Faith Evolving, Lives Transforming
St. Paul's United Church of Christ
1101 Golf Course Rd SE
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
Last week George and I drove to Santa Fe to have lunch with a friend of mine from Pennsylvania. I looked forward to our time for catching up on the goings on in the Swiss-Alps-like mountain town where my last church is located. My friend and I are Facebook friends as well as personal friends, so I regularly hear about members of their family — this catching up is more about community. Which person that I used to spend time with is celebrating an anniversary or has new grandchildren? Does the tai-chi class still meet on the grass at the local park at 10AM on Saturday?
Here is a question: Do the school buses still run on the one-way street as they deliver their cargo of children to high school first, then middle school and finally the elementary? There was some controversy about the route. I liked it because my house was located on the one-way street where further along the precious kids were dropped off at the elementary school. In short order, I learned not to need to leave the house between 8:00 and 8:30 and 3:00 and 3:30. The school was two blocks, short walking blocks, from my home, but far for some children. Now, before you say you would never live at my former home, here is the good part: on the many snow days, I could count on my street being plowed.
I will ask about the community theater that I supported with my time and my money. A theater that boasted actors from Broadway who vacationed in our town. There was a play-writing contest each year that drew writers from many states. The annual winning play was produced in well-known theaters in New York and Connecticut and other points east. I was an assistant director of four plays — pretty good for a novice.
The quilting group still meets, but who goes? Is organic farming still growing (as it were)? Has the new coffee shop been successful? Do visitors still come from miles around to shop at the department store that has everything?
It was amazing that I was so accepted into this mountain community where native born folk are called “ridge runners” and outsiders are, well, outsiders. Almost like being a big fish in a small pond. When I left, the local newspaper ran a one-half page feature about my move. Leaving the area was right for me because I am a westerner at heart. I need sun and dry air and mountains in the distance with skies that are open and one can see weather rolling in. But when coming to a big pond like Albuquerque, one must find a way to swim upstream (switching metaphors!) to be recognized as a catch worth casting for.
The congregations that comprise the Southwest Conference make up the pond where I now swim and try to make my way. One way to be a bigger fish is to serve on committees. At our Annual Meeting, having served on the Nominating, Committee on Church and Ministry B and New Church Start, I was elected to the Executive Board for the Conference. I know that is not a position that everyone wants. It will take at least eight of my non-working Saturdays to participate in the work of the Conference. Having served on the Nominating Committee for two years, I do know that being on this Board is a selective process. Ernie Dunn filled the member at large position for two years and I have succeed him. This position is filled by those who are thought to be able to help set policy for the Conference. Our Conference Minister has veto power for this Board, so he must have thought I would fill the job well.
My nomination of Ernie two years ago was to signal to the Conference that St. Paul’s UCC in Rio Rancho is alive and well. Given our state of reorganization at that time, it was important that the Conference know we are a vital group. My willingness to serve – to give up Saturdays that will not be “comp time” is my effort to let the churches in Arizona, New Mexico and El Paso, Texas, see that we are still vital. More so than we were.
Much as I am able to help, in the long run, becoming a bigger fish in a big pond takes all of us. A good start is attending the annual meeting. Anita Curtis attended last year and has volunteered to serve on a committee. Thanks Anita!
Attending the Annual Meeting gets you into the swing of things. This year, I was the sole (pun intended) fish from St. Paul’s at this meeting. I had asked five people to go and unfortunately none of them could. Next year, I would love to have five people attend with me at Shadow Rock Church in Phoenix. Our Church has a voice: pastor and five delegates voting on issues. Those attending help set policy for the Southwest Conference. Next year, let’s make St. Paul’s a visible fish in the pond — a fish noticeable in the pond that is the Conference.
Hello, St. Paul’s. Below are a few bullets to let you know that the Church Council is working hard on your behalf.
- Faith Development is working to define the curriculum for the remainder of the year. In the next several weeks the Wednesday educational session will consider fundamentalism, spirituality, creeds and statements of faith for different religious groups.
- Pastor Sharon and Darrell have engaged an architect to help us define our space and create a design that can facilitate all the things we need to do in our space. We are expecting the initial draft of the development plan from the architect soon. The development of a plan does not obligate St. Paul’s in any way. We can make whatever changes we deem necessary as they become important to the Congregation.
- The ad hoc committee for advertising continues to work with Ad House on defining an advertising plan for the church. Ad House is currently working on our Facebook page, changing it from a personal account to a business account. Next, we will be working to bring our website up to date.
- The council continues to consider our best investment vehicles. Reverend Nelson Murphy, who has retired from the United Church Fund, will be at St. Paul’s on May 9, 2015 to present a workshop on investing for churches. Additionally, he will inform us of the investment vehicles available through the United Church of Christ. Rev. Sharon has also invited other UCC Councils to join us in this workshop. All within the Congregation are invited.
- The Council has contracted a book keeping service to support the finance team. This will provide the finance team with the time and information to analyze our financial performance and report to the Council.
As you can see, the Council is busy conducting the church’s business and making plans for the future for the Congregation. These are exciting times at St. Paul’s.
From the Editor's Desk
Recently, Pat, Amina and I attended a three day Conference dealing with the subject of cancer, now being called by one author, "The Emperor of all Maladies." The Conference was very well planned; it was educationally and emotionally rewarding. There were individual speakers and panels of speakers dealing with defining the invasive nature of cancer, new research developments and treatments, and for many, the most important aspect, how to survive and hopefully thrive having been victimized and having gone through or presently going through the appropriate treatment.
There was one speaker, a cancer survivor, recovering from a very intensive treatment of radiation and chemotherapy, who truly impressed me. The hope, so genuine in her expression, was extremely inspirational. Toward the end of her presentation, she shared with us this quote by Lillian Greene which had become her daily mantra: "Life is not about waiting for the storm to end. It is learning to dance in the rain." The speaker who followed, also a survivor, shared a quote from Albert Camus, one with which I was very familiar, that was in a very similar vein: "In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”
Interestingly how the mind operates. As I was mulling over the quotes mentioned above, I was reminded of something I had read by Joseph Campbell, seemingly related. I could not remember it exactly, but then I didn't have to. The second speaker down the line quoted it for me: "We must be willing to get rid of the life we've planned so as to live the life that is happening to us." I wonder if John Lennon may have been inspired by Campbell when he wrote "Life is what happens to us when we are making other plans." And then that same speaker quoted my favorite folk singer of all time, Joan Baez: "You don't get to choose how you are going to die or when. You can only decide how you are going to live."
I trust the common thread, the familiar ring, in all of these quotes is starting to become apparent. If not, then perhaps a short quote from Eckhart Tolle might help. In his book, The Power of Now, he contends that "the only place that you can experience the flow of life is in the Now. As a spiritualist, Tolle speaks of surrendering to this flow in the Now. I have found his book well worth reading, but I must admit that it sent me back to the writings of Paul Tillich: "Whenever we say "now" or "today," we stop the flux of time for us. We accept the present and do not care that is gone in the moment that we accept it. We live in it and it is renewed for us in every new "present." This is possible because every moment of time reaches into the eternal "now."
Perhaps, a question that is forming in your mind, or has formed, now begging to be asked and answered, is "what does it mean to live fully in the present moment?" From what I have read and digested, it means that your awareness is completely centered in the here and now. When you are living in the present, you are living where life is happening.
Some writers have gone so far as to argue that if you are not living in the present, you are living in illusion. The past and the future are both illusions. At this point, there is a personal confession to be made. There was a time, not too many years ago, when the concept of living in the now was difficult, if not impossible for me to fathom. I could not wrap my mind around this notion, as for years, I had argued the contrary, the present is an illusion. I can vividly recall writing that, at best, the present was an extremely ephemeral "milli-moment" escaping detection between the past and the future. What was immediately became what will be. We could not really experience the transition.
But now, I understand. We must live in the present. If we live in the past, all too often we spend that time berating ourselves for mistakes that cannot be corrected. One of the speakers at the Conference noted that we have more than 60 thousands thoughts a day. 90% of those thoughts deal with events from the past and 95% of those are not beneficial. If we live for tomorrow, tomorrow is always lurking around the corner. But around that corner are shadows, unknowns, "never to have light shed upon them because time is always now."
If you are living in the present, you are living in acceptance. You are accepting life as it is. But herein is the secret mystery to life. This acceptance is not passive activity, it is dynamic. We gain courage and understanding from deep within ourselves and recognize that when we fully embrace the now, we can truly contemplate and act out the best life has to offer.
Perhaps, St. Frances of Assisi had something like this in mind when he wrote:
"First do what is necessary, then do what is possible,
and before long you will find yourself doing the impossible."
CHEERS from the PUB
But do not overlook this one fact, beloved,
that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
2 Peter 3:8
And one picture is worth a thousand words. I am stirred by visual art. Because of that, when I put together our Church newsletter using the online platform, Mail Chimp, it's gathering the images to accompany the articles that invigorate me. Sometimes it seems like a thousand years have passed (especially when at the computer in the wee hours of the morning) since I began formatting the View in August 2010. I started in print only with black and white clip art. The online version debuted in the fall of 2011. But now is the “one day” I knew was coming.
And though your beginning was small, your latter days will be very great.
With this May issue of the newsletter, I begin a new venture, a commitment to using images that either have or correspond to the status of Public Domain. Up to now I've pulled images from the internet search engine Bing, trying to illuminate and complement each article. For every image I selected, I looked through and considered about a hundred, narrowing down possibilities, waiting for an inner bell of satisfaction to ring.
And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying,
“This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.
I did try to follow my own criteria of what was permissible. Note that the term Royalty Free often boils down to paying an upfront fee and then using the image multiple times without cost. Did I have full permission to use every image that has appeared in the View? No. Though I paused to caution myself when inserting images. But given our limited readership and the fact that the newsletter is not a commercial publication, I felt relatively okay about dwelling in this murky, grey area.
A new day will dawn on us from above because our God is loving and merciful.
Now we are turning up the spotlight on St. Paul's with a new website and a new Facebook page, and the time feels right for posting the colorful version of the newsletter, rather than the one with text only. The expectation is that more eyes will view The View, and I want to take more care in producing the publication. Along with better filtering of images, I will eliminate personal information such as birthdays and prayer lists. The View will reach out worldwide, but some things are best kept within our Church family.
The group of those who believed were of one heart and mind,
and no one said that any of his possessions was his own,
but everything was held in common.
In those first Christian communities, enthusiasm ran high. Scripture points to them sharing their resources. We can imagine they shared their sorrows as well as their joys. Did they share their secrets? Their dreams? Their online photo galleries? For recreation over the past few years, I have explored Flikr, an image hosting website where the art of talented photographers can be enjoyed by all. Recently I investigated one part of the site called The Commons. Its purpose is to increase access to publicly held photography collections. Many of the images are vintage, but some are new, posted by those who want their work to be accessible too. All come under the heading No known copyright restrictions.
Jesus said to him, "Go wash in the pool of Siloam" (which is translated "sent").
So the blind man went away and washed, and came back seeing.
With these added safeguards, the pool of available images is more limited. Fewer choices. And an image I select may not fit the article with as much whimsy as in past issues. But I am sent on this mission and we will all come back seeing things we may not have seen before. In the future I may experiment with showcasing the work of a particular photographer who has released photos for our newsletter. I may find a subscription service for a compelling library of images. Or I may draw and color illustrations myself. (Hmm, time to get started on that Christmas issue.)
When you've read through the newsletter, be sure to keep scrolling down to the end. There you will find the acknowledgements for each image. It's educational!
Faith Development Ministry
Want to learn more about SPIRITUALITY: the Universal dynamic which infuses and enriches religious experiences and life independent of religion?
Come on Wednesday, May 6, at 6:30 pm and discover something new from our special guests.
Certified Music Practitioner
Certified Religious Science Practitioner and Energy Healer
Rev. Don Wismer, M.Div, MSW
Certified Psychiatric Group Social Worker
Next for our Wednesday studies, here is an invitation from Pastor Sharon:
Often people ask me about both the Apostle’s Creed and Nicene Creed: looking for differences and why we, at St. Paul’s, use a Statement of Faith rather than a creed.
For two evenings, we will talk about the creeds first, then various Statements of Faith. Meet at Church on Wednesday May 13 & May 20, 6:30 in the evening, for a discussion about these religious documents.
Last month we received an email from Jim Payne, the Executive Director of Storehouse West, with the following update:
St. Paul's has contributed a total of 206 pounds of food to Storehouse West this quarter. Thank you all for your continued support and help.
Blessings, Le Nien Mueller, Volunteer
Duane Cuthrell and Gary Roccapriore continue to take our food donations to Storehouse West once a month. Thanks, Duane and Gary! Our collection box is available every Sunday for your convenience – and for the benefit of so many in our community who need assistance.
The date to bring in items for making hygiene kits has been extended into May. Our thanks to those who have already purchased items. There are still a few shopping reminder cards left. We’re getting close to our goal of 30 kits!
5 for 5 Missions
A certificate of recognition by the Southwest Conference for St. Paul’s United Church of Christ being a 5 for 5 Congregation is on display on our magnetic board. The recognition was made at the Annual Meeting in April.
The designation means that in 2014 we supported the five major mission outreaches of the UCC. In 2015 we had one of the five as our Mission of the Month focus in March, One Great Hour of Sharing. In June we will highlight Strengthen the Church. You’ll read about it in next month’s View.
For your generosity in giving to these missions in the past, and going forward, know that you are greatly appreciated.
Fun with Hats
Saturday, May 2 / 11 am – 1:30 pm / at St. Paul’s
Let's make a hat for Mother's Day and we can wear them to church. Or not, depending upon your love of your hat! Still it will be fun to make these and spend time together.
Bring your lunch, a hat, and some ribbons and such if you have them.
(I will bring some.)
Note that you will need to park on the side of our space and use the side entrance that day. The back parking lot is scheduled for repaving on Saturday.
Next Book Group Meeting
The Sunday afternoon Book Group will not meet in May. The book selected for the next meeting on June 14 is Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann, winner of the National Book Award for Fiction 2009.
In the dawning light of a late-summer morning, the people of lower Manhattan stand hushed, staring up in disbelief at the Twin Towers. It is August 1974, and a mysterious tightrope walker is running, dancing, leaping between the towers, suspended a quarter mile above the ground. In the streets below, a slew of ordinary lives become extraordinary in bestselling novelist Colum McCann’s stunningly intricate portrait of a city and its people. [Goodreads]
Extra time to read this engaging book! All are invited to be a part of the discussion.
Happening in the Southwest Conference
The Lay Academy is offering the following learning opportunity in May.
Facilitated by Rev. Dr. John Dorhauer
Privilege is defined as a right, immunity or benefit enjoyed only by a person beyond the advantages of most. We will look at cultural conditions that authorize the extension of privilege to some because of their race, gender, or sexual orientation. We will test this cultural phenomenon of privilege using the standards of equality shaped by our walk with Jesus.
May 15 – 16
First Congregational Church UCC
Contact Rev. Rock Fremont, Lay Academy Coordinator, for more information.
Take the hand of the person next to you.
In this touch, connect to the risen Christ among us.
In this touch, remember that we are all God’s children
seeking to live as God’s beloved together.
In this touch, remember that our spirits are held together
with the spirit of God our Creator,
Christ our Teacher,
and the Holy Spirit of Light.
This day and forevermore. Amen.
From ucc.org worship ways
On the Calendar
Wednesdays in May
Office Hours for Pastor Sharon
9:30 – 11:00 am
Einstein Bros Bagels
(near the corner of Wellspring Ave. and Unser Blvd. in Rio Rancho)
Thursdays in May
Saturday, May 2
11 am – 1:30 pm
Wednesday, May 6
Evening Adult Study on Spirituality, part 2
Saturday, May 9
Workshop on Investing for Churches – All are invited
8:30 am – noon
Mother's Day, Sunday, May 10
Wear your new hat!
Wednesdays, May 13 and 20
Evening Adult Study on Creeds / Statements of Faith
Saturday, May 16
Party at Pastor Sharon and George’s house – Speak with Pastor Sharon for details
St. Paul's Leaders 2015
Rev. Sharon Smith-Littrell, PhD
William W. Williams
Assistant Financial Secretary
St. Paul’s View Staff
You may submit articles to firstname.lastname@example.org
Library of Congress
Hotel and Ben Lui, Loch Awe, Scotland
Taken between 1890 and 1900
Infinity curves in Qushla Building in Baghdad
Photographer: Darck Man
Taken on December 26, 2014
Pastor Sharon’s View
National Museum of Natural History, Division of Fishes
Priolepis hipoliti, Adult (Rusty Goby)
Internet Archive Book Images
University of California Libraries
Image from page 21 of "The essentials of gearing; a text book for students and for self-instruction, containing numerous problems and practical formulas" (1911)
From the Editor
Library of Congress
Main Reading Room. The Rotunda Clock by John Flanagan.
Thomas Jefferson Building, Washington, D.C.
Carol M. Highsmith, photographer. 1946
Cheers from the Pub
U.S. National Archives
Former sugarcane train is now used for tourists near Lahina, Hawaii
Miami University Libraries, Digital Collections
Interior of Our Mother of Sorrows Church, Ashtabula Harbor, Ohio
Postcard, mailed on July 27, 1912
Image Archive Book Images
Cornell University Library
Image from page 7 of "General impressions of the country merchant" (1916)
Fun with Hats
Internet Archive Book Images
Univ. of Mass. Amherst Libraries
Image from page 268 of "Ur excavations" (1900)
Model Reading – Sarasota
December 3, 1958
Happening in the Southwest Conference
Internet Archive Book Images
Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine
Image from page 307 of "Fact and fable in psychology"
Library of Congress
M. Sieveking's hands
Taken circa 1915
On the Calendar
Internet Archive Book Images
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Image from page 1241 of "Florists' review" (1912)
Chicago: Florist’s Publishing Co.
Leaders of St. Paul’s UCC
Internet Archive Book Images
Mathematical Sciences – University of Toronto
Image from page 216 of "Journal de mathématiques pures et appliquées"
Artist: Gene Davis, born Washington, DC 1920-died Washington, DC 1985