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

Activities This Month

Sunday mornings

Worship Service
10:30 am

Social Hour
11:30 am


Wednesday mornings

Office Hours for Pastor Sharon
9:30 – 11:00 am
Starbucks across from Intel, on 528


Wednesday evenings

Adult Education /Faith Development
6:30 – 8:00 pm

Thursday evenings

Choir rehearsal
7:00 pm

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Faith Development Ministry


Wednesdays 6:30 PM

January 20 – April 6, 2016

With Whom? Dr. Amy-Jill Levine, Ph.D. Teaching Company DVD series

Professor Levine is a Distinguished Professor at Vanderbilt University
Divinity School/Graduate Department of Religion,
and author of numerous books, articles and essays.


Topics for February

February 3

Isaac --- Genesis 21-22

The Jacob Saga --- Genesis 25-36


February 10

Folklore Analysis and Type Scenes --- Genesis 25-36, cont.

Moses and Exodus --- Exodus 1-15


February 17

The God of Israel --- Exodus 1- 15 cont.

Covenant and Law, Part I --- Exodus 19-40


February 24

Covenant and Law, Part II --- Exodus 20 – 35; Leviticus

The “Conquest” --- Deuteronomy 20-21, 27-31; Book of Joshua


All are invited!

Pat Dunn
Team Leader

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February 10

Ash Wednesday

Come when you want between 5:30 and 6:30 pm.
There will be no formal service.

We will have four stations for reflection.
Ashes distributed between 5:30 and 5:45.


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Saturday, February 20

Five Wishes

9:30 to noon

Five Wishes is about medical decision making. We will have one session.

I will have booklets for those of you who come and the EMS/DNR form required in New Mexico.

Because I want to be sure to have sufficient forms on hand, please let me know that you are coming.

There will be no charge for the forms as they are downloadable.

Pastor Sharon

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Sunday, February 21


We’ll check out what’s playing at the Premiere Cinema
(start time 12:30 to 1:00 pm) and decide what to see.

Bring a sandwich or lunch munchie to eat at Church before we go.

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Sunday, February 28

Art from the Heart

After the service we will have the opportunity to create collages with words that speak to our passions. Newspaper and magazine pages to cut from will be available, along with glue sticks and other supplies.

You bring your spirit of adventure
and insights into your deep & mysterious self!


Hosted by Trish Herron and Sandra Chapin

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Other meetings at our location


Mondays    4 – 5 pm    Girl Scouts

Tuesdays    11 am – noon    Tai Chi

Tuesdays    6 – 7:30 pm    Buddhist Meditation


Happening in the Southwest Conference

The Good Shepherd UCC, Sahuarita, AZ

Don't miss the seminar with John Dominic Crossan, at the Good Shepherd, February 19 & 20. Crossan is widely known for his work with the Jesus Seminar. The theme of the seminar is "The Power of Parable: How Parables by Jesus became Parables about Jesus." The seminar begins Friday, Feb. 19, at 7 PM, with registration and refreshments. At 7:30 Crossan will speak about "The Types of Parable: Riddle, Example & Challenge." Saturday there will be two morning presentations and one following lunch.


Rincon Congregational, Tucson, AZ

Seven Rincon members and friends representing Rincon stood in solidarity with our Islamic brothers and sisters at the Islamic Center of Tucson's (ICT) prayer service, lecture and meal. Members prayed with and met some women from their community who visited Rincon and shared hospitality and faith stories with us.


KTIZO, Phoenix, AZ

Harmonic Happy Hour the Sunday before Valentine's Day (Feb 7th): Women of all ages are invited to a Happy Hour presented as a gift of love. The event is being planned and executed by men and sons with their loved ones, mothers, wives, friends, sisters in mind. The men from beginning to the end will do the rest, creating an assortment of good things to eat, waiting tables, and sharing special special talents worthy of the occasion.

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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 Rev. Ernie Dunn
Retired Pastor, St. Paul's United Church of Christ, Rio Rancho, NM

"We are all in the same boat, in a stormy sea,
and we owe each other a terrible loyalty."

G. K. Chesterton


As I survey and reflect on conditions in our country, in our world today, I have an uneasy feeling that the interdependence inferred in the statement above is becoming a lost art.


Any time you turn on the evening news or tune into social/political/economic commentaries, you will find little evidence of leaders and nations being guided by a sense of the need for interdependent living. Rather you are exposed to the consequences of the lack thereof: wide spread political and social unrest and upheaval. In many countries, topics such as immigration, equal pay for equal work, religious freedom, to cite just a few, have caused proponents and opponents to draw lines in the sand and engage in verbal and, at times, physical confrontation. It is us against them.


It has been proposed that much of this divisive engagement emanates from fear. To quote one author, "fear lies behind every problem." A critical survey of the global violence and unrest, suggests that some of this fear arises from resistance to change, the unwillingness to face the subsequent unknowns, the potential discomfort, or the alternatives that may come into play as a consequence, e. g. loss of a position of privilege.


Consequently, what we see at work is a power inspired human preference for the status quo over anything else and the lack of real concern for the many who are being victimized by that preference. A genuine sense of mutual reliance, the recognition of the indivisible family that is humanity is oft times put aside. Why should we care for you? Whatever has happened to you is your own fault; whatever needs to be done to alleviate the situation is your responsibility. A pressing ideology of the day is an idolatry of self sufficiency and exclusion. Often the result is ruthless repression resulting in insensitivity and injustice.


In response, Karen Armstrong, contends, "we can either emphasize those aspects of our traditions, religious and secular, that speak of hatred and exclusion or work with those that stress the interdependence of all human beings." The choice is ours. Taking note of her advice and choosing the latter, I believe the task before us is to cope with, better yet, celebrate our interdependence. We should not seek to escape the necessity for beneficial care of each other. We should see ourselves reflected in every other person and to respect and honor our differences. I think Gandhi said it best: " Civilization is the encouragement of our differences."


We should recognize and appreciate the holistic interdependence of our humanity for "we are a gift that is given to us by the ones we love. For the very person that we are today has come through the influences of those who have nurtured, taught, inspired, challenged, and supported us." (Peter Rollins) We are both gift givers and receivers - interdependence.


Now is the acceptable time:
put no obstacle in anyone’s way;
work together to accept God’s grace;
and be reconciled to God.


Loose the bonds of injustice,
break every yoke,
and let the oppressed go free.


Repair the breaches,
restore the streets,
and let your light rise in the shadows
of these Forty Days.


Rev. Mary Nelson Abbott
Worship Ways / UCC


Pastor Sharon's View

Sunday January 24, I preached about Church 2.0/3.0 — the terms given to congregations and churches that we see in our communities. Church 2.0 is church as almost all of us have experienced. It has a rich history with traditions that carried many though their whole lives: baptism, confirmation, marriage, choir, Sunday School, Church Camp, a beloved pastor (and, sometimes, a not-so-loved pastor), knitting groups, social justice committees, and a place to go when one’s heart was broken.


That church still exists. For many, though, the building does not because, in large part, as buildings became more expensive to maintain they were sold. Pastors have less time for relationship as they assumed the role of unofficial business manager of the church. Members find that life outside church impinges on the time they have to give to the church. And private dance lessons for children take much of the disposable income, so tithing has declined.


Even more than the above, fewer people believe in a Santa-Claus-God in the sky who rewards good actions with material wealth, and fewer people feel connected to a distant, punishing god. Spirituality grows as religiosity declines; church attendance is low even at Christmas and Easter.


Researchers have tried to explain the decline, and others simply accept that church is different and will be done differently in the future. I subscribe to Progressive Christianity and have since I attended a workshop on The Eight Points of Progressive Christianity and found that I agreed with each of them. I was raring to go forward with this bold new vision.


Rev. Dr. Fred Plumer of the Center for Progressive Christianity has written about the future of the church and progressive church (i.e., Church 3.0). I want to share some of his thoughts with you:

So where then is the new life I referred to?

First, we have seen some wonderful examples of new life in many of our affiliate churches that are intentional and publicly positioning themselves as churches that endorse a “new way” of approaching their Christian tradition. The ones that seem to experience the greatest energy and even growth in this declining market start with a more contemporary theology and Christology and move from there to an emphasis on values, relationships and spirituality rather than on beliefs and creeds. …


While many of these models tend to show up in “new start” churches, we have seen real change occur in several older mainline denominational churches. … Probably the most consistent quality that we have seen in these change agents is their ability to articulate a clear redefined purpose of the church. They are usually spiritually grounded and have a positive vision for the future. It helps if they have some skills in dealing with conflict.


Dr. Rev. Tom Thresher … provides a model that integrates Eastern wisdom and Western enlightenment, yet leaves room for traditional as well as progressive Christians and anyone else that would like to experience what he refers to as “Christ consciousness.” When those in leadership realize that the purpose of the church is to help others experience the Divine at the deepest levels, then the focus of the congregation is on practices and behavior and not on beliefs and creeds. I believe that Thresher is on to something very important. …


I am hopeful that the young people in the “Emerging” movement will continue to offer something substantial to a new and vital understanding of the Christian faith. Phil Snider and Emily Bowen, … offer not only a vision but a model. … <and> make it very clear …that our mainline churches cannot keep doing things the same way and expect these young people to conform to our ways, our theologies and Christologies. “Emergents” are as uncomfortable with absolute certainty as they are with our typical mainline worship services.


One of the other places we continue to see new life is in the growing number of people who are forming intentional spiritual groups in their homes and small meeting rooms with no plans to grow into a typical church. We continue to get requests from these groups for educational materials for children and adults, for rituals for small groups and simple music that they can use in their gatherings. They meet on a variety of days of the week and frequently share a meal. While some call themselves Christians, the majority seem to feel that they do not need to identify with any particular religion.


So yes, there are reasons we are still here. I believe that we are experiencing a move away from creeds and Christological debates, toward a greater focus on values, behavior and spirituality. There will continue to be a growing interest in a spiritual path than in dogma. I still see purpose in forming communities to help each other develop a “Christ consciousness” and to provide the opportunities to experience the Divine. I am certain that it will happen at some point, even if it does not happen in our existing churches. The opportunities, the teachers and the models are there and ready to go. I guess the question is, are we?



For me, I think the future of St. Paul’s is Church 3.0. I envision us acting out our thriving spiritual faith and making a difference in our corner of the world. This is not a change in direction, rather it is a change in the speed of our progress. How we get where we are going is an important conversation.


From the Editor's Desk
Ernie Dunn

In a galaxy not too far away and in a time period in the not too distant past, I taught my last class at Rutgers University in the department of Africana Studies. The course was one among a host of courses that was listed in a special program entitled, "Writing Across the Curriculum." Designed to enhance writing skills, all these courses required that the students write a minimum of five two to three page papers at stages during the semester as well as a rather lengthy term paper. The topic of the paper that I assigned at the outset was, "Do You Think America Will Ever Evolve into an Equitable Society That Promotes Social Justice for All? Why Yes? Why No?"


This nostalgic journey down memory lane was stimulated by some thoughts that several young people shared with attendees at a luncheon held in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. recently at the Event Center in Rio Rancho. They admonished all of us gathered there to remember that Dr. King's dream was not yet a reality. There was still a lot of work to be done to bring it to fruition resulting in a society promoting equity and social justice for all.


As I focused on those words, I was suddenly reminded of a paper written by a student in the class previously mentioned, which I am sure, was the best submitted. As clear as I can remember, she begin with a quote concerning Dr. King's dream for America followed by a statement, in bold perhaps, that his dream would never become a reality. America would never become a just and equitable society in which everyone would be "judged by the content of their character and not by the color of their skin," and would be afforded equal opportunity.


She offered two compelling reasons for her assertions. First of all she argued, institutional racism was so deeply embedded in American society that it would be forever impossible to eradicate it. The overwhelming majority of Americans either chose to ignore it, to deny that it existed, or chose to sustain and embrace it as it provided for white privilege. Secondly, from an economic perspective, she asserted that an equitable society would require a fairer distribution of resources. On the opposite side of the coin of extreme wealth is extreme poverty. I cannot recall specifically what she said in this regard, but I am sure it echoed the sentiment that those of wealth and power fail to "see the wretched as their family and the poor as their flesh and blood." (Stephen Mitchell) Equitable distribution of wealth would always be interpreted as "robbing from the rich to give to the poor." As a result of these two factors, we, as a people, are constantly ripping to shreds "our single garment of destiny." (My thought, courtesy of Dr. King, not hers.)


All these thoughts provided a segue into my thinking about and planning for the celebration of African American History Month. However, in my preparation, as usual, I encountered a slight bump in the road. The actress, Stacey Dash, has once again raised the question as to whether African American History Month should exist. Looking back over the past thirty years or so, I cannot remember a time when the issue of the need for or the relevance of this event was not questioned both within and without the African American community. Dash in her remarks, echoed the sentiments of Morgan Freeman who back in 2005, in an interview on 60 Minutes, asserted that celebrating Black History was ridiculous. In his words, "I don't want a Black History, Black History is American History." Both agreed that this celebration was a barrier to creating a truly integrated society. In reality, it was promulgating segregation. Some persons over the years have labeled it racist.


On the one hand, I can appreciate their point of view. African American history should be American history, it should not be separate and apart, on that notion I agree. However, the truth of the matter is that it is mainly separate and apart. The initial purpose of creating Negro History Week which eventually transformed into Black History Month and finally into African American History Month, was to bring that history so long denied or ignored into full view, be appreciated, and then hopefully be infused truthfully and meaningfully into American history. Can you believe, in all the school texts that I read K-12, only two names of African Americans were mentioned, Dred Scott and Dr. George Washington Carver. Add to these names an occasional insert concerning slavery, and that was the sum total of my exposure to the Black experience in America in school.


While there has been some inclusion of African American history into American history, such inclusion is still deficient. In the meantime, such inclusion is forever encountering reconstructions and reinterpretations of American history that might mitigate what gains have been made. A case in point, recently a text published for public schools in Texas has put forth the notion that Africans were brought to this country as immigrant workers. So what is all this talk about the brutality of that "Peculiar Institution" previously known as slavery?!


Should we celebrate Black/African American History Month? My answer is a resounding "yes!" We need to continue to highlight the barriers that have been encountered and still must be overcome, the contributions that have been made in the building of American society, the roles that have been enacted in an attempt to make the American Dream available to all. I stand firmly with the likes of Henry Louis Gates and Riana Kelley who have consistently argued that this event is still necessary and extremely relevant, well deserving to be recognized, to be celebrated. We must not forget the treacherous stony road we have trod and still have to trod, "the bitterness of the chastening rod." We should praise the advances that have been made, yet still address the progress to be made, highlighting the challenges that inhibit this country from ringing "with the harmonies of liberty."


Over the years African American History Month has been dramatically effective in resurrecting the stories of our ancestors and integrating these stories into our history and, hopefully and eventually, into American history. "Mission accomplished," some contend, "time to move on."


However, Gates believes, "we're not even on the horizon of the time to end African American History Month. When as many Americans are as familiar with Harriet Tubman as they are with Paul Revere, then we can think about ending African American History Month."


Amen to that!


CHEERS from the PUB
Sandra Chapin
Publications Manager


What a colorful world.

As the second month of a brand new year begins, full of discoveries to be made, I find myself taking a mental stroll revisiting fond memories. You may join me in remembering those childhood Valentines created by folding paper in half and cutting out half a heart shape, delighting in the full heart when unfolded. Then out came the pencils and crayons to decorate it for Mom or your best friend – or that someone special who made you blush at recess.

In those days simple pleasures meant so much. One of the occasions that created excitement for me was getting a new box of crayons. A box of possibilities.

The 64-color assortment of Crayola crayons – with a built-in sharpener – debuts.

64 choices to bring my imagination to life. My favorites were apricot, cornflower and sea green.

Some may recall elementary school teachers criticizing students who colored “outside the lines” or made the sky green or the tree blue. As for me, I was a tidy artist, and somewhat of a realist. The teacher’s pet type. But I never thought my creativity was compromised. In high school art class my teacher said that, even though we may associate freedom with art, there are distinct limits such as the size of the paper or canvas and the ways in which a pencil or coloring medium can be manipulated. Even free expression has boundaries.

Life is like a box of chocolates (according to Forrest Gump), but Church is like a box of crayons. Like colors at our disposal, congregations have influences that factor into how they do things. Some may choose to downplay the society around them and stick with the classical ways of worship or activities used in the days of their parents and grandparents. Note that the original box of Crayola crayons entered the marketplace in 1903, sold for a nickel, and contained 8 colors that fueled children's imaginations for many years.

Other congregations are willing to introduce new elements into how they "do church." The balance between what is familiar and what is new continues to be a challenge and may lead to tension. But some tension is not a bad thing. It promotes a deeper exploration of what worships means, what is its purpose, and what is the mission of the congregation. Does the mission change over time? What is the congregation willing to let go of to achieve a changing mission?

Eight Crayola crayons – maize, raw umber, lemon yellow, blue gray, orange yellow, orange red, green blue and violet blue – are retired into the Crayola Hall of Fame in Easton, Pennsylvania.

The Crayola brand celebrates 100 years of making the world a more colorful place for children. Four new colors were introduced for the next century: “inch worm”, “mango tango”, “wild blue yonder”, and “jazzberry jam”; these colors replaced blizzard blue, magic mint, mulberry, and teal blue.

As I write this, the largest box I find on the Crayola website contains 120 colors. Doesn’t that get your creative juices flowing? But does one “need” a 120 colors? For me, it’s all about options.

Options have never been more plentiful in the realm of coloring books – for adults! A recent trip to Barnes and Noble made this clear when I saw shelves and shelves of “grown up” coloring books, including designs of mandalas, geometrics, patchwork, Tiffany glass, Paris, Tokyo, luxury cars, Victorian fashions, steampunk and more. 334 results for creative coloring books for adults are on the B&N website. Coloring has swept the nation!

Back to the 120 colors. From the stories about Jesus, I think of him as someone who appreciated options. He often choose the unexpected response to a situation – that 117th color. Consider the story of the woman caught in adultery (The Gospel of John, chapter 8). The scribes and the Pharisees stirred up the crowd as they kept needling Jesus that she must be punished by stoning. All the while, Jesus spent some time in creative thought as he drew with his finger on the ground. Then he stood up and told them that anyone without sin should throw the first stone. No stones were thrown.

Seems like Jesus would have colored outside the lines.

Edwin Binney and C. Harold Smith form a partnership and call their company Binney & Smith. Early products include red oxide pigment used in barn paint and carbon black used for car tires. During this time, Binney & Smith took an active role in the development and production of carbon black from natural gas, after natural gas deposits were found throughout Pennsylvania. (18 years later Binney & Smith established the Crayola brand.)

The Crayola Solar Farm is completed and included more than 30,000 solar panels producing 3 megawatts of electricity. The solar panels generate enough electricity to produce 1 billion crayons and 500 million markers per year.

The Church moves forward. Elements from the past have their place but the future is, well, the future. The call goes out for imagination and venturing along uncharted paths. Grab your crayons and let’s go!

Research from


St. Paul's Leaders 2016


Rev. Sharon Smith-Littrell, PhD

Music Director
William W. Williams


Church Council

Darrell Taylor

Anita Curtis

Financial Secretary
Yvonne Dudley

Assistant Treasurer
Assistant Financial Secretary
Carol Smith

Church Clerk

Yvonne Dudley
Faith Development
Patricia Dunn

Sandra Chapin


St. Paul’s View Staff

Ernie Dunn
Sandra Chapin
Publications Manager
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Image Catalog

Cloud Dragon

Source: Unsplash

Taken on August 11, 2012

Public Domain


Core Values

gregory lejeune



Taken on November 22, 2015

Public Domain

Altered by Sandra Chapin



Picdrome Public Domain Pictures

Rose petals close-up

Taken on May 9 2013

Public Domain



Barn Images

Red cliffs

Uploaded on October 15, 2015

Public Domain


Lenten Reflection

budz McKenzle

Pink Forest 1

Uploaded on December 16, 2015

Public Domain


Pastor Sharon's View

The LEAF Project
Language Education Access Foundation

Professor Barbara Kruger @ France

Taken on July 1, 2012

Public Domain


From the Editor's Desk

Florida Memory

Mary McLeod Bethune

Taken circa 1910

One of the nation's prominent educators and civil rights leaders, Bethune's political career included appointments to the National Youth Administration by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and as a delegate to the founding conference of the United Nations by President Harry S. Truman. She established a school for girls in Daytona Beach that later became Bethune-Cookman College.

The Commons


Cheers from the PUB

Tanay Mondal


Uploaded on October 6, 2015

Public Domain


Image Catalog

Colorful Flags Blowing in the Wind

Source: Unsplash

Taken on July 9, 2008

Pubic Domain


View Staff

gregory lejeune

“True Colors”

Taken on February 26, 2015

Pubic Domain



Joe deSousa

White Rose

Taken on June 18, 2015

Public Domain


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