Pastor’s Corner – April 16

Dear Friends and Members of St. Paul’s,

Easter is here and this year it comes with a clear start to spring. New life is happening all around us and it can be seen in budding plants and the fits and starts of warming weather. The birds have started to return and nature itself is attempting to remind us of the way in which new things can happen. It is a great reminder of how we are called to nurture and affirm new life as people of Christ who “practice resurrection.”

In September of this year I will take my leave from Helena and begin serving the faith community of Shiloh UMC in Billings. The coming months will involve a transition of pastoral leadership from Marianne, Rick and myself to Rev. Dr. Patti Agnew and Rev. Sami Pack. I am excited to see the new life that our incoming Pastoral team will bring to Helena. As we prepare for new life it seems important to highlight some of the things we have accomplished during my 6-year tenure here. None of these would have been possible without the leadership of the gifted friends and members of St. Paul’s, you make ministry in Helena happen.

-We became a reconciling congregation affirming “St. Paul’s United Methodist Church welcomes all people of any age, gender, color, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, economic status, or disability into the full life and membership of this congregation.” This statement has led to new connection and new ministry.
-We started new ministry in the brewery with “God After Hours.”
-We raised nearly 20,000 pounds of food doing the “Church Challenge” with area churches.
-We understood Adverse Childhood Experiences(ACEs) and supported a local coalition to help foster this understating in our community.
-We have welcomed many new people to St. Paul’s.
-We have continued to be a safe place for families without a faith home to turn for funerals and memorial services.
Our mission trips and service to our community and the world continue to support life.
-We celebrated 150 years of Methodism in Helena during our Jubilee year.
-We challenged Helena to think more deeply about issues of social justice including homelessness, hunger, and affordable housing.
-We began an incredible collaboration between Covenant UMC and St. Paul’s UMC called Helena United Methodist Ministry. And the list goes on…
 

We continue to “affirm life” and “practice resurrection.” This means that this list is just the beginning of things we will continue to do in the name of God’s love.

This year our Easter offering is an invitation to help us “spruce up our house” and prepare for the future. Our spaces here at the church are utilized to support the community as well as our faith life, and they are in need of upkeep. Your donations will allow us to get ahead on our maintenance and provide safe and inviting buildings for people to experience new life. Thank you in advance for continuing to support our ministry through your gifts and your service to our church.

Enthusiastic Peace,

Pastor Tyler Amundson


Pastor’s Corner – April 9

Hello, St. Paul’s UMC of Helena! I am looking forward to moving to Montana and joining you on this amazing adventure of faith. By way of introduction: I grew up on the beaches of Southern California until I was 29, when I moved to Colorado. I am a fourth-generation clergy person. William Booth sent my great-grandparents from England to the States, to found the work of The Salvation Army here. My grandparents, aunt and uncle, and many cousins followed in their footsteps. As a youth I loved riding horses, all my church activities, school activities and gymnastics. Our family drove a motor home every summer from Los Angeles to northern Indiana to visit family there. Our favorite trips took us through Glacier National Park! I have two daughters. Amanda is 22 and attending college at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, CA. Natalie is 19 and attending college at Fort Lewis College in Durango, CO. You’ll meet my parents too, Paul and Sandi! They live in South Carolina, but love to visit!
 
I attended church the first time when I was 10 days old, on Christmas Eve! I have been a United Methodist ever since. I have experienced the church at its best and at its worst. As a child, the church shaped me and taught me that God loved me. Our youth group was full of characters – but there was a place for each one of us. We grew closer to one another and God through fun, learning and serving. The church was family. Years later, as a newly single parent with 2 teenage daughters, the church surrounded me with love through acceptance, support, encouragement, and gift cards to buy groceries. Once again, the church was my lifeline and an extended family. Neither of those churches was perfect, nor had perfect people in them. They had their share of conflict and negativity. But overriding all of that was as sense of love and acceptance. I have also experienced the church as judgmental, cold, and exclusive.
 
Here is one of my favorite scriptures which lays out a path for our living in faith. “Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.” Eph. 5:1-2 The Message
 
I have resonated these past 9 months with Bishop Karen’s call for the church to be beloved community. That is the church at its best! The church as a place where all people can experience the transforming love of Jesus. And a place from which we share that love of Jesus with others. I look forward to being beloved community with all of you.
 
Pastor Patti


Pastor’s Corner – March 26

It has been quite a month here at St. Paul’s! As the Yellowstone Conference UMC Cabinet has been about the business of making plans that change the transition process in which we have been involved, it is important to remember that our ministry has continued.
 
We have finished a series of classes and started a new set of amazing offerings. Lent began and we are well into our Wednesday Lenten services. We began a new sermon series titled The Unexpected Lessons of Lent and Tyler and I have been reflecting on what are hopefully some new and challenging insights from some old and well-known Bible texts. We have been working on plans for a celebrative Easter service. (As always, the chancel choir will sing at both services.) Our choir director, Jillian, brings new and exciting ideas to our planning table. The Lenten Children’s choir has been rehearsing and today will sing at the 11:00 service. Today we will also commission some of the members of our next Mission Trip to Brazil.
 
We have also hosted and been involved in the Women’s and Men’s Walks to Emmaus on the first and second weekends in March. Marianne led the Spiritual Director team for the Women’s Weekend and Tyler led the Spiritual Director team for the Men’s weekend. Many of our members and friends were involved in the weekends as part of the team. As all of this has taken place, our staff has done an amazing job doing their normal work and offering hospitality to the many groups who know St. Paul’s to be a welcoming and accessible community. We have hosted funerals and Tyler and retired pastor Lyle Hamilton and I have been called upon to lead several memorial services over the past several weeks.
 
Why do I tell you all of this? Though we are in the midst of change and though that change affects our pastors, staff and church members deeply, life and ministry has continued. We are a vibrant and active faith community with much to offer Helena and the world. Today you will learn the name of your new Lead Pastor and soon a new Associate will be appointed. Their leadership will be important – but no more important than the ongoing commitment and ministry of our staff and of all of you who call St. Paul’s home. Together, we will move through this time of transition and, all the while, we will continue to be an active community of faith and hope.
 
I love this quote from Philippians 1:6: I’m sure about this: the one who started a good work in you will stay with you to complete the job by the day of Christ Jesus. Very likely, Paul thought the end was coming soon – thus, the term ‘the day of Christ Jesus.’ He was wrong about that, but his confidence that the work of love and grace and hospitality would continue – indeed needed to continue – among the followers of Jesus was right. And it continues to be true among us, in our time. We are not alone – the one who has loved us into being continues to love us and live in us and lead us. And that is good news that will sustain us as we go forward.
 
Grace and peace in the journey ahead!
Marianne


Pastor’s Corner – March 19

Today, as we listen to the unexpected with one another, I would invite us to open our hearts to what God is doing in the story of our church and our own lives.  For the past month I have been struggling, even fighting, with the announcement you will hear at the beginning of worship today.  “We had plans together,” kept going through my head.  The danger of abrupt change is that sometimes we hold on tightly to who we think we are supposed to be, instead of letting change work on us.

 

Change brings with it challenges and is always scary.  If I have learned anything in my work here it is fear of change never really goes away, even if you are the wisest and most reflective person.  Jesus took time to reflect and pray every time deep change was coming his way.  Jesus also didn’t avoid the emotions that come with deep change, he embraced them and lived through them.  However you are feeling today I invite you to not bypass it for a feeling of “being ok,” but instead embrace it as your authentic self.  We are called by God to be our authentic selves, and letting go of who the world tells us we should be at any certain moment.  I will join you in these emotions, because I believe that in letting emotions live and die that we will find new life. 

 

I wonder what new life is forming in this amazing place we live and how our church might be a part of helping people live authentic lives.  As I drove across the state this week I saw solar panels going up, I had conversations with a family that moved to Montana for the connected environments of our communities, and I jumped on trampolines at a Trampoline Park.  All of these new things are happening through people taking risks on new relationships and new ways of thinking.  If we are to embrace change, we have to live through some risks together and be willing to invite in new partners in God’s work. 

 

In the coming months I hope to be in conversations and prayer as a community about what God is doing among us.  However, you feel at the end of worship today, I hope you know one thing, “God is with us.”  God is with us in the pain, the fear, the sorrow, and God is with us now and always. 

 

I am thankful for the ministry of each of you.

 

Pastor Tyler