"Through the power of Christ, we are learning to live in simplicity, thankfulness, contentment and
generosity in the Bitterroot Valley of Montana."


Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Greetings to the Mountain Sky Area

Changing Seasons While Living and Loving Boldly
August 31, 2016

Dear brothers and sisters of the Mountain Sky Area,

To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven. (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

Writing this, I am aware of changing seasons:

The expansive days of summer are turning into the days of lessening sunlight of fall.

The daydreams of August are turning into the focus of September programs.

Goodbyes between you and Bishop Elaine are turning into hellos as we begin our ministry together.

Seasons don’t always neatly transition, one to the next. There are questions and uncertainties about a new season. But each season offers the promise of new life, and new ways of encountering the world and each other. Just like in biblical times, in parts of the Mountain Sky Area, autumn is the season for planting the winter wheat that will harvested in the spring. God’s harvest happens no matter the season or the place.

I have found the one constant in the ever-changing seasons to be God’s love. The hymn O Love, That Will Not Let Me Go has been my anchor when it feels like all else is swirling around me. This love of God, in turn, enables me to walk through all the changing circumstances of life in love, remaining connected not only to God but to those around me.

It is with this love that I am looking forward to meeting you! I have heard a great deal about the ministries of the Mountain Sky Area, about how you are extending the love of Christ in your communities in creative and compelling ways, and I know there’s still so much more to hear about!

I look forward to learning of the ways you are making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world in your town, of how you are providing the anchor of God’s love in the changing seasons of your community, and of the ways you are embodying love in all your relationships: with those in your pulpits and pews, with the people living in your neighborhoods who long to know that God’s love is real, and with everyone you meet.

I pray that we live into beloved community, that we live boldly as the body of Christ. And love so fully, so completely, that the neighborhoods in which United Methodists churches stand in are utterly transformed by the love that spills out of these communities.
In this changing season of episcopal transition, may God’s strong, sure love bind us together and prepare us for a future of hope and new possibilities.


Bishop Karen Oliveto

Worship on Wednesday returns next week!

Join us next Wednesday for Worship on Wednesday (WOW) @ 6:00 pm.  We gather for a light soup supper, enjoy a reflection (a different person each week), and end our time each week with communion.

Our Journey Begins

 Musings from the Mountain Sky Area

Earlier this month, Robin and I drove from San Francisco to Denver. Friends watching our posts on Facebook often remarked: “Not exactly the direct route.” They were right. We intentionally drove a circuitous route to acquaint ourselves with the Mountain Sky Area. In fact, in a week we put over 3,000 miles on the car!

Lesson one: There is a lot of land out here!

Since Robin had a Deaconess meeting in North Carolina, and the Bishop’s residence wasn’t available yet, I continued to meander through the area, driving up to Billings to do further exploring. As I drove I kept singing this song:

I, the Lord of sea and sky,
I have heard My people cry.
All who dwell in dark and sin,
My hand will save.
I who made the stars of night,
I will make their darkness bright.
Who will bear My light to them?
Whom shall I send?

Leaving the sea-bound coast for Big Sky Country, God was a constant driving companion, sometimes whispering, sometimes nudging, but always present. As the geography changed to unfamiliar formations, God was there. As small towns gave way to wilderness, God was there. As the weather seemed to change with each passing mile, God was there.

I, the Lord of snow and rain,
I have born my peoples pain.
I have wept for love of them, They turn away.
I will break their hearts of stone,
Give them hearts for love alone.
I will speak My word to them,
Whom shall I send?

I prayed the miles, including each town that I passed in my prayers. I wondered who lived there: what did folks do to earn a living? What were the secret hurts they harbored? What were the longings in their hearts? What filled them with joy? How was God made real to them? How were United Methodists sharing the love of Christ here in tangible ways that brought healing and hope? I prayed for the pastors and laity who were God’s hands in these places that people called “home.”

I, the Lord of wind and flame,
I will tend the poor and lame.
I will set a feast for them,
My hand will save
Finest bread I will provide,
Till their hearts be satisfied.
I will give My life to them,
Whom shall I send?

As the odometer continued to turn, I realized I was driving into God’s new reality for me, for you, for us. God has invited us to a banquet table and reminds us, “Leave no one out. Go to the highways and the byways and invite my children in!” God is promising us that our longings and hungers will be met through God’s abundant love. There is enough for all God’s sons and daughters. We don’t have to worry about scarcity at God’s banquet. God will surprise us with all God has in store for us! Our lives will experience a wholeness we can’t even imagine. Our souls will be satisfied in ways we cannot even anticipate.

Here I am Lord, Is it I Lord?
I have heard You calling in the night.
I will go Lord, if You lead me.
I will hold Your people in my heart.

As the miles passed, I realized it was this chorus that was guiding me better than any map or GPS: God has called, and I have said yes to the journey. I look forward to having you as my traveling companions as together we hold God’s people in our hearts. God invites us to open our lives up to Love’s leading. I don’t know all that God has in store for us, but I am excited to share it with you!

In anticipation,
Bishop Karen

21st World Methodist Conference begins today

The World Methodist Council engages, empowers, and serves member churches by encouraging Methodist unity in witness, facilitating mission in the world, and fostering ecumenical and inter-religious activities. It promotes obedience to Christ’s Great Commandment to love God and neighbor, and it is committed to fulfilling the Great Commission to make disciples through vibrant evangelism, a prophetic voice, cooperative programs, faithful worship, and mutual learning.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Mountain Sky Outlook: The Turning of the Seasons

Mountain Sky Outlook
August 30, 2016

As I write, following the rhythm of the seasons, amber maple leaves drift through dark fir branches in a forest that is slipping from summer into autumn. Owls swoop silently above the forest floor, in an endless search for sustenance. Voles grub through the duff beneath them, avoiding their watchful eyes. At night, along the lake’s edge, a frog plops into the dark water. Geese honk as they flock up for a southward migration. Stars turn in the night sky, the earth turns, shadows shift angle.

Unfailing Blessings of God
God – creator, redeemer and sustainer – loves and tends each along its way of tilt, migration, swirl, orbit, ebb and flow. Or, as we roam or march, crawl or hurdle down unknown paths through wilderness, led only by the light or cloud, or star breaking through from the heavens.

Bishops Move
Bishops, as all itinerant clergy, MOVE. We miss and mourn what we move from and companions on the way; we read and pray and breathe the shifting view, place, moment; and now we turn to meet and greet, observe and embrace the present; falling short of anticipating the unknown that we move toward. Ah, the deep mystery of a life of faith; the surprising and disrupting pilgrimage of call. God guard and guide us on our way!
Read the rest of the final Mountain Sky Outlook from Bishop Elaine.

Update on Commission on a Way Forward

August 31, 2016

Washington, D.C.: The Council of Bishops' Executive Committee says that an overwhelming number of nominations for the Commission on a Way Forward has delayed the appointment of Commission members. More time is needed for all nominees to be given adequate consideration.

Read more at this link.

30 Days of Creation Care reminder

July 2017 is just around the corner!

Methodist Men at the Indiana State Soldiers and Sailors Monument at the 1913 national gathering.
In 1913, thousands of Methodist men gathered in Indianapolis for a national meeting, and in 2017, United Methodist Men will return to that city for a similar gathering.

Featured speakers for the July meeting include: Mississippi Area Bishop James Swanson, president of the General Commission on United Methodist Men; South Carolina Bishop Jonathan Holston; Shan Foster, national director of MEND, a YWCA program combatting domestic violence; and Dr. Kevin Watson, assistant professor of Methodist and Wesleyan Studies at Candler School of Theology.

The theme of the event will be “Discipleship––The Contact Sport.” Sessions will be held in St. Luke’s UMC, located 26 miles north of the Indianapolis Airport. Several motels and hotels are located nearby.

This is the 12th quadrennial national conference since the first UM Men gathering in 1969. In 1973 there was a laity gathering but no men’s gathering. The first nine events were held at Purdue University; the last two conferences were held in Nashville. This will be the first event in Indianapolis since the creation of the UMC in 1968.

30 Days of Creation Care reminder

Monday, August 29, 2016

SUMC in conversation

Fifteen turned out tonight for an open discussion of the events and issues surrounding the election of Bishop Oliveto. Peg Plimpton, a reserve lay delegate to General and Jurisdictional Conference, was also on hand to answer questions about the process delegates underwent leading up to the election.

30 Days of Creation Care Reminder

What you should know about the historic Native American battle happening now

Photo by Tom Stromme/The Bismarck Tribune via AP.
(Posted on Facebook by The [UMC] General Commission on Religion and Race)

Access to clean water is not only a human right, a matter of equity, but also a matter with cultural and religious significance.

Read more at this link.

This week @ Stevi UMC

6:00 pm, SUMC in Conversation

7:00 pm, Living Clean

8:00 am, WIC

10:00 am, Final Wired Word 
1:00 pm, Children's education meeting

10:00 am, Drop-in Bible Study, lesson #1 (This week at the church)

9:00 am, Church school 

*NEW* Christianity & World Religions study
10:15 am, Praise singing 
10:30 am, Worship service 
11:30 am, Fellowship time

Scripture lesson for September 4

This week the scripture lessons come to us from Luke 14:25-33.

The lectionary study will NOT meet this week.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Last Sunday of August @ SUMC

Beautiful flowers on the table
Lois Hansen reads the lesson
Sunrise plays a lively tune
Getting ready for fellowship
Fellowship time is great!
One thing that is readily apparent at Stevi UMC is just how many people are involved before, during, and after worship! Today's sixteen church and worship servants were an example of the involvement of the congregation each Sunday:

+Belinda Alkula and Clay Freeman led the adult studies this morning. Maddy Reyes provided the nursery care.
+Ruth Cleveland and Bev Schneider served as greeters.
+Katie Rose and Ava served as acolytes.
+Lois Hansen served as liturgist and Carol Gragg the children's message.
+Dave Lockman led the praise singing before worship and Julie Ludington provided the piano accompaniment during the service. The members of Sunrise (Cleo Guenther, Bill Lyon, and Carole Koval) shared three bluegrass numbers during today's summer music offering. 
+Amy Farrell, Sonia Henry, and Lois Hansen provided the refreshments during our fellowship time.

Today's sermon brought to a conclusion the summer sermon series from the Twelve Minor Prophets with a look a Malachi.

30 Day of Creation Care Reminder

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Choosing a New Church or House of Worship

About half of U.S. adults have looked for a new religious congregation at some point in their lives, most commonly because they have moved. And when they search for a new house of worship, a new Pew Research Center study shows, Americans look first and foremost for a place where they like the preaching and the tone set by the congregation’s leaders.

Fully 83% of Americans who have looked for a new place of worship say the quality of preaching played an important role in their choice of congregation. Nearly as many say it was important to feel welcomed by clergy and lay leaders, and about three-quarters say the style of worship services influenced their decision about which congregation to join. Location also factored prominently in many people’s choice of congregation, with seven-in-ten saying it was an important factor. Smaller numbers cite the quality of children’s programs, having friends or family in the congregation or the availability of volunteering opportunities as key to their decision.

Read more at this link.

30 Days of Creation Care Reminder

Friday, August 26, 2016

A new UMW opportunity

A new United Methodist Women's (UMW) circle is being formed to accommodate those members of the church that cannot attend the regular UMW meetings currently held on 2nd Friday of the month.  In addition to general fellowship, this circle will focus on the priority social actions areas designated by the UMW.  These areas are Climate Justice, Maternal and Child Health,  Ending Mass Incarceration, and Economic Inequality.  The initial thought is to have the meeting on Saturday afternoon, either monthly or quarterly.

Please let Lisa Menery know if you are interested in being a part of this circle.  If a different day or time would suit you better, please let Lisa know that as well.  Once we get an idea of who is interested and what day and time works best for the majority of people, more information will be sent out.

If you know of someone who you think would be interested, please pass this information along.  The invitation is also open to all UMW members.  Thank you.

Responses can be sent to the church office (406) 777-5443 or via email - steviumc@gmail.com

30 Days of Creation Care reminder

The return of Worship on Wednesday!

The Worship on Wednesday ministry returns to Stevi UMC on September 7th @ 6:00 pm! Join us each Wednesday at 6 pm for  our casual soup & reflection mid-week worship/gathering.

Did you miss Sunday morning worship?
Come on Wednesday.

Need a pick-me-up?
Come on Wednesday.

Want to introduce your church/faith to a friend?
Come on Wednesday.

Not excited about getting up on Sunday morning?
Come on Wednesday!

Do you love worship?
Come on Wednesday!

Are you someone who loves communion?
Come on Wednesday!

Have questions?
Come on Wednesday!!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

An invitation

Recent events, including General Conference's direction to the Council of Bishops to develop "A Way Forward" through the appointment of a special committee to explore issues surrounding sexuality with plans to call a special General Conference in 2018, and the election in July by the Western Jurisdiction of an openly gay bishop have resulted in confusion and concern among many members of The United Methodist Church and in the Stevi UMC faith community. 

As in any family, there are varying points of view ... and many questions. 

Let's have a conversation. You are invited to participate in a discussion on Monday, August 29, at 6 PM in the Fellowship Hall. 

If you are unable to attend, Pastor Charles is available to listen to comments/concerns on this on any other matter of faith or life.

New study coming in September

Join us starting September 4th (Sundays @ 9  am) for "Christianity and World Religions," a video-based study by the Rev. Adam Hamilton. The study will also be repeated on Wednesdays @ 10 am.

During this six-week study, we'll explore Hinduism, Buddism, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity.

Pantry Partners Family Fun Night

Our Savior Lutheran Church (in Stevensville) invites you to help support Pantry Partners Food Bank at "Bring a Can if You Can" Family Fun Night.

Free burgers, hot dogs, fun & games, and much more!

Friday, August 26th - 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Our Savior Lutheran Church
184 Pine Hollow Road, Stevensville

Call Rosanne @ (406) 239-5573 with any questions.

30 Days of Creation Care reminders

Monday, August 22, 2016

Prayer Request from the Council of Bishops

The Council of Bishops have just announced a new prayer initiative, “Pray Your Way Forward”, in alignment with the newly established Commission on a Way Forward. Phase 1 asks for Bishops of the church to pledge 15 minutes of prayer for “the selection and initial efforts of the Commission.” 

“We are a people of prayer and enjoin the entire church to fervently pray that the Holy Spirit will breakthrough and lead us into a future with hope,” 
— Bishop Bruce R. Ough, president, Council of Bishops


30 Days of Creation Care reminder

This week @ Stevi UMC

10:00 am, Fall Bazaar Planning
6:00 pm, NO lectionary study today

7:00 pm, Living Clean

8:00 am, WIC

10:00 am, NO Wired Word today

10:00 am, Drop-in Bible Study, lesson #13

9:00 am, Church school
10:15 am, Praise singing 
10:30 am, Worship service 
11:30 am, Fellowship time

Scripture lessons for August 28

Prophet Malachi by Giotto di Bondone
We conclude our summer sermon series from the Twelve Minor Prophets with two readings the Prophet Malachi 3:1-7 and 4:1-5.

There will NOT be a lectionary study group tonight.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

August 21 @ Stevi UMC

Flowers from Carol Gragg
Clay Freeman and Liz Goddard
Prayers from the faith community
Sharing during fellowship time
There are still plenty of apple dumplings to be had!

What a wonderful Sunday we enjoyed at Stevi UMC!

Our summer music offerings continued this morning as Clay Freeman and Liz Goddard shared, "He Touched Me."  Pastor Charles shared from Zechariah, the next-to-last in the summer sermon series from the Twelve Minor Prophets.

Thanks to Nilda Bishop, Lynda Fisher, and Sue Pearson for serving the community during our fellowship time.

30 Days of Creation reminder

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Another picnic in the books

Bass Creek on a summer afternoon
Games before lunch
Les, Dean, and Don enjoy the shade
Hungry folk!
Post-lunch sharing
Today's picnic took place under picture-perfect summer weather at Larry Creek Campground. Thanks to the UMM for sponsoring this event and for providing the meats and drinks for the hungry gathering!

30 Days of Creation Reminder

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Friday, August 19, 2016

Fun @ Larry Creek Campground

Happy to be here!
Les and Ed chat over supper
Sing-a-long 'round the campfire
Les & Hazel Smith enjoy a late-night fire
Twenty Stevi UMC members, friends, and family came out for the annual picnic and sing-a-long. 

Thanks to: Don Nelson for spearheading the prep for tonight's event; Dave Lockman for leading the singing; and Cy Anderson for supplying the firewood.

The second day of this annual event continues with lunch (burgers & brats provided by the UMM) on Saturday.