August 31 Pastor’s Corner

Endings and Beginnings . . .
As we come together today, we do so knowing that it is time to leave the lovely days of summer behind. But, the end of summer also means the beginning of new adventures. School has begun and by the time we reach Labor Day, our children and their teachers will have the entire first week behind them! I loved seeing the excitement in the eyes of our children last week as they brought their backpacks to church for a special blessing. The summer is ending but new adventures await as the fall unfolds.
Of course, we would all like to also bid farewell to the smoky skies of the last weeks as well! As I’ve struggled with the smoke, I’ve tried to keep in mind the firefighters all over the West who are dealing with much worse conditions than we have. I use the smoke here to remind me to pray in gratitude for their service and for their safety.
Today also marks another milestone in our church family. We say goodbye to Debbie Irby who has been our church administrator for the past 15 years. Debbie has seen us through the move into our new church building and all the challenges that entailed. She has helped us weather staff changes and reconfigurations in almost every area of our program. She has seen us through a computer server crash, phone service changes and software updates. She has paid bills, negotiated contracts, tried to keep track of keys, and scheduled weddings, concerts and presentations in our buildings. And, of course, that is just what I am thinking of today as I write this. Like all of our staff the ‘other duties as assigned’ is part of what keeps life interesting in this growing, thriving church community! And Debbie’s life at St. Paul’s has indeed been kept interesting! Blessings to you, Debbie, as you end your years of service as a staff member. Blessings as you begin the next phase of your life . . . retirement! At 9:45 in the Fellowship Hall the Staff Parish Relations Committee will host a reception to celebrate Debbie’s time among us. Stop by and/or send her a note of thanks!
Finally, today the Guatemala mission team will share some of their insights and new awarenesses from their mission experience. In a sense, this brings to an end their Mission Team commitment . . . they are doing what they committed to do at their commissioning: sharing what they learned with us. (And, by the way, we committed to listen and learn from them!) Thanks for sharing with us . . . and blessings as you let what you have learned impact your lives.

Grace and peace in this time of
transition for us all!

August 23 Pastor’s Corner

Education has long been a centerpiece of the United Methodist tradition. This goes back to John and Charles Wesley who received a strong education from their mother Susanna. Susanna was a woman who had an incredible education background for a woman in her era. Susanna knew several languages, knew the Bible well, and passed on her vast knowledge to her children. In Montana, Methodists have long worked for education. One great example is the founding of the college that is now Rocky Mountain College in Billings. Due to this history we believe that people can change the world when empowered through a good education and with the support of a spirit-filled community.

In this spirit it is important for us to continue learning, as a congregation, how we can help our community to be a place that supports education. The only way for us to do this is by learning to be missional and connecting with our schools.

miss-ion-al – Adverb/Adjective
1. Describing an act of sharing God’s love in the community.
2. Existing as part of the above act.

Today, during worship we are going to be missional in several ways. First, we are going to bless the backpacks of our students heading back to school. We want our children to know that we care about their education and that we are supporting them as they learn. As we bless backpacks we know that God’s love is at work in our schools through children, educators, and staff. Second, we will take a student offering to support students through scholarships administered by our United Methodist connection. This shows we support people connecting with knowledge in our global community. Finally, we will be invited to write letters to educators and staff in our schools. Specifically, we will write messages of support to all Central Elementary School staff and teachers as they are our neighborhood school, and then write letters to others in our school districts we want to support. Then in September and October our Promiseland children will nurture our connection to Central by gathering clothing for children who have accidents or other clothing needs at school.

Gracious God bless our teachers, staff, and students as they return to another year of learning.
Enthusiastic Peace,

Pastor Tyler

August 16 Pastor’s Corner

As I was working on designing and coordinating activities for St. Paul’s and HUMM this fall, it seemed it would be a good time to share with everyone the ways we have grown young adult ministry in the past 4 years. As many know, my primary responsibility at St. Paul’s when I was appointed was to explore young adult ministry. Young adult’s ages range from 18-35, ages that often do not find a home in churches to explore their spirituality. St. Paul’s decided to take a leadership role in creating an Associate Pastor position to explore this area of ministry.

Over the past 4 years I have worked to attempt several different avenues to attract, engage and provide spaces for young people to engage Christianity and their spirituality. The first year our primary focus was a young adult small group that allowed for young adults to meet each other and explore their faith. The group served its purpose, but felt like it segregated young people from the life of the church. The next year we shifted focus to Sunday’s @ Six, a coffee-shop style worship and discussion experience. This again had some real energy at the beginning, but required a large amount of energy for a very small group. This last year we put a lot of energy into Challenge Helena (, an exciting way to engage the whole community in social justice that had an intergenerational planning team, including some young adults. Along with these specific projects we have worked to ensure that our website, classes, worship, and church are welcoming to young people.

No one of these things has been a huge success, but each one of our efforts in young adult ministry has let young people know that church is about more than just letting them know about Jesus. Young people know that as Christians we care about the community, the world and them. This last Wednesday we had 25 people at our Young Adult BBQ, mostly people exploring St. Paul’s as a possible faith community. Many of these people are sharing that they found St. Paul’s because they want a safe and accepting place to explore their faith.

I think we have learned some valuable lessons through our experiments and some of our experiments will be growing into successes over the coming years. We have grown some young adult leaders who will begin to take roles in the church. We plan to have some new styles of small groups, classes and conversations for young adults. We will also continue looking at how Challenge Helena might be a new way to engage young adults in social justice. God is doing some amazing things through our willingness to create space for experiments in ministry. We can be proud that we are partnering with God and each other as we continue to seek ways to invite all ages into the life of our faith community.

Enthusiastic Peace,
Pastor Tyler

August 9 Pastor’s Corner

From July 18-23 I was in Nashville, Tennessee to participate in the final meeting of the 2012-2016 Division on Young People’s Ministry. This group is made up of representatives of the United Methodist church ranging from youth (12-18), to young adults (18-35) and adult workers with young people from all corners of the world (The Philippines, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sierra Leone, Angola, the United States, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Norway, Kyrgyzstan, and more). Since 2012, we have met each summer in different locations to support the church in providing resources to youth and young people in their ministry to the world. If you want to see more of the work we helped support go to

The part I value most about my experience was the opportunity to share ideas about ministry with peers who are in completely different cultural contexts. Our church is raising some of the most creative and inventive leaders who are beginning ministry as we speak. Two weeks ago in church, I shared a story about Pierre my friend from the Congo who taught 300 people the positives and negatives of Internet usage. Another friend in Germany is a part of a ministry involving an inflatable church building they take from one community to the next, having church services and supporting local ministries in multiple towns. These ideas and others have practical application in our ministry here in Helena and they could span all ages.

This opportunity to meet such a diverse groups is made possible because we are a part of a global church and due to our continued work at St. Paul’s to support the United Methodist Church in its ministry and witness of Christ’s love. Based on what I experienced interacting with my peers I think the church is in for a lot of fun, some incredible witness, and transformation as we see them begin leading the church. Thank you St. Paul’s for supporting me as your pastor and providing the opportunity for me to participate in this group. The stories and the connections I have made will be a valuable part of my ministry.

Enthusiastic Peace,

Pastor Tyler