Category Archives: Training and Education Events

Maine’s Committee on Indian Relations goes to school

by the Rev. Ted Kanellakis
Committee on Indian Relations

The gathering at the school on Indian Island

The gathering at the school on Indian Island

On Monday, April 4, 2016, the Diocesan Committee on Indian Relations hosted an event at the Penobscot Nation’s, Indian Island School. Forty-one people attended the three hour program. It was an introduction and exposure to the school facility with presentations on culture, art, history, language and education that are experienced by the Native children at the school.

Invited participants included local educators and students from the University of Maine at Orono; the Head of the Riley School in Rockport, and teachers from the St. George Public School in Tenants Harbor. Members of  St. James’, Old Town; St. John’s, Bangor; St. Peter’s, Rockland; St. John Baptist, Thomaston; and St. Paul’s, Brunswick; were represented as well as other members of Adas Yoshuron Synagogue in Rockland. Members of the Wabanaki REACH (Reconciliation, Engagement, Advocacy, Change, Healing) ally group also attended.

At the Indian Island School we were cordially welcomed and given a tour of the school’s library by the Interim Principal Tracey Nute. The library is the heart of the school where its large, open, and light-filled space embraces not only a wealth of books but signs and symbols from ceiling to floor of Native art and culture: from banners that moved with the air currents, designed and painted by the school children, to a full-sized Penobscot Birch Bark Canoe, made by Penobscot Tribal artisans.

After taking in the beauty and symbolic connections to learning the library provided, we were guided by Principal Nute to a large classroom. She introduced our first presenter, Lee Francis, the Native studies teacher. Lee Francis is a very pleasant and jovial person who must be much loved by the children she teaches. She began by telling us about her own life. She had fond memories of life on Indian Island as a young child. She and her family moved away and as a young woman she moved to the West where she met a man from another tribe. After their marriage, she and her husband moved back to Indian Island because, now having experienced living away, she realized her true affection for what ‘coming home’ offered.

Her descriptions of the freedom and learning from nature and reuniting with her tribal community family were deeply moving. The room was silent, our eyes and attention fixed on Lee Francis as she spoke of her life and her commitment to teaching the ways of the Wabanaki people so that children of this new generation will have the appreciation of their heritage to support them in their lives ahead.

The second presenter, James Eric Francis, serves as the Penobscot Nation’s Tribal Historian and Director of the Nation’s Culture and Historic Preservation Department. He spoke with heartfelt passion and humor about his life on Indian Island as a boy and as a young man where he, supported by his tribal family, developed a love of the land and the Penobscot River which has surrounded and embraced the Penobscot people feeding the them in body and spirit for thousands of generations.

He told of his leaving to serve in the US Air Force and spoke of his longing to return to his Native ancestral land and people. Part of his talk touched on the life and experiences of Henry David Thoreau, the writer, philosopher, and naturalist. Mr. Thoreau’s experiences in his explorations of the Maine wilderness and traveling ancient canoe routes in the mid-nineteenth century were life-changing to his thinking. Much of that change was greatly influenced by the teachings and wisdom he received from his Penobscot guides,  Joe Polis and Joseph Attean.

A slide presentation showed depictions of the sacred mountain Katahdin and the Tribal peoples’ understanding of how it oversees and nourishes the land, supplying the Penobscot River with all that is needed to support their People and the natural surroundings. The spiritual relationship of the Penobscot Nation with Katahdin, the sacred mountain and the river, are inextricably connected. This belief, so wonderfully described, helped those of us listening to deeply appreciate their understanding that we are all connected to the earth and each other.

Some in the Diocese of Maine know James Francis as the co-creator of the film, with Gunnar Hansen and David Westphal of Acadia Films Video, titled Invisible.*  The 2001 documentary, funded in part by at grant from the United Thank Offering, explores some of the tragic history of the Wabanaki, caused by white racist actions intent on destroying their tribal existence. Particularly, this was done by consciously removing children from their families and ancestral communities and obstructing their ability to learn their culture, language and history. Those actions continue to impact negatively on Native Indians and all of us.

Comments received subsequently are overwhelmingly marked by continued interest in future offerings. Educators present expressed interest in connecting with the Penobscot School for the purpose of exploring joint educational experiences with their students. CIR will help facilitate those connections.

Our hope and motivation for this event and those planned for the future, is for the good that will come from helping to bring non-Indian people of Maine, especially those who live close to sovereign Native Tribes, to gain greater awareness of the possibilities for a wealth of blessings that friendly neighborliness with the Wabanaki can afford to all. Grateful thanks to Tracey Nute, Lee Francis, James Francis, Penobscot Elder Butch Philips, and Penobscot Nation Chief Kirk Francis for their hospitality.

* A DVD of Invisible is available from the Committee on Indian Relations. Contact the author at ttk@roadrunner.com to order a copy.

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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

Mainer find common threads of faith at national workshop

by Elizabeth Barker Ring
Diocesan Ecumenical Officer

Last week I attended the National Workshop on Christian Unity and Episcopal Diocesan Ecumenical and Interreligious Officers Annual Meeting. This year we worked with both our desire for visible unity as Christians and our collegial relationships with other religions.

Our Ecumenical work centers on making our Christian unity visible through our relationships with other denominations. We are already in full communion with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Moravian Church in North America, The Old Catholic Churches of the Union of Utrecht, the Philippine Independent Church, and the Mar Thoma Syrian Church of Malabar, India. We are in a time of Interim Eucharistic Sharing with the United Methodist Church. We have formal dialogues with the Presbyterian Church USA, and the Roman Catholic Church. We also are in conversation with members of the eastern Orthodox Churches.

We are active members of the National Council of Churches, the World Council of Churches, Churches Uniting in Christ, and Christian Churches Together, and many local councils of churches.

Our conversations with other religions are centered on finding our common values and the places where we can stand side by side in support of our shared understandings of justice and living faithfully. All partners in these conversations are clear that we are not about converting each other, but about finding issues and occasions on which we can witness together as people of faith.

This most recent National Workshop on Christian Unity and Annual Meeting of the Episcopal Diocesan Ecumenical and Interreligious Officers included keynote presentations, Bible study, and workshops to help us move deeper into both our ecumenical and our interfaith relationships.

The four days were woven together with wonderful and diverse worship experiences. Joyous opening worship was held at an AME Zion church. Morning prayers featured evangelical music, Taizé liturgy, and guided silent prayer. On Tuesday evening, we celebrated Communion at St. Peters Roman Catholic Church; on Wednesday evening, we celebrated Communion at St. Peters Episcopal Church. Each service used the same music and the parallel shape of the liturgies was very clear. This intentional example of what we share was powerful.

Sandra Keating started our program time off with a presentation on Nostra Aetate and, in particular insights from the Catholic-Muslim dialogue. It is important to note that our credibility as Christians is compromised by our lack of visible unity. Muslim concern about our disunity goes back to the 6th and 7th centuries and our common search for truth and for God. The text of Nostra Aetate is found here.

Amy-Jill Levine led the morning bible studies, guiding us through the parables of the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin, and the Lost Son using the lens of historical context of Second Temple Judaism and the wider cultural/political climate of the first century. How these stories would have been heard by the people of those times is quite different from how we most often use them as allegories today, which takes a lot of the punch out of them. Her insights prodded us to look more closely at what it means to live as Christians today and to look at the layers that we have added over the centuries as we talked about making our Christian unity visible and living into the risky, gritty business of being disciples of Christ. Levine explores these three parables in the first chapter of her book, Short Stories by Jesus.

We were honored by the presence of two prominent Imams, Abdul Malik Mujahid, Board Chair of the Parliament of the Worlds Religions, and Abdullah Antepli, faculty member at Duke Divinity School.

Mujahid spoke about the connection of war-terror-hate, the statistics that never make it into the press, and the importance of thought and communication. His skepticism is that interfaith actions are nice people doing nice things and going nowhere. He was clear that we need to be more business like and have goals. He recommends organizing a thinking retreat of local interfaith leaders to set an agenda and goals, and adopt a resolution to push back the rising tide of hate, anger, and fear. They anticipate 10,000 people at the 2015 Parliament in Salt Lake City; 5000 are already registered. Can Maine be there?

Antepli was Duke Universitys Muslim Chaplain at the time of the controversy about the Muslim Call to Worship using the chapel bells, an idea which he did not support. His recounting of the threats to his family, the rancor across the community, and the overwhelming unpleasantness was stunning. He stressed the importance of getting to know each other because God, having created our differences, commands us to know each other. This gentle mans presentation was one of the most important of the four days.

During our Episcopal Diocesan Ecumenical and Interreligious Officers meetings, we heard from Ellen Wondra about The Church: Towards a Common Vision, the new document that grows from Baptism, Eucharist, and Ministry. She outlined the points of convergence of our understanding of Church that we have achieved in the years between 1982 and 2013 and the areas in which there is still work to do. The complete document can be downloaded here. It is a wonderful resource for study groups and the churchesresponses will be used to help us move further forward.

Together with our colleagues in United Methodist Ecumenical and Interreligious Training we heard from Tex Sample about the challenges of poverty and the implications for faith communities to respond with action and advocacy working toward tangible justice.

We had a chance to be in conversation with Margaret Rose, Presiding Bishops Deputy for Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations and her colleague Richard Mammana. Richard is a wonderful addition to the Office of Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations and will be focussing his time on the Dialogues. Our membership on the Dialogue with the United Methodist Church will be including several new members, with gratitude to the retiring members and the important work they have done to bring us to where we are now. The first three resource documents for dioceses and congregations are available at edeio.org/resources: Make Us One with Christ, A Theological Foundation for Full Communion, and Guidelines for Interim Eucharistic Sharing. The newest document, That They May Be One? is available from Amazon, and we hope will be available as a download soon.

Those of us from New England dioceses hope to hare with our bishops, and the bishop of the ELCA Synod, that we join the Shoulder to Shoulder Campaign as a group. [Ed. Note: Bishop Lane gathered with 22 Maine faith leaders at USM on April 7 to Stand Shoulder to Shoulder against hate and violence in the name of religion.] This is a very tangible way to support our Muslim, and Jewish, sisters and brothers. This was part of the conversation about being the church in troubled times. The exponential benefits of taking this step together, we believe, would be significant. The work that Shoulder to Shoulder is doing is already making a positive difference in attitudes and actions.  www.shouldertoshouldercampaign.org/.

If you would like to know more about any of these topics or what resources are available to introduce them to your congregation, please be in touch at bethbarker24@gmail.com.

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Filed under Anglican Communion, News from The Episcopal Church, Training and Education Events

One week: five offerings

Learn about the struggles of daily life in people in Gaza…
Navigate the intricacies of filling out the Parochial Report…
Join a spirited conversation covering strategic thinking in Maine churches…
Share your stories (or learn more) about Godly Play…

Between Thursday, February 5, and Thursday, February 12, the Diocese of Maine will offer five events on WebEx,  the web conferencing service that allows us to gather Maine Episcopalians from all corners of the state to learn and share ideas without leaving home!

There is no need to register for any of the events. To participate in any of these sessions, simply visit the web link episcopalmaine.webex.com a few minutes before the session is scheduled to start, click on the meeting title and the “Join” button, then follow the prompts.

See the list below for a descriptions of each session:

Thursday, February 5, at 7:30 p.m.
Eyewitness to Gaza” with the Rev. Bob and Maurine Tobin
The Tobins of Deer Isle had opportunity in December 2014 to enter Gaza to visit Al Ahli Arab Hospital, an institution of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem (and supported by the Diocese of Maine), and to view the devastation resulting from the Israeli summer war on Gaza. (Read the Tobin’s updated account of their trip here.)

Via WebEx they will share their eyewitness experiences on Thursday, February 5, at 7:30 p.m. with commentary, photos, and brief videos that highlight both the catastrophic conditions under which Gazans are living and the extraordinary medical and psycho-social care provided by the Christian and Muslim staff of this remarkable hospital.  To learn more, visit episcopalmaine.webex.com.

Monday, February 9, at 7 p.m.
Stewardship workshop with Lisa Meeder Turnbull
Diocesan Stewardship Consultant Lisa Meeder Turnbull will lead a session on Monday, February 9, at 7 p.m. She will cover the topic “Strategic Thinking.”    To join the conversation, visit episcopalmaine.webex.com.

Tuesday, February 10, at 7 p.m.
Thursday, February 12, at 7 p.m. (repeat)
Take a Walk through the Parochial Report with Canon for Finance and Stewardship Terry Reimer
 Canon for Finance and Stewardship, Terry Reimer, will offer two sessions by WebEx to walk church leaders through the steps to fill out the Parochial Report. Choose either Tuesday, February 10, or Thursday, February 12. Both sessions will begin at 7 p.m. and last one hour, including time for Q&A. Go to episcopalmaine.webex.com shortly before 7 p.m. to be ready for a prompt start.

Wednesday, February 11, at 6 p.m.
Godly Play Storytelling Circle gathers at St. Ann’s, Windham, and online
On Wednesday, February 11, all are welcome to gather for a Godly Play session at 6 p.m. at St. Ann’s in Windham. Participants may also join from home through WebEx by visiting episcopalmaine.webex.com.

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Filed under Diocesan Life, Faith Development, Ministry and Outreach, Social Justice, Stewardship, Training and Education Events

Introducing Planned Giving on Demand

by Lisa Meeder Turnbull
Diocesan Stewardship Consultant

The Episcopal Church Foundation (ECF) has just released Planned Giving on Demand, a new resource to support congregations in their planned giving ministry. Whether you have a well-established legacy stewardship program or are just beginning to think about how legacy stewardship might benefit your congregation, Planned Giving on Demand offers both a robust toolbox and a supportive leadership structure to help you keep things moving forward.

The Planned Giving on Demand toolkit includes familiar bedrock pieces such as Funding Future Ministry and Planning for the End of Life, as well as a new user guide that breaks the process into user-friendly stages that lead to a successful and sustainable program. In addition, Planned Giving on Demand offers access to a private website that serves as a clearinghouse for up-to-date print and electronic resources.

Perhaps the most compelling aspect of Planned Giving on Demand is the Planned Giving Shepherds Community. A Planned Giving Shepherd is a member of the congregation who takes it has his or her ministry to guide the process and serve as a resource person within the parish. Shepherds receive invitations to regularly scheduled ECF-hosted online discussions as well as to online discussions that I will host to nurture a legacy stewardship network with the Diocese of Maine.

If this sounds like something that would be useful in your congregation, consider yourself invited! I have purchased a number of Planned Giving on Demand toolkits on behalf of Maine congregations and would love to include as many congregations as possible in launching a network.

Ready to roll? If your congregation already has a legacy stewardship program in progress or has committed to engaging the process, you need only send me the name and contact information for your Planned Giving Shepherd and I will take it from there!

Not quite sure? On Monday, January 12, I will host a mainestewards webinar, “Planning for Planned Giving,” from 7:00-8:00 p.m. This discussion will include an introduction to Planned Giving on Demand. To participate, simply go to episcopalmaine.webex.com at the appointed time; look for “stewardship” on the list of meetings scheduled for that day; click “join” to enter the meeting site.

Want to talk it over? I am happy to talk by phone or via Skype with clergy and lay leaders who are potentially interested in Planned Giving on Demand. Please e-mail me at mainestewards@yahoo.com to set up a time.

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Filed under Stewardship, Training and Education Events, Uncategorized

Mainestewards heats up for fall

by Lisa Meeder Turnbull
Diocesan Stewardship Consultant

Lisa Meeder Turnbull

Lisa Meeder Turnbull

With temperatures cooling down and the program year heating up, mainestewards is back with a variety of resources and ideas for clergy and lay leaders!

Check out the fall line-up of webinars offered (free!) by the Episcopal Church Foundation (ECF)—there are a number of new titles offered for the first time, with literally something for everyone! The full schedule, along with registration, is available here.

On Saturday, September 27, I will host a live webinar from 10:00 a.m. until noon. This is a chance for us to connect; talk about how the ideas that emerge in the ECF webinars might be adapted to our specific congregations; look together at some new tools that are emerging from other denominations; and learn from one another’s challenges and successes. To register, please send an e-mail to mainestewards@yahoo.com. I will then send you an invitation with sign-in instructions for the live session.

Walking the Way is a six-part, lectionary-based resource published by TENS: The Episcopal Network for Stewardship. This year’s edition features two bonus pieces for the Feast of St. Francis and All Saints Sunday. Because Maine is a Diocesan Member of TENS, these materials are available (free!) to congregations. For more information on this very flexible resource, visit www.mainestewards.com.

“Like” mainestewards on Facebook and you will become part of Maine’s stewardship community, sharing thoughts and ideas and receiving emerging resources in real time.

Questions? Thoughts? Ideas? I would love to hear from you! Please write to me any time at mainestewards@yahoo.com. I am always interested in hearing how mainestewards can be a useful resource for congregations of all shapes and sizes, in all parts of Maine.

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Super affordable Godly Play training comes to Maine

GodlyPlayLogoNewJoin people from churches all over our diocese for a weekend of exploring spirituality of children at Godly Play training on June 27-29.  It will also be a spiritual experience for you!

A large, one-time grant from the diocesan New Initiatives Fund enables us to have three nationally-known trainers and to reduce the usual $295 fee down to $50 per person.  The three-day training will be located at the church of St. Mary in Falmouth on Friday June 27 from 3:00p – 9:00p, Saturday June 28 from 8:00a to 5:00p and Sunday June 29 from 9:00a to 5:00p.

Register before June 5 for the $50 rate. Here are the registration sites for Core Training and for Advanced Training. (These sites also have more detailed information.)

If you would like childcare, contact Jenn Davidson  (from St. George’s) before June 5.  To arrange for housing or to offer housing, contact Emily Keniston (from St. Ann’s) before June 5. To borrow books, contact Canon Jane Hartwell.

We’re offering this training because although there are lots of things you can learn from a lecture, Godly Play is best learned from the inside out.  You will experience and learn to tell biblical stories in a collegial, prayerful setting.  Godly Play Foundation’s talented trainers will deepen your understanding of children’s spirituality while guiding you on a personal journey of wonder.  By exploring the fundamental foundations of a Godly Play class with us, you will improve your teaching skills, learn how to build a classroom of your own and leave spiritually refreshed.

Are you wondering about Godly Play?  Godly Play is probably one of the best programs that a church can offer for children ages 3-10.  It is used in churches all over our diocese.

Godly Play is a creative and imaginative approach to Christian nurture.  The curriculum provides the stories and language for children to explore and articulate their experiences of God, and to become part of a worshiping community. It’s Montessori-based and is used in Sunday schools, homes for the elderly and churches.  Godly Play invites listeners into biblical and sacramental stories and encourages them to connect the stories with personal experience.  It uses symbols and objects as well as words.  Godly Play invites kids and adults into a larger dimension of relationship with God through wondering questions and open-ended response time.

If you have questions, contact Emily Keniston, Chairperson of Maine Episcopal Christian Ed Collaboration.

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Filed under Faith Development, Fun, Saint Mary Falmouth, Training and Education Events

Faith-based community organizing takes root in central Maine

by the Rev. Ann Kidder

Participants practice one-to-one meetings, a cornerstone of community organizing. Photo courtesy of Food AND Medicine/Faith Linking In Action

Participants at the St. Patrick’s session practice one-to-one meetings, a cornerstone of community organizing. Photo courtesy of Food AND Medicine/Faith Linking In Action

For the past year and a half St. Patrick’s, Brewer, has engaged in Bishop Steve’s call for Holy Conversations through participation in Faith Linking In Action (FLIA). FLIA is the outcome of a conversation begun in November of 2012 at the offices of Food AND Medicine in Brewer. Individuals from more than 20 different faith communities as well as representatives from a number of civic and social service organizations present at that first meeting agreed that our congregations and agencies were already very involved in programs to directly support people in need and that, even if we were all acting at full capacity, we could not come close to meeting the need in our region. We discussed two general directions our group could go in:

1. Working to better coordinate programs that directly meet peoples’ needs – as one person expressed it, “to pull people who are drowning out of the river”
2. Working to support people in taking leadership in overcoming their own poverty so there are fewer unemployed, hungry, struggling people in our region ten years from now– to “go upstream and fix what causes people to fall into the river.”

In February of 2013 we agreed to explore why the needs of our communities were so great and, if possible, to find ways to bring about systemic change. Over the next three months we began to learn about a process called “faith-based community organizing” as developed and practiced by PICO (People Improving Communities Through Organizing). PICO is a national network of federations of faith-based organizations. In PICO, congregations decide to form an ongoing alliance to build relationships and “go upstream” to address the problems in their communities. The process begins with intentional one-to-one meetings with hundreds of community members to listen to their life experiences and challenges. Through these “listening campaigns” a larger picture of the community’s challenges, hopes, dreams, and needs begins to emerge. At the same time, through these deep one-to-one conversations, powerful relationships are being built among members of the community across the many social and economic barriers that typically divide us. As individuals find their voice in the telling of their stories, they also discover their own potential as community leaders.

St. Patrick's, Brewer, welcomed people from more than 20 faith communities and civic organizations to learn how to identify and combat community problems 'upstream." Photo courtesy of Food AND Medicine/Faith Linking In Action

St. Patrick’s, Brewer, welcomed people from more than 20 faith communities and civic organizations to learn how to identify and combat community problems ‘upstream.” Photo courtesy of Food AND Medicine/Faith Linking In Action

By June of 2013 FLIA members committed themselves to “going upstream” using PICO’s faith-based approach and six members of FLIA attended PICO’s National Leadership Training, including the Rev. Ann Kidder and Ms Mary Ann Perry from St. Patrick’s, Brewer. Over the winter FLIA members focused on the details of preparing for a regional Listening Campaign. On March 1 St. Patrick’s, Brewer, hosted Faith Linking In Action’s day of Listening Team training, kicking off a three month Listening Campaign.

On Saturday, May 3rd, there will be a Listening Campaign Wrap-up Gathering at First United Methodist Church, 703 Essex Street, Bangor. We will share what we’ve heard in our one-to-one’s, welcome new leaders we’ve identified, and plan next steps to address the concerns that have surfaced through our listening. This is an open meeting and all are welcome. Please RSVP to Martin Chartrand martin@foodandmedicine.org if you would like to attend and learn more about this work.

For more information about faith-based community organizing visit PICO’s website at www.piconetwork.org.

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Filed under Ministry and Outreach, Social Justice, St. Patrick's Brewer, The Church in a Changing World, Training and Education Events

Mainers learn about “life-wide” learning at national conference

by Emily Ainsworth Keniston
Director of Christian Education
St. Ann’s, Windham

Kim Wallace, St. Ann's, Windham; Julie Morrison, Saint Mary's, Falmouth; Canon Missioner Jane Hartwell; Emily Keniston (with Meredith), St. Ann's, Windham; Deacon Bob Landry, St. Andrew's, Millinocket; Sherry Sivret, St. Anne's, Calais; Ryan and Amber Corum, St. Matthew's, Hallowell; the Rev. Kelly Moughty, St. Alban's, Cape Elizabeth, and St. Peter's, Portland.

Kim Wallace, St. Ann’s, Windham; Julie Morrison, Saint Mary’s, Falmouth; Canon Missioner Jane Hartwell; Emily Keniston (with Meredith), St. Ann’s, Windham; Deacon Bob Landry, St. Andrew’s, Millinocket; Sherry Sivret, St. Anne’s, Calais; Ryan and Amber Corum, St. Matthew’s, Hallowell; the Rev. Kelly Moughty, St. Alban’s, Cape Elizabeth, and St. Peter’s, Portland.

Change has been abundant in the Diocese of Maine recently. Many programs have been scaled back, jobs have been dissolved or reshaped, and many have felt the pinch of “going without” services they have previously enjoyed. It’s been a difficult time for many, but also a time to refocus and reinvent. It’s been a time to rely upon one another, and on God. 

For three days in January, that’s just what some Episcopalians from the Diocese of Maine did, myself included. Relying upon scholarships from the Wolf Fund and a generous donation, nine Mainers traveled to Washington, D.C. to participate in a national conference of Episcopal formation called FORMA. We were an eclectic group of faith formation directors, clergy, youth program volunteers, diocesan staff and youth group leaders, representing congregations in Calais, Portland, Cape Elizabeth, Falmouth, Hallowell, and Millinocket. Though we all play different roles in our respective churches, we were all there in DC to participate in the FORMA conference with one purpose: to explore new ways to bring people into the body of Christ.

And explore, we did! By splitting up workshop attendance amongst us, we were able to optimize information gathering. Some attended the workshop on confirmation, others on using music in ministry, others learned about using social media in the Church, and still others explored the use of hybrid online and small group learning for adults.  Regardless of workshop choice, each of us was able to attend a keynote address and three plenary sessions by well-known Episcopal scholars, Lisa Kimball and Patricia Lyons. The theme of the conference was “The Once and Future Church,” thus we spent considerable time reflecting upon the characteristics of people living in American society today, and what the implications might be for furthering our ministry amidst modern culture. We discussed cultural icons, the seemingly insatiable interest in “gaming” in our society, and the importance of the “epic” journey Christians are offered through our faith. (In other words, “Hey, American culture! You want EPIC? Forget Nintendo- try the invitation to live life for Christ! THAT’S epic!”)

Of course, as our discussion led us to the point when the promise of eternal life didn’t seem sufficient to fully express what our faith offers us in each individual moment of our lives, our conversation turned to the idea of  “life wide” faith formation, as opposed to the more traditional idea of “life long.” Often challenged by the idea that we Christians live out our days with the promise of one day achieving eternal life, Kimball and Turner suggested taking a slightly different approach: inviting others to experience a Christian life by focusing on how faith improves the quality of our lives right now. How faith will help us to give with compassion, find comfort in difficult times, and to experience a depth and vibrancy in life which is absent from secular activity. We were impressed, and ready to leave Washington to begin a new ministry helping others to live “life wide” moments.

We’ve since returned home to Maine and are still ablaze with excitement to share what we’ve learned; to begin conversations where there hadn’t been any, to create collaborative ventures where one church can’t stand alone, to grown in knowledge and faith as believers and members of the body of Christ.

Learn more about FORMA: Partnering to Inspire Christian Formation at episcoforma.org

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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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Filed under Diocesan Convention, Faith Development, Ministry and Outreach, Training and Education Events