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,