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!

Pastor’s Corner 5/26/19

A Note From Pastor Margaret Gillikin


I write this week from UMC Next, the conference hosted by Adam Hamilton at the Church of the Resurrection for United Methodists who do not affirm the Traditional Plan passed at GC2019.
We are praying, listening, talking, sharing, and creating with folks across conferences, generations, races, genders, sexual orientations, and beliefs. We are attempting to generate possibilities and to organize in the midst of chaos. We are grappling with the inevitable push-back about who was included at these tables and why not others. We are wondering how to include others more equitably at future gatherings.
We are being asked to contemplate and answer questions like “Why am I United Methodist?” “How would I describe my lens for interpreting scripture?” “What does living into our baptismal vows actually look like? Especially ‘rejecting the spiritual forces of wickedness’.” “What kind of church would my children or grandchildren be willing to invite their friends to?” 
I haven’t heard this question in Kansas City yet, but I will forewarn you here… I’ll be asking you to answer it once we begin gathering for conversation in Helena this summer: “What do you sense God calling YOUR church at this time? How is it and is it not being expressed? What needs to happen in order for God to breathe that dream fully into life?”
Now is the time, beloved, for dreaming God-sized dreams and working to fulfill them. May we rejoice in our calling!

Pastor’s Corner 5/19/19

A Note From Pastor Margaret Gillikin
Beloved in Christ,
Seminary trained clergy have generally spent three (or more) years immersed in God-talk as part of our training. That’s what theology is, after-all, talk about God. We bring theological lenses to Biblical study, education, leadership, even something like choosing paper or plastic to carry your groceries in can be a theological discussion. The thing is, churches are not just about God… they are also about PEOPLE. This has led me to multiple areas of inquiry. One I keep coming back to is Family Systems Theory. Instead of looking at individuals, this approach focuses on the dynamics of groups: nuclear families, extended families, office families, congregational families, etc. etc. and examines how they intersect with and impact each other positively and negatively. One of the things this approach delves deeply into is how anxiety grows and lessens… and what are the ways to influence a family / group in bringing greater health to it. Chief among those strategies is PLAY. Play as in some kind of fun activity… and also play as in doing something new/different.
In the weeks and months to come, you will learn more about me as the “Fun Fairy”. And some of that IS about having a good time. But I invite you to hear now (and remember later) that silliness, laughter and shenanigans are often an intentional leadership strategy on my part. For when groups play together, systemic anxiety decreases and cognition reactivates, creativity becomes possible and voila, productivity increases.
Praying for health AND joy,