Lenten Worship Changes for 2024

Worship Changes

A message from Pastor Pat

March 3, 2024

You may have noticed that for the past two Sundays there has not been a postlude offered at the end of our worship service. This was the decision of our gifted organist Marvin Mills as his sacrificial act in this holy season. So, in lieu of the postlude, I would offer that as we conclude each Sunday during this season, that we spend these moments in sacred reflection, before we depart to take on the world.

You may also have noticed that we are not moving about the sanctuary to share signs of peace and love amongst each other. Given the recent surge in all manner of communicable illnesses ranging from the common cold to COVID, for the time being we are offering holy hand waves and “air” high fives. We anticipate that on Easter Sunday we will once again embrace this moment in the fullness of its purpose.

This Is Us

The pastors of St. Paul's have composed a new report on the state of the church, titled "This Is Us: A Season of Ministry." 

In just 18 easy-to-read pages, broken down into seven sections, this guide shares a clear look at things like membership, worship attendance, mission and outreach efforts, church leadership, staffing, building use, budget concerns, and the daily ins-and-outs of St. Paul's operations, with a special focus on the state of the church since 2020.

Click the button to download and read the "This Is Us" document.

This Is Us

Paper copies of "This Is Us" are available upon request - contact Erin Steele in the church office at stpaulsunited@stpaulsk.org or 301-933-7933 ext 100 to request a printed copy.

On FEBRUARY 11, 2024, Pastor Pat and members of church leadership hosted a congregation-wide meeting immediately following the 10:30 AM worship service. Results of the congregation-wide survey are posted on the bulletin board in the office hallway.

The meeting on February 11, 2024 was livestreamed and a recording can be found online here:


This recording includes the day's worship service. Fast-forward to the 1 hour 15 minute mark to view the meeting.

If you have questions, please contact St. Paul's senior pastor, Pastor Pat, at pallen@stpaulsk.org.

"This Is Us" follow-up Questions:


During our church wide meeting on Sunday February 11, 2024 a question regarding our membership was posed which I tentatively addressed. I promised to research the question and provide a response. The question was “Since COVID, how many members have we lost and how many have we gained?"

Each January, we prepare a required statistical report for the Baltimore-Washington Conference which captures information about our membership, as well as other church data. That report is the source from which the following response is prepared.

Since 2020, a total of 155 persons have been removed from the membership rolls of St. Paul’s UMC Kensington, for one of the following reasons: 

  • withdrew from the denomination
  • transferred to another UMC church
  • transferred to a non-UMC church
  • removed by church conference action
  • passed away

Of these 155 persons, the largest group (53) were removed by church conference action. These are persons who have not in any way participated in the life of the church, joined in worship, or contributed to the ministries of the church over a three-year period AND have not responded to any attempts of the church to contact them by mail, phone, or email.

The Book of Discipline lays out the rules for an annual "care of members review," resulting in the removal of such inactive members from the membership roll every year at church conference. So, there will most likely be more persons removed by church conference action in the fall of this year, for the same reasons.

Since 2020, 45 persons have been received into membership at St. Paul’s UMC Kensington through confirmation, transfer from another UMC church, or reaffirmation of faith (received from another denomination).

Our current membership is 687. 

At the beginning of 2020, our membership roll carried 803 names. 

However, since our vitality and vibrancy are measured by our ministry and living out our mission, I would offer that St. Paul’s is succeeding in feeding the hearts, minds, and souls of the people God sends our way, in ways that are not solely defined by membership numbers.

-- Pastor Pat

Pastor's Announcements

Sabbath Renewal Leave

Sabbath Renewal Leave

Pastor Joey will be taking Sabbath Renewal Leave beginning Monday December 25, 2023. 

He will return to us on Easter Sunday, March 31, 2024.

A Note from Pastor Joey

December 1, 2023

Many of you will remember that Pastor Pat took some time off in the Spring of 2022 for Renewal Leave. I am currently in my 12th year under appointment, and so I am eligible to take a time of renewal leave as well.  After consulting with Pastor Pat and the SPRC we have decided it is the right time for me to take a little time away, but just a little, to spend with my family and renewing my spirit. I will be off beginning on Christmas Day and then I will return on Easter Sunday. 

I want to emphasize that this is meant for a season of renewal and that there is nothing else going on, and that I requested this leave time. In fact, the entire point of renewal leave being added to the Book of Discipline was so that pastors do not reach the point of burn out and we can continue to serve for many years to come.  

And so, after my 90-day ministry break, I will be right back here to celebrate Easter and to pick back up my role as one of your pastors. And while I am gone you will of course have our incredible senior pastor, Pastor Pat, and the entire staff team to keep things running alongside our very capable leadership team. 

While I am away, I will not be answering emails or communicating with the congregation -- but you will remain in my prayers. 

With that, I want to invite you to be in prayer for me, my family, all the staff and especially Pastor Pat who is going to shoulder the bulk of the work I do and for our entire congregation. If you have any questions you can talk to me or Pastor Pat, or contact any of the church leadership. 

I will be gone just a brief time and I am looking forward to returning, ready to get back to work renewed and refreshed. 

-- Pastor Joey

Sabbath Renewal Leave is the leave afforded all clergy with the completion every seventh year of service. This is a time of spiritual renewal and rest, preparing clergy for the next season of ministry. You are invited to write Pastor Joey a prayer or message of support. There will be a basket in the narthex and writing materials each Sunday for you to share your written thoughts and prayers of support.

Holiday Schedule 2024

St. Paul’s will be closed and staff will be unavailable on federal holidays, with some adjustments for major church holidays like Easter and Christmas.

For 2024, the building will be closed and all staff will be off for the following holiday observances:

Jan. 16 - Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday

Feb. 19 - Presidents Day

April 1 - Easter Monday

May 27 - Memorial Day

June 19 - Juneteenth

July 4 & 5 - Independence Day

Sept. 2 - Labor Day

Oct. 14 - Indigenous Peoples Day

Nov. 27-29 - Thanksgiving

Dec. 24, 2024 - Jan. 1, 2025 - Christmas Day, Winter Break, New Year's Day

In the event of a pastoral emergency when the office is closed, please phone 301-933-7933 ext. 101, and Pastor Pat will be alerted to your voicemail message.

Walk-ins are welcome during office hours (Sept.-May: Monday-Thursday, 10am-3pm, reduced hours in the summer). But we strongly recommend making an appointment if there's someone specific you wish to see! Due to the unique nature of our work, staff and clergy in-office availability may vary on any given day. 

For inclement weather: We follow Montgomery County Public Schools' students announcements for inclement weather delays and closures. Click here to go to the section about weather-related schedule changes.

Email is often the best way to reach us; click here to find staff email addresses and more information on our Meet the Staff page.

Annual Conference

Annual Conference

May 31-June 3, 2023

The UMC’s Baltimore-Washington 239th Annual Conference was held in-person this year for the first time since before the covid-19 pandemic. Pastor Pat and Pastor Joey attended, as did Dawn Ely, St. Paul's Lay Member to Annual Conference. 

Dawn will speak about her first time at Annual Conference during St. Paul's SAM meeting on Wednesday, June 21, 2023.  Contact SAM chairperson Rachel Stalcup for the Zoom link!

Photos above: 

Left: St. Paul's Lay Member Dawn Ely (center) heading out for the Love in Action mission project.

Center: Guest speaker Rev. Jack Shitama (on left) and Pastor Joey (crouching right) with other conference attendees.

Right: Bishop Easterling (standing center) and other clergy celebrating commissioning and ordination.

Click the button to download and read Dawn's summary of her activities.

Annual Conference Reflections

Highlights from Dawn's Reflections on Annual Conference:

  • Conference Theme: The theme for this year’s conference was All About Love, which the organizers wove into every session and activity. In her welcoming sermon, Bishop LaTrelle Easterling focused on Jesus’ words in John 13: 31-35, emphasizing that love is an action, not an emotion.
  • Laity Session: This year’s keynote speaker was Rev. Jack Shitama, author and director of the Center for Vital Leadership, who shared a presentation and helpful strategies for people in leadership living in an anxious world.
  • Voting: In addition to approving the budget and other recommendations, this portion of the conference included discussion of ten proposed resolutions and somber votes to approve the closure of four churches and the disaffiliation of twenty-three additional churches. 
  • Service of Remembrance: During this moving worship time, we reflected on the ministry leaders and their spouses who had passed away over the previous year. Origami doves were carried and placed on lighted trees as each name was read, and the worship team led us in reflective songs.
  • Love in Action Mission Project: Service projects around Baltimore put the theme into action. Dawn writes: "My group (which included Bishop Easterling) went to Furman Templeton Preparatory Academy, where we cleaned out storage areas; mulched and weeded around the school property; and organized the school store. We wanted the students graduating the following week and their families to feel proud of their school and know they are cared for. The thank you hug I received from one of the elementary students proved to me that our efforts made an impact."
  • Young People's Ministry: On the last day of the conference, several teenagers served as guest speakers to share their thoughts and encourage engagement with children and youth. Summer camp leaders and teachers also spoke of the need to meet young people where they are, so their experiences form the foundations of their future faith and the church community.
  • Ordination and Commissioning Service: To wrap up Annual Conference, we celebrated the ordination and commissioning of sixteen new deacons and elders. It was wonderful to see all the pastors in our conference supporting their peers as they made this next step in their ministry journeys. 

County Grant for Safety Improvements

St. Paul's is excited to be one of 91 organizations in Montgomery County awarded a grant from the County’s Nonprofit Security Grants program, designed to improve safety and security, and to deter hate crimes and vandalism in places of worship and local nonprofits. 

St. Paul's leadership and facilities teams are examining options to add security cameras to church grounds, something we do not currently have.

“In Montgomery County, we have a community of diverse residents who wish to practice our faiths and cultures freely. Schools and places of worship should be sanctuaries of peace and acceptance, not fear and violence,” said County Council Vice President Friedson. “While we regret that this program is so needed at this time, I am proud to have worked with the Executive Branch and community partners to establish this grant program so we can provide added security for our residents.”

You can read the full press release from Montgomery Country by clicking here: "Montgomery County Announces Total of $800,000 Awarded to Nonprofit and Faith-based Organizations to Deter Hate Crimes and Support Security Needs"

Pastor Pat's REtirement Annoucement for 2024

On February 5, 2023, Pastor Pat delivered the following address at the close of the 10:30 AM worship service:

Whether you are aware or not, January of each year begins, for clergy, appointment season. The bishop and cabinet assess the needs of each congregation and discern who should be sent to each assignment.

What you probably also don’t know is that this is also the season when those who will be retiring effective July 1 will be announced.

If you happen to receive the conference’s electronic newsletter, this past Monday, if you scrolled down and read the list of retirements, you saw my name was the very first one. And you were surprised. And so was I!

I was surprised because I am not retiring in 2023.

But I have requested and been approved to retire effective July 1, 2024.

In the first chapter in the gospel of Luke, the 23rd verse reads. “When his time of service was ended, he returned to his home.” Our assignments in life are only for a season, a season for which only God holds the beginning and the end. After much prayer, discernment, and conversations with my family, I fully embrace and accept that how I have been called to serve in this season is ending. And I praise God for the privilege of having served so many, and especially you. But beloved, I am going home.

So, what does that mean? Well for you, it means for the next 16 months, you are stuck with me.

We will continue the work God has begun, raising up leaders, baptizing, marrying, celebrating lives that now reside in eternity, teaching, preaching, mentoring, and building.

And if you recall from the sermon somebody preached a couple of weeks ago, sometimes the best gift you can give is to boldly step back and make way for the NEXT.

So I pray that you understand. I pray that you know we are only called for a season, and it is my heartfelt intent to be your pastor until the day that I leave here. Because God loves you, and so do I, and ain’t nothing you can do about that.

You may view the announcement in the worship broadcast recording at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DIyFvQoApe8&t=4041s, beginning at the 1-hour 7-minute mark.

ChurcH Conference:

Our Church's ministry, mission, & health

Saturday, September 23, 2023

10:00 AM by Zoom

St. Paul’s Annual Church Conference will be held via ZOOM Saturday Sept. 23, 2023 at 10:00 AM. All church members are invited and will have voice and vote. For the Zoom log-in link, please see the Weekly News email. You may also contact the church office at stpaulsunited@stpaulsk.org by Thursday at 2:00 PM for dial-in information.

About the Church Conference Meeting:

This is the annual “business” meeting of the local church where decisions are made about our church leadership, updating the church membership roll, hearing the report of the pastor and approving the clergy compensation packages. All members in attendance have a voice and vote. 

The UMC's Baltimore-Washington Conference requires reports on several areas of the church's ministry, mission, and health. The following reports are compiled by staff, clergy, and lay leaders and provided to the leadership committees governing the church for review: Congregational Profile, Pastors' Reports, Inactive Members Report, Building Condition & Accessibility Survey, Clergy Compensation, and Nominations for Leadership to serve on the Unified Board/Simplified Accountability Model. 

Reports that will be discussed at Church Conference for 2023:

Nominations for Leadership

Care of Members Report

Pastors' Report (Filed Jointly)

Senior Pastor Salary Worksheet - Summary

Associate Pastor Salary Worksheet - Summary

Full copies of all reports are available from the church office upon request.

Email Erin Steele at stpaulsunited@stpaulsk.org

Other questions may be directed to Pastor Pat at pallen@stpaulsk.org.

Clergy and Staff Schedules

"Regular Schedules" at Church (Sept.-May)

While most of us are accustomed to a five-day work week schedule that includes weekends off, our staff schedule operates slightly differently because Saturdays and Sundays are "work days" at a church. Additionally, staff frequently work in spaces outside the traditional office - from visiting hospitals and rehab facilities to serving on conference-wide UMC committees. Staff may also have the option of working from home (as we did during the early days of covid-19) and/or flexing their on-site hours to accommodate events.

Please click here to find email addresses on our Meet the Staff page. 

Please note: staff and clergy are all off and the building will be closed on National, Federal, and State Holidays, the day after Easter, and in the event of inclement weather.

We hope the information provided below helps as you look to reach out and connect with your pastors and staff members.

St. Paul's Drop-In Hours: Monday-Thursday, 10AM-3PM
Clergy & Staff Typical Work Week: - Appointments Encouraged!
Rev. Dr. Pat Allen - Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday before noon (by appointment), Saturday, Sunday before 1pm
Rev. Joey Heath-Mason - Monday-Thursday, Sunday (by appointment)
Dr. Meg Baker - Monday-Thursday and Sunday, other hours by appointment
Dr. Erin Bone Steele - Monday-Thursday plus Friday work-from-home
Ms. Tracey Furman - Monday-Friday
Mr. Tom Pedersen - by appointment only
Mr. Marvin Mills - Monday & Thursday, after noon by appointment only

Sabbath - an intentional break for rest and renewal
Rev. Dr. Patricia Allen: Thursday beginning 12:00 noon, Fridays all day, Sundays beginning 1:00 pm
Rev. Joey Heath-Mason: Friday & Saturday
Dr. Meg Baker - Friday & Saturday
Dr. Erin Bone Steele - Saturday & Sunday
Ms. Tracey Furman - Saturday & Sunday

2023 Visioning Retreat

As we move forward as a faith community it is important that each person have the opportunity to be part of the work of crafting the vision for St. Paul's UMC. 

On Saturday, January 21, 2023, 10:00 am - 2:00 pm, about 50 members and friends of St. Paul's participated in the 2023 Church Wide Visioning Retreat, engaging in the sacred work of creating a vision for St. Paul's UMC, Kensington. They represent new members and heritage members, young people, professionals, and those in their golden years.

With help from our facilitator from the BWC, Rev. Rod Miller, we began the hard and rewarding work of imagining how the St. Paul's community can grow in faith and encourage members to develop their spiritual gifts, and how to empower people to responsibly represent St. Paul's while engaging in direct ministry and outreach with the broader community. 

Of course, there were people interested in the event who were unable to attend. The pastors will share a summary of the activities at a future date.

Then the Lord answered me and said: Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so that a runner may read it. (Habakkuk 2:2)