Pastor’s Corner – August 7, 2016

            As you well know by now, Tyler, in his role as our clergy delegate to General Conference has provided wonderful leadership to our denomination.  At our Jurisdictional Conference in July, he was part of electing the woman who will be our new bishop in just a month. She is incredibly qualified and gifted for leadership and I look forward to meeting her.  Besides electing bishops, however, the Jurisdictional Conference also nominates clergy and lay people to serve on General Boards and Agencies in our denomination.  To do this a ‘jurisdictional nominating committee’ is convened and meets for the better part of a day leading into Jurisdictional Conference.

            Our Western Jurisdiction, though large in geography, is relatively small in numbers – especially compared to the African church or to the South East and South Central Jurisdictions of the United States.  As a result, our representation on various committees and agencies is proportionally smaller.  Still, the nominating committee does its work, nominating lay and clergy leaders to represent us. 

            I was more than a little surprised when Rev. Jeremy Scott, our clergy delegate serving on the nominating committee, called to tell me that I had been nominated (and subsequently elected) to serve on the Connectional Table 
of the United Methodist Church for the 2016-2020 quadrennium. We were only allotted one delegate from the entire Western Jurisdiction and I am honored to have been given this responsibility! 
            The Connectional Table was created by the 2004 General Conference “to serve as both the visioning body of the church and the steward of resources to carry out the vision of the denomination worldwide.  The purpose of the Connectional Table is to discern and articulate the vision for the church and the stewardship of the mission, ministries, and resources of The United Methodist Church as determined by General Conference and in consultation with the Council of Bishops.

The 2004 General Conference made clear that ‘the Connectional Table is to be motivated by faithfulness to the mission of the church to make disciples of Jesus Christ; global in scope and holistic in understanding; inclusive in nature and collaborative in style; and while being efficient in the stewardship of resources, be transparent, accessible, and accountable in all relationships.’”

The Council of Bishops both leads and collaborates with the Connectional Table. In fact, our first meeting, the organizational meeting, in early November is in conjunction with the fall meeting of the Council of Bishops. Besides the Jurisdictional representatives, the CT includes members from the agencies of the Church, each of the ethnic caucuses and many other groups involved in leadership in the UMC. I’m still learning about it all myself . . . I’ll know more when things get started!

I am quite aware that it will be an interesting and important time to be serving on the Connectional Table.  I’ll work hard to represent us in the Western Jurisdiction well – and I’ll keep you informed as we deal with the issues facing us as a denomination in the months to come.

Grace and peace,


Pastor’s Corner – July 31

As I have been in prayer and at work this week, it has been clear that the common theme this coming year in our ministry together will be transition.  Transition can be a good thing because it helps us to imagine with God new ways of sharing love in our community.  Jesus turned to prayer when transition was happening in his ministry, and I would encourage us to do likewise.  Jesus prayed because transition also brings with it challenge: someone who used to take care of that beloved thing is no longer there, a new experiment in ministry might not work out, or leadership might make a mistake while learning their way into uncharted territory.  As we enter this coming year of ministry, I invite you to be prayerful as we transition together.
We will be forming the new Mission Team this year.  This small group of individuals will work to help focus our mission, to look at the breadth of the mission we do now, to see how we can connect new people to the work, and also study more deeply the systemic causes of poverty in our community and world.
A group from our church will participate with Covenant UMC in the Whole Church Initiative.  This process will help us look at the Helena United Methodist Ministries (HUMM) work we have done for the past 2 years and to see what our future together might look like.  This team of leaders will be studying, praying, and sharing with our entire congregation the possibilities for how we might better be Church to the people of Helena.
We will be continuing to explore our Adult, Youth, and Young Adult education and our understanding of what it is to form disciples who are transformed people that go to transform the world.  Our education programs will begin to focus on creating disciples and helping develop our opportunities for people to grow in faith. 
The most dynamic transition will be Pastor Marianne’s retirement in June of 2017.  Marianne has been an incredible leader and pastor for St. Paul’s.  She is our first female pastor and, personally speaking, she continues to be a great mentor in ministry.  There are a lot of questions about what our leadership at St. Paul’s will look like next year. 
Throughout the year we will be providing several information sessions and opportunities for people to understand the Methodist process of appointing new pastors to churches.  This will help us prepare to receive new pastoral leadership in July of 2017.
The future is full of new and exciting things, but with all of this will come change.    I invite you to join me in following Jesus’ example and to pray as we transition together. 
Enthusiastic Peace,
Pastor Tyler

July 24, 2016 Pastor’s Corner

July 13-16 in Scottsdale, Arizona I led our delegation from Yellowstone Conference at the Western Jurisdictional Conference.  At the conference we set the direction for the United Methodist Church in the western United States.  The primary task at our conference was electing our new Bishop.  Bishops serve in the jurisdiction they are elected and are appointed by a committee to serve the different areas in our jurisdiction.  If you have more questions about this process I invite you to watch a series of videos by Rev. Brad Laurvick online at

I am pleased to announce that Bishop Karen Oliveto was elected by the Western Jurisdiction and that she will be serving our area, the Mountain Sky Area that covers Rocky Mountain and Yellowstone Annual Conferences.  As you have no doubt read in the headlines Bishop Oliveto is in a committed same sex relationship with her incredible wife, Robin.  We elected Bishop Oliveto on her credentials and our deep belief that she has the skills to lead our church.  Her appointment to our area is a blessing because of the administrative and pastoral skills she will bring to her work. 

My invitation to us as a reconciling congregation is that we help by supporting other churches in our area that may be struggling with how to welcome Bishop Oliveto’s leadership.  We will be holding a reconciling ministries meeting Sunday, July 31 at 9:45 AM in the Library to talk about this. 

We will keep everyone informed about how we can help welcome Bishop Oliveto and her wife Robin to our area.

Enthusiastic Peace,

Pastor Tyler

July 17, 2016 Pastor’s Corner

As I write this Pastor’s Corner, the weather is a bit blustery and rain clouds fill the sky.  People are sporting jackets and hats that are seldom seen during July. I even put some heat on in my car as I drove to work!  However, by the time you are reading this, I am quite confident  that the weather will have returned to some lovely and comfortable mid-July temperatures.   I suspect plentiful sunshine will have returned – although we will all express gratitude for having had rain.  I am also relatively certain many of us will have enjoyed an amazing Symphony Under the Stars Saturday night, complete with a fireworks display.

As you notice, I began this Pastor’s Corner with some ‘future predictions.’  Those were relatively easy to make … and by the time you are reading this, you’ll be a good judge of just how accurate I am.    However, there are some other predictions I’d love to be able to make that aren’t so easy.

Last week, in the Pastor’s Corner, Tyler shared some information about the Western Jurisdictional Conference that was held in Phoenix over the past several days.  Tyler was one of our clergy delegates to that Conference which is held every 4 years, typically during the July immediately following General Conference.  Actually Jurisdictional Conferences were held simultaneously in all the Jurisdictions in the United States . . . Northeast, Southeast, North Central, South Central and ours, the Western Jurisdiction.  Though there are some other tasks, the primary task accomplished during each  Jurisdictional Conference is the election of Bishops.  Bishop Brown retired this year and Tyler was part of electing a bishop to fill that vacancy in our Jurisdiction.  The delegates in other Jurisdictions did the same thing, electing bishops to replace those who retired.

Following the election, the Jurisdictional Episcopacy Committee met to assign the bishops to particular areas.  In other words, just as pastors are assigned to a particular church by Bishops, so are Bishops assigned to a particular Conference by this committee.  Bishop are assigned for a 4 year ‘term’ and usually serve 2 terms before being assigned to a new Conference.

For the past eight years, our bishop has been Bishop Elaine Stanovsky. Typically, we would expect that we would be assigned a new bishop (and we almost always get a newly elected one).  However, since we are exploring the possibility of a merger in the next 4 years in our Mountain Sky area between our Conference (Yellowstone) and the Rocky Mountain Conference and, since Bishop Elaine is very familiar with this process and, since negotiating a change like this is challenging, we have requested that Bishop Elaine be re-assigned to us for a third term. 

I would love to be able to predict what the outcome will be to the elections and to the assignment – but that is impossible!  So, instead, I have written a fill-in-the-blank Pastor’s Corner.  If by any chance we have this information before we print, I’ll fill it in.  More likely, however, you’ll need to do it yourselves on Sunday morning!  Just wait for the announcement! 

The newly elected bishop in the Western Jurisdiction is Karen Oliveto and the Bishop assigned to our Mountain Sky Area is Karen Oliveto.

Grace and peace, Marianne