Fall 2021 Classes
Descriptions & Instructor Bios


Faith After Doubt by Brian McLaren 

Sundays from 9:45-10:45 AM

Beginning Sept. 19

St. Paul’s Campus (Zoom option available)

Led by Joan Higgins-Smith, St. Paul's Member


Have you experienced doubt in your walk of faith? In this long chapter of political extremism, pandemic, and a seeming erosion of our call to neighborly love, Brian McLaren embraces the challenges doubt as essential to any journey of faith. This is the second book we have studied by Brian D. McLaren, a faculty member of The Living School, a program of the Center for Action and Contemplation. McLaren is accessible and a wonderful conversation starter. Here is what others are saying about McLaren’s newest book: 


“McLaren is a heroic gate crasher.” Faith After Doubt is “an honest, vital conversation about the pain and shame created by inherited certainty, and the powerful usefulness of thought and doubt.” -Glennon Doyle, author of Love Warrior.


“This book will save lives.” -Bishop Yvette Flunder, author of Where the Edge Gathers


“Anything written by Brian McLaren is always filled with insight, courage, and creative theology, refining the meaning of orthodoxy in our time.” -Richard Rohr, theologian and author 

About Joan: For awhile now, Joan has been exploring what it means to live a contemplative way of life and how it intersects with community activism. Her spiritual guides have been many, including Clarence Jordan, James Cone, Dorothy Day and more recently Richard Rohr, Shane Claiborne and Louise Erlich. Joan has offered classes covering white Christian supremacy, Christian spiritual migration, new monasticism and how our biases keep us from loving others. She lives in Montana City with her husband, Dave, and her gorgeous lab, Jen.


Transforming: The Bible and the Lives of Transgender Christians by Austen Hartke

Mondays from 6:30-8:00 PM

5 Sessions • Sept. 13–Oct. 11

Meeting by Zoom

Led by Courtney VonLindern, Designer of NextGen and Inclusiveness Ministries for the Mountain Sky Conference


In October, St. Paul’s George Harper Lecture Series welcomes transgender Christian author Austen Hartke (he/him) to speak at our church! To prepare for his visit, Courtney VonLindern (they/them) will lead us in reading Hartke’s challenging and important book to prepare us for deepening our understanding of queer and transgender inclusion in the church, and to engage well with Austen in October. Courtney is a fantastic resource to our conference, and we are grateful for their leadership in our conference and with this group! This exciting and important series will be available by Zoom, and members of Courtney’s congregation in Missoula will also join in the discussion. 


About Courtney: Courtney VonLindern was born & raised in Montana. They first felt God's love and grace at Flathead Lake United Methodist Camp, and has since worked to curate that camp love, grace, and joy in all spaces they enter. Courtney has followed rainbows to pursue their deeply rooted call to create queer space in ministry and other faith-based contexts. They live in Missoula with their partner, Sarah, and their greyhound dog, Nala.


This Podcast Changed Me

Wednesdays from 12-1 PM

Ongoing • Beginning Sept. 15

Led by Maren Haynes Marchesini


Online radio, or podcasts, have grown as an essential resource to learning from activists, artists, theologians, and scholars across a broad range of topics and disciplines. In this series, Dr. Maren Haynes Marchesini (podcast devotee) will curate some of her favorite episodes from shows like On Being, Poetry Unbound, The Ezra Klein Show, Freakonomics, and others as they discuss topics like community building, identity, polarization, race, and prophetic imagination. We will gather weekly over lunch to discuss how these episodes impact our walks of faith and our church community. 

About Maren: Dr. Maren Haynes Marchesini serves as Director of Worship, Music & Art at St. Paul's UMC. Maren researched music and megachurches for her Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology, and is passionate about the intersections of Christian identity, belief, and practices, especially in progressive Christian spaces. She lives in Helena with her husband Michael and two children, Asa and Kaj.  


Introducing|Exploring|Joining New Member Series

Wednesdays from 6:30-8:00 PM

Beginning Sept. 15

Led by Rev. Margaret Gillikin


Are you interested in deepening your faith, examining hard questions about Christianity, learning about the United Methodist tradition, and perhaps joining the church? Pastor Margaret Gillikin invites all our members, prospective and longstanding, to participate in our New Member Series to dive deeply into exploring faith and community. 


This will be a three-part series that lasts for three months: Introducing (September), Exploring (October), Joining (November). This series will be offered on an ongoing basis. You are welcome to take all three courses consecutively, or to take one at a time! Our first Introducing class will begin Sept. 15. 

About Margaret: Rev. Margaret Gillikin is an ordained Elder in the UMC. At age 10, Margaret's family stumbled across the UMC by "God-cidence" from the Baptist tradition. She is steeped in United Methodist understandings of grace and how we see God's love surrounding and sustaining us in powerful ways throughout life's journey. She teaches through the lens of the Wesleyan Quadrilateral, inviting class participants to examine ideas using a combination of scripture, tradition, reason and experience. Putting faith into action is the ultimate goal of all spiritual formation. Her rescue dog, Kolby, is a frequent companion.


Bible Study: Simon Peter: Flawed but Faithful Disciple by Adam Hamilton

Wednesdays or Thursdays 9:30-10:30 AM

Beginning Sept. 15 & 16

Led by Shirley Warehime


Explore the Bible with an ongoing study with Shirley Warehime! The fall will kick off with a 12-week study exploring the complicated character of Simon Peter, a faithful disciple willing to risk everything to follow Jesus, but also a man full of doubts, quick-tempered, and fearful. Come learn how Simon Peter’s story deepens our understanding of Christ and our own faith journeys. 


Shirley has one rule for this study: no homework! Choose either Wednesday or Thursday to join the group. Visitors and new members are welcome to join the class at any time. 


About Shirley: Shirley has led the mid-week morning adult bible study classes since the fall of 2011. Her challenge is to find and then present material that provides an interesting learning opportunity to class participants. The goal is to expand knowledge and ideas in an atmosphere that promotes sharing and discussion. Shirley is a retired Certified Public Accountant who was engaged in the practice of public accounting for many years in Helena. She has been an involved member of St. Paul's since moving to Helena.