Category Archives: Training and Education Events

Maine clergy invited to explore ministry in Lewiston

by the Rev. Peggy Day
Deacon at St. Patrick’s, Brewer and member of the Clergy Day Committee

Campers and staff at Tree Street Youth, a summer program in Lewiston

Campers and staff at Tree Street Youth, a summer program in Lewiston

Relationship-building plays an important part in the success of the efforts by Lewiston’s Trinity Church to raise up the Kingdom of God in their community.

On September 17 all clergy in the Diocese are invited to explore two programs that comprise a big part of Trinity’s ministry in the Lewiston-Auburn area.

One program clergy will learn about this fall is  the Women’s Wisdom Center located in the middle of Lewiston in what is referred to as the B Street neighborhood.  The B street neighborhood encompasses the intersections of Birch, Bates and Bartlett streets.

The Women’s wisdom Center provides a safe, sacred space that is run by women for women.  Klara Tammany, the executive director, will be our guide.  Women who come to the center are referred to as guests and range in age from young women to the elderly.  Through the center’s various programs, they find friends,  joy, compassion, hope, and support that they might not otherwise experience.  Many might fall through the cracks without this safe haven that serves as sanctuary for many.  According to its website, the Center “… offers a stress free environment to share the stories of their lives” without judgment but rather with dignity and respect.

Women’s Wisdom Center was started by sisters Irene Arsenault, Mona Guerrette, and Maureen Hurley of the Order of The Daughters of Wisdom, a Roman Catholic religious community.  It began in 1999 and was originally named Wisdom’s Center.  It became a valuable resource for the community.  In June, 2008, “the congregation found it necessary to discontinue the work” and approached Trinity Church about fiscal sponsorship.  The center is no longer associated with any religion or denomination but continues “the wisdom charisma of the original organization as it continues to care for the spiritual well- being of the guests who find sanctuary there.”

The second program we will explore is the Tree Street Youth Center. According to its materials, the mission of this center is “to support the youth of Lewiston-Auburn through academics, the arts, and athletics while providing a safe space that encourages healthy physical, social, emotional, and academic development while building unity across lines of difference.”  The Youth Center offers an afterschool program, a summer youth program, a street leader program, a college preparation program, and a visual and performing arts program.  They serve more than 400 youth each year with help from interns and volunteers.

The Center began as an outgrowth of a local homework help program that began after community parents wanted to help their children academically, but lacked the necessary language and academic skills to do so.  The program began in 2005 by split staff from AmeriCorp, the refugee assistance Program and a host of volunteers.  Housed at Trinity, it served as a valuable resource for the community for six years.  After six years, it was noted that the need went beyond assistance with homework.  The co-founders, Julia Sleeper (the Executive Director) and Kim Sullivan (a Bates College intern) began seeking more support. The Center expanded its programs to include a summer youth program and found a building.  It opened in July 2011 “in a vacant lot building located in the heart of the downtown residential community and across from the local elementary school.”  It provides low-income youth the opportunity to learn and grow in a nurturing environment, in their own neighborhood at no cost to the family.

There will also be an opportunity to have a neighborhood walking tour with a member of Trinity who is also a member of Lewiston City Council.  Craig Saddlemire,  a Bates graduate, community volunteer and advocate will give a tour of his Ward, an inner city poverty pocket.  Craig is the producer of the Trinity video that was shown at Convention in 2011.

Come and join your Clergy Day Committee in visiting these two wonderful programs and learn more about how they have built relationship with their neighbors in order to allow God to show forth in these neighborhoods.  We ask that you come with an open heart and mind to listen to how God called this congregation to new ways of being.

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Filed under Clergy News, Ministry and Outreach, Social Justice, Training and Education Events, Trinity Lewiston

Enrich your faith by understanding other traditions at the Downeast Spiritual Life Conference

deslc

With the success of the first Downeast Spiritual Life Conference in 2012, the steering committee and the people of St. Francis by the Sea in Blue Hill are excited to welcome attendees to the conference on Friday and Saturday, August 23 and 24. All sessions and lodging will be at the Atlantic Oceanfront Hotel in Bar Harbor.

This year’s conference — Spirituality in Our times: Embracing Diversity, Creating Community — is committed to the multi-faith approach to the life of the spirit. How do we embrace and value other’s faith traditions and deepen our own faith by learning from other faith traditions? How can we create a broader and more inclusive community of the faithful?

One way is to hear from those who have done it. Join key leaders of the interfaith movement — Muslim, Jewish and Christian — and learn how they are successfully building communities of faith that broaden and enrich the spiritual lives of all their members.
“This conference is an opportunity for all of us to deepen our own faith and not merely an exercise in religious tolerance,” said the Rev. Claudia Smith, rector of St. Francis, Blue Hill. “We wish to go far beyond tolerance for, and a surface understanding of, other faiths to an embracing of diversity. In other words we wish to use a deeper understanding of other faith traditions to enrich our own spiritual practices.”

Primary speakers Eboo Patel, Muslim director of the Interfaith Youth Core; writer and Christian religious educator Elizabeth Drescher; and Rabbi Or Rose, director of the Center for Global Judaism at Hebrew College, will help bring religious diversity to life.

Two additional workshop leaders – Robert A. Jonas and George Emlen – will show us how to find spiritual sustenance in “dual belonging” and how to join hearts and lift spirits through singing.

New! A Pre-Conference Retreat.
This year you can participate in a one-day spiritual retreat with renowned inter-spiritual educator and author Mirabai Starr. One Love, A Contemplative Experience is a celebration of the interconnected wisdom of the world’s spiritual paths. You will learn how to apply the mystical and social-justice teachings of many religions to your lives. You will explore mystical poetry and sacred scriptures of different faiths, practice powerful writing exercises, and engage in brief contemplative practices–all ways to touch the unifying love that underlies all the worlds’ spiritual paths. Mirabai will joined be renowned singer /songwriter Jenny Bird.

New! More Workshops
This year we are offering five workshops to choose from:

The Power of Interfaith Cooperation with Eboo Patel
Kabbalah and Contemporary American Culture with Rabbi Or Rose
Distributed Spirits: Compassion, Connection and Community in the Land Between Religion with Elizabeth Drescher
Jesus and Buddha: Spiritual Guides for the 21st Century with Robert Jonas
Building Community through Song with George Emlen

New! A Location by the Sea
The conference will take place on the shores of Frenchman’s Bay in Bar Harbor. All events will be in one location — the conference center at the Atlantic Oceanside Hotel. For your convenience, discounted rates at the hotel and its sister properties are available for conference participants. Book early!

New! Optional Early Morning Yoga or Meditation
Take advantage of our free early morning yoga and meditation sessions to help you ground yourself for a day of learning and sharing.

Benefit Concert with Noel Paul Stookey
We are again blessed to have Noel Paul Stookey share his rich, lyric-driven music with us. The songs in One & Many: A Musical Village will tell a story. They speak to compassion. To hopeful reminders that the presence of love in story and song can provide healing and forgiveness. For Noel it is the “Something’ we keep seeking — and sometimes find simply in the ‘one and many’ around us.” A fundraising event, the concert supports the 2014 Downeast Spiritual Life Conference and is open to the public without conference registration.

New! Group Rates
Group rates apply for groups of ten or more. To register your group, call 207.374.5200.

Everything you need to join us is at downeastspiritual.org or at 207.374-5200. Learn about our speakers, register for events, and see how to participate in a variety of activities planned just for you.

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Maine Episcopalians glean ideas and information on health ministries in Baltimore

by Bruce Nickerson, RN, FCN, CCM
Diocesan Liaison to National Episcopal Health Ministry
St. George’s, Sanford

The Diocese of Maine was represented by five health ministers at the National Episcopal Health Ministries Annual Conference on May 9-11 in Baltimore, Maryland.  The title of the conference was “Health and Wellness in a Frantic World: Be Still and Know I am God.”   This was the 6th Annual Conference sponsored by NEHM.  Those engaged in health ministries across the church came together to share our ministries, to pray, reflect and connect as well as to learn about each others’ programs.  We leave feeling renewed, empowered with new information, new ideas for our ministry and new friends.  We were able to experience and discover many facets of health ministry in the greater Episcopal Church, as we met folk from all over the country – from Seattle to the Virgin Islands, from Alaska to Florida.

Humor therapists were well represented at the NEHM conference.

Humor therapists were well represented at the NEHM conference.

Besides myself, the folks from Maine attending the conference were Marie Bean, St. George’s, Sanford; Rev. Wanda Thompson, St. George’s, Sanford; Triss Critchfield, St. Alban’s, Cape Elizabeth; and Liz Daly, St. Alban’s, Cape Elizabeth.

“One of the gifts was the exchange of ideas, listening to others tell their stories, what has worked, helped or been a hindrance in their health ministries.  There was a wealth of experience to glean from and to integrate and build on,”  said the Rev. Wanda Thompson, a deacon at St. George’s, Sanford.

The first keynote speaker, the Rev. Dr. Amy Richter, spoke on finding balance and our need to reach out effectively as Christ’s hands and heart in the world, supported by Christian community.  The second night we listened to the Rev. Dr. Scott Stoner on “Change is inevitable, growth is optional.”

Marie Bean of St. George’s, Sanford, attended “The Sacred Art of the Circle” which began with meditation and a call to prayer by the lovely vibrating sound from a large Tibetan bowl. “We were told to think of the vibration as sacred theology. Circles were discussed as common threads of all life and the how the power of the world works in circles,” she explained. “We walked a sacred walk in a circle where each step was a prayer and whose sacredness connected us to all life. We learned about Native American traditions and about Black Elk a Native American prophet. In this tradition, praying for healing was and is for that of healing the spirit, heart and mind, not focusing on healing of the body – a theme repeated often at the conference.”

I attended “Seeds of Faith, Fruits of Wellness” that introduced us to the Living Compass Faith and Wellness Ministry that

Bruce Nickerson at St. George's, Sanford, with the array of resources for health ministries available to share with Maine congregations

Bruce Nickerson at St. George’s, Sanford, with the array of resources for health ministries available to share with Maine congregations

has been created to reintroduce our modern culture to an ancient, faith-based approach to wellness. This ministry invites people of all ages to explore the vital connection between their faith and their current state of wellness. Reconnecting the fruits of wellness with the seeds of faith helps the church reclaim its identify as the original wellness center. Everyone needs balance in their lives.  This program allows one to identify where we are out individually and helps one set goals to improve those area that need work.  This is done in supportive small group sessions, over a period of about six weeks.

I offered a session called “Resources, Resources and More” in which we discussed how to identify reliable sources and to help folks find resource materials for their health ministries.  As part of the program everyone left with a list of web addresses for resource materials. In addition we discussed developing web pages for health ministry on parish web sites.

The conference closed on Saturday morning with a Eucharistic Service and blessing of the hands – a very moving service indeed!

For more information about health ministry and faith community nursing for your congregation, please contact me at bnickerson44@gmail.com.

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Filed under Ministry and Outreach, St. Alban's Cape Elizabeth, St. George's Sanford, Training and Education Events

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.

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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/

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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.

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

Maine faith leaders: Civil Discourse on Same Sex Marriage

On September 20, 2012, Bishop Steve Lane joined representatives from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, the United Methodist Church in Maine, and the Maine Conference of the United Church of Christ in a conversation about same sex marriage.  The focus of the conversation, which was hosted at the University of Southern Maine by the Maine Council of Churches and USM’s Interfaith Chaplaincy, was to model civil and respectful discourse about an issue where faith leaders disagree. Each participant first offered his or her denominations’ view of and requirements for marriage and then added how they might handle an unfolding pastoral situation. The conversation took off from there. At the end each offered insights that they had learned from one another.

 

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First Downeast Spiritual Life Conference a Success!

signing books

More than 450 people from as far away as Switzerland and Arizona found solace, grew spiritually, and pondered new ideas after attending the first annual Downeast Spiritual Life Conference in late August.  Feedback was exuberant. Overheard were remarks such as “This was one of the best organized conferences I’ve ever attended” and “great speakers!” A retired bishop wrote that he loved the conference and received much from it for his own spiritual journey. Clearly God was at work guiding this event.

Speaker styles ranged from passionately exuberant (Andrew Harvey) and down-home funny (Phyllis Tickle) to winsome and wise (Fr. Richard Rohr). Each primary speaker and workshop leader

Andrew Harvey

communicated his or her own particular message about the importance of the spiritual life.  Andrew Harvey brought the Sufi mystical poet Rumi to life and showed how the poet’s message was still viable in the 21st century. Fr. Rohr reminded listeners that the second half of a life should not be spent remodeling the bathroom numerous times … that there are more important late-life issues at stake. And Phyllis Tickle explained her theory about the reforming of Christianity every 500 years, claiming that we have reached the age where the Holy Spirit, rather than the son or the father, is the driving force and focus of Christianity.

Phyllis Tickle

In addition to fine speakers, the weather, special events coordinator Leanne Batten, the Steering Committee, and scores of volunteers came together to make the event a huge success.  Volunteers steered attendees to safe and “ticketless” parking spaces, others passed out almost 200 box lunches, sold books and music CDs, worked at the registration desk, put up signs, passed out maps, and so much more.  The result was an event that was bigger than the sum of its parts.
Music helped frame the conference. As the retired bishop said, “people learn in different ways and how wonderful that this program was bookended by such fabulous music that reinforced the message of the conference.

The number of attendees was astounding. Even though we announced the event to the Town of Ellsworth’s business

Fr. Richard Rohr

community through the Chamber of Commerce newsletter and via solicitation of program ads, business owners and others in Ellsworth commented that they were “amazed” at the number of people on Main Street on Friday and Saturday. One business owner said that she had never seen so many “happy and patient” tourists come into her shop.

Noel Paul Stookey and the Rev. Betty Stookey

Sales of tickets to the conference and the workshops were swift. Less swift were ticket sales to the Paul Winter Concert, the main fundraiser for next year’s conference. However, ticket sales picked up with more than 350 tickets sold by concert time.

Financially, the event was also a success. The Spiritual Life & Learning Center at St. Francis that sponsored the conference will pay the church about $15,000 in conference profits to help offset its deficit.  The Saturday night concert raised $4,600 as seed money for next year’s conference. That money plus other funds, including a donation from the Bishop’s discretionary fund, brings seed money for next year to about $7,000.

Paul Winter

To ensure that the next conference will be as good if not better than this year’s event, the Steering Committee will email a survey to all who attended. Feedback will guide future conferences.

Next year’s conference will be at the Atlantic Oceanside Hotel and Conference Center in Bar Harbor. Plans for that event are already falling onto place; names of speakers and workshop presenters will be announced in January.

all photos by Marjorie Vaughan

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Bishop Lane and other Maine spiritual leaders to model civil discourse on same sex marriage

The Maine Council of Churches (MCC) and the University of Southern Maine Interfaith Chaplaincy invite the public to “Civil Discourse on Same Sex Marriage,” an ecumenical conversation with four Maine religious leaders, on Thursday, September 20, at 7 p.m. at Luther Bonney Hall at the University of Southern Maine on Bedford Street in Portland.

Panelists participating in this conversation are the Rt. Rev. Stephen Lane, Episcopal Bishop of Maine; Father Joseph Daniels, pastor of Corpus Christi Roman Catholic Parish in Waterville and contributor to Bishop Richard Malone’s pastoral letter on marriage; the Rev. Susan Craig, United Church of Christ Associate Conference Minister; and the Rev. Michael Davis, United Methodist Church Tri-State Superintendent. The Rev. Sage Currie, pastor of the New Church in Fryeburg and Maine Council of Churches board member will host the event.

In 2009, the Maine Council of Churches created a Covenant for Civil Discourse in response to the highly negative environment in political campaigns. According to MCC Executive Director Rev. Jill Saxby, “The covenant is simple — it’s a set of promises to regulate oneself, to behave in ways that we want others to behave toward us, with no exceptions for political discourse.”

Since then more than 80 Maine candidates running for office have signed the Covenant as a promise to act respectfully toward opponents, to refrain from personal attacks (while maintaining the right to vigorously disagree), to refuse to make untrue statements in defense of a position, to value civility and to expect those working for his or her election to do the same. Maine’s Roman Catholic, United Church of Christ, United Methodist, Episcopal, and Unitarian Universalist denominations and several Quaker meetings have also signed the Covenant.

The purpose of the “Civil Discourse on Same Sex Marriage” event is to demonstrate that people of faith, who may strongly disagree with each other, can talk to each other in a respectful and civil manner.  The conversation will focus each faith leader’s response to members of their communities on a timely issue for Maine voters, Ballot Question 1 in Maine’s Nov. 6, 2012, election, ” Do you want to allow the State of Maine to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples?”

The Rev. Andrea Thompson McCall, USM’s Interfaith Chaplain, explained her office’s support of the event, “One of our goals for students is understand and interact respectfully with others whose values and beliefs are different from their own. This event is a perfect opportunity for students and other members of the community to see that in action about a topic that is extremely timely and relevant in Maine.”

“I look forward to learning from other leaders how each meets the pastoral needs of our respective and diverse communities,” said Episcopal Bishop Stephen Lane. “This event is a great opportunity for the larger community to discover what church leaders have to say on the issue of same sex marriage and other issues where we differ.”

The Covenant for Civil Discourse and more information about the event is available at www.mainecouncilofchurches.org

Click here for a bulletin insert  about the event.

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Sharing stewardship successes

by Lisa Meeder Turnbull
Diocesan Stewardship Consultant

The Diocesan Stewardship Initiative has now been underway for nearly a year, offering consultation and resources in all aspects of stewardship: time and talent, love and compassion, effort and dedication, and funds. It is exciting to see the many creative ways that congregations inspire and celebrate offerings of prayer, presence, gifts, and service.

As we become more intentional about cross-pollination, sharing successes and challenges, the question I hear most often is, “Who else is facing this same challenge? How are they approaching it?” With that in mind, let me share some examples of the creativity that is coming to the fore as we take a fresh look at stewardship:

  • A small congregation offers a successful weekday fellowship program for families with young children. Maintenance thinking used to ask, “How can we get them to come back on Sunday?” Mission thinking now asks, “How will we be a church with the congregation that is emerging?”Perhaps it will be Noonday Prayer prior to the established fellowship, or a relaxed late-afternoon service. The answer is still emerging, but the question is exciting.
  • A stewardship committee stretched the Consecrating Stewards model to engage a year-round conversation around the many ways that members are in ministry together.Twice-monthly, a different ministry or committee is highlighted. During worship, a member talks for a moment about the ministry and what it has meant to his or her spiritual journey.  This both engages the community in the church’s breadth of ministry, and it makes conversations about church finance more tangible.
  • In a congregation with strong seasonal membership, the rector’s weekly e-mail creates an on-going sense of community. This is part of a larger approach that includes a June Homecoming, an August annual meeting, and a Blessing on Your Way in September.Through this intentional structure of communication and celebration, seasonal members arrive already “up to speed” as a reunited body of Christ. They also have a tangible sense of their support for mission and ministry: They understand that their faithful, year-round generosity doesn’t just pay for heating oil, it provides year-round warmth for program, worship, and community presence.

If these stories resonate, if you would like to bring fresh thinking about stewardship to your congregation, consider these opportunities:

  • On Saturday, February 11, St. John’s Bangor will host two stewardship workshops.

From 9:30-12:30, Money and More will explore holistic stewardship and offer some practical approaches for engaging stewardship in the congregation.

From 1:00-3:00, Organs and Boilers and Roofs, Oh My! will talk through the ins-and-outs of capital campaigns and legacy and endowment giving.

To register for either or both of these sessions, click here.

  • Visit my blog at www.mainestewards.com for stewardship-related reflections, many linked to the week’s lectionary readings.
  • To host a regional stewardship workshop or plan for me to visit your congregation, write to me at mainestewards@yahoo.com.

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Filed under Congregational Events, Diocesan Life, St. John's Bangor, Stewardship, Training and Education Events