View this email in your browser
The newsletter of the
Montana-Northern Wyoming Conference
United Church of Christ

editor: Marc Stewart

February 2017

Another Voice

                                 Rev. Dr. Marc Stewart
It is all too common that UCC clergy are not welcomed into local ministerial groups. I have known this to be true in half the communities where I have served. Our open faith, especially concerning inclusion in community and church of people kicked out of other churches, causes others to want to disassociate from us. What I like about Montana is that clergy from the traditional mainline churches find each other, such as UCC and Lutheran, perhaps Methodist and Presbyterian, too. Often calling themselves, Progressive Clergy Groups, such gatherings are happening in Missoula, Helena, Great Falls, Bozeman, and Billings.

The group in Billings, in which I participate, has recently started a televised panel discussion program on Community 7 television. This program is called Another Voice and it produces two episodes a month. Episode topics include Progressive Christianity, Welcoming the NeighborGender Issues, Scriptural Idioms. Scheduled panelists from the UCC have included Steve Gordon, Carolyn Rosen, Tracy Heilman, and me. Another Voice is available for viewing online at the Community Seven website:

There is a voice of faith that is different than what is represented by the alt-right media, or even within the mainstream media. This is a distinctive Christian voice that speaks from deep conviction of faith and gives testimony to the awesome place of Christ in the world. Let us give strong voice to the faith that we know to be true, like in the prayer of Paul to Timothy (2 Tim 1:7 CJB) "God gave us a spirit who produces not timidity but power, love, and self-discipline."
Eden Seminary J-Term student participates in rural life ministries among us
My name is Jason Eisele, and I’m in my final year of study in the Master of Divinity program at Eden Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. This January, I got to come out to Montana to take a two-week course called Ministry in Open Spaces.  My wife is from Montana, and she and I had discussed the possibility of moving to that area once I’m done with my schooling. I met a wide variety of people while on my trip, all of whom treated me in a wonderfully gracious manner and did their best to help me to understand life in Eastern Montana during the winter. One day, I might be working on a ranch helping to sort cattle, the next, I might be working beside a family that owns a grocery store as they stock their shelves before the customers begin to arrive in the morning. Always, I was getting to meet wonderful people and learn what was important to them. And, always, the answers came back to matters pertaining to their family and their community. In the communities I visited, farming and ranching were the lifeblood of the community, and matters pertaining to them were never far from people’s thoughts. 

I met good, honest, hard-working people who encountered the handiwork of God in the natural cycles that existed in the land around them. And I learned the important role that the church can play to bring people together in community in the rural areas of Eastern Montana. Churches, schools, banks, stores, and even hairdressers can serve as community hubs in rural areas, and their success or failure often hinges upon their ability to effectively do so. I was fortunate enough to get to observe comfortable, informal ecumenism among small community churches. I got to see first-hand how the unique polity of the UCC was able to offer local churches versatility within the covenant structure of the wider church to minister to people with unique gifts and experiences to offer the wider church. And I came away from this experience grateful to Eden Theological Seminary, the Montana – Northern Wyoming Conference of the UCC, and the churches and people that extended me hospitality for this unique opportunity to learn about this wonderful and unique part of the country.

Healing by Rocking

Cathy Barker, UCC Rep for Intermountain Children's Home 
So who of you has rocked a baby? It's a natural thing to do, right? Here's an interesting bit of data from brain research: rocking actually helps in brain development! There's something about that motion that helps a child's brain grow and mature!

But what if a child is not rocked? Some children are, sadly, neglected. An addicted or afflicted parent may not be able to care sufficiently or consistently for a baby so that little one doesn't get rocked. Ever seen a traumatized child rock him or herself? Even so, it may not be enough.

Intermountain Children's Services, based in Helena, provides inpatient and outpatient treatment to children who have been traumatized. Children may come to the inpatient campus as young as 4, but their brain development may be closer to age 2. Trained, loving counselors and teachers work with the kids and their families for up to two years, using a relational model that helps the child learn to trust and cope with their complex emotions. The adults rock the kids in big overstuffed rocking chairs that are found throughout the campus. After a meltdown, in the midst of a cry, or when the kiddo is simply weary and overwhelmed: "Let's rock." Some residents are as old as 13, and they can be a lapful - but still, they rock.

And here's the miracle: rocking renews the brain development process! We can make up for lost time and help that child's brain catch up by rocking! It's a key part of the healing that happens at Intermountain.

You can imagine that these are not little rickety rockers like my mom used with us three - they are big, "industrial strength" rockers that cost about $600, and even at that they wear out from so much use.

Intermountain is a ministry of the Methodist, Presbyterian, UCC, and ELCA denominations, serving children and families in Montana and Wyoming and beyond. I feel privileged to represent the UCC on the Intermountain Board; Nancy Staigmiller also serves on the Board. Whenever you are in Helena, contact me if you would like to learn more about this amazing mission, or have a tour of the campus. On a recent campus tour, Marc Stewart tried out one of the big rockers. You can see him here with Ralph Yeager, Development officer and tour guide, and me. We smiled to think of the kids who had been comforted and healed by rocking!ate.
Conference Listening Sessions

The MT-NWy Conference UCC Board of Directors is doing listening sessions throughout the Conference this winter. Currently scheduled session are on the eNews calendar. The Board will share some latest news about our Conference budget, goals, and staffing matrix, and then ask "do we have it right?"   We will list the key roles of the Conference that we heard about in our 2015 listening session. We will then ask three sets of questions:
1. Is this what you thought the Conference would be doing?  
2. What functions and roles of the Conference are most important to you?  
3.What incentive or motivation do you have to support the ministries we do as a Conference
Preview and Download materials from
Narrative Budget

Treasurer, Terri Goodsell, and vice-Moderator, Tracy Heilman, have presented our 2017 budget for the Conference in narrative form. The Narrative Budget they present fills out the story of who we are as MT-NWy Conference and tells about our mission spending plan.
Ecclesiastical Council March 4, 1 PM Helena

An Ecclesiastical Council is a special meeting of the MT-NWy Association and Conference UCC that is called by the Church and Ministry Commission. This Association, acting as an Ecclesiastical Council ordains ministers.

Conference delegates and pastors will meet to interview and vote on granting ordination to Timothy Seery, a Member in Discernment from Great Falls UCC, and a 2017 graduating Harvard Divinity School student. All are invited.

Read Timothy's ordination paper.


       Carolyn Rosen, Faith Formation Coordinator
Camp Mimanagish is now recruiting staff for its summer 2017 season! We would love YOU and your individual gifts to be part of Camp this year. Help the Committee on Outdoor Ministries follow its call to bring the magic of Camp to new and returning campers! 

We're looking for a Camp Counselor, Program Leader, Camp Assistant for many camps, as well paid staff for Camp Maintenance and Camp Director. Visit where you can fill out our forms. 

The 2017 Camp schedule is as follows:
Camp Opening   May 19-20
Kickoff Camp   May 26-29
SummerSing   June 10-16*
Creative Arts   June 16-18
Drum Brothers  June 21-25*
Grandparents & Me   July 5-7
Family Camp   July 7-9
Young Adults   July 7-9
Seasoned Adults   July 10
Mini & Me   July 11-13
2/3/4 Grade  July 11-15
5/6 Grade   July 16-22
7/8/9 Grade   July 23-29
10/11/12   July 30-Aug 5
Women's Retreat   Aug 11-14
Fishing Camp   Aug 11-14
Geography of Grace  Sept 1-4
Men's Retreat  Sept 1-4
Fall Youth Camp  Oct 19-21

On Sunday, February 12, at 3:00 PM, the Rev. Lynne Spencer-Smith will officially be installed as the Pastor of First Congregational United Church of Christ – Great Falls. Plan on joining us for this celebratory worship service, featuring a guest from Rhode Island to deliver the sermon as well as representatives from the Montana-Northern Wyoming UCC Conference and other UCC churches.

Women and Gender in Early Christianity



February 17–18, 2017                        registration link
Billings, Montana

As our own culture debates the proper place of women, we often hear appeals to “biblical ideals.” But what did people think in Bible times about women and their proper roles? The Bible, it turns out, offers a variety of opinions on this subject. The early church inherited a range of ideas and customs from Judaism and the Hebrew Bible as well as Greek society, and within the church itself there were differing ideals. What does the Bible have to say about women and gender, and what can its possibilities mean for us today?

Youth Retreat
organized by Danielle Rogers

Youth in grades 6th through 12th are invited to a special retreat, April 7th-8th at Pilgrim Congregational UCC in Bozeman.  

This year's topic is "Still I Rise: Facing Adversity Through Christ's Love".  This two day retreat will focus on issues prevalent to the lives of youth and provide coping mechanisms and skills to overcome challenges.  

Special guest speaker HRDC Youth Director, Jackie Haines will provide a multimedia presentation about the Homeless Youth Shelter in Bozeman. Youth will also play team building games, participate in group discussions and visit the Lazer Tag Arena.  

Cost is $30. For more information contact CE Director Rev. Danielle Rogers at (406) 587-3690, or email

If your church is sending more than 4 students we would appreciate a Chaperone to accompany them. Also we appreciate a RSVP by March 24, two week prior to the event.
If transportaion assistance is needed for your youth to come to this event please contact Carolyn Rosen,
Clergy Retreat – April 24-26

We are planning a post-Easter Clergy Retreat at Cane Ridge West (near Lincoln) for April 24 through 26 (Monday through Wednesday). All active and retired clergy are invited to join us. Our intention is for this to be a simple, relaxed, renewing event.
The theme will be “Spiritual Practices” and it will be a self-led event. If you have a Spiritual Practice you would like to share with the group please contact Roger Lynn ( We will also be sharing the responsibilities for meal preparation. Exact details (including costs) will be available soon. ate.

Feb. 11 Committee for Outdoor Ministries 9:30 AM to noon, Conference office
Feb. 12  Marc preaching at Fairfield and Power UCCs
Feb. 12  Installation of Lynne Spencer-Smith at Great Falls UCC
Feb. 17 -18  Jesus Seminar: Women and Gender in Early Christianity, First UCC Billings
Feb. 17-18 Marc attends MAC Council retreat, Helena
Feb. 19  Marc preaching at Billings UUA
Feb. 20 Marc with East area clergy gathering and Listening Session, Glendive
Feb. 23 COM 6 PM Conference office
Feb. 25 Mountains of Courage Conference, Bozeman
Feb. 26 Listening Session, Missoula 12:30 PM
March 4 Ecclesiastical Council, Helena Plymouth UCC, 1 PM
March 6-10 Marc in Cleveland for Council of Conference Ministers
March 13 Listening Session, Billings Mayflower UCC, 6:30 - 8 PM
March 26 Listening Session, Columbus UCC, 12 - 2 PM
April 7-8 Youth Retreat at Pilgrim UCC Bozeman
April 24-26 UCC Clergy Retreat, Cane Ridge West
June 9 - 11  132nd Conference Annual Meeting, Helena
June 28 - July 3  General Synod, Baltimore registration and information link
Copyright © 2017 Montana Northern Wyoming Conference UCC, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp