Pastor’s Corner – June 25

As I write this final Pastor’s Corner, I do so filled with gratitude for the past 23 years of ministry with and to you, the friends and members of St. Paul’s and Covenant United Methodist Churches. As you know, Rick Hulbert and I both preach our final sermons today as your pastors. Tyler’s final sermon will be in early September.
 
Over the past weeks, I have had several questions about ‘what’s next?’ for me and for my involvement with our churches. First, let me share that Lyle and I have decided to put our home of 23 years up for sale and to make a move – hopefully sometime this summer or fall – to Florida. We plan to live somewhat near my parents and my sister in central Florida. We both plan to stay ‘actively retired’ which will hopefully include some travel, some relaxation, and perhaps work on a book.
 
Part (though certainly not all) of our reason for making the move so quickly has to do with the ‘ethics’ required of departing pastors. These expectations apply whether a pastor retires or moves to another appointment, remains in town or leaves the area. Departing pastors are not available for any kind of pastoral services – preaching, funerals, weddings, etc. – for at least a year. We are also expected to be absent from any involvement in the life of the church community – including attendance at worship – during that time. This allows a new pastoral team time and space to get to know a congregation and to become immersed in congregational life. Pastor Patti and Pastor Sami will bring their own unique gifts and abilities to the life of Covenant and St. Paul’s – and they need time to get to know you and you, them. Change for all of us is difficult – and pastoral changes can be particularly hard. But I trust that both St. Paul’s and Covenant will discover new possibilities for growth and new opportunities to flourish as you embrace your new leadership.
 
Lyle and I are certainly both anxious and excited about our next steps. Please know that we will remain interested in the unfolding of life at St. Paul’s and Covenant. You will be in our prayers and we will tune in to your activities through the website, Facebook postings, newsletters and livestreaming. Most of all, know that you, HUMM and both churches will be in our prayers. Please hold us in yours.
 
 
Grace and peace – and with gratitude,
Marianne


Pastor’s Corner – June 18

This is my last Sunday serving as your Associate Pastor of Young Adult Ministries.   In July, August and September I will be serving as an Associate Pastor of Transition to your new Pastoral team of Rev. Dr. Patti Agnew and Rev. Sami Pack-Toner.  This two pastor team will serve both Covenant and St. Paul’s, and you will get to know them both in July.  Over the next few months I will write a letter each month asking you to be in prayer over a specific question to share our hopes with the new pastoral team.

 

This month I ask you to pray over the question: “What is your prayer for St. Paul’s and Covenant?”

 

When I ask that we pray daily over these questions, please don’t feel guilty the day you forget to pray.  Instead take this story to heart:

 

When I was young, each night before bed my mother would have me pray for each of my family and my friends.  I would add certain friends at points in my life, and forget certain people at other times.  It became disconcerting for my 5-year-old self to think that at times I was forgetting people.  So, at the beginning of my prayers I began to say, “I pray for these family and friends, and everyone even if I forget them tonight.” 

 

Sometimes we feel like we are trying to pray harder and better as adults, and we forget it is designed to be a playful and grace-filled conversation with God.  When I as a pastor ask you to pray daily over this question, I don’t ask you to feel guilty when you forget.  Instead I ask you to playfully and gracefully put this question where you will see it daily.  Then when you see it, take a deep breath and simply offer the question up to God to see where God directs your mind. 

 

As you find answers or nudges in prayer I ask you to write them down and share them with me.  Please share your prayers with me by emailing me at tamundson@stpaulshelena.org.  I will share these prayers with the new pastoral team and the leadership of both churches as we chart the next phase of our journey.    

 

My prayer for St. Paul’s and Covenant is that you become a deeply spiritual people, learning from the ways of Christ, and dreaming with God how to make our community a place where all people know the love of God.

 

In prayer,

 

Pastor Tyler



Pastor’s Corner – June 11

The Pianos of St. Paul’s UMC (a short history)

Because our pastors are involved with the Yellowstone Conference this week, thy have asked me to tell you about an exciting new development.
 
When Fay and I moved to Helena in 1973 and were hired as organist/pianist and choir director, the pianos in the old church were older upright pianos which were in pretty bad shape. Through negotiations with Dick Dightman, our previous choir director, and Ernest Neath, the organist at the early service (and also owner of “Neath Music”), St. Paul’s purchased a small “studio upright” Young Chang piano which became the main piano in the sanctuary of our old church.
 
When we moved into our new church in 2005 it became obvious that this small Young Chang piano would not fill our new sanctuary space. In April of 1999, Bill and Bonnie Toliaferro had pledged $25,000.00 for the purchase of a new grand piano, so Fay and I went shopping. We located a Yamaha grand piano in Spokane, Washington which we really liked, so in June of 2005 we purchased our present 6 ft. 11 inch grand piano which has been in our sanctuary ever since.
The Young Chang piano, which had been our “best” piano was moved to the choir room of our new church. Here again we felt the Young Chang piano was too small for that space, so we moved our personal 5 ft. 10 inch grand piano built by Kawai into the choir room to be used for rehearsals and performances.
 
We have promised our grand piano to our daughter, Megan, who teaches music at Denver Community College. She and her husband have recently done a remodel of their home in Denver, and they are ready for the piano We have been given permission to “take back” our piano and replace it with a nearly identical Kawai grand piano owned by Ron and Roberta Nelson who have offered their piano to the church for a very reasonable price. Fay has played this piano and feels very confident it is a fine instrument. The money to pay for this piano will come from the choir annuity which has sufficient funds to cover the cost, and the choir will then give this new piano to St. Paul’s on a permanent basis so that all pianos located at St. Paul’s UMC will belong to the church. The moving of pianos will take place later this month.

 

Dave Buness, Music and Arts Coordinator, St. Paul’s UMC


Pastor’s Corner – June 4

As many of you know, I returned just last week from spending almost two weeks in Norway.  Most of my time there was spent attending a meeting of the Connectional Table of the UMC which was held in Oslo.  The actual work of the Connectional Table is a bit difficult to describe but the over-arching goal is to bring together representatives from all over the denomination to identify and address the challenges of, and opportunities for, working together as a worldwide church.  In a sense, the Connectional Table is a kind of ‘church council’ on a large scale.
 
When the meeting ended, Lyle and I spent an additional 3 days exploring Oslo and then traveling into the fjords of Norway. We visited the mountain village of Flom, rode a ferry through the Sognefjord and stayed the night in Bergen before riding the scenic train back to Oslo for our flight home.  To say the least, it was magnificent scenery – and we had long days during which to enjoy it all. Currently, sunrise in Norway is at 4:07 a.m.  and sunset is at 10:22 p.m.!
 
We flew in and out of Edmonton, Canada so upon our return, we took advantage of our trip to spend a night at the peace park in Waterton before heading home.  As you might imagine, we were a bit tired but as we sat in the lobby of the Prince of Wales hotel, watching the sun set and the shadows deepen on the lake, I was struck with the fact that the beauty before us bore a striking resemblance to the beauty of the fjords we had just left.  My point?  Beauty abounds everywhere!  Or, to borrow from the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins  . . . The world is charged with the grandeur of God. It is for us to notice and appreciate the gifts that surround us. 

 

And, isn’t that the invitation of summer?  As school ends and as the days lengthen, be sure to find time to enjoy the beauty around you!  Though visits to Norway or countless other places are tremendous opportunities, the reality is that we don’t need to travel far to see the treasures of the natural world.  We are surrounded by them.  May you take time this summer to appreciate the blessings that beckon all around.
 
Grace and peace, Marianne