Dear God, embracing humankind, forgive our foolish ways; reclothe us in our rightful mind, in purer lives your service find, in deeper reverence, praise. ... New Century Hymnal #502
Remember the hymn that concludes with speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire, O still small voice of calm? There are times when our appeal to God is not so prayerfully serene. Sometimes we thunder our outrage and demand the justice of God to reign down like thunderbolts. May we listen for how the Spirit is revealed in all the ways it is among us from serene to agitated. May we honor the Spirit with our efforts to understand what it means to say. May we find life purpose in heeding what the Spirit calls us to do.
Cataclysmic change is happening all around us, and sometimes to us. Too, often, voices portending the end, such as a recent Facebook ad designed to unveil a nightmare of terrible consequences if we were caught up near a nuclear attack, aim to instill debilitating fear. Provoking people to give up is a strategy used in so many places where people seek to come together. Fear is used to shut people down and out. What’s the purpose of shutting people out of the election process? What’s the purpose for shutting people out of making their own reproductive choices? What’s the purpose for the tightening financial squeezes on the majority of people in the world? Who is this meant to shut down and shut out? When the fear mongering is aimed at me and those I love, I know.
The floods that are happening among us are indeed fearsome displays of destruction, but let not this terrible situation depress you into non-response. You can directly support recovering through keeping prayerful and caring contact with people you know in the recovery area, by making cleanup kits for use in flood recovery, by donating to a disaster response fund that will be used to directly assist people in recovery.
Our political and civic processes seem like thunderous war zones where there is total destruction of order to life that includes all people. The January 6 hearings in Congress are recounting strategic efforts to undo the 2020 Presidential election, and the reaction by some is to double-down on such efforts, such as this week’s effort to withhold primary vote certification in New Mexico. Throwing common sense to the wind, and the common good affirmed by a majority of Americans, abortion is forbidden and gun control despised. Following an LGBTQ+ event hosted at Naples UCC Florida that included a drag show, the Governor and some legislators are seeking to criminalize this type of event. Let not these efforts to shut people down and out drown out the Spirit that calls you to care and to act. Your church is a place of care and action, so don’t give up on it.
Again, remember the hymn that concludes with speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire, O still small voice of calm? There are times when our appeal to God is not so prayerfully serene. Sometimes we thunder our outrage and demand the justice of God to reign down like thunderbolts. May we listen for how the Spirit is revealed in all the ways it is among us from serene to agitated. May we honor the Spirit with our efforts to understand what it means to say. May we find life purpose in heeding what the Spirit calls us to do.
Acting Conference Moderator update
Greetings. Let me take this opportunity to briefly introduce myself to those of you who may not know me. My name is Hank Branom. I am currently the Vice Moderator of the conference. This summer, while Moderator Lynne Spencer-Smith is on sabbatical, I am serving as acting Moderator. I am a member of First Congregational UCC in Great Falls. I have served as Chair of the Church Growth Board and as Vice Moderator and Moderator of that congregation. I have previously served on the Committee on Ministry for our conference. I am a lifelong member of the UCC having been baptized, confirmed, and married in UCC churches. I had the blessing of attending UCC related Drury College. As if that weren’t enough, my wife Sara just graduated from Chicago Theological Seminary, a UCC seminary and is on track to be ordained this fall. That is us at her graduation last month. In the real world, I am the Senior Litigator for the Federal Defenders of Montana. I look forward to getting to know more folks in the conference as we journey together in this time of transition. I hope you all have a blessed summer.
A fund has been established to offer immediate support for flood recovery, especially as needed in Carbon and Stillwater counties (Red Lodge, Absarokee). Funds can be accessed by request from local pastors.
Cleanup bucket kits provide supplies to clean homes from water and mud damage. CWS instructions for making buckets are available through the link button below. Delivery of buckets can be coordinated through the Conference office.
Be Loud & Proud! Celebrate and support our beautiful LGBTQI2S+ Community by joining us for a free movie night! Wednesday, June 22nd at 5:30PM on the BIG SCREEN here at Billings First Church. Meet us at the Rainbow doors located on 3rd & 27th St. N in Downtown Billings. Oh and we almost forgot to mention that the popcorn, pizza, and snacks are on us! So wear the rainbow onesie, or those big fluffy slippers, whatever makes you feel like you, and let's have some fun
If you find that your summer weekends take you away from the comforts and pleasures of Sunday morning worship at Plymouth, all is not lost. During the summer on most Tuesdays (around 11:30 AM) beginning June 21 Charles invites you to join him for a picnic lunch outdoors on the lower level of the church. There is no program or purpose other than to eat and to catch up on the news. Bring your own sandwich and a lawn chair; Plymouth will provide the best view in town.
Well, it'll be...something. On Monday, June 20 at 8:30 a.m., Rabbi Mark Kula and Pastor Jennifer Yocum will appear on KGVO Talk Radio 1290 AM and 98.3 FM to talk about interfaith dialogue and our ministry model. We could sure use some friendly voices to call in. The call-in number is (406) 721-1290
Axel Blodgett represented Rapelje High School at the HOBY Youth Leadership Conference in Bozeman the first weekend in June. The Conference involved 59 young leaders from around the State in building leadership skills which will serve them at their schools, in their communities and throughout life. Axel was one of two students named “Outstanding Leader” for the Conference. This award qualifies Axel to participate in the World Leadership Conference in Chicago.
Red Lodge Community UCC
Update from Rev. Dr. Pam Peterson
Recovery update: The damage to my house at this point seems minimal, just the flooded basement. Waiting for a structural integrity assessment and a professional abatement clean-up, that may take a while. I am one of the lucky ones for sure. Our church will need some work in the fellowship hall and our poor playground took a hit. Our entire county has taken this hit, not just Red Lodge. All of your prayers are deeply felt and appreciated. Long talks with friends and family help steady the nerves and gives me fortitude. Love to you all.
Road to National Registration is a long one, which ultimately ends in Washington D.C. The Sheridan County Certified Local Government is sponsoring a grant for $5,500 towards the process. They require the Downtown Sheridan Association to make a 40% matching grant.
In this photo, we had folks from the Alliance for Historic Wyoming coming up from Laramie to visit with Linda Morris, Jean Harm, Julie Baker, Pat Luck, and Elva Carroll. That’s Pastor Sheila standing in the back. The Alliance spent two days examining the building, and that’s just the start!
This National Registration is separate from our recognition as a National Sacred Place. The Downtown Sheridan Association approached us with this new opportunity, for which we are very grateful.
Download for your congregation's stewardship efforts. Materials include practical tools such as logos, commitment cards, bulletin inserts, and letters, and provide resources for preaching and teaching about stewardship throughout the year.
Conference Green Team
The Conference Green Team met on May 17, 2022 by zoom. Present were Charles Wei, Amy Carter, Bob Miller, Patty Martinson, Barbara Miner, Illa Dee, and Cheryl Stewart.
We focused first on Chapter 4 of the book we have been studying, Cathedral on Fire. The book reminded us that the idea of convincing people of the importance of climate justice is not as much “getting a message across,” as “getting something heard.” How do we relay the information so it is empowering, but not overwhelming? The book suggested appealing to the three loves: love of neighbor, love of creation, and love of children.
Cathedral on Fire also reminded us of the importance of pollinators. Concern for protecting pollinators can be a motivation since pollinators are responsible for 1/3 of the bites of food that we eat. We discussed the need for native bees to pollinate native species. Native bees and native pollinators protect biodiversity.
Barbara continues in cultivating the plants for pollinators at Mayflower Congregational Church. She was excited that 12 lavender plants survived the winter, and 12 more will soon join them. Barbara reported that Mayflower recently had five students from MSU in Bozeman work with Mayflower to make plans for sustainable landscaping. From the ideas of the students, the church chose seven things to do in five years, and then prioritized the top four things. Barbara will seek grants for the top four.
Barbara reported that Billings Community Seed Library is going well. Barbara does public speaking on behalf of the Seed Library. Over 464 seed packets were given out in 3 weeks. Illa Dee reported that Sheridan has a seed library. There were 63 people at the grand opening.
Amy reported that the folk at Mayflower Congregational in Billings collected 698 lb. of e-waste recently. (She has a photo)
Charles Wei was excited that Robin Morrison from MT Interfaith Power and Light spoke at his church in Helena recently. The Helena church wants to become a member congregation. Charles is also excited that volunteers are working in the community garden in front of their church, raising vegetables for Afghan refugees in Helena.
The Green Team would like to have a presence at our Conference Annual Meeting happening September 23-5. These were ideas suggested:
• Teach folks to fold cranes to send to world leaders with prayers for the earth
• Have a table where people can write what they individually and their churches are doing for climate
• Recruit folk for the Conference Green Team
• Do part of the worship service
• Have Bob share his original song about climate justice
• Do a seed exchange
• Have a green candle for every worship service
• Present about Meatless Monday; offer/collect recipes
• Tour of Mayflower grounds
• Serve crickets chocolate chip cookies made with cricket flour
Barbara asked, “Why, instead of/in addition to oil pipelines are there not water pipelines. . . . pipelines that send water from places of flooding to places of desert/water shortage?
Our next meeting will be in Billings at the Conference Office (in person, and also on zoom), June 21 from 2-4 p.m. Participants are asked to read Chapter 5 in our study book.
We keep those affected by flooding in our prayers, especially those whose homes were damaged or who are still trapped behind washed out roads and bridges. Prayer with our pastors in flood affect areas: Rev. Dr. Pam Peterson in Red Lodge, Rev. Meg Hatch in Absarokee.