St. Paul’s Pastor’s Corner 6/30/19

Dear ministers of St. Paul’s,
My friends, first of all, I am so proud of all of you and our community. I am so honored to be your pastor. The ministry of St. Paul’s is powerful and unique to Helena, and I can feel the Holy Spirit at work in our varied ministries.                
I know the past two years have been difficult. Change and transition to the magnitude St. Paul’s has experienced are significant. And, with transitioning lead pastors yet again, along with our larger denomination’s struggles, I feel like we have been put through the wringer.
The good news is that we have each other. St. Paul’s is a strong congregation with ministers who are passionate and compassionate. Each of you adds to this congregation in ways that are important to the body of Christ. Though there are tension and unease with our future, and it is muddled with larger denomination decisions, my heart is hopeful for St. Paul’s. When I share that I am a pastor at St. Paul’s with strangers around town, almost all people A.) Know who we are, and B.) appreciate what we stand for. I was even on the operating table for my knee surgery in March, and the surgical staff rambled on and on about how important our church was to the community.
 We are needed here in Helena. Each gift, each hour of volunteer, each loaf of bread or cracker donated are needed. We need your financial support to keep our ministry sustained. We need your prayers and presence as we continue to serve the community. We need your witness and your stories in this world. I, as your pastor, need all of you. We are in this together. I am invested fully in this congregation and want to offer my hope and excitement for what is to come. I am here for all of you.
As we enter into our new chapter, I want you to be proud of who we are and the fruits of our labors!
We continue to partner with groups around our community and strive to be a safe place for all people to experience God’s love.
Here’s to another year of growth and mission. I am so proud of all of you.
With love,
Pastor Sami  

Pastor’s Corner 6/23/19


On this Big Sky Pride weekend in Helena, I give thanks for the loving hearts, welcoming spirits and open doors of HUMM in the St. Paul’s and Covenant churches.

Perhaps y’all have gotten used to being inclusive and hospitable… doing things like cheering at parades, rainbowingup church steps and offering “Free Mom/Dad Hugs”. But take it from me, this is still a BIG DEAL to those who have not received such gifts of grace from church people previously… or infrequently enough to be moved to tears by the experience.

The culture we live in is not universally accepting, much less inclusive. Just this week on my Facebook feed, a Trans friend had a “neighbor” unleash their dog to attack her while screaming obscenities at her whole family. She literally does not feel safe in her own home, much less on the streets of her community.

Perhaps your relationship circles fall somewhere between the polarities of hugs and hate. Most of us are not 100% on the same page with everyone we know and love. Wherever you find yourself on the spectrum of LGBTQ acceptance and inclusion, I invite you to consider how you can put more love, more grace, more compassion into conversations and situations that start to get sticky. How can YOU be love-in-action with those who need your witness… and need to see you loving ALL your neighbors.

Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.” (I John 4:7)

Pastor’s Corner 6/16/19

Dear Friends,       
     Loss and grief are on my mind these days as I navigate the roller-coaster of change. As much as I EAGERLY seek to join you, this transition has some tender spots for me, as such things always do. What I had not anticipated is how it’s affecting me to say good-bye to the Denver Area which has been my family’s ‘home base’ since 1988.
     You see, my mother decided that with me leaving Colorado (again), she should pick up and move to be close to one of my sisters or I. Surprise-surprise, the grandchildren won that coin toss! So, off to Virginia she goes… and no longer will there be a Gillikin presence in Colorado.
     Our culture doesn’t give much permission for us to really feel our losses. Like so much else, grief merits a nano-second or two of recognition and then we’re expected to pull ourselves together and get on with it.
     But the community of faith has, at our best, far more capacity to be present to one another in the midst of grief. The liturgy in Jewish synagogues includes a “mourner’s prayer” every week. All who are grieving stand as it is recited, thus reminding the community of faith to offer care to those bereft in any way.
     I am mindful that these worshipping communities of Covenant and St. Paul’s UMCs have experienced a lot of change in a relatively short time span. So, I suspect that there is some tender-heartedness for us to attend to in the months to come… even if what you are grieving is the loss of stability.
     May we be gentle with one another and generous in offering love and care to all! Shalom,

Pastor’s Corner 6/2/19

Dear Ones,
“Hope is the thing that flutters – and perches in the soul – and sings the tune without the words – and never stops at all.”
       Many times I have returned to these lines from Emily Dickenson, for like all humans, I sometimes lose my grasp on hope. This is one of the reasons we need prayer – to keep us connected with the One who sources new life, possibility & thus hope for us. This is also one of the reasons we benefit so greatly from community, for when we are losing our grip, another can pick up the slack for us, enabling us to maintain vision and momentum that otherwise might falter.
       Painting this bird last year was one of those moments that returned me to hopefulness. Listening tonight to a small church in a small community, share about their children’s ministry that has quintupled in the last year, not only fills me with hope for that congregation and their mission, but for ALL churches and OUR missions.
       Where is hope fluttering in your soul? How will you embrace its tune and allow its possibilities to guide your steps this week? May the God of hope fill you with joy and peace, bubbling over in the days to come!