Category Archives: Diocesan Convention

Bishop Steve’s welcome to Convention: “This will be a good time.”

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Convention resolutions: Church funds should not support militarism

by Maurine M. Tobin
St. Brendan the Navigator, Deer Isle-Stonington
Episcopal Peace Fellowship of Maine

The way in which the Trustees of Diocesan Funds invest funds given and bequeathed to the Diocese of Maine and many of its congregations by generations of Episcopalians is a compelling moral issue. Should these monies, gathered over time in the name of the church to do God’s work in the world, be invested in companies whose sole or major profits derive from munitions and war materials designed for killing and destruction?

The obvious answer is that funds given for the work of the church should be invested in socially responsible companies, not in those dedicated to militarism.

I strongly commend support of Diocesan Convention Resolutions #6 and #7, which are co-sponsored by Episcopal Peace Fellowship of Maine and St. Brendan the Navigator, Deer Isle- Stonington.

(The full text of the resolutions is available on pages 26 to 28 of the Convention booklet found here.)

The essence of Resolution #6 is to urge the Trustees to bring their policies into alignment with National Church resolutions so that the Diocese of Maine does not invest in the top five military defense contractors nor in those companies that receive more than fifty percent of their revenues from military contracts or those involved in the production, manufacturing or distribution of tobacco products.

Resolution #7 urges the Trustees not to invest in six specific companies that profit from the Israeli military occupation of Palestine and the subsequent harm suffered as a result.

Because the Trustees of Diocesan Funds serve as a separate legal entity from the Diocese of Maine, it is clear that Diocesan Convention has no direct authority over the Trustees and cannot compel them to take any action. The intent of these resolutions is to give delegates to Convention an opportunity to vote on an issue of deep concern: namely how the Trustees invest the funds that belong to all of us in the Diocese.

It is time to convey to the Trustees that we no longer wish to invest in corporations that both generally, and specifically in Palestine, profiteer from warfare and military occupation.

The Trustees have had ample opportunity to examine the portfolio to determine if we have holdings that compromise our integrity. Mainstream Christian denominations have sought to change policies of such companies via active corporate engagement. That effort has failed universally, and is it now time for us to adhere to the resolutions of our own Episcopal Church and to join other denominations in refusing to invest in companies whose practices run counter to our deepest Christian convictions. These resolutions offer a chance for this Convention to urge the Trustees to act as ethical stewards of the resources placed in their care.

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What happens when you pray for those living in poverty for a year

by the Rev. Chick Carroll
Deacon at St. Paul’s, Brunswick

Poverty Roundtable at the 2013 Diocesan Convention

Poverty Roundtable at the 2013 Diocesan Convention

During all of 2013 many, perhaps most parishes in the Diocese of Maine have followed the practice, at the beginning of each meeting in the parish or the Diocese, of saying a prayer for those who are poor, sick, destitute, homeless and old( BCP page 826) and then asking a searching question. Perhaps some parishes will even continue the practice indefinitely.

The searching question asked was this:
    ” How will this meeting ( agenda, program) affect or involve those who are living in poverty?”

For those of us who have been asking this question, shouldn’t we now inquire of ourselves, individually and collectively, whether and how our consciousness of those living in poverty has changed. Have we gained in understanding?

From workshop conversations at this past Diocesan Convention, and from other conversations and readings my own understanding of our impact (those of us with plenty) upon those living in poverty has evolved considerably.

Perhaps foremost is the understanding in the Early Church of the relationship with those in poverty. To put it simply, many of the early church leaders, especially the Cappadocian fathers, made the shocking point that the poor give a gift to us, to those of us who are not in material poverty. The gift they make is that their need affords the rest of us the opportunity for love and for the making of our own gift to the poor. The poor, as Jesus, are powerless and in need. They are Jesus. They are the Body of Christ. ( See Matthew 25: 31- 46) And, we in our plenty, are given the opportunity to show the love which the Father showed to Jesus.

Summarizing the views of the Cappadocian fathers, author Susan Holman  said it clearly: “Both rich and poor take on the face of the Divine. The rich do this by imitating God’s mercy and justice… The poor do this by their basic needs… thereby imaging Christ. Service to the poor is treated as liturgy. In other words it is just as important for true worship as going to church.”

The idea that originated much later, the idea that basic human rights demand that we who have much must share with those who have little, is a notion that carries within it the danger of “them and us.” The danger is that we give out of obligation or “noblesse oblige.” The early church fathers saw the question not as one of human rights, but as one of our relation to God–God as giver of justice and mercy, and Jesus Christ as the face of the poor.

The early church fathers understood so much more clearly than we that Jesus was not simply a friend of the poor, not a stand-in for the poor. He is the poor, and he gives us the supreme gift of responding to him and to the poor as the Father responded to Jesus. We are in a liturgical relationship to those living in poverty. They give us the gift of giving to them- not in a relationship of inequality but in a dance of partners.

For me, this has been the most radical change in my own understanding. I owe much of it to reading and beginning to understand early church views, as translated by author Susan Holman.  And from it flow other understandings that have implications for the gifts and the programs we devise today.

One of these is for us to discern what it is those in poverty say they need, and not to impose our own ideas of what they need. We are in a relationship with those living in poverty, an intimate relationship, one in which deep understanding and discernment are needed. It is dangerously and deceptively easy to decide for others what they should need or want, and the results are always resentment, misunderstanding, and ingratitude.

There is another understanding that flows from the paradigm of the liturgy, the relationship of Jesus to the Father, and the relationship of those of us in plenty to those in poverty.  For us to be complete beings, beings in a sacred and liturgical dance, who give as God does, and who receive, as  Christ does, we must somehow be in direct relationship with those with whom we are dancing. And,that relationship must be one of equals, equally loved by God, even though the culture would tell us that we are not equals.

A merely transactional and impersonal relationship whereby we give and others receive is undoubtedly needed in our complex world, our world where there are designated agencies that take responsibility for collecting and distributing donations. But, for us, if we are to be in a relationship with Jesus, there is an equal necessity for us to overcome our fear of the “other”, to be in real and direct relationship with those in poverty, those who are the face of Jesus, the Body of Christ.

Note: For those wishing to explore these questions further, see God Knows There’s Need,
by Susan R. Holman, Oxford University Press, 2009; and Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help, by Robert P. Lupton, Harper Collins, 2011.

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Social media resources from the Rev. Kelly Moughty

Kelly Moughty held two well-attended workshops on social media basics at Point Lookout on Friday morning before the start of Convention.

Kelly Moughty held two well-attended workshops on social media basics at Point Lookout on Friday morning before the start of Convention.

Social media platforms are the latest in a long line of tools we’ve been given to invite people into conversations about their faith and their lives.  The world of social media can seem intimidating and time-consuming, but the web is full of advice, hints, and platforms that can help you provide your congregation with formational content managed in a time-sensitive way.

The following presentation was given by the Rev. Kelly Moughty, assistant priest at St. Peter’s, Portland, and St. Alban’s, Cape Elizabeth, at Maine’s 194th Diocesan Convention to give congregational leaders a basic introduction to the primary social media platforms.
Download the presentation: Social Media Basics
Other helpful links:

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God’s Kingdom Surrounds Us – Let’s Take It to the Streets

SONY DSCDelegates, clergy, and guests will at Point Lookout in Northport on Friday and Saturday, October 25 and 26, for the 194th Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Maine.

Below you’ll find links for everything you’ll need: lodging info, registration, meal purchase, display sign-up, pre-convention hearing info, the convention playlist, youth delegate applications, delegate certificate for churches.

Download the convention booklet here. Hard copies of booklets will be distributed early next week to all churches and by mail to canonically resident clergy (retired and extra-parochial).

Help! Almost half of our congregations have yet to submit their delegate certificate to the diocesan office. That’s information we need to compile a delegate list for convention registration. You can download the fillable pdf here. If you want to find out if your congregation has sent it in, this is a great opportunity to introduce yourself to and welcome our delightful new staff assistant, Teresa Pinney at 772-1953 x135. SONY DSC

Three lodging options for Convention:

 – Reserve a cabins at Point Lookout (reservation deadline: September 24)
– St. Margaret’s, Belfast, offers a Bed and Breakfast service
– Other options for places to stay near Point Lookout

Let us know you’re coming – Whether you are a delegate, alternate, clergy member, volunteer, guest, workshop leader, or exhibitor, this quick sign-up will help us to plan for the complimentary breakfasts, coffee breaks, worship booklets and other materials.

SONY DSCPre-purchase lunches and Friday dinner – It’s easy to purchase meals for convention – for you or for you whole delegation – with our new online program, Eventbrite. Click here for a full description of meals and online purchase. Of you prefer to send a check, here’s a form to complete and mail to the Diocesan office.

Share the story of your ministry or your church with the people of the Diocese of Maine by reserving a display table – Click here to reserve a table.

Attend a regional pre-convention hearing in early October to learn more about the business to come before Convention and elect an area clergy representative to Diocesan Council. Click here for a list of places, dates, and times.

Also, if you prefer to attend our first-ever online pre-convention meeting from the comfort of your home on Thursday, October 10, at 7 p.m., please contact Heidi Shott at hshott@episcopalmaine.org for an email invitation. There are 20 places left for that evening.

New! We may be the first diocese in The Episcopal Church to have a convention playlist to go along with our theme. Listen to the songs ahead of convention on our website or by visiting the Diocese of Maine’s YouTube channel at youtube.com/episcopalmaine.SONY DSC

Send a youth rep to Convention – Do you know someone who is either in high school or a young adult (up to age 20) who would like to learn about diocesan life and contribute by serving at Diocesan Convention? Last October Convention voted to support up to eight young people as “Diocesan Youth Representatives to Convention.”

The congregation and priest should prepare the youth, encourage attendance at the pre-convention hearings and serve as mentors during convention. The youth will sit at your congregation’s table with your delegation. Diocesan Youth Ministries will provide all meals, housing, a morning delegate orientation workshop and mentoring.

How to apply? Send a letter or an email to jhartwell@episcopalmaine.org with: name, address, phone, email, age, grade, congregation and a brief paragraph telling how the applicant is active in their church or the diocese, and why the applicant is interested or would be an asset. The email can come from the young person, priest, or anyone else. Also send a brief supporting email from their priest. Application deadline is September 16(ish). The selection committee will choose up to eight representatives. All applicants will be notified within a week after the deadline.

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Diocese of Maine in 2013: Focus on people living in poverty

At diocesan convention in October, a resolution brought forth by 12 deacons and priests, the congregations of Piscataquis County, and Diocesan Council, and subsequently passed by clergy and lay delegates, states the following:

“Resolved, that the 193rd Convention of the Diocese of Maine call upon all of its constituent committees, commissions, institutions, and congregations, to include as part of every meeting in calendar year 2013, no matter what the purpose, the following agenda item: ‘How will what we are doing here affect or involve people living in poverty?’

To assist with this prayerful practice in the new year, the Bishop Steve Lane’s office has mailed to each congregation (and soon to each committee chair) a stack of cards to use at each gathering.  The card offers an opening prayer, two questions to guide discussion, and a closing prayer. Download a sample of the card (two per sheet) here.

Click here to read the Rev. Chick Carroll’s blog post – and the lively discussion in the comments – on the origins of the resolution.

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Talking about poverty in Maine

by the Rev. Chick Carroll (with help with his fellow sponsors of Resolution #9)

At this year’s Diocesan Convention, delegates will be asked to vote on Resolution 9. This resolution says that for 12 months, for the calendar year 2013, every meeting of a commission or committee within the Diocese and within every congregation will have as part of its agenda the following agenda item:

“How will what we are doing here affect or involve people living in poverty?”

This Resolution 9 implements a similar resolution passed at General Convention this past summer. Now, resolutions, identical to our Resolution 9, which will implement what was passed at General Convention are being put before diocesan conventions this fall throughout the Episcopal church.

This is not a resolution to end poverty! In fact, it is not even about poverty per se. It is about people–people who live in poverty. This is about people, not about a concept. There is a huge difference between thinking about the concept of poverty, which can sound awfully political or coldly abstract, and thinking about people who live every day in poverty. Jesus was poor, a poor man oppressed in a world of Roman power. Jesus spoke as a poor man, to the poor, about their lives, about being poor, and about what awaited them in the Kingdom. It is the people who live in poverty, as Jesus and the multitudes did and still do, that are the object of the question we are to ask at every meeting. We often forget  that Jesus was a person who was poor. And this Resolution 9 is how we relate, as a church and as individuals, to people who are poor, as he was.

Some of us may be unaware of just how many people in Maine live in poverty. Federal guidelines say that living at the poverty level in Maine, for a family of 4, is living at an income of less than approximately $23,000 per year. Imagine trying to raise a family on that!  Yet, one out of eight people in Maine is in that predicament. One out of every six people we meet lives with insecurity about getting enough to eat. It is much worse for children. One out of every four children under the age of six live in poverty, and half of all school children quality for subsidized school lunches! The brutal truth is that a person getting paid $11.00 an hour 52 weeks a year is still in poverty. And at minimum wage, it requires working 60 hours a week just to achieve the federal poverty level.

Some of us live in communities where we don’t encounter many people living in poverty. Others of us, though, live in places where the poverty rate is worse than the state average–far worse. The reality, of course, is that even at incomes somewhat above the official poverty level, people can still be very poor.  Regardless of where we live, we meet people every day living in poverty- in the shops and stores we buy from, the schools our children attend, the companies we work for, and in our own parishes as well.

Resolution 9 will, at first, create inconvenience. It may make us uncomfortable to ask the question about our impact on people living in poverty. We may argue that asking such a question will be futile, or will take up too much time. Imagine, at every meeting within the Diocese and within every congregation, we will during 2013 ask the question: How does what we are doing here affect or involve people living in poverty?”

For some committees, the answer may be “not very much.” Perhaps then someone might ask “and why not?’ No doubt, some of us may get tired of asking the question at every meeting. Yet, we may also come closer to understanding how we, as church and as individuals affect or relate to people living materially poor lives. We may also learn more about what Christ asks of us. In fact, we may discover that asking this question for a year changes our church, our congregation, and ourselves. Some of  may begin to understand the Gospel in ways we have not been able to before.

Is there anything on our agendas more important than taking a few minutes to discover what our impact is upon our sisters and brothers in Christ, including those people who live, as Jesus did, in a condition of being poor and without power in our world?

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Convention’s opening procession

Thanks to the Rev. Sudie Blanchard, deacon at St. George’s, York Harbor, for sharing her video of the opening procession at Convention.

 

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Strengthening communities of faith for God’s mission: a new mission strategy for the Diocese of Maine

Bishop Steve greets Pere Jean Lenord Quatorze and his wife, Marie Ilomene Michaud Quatorze. Pere Lenord, who pastors three churches in our Companion Diocese of Haiti, is visiting his partner parishes of St. Ann's, Windham, and St. Peter's, Bridgton.

The Annual Convention of the Diocese of Maine, on its several year journey around the points of the compass, concluded yesterday its second convention held at Sunday River in the Western Mountains.  While not all the business set to go before the 350 Maine Episcopalians gathered was completed over the two-day convention, one of the first orders of business on Saturday morning was to pass a new mission strategy for the Diocese of Maine : “To strengthen communities of faith for God’s mission.”

With the 2012 diocesan budget, elections to diocesan office and 14 resolutions to consider- including seven presented by the Mission Study Groups that have been at work for two years – Bishop Stephen Lane worked hard as Chair to keep the delegates and clergy of the 65 congregations on task with ample time was dedicated to worship.

After a program of optional workshops and committee hearings on Friday morning, Convention began with a first-ever procession of lay and clergy from each congregation carrying their church banner and greetings and prayers from Bishop Lane.  Continuing the new tradition of inviting local congregations to plan and participate in worship, the music team from St. Matthew’s in Lisbon shared their gifts in leading the gathered in the opening songs.  Bishop Lane’s welcome included an invitation for all to enter the “courtesy of Christ” in the deliberations over the next two days, setting the tone for the gracious discussion and consideration to come.

Election Results and Resolutions are below.

Bishop Stephen Lane’s Convention Address and Convention Sermon

Check out our photo album on Facebook (you don’t need to be on Facebook to view the album.)

Resolution #1 and Resolution #2 passed unanimously.  Click here to see the Convention resolutions.

Resolution #3 on Mission Strategy passed as amended unamimously (see below for the amended version)

Resolved, that this Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Maine affirm the following:  The Mission Strategy of the Episcopal Diocese of Maine is:

“To strengthen communities of faith for God’s mission.”

The Rev. Heather Blais, assistant at Grace, Bath, and St. Philip's, Wiscasset, attends to the conversation.

Resolution #4 on Collaboration was passed as amended (see below for amended version)

(A substitute resolution conflating and expanding Resolutions #4 and #5 was defeated.)

Resolved, that this Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Maine encourage collaborative strategies between Episcopal congregations, other faith communities and other organizations to facilitate and strengthen communities of faith for God’s mission and to leverage resources, and be it further

Resolved, that evaluation of diocesan funding proposals include consideration of how such proposals support collaboration for mission.

Resolution #5 on Mission Readiness passed as submitted.  Amendments to first “expect” and then “require” every congregation to participate in a process of evaluating mission readiness and capacity failed.  See submitted language passed below.

Resolved, that this Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Maine encourage every congregation to participate in a process of evaluating its readiness and capacity for mission; and be it further

Resolved, that the Bishop’s Office will reach out to the diverse congregations of the diocese to help them assess and plan in order to engage in God’s mission in relationship with other churches and organizations.

Resolution #6 on Grants in Aid to Congregations passed as submitted, see below.

Bishop Steve and Camp Bishopswood Director Georgia Koch make the announcement that the 2012 camp season - her 34th(!) - will be her last. "After next summer," she quipped, "I look forward to having a summer vacation for the first time in my adult life."

Resolved, that this convention of the Diocese of Maine adopt the following as the policy of the diocese: We will gradually move away from providing regular financial support to congregational operating budgets and toward providing funding for mission and ministry in accordance with the Diocesan Mission Strategy, and be it further

Resolved, that the Office of the Bishop and the Diocesan Council develop resources to assist congregations which currently receive regular diocesan financial support in order to help them become financially self-sustaining; and be it further

Resolved, that this Convention reaffirms that the Diocesan Council may use its discretion to begin or continue financial support to congregational operating budgets where such support is consistent with the mission and ministry priorities of the Diocese.

Resolution #7 on Seven Criteria for Mission passed as amended. (See amended version below)

Resolved, that Diocesan Council or its designee employ the following seven criteria as guidelines in evaluating existing ministries or introducing new ministries that request the support of diocesan resources.



1) Diocesan resources will support program/ministry efforts that are Christ-centered and Gospel-oriented.



2) Diocesan resources will support program/ministry efforts that collaborate with other churches, communities and affinity groups and demonstrate a willingness to share personnel and resources.



Delegates from the 65 Episcopal congregations in Maine exercise their franchise with good cheer.

3) Diocesan resources will support those program/ministry efforts led by those who can demonstrate their experience as well as passion for their particular ministry.



4) Diocesan resources will support program/ministry efforts with evaluation processes in place and those that can articulate a plan to achieve sustainability.


5) Diocesan resources will support program/ministry efforts whose leaders are willing to share their successes and best practices as well as failures with other congregations or collaborative groups that wish to replicate their work in other parts of the Diocese.



6) Diocesan resources will support program/ministry efforts that demonstrate a willingness to move from a centralized approach to ones that will involve and benefit a wide range and number of people within the diocese and beyond.



7) Diocesan resources will support program/ministry efforts that demonstrate the values of transparency, equity, fairness and collaboration.


Resolution #11 on Lay Compensation for 2012 passed as submitted.

Resolved, that the minimum compensation for lay employees who are paid for more than 250 hours annually by any congregation in union with the Diocese of Maine or by any related ministries in the Diocese shall be raised above $8.90 per hour or its equivalent in salary by the same percentage as the Social Security Administration COLA effective January 1, 2012.


Resolution #12 on Clergy Compensation for 2012 passed as submitted.

Resolved, that the minimum compensation for a presbyter in full time service, consisting of Cash Stipend, Self Employment Tax reimbursement, and Housing and Utilities Allowance (“Total Clergy Compensation”) is to be the mid-point between the average classroom teacher and the average administrator (not including superintendents) salaries in each community the church is in as published by the Maine Department of Education.  Such base amounts for 2012 are set forth in Attachment #1; and be it further

Resolved, that it is recommended presbyters be compensated above the required minimum taking into account such things as years of ordained service in ministry, merit, experience, and other relevant factors, and be it further

Resolved, that the guidelines for minimum compensation for supply clergy be as follows:

One Sunday Service $130.00
Two Sunday Services 160.00
Other Liturgical Services 75.00
Pastoral or other assigned responsibilities 75.00 per unit*
* = a unit is a morning, afternoon or evening
Expenses are reimbursed at cost for meals, lodging, telephone, etc., and at the IRS maximum approved rate for mileage, which can be found on the Diocesan web site.


Resolution #14 on Insurance Reserves passed as submitted.

Resolved, that the Diocese of Maine remit to each church its proportion of the sum held in the “Insurance Appraisal Reserve,” and be it further

Resolved, that the Diocese of Maine remit 50% of the sum held in “Insurance Deductible Reserve” to each church by the same formula and transfer the remaining 50% to the “Reserve for Budget Adjustments.”

Due to insufficient time Resolutions #8 on Mission Review Council, #9 on Leadership Development, #10 on Environmental Stewardship, and #13 on Strategies for Peacemaking in Palestine and Support of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem will be referred to Diocesan Council.

Election Results:

Secretary of the Diocese (1-year term): Mr. Alan Shaver, Grace Church, Bath

Treasurer of the Diocese (1-year term): Mr. Richard Rozene, St. Ann’s, Windham

Standing Committee, Clerical Member (3-year term): The Very Rev. Ben Shambaugh, Cathedral Church of St. Luke, Portland

Standing Committee, Lay Member (3-year term): Mr. Bruce Dalbeck, Trinity, Portland

Disciplinary Board, Clerical Member (3-year term): The Rev. Martha Kirkpatrick, St. Margaret’s, Belfast

Disciplinary Board, Lay Member (2-year term): Ms Cynthia Widdows, Cathedral Church of St. Luke, Portland

Disciplinary Board, Clerical Member (1-year term):  The Rev. Jud Pealer, Good Shepherd, Rangeley

Provincial Synod, Clerical Deputy (2-year term): The Rev. Kit Wang, St. Stephen’s, Waterboro

Convention Schedule

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Our grief is real, but so is our hope – Bishop Stephen T. Lane’s Convention Address

This morning Bishop Stephen Lane addressed the 192nd Annual Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Maine.  He said in part,

Whatever the ultimate shape of this regional approach to ministry, every congregation will need to address its sense of God’s call to mission. What is the work of reconciliation that God is asking you to do, now, in Aroostook, in Houlton, in Dover-Foxcroft, in Rockland, in Rumford, in Bangor, in Portland, in Sanford? What is the essential work that you are doing that must continue for Christ’s sake?

Our grief is real, but so is our hope.

All of this is a reminder that we have work to do of far greater importance than preserving what is comfortable and comforting. Our job is to bring Christ’s love to all the poor and suffering persons in our communities and to claim that love for ourselves in our own poverty and suffering. It is to work with our neighbors because they are God’s children and our brothers and sisters, without regard to their denomination or affiliation. We are to be places of welcome and refuge where every person will know that he or she is loved and safe – just as they are. Just as we are…

Read it all here.  A video of his address will be posted soon later today.

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