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 July


Sunday mornings

Worship Service
10:30 am

Social Hour
11:30 am


Wednesday mornings

July 6, 13, 20
Office Hours for Pastor Sharon
Starbucks across from Intel, on 528, 
Rio Rancho
9:30 – 11:00 am

Saturday, June 23

“Hot Hot Knot”

Enjoy a light Mexican lunch (“hot” served on the side!)
Learn things about knots and do hands-on activities.
Noon - 2:00 pm

See details below.

Activities in August

Sunday mornings

Worship Service
10:30 am

Social Hour
11:30 am


Wednesday mornings

August 10, 17, 24, 31
Office Hours for Pastor Sharon
Starbucks across from Intel, on 528, 
Rio Rancho
9:30 – 11:00 am

Wednesday evenings

August 10, 17, 24, 31
"Painting the Stars: Science, Religion and an Evolving Faith"
Informal discussion and video clips
6:30 - 8:00 pm

See details below.


Friday, August 26
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Saturday, August 27

9:30 am - 3:00 pm

“Making Peace with Your Writing and Art”

Workshop for those who have an interest in writing and creating pencil art along with a heart for promoting peace in the world

See details below.

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

Other meetings at our location

6 pm   Girl Scouts

11 am  Tai Chi

6 pm   Buddhist Meditation

Meditation group will take a break July 19 - August 2


Some Like It
Hot Hot Knot

Saturday, July 23
Noon – 2:00 pm


Come to the Church for fun and food, and learn about knots!
We won't tie you up too long...

We'll start with a Mexican-style lunch. You control the amount of “hot” (sauce) you want. Then, Gordon says he will demonstrate how to tie knots (he served in the Navy – ahoy, Gordon!), plus show us what's involved with tying flies for fly-fishing.

For the fashion-curious, we'll practice tying scarves. Also do a simple craft.

If knots are not your thing, come anyway and laugh with us!

Hosted by Anita Curtis and Sandra Chapin


Painting the Stars: Science, Religion and an Evolving Faith

Wednesdays, August 10, 17, 24, 31
6:30 – 8:00 pm


“When I have a terrible need of – dare I say, 'religion'? –
then I go outside at night and paint the stars.”

Vincent Van Gogh


Celebrating the communion of science and faith, Painting the Stars explores the promise of evolutionary Christian spirituality. Over a dozen leading theologians and progressive thinkers are featured in this series.

Join us for four sessions of lively conversaton.


Facilitated by Pastor Sharon


Friday, August 26
6:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Saturday, August 27
9:30 am – 3:00 pm


Paper. Pencils. Peace. Passion. Workshop. Do you like to write? Are you a visual thinker? Is peace in your community and in the world something you want to see happen? Then this event is for you!


We'll explore types of writing – journaling, poetry – along with an emphasis on authoring skits. Art activities are designed to expand our creative comfort zones, using squiggles and doodling. All our results will center on increasing awareness of current challenges and conflicts along with pointing to peaceful resolutions.


In the weeks following the workshop, venues, including the Peace and Justice Center in ABQ, will be available for the performance of skits.


Cost to participate: $5
Included is a light lunch on Saturday, plus materials for writing and drawing.


Hosted by Trish Herron and Sandra Chapin


Missions Make a Difference


We are very thankful for the great outpouring of support for our missions this year. Haven House has sent several letters of gratitude toward what we have given, and Storehouse West non-perishable food items continue to be collected. We are still supporting Syrian refugees as they try to piece together a life here after experiencing the horrors of war.


We would now like to turn our attention to gifts that are not monetary in nature, but the “gifts of spirit.” There is a list, not complete by any means, of 100 activities for which we could volunteer. What are your talents? Ever thought of helping someone learn computer? Ever thought of building and painting a flower box to be given to a Habitat for Humanity home? How about helping out at our Westside Animal Shelter, or even fostering an animal? Feel like making the park near your home a little cleaner by picking up some trash? Filling an Easter basket? Knitting a baby blanket?


We are hoping that these and other ideas might be helpful to let us “think outside the box” and give of our talents.

Blessings from the Mission Team: Anita Curtis, Trish Herron, and Karen Schafer

5 for 5 Mission Update


Through the generosity of St. Paul's UCC members and friends, the first three responses to our Five for Five Missions (identified in our denomination) have been well funded. Both Our Church's Wider Mission and One Great Hour of Sharing exceeded our 2016 goal of $200. Strengthen the Church donations reached $130. Two more Special Missions will complete the year: Neighbors in Need (September) and Christmas Fund (December). The Mission Team wishes to thank all those who share their financial resources to support these missions which touch many lives, bringing relief and hope to those outside our congregation.


Happening in the Southwest Conference

A message from our Designated Conference Minister
Rev. William (Bill) M. Lyons


Pulses stopped and souls began arriving in eternity even before the 911 calls reached help. First responders teetered on the brink of sacrifice. Hostages gave last hugs to dying friends and lovers in hope-to-survive silence. Trauma teams offered heroic efforts even as the blood of the victims they tried to save soaked through their sneakers. When the shooting stopped 49 very innocent people and 1 very guilty shooter were dead. But it’s not over.


To a person the gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual people with whom I’ve spent these last five days — at vigils, in church, on line, and in person — have been caught off guard by the depth to which this latest American mass murder has shaken them. That includes me.


Pastoral words eluded me in the numbness, and in the anger, and in the gut-wrenching broken-heartedness I felt for the parents and siblings and grandparents and family members of choice who were praying that it was their unaccounted for loved one’s cell phone that was dead. For them it isn’t over. It will never be over.


Hours before the Pulse murders, Juan David Villegas-Hernandez shot and killed his wife and their 4 daughters in Roswell, New Mexico. But that multiple victim shooting was bumped from major newscasts by the bigger story from Orlando. I am writing this on the first anniversary of the Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church shooting in which 9 black Christian Americans were murdered. Tragically, whatever day I would have written to you is now an anniversary of a mass shooting in our country. Any day. In fact, there were more mass shootings in the U.S. last year than there are days in a leap year.



Rev. Bill's entire message can be found at


For Your Consideration




By calling ourselves progressive Christians, we mean that we are Christians who...


Believe that following the path and teachings of Jesus can lead to an awareness and experience of the Sacred and the Oneness and Unity of all life


Affirm that the teachings of Jesus provide but one of the many ways to experience the Sacredness and Oneness of life, and that we can draw from diverse sources of wisdom in our spiritual journey


Seek community that is inclusive of ALL people,
including those but not limited to:

Conventional Christians and questioning skeptics

Believers and agnostics

Women and men

Those of all sexual orientations and gender identities

Those of all classes and abilities


Know the way we behave towards one another is
the fullest expression of what we believe


Find grace in the search for understanding and believe there is
more value in questioning than in absolutes


Strive for peace and justice among all people


Strive to protect and restore the integrity of our Earth


Commit to a path of life-long learning, compassion, and selfless love


Refreshed by Prayer

Gracious and loving God, we give you thanks for all the blessings we experience – the freedom to worship you without fear, the bounty and diversity of your creation, and the precious gift of unexpected joy.


As we draw near to you when we meet as a faith community or in our private sacred moments, may we immerse ourselves in your healing presence. Refresh us and renew us that we might become steadfast laborers in your harvest of peace, justice, and joy. Amen.


Pastor Sharon's View

A friend visited from Denver last week and, as usual, our conversation turned to my liberal theological beliefs. She seems to like the way I express my theology and checks it against her own each time we visit. However, when she questions her own pastor, she gets statements that assert everything in the Bible is true exactly as written. There is no room for divergent thought.


In seminary, we were taught and expected to critically read scripture, history, ethics and tradition, to read about God and development of the Trinity, humanism, other religions and we were challenged to broaden our vision of what “the church” can be. I went to seminary as a political and social liberal, but could not have said I was a theological liberal, at least until I graduated, when I was surely very progressive.

Being progressive in some (actually in most) venues is not easy. This is particularly challenging for the ordained ministers who have to explain themselves frequently. With a minister, questions asked are rarely asked in “polite” society which foster noncontroversial topics. I am asked in my first meeting questions such as “How can you believe in God?”, “Do I believe in the Devil?”, “Is there a heaven?”, “Does God answer prayers?”, followed closely by “If not, why bother?” These people challenge a belief system that does not align with what they were taught when they were 3 or 4 or 7 or even 15 when the world could be seen in black and white, and gray proved too much a challenge. These very nice, more conservative people pray for things from God and when God either answers prayers by giving the pray-er what is asked for, belief is strengthened. Or, when this God does not comply, there begins a fracture of belief.

What brought this line of thought on is the impending disciplinary action against a United Church of Canada pastor who has been saying that she is an atheist, a woman who no longer believes in God-In-The-Sky who takes care of her personally each day as she was taught in Sunday School. Her thought has evolved to the point where she believes that we are responsible of our own happiness and each other and the world. She says that at least fifty percent of her Canadian colleagues have the same types of beliefs as she, but they are reluctant the say so. I wonder how many pastors and ministers in the United States believe the same as she? I do.

Let me clarify. It is not that I think there is no “God” but my God has evolved from a Santa Claus god to the ”mystery I call God” that is not definable. This God does not intervene in each of my daily activities to be sure that I am either right or successful in what I attempt. What I believe about the Trinity is that there is a creator whom I call God who goes by many names. I believe that Jesus lived among us and was our preach/teacher/example on how to live a life that is compassionate and caring — it is Jesus that I try to emulate each day. And I believe in a Holy Spirit, an energy in my being that reminds me that I have potential, personhood, autonomy, and ability to carry out many things — most of which could be a benefit to my community (that is the world). I label myself as a Progressive Christian. Sometimes, I am a “Liberal” Christian. Always Christian. Always in the forefront of religious practice and thought.

Each Sunday, we begin our time together, our worship, calling out that St. Paul’s is the Progressive Church in Rio Rancho and Western Albuquerque. We say we subscribe to an evolving faith ~ Faith Evolving, Lives Transforming ~ at the top of our bulletin). We claim core values: we are Jesus Guided, Intentionally Inclusive, Peace Seeking and Justice Committed and when we do Jesus work in our community, these all guide us. We watch DVDs that guide us to an informed view of scripture and we all read, or mean to read, progressive Christian writers: Bart Ehrman, John Shelby Spong, John Domonic Crossen, the late Marc Borg, These writers and scholars taught us lay folk that Jesus was probably married, that he had children (things expected of a Jewish Male), that the Gospels were written by men who probably never met Jesus. And there is Paul who wrote about how his eyes were opened before these men wrote their stories about Jesus.

As we subscribe to being Progressive Christians, we need to keep remembering what we believe and why. We are not a march in lock-step church, so some of us believe a bit differently and there is room in our denomination for divergent views. Once in a meeting, we remembered say that questions are welcome, pat answers are not given.


If a friend (or someone in the grocery line) asks you about St. Paul’s and what we stand for, whip out this article and give it to your friend. Better yet, explain who we are, what we believe and then give them the article. Whether we grow the church, perhaps we will grow a theological view that opens a path to the questioner.


From the Editor's Desk
Ernie Dunn

As many of you already know, Pat and I recently spent a wonderful week cruising the eastern Caribbean with our daughters, Amina and Celeste, and their husbands, Jeffery and Frank. What a pleasure it was to be reunited as a family, to share stories around the dinner table concerning the adventures of the day and those to come before turning in with great expectations for the coming day. There would be new trails to explore and interesting people to encounter. And, oh, lest I forget, there was the opportunity to have our palates dazzled with the delicious delight of fresh sea food.


It was also a chance, however brief, to have a respite from being daily confronted with the political polarization, the pushing of hot buttons, that is plaguing our nation, the global weakening of the social fabric that binds us in community and harmony, the challenges induced by an inequitable economic system that leaves so many in poverty, and the anger, hatred, fear and distrust that have resulted in the bombing and shooting of innocent people. Fragmentation, disorganization, a great sense of powerlessness are the orders of the day. I cringe every time I come face to face with the reality that racial animosity not only stubbornly persists but appears to have been given sanction to find expression openly. To heck with this leaving it "hidden in plain sight."


Racism in present day America, on the one hand, has reminded of the words written by Shirley Chisholm more than four decades ago: "Racism is so universal in this country, so widespread and deep seated, that it is invisible because it is so normal." But now, add to that, it's becoming more visible and unashamedly accepted.


Back home again in the thick of it all, having digested all the comments on Brexit and the not so hidden messages in "Making American Great Again," I have come to the conclusion that the vast range of problems coursing through our modern societies worldwide has to do with the fact that we now live in a globalizing, highly diverse world and this is quite frightening for many people. Individual freedom, religious freedom they deem to be at risk in the rush to social solidarity.


David Brooks, in a recent editorial in the New York Times, raises a deeply probing question in regard to the concern just expressed. Given the nature of the world in which we all presently reside "how do we preserve individual freedom while strengthening social solidarity?" He introduces to us a book by Marcia Pally entitled, Commonwealth and Covenant, wherein she offers a rather clarifying concept. She suggests that when you dig deep, what you find is that what most of us, if not all of us, want is what she has labeled "separability and situatedness." What she means by this is that we want to feel free to venture off, to have the opportunity to explore new trails and "experiment with new ways of thinking and living," - separability. Simultaneously, we also desire is to be situated, connected, "embedded in loving families and enveloping communities, thriving within a healthy cultural infrastructure that provides us with values and goals."


If you listen carefully to much of the rhetoric these days, there is the notion that the liberation of the individual, in and of itself, will inevitably lead to mass empowerment. But the truth of the matter is that "people can effectively pursue their goals only when they know who they are." They can only discern who they are in firm identities. If you take away a strong rich social fabric what you are left with is people who are uncertain as to who they truly are. "It is hard (shall we say impossible?) to live daringly when your very foundation is fluid and at risk."


To maintain the dialectic between separability and situatedness, between individuality and community, Pally contends that we need to live in covenant. A covenant protects relationships. It exists between and among persons who understand that they are truly part of one another, woven together in a common fabric of humanity. She offers that people living in covenant delight in offering gifts. "Out of love of country, soldiers offer the gift of their service. Out of love of their craft, teachers offer students the gift of their attention."


Try to imagine a world, try to imagine our country, our communities bonded in covenant, where there is a not "us versus them", but "we" without the loss of "I". Try to conceive of a world in which patriotism "necessitates love of each other, informs us that we are all a part of a community which aspires for love, which honors and recognizes that we all have worth and deserving of dignity. We really need each other. Each one of us is a significant part of the whole. We are interdependent.


The time is now, in the midst of all the turmoil, for greater understanding. In his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, Dr. King wrote that "Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will." I must confess that the first several times I read and heard these words, they did not resonate with me. It appeared to me that the latter would prove to be more harmful and much less preferable. But over time, I came to realize that at the heart of what he was saying, in my new understanding, was that the frustration emanates from the former, unlike the latter, not being true to their convictions. It is for people of good will to display the depth of understanding that recognizes, for example, that in times of chaos and disruption, we should be about seeking unity, knowing fully that we are one, our cause is one. Our purpose is to help one another. That is the only way we will succeed in living in a just, harmonious and equitable world.


Cheers from the PUB
Sandra Chapin
Publications Manager


Raspberry and blueberry lemonade, and sparkling conversation. I served the former, and had high hopes for the latter. No guarantee what the results would be, no matter how thorough a plan was made. I moved forward anyway through five sessions in June.


The final Wednesday evening of the “Lemons & Lemonade” series focused on a reading of some familiar verses from Matthew, at the end of chapter 6.


Look at the birds of the air... they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns... God feeds them.

Consider the lilies of the field... they neither toil nor spin... God clothes them.

“What will we eat? What will we wear?”

First strive for the realm of God and righteousness – then all these things will be given to you.

Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today's trouble is enough for today.


The conversation that followed included these observations:


Sure, the birds fly around and may look like they're carefree, but a large portion of each day is spent searching for food.

Yes, but sometimes you can see them swoop up and down in pairs. like they're playing, having fun.

Maybe Matthew is saying we shouldn't want so much “stuff.” Shouldn't be so materialistic.

So, who likes to go shopping? What peaks your interest when it comes to buying?

Books, tools, shoes...

“I got plenty o' nuttin' and nuttin's plenty for me.” (From Gershwin's Porgy and Bess)


One spoke about faith. Are we seeking deeper faith? Striving for it? Her remarks described a “grown-up” faith, where a person didn't pray for things – or even a parking place.


Another person told us a story about a Thanksgiving years ago when the event where he and his wife planned to enjoy the holiday meal was canceled. Provisions at home were sadly limited to tuna fish and crackers. As it turned out, a stranger asked if they wanted to come to his house where his family had invited a group for the traditional fixings. After some prodding, they accepted. A joyful memory when God, through this kind act, provided.


And one of us said, “I gave up worrying a long time ago.” My mental eyebrows went up, 'cause listen, sisters and brothers, I'm not there yet!


Scripture, I thought, that would contrast with that passage from Matthew is found in Proverbs. Actually Proverbs has plenty of references about the value of work and its rewards. Ants are praised for their diligence. Sloths are kicked to the curb. Chapter 27, verse 18 and continuing on, points to a work ethic.


Tend a fig tree and you will eat its fruit.

Give attention to your herds – the lambs will provide clothing, the goats the price of a field.

There will be enough milk and food for your household.


This flock that gathered on Wednesday evening was steeped in lemonade-thinking, though I neglected to ask if anyone once had a job that was a lemon. Instead, value was given for working. One person remarked how good it made her feel when she drove through Corrales and saw so many people working outside on their properties. It reminded her of her grandfather and the pride he took in what his hands were able to produce.


On Sunday mornings, we often hear the words that we are co-creators with God. Not surprising then that everyone seemed to agree that sitting on the couch waiting for God to bless you is a mistake.


I took the group into Benjamin Franklin territory. Certainly weaving proverbs was one of his strengths. Sayings attributed to him, or restated by him, include:

God helps those who help themselves.

Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.

Time is money.

A penny saved is a penny earned.


Lesser known:

If you desire many things, many things will seem few.

If a man could have half his wishes, he would double his troubles.

He that waits upon fortune, is never sure of a dinner.


I'm not sure I made the case for the two scripture selections reflecting opposing views. My train of thought may have needed more track. But we did close with laughter and singing. A time of getting to know each other better. It felt good to me.


As I review all what was said, my “take-away” is still under construction. Since our final session, I wonder about working to be fed and being fed by your work.


Recently a friend recommended a movie (filmed in 2000) called Dr. T and the Women. Richard Gere, a successful doctor, falls in love with Helen Hunt, a struggling golf pro. Toward the end of the movie (spoiler alert!) he asks her to marry him, saying that she'll never have to work again, that he'll take care of her. Her immediate response is, “Why would I want that?”


Is it human nature to want to engage life in meaningful ways? To find fulfillment in how we spend our time?


I fulfilled my hosting of these Wednesday evenings. I found meaning in preparing the material and in the sharing that went on when we met together. Going forward, I will need to remind myself: Don't worry, but be aware of what's really important, and ask what role do I have. And I anticipate seeing what roles you step into.



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



Joe deSousa

Bavaro Sunrise

Sunrise on the beach at the Gran Bahai Principe resort in the Dominican Republic

Taken on May 2, 2013

Public domain


Core Values

D Coetzee

Boats sailing in front of San Francisco

Taken on January 29, 2012

Public domain



MabelAmber ***Pluto5339***

digionbew 8

Welcome on Board

Taken on June 12, 2016

Public domain


Hot Hot Knot

MabelAmber ***Pluto5339***

digionbew 8

Knot of orange rope

Taken on June 21, 2016

Public domain


Paint the Stars

Giuseppe Donatiello

Messier 45 – Pleiades in infrared

The Pleiades (Messier 45 or M45), is an open star cluster of young hot B-type stars located in Taurus. It is the nearest star clusters to us at 440 ly and it is well visible to the naked eye in the night sky.

Uploaded on March 9, 2016

Public domain


Making Peace

Raphael Jeanneret

Texture papier ancien

Uploaded on November 14, 2015

Public domain




TS Pelican Day Sail

Taken on June 9, 2014

Public domain


Happening in the SWC

Lisa Ann Yount

sunset water

Taken on October 17, 2014

Public domain


For Your Consideration

Kelly Sikkema

No need for these

Baby shoes on the beach

West Manchester, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts

Taken on October 31, 2013

Public domain



Scott Webb

Pineapple 91

Taken on December 26, 2015

Public domain


Pastor Sharon's View

Scott Webb

Pineapple 134

Taken on April 9, 2016

Public domain


From the Editor's Desk

U.S. Geological Survey

The Catch

A recent shot of USGS Lake Ontario Biological Station engineer Ted Strang and biologist Dr. Brian Weidel with an adult lake sturgeon collected near Olcott, New York.

The USGS Lake Ontario Biological Station completed their 2015 spring prey fish assessment on May 11, 2015. During the assessment, the team collected multiple native species that are the focus of restoration efforts in Lake Ontario, including: five adult lake sturgeon, one lake trout, and one small coregonine (member of the whitefishes group) that is pending identification to determine if it is a deepwater cisco (bloater) stocked by the USGS Great Lakes Science Center during fall 2014.

Taken on April 25, 2015

Public domain


Cheers from the PUB

Joe deSousa

Cha Am Beach, Thailand

Taken on May 1, 2016

Public domain



Tom Walker

Sails on the Horizon

Start of the Newport to Ensenada Race 2015

Taken on April 24, 2015

Public domain

View Staff

Image Catalog

White Lighthouse

Source: Unsplash

Taken on October 29, 2013

Public domain



USIO Design Project


Ishigaki Island is the epitome of exotic, and with a hint of nostalgia, it exhibits its own mystical charm. It’s surrounded by stunning coral reefs and green mountains, is home to many charming locals, and offers captivating music and delicious local delights.

USIO Design Project calls for redesign ideas for 10 local specialty products from Ishigaki Island. The designs should fully communicate the products’ allures and leverage the stories behind these Ishigaki-made items, the island’s people and their local-grown knowledge.

Taken on September 11, 2013

Public domain

Copyright © 2016 Camino Press, All rights reserved.

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