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


Activities in April


Sunday mornings

Choir Rehearsal
9:15 am

Worship Service
10:30 am

Social Hour
11:30 am


Wednesday April 6

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


Friday April 8 and 22

Re:Sounding Joy
6:00 – 7:00

Singing songs of praise and contemplation
from a variety of cultures and traditions.


Wednesday April 13 and 27

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

Rio Rancho

Wednesday April 20

“Here's Mud in Your Pie”
2:00 pm
Village Inn, Rio Rancho

We're celebrating Earth Day early.
Free pie slice (with purchase) – mud optional.

Friday/Saturday April 22-23

Southwest Conference UCC Annual Meeting

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Faith Development


Final session of the series

April 6
6:30 – 8:00 PM

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

Life in the Diaspora
Genesis 30-37; Esther; Daniel 1-6


Apocalyptic Literature
Isaiah 24-27, 56-66; Zechariah 9-14; Daniel 7-12


Look what's coming in May: A study about the Ark of the Covenant from a Japanese prospective.

Stay tuned.


If you have ideas for future study,
please contact Patricia Dunn, Faith Development leader.


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Re:Sounding Joy

Fridays, April 8 and 22

6:00 – 7:00 pm


RE:Sounding Joy utilizes traditional and contemporary sacred and inspirational music from religious, secular and wisdom traditions from all over the world, to promote collective joy, unity and global healing. This practice draws from all recorded traditions and is not linked to any one teaching or ideology. The sacred music offerings include songs from Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu/Indian, Native American, Sikh, Islamic/Sufi, Hawaiian, African diaspora, Neoteric and other global and folk music traditions. Praise singing, devotional singing, congregational singing, chanting and folk song traditions in a variety of languages are learned and explored.

RE:Sounding Joy is based on the observation that when we open to and participate in joyful song, we come as close as we can to bridging the divides that separates us, as we share in the essence of an individuals, or cultures sacred musical tradition. For this reason, RE:Sounding Joy is an excellent way to practice Religious and Cultural Literacy.

RE:Sounding Joy provides an opportunity for people to:
Experience - COLLECTIVE JOY by hearing or participating in joyful singing
Develop CREATIVITY - with music and song
Practice OPENESS - to other cultures and tradition
Cultivate LOVING-KINDESS and COMPASSION - by considering diversity
Develop AWARENESS - learning new ways to express the heart
Encourage ENTHUSIASM, WONDER and a sense of UNITY

RE:Sounding Joy is guided by the following ideas from the Charter for Compassion.

“We therefore call upon all men and women to restore compassion to the centre of morality and religion… 
to ensure that youth are given accurate and respectful information about other traditions, religions and cultures…
to encourage a positive appreciation of cultural and religious diversity...
to cultivate an informed empathy with the suffering of all human beings—
even those regarded as enemies."


I look forward to seeing you there!


Thank you,

Cliff Berrien

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Other meetings at our location

4 – 5 pm   Girl Scouts

11 am – noon   Tai Chi

6 – 7:30 pm   Buddhist Meditation


Missions Make a Difference


April is the month we will begin focusing on Haven House, the mission we agreed would be our main effort for the year. Our team will remind the Church every Sunday in April and May about the opportunities available to help. We are excited about helping these women and children who have experienced abuse and hope we can make a difference.


We have created a poster to communicate volunteer opportunities and a list of needs for the House and will be handing out small flyers to the congregation so that these requests can be carried with them as reminders when they shop. The Team will also have a sign-up sheet so people can “partner up” for volunteer prospects if they desire.


Mission Team: Anita Curtis, Trish Herron, Karen Schafer


Happening in the Southwest Conference

St. Paul's Anita Curtis has been serving on the SWC Nominating Committee. The following persons have responded to her call to serve at the Conference level:

Rev. Sharon Littrell will participate in the 2017 Annual Meeting Planning Committee;

Ernie Dunn will serve on COCAM A (Committee on Church and Ministry);

Gordon Nelson will succeed Anita on the Nominating Committee.

Continuing in their current positions:

Rev. Sharon Littrell on the Executive Board;

Anita Curtis on the Mission Planning Board.


Our thanks to everyone who give their time to further the work of the Southwest Conference – past, present and future. St. Paul's UCC is well represented in the leadership of our Conference.


The Southwest Conference is pleased to welcome Eli Johnson, our Relational Communication / Administrative Assistant, to our staff! Eli is a recent college grad with extensive experience in community development. He grew up in Rincon, and was very active in both local and Southwest Conference events.


Eli is training with both Holly and Sheri at the SWC office in Phoenix during the next 3 months, in preparation for Holly's retirement at the end of June.


Shepard of the Hills Congregational UCC, Phoenix – The Ugandan Kids Choir, a group of ten talented Ugandan children, will be performing at 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, April 10, 2016. The choir (ages 8-12) will delight us with singing traditional African songs, playing authentic instruments and dancing in their colorful attire.


Church of the Painted Hills, Tucson – Dave Schutt from Wasilla, Alaska, gifted Church of the Painted Hills with two large pieces of petrified wood for their labyrinth. These two pieces are from Joseph City, Arizona, and are estimated to be 500 million years old!


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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 Bob Rosenak
Church of the Good Shepherd UCC, ABQ


Let's Dance


In the 1930’s and 40’s Swing music was all the rage. The great Benny Goodman had as his theme song, “Let’s Dance.” As the saying goes, “It takes two to Tango.” That is the very essence of interdependence! You can’t tango alone. It is extremely difficult for those in our society to function if they do not understand the concept of interdependence. I recently read the autobiography of John Robison, “Look Me in the Eye.” Robison suffers from Aspergers Syndrome. In his book he describes the extreme difficulty he had learning to associate with other people. He couldn’t read expressions, he didn’t get sarcasm, he could not relate to others. His life was very difficult because he didn’t “get” interdependence.

No matter where we go we associate with others. The grocery, the airport, our church, everywhere we meet and relate to other people we rely on interdependence. We ask a clerk in the store, “How much does this cost?” Interdependence! We visit with a neighbor and, once again, Interdependence. Life is a continuous dance. It is moving together in the same place, often in several places at the same time, but it is all a graceful movement of relating to each other. Our church, Church of the Good Shepherd in Albuquerque, has a number of dances of interdependence going all at the same time. As I write this our youth have just returned from a week of service with our Sister Church in El Paso. We serve at a homeless shelter on a regular basis, we house families in transition to permanent homes and are involved in other activities that require interdependence. What a wonderful life we live and how empty it would be without these activities in our lives.

If you get a chance to read John Robison’s book you will realize what life is like when living in a vacuum. After years of an amazing struggle he finally learned what we all take for granted... Interdependence. He learned to read others and to react to them in a socially acceptable manner. Almost all of us have this ability as an innate part of us. We do not appreciate it. Let us laugh and enjoy the dance, the give and take of mutual agreement to be there for others and give ourselves to them. Let us rejoice in the interdependence that makes our world a more exciting place in which to live. “Let’s Dance!”


Earth Day Reflection


Creative and Renewing God

A Prayer by the Rev. Wade Schemmel
UCC Northern Plains Conference Minister


O ever creative and renewing God, the bounty of your gracious Spirit is all about us.

We are embraced by that Spirit through the wonders of an endless night sky with its millions of lights, each declaring the radiance of your presence.

We are embraced as we view the majesty of a distant horizon and give thanks for the life that pulses within every blade of grass, every living, breathing creature, every handful of earth.

For in their life, O God, is the signature of your endlessly creative presence.


Guide us, O God, that we might live with reverence among the abundance of your gifts.

May we receive with gratitude the life that earth contains, and may we so love it that those who follow us on their journey of life will have the same reason to stand in awe before your endless majesty and give thanks.

May those who follow us, as they receive of your great goodness, O God, know not only of the history of our passing but also of the reverence with which we received from the banquet of your great blessing.

We pray in our Redeemer’s name. Amen.

UCC Environmental Ministries


Pastor Sharon's View

Over several years, I have heard letters read aloud that the famous and the-not-so-famous wrote to their 16-year old selves. I then saw some of those same people appear on a morning news program to read the letter they had written and talk about the advice they would have given now to that 16-year-old from the standpoint of having lived into their 60s and beyond.

While surfing one of my favorite websites, I discovered the same type of advice given. However, those giving the advice were spiritual gurus of our time. I would say that the advice was not radically different from that given by former president Jimmy Carter or the late Joe Garagiola to their young selves.

Here is some of the advice:

“Find God in your work with others”
“Tell the truth, at least to yourself”
“If you think something is missing in your life, it probably is”
“Don't be afraid to be powerful”
“Believe in yourself”
“Hug yourself”
“Don’t give up on creative studies”
“BE, stop doing”
“Go on dreaming”

I could go on, but you get the idea.

Here is my thought for us.

If you were to write your own letter to your 16-year-old self, what would it say? And have you stopped taking your own advice? Could you still do what might have been part of your dream? If so, what is stopping you?

It is spring. Daylight saving time is giving us more time each day. Let’s make a difference in our own lives.



From the Editor's Desk
Ernie Dunn

Beth Ann Estock and Paul Nixon have co-authored a very insightful, highly readable book entitled Weird Church hot off the Pilgrim Press, the UCC publishers in Cleveland. One previewer of the volume informs us that Weird Church "describes the massive shifts that have impacted the church . . provides a helpful common language for the different worldviews that exist in the institutional church today . . gives examples of the richness of diversity in healthy, relevant faith communities." Relying upon their experiences and the insights they have gained from them, the co-authors have provided a truly integral understanding of the challenges that we are facing in the 21st Century both from sacred and secular perspectives.


The book is written from a particular framework developed by Don Beck and Christopher Cowan called Spiral Dynamics and that is where I choose to focus in this presentation. The framework is actually a comprehensive model designed to observe human and cultural development and thereby afford us to better "understand where we have been and where we are going." The premise is "that human nature changes as the conditions of existence change, thus forging new systems." Adaptation is the key. When our present worldviews, religious practices, and rules for living collide with more complex life conditions, when the old wine skins break under the pressure of the new wine, we are able to transcend the old and embrace the new. "Both individuals and societies move along this evolutionary spiral of development. This movement vacillates between expressing our individual selves to sacrificing ourselves for the good of the whole." It is important to note that as we move along, we may find ourselves, more often by choice, caught up in a recursive loop that sends us backwards to embrace that which we should have let go.


What I find absolutely fascinating is that the levels of development along the spiral have been color-coded ranging from beige to turquoise. Time and all the intricacies of the levels do not allow for an in depth presentation of this color coding. For the purposes of our discussion, permit me to express that the spiral ranges from the basic survival instinct to practicing mutual reciprocity in communities, to aggressiveness that calls for codes of conduct. From there, we proceed to some stabilization and order which unfortunately tends to focus on individual success and achievement all too often leading to greed ranging far beyond bounds of avarice. This calls for a value system that shifts the focus back to the larger community, a system that finds expression in caring for others, encouraging concern for peace, equality and social justice.


All this allows us to integrate facts, feelings and instincts resulting in helping the spiral to function in a healthy way. In the process, at this level we are able to move "out of fear and into freedom." In this freedom comes the final level where we experience the wholeness of existence through mind and spirit. "There is a growing sense that reality can be experienced, but never fully known." Most importantly, at this level the value meme is to bring together groups of people (cultural creatives?), who are willing to work, to discover solutions for global problems and venues for healthy change. They are desirous of moving beyond the barriers of ethnicity, religious affiliation, culture, and inhibiting nationalism. All this comes via deep spirituality, intuitive thinking and cooperative action.


Wouldn't it be great if we were able to advance to that level of the spiral just mentioned? Imagine what a world that would be! Imagine a future far beyond our greatest expectations. But immediately, our co-authors bring back to reality and the true nature of the present human condition. They contend: "It is important to note that this is the first time in history when all the colors of the spiral are bumping into each other, creating cultural wars and political polarities around the globe." As we look at our communities, our state, our nation, the world, it is very difficult to find wide ranging, in some instances finding small ranging movements, groups of people vitally involved in the discovery of the joy of partnering for an integral world. We need to recognize, perhaps rediscover that awareness and compassion that emanates from finding communion with others and promoting helpful and healthy ways of serving the world's deepest needs. In a truly meaningful world, and in our churches, we must learn to live together, to support, encourage and accept each other.


If the Church is to survive in this century, according to our co-authors, it must do so ironically by not being concerned for its survival, but by being on the front lines of blessing their communities with a life practice of compassion and service.


Parker J. Palmer in his spiritually enlightening book, Let Your Life Speak, concludes that work with this admonition:

"Here is a summertime truth: abundance is a communal act, the joint creation of an incredibly complex ecology in which each part functions on behalf of the whole and, in return is sustained by the whole. Community doesn't create abundance - community is abundance. If we could learn that equation from the world of nature, the human world might be transformed."


If we could learn, then all humankind would be blessed with living in a turquoise world.


Cheers from the PUB
Sandra Chapin
Publications Manager


Talk, talk, talk. Have you heard enough? Your answer may be a big, loud “Yes!” as debates, political ads and even tweets vie for our attention. And Election Day, November 8, is still a long way off. Running away from the verbal onslaught by turning off our TVs has only limited success, since few of us want to turn off our computers or phones.


Since the TV is my friend (yes, I live alone), even when I'm on the computer in one room, the TV is on in another. To take a break from the news cycle, or what passes for news, I find myself checking certain channels for yet another Law & Order rerun. With three versions of the series produced, I can find a marathon most every day. Today, case in point, I watched (or just had on for background chatter) “Special Victims Unit” but now have switched to “Criminal Intent.” Though my favorite is still the original series.


You may not be a fan, so suffice it to say that in the first half hour dedicated detectives investigate atrocious acts and in the second half justice-motivated prosecutors outsmart wily criminals in court. It's not a perfect world. Sometimes the bad guy or gal bamboozles the jury and goes free.


The writers of Law & Order captured the concerns of the day and honed the story lines to maximize action and suspense in a snappy-paced one hour episode. The original series lasted for 20 seasons (ending in 2010), so it was a formula for success. A continuing success or the cable stations still broadcasting the shows would have pulled the plug on them by now.


The writers of the books that comprise what we know as the Bible were skilled story-tellers, and their stories continue to get “replayed,” reflecting an ancient world in ways that engage people in the 21st century. Now that's staying power!


Consider the stories of Holy Week. Jesus was the talk of the town as he entered Jerusalem. The masses who lined the streets shouted out praise and adoration. The religious elite who met in the shadows plotted his demise. Meanwhile, back in Jesus' circle... Betrayal. Disappointment. Anguish. Finally the clash we knew was coming – the courtroom drama. Were there dedicated detectives to present the facts? Were the accusers motivated by justice? What about a jury? The verdict was guilty – a win for whom? Was Jesus guilty of the charges brought against him? The story pulls us in.


St. Paul's is a congregation that talks. We talk about what matters to us – our day-to-day lives, the joys we have, the burdens we carry. We talk about what our Church means to us, and what it may mean to those not part of our Church, or any church. We talk about scripture. Sometimes we talk about our faith journeys. In bygone days we may have felt bamboozled by the opinions of others. Well, we want to believe those days are behind us. As long as our talking is accompanied by listening, and thinking, our journeys are aimed in the direction that lets us “go free.” Empowered by the freedom of the Spirit.


Law & Grace. A long-running series with an ensemble cast.


St. Paul's UCC 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

Anita Curtis and Trish Herron


St. Paul's View Staff
Ernie Dunn
Sandra Chapin
Publications Manager
You may submit articles to




Alan Schmierer

Geese and Morning Fog at Bodega Bay

Taken on December 26, 2011

Public Domain


Core Values

Internet Archive Book Images

“Armco iron rust-resisting products”
page 35

Publisher: American Rolling Mill Co. / Middletown, Ohio

flickr “The Commons”

No known copyright restrictions

Altered by Sandra Chapin



Alan Schmierer

230 - Red-tailed Hawk

Uvalde, Texas

Taken on November 21, 2013

Public Domain



Alan Schmierer

426 - Band-tailed Pigeon

Prunedale, California

Taken on March 20, 2016

Public Domain


Southwest Conference

Alan Schmierer

446 - Greater Roadrunner

Patagonia Lake Ranch Estates, Arizona

Taken on February 26, 2016

Public Domain



Alan Schmierer

240 - Sora

A small, secretive bird of freshwater marshes, the Sora is the most common and widely distributed rail in North America. Its distinctive descending whinny call can be easily heard from the depths of the cattails, but actually seeing the little marsh-walker is much more difficult. (

Patagonia Lake, Arizona

Taken on February 16, 2016

Public Domain


Pastor Sharon's View

Image Catalog

Closeup of Hummingbird in Flight

Source: Unsplash

Uploaded on May 24, 2015

Public Domain


From the Editor's Desk

Alan Schmierer

023 - Wood Duck

Bernalillo County, New Mexico

Taken on December 5, 2015

Public Domain


Cheers from the PUB

Alan Schmierer

885 - Baird's Sparrow

San Rafael Grasslands, Arizona

Taken on April 25, 2015

Public Domain


Leaders 2016

Alan Schmierer

169 - Neotropic Cormorant

Patagonia Lake, Arizona

Taken on February 20, 2016

Public Domain


View Staff

Alan Schmierer

181 - Great Blue Herron

Patagonia, Arizona

Taken on April 19, 2014

Public Domain



Henrique Pinto

Flying Away

Taken on January 1, 2008

Public Domain


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