Pastor’s Corner 5/12/19

You may be aware of our pastoral transition. Here is a note from our new lead pastor, who will begin July 1.

A Note From Pastor Margaret Gillikin  
Dear Friends,     
Some time ago, I was introduced to the idea that we human beings have three generalized access points to the Divine that touch, move and inspire us.        
Some folks connect through Truth, gravitating towards standards of morality, ethics and wisdom that serve as anchors to life. Other people primarily lean towards Goodness, soaking up stories of kindness and striving to shape their lives accordingly. Thirdly are those who find the Divine in Beauty of any kind, receiving blessing through creation and artistic expressions of all kinds.      It may be that you are affected by all three areas, depending on the circumstances. For instance, both Opera and 1980s pop music stir my soul. Rap? Not so much.     
I remember the first time I saw the mountains of the West instead of the Appalachians I grew up visiting. I was stunned into silence… something you’ll soon learn is difficult to do! Ever since, I have easily found the presence of God in all kinds of nature settings, but it seems like I NEED to be in sight of Western mountains in order to breathe and be connected to God as my Source.     
Whatever it is that brings you to that place of deep peace and finding that it is well with your soul, I pray you discover ways to intentionally seek that out in the days to come.     
I look forward to seeking these opportunities together and sharing them between us as a means of enriching our life in community.

Pastor’s Corner 5/5/19

A Note From Pastor Margaret Gillikin
Greetings new Helena Friends! I am eager to begin life in Montana… the ninth state I have lived in… and am excited to put down roots among you. I’ll be sharing tidbits here in the bulletin until I arrive so that you can begin to get to know me. (I will also gladly accept your “friend” requests on Face Book, especially if you send a message saying you’re a Helena person.)
I was born in North Carolina, but don’t retain much Southern other than use of the word “y’all” and calling people of ALL ages, children on up, “sir” and “ma’am”… and also an affection for food cooked with bacon and/or straight out of the garden. Any tips for growing flavorful veggies (especially tomatoes) in zone 5 will be much appreciated.
One of the things I have always loved about the parables Jesus told was how he related his metaphors to the people he was speaking to. He told farming stories to farmers and fishing stories to fishermen. But to the best of my knowledge, there aren’t any Jesus stories directly applicable to six-tomato-plant scale gardeners, soccer players, anglers, mountain bikers, or many of the many other occupations and hobbies that delight us in the 21st century.
This means that contextualization is one of the most important things we do as a community of faith, and is a large part of what I expect to do as one of your pastors.
I hope you will help me learn about your heritage, history, hopes and values, that together, we might discover meaning in faith that contributes to our living in generous and generative ways.
Prayers in the meantime,


Pastor’s Corner 4/21/19

God raised Jesus from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.” -Acts 2:24
Dear members and friends of St. Paul’s,
     Living in Montana has given me a new appreciation for spring. I have never longed for spring as much as I do here! Come around February, I am tired of the snow and ice and ready for spring. I do have hope that one-day spring will break forth, and yet, it seems like winter keeps its hold on us. On Easter, we celebrate our faith which teaches us that death can’t keep its hold on us. In the same way a chrysalis can’t keep a hold on the new butterfly, so death can’t keep a hold on us. Death, failure, endings never have the last word with us. For we believe in a God of life and resurrection.
     That is what we celebrate this Easter, the new life that emerges from the darkness by the power of God.
     We have an opportunity to be agents of new life this Easter Sunday. We will be collecting a special Easter offering. A portion will support the programs and ministries of St. Paul’s, all of which create space for new life to emerge. Another portion will support 
Intermountain Children’s Home. For 110 years St. Paul’s United Methodist Church and Intermountain Children’s home have walked hand-in-hand in ministry together for the betterment of children in the Helena valley. Today, Intermountain serves the children Brother Van first called them to serve, but also whole family units, young adults, and youth in crisis in a variety of ways. The mission of healing through healthy relationships continues to expand throughout western Montana, bringing relational and emotional health to over 1,200 clients daily through transformative, integrated care. Through intensive residential care, community services, co-occurring substance abuse counseling, occupational therapies, and interventions in schools, Intermountain is combating the threat that early childhood adversity and trauma pose to the lives of vulnerable children. Parenting classes and community trainings build skills in the thousands of attendees that help to build more resilient individuals, healthier family systems, and stronger communities. Your gift will bring about new life in the families and lives of God’s precious children. Please use the designated envelop in the pew or designate “Easter Offering” on your check.
We look forward to ushering in spring and celebrating the possibilities of new life in Jesus,
Pastors Patti and Sami  

Pastor’s Corner 3/3/19

God is love. That is the central truth of our Christian faith. That is why the actions of General Conference this week are so heartbreaking. In case you have not heard, the Traditional Plan, which retains the discriminatory language against the LGBTQI community in our Book of Discipline was approved. Along with thousands of others, I am angry, I am sad, I am shocked, I am hurt, I am confused, I am weary. Perhaps all this snow is God’s frozen tears. We need time and space to process all of those emotions. Pastor Sami and I will lead a healing service next Sunday, March 10th at 1:00 pm in the St. Paul’s sanctuary, to help us process all these emotions before our loving God. Please join us. All are welcome. The Western Jurisdiction is meeting in a few weeks to create a more organized response. We need to give our institution time to work this through its systems. The items voted on at General Conference are not effective until January 2020. They will all be reviewed by the United Methodist Judicial Council and it is predicted much will be ruled unconstitutional. Much is still very uncertain. Despite what is happening at the global institutional level of the United Methodist Church, we here at St. Paul’s and Covenant continue to be a beacon of love and hope for all people. May our response finally be about loving boldly! May we be all the more determined to create beloved community in Helena where all people are valued and honored. I am not ready to give in or give up. Will you join me? May we fight, invite, include, love, reach out, resist, and affirm. May we freely extend God’s grace to all. One more thing, I invite you to surround our Bishop with love and affirmation. Let’s do an old-fashioned card shower! Her address is Bishop Karen Oliveto 6110 S. Greenwood Plaza Blvd. Greenwood Village, CO 80111. Walking on the path of grace and marching on the road of resistance, Pastor Patti