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 highlandsumc.com/umcbishops

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

July 10, 2016 Pastor’s Corner

Next week I will be heading to Phoenix, Arizona to attend the Western Jurisdiction meeting of the United Methodist Church.  At the conference we will be helping set direction for our churches in the Western United States including Alaska and Hawaii.  The primary way we set direction is by electing the Bishops who will serve the conferences within our area.  I am looking forward to serving as one of our four representatives, two church members and two pastors, from the Yellowstone Conference. 


I won’t spend this message geeking out on how the process to elect Bishops works in our church.  However, what I do want to share is what you might see in the news. While the Western Jurisdiction meets Phoenix, all the other regional jurisdictional conferences will be meeting across the United States, so there will be lots of news coverage.  Our jurisdiction is courageously putting forth two members of the LGBTQ+ community as candidates for Bishop.  As many know LGBTQ+ inclusion is something the United Methodist Church continues to struggle with as a denomination.  By nominating these two individuals they are aiding the larger church in deeply questioning the understanding of all people as beloved children of God. 


Some people have described these nominations as something that will create a rift in the church.  After a week of sharing in ministry at camp and after praying with people of several sexual orientations and gender identities it is clear to me that what our jurisdiction is doing is saying clearly what our reconciling statement says each Sunday.  If you look on the bottom of our bulletin, “(We) accept…all people into the full life of our congregation.”  Prayers are appreciated this week and blessings as you all continue to share God’s love in the world. 


Enthusiastic Peace,


Pastor Tyler

July 3, 2016 Pastor’s Corner

Three years ago, I served as a ‘chaplain’ at the Gladstone’s Library in Wales during the month of July.  One of my responsibilities was to preside several times a week at the daily celebration of Eucharist.  That service typically drew as few as 5 and as many as a dozen or more attendees, depending largely on the program being offered at the Library at any given time. The chaplain position was open to an ordained clergy person of any denomination provided the person was theologically ‘open-minded’ and inclusive.  The only requirement was to follow the rubric (order of service)  of the Anglican Church in Wales. It is a rubric which differs from that of the Anglican Church of England. It was indeed a wonderful month for me.  One of the first official times I celebrated the Eucharist that summer happened to be on July 4th .
It is a singular experience to celebrate American Independence Day in Britain and it required some thought as I prepared for that day’s Eucharist. Though I was not expected to offer a sermon, I was expected to offer prayers appropriate for the day.  In the end, for the prayers of petition, I chose these words written by Sr. Joan Chittister. It seems to me they capture something of what I would pray for today as we gather here in Helena on the eve of Independence Day 2016.

                                                                                                                        Grace and peace, Marianne


Great God, who has told us

“Vengeance is mine,”

save us from ourselves,

save us from vengeance in our hearts

and the acid in our souls.

Save us from our desire to hurt

as we have been hurt,

to punish as we have been punished,

to terrorize as we have been terrorized.


Give us the strength it takes

to listen rather than to judge,

to trust rather than to fear,

to try again and again

to make peace even when peace eludes us.


We ask, O God, for the grace

to be our best selves.

We ask for the vision

to be builders of the human community

rather than its destroyers.

We ask for the humility as a people

to understand the fears and hopes of other peoples.

We ask for the love it takes

to bequeath to the children of the world to come

more than the failures of our own making.


We ask for the love it takes

to care for all the peoples

of Afghanistan and Iraq, or Palestine and Israel

as well as for ourselves.


Give us depth of soul, O God,

to constrain our might,

to resist the temptation of power,

to refuse to attack the attackable,

to understand

that vengeance begets violence,

and to bring peace – not war – wherever we go.


For You, O God, have been merciful to us.

For You, O God, have been patient with us.

For You, O God, have been gracious to us.


And so may we be merciful

and patient

and gracious

and trusting

with these others whom you also love.


This we ask through Jesus,

the one without vengeance in his heart.

This we ask forever and ever. Amen!

               Sr. Joan Chittister, OP