It's Happening at St. Paul's UCC

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

Pastor Sharon's View

Taking Stands

Several years ago, our conservative Congress threatened to defund the liberal media — i.e., Public Broadcasting Service and National Public Radio — saying they were too liberal and presented narrow news coverage. At that time, I promised to support both NPR and PBS with all my discretionary tithing money to keep these two on the air. Since I no longer subscribe to a print newspaper, I get the bulk of my news from public radio and television and from Internet sources e.g., The New York Times.

The threat of defunding went away only to be replaced by the threat to defund Planned Parenthood in its entirety. Conservative spokespersons say that Planned Parenthood is an abortion provider and cuts to the very fabric of our country. I say I will support Planned Parenthood with my money because they provide a service for the poor.

In my view, most women do not want to face an abortion, but sometimes facing other issues is worse. The services that Planned Parenthood do provide that are not abortion-related are huge for women who need access to screenings, reminding us that PP provides more medical care to the poor than Congress wants to (Boehner: Let’s do away with Affordable Health Care, just defund it and let people fend for themselves) is not self-serving, it is truth. Such rationale inspires me to fight all the harder to support a national health care system.

The point to all of these mentioned above is that I tend to support the causes that are aligned with my progressive outlook and I want to put my money where my heart is.

Some more recent causes that stir my soul:

1. Border issues — centered in Arizona where would-be immigrants are detained and sent back to their homelands. Furthermore, families are separated from each other as the child is a citizen but the parents are not even though they may have been in the US for many years. 

Last year, I had some discretionary money that was sent to a congregation in Tucson that puts water out for those who try to cross illegally. They face the hot desert sun during the day and freezing temperatures at night. Our sister church, Church of the Good Shepherd in Sahurita, AZ, has teams of people who set water out each day for these people who flee seeking a better life.

Many of our churches in Arizona have declared themselves to be a “sanctuary” to help some who would be killed if they return to Mexico. 

Through the Loretto Community, Trish and I are going for a border experience in early October. 

2. The world witnesses chaos as thousands flee Syria for the potential of a life that would be better than what they have experienced in their own country. Church World Service (UCC and Disciples), along with other organizations, are involved in resettling these refugees.

Last Sunday, Karen Schafer pledged support for a family if we can bring one to Albuquerque. I think we ought to try to have a family come. I sent a short email to First Congregational and Church of the Good Shepherd to see if they would like to be part of an effort to host a family. Even if they do not, perhaps another congregation in Rio Rancho or Albuquerque would join us in this effort.

There are, of course, other causes that make me want to take action. The sorry state of race relations in our community and country. The educational system that puts New Mexico children at the bottom of a civilized society and handicaps them for life. There is systemic substance abuse which I think results from a society that cares too much for itself. Which issues and causes make you say, “I need to step up to the plate?” Let me know. 

Thank God we have mass media, internet connections and twitter. With these we can become informed and involved from our corner of the universe. 


Socks for the Journey

When Pastor Sharon and Trish go to Arizona for an experience with those who have entered from Mexico and are being detained, they want to take a supply of socks – an item that is greatly needed. You may bring socks to Church on Sunday, October 4. Pastor and Trish travel to the border on October 8. Thanks for your help!


From the Editor's Desk
Ernie Dunn

When Pat and I decided to relocate to New Mexico, very high on the list of desired things was to be able to sit at our breakfast table and look out at the unparalleled beauty of a mountain.  We both have had long fascination with mountains which is quite understandable.  Mountains have inspired mystics, artists, poets, photographers and ordinary folk for many a century.  This fascination with the majesty and mystery of mountains, and the lore that has been silently revealed by them to indigenous cultures generation after generation probably, I would hazard to guess, began as soon as human consciousness developed.

John Kabat-Zinn, in his splendid book on mindful meditation, Wherever You Go, There You Are, opens one chapter by asserting that "When it comes to mediation, mountains have a lot to teach, having archetypal significance in all cultures."  In a host of cultures, mountains are considered sacred places, the places sought out for spiritual guidance and renewal.  The mountain, for many, is the "prime axis of the world," the dwelling place of the gods, the sacred space where mortals come face to face with the divine.  Moses received the commandments and the covenant on a mountain.  Jesus would, on occasion, retreat to a mountain to pray. According to the biblical narrative, the Transfiguration took place on a mountain.  The Qua'ran was given to Muhammed on a mountain.  Eastern religions relate a host of spiritually enlightening moments taking place in the mountains.  Why?  One might respond by saying "rising above all else on our planet, (mountains) beckon and overwhelm with their sheer presence."  Traditionally and still today mountains are "mother, father, guardian, protector, ally."

For Pat and me, mountains have always been "quintessentially emblematic of abiding presence and stillness."  They do not move and yet, when you gaze at them, you experience a sense of infinitesimal power that leaves you in awe and wonder.  One morning, several years ago while we were staying at the camp grounds at Denali in Alaska, the overcast sky suddenly cleared and we were afforded a spectacular view of Mt. Denali.  We all congregated on the back porch of the main lodge.  Not a word was spoken, we all stood there motionless, joyfully enrapt in the grandeur of that massive, amazing spectacle.  Later when we sought to share our experience verbally, words were inadequate and, actually, unnecessary.

It was a deeply spiritual, inspiring, engaging encounter.  I am still awestruck when I reflect on that magnificent experience.  There is a picture of Mt. Denali that hangs on the wall in my study that is a reminder of the beauty of that event.  A recent viewing and reflection moved to search out a quote I read years ago by Ansel Adams: "No matter how sophisticated you may be, a large granite mountain cannot be denied - it speaks in silence to the very core of your being."  Mt. Daneli spoke silently to us that day and its message was wonderfully overwhelming.

How often do we now look out at the Sandias and are amazed.  Even without the trained eyes of the skillful artist, we are able to observe light and shadow and colors that appear to be changing virtually moment to moment. And of course, there is that special time when all the proper conditions have been fulfilled and the mountains reflect that rosy glow for which they have been named.  Just gazing encourages one to mindfully meditate.  Sometimes I will pause and breathe with the image of the mountains, feel moved by the mountains simply being themselves, massive, strong, unmoving, exhibiting a calmness no matter what is occurring around it.

Through it all, the mountains continue to sit, rooted, unmoved by the weather, by whatever may be happening on the surface or by the world of appearances. To bask in that calmness results in relaxation and ease of stress.  Such calmness may also bring uplift and reinvigoration.  Kabat-Zinn suggests that breathing with the mountain, we "come to know a deeper silence and stillness and wisdom than we may have thought possible."  We then become aware of the vast range of potential at our disposal when we learn to listen to the inner harmony of things.

In my times of reflection when I seek to listen to this inner harmony, there are moments when the words of the great mystic, Howard Thurman, come to mind.  In particular I recall:

            "How good it is to center down!  To sit quietly and see one's self pass by!  The streets of our minds seethe with endless traffic; our spirits resound with clashings, with noisy silences, while something deep within hungers and thirsts for the still moment and the resting lull.  With full intensity we seek, ere the quiet passes, a fresh sense of order in our living; a direction, a strong sure purpose that will structure our confusion and bring meaning to our chaos. . .  As we listen, floating up through all the jangling echoes of our turbulence, there is a sound of another kind - a deeper note which only the stillness of the heart makes clear.  It moves directly to the core of our being.  Our spirits are refreshed."

In such moments we are able to live joyfully into life, every facet of life becomes an exposure to the boundless energies by which our lives are sustained and our spirits made whole.  Thankfully, the mountains help Pat and me to center down and find "joy in the morning light."


CHEERS from the PUB
Sandra Chapin
Publications Manager
Inquisitive minds and the Internet – a good match. To be sure, inquisitive minds find enrichment at the public library or by taking a class, or strolling through the zoo (where you can talk to the animals… and if they talk back, you know your mind has gone past inquisitive mode). There are plenty of interesting websites available that vie for my attention, some of which do not feature kittens or puppies. One that I check on regularly is the United Church of Christ site that is run by folks at our denomination’s headquarters in Cleveland, Ohio.

These are some examples of what I found recently.

“Hear Our Stories” – Short video clips of people who want to share their experiences.

A skeptic of organized religion, Chris, found the UCC after searching for a church home in several denominations. Hear why he sees this church as the most consistent, accepting faith community – one that honors the individuality of each member.

Naomi believes that God is still trying to be in conversation with us and that the UCC has inspired her to figure out what God is calling her to do and how to do it.

Lindsay doesn’t pretend to be something she’s not in the UCC. Hear why she says no facades are necessary in our churches, which reflect the times in an ever-changing world.


Think about it: In what ways do you find meaning through the United Church of Christ?

Under the heading “Feed My Spirit” there is a daily devotional by one of the Still-Speaking Writers (pastors and church leaders). Past entries which date back to 2010 are accessible.

On September 27, the key verse was a challenging one from 2 Kings 2:23-25. Matt Fitzgerald, Senior Pastor of St. Paul’s UCC in Chicago, wrote:
Elisha apprenticed under the prophet Elijah. Elijah had beautiful hair. Elijah looked like Fabio. Elisha was more Paul Giamatti. And here come these juvenile delinquents, "Hey baldy!" Elisha cringes. Dozens of voices mocking, "Baaaaaldy!" Elisha feels so exposed, alone, powerless. He'd like to tear these punks apart. He's an important man, God's mouthpiece, mock him and you mock the Lord! Who do these kids think they are? 

Think about it: What passages in scripture grab your attention?

A news blurb entitled “Cleveland Green Team offers prayers and carnations for creation” – dateline: September 2, 2015
A UCC Green Team, made up of national staff members in Cleveland, marked the Pope's World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation on Tuesday, Sept. 1, by offering prayers and carnations to people out at lunchtime downtown. Inspired by a line in Pope Francis’ prayer for the earth – to “sow beauty, not pollution” – the group passed out 100 carnations during a walk to the Catholic Diocese, where they delivered flowers in solidarity. The message: when it comes to caring for creation and fighting climate change, we are on the same team as the Pope and the Catholic Church.
Think about it: How does this simple act, which points to finding common ground with others, inspire you to open lines of communication?

You, too, can find inspiration, ideas and challenges at – plenty to think about. Your inquisitive mind will thank you.

I am mindful of those in our Church family who do not have computers or smart phones. I must say that the public library is my primo – number one choice for mental stimulation. Let’s set up a time to meet there and have some fun!


Faith Development Ministry
Patricia Dunn
Team Leader

St. Paul’s UCC is committed to being:
Peace Seeking, Social Justice Oriented,
Intentionally Inclusive and Jesus Guided.
We are registered as a Charter for Compassion Church in Rio Rancho
following the international guide for living the Golden Rule,
as established by Karen Armstrong and others.

Our learning activities are selected and offered to help us fulfill these ends.

We are completing this month’s sessions on “Witnessing Whiteness”.   This course combines didactic and group discussion in exploring what it means to be “white” and the critical strategies often used to avoid race issues.  Shirley Tochluk’s book Witnessing Whiteness is the base for the study. 
The sessions have been lively and non-threatening for all attendees. 
There is one session left. 
Come, all are welcome.
Wednesday, October 7, from 6:30 - 8:30 PM
Trish Herron is the facilitator. 

Women / World

Our monthly St. Paul's Book Club will resume in October on Sunday, the 11th. We'll continue our discussion on "If Women Ruled The World". Our first session brought about a very interesting discussion and we agreed to continue for now. All are invited, especially those who were unable to attend the first session. We're using the book as a guide, not necessarily sticking to the script. Please join us! 2:00 – 4:00 pm
Loretta Stein


Women / Wisdom

"All serious daring starts from within."

Harriet Beecher Stowe, 19th century

"There is a stubbornness about me that never can bear to be frightened at the will of others.
My courage always rises at every attempt to intimidate me." 

Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, 19th century

"You must do the thing you think you cannot do."

Eleanor Roosevelt, 20th century

"Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim."

Nora Ephron, 21st century



The Purple Ribbon Initiative

Across the country, families and friends of victims have adopted the purple ribbon to remember and honor their loved ones who have suffered at the hands of a person they once loved and trusted. Shelters and local victim services programs use the purple ribbon to raise awareness about the crime of domestic violence in their communities.

Jeanne Plander invites you this year’s Purple Ribbon Initiative event which supports Haven House, serving all of Sandoval County. Located in Rio Rancho, this center can provide housing for approximately 35 women and children. It offers an array of services including 24/7 crisis intervention, legal advocacy, case management, community and shelter support groups, individual counseling for victims and child-witnesses, life skill programs for victims and their children, and community education and training.

Mayor’s Barbecue
Thursday evening, October 15, 5:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m.
Haynes Park, 2006 Grande Ave, Rio Rancho

Featuring Mayor Gregg Hull’s culinary skills, music, dancing, silent auction and more. 
Money raised for Haven House.
Donations of personal care items would be greatly appreciated.


Visitor Appreciation Get-together
A time to ask all the questions about St. Paul's that you wanted to ask,
forgot to ask, or just never thought to ask.
We will have soup, bread and dessert.
Thursday, October 15, at St. Paul's
(1101 Golf Course Road SE, Rio Rancho)
Come about 5:00 - we will finish before choir rehearsal at 7PM.

Let me know if you can be here so we bring sufficient soup.
Pastor Sharon


Happening in the Southwest Conference

The SWC Executive Board has unanimously called the Rev. Dr. William (Bill) M. Lyons as our Designated Conference Minister. Dr. Lyons is scheduled to begin his ministry with us on January 1, 2016. Bill was ordained in the UCC on October 13, 1985 and has 30 years of pastoral experience.

Dr. Lyons has served St. John's United Church of Christ in Grand Rapids, Michigan, as their pastor for 11 years. During his ministry the congregation shifted from beliefs-based to values-based ministry. Since 2013 when the congregation changed the way it measures their success, St. John's has documented at least 365,721 people's lives impacted through the ministry of their 123 members.

He has been active in ministry in a variety of settings, including facilitating the Michigan Conference UCC Vital Growth Mission Area Team in 2014. For five years he was the chaplain of Trumbull Correctional Institution in Leavittsburg, OH.

Bill is most proud of his three children and their spouses, all of whom are in helping professions and two of whom serve in the U.S. military. At the slightest hint of interest Bill will show you the hundreds of pictures of his grandchildren he keeps on his iPhone. He and his partner, Ron, enjoy biking, hiking, gardening (Ron), cooking & wine-making (Bill), reading, and camping.

"I am coming to the Southwest Conference with excitement, ready to listen and learn how this conference and the national church can empower and equip you for more vital ministry in your communities and congregations. Together we will continue to be the most innovative conference in our beloved United Church of Christ, while we discover what new calling God has placed upon us in our life together."
Church of the Good Shepherd, Albuquerque, has been selected as an Innovation Lab Church. “As a congregation, we already value innovation in ministry,” says Pastor Sara, “but our participation in the Innovation Lab will give us additional support from the Rev. Ken McIntosh, Church Growth Coordinator for the SW Conference; the guidance of a professional coach, Rebecca Glenn; and training based on the Design Thinking Method. We will be sending a delegate to the Southwest Conference Office on Oct. 3 for an all-day workshop to kick off our process.”

On Sunday, October 11 at 11 am, COGS will install the Rev. Sarah TevisTownes as Pastor and Teacher. Clergy are invited to robe and process. 
A reception will immediately follow the service.
First Congregational Church, Albuquerque, is celebrating their 135th anniversary on October 17-18. This is the oldest Protestant church in the region. All are welcome to join them for a potluck dinner and silent auction on Sat. Oct. 17th and worship on Sun. Oct. 18th at 10:30 am. 


Voices in the Southwest Conference

As part of the EPIC initiative of the Conference [Education, Participation, Innovation and Communication], each SWC church is including an article in its newsletter written by someone in the Conference that tells a story about interdependence. Ernie Dunn has coordinated the project.
This month’s article is written by
Ken McIntosh, Church Growth/Renewal.

Stirring Things Up in the SWC

"And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works." Hebrews 10:24, ESV

"Stirring things up" doesn't always have a good connotation, but I like the Bible verse printed above. Stirring up good change...that's something we can all get excited about. The Greek word translated "stir up" is KATANAO. Various translations capture it different ways, "spur one another on," "stimulate one another," and "encourage each other." However we translate this idea, what matters is doing it. And that's what Triad initiatives in the Southwest Conference are about.

Triads are partnerships between three churches, ideally with three members on a team (pastor plus two) meeting three times in a year to do exactly what that verse says. Our three triads are:

1. Congregational Church of the Valley, Black Mountain, and Scottsdale Congregational
2. Flagstaff, Dewey, and Prescott
3. Revolution, Silver City, and Yuma

The first two triads meet in real space alternating between churches, and the third meets online. So far, all three triads have had their first meeting in which they shared news of their prospective churches, considered the question "If we were unafraid we would..." then brainstormed ideas and finally each church devised a plan for action.

What sorts of "love and good works" are in development in our Triad churches?
- Showing independent films for community discussion
- Appearing at public events
- Asking whether all board decisions are "relevant to the next generation"
- Community Teas
- Family night midweek program
- Community panel discussions on topics of theology and public issues

Triads are definitely an experiment in progress and are just a third-of-the-way on their journeys, but already participant churches are coming up with new ideas for local mission. Stay tuned for further adventures as churches stir one another up for love and good works.


On the Calendar


Worship service
10:30 am

Social Hour
11:30 am


Wednesday mornings

Office Hours for Pastor Sharon                                                         
9:30 – 11:00 am

New location – Starbucks across from Intel, on 528
Rio Rancho 

A relaxed time to get to know each other

Wednesday evening
October 7

“Witnessing Whiteness” adult discussion series
6:30 – 8:00 pm           
Conclusion of the series 



Choir rehearsal
7:00 pm

Book Discussion continues
Sunday, October 11
If Women Ruled the World:
How to Create the World We Want to Live In                        
2:00 – 4:00 pm

Visitor Appreciation Get-together
Thursday, October 15
Conversation plus soup / bread / dessert                                            
5:00 – 6:30 pm

Special Sunday
October 18
Celebrating the 1 year anniversary of our space on Golf Course Rd.


An Inclusive Call to Dance

We all feel the beat.
Whether we are African American, Pacific Islander, Native American, Latino, or Euro-American,
we all feel the beat. 
Heartbeat, drumbeat, tempo—felt in our bodies—
Calling for response in many ways!
The rhythm may change or it can remain the same, but we all feel the beat.
The beat calls us to life:
to move, to stomp, to spin, to clap,
to sway, to jump, to wiggle. 
Let's feel that beat together
and dance in the Spirit to the music.
For in the Spirit we are one body,
made of different steps and spins and wiggles.

Inclusive Call to Dance in Worship prepared by the Rev. Lynda Bigler, Chair,
and the Rev. Jeanne Tyler, Vice Chair, of the UCC Disabilities Ministries

Access Sunday and Disabilities Awareness Week
October 11 - October 17, 2015
Each year, the second Sunday of October is designated on the UCC church calendar as Access Sunday. It is an occasion when all the UCC will join together in celebrating the gifts of persons with disabilities and the strides that the church has made in being more whole through being more accessible. It is also a day that we, the church, acknowledge the journey yet to be taken with our sisters and brothers with disabilities.


St. Paul's Leaders 2015


Rev. Sharon Smith-Littrell, PhD

Music Director
William W. Williams


Church Council

Darrell Taylor

Loretta Stein

Financial Secretary
Anita Curtis

Assistant Treasurer
Assistant Financial Secretary
Carol Smith

Church Clerk

Yvonne Dudley

Trustees Chairperson
Carol Kromer

Faith Development
Patricia Dunn


Sally Moore

St. Paul’s View Staff

Ernie Dunn

Publications Manager
Sandra Chapin

You may submit articles to




San Diego Air & Space Museum Archive
Jack Canary Special Collection Photo
Taken on April 19, 2013
Core Values
Image Catalog
Two Hands Holding Pine Clippings
Source: Unsplash
Uploaded on May 22, 2015
Pastor Sharon’s View
Internet Archive Book Images
Image from page 326 of "Syria"

Contributing Library: Robarts – University of Toronto
Luc Coekaerts (flickr)
Limburg, Belgium
Taken on September 26, 2015
From the Editor’s Desk
sugarbear96 (flickr)
Sandia Mountains
Taken on September 13, 2009
Cheers from the Pub
Image Catalog
iMac Computer on Desk
Source: Unsplash
Taken on February 25, 2014
Faith Development
Carlos ZGZ (flickr)
Reflections of Paris - Opéra
Taken on May 16, 2009
As all the pictures in 
my gallery, this is a FREE picture. You can download it and do whatever you want with it: share it, adapt it and/or combine it with other material and distribute the resulting works.
I’d very much appreciate if you give photo credits to “Carlos ZGZ” when you use this picture. 
Women / World
Matt Hecht (flickr)
Bagram Language School
A young Afghan girl awaits the start of class at The Cat in the Hat Language Arts Center, a new school at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, on November 13, 2011. The school, run by the U.S. Army, helps to teach young students English.
Women / Wisdom
Carlos ZGZ (flickr)
Contemplando el Bósforo
Istanbul, Turkey
Taken on July 3, 2011
Purple Initiative
The Red Hare {a mixed media studio} (flickr)
Sign of things to come…

Nearly perfect, single fallen leaf on the way to the summer farmer's market. As much as I love summering (in bits and pieces), it is autumn where my heart belongs.

Taken on August 9, 2015
Visitor Appreciation
Colleen (flickr)
Bluejay 513
Taken on September 10, 2012
Happening in the SWC
Smithsonian Collection
A participant weaves a basket in the Native Basketry program at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival
Repository: Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage  
Taken on July 1, 2006
Voices in the SWC
Carlos ZGZ (flickr)
...y en polvo te convertirás
Merdani, Morocco

Taken on November 16, 2004
starsandspirals (flickr)

Taken in October 2014

Haflzur Rahman Khan (flickr)
Reflection of life
What we do today will be reflected tomorrow.
Taken on November 4, 2014
De Paepe edwin (flickr)
New Mexico
Taken on May 5, 2013
View Staff
René Bélanger (flickr)
Hot Air Balloon (2) / Mongolfière (2)
Taken on August 3, 2012
parameter_bond (flickr)
When Claude met Vincent: 2
Claude has continued with mostly greens, and Vincent has moved towards darker colours and stronger yellows. It's not yet clear where their designs are heading.
Uploaded on May 19, 2013

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