continue looking at how Challenge Helena might be a new way to engage young adults in social justice. God is doing some amazing things through our willingness to create space for experiments in ministry. We can be proud that we are partnering with God and each other as we continue to seek ways to invite all ages into the life of our faith community.

Enthusiastic Peace,
Pastor Tyler