Pastor’s Corner 6/2/19

Dear Ones,
“Hope is the thing that flutters – and perches in the soul – and sings the tune without the words – and never stops at all.”
       Many times I have returned to these lines from Emily Dickenson, for like all humans, I sometimes lose my grasp on hope. This is one of the reasons we need prayer – to keep us connected with the One who sources new life, possibility & thus hope for us. This is also one of the reasons we benefit so greatly from community, for when we are losing our grip, another can pick up the slack for us, enabling us to maintain vision and momentum that otherwise might falter.
       Painting this bird last year was one of those moments that returned me to hopefulness. Listening tonight to a small church in a small community, share about their children’s ministry that has quintupled in the last year, not only fills me with hope for that congregation and their mission, but for ALL churches and OUR missions.
       Where is hope fluttering in your soul? How will you embrace its tune and allow its possibilities to guide your steps this week? May the God of hope fill you with joy and peace, bubbling over in the days to come!

Pastor’s Corner 5/26/19

A Note From Pastor Margaret Gillikin


I write this week from UMC Next, the conference hosted by Adam Hamilton at the Church of the Resurrection for United Methodists who do not affirm the Traditional Plan passed at GC2019.
We are praying, listening, talking, sharing, and creating with folks across conferences, generations, races, genders, sexual orientations, and beliefs. We are attempting to generate possibilities and to organize in the midst of chaos. We are grappling with the inevitable push-back about who was included at these tables and why not others. We are wondering how to include others more equitably at future gatherings.
We are being asked to contemplate and answer questions like “Why am I United Methodist?” “How would I describe my lens for interpreting scripture?” “What does living into our baptismal vows actually look like? Especially ‘rejecting the spiritual forces of wickedness’.” “What kind of church would my children or grandchildren be willing to invite their friends to?” 
I haven’t heard this question in Kansas City yet, but I will forewarn you here… I’ll be asking you to answer it once we begin gathering for conversation in Helena this summer: “What do you sense God calling YOUR church at this time? How is it and is it not being expressed? What needs to happen in order for God to breathe that dream fully into life?”
Now is the time, beloved, for dreaming God-sized dreams and working to fulfill them. May we rejoice in our calling!

Pastor’s Corner 5/19/19

A Note From Pastor Margaret Gillikin
Beloved in Christ,
Seminary trained clergy have generally spent three (or more) years immersed in God-talk as part of our training. That’s what theology is, after-all, talk about God. We bring theological lenses to Biblical study, education, leadership, even something like choosing paper or plastic to carry your groceries in can be a theological discussion. The thing is, churches are not just about God… they are also about PEOPLE. This has led me to multiple areas of inquiry. One I keep coming back to is Family Systems Theory. Instead of looking at individuals, this approach focuses on the dynamics of groups: nuclear families, extended families, office families, congregational families, etc. etc. and examines how they intersect with and impact each other positively and negatively. One of the things this approach delves deeply into is how anxiety grows and lessens… and what are the ways to influence a family / group in bringing greater health to it. Chief among those strategies is PLAY. Play as in some kind of fun activity… and also play as in doing something new/different.
In the weeks and months to come, you will learn more about me as the “Fun Fairy”. And some of that IS about having a good time. But I invite you to hear now (and remember later) that silliness, laughter and shenanigans are often an intentional leadership strategy on my part. For when groups play together, systemic anxiety decreases and cognition reactivates, creativity becomes possible and voila, productivity increases.
Praying for health AND joy,


Pastor’s Corner 5/12/19

You may be aware of our pastoral transition. Here is a note from our new lead pastor, who will begin July 1.

A Note From Pastor Margaret Gillikin  
Dear Friends,     
Some time ago, I was introduced to the idea that we human beings have three generalized access points to the Divine that touch, move and inspire us.        
Some folks connect through Truth, gravitating towards standards of morality, ethics and wisdom that serve as anchors to life. Other people primarily lean towards Goodness, soaking up stories of kindness and striving to shape their lives accordingly. Thirdly are those who find the Divine in Beauty of any kind, receiving blessing through creation and artistic expressions of all kinds.      It may be that you are affected by all three areas, depending on the circumstances. For instance, both Opera and 1980s pop music stir my soul. Rap? Not so much.     
I remember the first time I saw the mountains of the West instead of the Appalachians I grew up visiting. I was stunned into silence… something you’ll soon learn is difficult to do! Ever since, I have easily found the presence of God in all kinds of nature settings, but it seems like I NEED to be in sight of Western mountains in order to breathe and be connected to God as my Source.     
Whatever it is that brings you to that place of deep peace and finding that it is well with your soul, I pray you discover ways to intentionally seek that out in the days to come.     
I look forward to seeking these opportunities together and sharing them between us as a means of enriching our life in community.

Pastor’s Corner 5/5/19

A Note From Pastor Margaret Gillikin
Greetings new Helena Friends! I am eager to begin life in Montana… the ninth state I have lived in… and am excited to put down roots among you. I’ll be sharing tidbits here in the bulletin until I arrive so that you can begin to get to know me. (I will also gladly accept your “friend” requests on Face Book, especially if you send a message saying you’re a Helena person.)
I was born in North Carolina, but don’t retain much Southern other than use of the word “y’all” and calling people of ALL ages, children on up, “sir” and “ma’am”… and also an affection for food cooked with bacon and/or straight out of the garden. Any tips for growing flavorful veggies (especially tomatoes) in zone 5 will be much appreciated.
One of the things I have always loved about the parables Jesus told was how he related his metaphors to the people he was speaking to. He told farming stories to farmers and fishing stories to fishermen. But to the best of my knowledge, there aren’t any Jesus stories directly applicable to six-tomato-plant scale gardeners, soccer players, anglers, mountain bikers, or many of the many other occupations and hobbies that delight us in the 21st century.
This means that contextualization is one of the most important things we do as a community of faith, and is a large part of what I expect to do as one of your pastors.
I hope you will help me learn about your heritage, history, hopes and values, that together, we might discover meaning in faith that contributes to our living in generous and generative ways.
Prayers in the meantime,


Pastor’s Corner 4/21/19

God raised Jesus from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.” -Acts 2:24
Dear members and friends of St. Paul’s,
     Living in Montana has given me a new appreciation for spring. I have never longed for spring as much as I do here! Come around February, I am tired of the snow and ice and ready for spring. I do have hope that one-day spring will break forth, and yet, it seems like winter keeps its hold on us. On Easter, we celebrate our faith which teaches us that death can’t keep its hold on us. In the same way a chrysalis can’t keep a hold on the new butterfly, so death can’t keep a hold on us. Death, failure, endings never have the last word with us. For we believe in a God of life and resurrection.
     That is what we celebrate this Easter, the new life that emerges from the darkness by the power of God.
     We have an opportunity to be agents of new life this Easter Sunday. We will be collecting a special Easter offering. A portion will support the programs and ministries of St. Paul’s, all of which create space for new life to emerge. Another portion will support 
Intermountain Children’s Home. For 110 years St. Paul’s United Methodist Church and Intermountain Children’s home have walked hand-in-hand in ministry together for the betterment of children in the Helena valley. Today, Intermountain serves the children Brother Van first called them to serve, but also whole family units, young adults, and youth in crisis in a variety of ways. The mission of healing through healthy relationships continues to expand throughout western Montana, bringing relational and emotional health to over 1,200 clients daily through transformative, integrated care. Through intensive residential care, community services, co-occurring substance abuse counseling, occupational therapies, and interventions in schools, Intermountain is combating the threat that early childhood adversity and trauma pose to the lives of vulnerable children. Parenting classes and community trainings build skills in the thousands of attendees that help to build more resilient individuals, healthier family systems, and stronger communities. Your gift will bring about new life in the families and lives of God’s precious children. Please use the designated envelop in the pew or designate “Easter Offering” on your check.
We look forward to ushering in spring and celebrating the possibilities of new life in Jesus,
Pastors Patti and Sami  

Pastor’s Corner 3/3/19

God is love. That is the central truth of our Christian faith. That is why the actions of General Conference this week are so heartbreaking. In case you have not heard, the Traditional Plan, which retains the discriminatory language against the LGBTQI community in our Book of Discipline was approved. Along with thousands of others, I am angry, I am sad, I am shocked, I am hurt, I am confused, I am weary. Perhaps all this snow is God’s frozen tears. We need time and space to process all of those emotions. Pastor Sami and I will lead a healing service next Sunday, March 10th at 1:00 pm in the St. Paul’s sanctuary, to help us process all these emotions before our loving God. Please join us. All are welcome. The Western Jurisdiction is meeting in a few weeks to create a more organized response. We need to give our institution time to work this through its systems. The items voted on at General Conference are not effective until January 2020. They will all be reviewed by the United Methodist Judicial Council and it is predicted much will be ruled unconstitutional. Much is still very uncertain. Despite what is happening at the global institutional level of the United Methodist Church, we here at St. Paul’s and Covenant continue to be a beacon of love and hope for all people. May our response finally be about loving boldly! May we be all the more determined to create beloved community in Helena where all people are valued and honored. I am not ready to give in or give up. Will you join me? May we fight, invite, include, love, reach out, resist, and affirm. May we freely extend God’s grace to all. One more thing, I invite you to surround our Bishop with love and affirmation. Let’s do an old-fashioned card shower! Her address is Bishop Karen Oliveto 6110 S. Greenwood Plaza Blvd. Greenwood Village, CO 80111. Walking on the path of grace and marching on the road of resistance, Pastor Patti

Pastor’s Corner 2/17/19

For more than 40 years, The United Methodist Church has faced serious internal disagreement over how accepting to be of homosexuality, with the ordination of LGBTQ+ persons and same-sex unions as flashpoints. As each decade passed, the topic-at-hand became more important and more polarized. In 2016, our denomination began a journey seeking a way forward…a way forward in unity. A commission was organized, and a special conference has been called for this month in St. Louis, MO. Long-story-short, how and to what extent our LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters are welcomed into the life of the church (on the denomination level) is on the table. This is important work. This is emotional work. To say there are many feelings floating around in our denomination would be an understatement. As a community where both of our congregations have taken intentional steps toward being more inclusive, we have an opportunity to advocate, gather, and support our community in unity! What can we do to advocate, gather, and support?

  1. Pray. Pray at home. Pray with us. Delegates from across the globe are gathering in St. Louis February 22-26 to review and discern our way forward. They need our thoughts and prayers. Join us for our prayer services throughout the conference. Details in the bulletin.
  2. Read the insert information sheet about the conference and visit our conference website to learn more: has so much information about this Special General Conference, it’s too much to share on my own! There are videos and information sheets and regular updates.
  3. Join us for our Follow-up Workshop in March, following the Special General Conference. Details coming soon!
  4. Communicate. Talk to each other. Discuss with your brothers and sisters in Christ. Let’s dream and work together for our mission and our community.

If you have any questions, please email Pastor Patti, Pastor Sami, or Vicki Weida. We will try to answer your questions as best we can. Peace,

Pastor Sami

Pastor’s Corner 2/10/19

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV)

I love this passage from Isaiah, I come back to it often. It always has a message for me in difficult times. Chapter 43 begins with the Lord reassuring the people, “You are precious in my sight and I love you.” A simple, yet powerful reminder when times are hard. Then it describes how even when we pass through rivers we will not be swept away; even when we walk through fires we will not be set ablaze, for God is with us. Words of comfort when we feel overwhelmed. The passage continues by recalling how God dramatically rescued the people from Egypt. We persevere knowing that God loves us and will be with us through whatever difficulty we find ourselves in. But then it takes an unexpected twist in verse 18 when it says, but forget all that! I am doing a new thing! Why spend a chapter assuring us of God’s love and recalling God’s past acts of deliverance only to say “forget all that”? I know for myself, it is easy to dwell on my current circumstances and get stuck in the mud and the mire. I can also get caught up longing for how things used to be. The Lord reminds us to not dwell on the past but to look at the new thing God is doing. For we believe in a God of resurrection, a God of new life, a God of redemption! Yes, we remember God’s activity in the past, but we can’t get stuck there. We always need to be looking for the new thing God is doing. God will make a way when it seems like there is no way. And that gives me hope.   Walking on the path of grace, Pastor Patti

Pastor’s Corner 1/20/19

What Gifts?
For the last couple weeks, we have talked about stewardship through our connection with others and in sharing our gifts with others. We often focus on monetary gifts as the only way to give to the church, but what about our time, energy, experiences, or other resources? They all are valuable and worthy!
As Jesus’ earthly ministry was coming to an end, he began to prepare his disciples for the time when they would be called upon to carry on the work Jesus had started. He promised the disciples that they would not be left alone and that the Holy Spirit would come and would teach the disciples all they would need to know in order to continue the ministry. Soon, Jesus did ascend into heaven, and the Holy Spirit descended upon the followers, and she was not picky! The Holy Spirit is generous and thorough!
We all have gifts to share; we all are worthy and needed in the community. We all have spiritual gifts (like the gift of teaching, or offering mercy, or knowledge, etc.) and all have talents ( life experiences, work experience, hobbies, etc).
You will find a handout in your bulletin that has some questions to ponder and answer. These will help us create a ministry profile for you! Then, return the handout to the office or by mail or in the offering plate. This will help us build our ministry! Other than the Holy Spirit, you will also receive a prize!
Happy exploring!

Pastor Sami