Friday, April 5, 2013

Easter Reframe

I turned 50 this week... not alot has changed from last week--other than recieving a first letter from AARP letting me know that I am now automatically eligible for membership!  Wow.  Happy Birthday.

Of course, if I really stop to think about the whole of 50 years...and want to be truthful....a lot has changed, both inwardly and outwardly.   Yeah, it is obvious to see the changes on my physical appearance!  Thank God that seems less important to me now than it did when I was young! Letting my hair go to it's natural bleach "white" and dropping almost twenty pounds in the last 18 months have been absolutely great!  Many people don't recognize me, but that is ok, because I recognize myself, inwardly and outwardly.  I recognize myself in the mirror, because I can see my parent's and grandparent's faces looking back at me and I remember.  Inwardly, I know who I am, and where I am from even if I may not know exactly where I am going next... Its a good thing.

What I mean is... its remarkable that one's awareness of self within one's story seems both continuous and yet immediate.  I am the three year old that was captured with the wonder of tadpoles swimming in the stream.  I am the teenager that camped out summer evenings on my family's farm and went to prom with my first love.  I am the woman giving birth, amazed and astounded by the miraculous ordinary.  We have these collections of vivid memories and the stories that happened to our selves.  We carry along an inner self along even as our awareness and self story is formed and shaped through life's triumphs, travails and trivialities.

Though self is constant, how we tell our story may change given a little time and perspective.  My friend Marin described this as a "reframe".  A "reframe" preserves the memory's inner facts and images of events, but reframes the story's meaning and significance to one's self identity and understanding of the world.

Birthdays and certain seasons of the year like the New Year or Easter, bring an opportunity for  "reframes".  Easter is a celebration of God's "reframe" for humankind.  Life ends with death, but death is not the end of Life.  (I must ask for leniency from anyone reading this, but since I went to church on Easter Sunday and had my 50th birthday three days later, I seem to be more introspective and philosophical than usual!)

I had gotten away from writing this blog, because of feeling burned out and feeling like the "church chapter" of my story was finished, maybe even a failure, when I resigned from my position with the Yellowstone Conference United Methodist Church.  At times over the last 18 months, I told myself that I was returning to my self and "real story" by going back to teaching and doing research in college environment.  Thankfully, I have had some months to "get perspective" and "reframe".

I am a person of faith.  I pray and worship God, though I have not been regularly associated with any one church or even one brand of Christianity for awhile.  In my time of "getting perspective" I have worshipped with Catholics, Quakers, "non-denoms" and Methodists, and a bunch of Sundays walking or skiing along a trail.  Last fall, I officially rejoined Bozeman United Methodist church, though it had always felt like my church "home".  I am five hours drive one-way from my church in Bozeman, but I connect on-line regularly.  I'd like to worship regularly with a group of people in the two communities in which I live, Harlem and Great Falls, but how that is going to look, or be created, is still uncertain.

Last Sunday, Easter Sunday, I was lucky to be with my immediate family AND my church family in Bozeman.  The music, sermon and the puppet show reminded us once again that we have hope, and courage, because of Easter.  Death is not the end. Bad endings can lead to better beginnings. We can live with faith, hope and courage in the midst of life's dissappointment and sorrows, because we, like Jesus, can trust a God who believes in "reframes".

Monday, September 12, 2011

Rich in Heritage, Looking to the Future

The Central Yellowstone group of NU Places 4 NU Faces had our weekend retreat at Luccock Park in the paradise valley.  It was a glorious weekend.  For those of us that had never been to Luccock it was a God gift of wonder and mountains that took our breaths away in their powerful jut to the sky.  For those that had been in this Holy place before, it was a heartwarming homecoming.

Most of our time was spent learning a bit about each other, but mostly coming to understand John and Charles Wesley a bit better.  Coming to understand: "Why 'Methodist'".  We thank Marvin and Kay Lansverk for their gentle questioning, information and historical perspective.  I can now say I feel better able to respond to the question "What makes Methodist's different?'  or "Why are you a Methodist?"

We ended the weekend in a shared church service with all the Park County United Methodists.  This was their third annual All Park County church at Luccock.  It brought together Grace, Holbrook, Pine Creek and Shields Valley congregations.  The message felt like a commissioning to those of us of the NU Places 4 NU Faces group, as Reverend Fred Amborn III spike about "Rich in Heritage, Looking to the future".

His message was about the rich heritage we have in Jesus Christ and the call from God to each of each to be in service and mission in Jesus name, reaching out to reconcile others to God.  Sharing the news that all are God's children.  All are to be reconciled.  And isn't that what we are exploring here in the NU Places 4 NU Faces sessions?

Our next meeting will be October 1st from 9-3 at the Evangelical United Methodist church in Billings.  I, for one, am looking forward to the Journey.

Humbly submitted:  Marie L. Hamilton

Monday, August 29, 2011


It's been awhile since I have blogged...there were so many changes happening, that I needed the dust to settle before I could get a read on what this blog would be about.  That may yet be in a state of flux, but I'm getting more comfortable with the ambiguity of these times...

I am getting used to being home more....that is one of the changes--no  longer working full-time as Director of Connectional Ministry.  I am working quarter time for the Yellowstone Conference on a one year project called NUPlaces4NUFaces.   This is leadership training for lay or clergy/lay teams who want to start new faith communities and/or new ministries in their existing churches.  You can find out more at

September 9-11 will be our final "recruiting" session, so I will report more about how many people have signed on after that weekend retreat.  Check out the website if you would like to signup.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A New Old Thing

Nancy Flint is United Methodist in Columbia Falls, MT.  She has long time roots in the United Church of Christ prior to her joining the Columbia Falls United Methodist Church.  Nancy is also one of the members of our Design Team for the Nu Places 4 Nu Faces leadership initiative.

Nancy forwarded the following excerpt from an on-line blogsite of a group of UCC writers called Stillspeaking.  She saw some parallels with what we are doing with our "New Thning" called Nu Places 4 Nu Places. you can check us out at if you want to learn more. 

July 1, 2011

A New Thing

Excerpt from Acts 11:19-26

“Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that took place over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, and they spoke the word to no one except Jews.  But among them were some men…who…spoke to the Greeks also, proclaiming the Lord Jesus.”

Reflection by Quinn G. Caldwell

So here’s what happened.  The Apostle Stephen had been preaching in Jerusalem.  As good Christian preaching sometimes will, his sermon angered his audience.  They stoned him, and that understandably scared many of the other apostles out of town.

Not being timid people, they kept on preaching.  And since they were Jews talking about the impact of the Jewish Jesus on the Jewish faith, they naturally talked about their faith only with other Jews.  This was a sensible course of action—in theory.  Problem was, it actually didn’t work very well.

But then some of them started doing a new thing nobody had really thought of before: talking to the Greeks, the non-Jews.  The story says that it worked so well that apostles came running from all over the Mediterranean to check it out.

There was nothing wrong with the apostles’ first instinct; it just happened not to work very well, and a new thing was called for.  Is there a place among the apostles you know, in your church, where a new thing is called for?  Is there a way of doing things that made sense at the time, but just isn’t working so well, but that you keep on doing that way anyway?  And if so, what are you going to do about it?


God, give me the courage and vision to do a new thing for your sake when the old things stop working.  Amen.
About the Author
Quinn G. Caldwell is Associate Minister of Old South Church in Boston, Massachusetts, and co-editor, with Curtis J. Preston, of the just-published Unofficial Handbook of the United Church of Christ.
The Daily Devotional is now on Facebook. Become a fan!

The Stillspeaking Daily Devotional is a free service and is supported by your gifts to Our Church's Wider Mission. Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America,adapted. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Start Something?

Have you ever started something new?   Yes?  Then, the people called United Methodist in the Yellowstone Conference invite you to experience New Places for New Faces peer-learning course.

The New Places for New Faces course invites and prepares ordinary believers to start new faith communities for the purposes of an extraordinary God!

Together, lay people (non-pastors) and pastor/lay person teams will grow their abilities to:

• share the stories of Jesus Christ,
• create new places for prayer, worship, justice and fellowship that are relevant for today, and
• respectfully engage our neighbors and our neighborhoods as people and places where God Spirit already dwells!

CHECK OUT our COME & SEE events...
May 14th, Saturday, 9am-4pm
Grace UMC, 1935 Ave. B, Billings, MT 59102

May 21st, Saturday, 9am-4pm,
Sidney-Lonsdale UMC, 205 3rd Ave. SE, Sidney, MT 59270

June 8th, Saturday, 9am-3pm
Evangelical UMC, 345 Broadwater Ave, Billings, MT 59101

June 25th, Saturday, 9am-4pm
First UMC, 300 East Main Street, Missoula, MT 59802-4721

Please share this opportunity by personal invitation to other people you believe are called and gifted for this work. Please post the posters that are on our webpage  in your church and around your community. Thank you!   contact Sue King, 406-403-1004

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

New Places for New Faces: learning how to meet our neighbors again!

Jesus asked people to offer light to those who sit in the dark
Jesus asked people to be like salt, adding flavor and feeding a hungry world.

What does that mean in today's vernacular??
A lot of people don't trust the church--we know that. But, most of our neighbors will admit that they believe in God, whether or not they agree about God's name or God's level of engagement in daily life of people.
And, most people think the world would be a better place if we all actually followed Jesus's teachings!

So what would it look like to be the community that trusts in God's promises and follows Jesus in the ordinary, daily stuff of life. How would you offer that perfectly salted food? What would it be like to bring light to someone in despair? Maybe it is learning to have meaningful conversations and offering hospitality to our neighbors--even if we don't know them yet.

Come and See! We invite you to join leadership training about creating new faith communities--shaping new places of exploring life and faith and growing together.

It is not about coming with a hidden agenda. It IS about building a community that tries to live and trust God like Jesus did.

Saturday, May 14, 2011 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
at Evangelical United Methodist Church, 345 Broadway Avenue in Billings.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011 9:00 - 3:00pm
at location to be determined, Billings, MT

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

New Faith Community in Seattle

This article was just sent to me by Beth in Oregon-Idaho United Methodist conference....

Southeast Seattle’s new Valley & Mountain Fellowship will hold its first service and celebration at the Rainier Community Center, 4600 38th Ave. S., on Sunday, Dec. 19, from 4 to 5:15 p.m. But this will be an unusual religious experience.
After a short welcome and song, congregants will choose one of four different activities that will occur simultaneously, including meditation, yoga, creative artwork or making sandwiches for the hungry.
According to the Rev. John Helmiere, “Unlike most traditional church services, this range of choices will help provide each person with the opportunity to connect with the Holy in a way they feel moved toward at that particular time.”

Core values
Belonging to the the Valley & Mountain Fellowship only requires honoring its two core values of deep listening and creative liberation, Helmiere said.

“‘Deep listening’ involves listening to yourself, to others and to the spirit. ‘Creative liberation’ recognizes the need to liberate ourselves and others from oppression,” he explained, adding that “oppression” means “systems and cycles of harm and hurt.”

Read more at: