July 26 Pastor’s Corner

As you read this pastor’s corner, you’ll notice that Tyler is preaching here at St. Paul’s. I am preaching today across town at Covenant UMC. Rick Hulbert, who is the lead pastor at Covenant, is away on vacation.
We are beginning our second year as the Helena United Methodist Ministries (HUMM). This is a concept that Tyler and I presented to the Yellowstone Cabinet over a year ago. We envisioned the possibility for maximizing impact and multiplying ministries for good as an area wide United Methodist ministry encompassing both St. Paul’s and Covenant. To that end, the Cabinet has appointed Marianne as the leader of the clergy team and as the lead pastor at St. Paul’s; Rick Hulbert is appointed as the lead pastor at Covenant and a member of the clergy team, and Tyler is appointed as associate pastor at St. Paul’s and as a member of the clergy team. Tyler’s particular emphasis at St. Paul’s and for HUMM is young adult ministry and mission outreach.
Rick, Tyler and I did some review of our first year and identified the following as some of the good that we have seen happening as a result of our efforts:
• Both congregations treated to variety with three pastors’ presence and services
• Positive congregational response to clergy team
• Cross fertilization of ideas
• Shared classes with both congregations
• Worshippers exploring both churches
• Improved communication/coordination on joint ministries
• Shared youth group responsibilities and support
• A coordinated fall stewardship program with strong results
• Shared clerical/office support insures communication is effectively enhanced
• Continuity across congregations on seasonal/sermon topics
• Shared advertising and posting notices for all three services
• Purchasing materials in volume
• St Paul’s providing Website development support to Covenant
• Clergy team coordination facilitates congregations awareness of each other’s programs
• Worship service coverage with existing pastors eliminates need for outside substitutes
• St. Paul’s benefits from use of Covenant kitchen and fellowship hall for events
• Joint hosting of Annual Conference
• HUMM model provides for pastors to support one-another
• Shared calendar for efficient use of church spaces and resources
• Capacity for growth with both congregations and options for United Methodists in Helena
• Reassuring to know our counterparts at the other church are a resource for ideas
We are excited about our progress and ready to launch into another year. We also welcome your feedback and observations as we continue to do this new thing!
Grace and peace,

July 19 Pastor’s Corner

Greetings everyone!
Happy Midsummer! Though the days are still long, they are getting shorter. The summer symphony is now over but the County Fair is still to come. It is indeed ‘midsummer.’ There are still some wonderful summer days ahead and yet we all know they will be over all too quickly. Soon, we will find ourselves saying ‘where did the summer go?’ It happens every year – so this is your friendly reminder to do everything you can to enjoy the blessing of each day!
I am often asked for tips or advice on how to pray. Volumes have been written about that subject but the practice of prayer still seems elusive to many of us. I suggest that the ‘art of appreciating summer’ can be a helpful strategy in learning to pray. Prayer is fundamentally about attention, about focus, about learning to be present to the moment. Summer is a good time to practice such things. Rather than thinking about learning a method or doing a Bible study, let the ‘practice of appreciating summer’ be a spiritual practice for you these days. Breathe the early morning air; notice the lingering sunlight late in the day; enjoy the flowers; appreciate the blessing of rain – and when it falls, choose to get wet, really feel the water on your toes in the lake, marvel at the produce at the Farmer’s Market, take special delight in the first Flathead cherry you find. We live amidst great beauty. People travel from all over to visit our state and this place. So, don’t let the (to us) ordinariness of our surroundings blind you to the extraordinary beauty we call home. Be attentive. Give thanks. And as you do so, you will have learned to pray for, as the opening words of the poem God’s Grandeur by poet Gerard Manley Hopkins , assert . . .
The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze
of oil
Crushed . . .
May your summer days be blessed with the luxury of lingering a bit and laughing with friends and feasting with family. May you become skilled in the art of appreciating the summer!

Grace and peace,

July 12 pastor’s Corner

This past week I returned from Intergenerational 4th of July Camp at Flathead Lake. Camp always is a powerful reminder to me how time away and time in nature can bring a new awareness of God’s presence in my life. It is as if the playfulness of nature gives me a new sense of God’s hope in my own life, and new perspective to see where life is stirring around me. The camps of our church were founded for this very purpose and I would invite you to take advantage of these facilities for an organized camp, family getaway or personal retreat as a chance to connect with God and ourselves in our journey of faith.

Here is a short description of each of our Montana camps:

Camp on the Boulder is a pure and holy place set apart from life’s distractions, located on 79 acres set in the Absaroka Mountains of south-central Montana surrounded by wilderness. The recreational opportunities include a low ropes course, a PDGA registered Frisbee golf course, mini golf course, volleyball and basketball courts, great hiking and many other recreational activities including fishing on the Boulder River! The lodging facilities include cabins, lodges and dorms for youth that can sleep 250 comfortably. There is a wonderful prayer chapel, an outdoor chapel, and a Tabernacle that can seat 300. You will find meeting space and good food. You will also find a ministry team ready to help you have a wonderful time in the mountains with Jesus.
Flathead Lake UM Camp is a year-round campground retreat facility. The camp is bordered by 3,000 feet of pristine shoreline of Flathead Lake and is set amidst 30 acres of lush forest and grounds. Recreation opportunities include canoeing, swimming, basketball, volleyball, horseshoes, baseball, hiking, fishing, table tennis, campfire circle. Facilities include 12 cabins with sleeping capacity of 180, dining hall and retreat center, restroom and shower facilities, large indoor chapel, fire pit area, outdoor chapel area, four classrooms, dock, swimming area, basketball and volleyball courts. Food services are available for groups of 40-180. The staff provides wholesome and tasty meals. Heated cabins support 50 overnight guests during the winter.

Luccock Park Camp offers individuals, families and groups of all sizes a mountain setting in paradise ~ literally located in Paradise Valley south of Livingston, Montana. Luccock Park can offer you the opportunity of many venues. Take an easy hike to Pine Creek Falls, play basketball on the open court, enjoy an old fashioned game of horse shoes or just pull up a lounge chair and enjoy the peace and quiet that can only be found at Luccock Park.

Learn more at yacumc.org/camps

Prayers that we all find a glimmer of God’s peace in nature this summer,

Pastor Tyler

July 5 Pastor’s Corner

We have so much to celebrate as a people on this Independence Day weekend. But, this year what strikes me most powerfully is the witness of grace and forgiveness that we have experienced in the actions the people of our sister denomination, the African Methodist Episcopal Church, as they have responded to the horrific killings at Mother Emanuel Church last month. (There is an AME congregation in Great Falls.) Rooted in faith and empowered by love, they have extended love in the face of fear, forgiveness in the face of evil and humanity in the face of unmitigated racism. They challenge us to remember that real freedom will always be found in following the way of Jesus. Their actions remind us that following Jesus really can change the world. Today I offer us excerpts of a litany, written by AME Bishop Adam J. Richardson.
Leader: “The doors of the Church are open” is an announcement regularly spoken at Emanuel Church of Charleston, known as the “Mother” of African Methodism in the Deep South.
People: O God, “The doors of the Church are still open.”
Leader: Hate and Evil – armed and dangerous – came Wednesday night to Mother Emanuel, accompanied by unfathomable horror, leaving a trail of blood and hurt across the African Methodist Connection, Charleston and the world.
People: O God, “the doors of the church are still open,” and still we believe that “We sorrow not as those who have no hope.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13)
Leader: The “Emanuel Nine” had names – and families, and lives, and careers, and places to go and things to do. They were colleagues, friends and kin: the Honorable Rev. Clementa Pinckney (41), the Rev. Daniel “Super” Simmons (74), the Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton (45), Brother Tywanza Sanders (26), Sister DePayne Middleton Doctor (49), Sister Cynthia Hurd (54), Sister Myra Thompson (59), Sister Ethel Lance (70), and Sister Susie Jackson (87).
People: O God, “The doors of the church are still open,” and we affirm Your Word that “Perfect love casts out fear.” (1 John 4:18)
Leader: Our faith will not be stolen, even by violence as heinous as the assassination of nine innocent people, and the terror that left bodies wounded and souls injured among those who survived the attack.
People: O God, “The doors of the church are still open,” and “our faith looks up to Thee” and “will not shrink though pressed by every foe.”
Leader: He wanted a race war, instead there came an outpouring of love, sympathy and tears from white people;
fervent prayers offered for him by black people. With shock and anger still wafting in the air, family members amazingly spoke words of forgiveness, and the community sang together and spoke of hope. We have learned at least this much in our walk with God in Christ: “Unmerited suffering is still redemptive.”
People: O God, “The doors of the church are still open,” and we affirm the words of Christ, “Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. (John 14:27b)
To our AME brothers and sisters – thanks! Your witness to the transforming power of love and forgiveness blesses us all.

Grace and peace,