Category Archives: our island home

Facing an uncertain future with hope

One of a few dozen Mainers to travel to Boston on Saturday, April 27, for the Climate Revival, family doctor and member of St. John’s, Bangor, Ann Holland Faulkner Sherman reflects on her journey.

Ann offers a daffodil at the Boston bombing memorial during the procession across Copley Square to Trinity Church.

Ann offers a daffodil at the Boston bombing memorial during the procession across Copley Square to Trinity Church.

What is the stone rolled against the door of my heart, keeping me entombed?  It’s name is FEAR. Fear of change; fear of having to renounce some of the comforts of my life; fear of the pain of sacrifice; fear of ridicule and misunderstanding; fear of loss.

Can I, like Lazarus, hear the voice of Jesus calling me forth to rejoin the living? Am I able and willing to hear the confidence and calm assurance of his beckoning? Do I believe we are truly created one world, every rock, every flower, every beating heart, beloved of the Creator?

We have blessed each other’s hands, received blessing in return, been marked with the sign of the cross on each palm with the dark sticky soil of western Massachusetts. We have commissioned one another to go as healers of Earth, to bear witness and to pay whatever the price of our dedication to the community of God’s creation.

We heard the urgent message to take action in ways large and small from Thomas G.Carr, Baptist minister and Eco-Justice net-worker, as he proclaimed, “This is NOT an issue among issues. It is the quintessential moral, ethical and spiritual question of our time!”

Again and again in various ways and by different speakers, we were reminded that we are a resurrection people, a people of hope. Though our grief is profound in the face of Earth’s wounds, we can gather our strength and “seek in everything we say and do to glorify God” in the words of Rev. Geoffrey A. Black. The enemy will tempt us to inertia and despair, offer us cynicism rather than faith. But Jesus will lead us; his tenderness and ferocity will guide and inspire us. Together, we will breathe the creative breath of Life into our Earth, and God will continue to deliver the dead from the tomb.

Mother Nature smiled on our Climate Revival in Copley Square. Along Boylston Street the sun shone warm on trees blooming pink and white. On this first Saturday after Earth Day throngs of people filled the square as Bostonians and tourists crowded around the line of bike racks serving as a makeshift memorial wall for the victims of the Marathon bombings.

Services at Old South Church and Trinity Church drew young and old, from several denominations and from every New England state. Banners waved, people sang and prayed. In a city shaken so recently to its core by senseless violence, the juxtaposition of shock and grief against the glorious promise of springtime renewal reflected our own contrasting emotions as we contemplated the ravages of greed on our Earth and faced the uncertain future with hope.

God grant that we may heed the exhortation of Archbishop Desmond Tutu that “ordinary people must demand that governments put planet and people before profits.”

Let each of us feel a deeper and firmer commitment to climate stabilization and a fresh energy for doing the healing work to which we are called. I pray for the Holy Spirit to give us the courage to live our conviction.

2 Comments

Filed under our island home, Social Justice, St. John's Bangor, Training and Education Events

New England Episcopalians gather for 2013 Climate Revival

The Presiding Bishop, Bishop Knisely of Rhode Island, and other denominational leaders process across Copley Square from Old South Church to Trinity Church.

The Presiding Bishop and Bishop Knisely of Rhode Island process across Copley Square from Old South Church to Trinity Church. Photo by Marjorie Manning Vaughan

While mainline denominations don’t often hold revivals, the compelling need for people of faith to fight climate change spurred the The Episcopal Church and the United Church of Christ to break new ground. On Saturday, April 27, several hundred New Englanders gathered at Old South Church and Trinity Episcopal Church for the first ever Climate Revival.

Early that morning a group of Maine Episcopalians and a few UCC folk boarded a bus in Portland and, after stopping for more passengers in Portsmouth, NH, they arrived at the corner of Boylston and Dartmouth, just yards from the site of the first Boston Marathon bomb explosion less that two weeks ago.

Two worship services featuring leaders of several denominations, including sermons by the Rev. Geoffrey A. Black, President and General Minister of the United Church of Christ, and the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church [read Bishop Katharine’s sermon here], set the tone for a day that caused all present to consider the role of individuals and members of various faith communities in the effort to heal the earth and all life contained within it.

At the beginning of opening worship at Old South Church, those present were invited to turn in the direction of the bombings and offer prayers and a blessing for all affected by the violence.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu shares a video message on climate change. Photo by Marjorie Manning Vaughan.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu shares a video message on climate change. Photo by Marjorie Manning Vaughan.

Pre-recorded video messages from environmental activist Bill McKibben and Archbishop Desmond Tutu inspired thoughtful consideration of the pressing need to fight climate change.

A panel discussion on the issue featured faith leaders  Geoffrey A. Black; Katharine Jefferts Schori; James E. Hazelwood, Bishop of the New England Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; and Thomas G. Carr, Senior Pastor of the First Baptist Church in West Hartford, CT. It concluded with the signing of a document titled, “A shared statement of hope in the face of climate change.”

Click here to read the Climate Statement.

Visit the link below to view a slideshow of the day’s events.

http://www.flickr.com//photos/episcopalmaine/sets/72157633387514838/show/

Comments Off on New England Episcopalians gather for 2013 Climate Revival

Filed under News from The Episcopal Church, our island home, The Church in a Changing World, Training and Education Events

One Spring Saturday – Two Great Events

Once the threat of snow – well, heavy snow – departs from New England in mid-April, events start to sprout across the diocese like new grass. Two of those events, both dealing with important topics for Maine Episcopalians, will be held on Saturday, April 27.

The diocesan Committee on Aging will host “Hidden from View: Preventing Elder Abuse and Financial Exploitation,” a day-long conference at St. Paul’s, Brunswick from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Teams of three to five people from Maine congregations are invited to learn about what we need to know and do to keep our elders safe. Morning presenters will include Jessica Maurer, Executive Director of Maine Association of Area Agencies on Aging, and Denis Culley, Senior Staff Attorney for Legal Services for the Elderly. A panel of elderly support service providers and members of the law enforcement community will offer their perspectives on how faith communities can help protect the elderly.

In the afternoon, teams will gather with a member of the panel to plan next steps for their local community.

Registration, including lunch catered by Wild Oats, is $12 payable at the door. Registration is required to plan a lunch count and materials. Please register here: www.tinyurl.com/agingwithspirit.

For more information contact:  Lin Peyton: peytol@comcast.net or 865-4067  or Rachel Zoller: rachelzol@roadrunner.com or 563-5679. A color brochure is available here and a flyer is available here.

 

Also on Saturday, April 27, people of faith across New England will gather at Trinity Episcopal Church at Copley Square in Boston for Climate Revival 2013 (yes, you read that correctly) from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. This ecumenical festival hopes to “embolden the renewal of creation” with addresses from the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, and the Rev. Geoffrey Black, General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ. Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus of South Africa, and Bill McKibben, author and environmentalist, will send video messages. Bishop Steve Lane will also attend the event with the Maine contingent.

Those interested in learning more are invited to come together for an inspirational day of preaching, worship, prayers, and music to celebrate the splendor of Creation, mourn its desecration, and advocate for restoration and renewal.

Organizers say, “We will call upon the Holy Spirit as we rise up to stabilize the climate and to create a better future.”

In addition to speakers, churches will have an opportunity to participate in an informational fair about their environmental ministries. A project of New England Regional Environmental Ministries, Climate Revival 2013 is a cooperative effort between the Episcopal Church and the United Church of Christ.

To ease the challenges of traveling to Boston, the Diocese of Maine is arranging for a bus to travel from Portland to Copley Square. The cost will be $15 per person round trip. We need 50 riders to register in order to make it happen. Please sign up at www.tinyurl.com/mainebus. If we are unable to get 50 people for the bus, your pre-paid fare will be returned to you.

To learn more about the event visit www.province1.org or download a flyer.

Comments Off on One Spring Saturday – Two Great Events

Filed under Ministry and Outreach, our island home, Social Justice, Training and Education Events

Kudos to Episcopal Relief & Development

ERD Final LogoEpiscopalians can be proud of our relief and development organization, Episcopal Relief & Development, which was named this month, along with Doctors Without Borders, as one of the two top-rated charities working in international relief by Consumer Reports.

Episcopal Relief & Development is also listed as a four-star organization (top rating) at Charity Navigator, a service which evaluates charities financial health, accountability, and transparency.

Our Church’s worldwide presence enables us to work alongside local leaders and community members who are best equipped to identify and address the most urgent needs.

In 2010, Episcopal Relief & Development reached more than 3 million people in over 40 countries around the world.

Rather than imposing “one size fits all” solutions, Episcopal Relief & Development supports unique local, long-term initiatives that address poverty, hunger, disease, economic development and disaster response.

Our partnership with the worldwide Church creates opportunities to serve communities in some of the most remote areas of the world, as well as in urban environments where extreme poverty persists.

In many of these places, the Church is often one of the few institutions people trust and turn to for help. Episcopal Relief & Development leverages existing Church relationships to reach those whose need is greatest. – from the “What We Do” page at www.er-d.org.

At this time of year, support Episcopal Relief & Development by offering gifts for friends and loved once from the “Gifts for Life” catalog at www.er-d.org/GiftsForLife.

Comments Off on Kudos to Episcopal Relief & Development

Filed under News from The Episcopal Church, our island home, Relief and Development

A Maine Benedicite

Rediscovered in the Summer 2009 edition of The Northeast when looking for something else:

The Rev. John Rafter, rector of St. Thomas, Camden, composed this canticle or benedicite for the opening of the Maine State Senate on June 2, 2009.

So lovely and wonderful.  Thank you, John.

O all ye works of the Lord, bless ye the Lord;
Praise him and magnify him forever.

Brilliant-lighted day and dark, enfolding night;
Running sap and clinging mud;
Summer sky and autumn leaf;
Bless ye the Lord.

Island of granite and meadow of grass;
Flooding river and shimmering lake;
Berry-covered mountain and organic farm;
Bless ye the Lord.

Crying loon and scolding crow;
Diving hawk and wheeling gull;
Majestic moose and Belted Galloway;
Bless ye the Lord.

Mill-town and city and unemployed worker;
Wilderness and village and summer hiker;
Resident of Mexico and China and Peru;
Bless ye the Lord.

Merchant and tourist;
Artist and laborer;
Lobsterman and student;
Bless ye the Lord.

Newly-arrived immigrant and native-born Mainer;
Writer of laws and worker for justice;
All people in all places;
Bless ye the Lord.

O all ye works of the Lord, bless ye the Lord;
Praise him and magnify him forever.

1 Comment

Filed under Diocesan Life, Fun, our island home, St. Thomas' Camden

Green Grants available to fund energy audits

Do you ever wonder when you turn up the heat on a Sunday morning whether your church is warming the great outdoors as well as this inside? Do you wonder if there are better, less expensive and more efficient ways of heating the water you need at church rather than 24/7? Do you ever wonder if there are resources from the Diocese of Maine to assist in answering these questions?

Wonder no more!

In March the Diocesan Council allocated $3,000 for a Green Grant program to allow Maine congregations to perform an energy audit for church buildings. Any congregation in the Diocese of Maine is eligible to complete a simple application form to request up to $500 to pay for an audit. To receive a Green Grant from the Diocese of Maine, the audit must be conducted by an auditor certified by Maine Housing.

A list of those auditors may be found at www.mainehousing.org/programs-services/energy/certified-energy-auditors.

All audits funded in full or in part by a Green Grant must be completed by December 31, 2012.

Maine congregations that complete an energy audit will be eligible to apply to the Trustees of Diocesan Funds for a low-interest loan to fund the recommendations of the audit. Information on the Trustee’s loan program is available  here or from Canon Terry Reimer in the Diocese of Maine Finance Office at 800.244.6062 x134 or treimer@episcopalmaine.org 

Apply now by clicking here. Applications will be funded in the order in which they are received. In other words: first come – first served.

Also, Maine congregations may be eligible for rebates and special programs and purchasing options from the small business programs of Efficiency Maine. Click here for a pdf outlining some of the rebates and programs offer. (See page two for small business offers.)

Comments Off on Green Grants available to fund energy audits

Filed under our island home

House of Bishops issues a pastoral teaching on the environment

Members of the Shuar tribe of indigenous Amazonians from Puyo, Ecuador, talking with Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori following the Sept. 18 Eucharist at Catedral de El Señor in Quito. Photo by ENS

Yesterday the Episcopal Church House of Bishops, meeting in Province IX, in Quito, Ecuador, issued a Pastoral Teaching on the environment. It says, in part:

Affirming the biblical witness to God’s abiding and all-encompassing love for creation, we recognize that we cannot separate ourselves as humans from the rest of the created order. The creation story itself presents the interdependence of all God’s creatures in their wonderful diversity and fragility, and in their need of protection from dangers of many kinds. This is why the Church prays regularly for the peace of the whole world, for seasonable weather and an abundance of the fruits of the earth, for a just sharing of resources, and for the safety of all who suffer. This includes our partner creatures: animals, birds, and fish who are being killed or made sick by the long-term effects of deforestation, oil spills, and a host of other ways in which we intentionally and unintentionally destroy or poison their habitat.

One of the most dangerous and daunting challenges we face is global climate change. This is, at least in part, a direct result of our burning of fossil fuels. Such human activities could raise worldwide average temperatures by three to eleven degrees Fahrenheit in this century. Rising average temperatures are already wreaking environmental havoc, and, if unchecked, portend devastating consequences for every aspect of life on earth.

The Church has always had as one of its priorities a concern for the poor and the suffering. Therefore, we need not agree on the fundamental causes of human devastation of the environment, or on what standard of living will allow sustainable development, or on the roots of poverty in any particular culture, in order to work to minimize the impact of climate change. It is the poor and the disadvantaged who suffer most from callous environmental irresponsibility. Poverty is both a local and a global reality. A healthy economy depends absolutely on a healthy environment.

The wealthier nations whose industries have exploited the environment, and who are now calling for developing nations to reduce their impact on the environment, seem to have forgotten that those who consume most of the world’s resources also have contributed the most pollution to the world’s rivers and oceans, have stripped the world’s forests of healing trees, have destroyed both numerous species and their habitats, and have added the most poison to the earth’s atmosphere. We cannot avoid the conclusion that our irresponsible industrial production and consumption-driven economy lie at the heart of the current environmental crisis.

Privileged Christians in our present global context need to move from a culture of consumerism to a culture of conservation and sharing. The challenge is to examine one’s own participation in ecologically destructive habits. Our churches must become places where we have honest debates about, and are encouraged to live into, more sustainable ways of living. God calls us to die to old ways of thinking and living and be raised to new life with renewed hearts and minds.

More than 40 bishops and spouses visited Tulcán, Ecuador, along the border with Colombia for a prayer service in honor of Colombian refugee and asylum seekers. Photo by ENS

Read the entire letter here.

Reports from the House of Bishops meeting in Ecuador found on the Episcopal News Service website.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori’s sermon preached at Catedral de El Señor in Quito on September 15.

A collection of links and excerpts from several Bishops blogging about their time in Quito.

 

Comments Off on House of Bishops issues a pastoral teaching on the environment

Filed under News from The Episcopal Church, our island home

Support for Horn of Africa famine victims focuses on Somalian refugees in Kenya

From Episcopal Relief & Development:

The food shortage is the consequence of a sustained drought that is said to be the worst in more than 50 years. Reports indicate that over 800,000 people have fled Somalia as a result, many seeking refuge in the neighboring countries of Kenya and Ethiopia. In response to the developing crisis, Episcopal Relief & Development will be working through its network of Anglican and Episcopal partners to support the humanitarian work of local organizations such as Ukamba Christian Community Services in Kenya. Read it all.

Photo by USAID

Today the Archbishop of Canterbury issued an urgent appeal to members of the Anglican Communion to offer support. read more

2011 Horn of Africa Famine – wikipedia

1 Comment

Filed under Anglican Communion, our island home, Relief and Development

The Rev. Kirkpatrick goes to Washington

by Martha Kirkpatrick
Rector of St. Margaret’s, Belfast

We’ve been experiencing a lot of hot and humid days here in Maine lately, and you’ve probably heard the ozone alerts on the radio. If you suffer from asthma or other breathing problems, you know how poor air quality, especially when it is combined with heat and humidity, can make it especially dangerous to be outside.

For me, and for many others, air quality is a moral issue and a matter of faith. We all need to be able to breathe. As Christians, we are called to be good stewards of God’s creation, and to care for “the least of these.” This means especially children, the elderly, and the vulnerable.

Washington, D.C.

The Rev. Martha Kirkpatrick of St. Margaret's, Belfast, (right) makes the rounds to Maine's congressional delegation with Ashley Lamoreau of the Maine League for Women Voters.

That’s a major reason why I traveled to Washington, D.C. last Monday and Tuesday as one of more than 60 people from 12 states who gathered to support the Clean Air Act.

Representing Maine Interfaith Power & Light, I joined other faith community leaders and people from the NAACP, Health Care Without Harm, medical professionals, and business leaders. Fortunately we were there during the cooler part of the week – it only hit the low 90s!

On Monday afternoon we gathered at the United Methodist Building, which is conveniently located between the U.S. Supreme Court and the Senate office buildings. After introductions, we received excellent briefings on the key air quality issues that are currently at stake.

First, there is an updated ozone (smog) standard. This health standard is very important because it tells the public when the air is safe to breathe. The science is clear that the current ozone standard fails to protect public health, especially the elderly, children, and other sensitive groups. EPA is expected to come out with updated ozone standards this summer.

Second, there is toxic air pollution cleanup, especially mercury from power plants. We all know from the advisories telling us not to eat certain fish that mercury is a potent neurotoxin that is especially dangerous to children and pregnant women. Air-born mercury travels from coal-fired power plants downwind and ends up contaminating fish tissue. EPA estimates that this long overdue update to the Clean Air act will prevent as many as 17,000 premature deaths and 11,000 heart attacks a year, and prevent 120,000 asthma attacks and about 11,000 cases of acute bronchitis among children annually. This final rule is expected to be released in November.

The third important issue involves the regulation of greenhouse gas (ghg) emissions. This is vitally important not only to for climate change but also for public health, yet there are currently no limits on the amount of carbon pollution being spewed into the air. EPA is slated to release the first proposed standards for power plants and refiners this year.

Later on Monday afternoon we received some advocacy training, and had as our guest speaker Gina McCarthy, EPA Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation, who spoke passionately about the importance of action in these areas. For me it was a reunion of sorts: I knew Gina from my days as Maine DEP Commissioner, when she was in the Massachusetts Office of Environmental Affairs, and very effective and straight-forward then as now.

Afterwards there was a reception, and then a group of us went out to a nearby restaurant. It was wonderful to meet people who all share a common concern and purpose but come to it from many different paths. I met several clergy, including a Roman Catholic priest and a couple of Lutheran pastors, as well as many lay people representing their Interfaith Power & Light. It gives me hope.

The next day (after a rather warm night – the air conditioner in my hotel room didn’t work!) we gathered in the morning and were briefed on the “Legislative State of Play.” The Clean Air Act is at risk in Congress due to efforts to delay or weaken the regulations or cut EPA’s funding.

Sometimes these actions appear as riders to budget bills or other critical legislation. (Unlike under Maine Law, riders can be attached to bills even where there is no substantive connection between the content of the principal bill and the rider.) Especially interesting were the presentations from Kate Konschnick from the Office of Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, and John Arensmeyer, who represents the Small Business Majority.

Then the Maine crew left for our Hill meetings. There were three of us: Andy Burt (if you or your church has done anything with environmental sustainability, cool communities, local foods, etc… in Maine, you have met Andy – she is involved in everything!), Ashley Lamoreau, who was there representing the Maine League of Women Voters and who is a former staffer for Senator Collins, and me.

Our first meeting was at Senator Snowe’s Office, where we met with her staff person Patrick Woodcock. We had expected to have 10 to 15 minutes, but in fact each of our meetings were closer to a half hour. It is some different, meeting with our members of Congress as a constituent rather than as a bureaucrat!

After that we dashed across the Capitol (see photo) to the House office building, where we met with Representative Michaud’s Senior Legislative Assistant, Bill Perry. Both Patrick and Bill expressed as heartfelt wish to be in Maine now rather than in DC! Then back across to meet with Senator Collins, who met with us personally (and we will be receiving a photo to prove it). In all three of our meetings, the people we met with were welcoming, engaged and interested in what we had to say.

There was a meeting with White House staff later in the afternoon, but many of us, including me, couldn’t be there as we had planes to catch. As it happened, virtually everyone was delayed due to thunderstorms up and down the East coast. I finally arrived in Bangor at about 12:45 a.m. Too tired to trust myself to be able to drive the hour home, I crashed at the nearest hotel. But it was a trip well worth it.

You might think everyone would be too busy dealing with debt ceilings etc. in Washington these days, but in fact, talking to our members of Congress about the Clean Air Act is especially timely right now, and this is especially important for Maine.

For 40 years the Clean Air Act has worked to improve public health by addressing common pollutants in the air we breathe: ozone, particle pollution, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, and lead have been cut by more than 60%. All this while the gross domestic product has grown by 209%, according to the U.S. EPA. But our air quality problems are far from solved, which you certainly know if you have trouble breathing on hot days.

Maine has the highest level of asthma in the country, and much of our air pollution comes from out-of-state sources, especially up-wind coal fired power plants. They don’t talk about “downeast” for nothing – being the furthest east and downwind, we are the end of the tail pipe. Our ozone levels are their worst at Acadia National Park at 8 o’clock at night; it comes right up from Boston, where it cooks in the hot atmosphere during the day before it descends on us in the evening.

People of all faith traditions are rising to express concern and take action on behalf of the threats to our planet and to human health. When our failure to care for God’s creation affects the most vulnerable among us – children, the elderly, and the ailing – the moral imperative is even stronger. And there are equity issues too; who bears the costs and for what. All of this calls upon people of faith to get engaged.

1 Comment

Filed under our island home, St. Margaret's Belfast

St. Matthew’s, Hallowell, helps Mainers connect to fresh, local food

A story from the people of St. Matthew’s, Hallowell, who hosted a CSA fair – Community-Supported Agriculture – yesterday by inviting nine local farmers to talk to people about buying shares of produce from their farms.  Garden fresh bounty throughout the year, supporting local farmers, without having to weed or water!  St. Matthew’s, Marge Kilkelly, a diocesan General Convention deputy and a goat farmer, is quoted.

From today’s Kennebec Journal:

http://www.kjonline.com/news/csa-fresh-food-without-the-hassle_2011-02-27.html

Comments Off on St. Matthew’s, Hallowell, helps Mainers connect to fresh, local food

Filed under our island home, St. Matthew's Hallowell