A Message from Your Chancel Choir Director

It doesn’t seem like forty one years since George Harper and Annie Wix called on Fay and me as we were unloading our U-Haul, having newly moved to Helena from Missoula. Annie was the organist at the time and she and George asked us if we would consider accepting the positions of choir director and organist at St. Paul’s. We were delighted to accept as we had been doing tP1010212hat same work at the Methodist church in Missoula before moving to Helena. That was in 1973, and with very mixed feelings I have decided that it’s time for me to join the bass section of the “Best Church Choir in Helena” and let someone else do the leading. St. Paul’s UMC has been, and will continue to be our church home. Fay and I truly appreciate your wonderful support and friendship. Fay will continue to play piano and organ and I will continue to coordinate the music program.

It’s been an enriching 41 years as we have been involved in the building of a new church building, served under eight fine ministers and had the pleasure of raising our family in a very healthy and inspiring church community. As we enter this new phase in our involvement at St. Paul’s nothing will really change, except that you will see me from the front on Sunday mornings as I sit in the bass section of the choir, rather than from behind as the choir director. I am confident you will find a fine replacement for me with some fresh musical ideas.

Thank you for being wonderful friends, and there is no reason that warm relationship can’t continue as it always has been.

Dave Buness

Pastor’s Corner April 12

Welcome to Holy Humor Sunday at St. Paul’s! This is our day of joy and of being silly as we recognize the ultimate last laugh Jesus had over death when he was resurrected. This tradition comes from the early church as a Sunday of jokes and laughs to remind people of the joy of God in their lives. We hope you can make time to engage your humorous side because that is a side that gives us hope and relief from the difficult parts of life. Part of being Christian is recognizing that God in Christ learned to appreciate a good belly laugh to help deal with stressful times, just like we do.

Holy Humor Sunday is about the resurrection of Jesus and resurrections in our own lives that take us by surprise, lead us to new life, and help us to laugh. Marianne and I were chatting with a group of youth last year and a question was raised, “What if someone faked the resurrection?” To which Marianne replied, “It worked didn’t it.” Here we are today celebrating resurrection because it worked. It invited a group of people into a new life of sharing God’s love with everyone they encountered.

One active way United Methodists continue to celebrate the resurrection is by giving back to our community. Easter Sunday marked the beginning of the 2015 Church Challenge from April 5-May 5. This event is a food drive to raise 10,000 lbs. of food to benefit Helena Food Share. Helena area churches are invited to participate. Please share our website with friends and neighbors(challengehelena.com or facebook.com/challengehelena).

St. Paul’s has adopted the audacious goal of raising 2,000 lbs. of food during this time. That is an average of 7 pounds per person in worship. Last year we raised over 9,000 lbs. of food with other churches, and over 3,000 lbs. of that came from St. Paul’s. The incredible fact is Helena Food Share distributes about 5,000 lbs. of food in one day. Let’s see if we can help bring resurrection to the lives of families in our community, by helping Helena Food Share complete two full days of service.

We invite you to join us in celebrating the resurrection in worship today and in any way God calls you to be Christ’s hands and feet.

Enthusiastic Peace,

Pastor Tyler

Pastor’s Corner Easter Sunday, April 5

Happy Easter! Please notice that, once again, the curtains are open! That can only mean one thing . . . Lent has ended and the Easter season has dawned. One of the Easter traditions we have had at St. Paul’s is an Easter music offering and this year is no exception. Once again Dave and Fay Buness and our Chancel Choir are sharing an Easter Cantata: Praise the God of Resurrection. We warmly welcome all visitors, regular attenders and members to our worship today. It is good to have you with us.
Today is also the kickoff for the celebration of our 150th Jubilee. From George Harper’s So Many Beginnings: The Story of the Methodist Church in Helena, 1865-1900, we read:
The town was spreading out of the Gulch toward the east. A pile of logs lay near the intersection of what was to be Joliet and Cutler Streets. On March 26, 1865, a sunny Sunday morning, a young Methodist preacher, E.T. McLaughlin, stood on them to preach the first sermon in Helena. By July, those logs had been converted into the first church building of the new town. . . the first Sunday school had been organized on April 16 and by summer one baptism was recorded.


That was the beginning of the church that would become known as St. Paul’s. Regarding that Sunday school . . . it is interesting to note that April 16 that year was Easter. Since there were only eight men who signed on as charter members of the new church, the preacher was probably counting on good attendance on Easter to get the Sunday school started! And, that one baptism? It was actually for a vigilante road agent who requested baptism just before he was hanged. Rev. McLaughlin was the acting chaplain for the Vigilantes. So, St. Paul’s has been involved in community outreach for a long time!

On the welcome screens today, notice the buildings we have called home over the years. We began – as most things begin – small. I cannot imagine that Rev. McLaughlin had any idea when he preached that first sermon and baptized that road agent and started that Sunday school that the ministry that would emerge would become a thriving congregation known for its social witness, youth and children’s programs, music and outreach. But he did what he could in his time and trusted God and . . . look what happened!
We have inherited a wonderful vision and the possibilities before us are amazing. We have much to celebrate and we will do much of that throughout the next year. But, the real question for us all during this Jubilee year is . . . what is next? To what is God calling us now? Of one thing I am absolutely sure. We stand on the shoulders of giants – men and women with vision and tenacity and hope – but we cannot rest there. The best is yet to come and who knows what is next?
Happy Easter!

Pastor’s Corner March 29

Greetings on this beautiful Palm Sunday!
We are entering the week called “Holy” in the Christian calendar. Christians have honored this week longer than any other . . . all the other Christian ‘holy-days’ came later (yes, even Christmas). But from the earliest moments of the Christian movement, believers gathered to remember a triumphant entry on the ‘Palm Sunday road,’ a last Supper, a painful death – and an experience of new life despite all evidence to the contrary.
Though this is also ‘spring break’ week and so a time of vacation and family fun (which is also ‘holy!’), I hope you will take at least some time to participate in the week as a journey with Jesus. The service on Thursday will recall the Last Supper, the service on Friday will be a reflective time to consider the power of self-sacrifice that was Jesus’ way of life that led ultimately to his death. And, of course, Easter Sunday will pull it all together! So, Happy Holy Week!
I can’t enter this week without reflecting on the many times I have walked the Palm Sunday road to the Garden of Gethsemane in Jerusalem or walked the Via Dolorosa to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher or visited the Garden Tomb. As we come to this week, I want to again extend an invitation for you to consider whether you might like to join us on our Holy Land pilgrimage next year. The trip is scheduled for Jan. 18 – 29, 2016. There is information in the brochure which is available in the foyer – or, of course, you can give me a call at the church office.
All-inclusive pricing is $3796 from Helena or Billings. If you wish to check it out for yourselves online, you can find the journey this way: Go to www.EO.travel/mytrip . When asked, enter the following information: Tour=HL16; Date: 1/18/16; Code=H; ID#: 23081. This will take you to a page describing the journey and allow you to download your very own brochure if you like! You’ll notice that there are small discounts for early registration. We have again secured the services of our guide, Doron. He loves working with our groups and especially loves our itinerary . . . we spend more time in the Holy Land than most groups which allows us to see and experience more.
I invite you to consider whether this may be the time for you to take this journey. Your relatives and friends are also welcome to join us … there is pricing available from just about every city in the US (and, as you know, often that is priced less than from Helena). Since 1974, the travel company we use, Educational Opportunities, has been dedicated to providing quality Christian travel programs at an affordable price. Over the years, more than 300,000 Christians have traveled on the various faith-based tours. They monitor all situations carefully, ensuring groups are safe and have good experiences.
Grace and peace, Marianne