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  

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)