It's Happening at St. Paul's UCC!
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Faith Evolving, Lives Transforming
St. Paul's United Church of Christ
1101 Golf Course Rd SE
Suite 101
Rio Rancho, NM

Mailing address
P.O. Box 15755, Rio Rancho, NM 87174-0755

Our core values…

Jesus Guided / Intentionally Inclusive / Peace Seeking / Justice Committed


This is like the days of Noah to me: Just as I swore that the waters of Noah would never again go over the earth, so I have sworn that I will not be angry with you and will not rebuke you. For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed, says the LORD, who has compassion on you.                                                Isaiah 54: 9, 10

Activities in March


Sunday mornings

Worship Service
10:30 am

Social Hour
11:30 am

- - - -

Wednesday March 1

6 – 6:30 pm

Ash Wedesday service

Reflective readings. Imposition of ashes.


Saturdays March 11, 18, 25

2 - 3:30 pm

“Journey to the Center of Lent”

Conversations for reflection

Based on the Gospel of Mark

Einstein Bros Bagels in Rio Rancho

See details below.


Thursday March 30

2 - 3:30 pm

“National Pencil Day” at St. Paul's UCC

What's the point? To have fun!

Enjoy coloring, games, and more.

See details below.


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Other meetings at our location



11:00 am - - - Tai Chi
12:30 pm - - - Overeaters Anonymous
6:00 pm - - - Buddhist Meditation

Second Thursdays

1 pm Parkinson's Support Group


Journey to the Center of Lent
Conversations for Reflection

Discussion guides will be available beginning March 5 at Church
and on our website


Join us on March 11, 18, 25 (Saturdays) from 2 - 3:30 pm.

Einstein Bros Bagels
1908 Wellspring Ave SE #100, Rio Rancho

(across from Presbyterian Rust Medical Center on Unser)



March 11: Journey to the Center of Power

Based on the Gospel of Mark, chapter 6

Who were the powerful during the time of Jesus?

Who were the powerless?

How did Jesus / his followers speak truth to power?

In our time, where does power reside?

How do you relate to power today?

What role does the Church have?



March 18: Journey to the Center of Compassion

Based on the Gospel of Mark, chapter 7

What does compassion look like?

How do rules affect compassion?

What can the heart produce?

Can abrasive words and compassion mix?

When does silence speak?

What role does the Church have?



March 25: Journey to the Center of Faith

Based on the Gospel of Mark, chapter 8

Where does faith grow – in scarcity or abundance?

Does faith make you hungry or full?

Do you search for signs?

Is faith a gift or a process?

Is faith a matter of life and death?

What role does the Church have?


You are welcome to come to one – or two – or all three of our discussions.
If you want to order coffee or a snack, please arrive before 2 pm.
Note that 
Einstein closes at 4 pm on Saturdays.


Your tour guide for this journey: Sandra Chapin



It's that time again...

National Pencil Day

March 30, 2017


Look sharp for our celebration!
What, you didn't know there was such a holiday?


According to the site –

Each year, March 30th is National Pencil Day. Hymen Lipman received the first patent for attaching an eraser to the end of a pencil on this day in 1858.


Fun facts:


Thomas Edison had his pencils specially made by Eagle Pencil. Each pencil was three inches long, was thicker than standard pencils and had softer graphite than was normally available.


John Steinbeck was an obsessive pencil user and is said to have used as many as 60 a day. His novel East of Eden took more than 300 pencils to write.


Johnny Carson regularly played with pencils at his Tonight Show desk. These pencils were specially made with erasers at both ends to avoid on-set accidents.


Basically, it's a reason to come together at Church and have some fun.
We'll have pencils to color with, to solve puzzles, to play games – all easy,
all designed to draw out smiles and laughs.


See you on Thursday, March 30, 2 - 3:30 pm!


Mission of the Month

One Great Hour of Sharing


The success and sustainability of the United Church of Christ's national ministries relies on participating congregations' contributions to basic operating support and mission. Being 5 for 5 means that St. Paul's is a leader, providing support to Our Church’s Wider Mission and the Special Mission Offerings.


One Great Hour of Sharing, as part of Our Churches Wider Mission, is the special mission offering of the United Church of Christ that carries God’s message of love and hope to people in crisis. The UCC works with international partners to provide sources of clean water, food, education and health care, small business micro-credit, advocacy and resettlement for refugees and displaced persons, and emergency relief and rehabilitation. OGHS also supports domestic and international ministries for disaster preparedness and response.


Giving envelopes are available at Church for this March campaign. Thank you for your compassionate help!


For more information, visit this site:


Mission Matters


From the website of the Southwest Conference:


We are proud of our progressive view of the Gospel.

Our mission statement,

extravagantly welcoming and affirming followers of Christ
called to embody God’s unconditional justice and love

is manifested in the ways we live out every day.


As a member of the SWConference, St. Paul's UCC supports and participates in that mission. A representative from every Church in the Conference serves on the Mission and Church Vitality Committee, which meets in Phoenix twice a year.

St. Paul's 2017 representative is Trish Herron. Trish is looking forward to attending the first meeting on March 25, and adds, “Hopefully, I will come back energized with lots of ideas.”


The Mission and Church Vitality Committee has the responsibility for:

- Celebrating what's working in our congregations;

- Encouraging one another to go beyond our comfort zones;

- Supporting one another in our advocacy;

- Listening to and appreciating our differing perspectives;

- Discovering new ways to address our common and differing challenges;

- Advising the Executive Board regarding the mission of the Conference;

- Undertaking an annual evaluation to discern both whether or not that mission is in keeping with the call of the Holy Spirit in our time, and whether or not that mission maintains our relevance as an agent of transformation.

- Ensuring that every available resource, all covenant partnerships, and all entities created by the Conference are being utilized to enhance, ensure, and enable the mission of the Conference.




Recently on a Sunday Trish shared information about the Fair Food Program – “a unique partnership among farmers, farmworkers, and retail food companies that ensures humane wages and working conditions for the workers who pick fruits and vegetables on participating farms. It harnesses the power of consumer demand to give farmworkers a voice in the decisions that affect their lives, and to eliminate the longstanding abuses that have plagued agriculture for generations.” ( Her particular concern was for those who pick tomatoes supplying chain restaurants. Please speak with Trish to learn more.


Also Trish encouraged us to connect with elected leaders in the government, letting them know how we as individuals feel about policy decisions that pertain to peace and justice issues. If you want to be effective in this regard, Trish will help you.



St. Paul's People On the Go


Recently at the National Hispanic Cultural Center the Odara Dance Ensemble and the musical group PANdemonium took audiences on a journey through the Carnaval traditions of Cuba, Trinidad, Brazil and New Orleans. A group from St. Paul's attended and were delighted by the toe tapping, hand clapping, feet moving musical productions. Among the talented dancers was our own Amina Dunn, daughter of Pat and Ernie. She graced the stage combining elegance and energy, and wowed the crowd.


This month another group trip is planned. Destination: “South Pacific” – the reknown musical by Rodgers and Hammerstein, performed at the Albuquerque Little Theatre. Our own William W. Williams is the Musical Director along with his partner HollyBeth, and he has prepared us for an evening that will be long remembered.


Happening in the Southwest Conference

The United Church of Christ was present in full loving force for nearly three hours of testimony at a public hearing Wednesday night, February 22, as the Santa Fe City Council unanimously voted to reaffirm and strengthen the city's welcoming of immigrants and refugees. More than 20 members came to the hearing, some getting into council chambers and others standing in the overflow in the hall, many wearing their green “Love God. Love Neighbor. Love Creation” T-shirts.


The City Council meeting wasn't the UCC's first rodeo. The resolution passed by the City Council builds on another one passed in 1999 — also supported by UCC — when Santa Fe went on record for being a welcoming city. This year, Mike Buttram, Community Engagement Minister at United Church of Santa Fe, testified with Rev. Dr. Talitha Arnold, Senior Minister, at the City Finance Committee.


"United Church of Santa Fe is doing exemplary work for justice by making their voices heard and presence felt in the halls of government,” said Rev. Dr. Bill Lyons, Designated Conference Minister. “On behalf of every child, every woman, every man that can sleep and work with less fear in Santa Fe, and on behalf of the Southwest Conference UCC, I offer United Church of Santa Fe and the Rev. Dr. Talitha Arnold my deepest gratitude."


Immigrants and refugees came to speak for themselves at the meeting, who expressed how much they love Santa Fe and how the city has become their home. They spoke, too, of their hard work to care for their families and contribute to the community, despite not necessarily having access to the services their tax contributions provide. A self-identified home health aide said she and her coworkers, all immigrants, take care of “the grandparents of Santa Fe.”


And a young man who came to the city 19 years ago as a teen, to escape war in Guatemala, earned his degree from the local community college and worked two jobs to start his own business. One of the Dreamers, part of the Adult Forum panel on Sunday, also spoke about her experience, her love for the community and country, and her fear for her family.




The New England Patriots may have won what can be described as a clash of the gladiators, but the real winners were the people of Sun City on Sunday, February 5. That was the end of the “Souper Bowl of Caring Competition” between three area churches. Earlier this year, the Rev. Brady Abel of the United Church of Sun City (Arizona) threw out the challenge to Faith Presbyterian and Church of the Palms. More than 8,300 cans and packages of soup were collected for local food pantries.


Rev. Abel started the soup drive two years ago at his church, but this year invited the other two churches to participate. “I am hoping this year’s soup drive will serve as a catalyst for other churches to join in the friendly competition next year,” he added.


Because Church of the Palms collected the most cans and packages of soup it won the “Silver Ladle,” which is now on display at the church. The “Silver Ladle” was the brain child of United Church’s Mission Committee. “We are pleased to share this wonderful trophy, but we are hoping it will return to United Church next year,” Rev. Abel said.

“The more churches that participate, the more cans and packages we collect. The idea of sharing and giving during Super Bowl season is our reward,” said Rev. Abel.


From an article written by Diana Graettinger
United Church of Sun City




O God of promises,
you remind us again and again that you are present with your people.


When our hearts are broken...
You are here


When we worry about our country and our future...
You are here


Where anyone is hungry, or thirsty...
You are here


When we feel like strangers, and wonder if anyone will welcome us...
You are here


Where anyone is sick, or in need of care and company...
You are here


When people are in prison...
You are here


When anyone needs clothing...
You are here


You, O God, are here with us when we suffer. Empower us to be with others as they suffer. Help those who feel hopeless, or who are filled with fear. Help us to remember that You are here, God, in the midst of all that we are going through. Help us remember that you are a God of love, and you love us. Amen.


One Great Hour of Sharing Litany


From the Editor's Desk
Ernie Dunn

With great interest and, at times, accompanied with extreme anguish, I have read Bryan Stevenson's searing book, Just Mercy. It is a deeply moving narrative, "an unforgettable true story about the redeeming potential of mercy," as one reviewer asserts. The author is the gifted and courageous attorney who founded the Equal Justice Institute (EJI), a legal practice dedicated to the proposition that the poor, the wrongly condemned, "and those trapped in the furthest reaches of our criminal justice system" have the right to a just and equitable defense.


The author guides you through a number of cases exposing the broken system of justice that has resulted in clients being incarcerated and broken by mental illness, poverty and racism. It is quite bothersome to read about those who have been torn apart by "disease, drugs and alcohol, pride, fear and anger." These are persons who have been further victimized as "they have been judged and condemned by people whose commitment to fairness had been broken by cynicism, hopelessness, and prejudice."


In spite of bomb threats, obstruction by the criminal and justice systems, and a case load that never seemed to diminish, Stevenson and his dedicated staff have endured and persevered, at times hoping in the face of seeming hopelessness. In the process, they learned not only about their clients, but they learned about themselves. Stevenson was moved to share with us that "My years of struggling against inequality, abusive power, poverty, oppression, and injustice had finally revealed something to me about myself." He went on to write that "Being close to suffering, death, executions and cruel punishments didn't just illuminate the brokenness of others, in a moment of anguish and heartbreak, it also exposed my own brokenness." In my mind, I can envision that he might have been on the verge of tears when he wrote, "You can't affectively fight abusive power, poverty, inequality, illness, oppression or injustice and not be broken by it."


But recognizing his brokenness was not a reason for despair. Quoting Thomas Merton that "We are bodies of broken bones," he concludes that being broken is what makes us human. Our brokenness is the source of our shared humanity, it provides the impetus for us cooperatively going forward in search for comfort, healing, and meaning. "Our shared vulnerability and imperfection nurtures and sustains our capacity for compassion." To deny our brokenness is to deny our humanity. As Merton would further remind us, "In the end, it is the reality of personal relationships that saves everything."


In their brokenness, the faithful members of EJI have been inspired to be known as an agency united for the goodness, justice, peace and equity for all people for all time. Their compassion knows no bounds as they have been made acutely aware of the notion that we are part of one another. Their mission is to inspire creative and judicial ideas and policies that address the cries and suffering of the abused and mistreated. I am reminded of a prayer which suggested that we should at times transform pointed fingers of blame into hands open in reverence to receive one another.


Stevenson is correct in asserting that all of us are, whether we realize it or not, broken by something. We have all hurt someone and we have been hurt by someone, we have been fractured by choices made and choices not made. We have been shattered by dreams deferred and nightmares that came to fruition. No one is immune to the condition of brokenness, it is a matter of the depth, its equivalence in relation to someone else. It is impossible to live life without experiencing brokenness, broken promises, unanticipated failures. And, certainly as Dr. King has reminded us, we are all broken by injustice.


The question that confronts us is how do we grow in our brokenness? Several commentators have suggested that we do so via awareness and empathy. Healing and restoration come, as was the case with Stevenson, in walking through our world with those who are heavily broken, willing to expose our own vulnerability. We are willing to come together even more as a collective finally to understand that we are all so intricately connected. The more we understand and embrace our interconnectedness and interdependence, the more we are encouraged to act in positive ways for the good of each other and our environment.


The teachings of Buddhism prove to be very helpful in our quest for connecting. We are reminded that we are connected through some mystic bond (dependent origination), we all were born to share the same limited span of life on this small blue green oasis situated in a vast universe. Dr. King, in writing his Letter From a Birmingham Jail, certainly was in accord: "In a real sense all life is inter-related. All (persons) are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly."


I believe that if we were more cognizant of that which binds us together, there would be less quarreling and victimizing. If we focused more on that which unites us and less on that which divides, we would have a clearer path leading toward resolving conflicts and disputes. As one mystic has written, if we come to deeper understanding of our unity, "feelings which cause so much suffering begin to vanish as we realize that we are part of dynamic, mutually interconnected whole."


Central to the identity of the United Church of Christ, heeding the advice of the prophet, Micah, is doing justice, seeking peace and building community. As members of the UCC we are constantly invited to join in building "a stronger faith based movement for peace, justice, equity and inclusivity." Let us all seek to join in this endeavor, realizing all persons, all things are mutually supportive and form a living cosmos, a single living whole.


The Moderator Writes
Sandra Chapin


In February Lois Gray preached a sermon that included Jesus turning familiar phrases around – something we often find Jesus doing in the Gospels. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” [Matthew 5: 43, 44] Gospel authors may have used these twists to proclaim Jesus as someone with a fresh perspective. With that as my inspiration, I offer the following twists.


You have heard it said: Let your smile be your umbrella.
But I say: Step in the puddles.


That umbrella slogan may have gone out of style, but it is a softer version of what seems popular today: Get over it. One of my favorite courses at seminary was on loss and grief, and there I encountered a term that still sticks in my brain – disenfranchised grief. The site offers the following description. It’s when you’re sad and miserable and the world doesn’t think you should be, either because you’re not “entitled” or because it isn’t “worth it.”


I remember examples from the course which may give one pause on how to offer support. Your neighbor's son committed a multiple shooting at an elementary school and is scheduled for execution this day. You attend a memorial for the twenty people who perished in a place crash and overhear someone console a young woman who lost her boyfriend, “At least you weren't married to him.”


Give a person – and yourself – space to deal with grief. Space without rules. Tears may fall like rain but puddles reflect the sky. Bright spots for those who look down.


You have heard it said: Look for the silver lining.
But I say: Look for the nearest exit.


As important as I think it is to honor feelings of disappointment, I am not opposed to being cheerful. A few weeks ago we sang the hymn “How Can I Keep from Singing” – which includes this line, No storm can shake my inmost calm. If you can find your inmost calm, great. If not, you may opt for getting out of the path of the storm.


Consider the story of the apostle Paul and his companion in ministry, Silas. They were arrested for spreading the word about Jesus. Finding their inmost calm in prison, they broke into song – and then an earthquake broke open the cell doors. [Acts 16: 25, 26] Behold, an exit! But what happened next...? I won't spoil the story for you.


Not all exits present themselves so dramatically. But I believe there is always a Plan B in the face of obstacles. A sermon that Ernie Dunn gave in January spoke about the importance of finding and practicing coping skills in response to events that don't go the way we want. So many challenges in life. There's unity in that.


You have heard it said: One size fits all.
But I say: Live large.


Scientists observe that the universe is expanding. So why don't we – expand, that is. I'm not advocating that we supersize our fries. Today I had lunch with Church friends at I-Hop where stacks of pancakes towered and omelets spread on plates from rim to rim. Take-home boxes were popular items. No, I refer to food for the mind and soul.


Some of us have fond and vivid memories of Church experiences and faith encounters during the years of childhood and as young adults. The words of the Lord's Prayer, the Apostles' Creed, and classic hymns reside in well worn tracks of electrical impulses in many brains. And that's good. The brain can dig deep, recalling images and sounds that comfort us. I'm all for it. But surely the brain is craving something new to chew on.


We are not being disloyal to our memories or to those who taught us if we question and replace old beliefs with new ones. Opportunities to explore what it means to be Christian in today's world can be found at St. Paul's. Faith is a banquet. Sample what you haven't tried before. Give your routine a twist.


St. Paul's UCC Leaders 2017

Pastoral Transition Team
Rev. Ernie Dunn, Lois Gray, Sandra Chapin

Music Director
William W. Williams


Church Council

Sandra Chapin

Anita Curtis

Financial Secretary
Yvonne Dudley

Assistant Treasurer
Assistant Financial Secretary
Carol Smith

Church Clerk
Yvonne Dudley
Sandra Chapin and Anita Curtis

Trish Herron and Karen Schafer


St. Paul's View Staff
Ernie Dunn
Sandra Chapin
Publications Manager




Lymatly Photos

Desert de dunes

Soulac-sur-Mer, Aquitaine, France

Taken on April 25, 2014

Public domain


Core Values

Robert Brook

Taken on October 2, 2015

Public domain



Mark Kao


Guoxing Township, Nantou County, Taiwan

Taken on December 10, 2016

Public domain


Journey to the Center

Bernard Spragg. NZ

On the beach Moeraki, New Zealand

The Moeraki Boulders are situated on Koekohe Beach at a place named Kumara, midway between Hampden and Moeraki townships in North Otago. Access to them is gained by a small one-way side road, 1 mile north along the main road from Hillgrove railway station. The boulders are grey-coloured septarian concretions, which have been eroded out by wave action from the cliffs of soft, black mudstone that back the beach. In places, partially exposed concretions can be seen in the cliffs. They originally formed on the sea floor when the mudstone was accumulating during the early Tertiary period some 60 million years ago.

Taken on February 2, 2014

Public domain


National Pencil Day

Tanay Mondal


Uploaded on October 13, 2015

Public domain


Mission of the Month

One Great Hour of Sharing

Downloadable Image 2017


Missions Matter

David Whelan

Frog stare

Finlayson Point Provincial Park
Temagami, northeastern Ontario, Canada

A still frog stares from beneath the lily pads at the Red Fox trail head.

Taken on July 2, 2016

Public domain


St. Paul's People on the Go

Karthik Sridharan


Highway 114, Dallas, TX

Taken on June 11, 2016

Public domain


Happening in the SWC

Alan Schmierer

08p – San Rafael Valley Grasslands

SE of Patagonia, Santa Cruz, Arizona

Taken on February 17, 2017

Public domain



Image Catalog

Standing on Dusty Landscape

Source: Unsplash

Taken on September 30, 2014

Public domain


From the Editor's Desk

Alan Levine

Securely, Yours

Taken on December 30, 2016

Public domain


The Moderator Writes

Andre Deak


do oitavo andar, às 6h30 da manhã

Taken on October 13, 2008

Public domain


St. Paul's Leaders

Thomas Backa

Chili problem

Kohmo, Finland

The chili plants are outgrowing their environment.

Taken on May 8, 2010

Public domain


View Staff

budz McKenzie

Frog 1

Uploaded on December 16, 2015

Public domain



Bernard Spragg. NZ

Crown Fern (Blechum discolor)

Jamestown, Southland, New Zealand

The common name for this species is the ‘Crown Fern’, the native Maori name is ‘Piupiu’. The name discolor means of two different colours and refers to contrasting greens displayed by fertile and sterile fronds. Blechnum discolor is endemic to New Zealand and can be found growing right across the North, South, Chatham and Stewart Islands, sometimes becoming the dominant vegetation on the forest floor. The species can be found growing in many of the forest types New Zealand

Taken on December 24, 2014

Public domain 


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