March 13, 2016 Pastor’s Corner

You’ve probably noticed that over the past two weeks, I have been taking some time away from the office. When I returned from the trip to the Holy Land, I realized that I simply needed to have some time with Lyle. We both needed time to learn our ‘new normal’ and I in particular had a lot to learn to help him with some of his new medical requirements. So, working with Tyler and the Staff Parish Relations Committee, I have taken some ‘medical leave.’ I will likely take a bit more time over the next month or so as we adjust and learn.
In January, Lyle had surgery to remove his bladder. It was the only way for them to remove the cancer which had unexpectedly been found on the bladder. It was not as simple as removing a tumor. That means that Lyle has a urostomy and now wears an ostomy bag. Some folks have asked me if this is permanent – and yes, it is. This kind of surgery is, as you might imagine, life changing. Others of you have been through it. And, while the ostomoy protocol after this kind of surgery is well known and relatively similar for most people, each person responds differently and so part of our learning is through trial and error. Some things that work for others don’t work for us. We simply need to work to find the protocol that is right for Lyle and that we can maintain. Frankly, it is exhausting and far more time consuming than either of us were aware at the beginning.
As Lyle and I discussed this over the past few weeks, we made a decision to share this with you. We thought it might help you understand the fact that I am not quite as available as I have been in the past. It also helps us to not need to explain such things over and over.
Having said all of that, please know that we are doing well. We both have appreciated all of the offers of help. Your generosity – of time, presence and food – has been a true gift to us both. If we haven’t called on you, it is not because we don’t appreciate the offers. In the end, there are simply some things only we can do . . . like learning ostomy care and making visits to the cancer center and hospital for out-patient help.
The final thing we wanted you to know is that the medical care we have received here in Helena through St. Peter’s – at the medical clinic, hospital and the Cancer Center – has been outstanding. Lyle’s surgery was in Missoula because that kind of surgery is not done in Helena. But all of the follow-up and his continuing care is being handled by people here. We truly feel blessed by the competence and genuine caring of the people with whom we have worked.
So, thanks so much for being the community of caring you are!

March 6, 2016 Pastor’s Corner

What do people say about St. Paul’s in our community?

When I introduce myself as a pastor at St. Paul’s to members of our Helena community I get mixed responses, “Oh…that big gray building just down from the Cathedral.” “That is the church that does so many efforts in our community to serve the poor.” “Which church is that again?” “That church has been so welcoming to our community group.” “Love that church, they speak out on important issues.” “Oh…THAT church.”

I am guessing many in our church community struggle to know when to talk about our faith community, unsure of the response you will get. What has your experience been? Talking about church and how faith is important to your life can be challenging in the current time. As a pastor even I struggle to talk about our community and navigating an engagement with someone to make sure they know I am not always on a recruiting venture. This navigation of non-recruitment is especially true now that I wear a collar while working. However, I also find that people really want to know what churches are doing and are intrigued when they run into a person of faith at a science conversation, in a community conversation about justice issues, or sitting next to them at the local hangout. Many want to learn more about the church living in the world.

A part of our Lenten discipleship series is exploring how we might find ways to invite others into a life of faith. Perhaps there is someone in your life who is really seeking something like our church, but asking him or her to join us brings about a fear of what that might lead to. Will everyone think you are out recruiting for Jesus? One of the best pieces of advice I have ever heard on this is, “Build a relationship before you ever invite someone to church.” Get to know people in our community like you already do. Then when the topic of our church comes up or we get excited about a church event don’t shy away from sharing about it. Remember not everyone likes sports, but no one is afraid to talk about how much they love their team. Our church is your team and if this faith experience means something to you then it probably can mean something to others out there that are curious about faith practices in their life.

Blessings on your Discipleship journey,

Pastor Tyler

February 28 2016 Pastor’s Corner

Today as we continue our Discipleship series we will focus on how corporate worship and small groups help us to grow as disciples. After worship today you will receive a bookmark with a reminder that discipleship is what Jesus described as the greatest commandment, “Loving God and Loving Others.” As United Methodist we continue to live discipleship through our prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness of the love of God active in our world. Today’s focus on worship and small groups is the presence portion of our United Methodist vows.

One of the situations I struggle with most as a clergy person is when I meet people in the community and they say, “Oh, I feel so bad I haven’t been to church in 3 months.” It doesn’t bother me because they think they should have been in church, but rather because of the guilt they feel. Not being in church should not make us feel guilty. If you don’t go to church, you are not a bad person. If you don’t go to church and suddenly walk in a church you will not get struck by lightening (I have heard this a lot too). Attending worship is a spiritual practice that is designed to help support us in our relationship with God and how we are in relationship with our community. By listening to a gift of music, hearing a message of hope, praying alongside our brothers and sisters and being in community worship with one another we encounter God’s love together. In return for our commitment of time we are energized in the spirit to go out into the community carrying God’s love.

Last Wednesday night, I spent time with the youth group and they got to ask me tough questions about God and the Bible. As we began I asked them why they come to youth group, and almost everyone said, “The good people we get to be around and know.” Being around people that are working to create good community and encourage one another to live the teachings of Jesus is what small group is. Small groups are not always organized units called small groups, but instead the groups of people that you find support from. Small groups from our church might work together on projects, events, or just meet, but ultimately the goal they achieve is surrounding one another with positive support rooted in God’s love.

As you pray this week about your next steps in discipleship, ask yourself, “What areas of worship and small group community are missing for me?” See where God is inviting you to grow in faith to support your life, and if you are still unsure ask a trusted spiritual mentor, pastor or friend in our faith community.

Enthusiastic Peace,

Pastor Tyler

February 21 2016 Pastor’s Corner

We continue our Lenten Study on Discipleship with a focus on prayer. Prayer is something Jesus taught to his disciples and is deeply rooted in Jesus’ Jewish tradition. This ancient practice is something that people seeking God have continued to struggle with.

Take a minute and imagine a complete stranger walking up to you and asking, “What is prayer?”

Prayer is hard to define. Is prayer a conversation with God? Is prayer listening for Jesus’ call in our lives? Is prayer simple meditation that is good for our blood pressure? All of these questions could be answered with a yes.

However, as a disciple of Jesus we should look to his answer when he was asked how people should pray. He answered with the Lord’s Prayer that we say every single Sunday. In it I think is what Jesus’ believed prayer to be, a way to step aside from the craziness of life and remember to be in relationship with God and with others. When we live a life that embodies prayer we are being mindful of our relationship with our God who loves us and binds us together, and mindful of loving our neighbors.

Just like any relationship there are many ways to pray and I invite you to search for the form of prayer that fits you the most. Perhaps it is reading scripture each day, taking a few moments to say the same prayer each day, following a devotional book, say the Lord’s Prayer, say a quick prayer when people cut you off in traffic, perhaps its sharing and praying for others through sharing on social media, but most especially to find something you do each and every day. By practicing praying each day you strengthen your love for God and for all those around you.

To help us to pray more as United Methodists in Helena we have created a Facebook Group where people can share their prayers throughout the week. This is a way for us to build a community of people in constant prayer for one another and our community. If you want to be a part of this please go to this web address and request to join the group: All are welcome in this circle of prayer and community.

Enthusiastic Peace,

Pastor Tyler