Pastor’s Corner 8/11/19

Dear Friends,
                   It has been delightful getting to know some of you at Pastor Meet & Greets these past few weeks. These are informative times for your clergy team, and according to at least one participant, “surprisingly fun!” I invite you to sign-up to come to one if you have not already done so, that we might begin to build relationships together.
                 One of the things I am listening for in these sessions is glimpses of the core identity of both churches.
                  Thus far, “community” has emerged as something both Covenant and St. Paul’s folks have experienced in congregational life and is a high value in being connected to the church. How that sense of community starts, and where it gets cultivated, is proving to be more particular to each individual. However, there are some commonalities there as well:
                   The hospitable welcome of folks like Jerry Charlton has helped many feel connected at Covenant. Several St. Paul’s folks have spoken of Emmaus and Flathead Lake Camp as places that have grown bonds over the years. I look forward to learning from you about other ways HUMM folks begin and continue the journey of community.
                    In the meantime, I have a question, and I hope you will be willing to take on this inquiry with me. What exactly do we mean when we say “community?” How do we know it when we see it or feel it? What are its hallmarks? What is NOT community? I ask, because the more we understand the in’s and out’s of this important shared value, the better we can create it. I look forward to hearing from you!  
Pastor Margaret

Pastor’s Corner 8/4/19

Dear Friends,
                 This week over at Covenant UMC, I’m talking about Christ’s resurrection from the dead. The message is another in our Living the Questions: The Wisdom of Progressive Christianity sermon series. In chapter 12, “Practicing Resurrection” authors David M. Felten and Jeff Procter-Murphy unpack–and challenge–popular beliefs around the resurrection. Throughout the book as a whole, Felten and Procter-Murphy urge the reader to consider the power of the scriptures as stories rather than stake their meaning on absolute factual accuracy.
                There is certainly a diversity of opinions among the family of Christ, but regardless of what one believes about the details, we can agree upon this: the resurrection is not merely a story. The story of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection was meaningful and life changing enough for the disciples and early Christians to risk their lives over. It is the story of triumph. Of good overcoming evil. Of sin and death no longer having the last word. A story that tells us that there is a God who radically loves us and that because of God’s love, there is light in the darkness that cannot be overcome. The late author Rachel Held Evans wrote “I am a Christian…because the story of Jesus is something I’m willing to be wrong about.”
                In my short time here, I’ve had the honor of hearing some of your stories. I’ve learned about your lives, your journeys, and how you have encountered God’s grace. I invite you to ask yourselves this question: what difference does the story of Christ and his resurrection make for you in your own story?  And ultimately, how can we tell our stories to the world, and show God’s love and light in a world seemingly overcome by darkness? 
In Christ,
Pastor Anna  

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,