Pastor’s Corner 7/21/19

Dear Ones,
                  Even as we have been experiencing a season of transition locally, the global church also finds itself in the midst of what theologian Phyllis Tickle describes as “Christianity’s 500-year rummage sale.” Over the course of our history, right about every 500 years, something massive happens to shift everything-as-we’ve-known-it in the church. In the year 500 it was the Dark Ages; 1000… the split between the Eastern Orthodox and Roman (Western) Catholic church; 1500… the Protestant Reformation; and right on time in 2000… the rapid decline of institutional churches across the spectrum and rise of “spiritual but not religious” and folks who claim “NONE” as their spiritual affiliation.
                We don’t truly know what’s coming next out of all this. What we can observe is that we are still in a time of devolution. But some of what we notice is that many folks are longing for depth and breadth of learning and meaning in their spiritual homes… without that, there is little purpose for being there.
                 For the rest of the summer, we will be diving deep and exploring widely in worship through The Wisdom of Progressive Christianity sermon series in three sections: Journey, Reconciliation and Transformation. Using the book, Living the Questions, these themes will help us address some pivotal questions like “How did we get here?” and “What’s the point?” and “How do we move forward?” 
                We look forward to seeing you in worship when you’re in town!   
Blessings for a fabulous, meaningful summer.


Pastor’s Corner 7/14/19

A Note From Pastor Anna Viehland,

Hey y’all! I’m Anna!

     I hail from the Sunshine State, home of Mickey Mouse, entirely too many alligators and of course, the infamous “Florida Man.” I’m a graduate of Florida State University in Tallahassee and Wesley Theological Seminary in DC. I was commissioned in the Florida Annual Conference in 2017 and am now pursuing full ordination in the Mountain Sky Annual Conference.

     I’m a brand new Montana resident! I emerged from the swamp and made the long journey here to live and serve in ministry with my husband, Daniel Viehland, pastor of East Helena and Townsend UMCs (yes, I do know that it gets rather cold here and I did, in fact, bring a coat). I’m passionate about pastoral care, inclusion and empowering others to use their unique gifts to seek justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God.

     I am looking forward to making this big, beautiful place my new home and I am so grateful that I get to do that as one of your pastors.

In Christ,

Pastor’s Corner 7/7/19

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
      Are you familiar with the difference between “comfort” and “challenge” ministries? Comfort ministries see people drowning in a fast-moving river and seek to rescue and care for them until they are back on their feet again. Challenge ministries ask “why are there people in this river?” These ministries then continue to ask “why” and “what” and “how” as they follow the river upstream until they get to the source of the problem and seek to address THAT.
       Both are motivated by the desire to care for the needy as Jesus instructs, and serve the same population, but with very different impacts. This is not to say one is better than the other. As with so many things in life, this is not an either/or situation, but both/and.
        Part of living out our faith is indeed to care for those in need. And part of our task is also to keep God’s beloved from being harmed in the first place. As with healthcare, this is the difference between tending / healing the sick and preventative / wellness care. If we have more of the second, we need less of the first. Unfortunately, the second often doesn’t look as necessary, nor does it have the same immediacy. It takes vision, patience and perseverance to keep going when there is no one to say “thank you for keeping me from drowning ‘someday’.”
         As we get to know each other, I invite you to share with me your thoughts about the opportunities for us to be in ministry in Helena and further afield for purposes of both comfort and challenge. I trust that together, we may be a blessing, indeed.

Covenant’s Pastor’s Corner 6/30/19

Dear ministers of Covenant UMC,
                My friends, first of all, I am so proud of all of you and our community. I am so honored to be your pastor. There has been a holy spirit fire among our congregation the past few months that is difficult to explain, but it is so heart-warming.
                I know that the past two years have not been all daisies and roses. We have said goodbye to loved ones, we have struggled with finances, and we have struggled to balance our pastoral team. However, you all have been patient and gracious, and I can see the fruits of these labors. We have new people in worship every week. Our average worship attendance has spiked by 15 people over the past six months (that is incredible!). We continue to make and maintain important partnerships in our community for the use of our building, and I cannot think of better ways to be good stewards of our space.
               As we enter a new chapter this month with new pastors, and we continue to celebrate our 50th Anniversary, I want you all to be proud of our community and what we have accomplished, all the while growing together in spirit and in service.
Here’s to another year of excitement and growth!
With love,
Pastor Sami