Category Archives: Diocesan Life

Spring Training 2016 – Becoming members of The Jesus Movement

springtraining.logoBishop Steve Lane invites Maine Episcopalians to a diocesan education day called Spring Training 2016 to be held on Saturday, April 9, at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Brunswick.

Three sessions will offer a 20 workshops in areas such as spiritual growth, formation, music, public policy advocacy, church leadership, conflict mediation and more. We’ll pause at mid-day to gather, worship, sing, and hear more about change in our wider culture and the role the church may play in our communities. (Full workshop descriptions are here.)

Bishop Lane says:
Our new Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry, calls the Episcopal Church in Maine to be a part of The Jesus Movement. We want our members claim the faith that sends them into the world proclaiming the good news of God’s love. To do that we need to focus on three principles:
  • Know Jesus and follow him.
  • Go into the world where Jesus already is.
  • Leave your baggage behind.

My hope is that Spring Training 2016 will help to prepare us to take our place in The Jesus Movement.

Here’s Bishop Curry’s take:

Want to learn more? Visit our diocesan homepage at www.episcopalmaine.org to link to event information, full workshop descriptions, and registration. You may register directly at www.tinyurl.com/springtraining2016.

Download a flyer and a bulletin insert to share with members of your congregation.

Registration is limited to 150 people, so please don’t delay in signing up.

We look forward to seeing you there.

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Filed under Diocesan Life, Faith Development, Ministry and Outreach, St. Paul's Brunswick, The Church in a Changing World, Training and Education Events

Expand your ministry with a New Initiative Fund grant

Dreaming about a new ministry in your community?

Apply now for a 2016 New Initiative Grant from Diocesan Council.

Each congregation and organization in the Diocese of Maine is eligible to apply for funding to support new ministries or expanding existing ministries in new directions. Applications will be evaluated on the how closely they meet the Diocese’s Seven Criteria for Mission.

The next deadline for applications is 4 p.m. on Friday, January 22. Diocesan Council will make grant recommendations at its February 6 meeting.

The online application may be found at www.surveymonkey.com/r/MaineNIF

Download the application worksheet and complete your application on that before cutting and pasting your application into the online Survey Monkey application above.

Once your application is processed, you will be contacted by a Diocesan Council member from your area. That member will serve as your advocate through the application process.

What kind of ministry might a New Initiative Fund grant get going? Below is a list of grants made by Diocesan Council over the past two years in spring and fall grant cycles.

Dream big!

2015 New Initiative Fund Grants

St. Luke’s, Wilton – $3,000 to install a community labyrinth

Human Trafficking Ministry Group – $2,650 to bring Becca Stevens and women of Thistle Farms to a conference in November 2015

St. Matthew’s, Hallowell – $2,450 to support a Ecumenical mentoring program for women recently released Kennebec County Jail, Walk with Me: A Journey

St. Paul’s, Brunswick – $1,750 to gather and create resources for congregations to effectively talk about alcoholism

2014 New Initiative Fund Grants 

The Congregations of the Southern Kennebec Valley (The Kennebec 6 – St. Mark’s, Augusta; St. Barnabas’, Augusta; Christ Church, Gardiner; St. Matthew’s, Hallowell; St. Andrew’s, Winthrop; and Prince of Peace Lutheran, Augusta) – $10,680 to establish a Sunday afternoon community Christian education program for families called “Mustard Seeds”

Trinity Church, Portland – $4,600 to assist All Saints Community Church, a Sudanese congregation that had met at Trinity for four years, in establishing a Christian education program

St. Nicholas’, Scarborough – $2,200 to establish a community garden on their Route 1 campus

St. Ann’s, Windham – $3,000 to establish an essentials pantry for needy members of their community

St. Peter’s, Bridgton – $2,400 for Women’s Initiative Mentoring Program

Diocesan Christian Ed Collaboration – $6,700 to bring Godly Play training to Maine

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Filed under Church at 209 Augusta, Diocesan Council, Diocesan Life, Ministry and Outreach, St. Ann's Windham, St. Luke's Wilton, St. Matthew's Hallowell, St. Nicholas' Scarborough, St. Paul's Brunswick, St. Peter's Bridgton, Trinity Portland

Bishopswood needs our help to open its doors in 2016

Estimates are in and the comprehensive Bishopswood septic system will cost $185,000. As Bishop Lane says in his letter to friends of our diocesan camp: Read it here

“Now is the time to make a gift toward this project. I have committed diocesan resources so that contracts can be made and work can begin, but there is no budget for this work. The funding of this project is completely in the hands of all of us who love Bishopswood and want to see another generation of children benefit from its ministry.” 
 
Bishopswood Executive Director Mike Douglass also has a letter that details the need and urgency for year-end gifts so that camp can open next summer. Donations may be made online on the Diocese of Maine home page at www.episcopalmaine.org. or use this direct link to the secure online donation page. Also checks may be sent directly to Bishopswood at 98 Bishopswood Road, Hope, Maine  04847. If you would like to learn more about the project by having Mike call or email you, please be in touch with him at mike@bishopswood.org. Congregations are encouraged to share this notice in their bulletins, newsletters, and announcements. Click here for a ready-to-print bulletin insert.

 

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Filed under Camp Bishopswood, Diocesan Life, Faith Development, Youth and Young Adults

Planning Your Funeral Music Could Be Fun!

by Anthony Antolini, Music Director
St. John Baptist, Thomaston
originally published in the October 2015 edition of The Antiphon, St. John’s monthly newsletter

antoliniWe’ve had a remarkable number of parishioners pass away in recent months. I cannot remember a time when I’ve played so many funerals in close succession. All this has reminded us of the importance of filling out the Funeral Wishes form. Without this form, the family, Fr. Peter, and I have to guess what hymns and organ voluntaries would be appropriate for the departed. You know much better than we what you’d like, so please fill out the form! To make the chore less daunting I’ve decided to devote this month’s column to some observations that may help you with your decisions.

First, let’s agree that making these decisions is a lot more entertaining than writing a will. And yet it’s a kind of will because we have in writing what you think a proper funeral would be for you. Secondly, bear in mind that you can update the form if you change your mind. So, let’s get started.

Funerals don’t need to be lugubrious. Choosing hymns you don’t like to sing because they’re somber is clearly a mistake. So perhaps the first thing to do is to make a list of your favorite hymns. Some may be able to do this by memory. Others may need to borrow a hymnal and look through the Index of First Lines (page 954 and following) for ideas.

Don’t leave your family and friends out of this process! Picture that they will be the ones who sing and listen to the music you choose. They may have favorites that would mean a great deal to them at the time of your memorial. Another approach might be to share your completed Funeral Wishes form with them before handing it in at the office. They may have other ideas to suggest or opinions you need to know about.

The Hymnal 1982 has hymns categorized by topic. A short section is entitled “Burial” and is not where I’d suggest you start. It begins with Hymn #354 “Into paradise may angels lead you.” This is a lovely plainsong translated from the Latin In paradisum deducant angeli. In my nearly twenty-five years at St. John’s we’ve never sung it. Unless you love Gregorian chant or are a choral musician, it’s unlikely such a hymn would appeal to you. And here we see another important consideration:

Don’t choose hymns for your funeral that nobody has ever heard before! Those who attend your service won’t sing them.

Occasionally, people want the Commendation (Give rest, O Christ, to your servant…”) chanted. This beautiful Kievan chant is Hymn #355. The words are in the Book of Common Prayer and are usually read by the priest. But if chanted, the melody is from the Eastern Orthodox Memorial Service and is usually sung by a choir in four parts. At St. John’s I usually chant it alone. An interesting alternative to this is Hymn #358 – a rhymed version of the Commendation Prayer set to the familiar tune “Russia.” Most people know this tune to the words “God the Omnipotent” (Hymn #569). Somebody ought to try this!

For one funeral this summer (where Peter and I had to choose the music) I decided to sing an unaccompanied song that is in the hymnal but seldom sung: It’s Hymn #692 “I heard the voice of Jesus say, ‘Come unto me and rest.’” The melody is familiar to classical music lovers from the orchestral piece Variations on a Theme by Thomas Tallis by Ralph Vaughan Williams. The words of the hymn are by Horatius Bonar and have no connection to the melody by Thomas Tallis, but they fit a funeral beautifully.

Here are some hymns from the Hymnal 1982 that are frequently sung at funerals. Though not in the “Burial” section of the hymnal they are very suitable:

Hymn #208 “Alleluia! The strife is o’er, the battle done” (Easter)

Hymn #287 “For all the saints, who from their labors rest” (All Saints)

Hymn #410 “Praise, my soul, the King of Heaven”

Hymn #508 “Breathe on me, breath of God” (Frequently sung at confirmation.)

Hymn #517 “How lovely is thy dwelling place” (Psalm 84 paraphrased)

Hymn #645 or #646 “The King of love my shepherd is” (Psalm 23 paraphrased)

Hymn #655 “O Jesus, I have promised to serve thee to the end”

Hymn #657 “Love divine, all loves excelling”

Hymn #680 “O God our help in ages past” (Psalm 90 paraphrased)

Hymn #376 “Joyful, joyful, we adore thee” (Hymn to Joy from Beethoven’s 9th)

There are also some appropriate hymns to consider in the green hymnal, Wonder, Love & Praise (WLP):

WLP #810 “You who dwell in the shelter of the Lord” (AKA “On eagle’s wings.”)

WLP #811 “You shall cross the barren desert”

And the black, red and green hymnal, Lift Every Voice & Sing (LEVAS) has some stirring hymns from the African-American tradition. Here are some favorites:

LEVAS #60 “How great thou art”

LEVAS #103 “Steal away to Jesus”

LEVAS #106 “Precious Lord, take my hand”

LEVAS #181 “Amazing Grace”

Of course, those who do fill out the Funeral Wishes form sometimes do request hymns that strike the rest of us as dated or even unpopular. A recent funeral featured two hymns that I’ve been told by other members of the congregation never to play! They are “Onward, Christian soldiers” and “Rock of Ages.” A funeral is a special occasion and if the departed wanted them, we sing them!

Other musical parts of the service offer an opportunity to include music that isn’t in the hymnal but may be a personal favorite. These are the prelude and the postlude, played on the organ. Since Fr. Peter began promoting the Funeral Wishes form I’ve deliberately played several pieces that are excellent choices for these parts of the service. Here is a brief list of such music:

J.S. Bach: Jesu, joy of man’s desiring

Jean Sibelius: Theme from Finlandia

Antonin Dvorák: Theme from New World Symphony (“Going home”)

Gabriel Fauré: Pie Jesu from Requiem

Johannes Brahms: O world, I must now leave thee

Georg Frederick Handel: Come unto Him from Messiah

Domenico Zipoli: Festival Postlude

Perhaps you have a favorite composer but can’t think of what he/she wrote that would work well on the organ. That’s not a problem! Just list the composer’s name on the form and I’ll try to find something by that composer that would fit a prelude or a postlude.

Funny things do happen with regard to funeral music, usually unintentionally. One family requested the mardi gras tune “When the saints go marching in” as a postlude. I didn’t feel it was something that would turn out particularly well on the organ so I used the melody in an improvisation that led into Brahms’s “O world, I must now leave thee.” No one complained.

One “Funeral Wishes” form specified a piece of music that required a concerto for orchestra and harp soloist. The funeral was in a matter of days. There was no budget for an orchestra or harpist. I played something else by the composer of the requested concerto.

In planning your funeral music please try to be practical and realize that your music director often has to put this service together in just a few days. If in doubt about something, let’s chat about it. I welcome such discussions and would enjoy talking to you about your wishes. I’ll play pieces that you think you’d like to include. We might come up with a really splendid service!

Finally, if you’d rather not deal with details, please just write on the Funeral Wishes form what you really don’t want and then state, “Let the music director decide.” When Yogi Berra was asked what his burial wishes were, he replied, “I don’t know. Why don’t you surprise me?”

Some sample funeral planning forms:
St. John Baptist, Thomaston
Trinity Church, Castine

Maryland
Texas
Ohio

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Filed under Congregational Events, Diocesan Life, St. John Baptist Thomaston

Maine Episcopal Network for Justice: How did we get here?

by Heidi Shott
Canon for Communication and Advocacy
Episcopal Diocese of Maine

MENJ Director John Hennessy (Photo by Jeff Kirlin)
MENJ Director John Hennessy
(Photo by Jeff Kirlin)

Last week at our 196th annual diocesan convention, we announced the news that the Diocese of Maine will receive a $30,000 grant from The Episcopal Church to launch the Maine Episcopal Network for Justice (MENJ). Those funds will be combined with $8,000 from the 2016 diocesan budget to hire John Hennessy, a member of St. Luke’s Cathedral in Portland, as the part-time director of MENJ. John has vast experience in advocacy work in Maine, most recently as the policy director of Maine AARP, as well as strong relationships with leaders in Augusta and Washington, D.C.

“I am excited to help lead the MENJ as we engage people of faith throughout the diocese to talk about and work on the important public policy issues of the day. Maine Episcopalians are uniquely positioned to make impact with both our citizen legislature in the state as well as our very accessible federal delegation,” he said upon learning of the award.

In making this grant, The Episcopal Church’s Office of Government Relations, which runs the Episcopal Public Policy Network, has shown confidence that the Diocese of Maine is well-suited to lead the way for other dioceses in the creation of a grassroots network that helps Episcopalians exercise voices of faith about issues of urgent concern in our communities, our state, our nation, and our world.

At this point you may be asking, like the Talking Heads’ lead singer David Byrne, “Well, how did we get here?”

t-stop
David Byrne c. 1983

Last December Diocesan Council created a Public Policy Advisory Group to assist in deciding which issues – among the many that come across our desks – the Diocese of Maine should take on in a meaningful and sustained way.

Over the past seven years Bishop Lane and I have enjoyed a great working relationship around public policy and advocacy. It usually involves me bursting into his office in a pique of enthusiasm and asking, “Hey, are you busy? May I ask you something? Should stick our noses in this [current] issue?” Or he will shoot an email or text to me about a timely subject and say, “I think we need to do something about this.” We use as our guide two measures: issues we know about something about – we’re not policy wonks – and the Gospel imperatives laid out in Matthew 25:

Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” And the kind will answer them, “Truly, I tell you, just as you did it to one of the lease of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”

That’s pretty clear, right? Poverty, hunger, and housing, refugees and asylum seekers, healthcare, restorative justice, and giving voice to our vulnerable neighbors whose voices often go unheard. It’s easy to hear the echoes of the prophet Micah to “love mercy, do justice, and walk humbly” with our God.

Forming an advisory group made sense. But here’s the truth, the group we pulled together has had exactly one meeting and that was a conference call. However, during that one conversation last February, the idea for a statewide Episcopal public policy network emerged.

The point is that unless our advocacy around issues we people of faith care about has both a focused legislative effort and a life as a local, grassroots movement, then we are not doing all the work we should to engage the people in our congregations in matters of justice.

So I started to roll the idea around in my mind about what such a network might look like. How could we possibly pull it off when I would be the only staff person and I already have a full-time job? Also, I was starting my sabbatical in a few months. Arrrgghh! How could we possibly put this on the back burner until September?

A week before my sabbatical began, I called the Social Justice Missioner at The Episcopal Church, Chuck Wynder, to ask for help. He was very supportive and enthusiastic about the idea and said he was already speaking to bishops in other dioceses about statewide public policy networks. However, he said, networks are hard to pull together because many of the dioceses that want to do create one are in states where there are multiple dioceses. The rub: to create an effective statewide network means all the dioceses have to work together.

“We don’t have that problem in Maine,” I assured him. “Our state and our diocese are one and the same.”

And then he told me the staggering news that caused me to practically fall out of my chair. “We have grants available to help you fund it; up to $30,000 a year, renewable for up to three years.”

I immediately called John Hennessy, a member of the Public Policy Task Force. Earlier in the spring Bishop Lane and I had asked John to step in as a consultant during my sabbatical to assist the Bishop in following several issues that we were tracking, including the state budget process and various bills still in play in the Legislature.

“John, there’s money to do this thing.” I think I said – loudly. “A lot!” I asked him to be in touch with Chuck to find out about the application process while I was away. I would be stepping out of sabbatical to return to work during the ten days of General Convention in Salt Lake City, so I asked him to check back in with me in late June.

I was sitting in the quiet press room in the vast Salt Palace Convention Center when John’s email complete with a well-crafted draft of a grant application arrived. A little yelp of happiness escaped my lips. I turned to some of my bemused communicator colleagues sitting nearby and whispered, “I think I might cry.”

This fall John and I buffed up the grant app and asked the Finance Committee and Council to consider upping the Advocacy budget line for 2016 by $8,000 to prove to The Episcopal Church that Maine has skin in the game. Bishop Lane contacted the bishops of Vermont and New Hampshire to see if they would be interested if Maine were to expand its network in the second year of the grant to include their dioceses. Bishop Ely of Vermont and Bishop Hirschfeld of New Hampshire responded with enthusiasm and are waiting to learn how things go in the first six months. 

So here we are: ready to engage the members of the Public Policy Task Force and, with the addition of a few people with various types of expertise, turn it into a MENJ Steering Group. We have our first meeting with Bishop Lane next week. John says it well: “We need to be strategic in our work and recognize where our leadership, our voices and our actions will make a difference. We can’t be everything to everybody but we can certainly do our best to make (progressive) voices of faith part of the civil discourse.”

Together, with John taking the lead, we will venture into new territory with two major goals ahead of us: maintaining a strong advocacy presence in Augusta while nurturing partnerships with other denominations and organizations that hold the same values as the Episcopal Church, and building local networks of people in our congregations empowered to give voice to their faith by learning to advocate for Gospel issues of local, state, national, and international concern.

Stay-tuned, there’s more to come. A lot more!

Join the MENJ group on Facebook for news, updates, and ways to connect. www.facebook.com/groups/maineenj

Visit the MENJ home page.

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Filed under Diocesan Council, Diocesan Life, Maine Episcopal Network for Justice, Ministry and Outreach, Social Justice

Jubilee Ministry – A Primer

Jubilee window at St. Mark's Episcopal Church, Lewistown, Pennsylvania

Jubilee window at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Lewistown, Pennsylvania

By Rev. Shirley Bowen, Executive Director/Chaplain
Seeds of Hope Neighborhood Center, Biddeford

During last week’s Diocesan Convention a great question was asked from the floor, and from several individuals along the way, “What are the Jubilee Centers?”

Could you answer the question?

Did you know we have three in the Diocese of Maine?

Here is a brief primer to bring everyone up to speed on one of the many varieties of ministry happening in our state.

Jubilee Ministries are one of several ministries that fall under Domestic Poverty Initiatives, which are part of Justice and Advocacy Ministries of The Episcopal Church (TEC). Approved by General Convention in 1982 and establishing eight Jubilee Ministry sites in 1983, the Jubilee movement has now grown to more than 600 ministries.

Resolution A080, which established Jubilee Ministry, did so as “a ministry of joint discipleship in Christ with poor and oppressed people, wherever they are found, to meet basic human needs and to build a just society,” concluding that this “is at the heart of the mission of the church.” (TEC website, “30 Years of Jubilee Ministry”).

Although funding for Jubilee ministries at the national level has declined, there is still the opportunity to receive small grants (Seeds of Hope received one in 2015) and to receive support and encouragement from TEC staff. The Jubilee Ministry of the Episcopal Church Facebook page helps our ministries share our stories, programs, and dreams for a more just nation.

Maine has three Jubilee sites: Trinity Jubilee Center in Lewiston, Seeds of Hope Neighborhood Center in Biddeford, and St. Elizabeth’s Jubilee Center in Portland.

Trinity Jubilee Center’s founder and ministry partner Trinity Church donates its entire ground floor to TJC ministry serving a diverse underserved population by providing day shelter, hot meals, health clinic, food pantry, Resource center, and Refugee Services. TJC’s long-time benefactors are Christ Church in Exeter, New Hampshire and St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Darien, Connecticut. Local Episcopal and Protestant churches, Bates College, St. Mary’s and CMMC hospitals all provide regular donations of food and funds. Program funding is provided by corporate, governmental, and charitable grants and individual gifts.

Seeds of Hope, also a Mission Enterprise Zone of TEC, partners with five southern Maine Episcopal congregations and three other community churches to serve its community’s unemployed/underemployed, variously-disabled residents, seniors on fixed incomes and recently incarcerated. We offer breakfast/lunch, free clothing, educational programs, warming and cooling center, free flu shots and health clinics, non-food essentials pantry, and a staffed Career Resource Center. Primary funding is from local businesses, city and federal government, service organizations, foundations and individuals.

St. Elizabeth’s is hosted by the Cathedral Church of St. Luke and supported by eight area Episcopal congregations. Offering non-food items that are not covered by food stamps yet are very costly to a family’s budget, free clothing, back to school back-packs and resource referrals, St. Elizabeth’s serves a very diverse clientele and receives additional outside funding through grants and gifts.

All three operate on the foundational principles of mercy and justice – meeting immediate need when possible and striving to help break barriers that contribute to poverty, isolation and despair. The common element in each of these ministries is the forging of community that is counter-cultural: the commitment to building relationships with those we serve so that our work is a shared partnership of mutual respect and dignity. Our work is along-side the poor, not to or for the poor. Our commitment of seeking and serving Christ in all people compels us to welcome all manner of stranger until there are no more strangers.

In her 2010 address to the “Called to Serve” Domestic Poverty Conference, the Presiding Bishop stated, “We’re here to do justice, and love mercy. We’re here to walk humbly with God and bring good news to the poor. That good news of justice and mercy looks like the ancient visions of the commonweal of God where everyone has enough to eat, no one goes thirsty or homeless, all have access to meaningful employment and health care, the wealthy and powerful do not exploit the weak, and no one studies war any more. It includes the work of building community and caring for the earth, both of which are essential to the health of a spiritually rooted person, in right relationship with God and neighbor.”  (TEC website, “Called to Serve”)

Maine’s Jubilee Ministry Centers were initiated as an outpouring of compassion of Episcopal parishes for the communities they serve. They are a positive reflection of the Baptismal Covenant which grounds our Church and calls us to action. We invite you to get to know us better. We would love to hear from you.

Each Jubilee ministry site is very different in the programs and services offered, basing its work on the needs of the surrounding community. I encourage you to check out the websites and other social media locations for each of these important efforts.

http://www.trinityjubileecenter.org/

https://www.facebook.com/trinityjubileecenter?fref=ts

http://www.seedsofhope4me.org/

https://www.facebook.com/Seeds-of-Hope-Neighborhood-Center-202612812602/

http://stlukesportland.org/pages/general/st-elizabeths 

If you would like to take a look at what Jubilee Centers are doing across the country, check out the links below:

http://www.episcopalchurch.org/page/domestic-poverty-ministries

http://www.episcopalchurch.org/library/video/jubilee

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Filed under Diocesan Life, Ministry and Outreach, Seeds of Hope Neighborhood Center, Social Justice

Fall Back with Hospitality

by Lisa Meeder Turnbull
Diocesan Stewardship Consultant

Like all good things, the gift of “an extra hour” raises a fundamental question of stewardship: How will we spend it?

Many of us, of course, will take advantage of some extra sleep, or maybe indulge in staying up late on Saturday night. Inevitably, and no matter how well we plan our clock changes, there will be those who arrive early for morning services.

Why not make this an opportunity for moments of grace?

  • Recruit a few greeters to intentionally arrive early, prepared to spend time with early comers. This isn’t just for newcomers or recent members; long-time members and life-long friends enjoy unhurried conversation, too.
  • Invite! If you are one who arrives early for Altar Guild, Coffee Hour hosting, or Church School, invite the early comers to keep you company, pitch in, and be a part of things. You might find new gifts in your midst!
  • Create a small chapel space. Some early comers might appreciate an unexpected time of quiet, prayer, and reflection.
  • Plan into it. For the last month or so members of my congregation have been writing favorite hymns on a list posted to the bulletin board. We’ll use our “bonus time” for a half-hour hymn sing before the service begins.

What else might our congregations do with an extra hour? How might we fall back with hospitality? Share your thoughts in the comments below—let’s see how creative we can be with this gift of time!

Questions for Lisa about your church and stewardship? Please be in touch with her at mainestewards@yahoo.com.

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Filed under Diocesan Life, Stewardship

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

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Filed under Diocesan Convention, Diocesan Life, From the Bishop, St. Luke's Cathedral

Bishop Lane’s statement on today’s Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage

June 26, 2015

Below is a statement from the Rt. Rev. Stephen T. Lane, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Maine, on the Supreme Court’s decision regarding same-sex marriage. Bishop Lane is attending the 78th General Convention of the Episcopal Church meeting in Salt Lake City from June 25 – July 3.

Since 2012, when Maine was among the first states to approve marriage equality by popular vote, same sex couples and their families have enjoyed knowing their relationships and their families enjoy greater security and protection. With today’s Supreme Court decision, I rejoice that the right to marry, with its attendant benefits and responsibilities, will be afforded to all Americans who choose to exercise it.

In concluding his majority opinion for Obergefell v. Hodges, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote most elegantly: “No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than they once were.”

Such recognition of the value of marriage and the love shared among members of a family echoes what is core to our Christian belief that we are all created in God’s image and, in baptism, we are all full members of the church. In many of our congregations, both in Maine and around the country, faithful same sex couples and their families are sharing in their local church’s life and ministry and in service to their communities. I give thanks for their faith, witness, and sustained pursuit of justice.

While the question of marriage equality is now settled in the civil sphere, I ask for your prayers as we at the 78th General Convention of the Episcopal Church seek to engage in generous conversation about the definition of marriage and revisions to our liturgies. Disagreement remains, but with God’s grace the justice attained in today’s decision will be extended across the Episcopal Church.

 

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Filed under Diocesan Life, From the Bishop, Social Justice

St. Margaret’s, Belfast, celebrates centennial with gift of books

by Pat Griffith

St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Belfast has assembled a cast of notable Americans, mythical characters, adventurous children and creatures from robots to whales to celebrate its Centennial Year with literary flair.image3

They parade through the pages of 100 books that St. Margaret’s parishioners are giving Belfast area elementary schools in the next two weeks. The books are an expression of appreciation to the community as St. Margaret’s, the only Episcopal Church in Waldo County, marks its 100th anniversary.

The “100 Books for 100 Years” project began in mid-January when the church collected book “wish lists” from six schools: Captain Albert Stevens and East Belfast elementary schools in Belfast, Edna Drinkwater in Northport, Kermit Nickerson in Swanville, Gladys Weymouth in Morrill, and Ames in Searsmont. These were books that library aides and teachers wanted for their students but didn’t have money available to purchase them.

Members and friends of St. Margaret’s then signed to buy individual books. Left Bank Books in Belfast joined the drive by offering substantial discounts on books they ordered. Many of the requested books were no longer in print, necessitating some online sleuthing to procure “gently read” copies from dealers as far away as Texas, Washington state, Illinois, Pennsylvania and North Carolina.

belfastThe most elusive book of all was close to home and an essential part of Maine’s heritage, Upriver Passamaquoddy by Allen Sockabasin. Out of print, it showed up at out-of-state websites for eye-popping prices ranging from $145 to $999. St. Margaret’s wasn’t buying. And that’s when the book’s publisher, Tilbury House in Thomaston, stepped forward and arranged a special reprint as a favor to St. Margaret’s and the students waiting to learn about life as a Passamaquoddy in Maine. The fresh book, which cost less than $20, will be among two dozen that St. Margaret’s will deliver to Drinkwater Elementary School on Friday (March 27).

Inside every book is a special bookplate designed by St. Margaret’s senior warden, Chris Urick, that identifies it as a Centennial gift from St. Margaret’s. It features a rampant lion with crown that was taken from the century-old bookplate of the church’s founding benefactor, Maud Gammans. A Belfast native and civic philanthropist who died in 1928, Miss Gammans endowed St. Margaret’s and also left a $40,000 bequest to the Belfast Free Library to establish the Gammans Reading Room in memory of her parents and brother. Always attentive to the needs of children and the poor, she left other substantial bequests to the Children’s Aid Society of Maine and Waldo County General Hospital, and set up a trust fund to help Belfast’s neediest residents that is still in operation today.

The next date on St. Margaret’s Centennial calendar is June 20, the longest day of the year, when the church will be offering a lively evening program of music and poetry through the decades from 1915 to the present. The public event will be topped off with an outdoor ice cream social. On Saturday September 19 parishioners will mark the precise 100th anniversary of the first service held in the church with an Evensong service celebrated by Bishop Steve Lane of the Episcopal Diocese of Maine. It will be followed by a festive community reception in St. Margaret’s parish house.

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