Sunday, February 1 Pastor’s Corner

“So, is there an afterlife, and if so, what will it be like? I don’t have a clue. But I am confident that the one who has buoyed us up in life will also buoy us up through death. We die into God. What more that means, I do not know. But that is all I need to know.” ~Marcus J. Borg
As many of you know by now, one of our most popular lecturers, Dr. Marcus Borg, died unexpectedly on Wednesday morning, Jan. 21. His wife, Marianne, said he ‘rose before the sun.’ She and his son Dane and Dane’s husband, Benjamin, were with him when he died. His daughter and grandson had visited just the weekend before. Marcus had been diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis on December 19 and died from that. It was quick and he was at peace, still filled with hope for the future.
Marcus’ death is certainly a loss for the church. He was a consummate scholar who was also passionate about his faith. He wanted the work of sound Biblical scholarship to be readily accessible to the local church and that was precisely the audience to whom he addressed most of his books. Many of you have benefitted from one of his books or a class or a video series that included Marcus’ work.
When I went to seminary 25+ years ago, Marcus was a visiting professor at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley (my seminary) while his wife, Marianne, was going to the Episcopal seminary. That was before he had written most of his books! I happened to live in the same duplex as the Borgs and, to make a long story short, we became friends. It is a friendship that has endured and though we haven’t seen them often, we have usually gotten together at least once a year and it always seemed like we could pick up where we left off! We had hoped next to take a trip to Assisi, Italy together.
There will be a large public celebration of life for Marcus at the Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Portland, OR on March 22. Yesterday, on Saturday, Jan. 31, however, there was family celebration at the small Episcopal Church (also called Trinity) in Bend, OR. The Borgs have attended there since moving to Powell Butte in central Oregon several years ago. When I spoke with Marianne Borg last Monday, she whispered the hope that perhaps we might join the family at that service. That is a long way to tell you that that is precisely where Lyle and I are this weekend. Tyler offered to cover preaching here. Su DeBree is covering the service in Lincoln where Lyle was scheduled to be. When she knew we were making the journey, Marianne also asked me to be part of this service for Marcus, one of 3 people offering reflections.
My relationship with Marcus has deeply affected my life and my faith. He has been a friend and mentor and I will miss him greatly. I am so grateful he was able to come to St. Paul’s twice so that many of you have caught a glimpse of the blessing he has been – and will continue to be – for thoughtful Christians everywhere.


Grace and peace,

January 25 Pastor’s Corner

Greetings All and a very happy last
Sunday of January to you!
It is just one month since Christmas . . . does it seem longer than that to you? Just one month ago we were singing Christmas carols and delighting in the beauty of lights and Christmas trees. We were in the midst of family gatherings. I was anticipating a visit with my family in Florida. My, how things have changed! Of course, winter has its own beauty although I admit that it is a bit of a challenge for me to appreciate it sometimes. I’m just not a fan of icy roads, cold winds, snow and long nights. Still, beauty abounds – and I have some good news to share that I think will warm us all up!
One month ago we were hoping for a robust end to our year – and that is exactly what happened. Your generosity meant that we met all of our financial obligations. We actually received $477,618 in income in 2014 – which was about $20,000 more than we projected. That, coupled with our fundraising (a Wednesday night dinner hosted by staff, a ‘Resurrection matching challenge’ offering, and snowflake gifts) means that we begin 2015 on healthy footing. In addition, to date, our Stewardship pledges to the General Fund for this year are about $14,000 ahead of last year!
I do not yet have a final report on the status of our building (AKA ‘mortgage reduction’) fund but, between our pledges and a few special gifts, our income also fully funded our mortgage obligations.
PushPay, our electronic giving system, which we rolled out in mid-December has been a success and is being used regularly. It is still too early to know for sure how it will impact us in the future although the indications are good. The PushPay system itself is indeed all we hoped it could be – safe, secure and easy to use. I am especially grateful to Tyler for all the research and work he did to help us make this happen. In addition, 15 more people have made arrangements to use our process of EFT (electronic funds transfers) for giving – bringing our total number of participants to close to 100. That particular method of giving is completely free and helps greatly with cash flow, especially during the summer.
Now all of that is news that should warm our hearts! We have much to celebrate as we engage in our All Church Conference tomorrow night where we will receive the details of these reports, approve our budget for 2015, affirm our leadership roster, review a membership report, approve General Endowment requests and share conversation about our hopes and dreams for the future.
Several times last year, the Finance Committee and the Trustees reported on our fiscal health. As we move into 2015, I am working with our Finance Committee to find new ways of better communicating financial information to you. If you have particular questions, please feel free to contact me or Kari Leonard (Finance Chair) or Kathie Roos (Trustees Chair).
Grace and peace,

Pastor’s Corner January 18

Today is Human Relations Sunday! Throughout the gospels Jesus demonstrates that ministry is sharing God’s love with all people. By opening ourselves to God’s love we know that we are whole and created in God’s image, and we are invited to share this love with others. Martin Luther King Jr. is our modern day prophet on human rights. As we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I invite us to remember the sacrifice it takes to help others respond to the needs of those our society rejects.

The United Methodist Church’s statement on human rights is powerful. As you read this statement remember that churches across the United States and the World are committed to this statement.

“The rights and privileges a society bestows upon or withholds from those who comprise it indicate the relative esteem in which that society holds particular persons and groups of persons. We affirm all persons as equally valuable in the sight of God. We therefore work toward societies in which each person’s value is recognized, maintained, and strengthened. We support the basic rights of all persons to equal access to housing, education, communication, employment, medical care, legal redress for grievances, and physical protection. We deplore acts of hate or violence against groups or persons based on race, color, national origin, ethnicity, age, gender, disability, status, economic condition, sexual orientation, gender identity, or religious affiliation. Our respect for the inherent dignity of all persons leads us to call for the recognition, protection, and implementation of the principles of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights so that communities and individuals may claim and enjoy their universal, indivisible, and inalienable rights.” Paragraph 162, 2014 United Methodist Book of Discipline

In your faith practice I invite you to consider these words, to think deeply about MLK Jr.’s vision and to seek ways to touch the lives of those that society has left behind. Let us all pray that our church continues to work diligently to do this both inside our doors and in our communities.

Enthusiastic Peace,

Pastor Tyler

Pastor’s Corner 1-11-15

Going in Mission –

“If your congregation suddenly disappeared, would the community mourn losing the blessings they provide?”

This quote is one I use when I think about mission. Mission is seeking ways to offer blessings to the world. Churches in mission are seeking to share God’s love in tangible ways. By praying, supporting and going in mission we are helping to change the world and share Jesus’ vision of hope for all. St. Paul’s continues to go in mission with integrity by using the heritage of John Wesley, the founder of Methodism. Wesley’s vision for mission does not just involve sharing stories of God’s love, but also blankets, food, and solutions to real world problems. Go to and click on the outreach tab each month to learn more about the work we are doing.

Today in worship Don Skillman will share some of the ways in which he has served in Mission through the United Methodist Church in Brazil. We are thankful to Don for his example of how to make ministry come alive, and his leadership in helping take several groups from St. Paul’s on trips to Mozambique, Haiti, and Brazil. International or domestic mission is one way to experience the transforming power of sharing God’s love in mission. If you are interested in a trip, I would encourage you to speak with Don, myself or other members of the mission team. These trips will transform and deepen your faith.

Thank you St. Paul’s for your continued commitment to mission that transforms people and the world.

Enthusiastic Peace,

Pastor Tyler