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,

June 28 Pastor’s Corner


As United Methodists from across our conference gathered in our sanctuary last week we heard the terrible news of the shooting deaths at Emmanuel American Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. One of the striking pieces of our tradition is how we are connected to so many Christians worldwide, and in difficult moments we know we can gather in prayer and seek justice for our brothers and sisters. The Bishop has requested that we share the following prayer from Pastor Kelly Addy of Bigfork UMC, to embody our sorrow and our need for God’s love in this moment.

Dear Lord,
We come to you as your children, seeking your wisdom and patience in the midst of our bewilderment. You have made humankind so magnificently and so powerfully, but we lose our way before we can arrive at the kind of love with which you made us. We know it is there because we are the work of your hands and we ask your gentle hand to guide us to it and place it at the center of all things and nations, and races and peoples.

We gathered to learn of the riches of your abundant love, which overcomes all the violence the world can muster. And then shots rang out across this great land of hope and freedom, infecting people with fear and suspicion.

We turn to you and to you alone, as we cry out once again that we are love because you are love and we are from you. How can anyone hope to love anyone if they do not love everyone? How can anyone seek to overcome darkness with darkness? How can anyone hate anyone without hating everyone?
Turn our hearts to neither the left nor the right, but only to you. We read your Word and hear your love in it even when people in Egypt and Syria and South Carolina die for it.

We lift up:
Our brother, Honorable, Rev. Clementa Pinckney, 41, pastor and state senator
Our sister, Cynthia Hurd, 54
Sister, Ethel Lance, 70
Our brother, Rev DePayne Middleton-Doctor, 49
Sister, Rev. Sharonda Singleton, 45
Our brother, Rev. Daniel Simmons, Sr., 74
Sister, Myra Thompson, 59
Sister, Susie Jackson, 87
Brother Tywanza Sanders, 26
And our brother, the suspected shooter,
Dylann Roof, 21.

We pray for peace. We lift up those who suffer violence anywhere in the world and we do not look down on them, but up to you.

Give us your peace. Give us your love. Give us your will, abundantly as we trudge onward and upward and homeward together to you.

And when we go back into the world from this place may our light so shine that other would see the Christ in us and be led in the Way, by the Truth, to the Life Everlasting. Amen.

As we begin a new week, I invite us to hold this prayer in our hearts. May our life be a prayer that our world will see a day when racial violence and systemic hatred are no more.

Pastor Tyler

June 21 Pastor’s Corner

Welcome to our 150 Year Jubilee Sunday. We hope this is a joyous celebration of the ministry completed in the last 150 years and a launch for our future ministry. We are thankful to have Bishop Elaine J.W. Stanovsky preaching at the Jubilee service, our choir for singing, the Junk Man’s Choir performing at our picnic, and for all of the people who helped make this day possible. We are especially thankful for everyone who could be here to share this Sunday of celebration. This Jubilee Sunday we wanted to share with people the new ways in which they can stay connected with St. Paul’s as we each go out to share ministry with the world.

St. Paul’s App
“There is an App for that.” In the ever-increasing pace of the world we want people to stay connected to their faith community. Our App is designed to get you things like our sermons, which you can download to your phone or stream right from the Internet. We hope this is a way you can stay connected to the ministry of our church. To get the App go to stpaulshelena.org and click on “Download our App.”

For 150 years the generosity of people with St. Paul’s has been tremendous. We want to continue to make it possible for people to give and this means we have to provide ways for electronic giving (credit, debit cards). We have partnered with a company that works with non-profits and churches to make this possible, PushPay. There are two ways to use this multi-platform giving solution to give to St. Paul’s. 1. Text “stpaulshelena” to 77977 on your mobile phone and you will receive a link to give a one-time gift, and then will be invited to download the PushPay App. 2. Go to stpaulshelena.org/giving and follow the links to give.

Livestream and HCTV
For a significant portion of our history we were on the radio Sunday mornings. We have now moved to Livestream and Helena Civic Television. If you are unable to join us for worship on a given Sunday, we invite you to participate by watching live online at livestream.com/stpaulshelena or by watching our broadcast on HCTV channel 189 on cable at 7 PM on Wednesday nights. These ministries are designed to keep you connected to worship as you share your ministry in the world.

Thank you for your connection to our church and for the ways you will keep us Grounded, Growing, Giving and Going for Good in the future of our ministry.

See you in 2065,

Pastor Marianne and Pastor Tyler

June 14 Pastor’s Corner

This is a big week here at St. Paul’s.  First, we have the privilege of hosting the 47th meeting of the Yellowstone Conference.  Practically speaking, that means that some 300 clergy and laity from churches around Montana and northern Wyoming and Salmon and Lemhi, Idaho will gather to worship, learn together, elect delegates to General Conference, conduct business and celebrate our ministry as United Methodist disciples of Jesus.  The last time the Yellowstone Conference met in Helena for our annual meeting was in 1964.  Actually, at that time, we were still the ‘Montana Conference.’  We didn’t officially became the ‘Yellowstone Conference of the United Methodist Church’ until 1969 when churches from Northern Wyoming and the former E.U.B. (Evangelical United Brethren Church) merged with the churches in the Montana Conference.

All sessions of the Annual Conference which begins in the St. Paul’s sanctuary with worship at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, June 18th are open to any who might be interested.  The Conference speaker this year is theologian Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parker who co-wrote  Saving Paradise: How Christianity Traded Love of This World for Crucifixion and Empire, with Rita Nakashima Brock. Her sessions might be of particular interest.  Also of interest might be the mission celebration on Thursday evening (hosted at Covenant UMC) and the ordination service in our sanctuary at 7:00 p. m. on Friday evening.   Rev. Jim Barth will be ordained. Check our website at www.stpaulshelena.org and find the link to “Resources for YAC participants’ for more detailed schedule information.  There will also be a Cokesbury bookstore set up in the west end of our Fellowship Hall – and that too is open to everyone.  It is a daunting proposition to have 300 guests for several days.   Special thanks to all of the St. Paul’s folks who have volunteered your time to offer hospitality to those who will be joining us!

But that’s not all!  After Annual Conference ends at noon on Saturday, we will turn our energy and attention to our Jubilee!   Our Bishop will be with us and will preach.  We will commission our Guatemala Youth Mission Team.  Our Chancel Choir will sing and we will all raise a joyful noise in thanks to God for the blessings of the past 150 years.   Following worship, we will have a Jubilee party with food, fun, bluegrass music and, maybe even some dancing in the streets!!  Thanks to the generosity of several donors, we will have a Jubilee Booklet available that day as well.  It is a snapshot of St. Paul’s at age 150.

This is indeed a big week here at St. Paul’s.  I hope you will plan to drop in for some or all of it . . . and don’t miss the celebration next Sunday!

Grace and peace and Jubilee blessings to us all!