Pastor’s Corner 3/11/2018

“Snow Can Bury Houses”

The title is a quote from Rev. Dawn Skerritt of Columbia Falls UMC. She is Yellowstone Annual Conference’s disaster response coordinator, and she has been working faithfully to serve our brothers and sisters in the northern parts of Montana.

Our uncommonly harsh winter this year has affected many people in our communities and state. Just the month of February has brought over 160 additional inches of snow to the northern parts of our state. Wind, dry snow, and one road in and out of town have created emergencies and hardships on the community of Browning, MT and surrounding areas.

But, as quickly as the snow fell, the Holy Spirit swept through the country. The outpouring of aide and donations to the Blackfeet United Methodist Parish is amazing, and it gives me hope. In fact, on umc.org, the featured UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief) story is our own state’s story.

One of my favorite characteristics of the United Methodist Church is our connection to one another. The rapport and trust men and women before me built in the arena of disaster relief and aide is mesmerizing. It ripples out from all corners of the earth. I remember having an interim pastor at my home church in high school, and she told stories of traveling on missions around the world, and being welcomed fully because of the cross and flame on her baseball cap. It was a language all its own; it told a story of love and mercy and relief.

Over the past month, we easily see that this statement is still true. Over the past month, I also see the responsibility we carry with us to continue this work, to continue keeping the cross and flame a true sign of hope for those within our walls and outside our personal reach. Today is UMCOR Sunday, which is a time to celebrate the good news UMCOR has shared through action and also to financially support UMCOR’s administration costs, so it can continue to give 100% of its donations to its causes. Very few organizations are able to do this.

I invite you to do 3 things over the next few weeks:

  • When you hear your heater turn on, when you throw another log on the fire, or you hop in a hot shower, pray. Remember those in our midst who go without and those who have to choose between these things, especially in the winter. Rev. Skerritt’s comment about snow burying houses is the harsh reality of our brothers and sisters up north right now. Many are in danger and in need.
  • Tell someone about UMCOR. Tell someone about how UMCOR has built a rapport unlike anything else, and that money is used faithfully.
  • Consider supporting UMCOR in different ways through this year. Whether it is through monies or building the various kits, any donation will go to someone in need, either this spring or in the months to come.
May we keep the cross and flame a sign of hope. May we see the Holy Spirit moving in our midst right next to the winds of winter.
 
Peace be with you all.

Pastor Sami



Pastor’s Corner March 4, 2018

The people of St. Paul’s are very generous! Thank you for all of the ways you extend your time, spirit, and resources to help others. One example is this week, as the donations have been pouring in to support those in the Blackfeet United Methodist Parish. As you know, they have been hit hard by winter storms this year, to the point that they are in crisis, unable to get food, supplies, and propane. Last week we initiated a disaster response plan and called for donations. We are partnering with the Yellowstone Annual Conference and UMCOR, our United Methodist disaster relief agency. The response is incredible! Supplies have arrived, or are on the way as we sit in worship this morning. A special thank you to Debbie Irby, who is coordinating our efforts. (here is a picture of donations we received in one 5-hour time-span. We had piles of this daily all week!)

A reminder, next week is UMCOR Sunday. A day we take a special offering to support the administrative costs of operating UMCOR so that donations the rest of the year can go 100% toward the specific crisis. I encourage you to contribute as you are able.

Another upcoming example of your generosity is the mission team we will be sending to Brazil, April 6-18, led by Don Skillman. The team is going to Boa Vista, Roraima to work with our friend of many years, Pastor Augusto Cardias. A large room will be constructed by our team which will be used as a place to feed refugees from Venezuela and also will be part of a school that Pastor Augusto hopes to open for children with special needs. There is nothing like that available in Boa Vista currently. The Venezuelan refugee problem is enormous. Augusto’s church feeds several hundred people every week and the need is much larger. On Saturdays, he brings busloads of children and their mothers to the church for recreation and a simple meal. It’s a few hours of rest and play for people who are in a truly desperate situation. We’ll be conducting a medical mission during our time in Boa Vista as well. When there in January this year, with the help of two nurses and Augusto’s wife (Marcia), Don evaluated and treated 487 people in 12 hours. There are several ways you can support the mission team. They are accepting donations of ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and vitamins for adults and children. Please don’t donate “gummi vitamins” because they melt together into a big glob! These items can be left in the church office, please. They are accepting financial donations to support the costs of construction materials, food, and medication. There is some room for children’s clothing and small toys, too. The climate is very warm, so light T-shirts and/or shorts are what they wear. And of course, please pray for good health and safe travels for the team.

There are countless other ways you each put your faith into action and offer love and compassion to others locally, nationally, and globally. Together we are bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to earth, as we pray in the Lord’s Prayer each week.

 

Walking on the path of grace,

Pastor Patti



Pastor’s Corner – February 25, 2018

The United Methodist Church is in a discernment process around theological conflicts we have. We are seeking ways to find unity amidst our diversity. A challenging task. The Bishops have formed and empowered a Commission On A Way Forward consisting of laity and clergy to do this work. The Commission is expected to bring recommendations to the Council of Bishops in February of 2019. As they continue the work, we are invited to support them in prayer. This week, Bishop Hee-Soo Jung of the Wisconsin Annual Conference, invited us all to join in the following prayer: 
 
Daily Prayer by Steve Zekoff:
“Everlasting God, we pray that your Spirit’s power permeates The United Methodist Church as new possibilities are considered by those designated to discern our way into the future. Protect us from the mentality of presuming our perspective is superior when other members of your church experience your presence and message differently than we do. Open us to a creative outcome from our current struggles, one which surrounds all with your protection. Help us to recognize your love expressed through leaders and followers, the vulnerable as well as the powerful, the quiet as well as the noisy. May we feel your protective presence with us as we walk alongside the diversity of believers who make up Christ’s body. Guide us into your future with grace. Amen.”
 
Walking on the Path of Grace – Patti


Pastor’s Corner – February 18, 2018

Why Jesus? This is the title of the book that we will be pulling our sermons from during Lent. William Willimon asks us in the introduction, “Who is Jesus?” If you met someone who had never heard of Jesus before, how would you tell him or her about Jesus? Willimon describes Jesus as a Jewish man who worked in Judea. He called disciples, told stories, had compassion for the suffering, was a notorious troublemaker who went to a lot of parties, and was tortured to death after a short run as a wandering rabbi. But is that all Jesus is? Why do billions of people follow Jesus? Why do people sing songs to Jesus? Why have great cathedrals been erected and masterpieces of art created to honor Jesus? Who was Jesus? Who is Jesus?

Maybe a more important question is, “Who is Jesus to you? What difference does Jesus make in your life?”

We will spend the next six Sundays exploring who Jesus was, and what difference he makes in our lives today. I was intrigued by this book which expanded my thinking about Jesus. As one who has grown up in the church and pursued a theological education, you might think I have it all figured out. But I do not. And that is one of the compelling things to me about this life of faith in Jesus. We never arrive. There is always room to grow in our understanding and in our living. Willimon concludes his Introduction with this statement, “Be warned: in reading this book, you are taking a risk of getting discombobulated, commandeered, and befriended by the most interesting person in the world.” Will you join me on this journey with Jesus this Lent season?

It is my hope that as we journey toward Easter this year, we will get to know Jesus better and allow ourselves to be transformed.

Walking on the path of grace,
Pastor Patti