Category Archives: Trinity Lewiston

Lewiston’s Center for Wisdom’s Women offers vulnerable women safety and strength

by Klara Tammany
Executive Director, Center for Wisdom’s Women

Klara Tammany talks with Maine Episcopalians at Diocesan Convention at USM in October.

Klara Tammany talks with Maine Episcopalians at Diocesan Convention at USM in October.

While hosting the Thistle Farm table at diocesan convention in October, I had a chance to talk with both clergy and lay people about the women’s center that is an outreach project of Trinity Church, Lewiston. One of several ministries that Trinity, a small congregation located in a neighborhood with a poverty rate of more than 40 percent, has spawned over the years, the Center for Wisdom’s Women is a week-day drop-in center that provides a safe and sacred space for the support and empowerment of women.

Sue is one of our long-time guests. She came to us as an angry woman who didn’t trust anyone.It is not surprising. She was the middle child of six sisters. When she was four, they were separated and put up for adoption. Hers was not a good home. By the time she was a teen, she was on her own. The sisters didn’t see each other again for 45 years. 

Sue is now part of a core group of volunteers called Sophia’s Circle. Their jobs are to staff the front desk and help with tasks like housekeeping and cooking. When a gal who has visited the Center was sentenced to three years in the Windham prison, we asked the women of Sophia’s Circle if we might support her by writing and visiting. Sue was the first person who raised her hand.

“I think I can understand what she’s goin’ through” she said. “I know what it’s like to be alone. No matter what she did, she needs a friend.”

Sue is one of over 1,000 women who have come through our doors since 2008. Many are initially drawn tocww3 the center because we offer much-needed hygiene products, (donations gratefully accepted!) but the welcome they experience brings many women back for support, strength, and friendship.  At the Center they build community and begin to help each other. Less alone and less afraid, everyone grows and changes and relationships are restored. It is an organic way of healing that tends to the inner spirit of women, something often missing in more clinical settings.

Since the Center’s first days, not a week has gone by when we don’t wish we could serve our guests better by providing housing. That wish seems poised to come to fruition in the next few years. We have a plan to start a residential project to serve both older women on fixed incomes and women who are healing from a life of prostitution, addiction, prison, and abuse. Modest apartments will be available to elders who desire to live independently, yet in community and with a purpose. The recovery part will be based on the model of Thistle Farms.

A feasibility study by the Genesis Community Loan Fund has determined our plan is very possible and that rental income would cover the cost of running the house. However, in order to confidently proceed with the Sophia’s House project, we must first fully fund the work of the women’s center.

cwwOver the fall I gave some thought to how we might better reach out to the wider faith community in Maine, especially our Episcopal brothers and sisters across the Diocese. While we have eight partners from the Methodist, Presbyterian, Unitarian, and Lutheran traditions, our only Episcopal connections are with St. Michael’s across the river and the Episcopal Church Women groups in Rangeley and Hallowell.

On deeper thought over the holidays, larger questions emerged…

How might we better support each other in innovative, mission-oriented work in our diocese? 

Are there ways we could share our ministries and collaborate to further the work we all do to meet needs of those living on the margins?

Yes, there are grants available in the diocese, but they are limited and competitive.  And yes, in emergencies like floods or fires or broken septic systems, we all jump in to help. But there must be more direct ways – as individual Episcopalians and as congregations – we can regularly engage in the outreach we all do with the least among us right here in Maine. 

As small as Trinity Church is, we have found powerful ways to faithfully meet large needs with much creativity and boldness, despite limited financial resources. We are happy to share our successful model with other congregations that dream of doing vital ministry in their local communities. But we could also use some support from Maine Episcopalians to keep doing what we are doing.

Here is a proposal: Let’s talk about how we might promote, support and share the baptismal ministries we have all been called to in our neighborhoods. We could learn from, inspire and encourage each other, pray for specific needs we have, make a list of contacts, share wish lists and resources etc. I bet it would help us be more effective and also lighten the burdens.

Meanwhile… As we expand to offer housing with Sophia’s House, our regular program of meeting the needs of vulnerable women requires all the help we can get.

Sue came to us and grew and changed. She is now tending to the woman now in prison. That woman may be our first resident at Sophia’s House. It goes full circle.

If you are interested in knowing more about our work, I would love to hear from you. I would be happy to visit your congregation and share our story. If you are in or near Lewiston, please come visit and see what we are up to. And if you are able to offer support, please do. Thanks so much.


Email Klara at 

Watch a new video about the Center for Wisdom’s Women and the difference it makes in women’s lives.

Click here to go to the Sophia’s House fundraising site.

Download a brochure with ways to help

MPBN story on Sophia’s House


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Filed under Ministry and Outreach, Social Justice, Trinity Lewiston

Bishop Lane offers Ashes to Go in Portland; Ashes to Go also in Windham, Brunswick, Lewiston and Farmington

Nina Pooley of St. Bart's, Yarmouth, and David Heald of St. Nick's, Scarborough, prayer with a man in the Old Port.

Nina Pooley of St. Bart’s, Yarmouth, and David Heald of St. Nick’s, Scarborough, pray with a man in the Old Port.

On Wednesday, February 18, a group Episcopal clergy, including the Rt. Rev. Stephen T. Lane, Bishop of Maine, will brave the snow to take the traditional Ash Wednesday practice of the imposition of ashes from inside of church buildings out to the people on the streets of Portland, Windham, Brunswick, Lewiston, and Farmington.

Started by Episcopal clergy in Chicago in 2007, Ashes to Go marks its fourth year in Maine communities. First offered on a commuter rail platform, the practice has spread to dozens of cities across the U.S.

“Not everyone is able to be in their church today. It’s a way of bringing the church’s presence outside a building and offering an opportunity for people to practice their faith as they go about their daily life and work,” said the Rev. Larry Weeks of Trinity Episcopal and St. Peter’s Episcopal Portland. In 2012 Weeks organized the first Ashes to Go in Portland. The first year more an 120 people availed themselves of the opportunity to receive ashes and a blessing.
Shirley Bowen offers ashes to a passerby at Monument Square.  Tim Higgins (left) and Peter Bowen look on. (Photo: Robert Bukaty/AP)

Shirley Bowen offers ashes to a passerby at Monument Square. Tim Higgins (left) and Peter Bowen look on. (Photo: Robert Bukaty/AP)

In Portland all who wish the imposition of ashes and a brief blessing are welcome at Monument Square from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dean Ben Shambaugh and Deacon Dick Rasner of St. Luke’s Cathedral and the Rev. Larry Weeks will be on hand from 10 a.m. to noon. Bishop Stephen Lane will take the noon to 2 p.m. “shift” in full Bishop vestments (though maybe with a warm hat under his mitre.)

In Windham the Rev. Tim Higgins and Deacon Wendy Rozene of St. Ann’s Episcopal will offer Ashes to Go at the Windham Post Office parking lot on Route 302 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

In Farmington the Rev. Tim Walmer of St. Luke’s Episcopal in Wilton will offer Ashes to Go on Main Street near the Franklin Savings Bank from 12:15 to 1 p.m.

In Brunswick Deacon Chick Carroll of St. Paul’s Episcopal will offer Ashes to Go at 11 a.m. at the soup kitchen located at Midcoast Hunger Prevention on Union Street and at 1 p.m. in front of the Bowdoin College Chapel. The Rev. Carolyn Eklund and Deacon Mary Lee Wile will offer Ashes to Go from 11:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. in front of the Tontine Mall at the corner of Pleasant and Maine Streets.

In Lewiston, the Rev. Steven Crowson of Trinity Episcopal will offer Ashes to Go at Kennedy Park at the corner of Bates and Spruce from 11 to 11:30 a.m. From noon to 12:30 Ashes to Go will be available at the opposite end of the park across from City Hall.

In the Christian tradition, Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, the six weeks leading up to Easter. As a time of self-reflection for believers, Lent is often marked by prayer, penance, and charity.

The Rev. Tim Higgins, rector of St. Ann’s Episcopal Church in Windham, described his experience last year as “one of the coolest ministries I have ever been involved with.” He added,  “A jogger came through and stopped long enough to pray with us, receive his ashes and continue on his jog, while saying, ‘I’ve never done that before, thanks so much!’”

Weeks added, “We found that many people had forgotten that it was Ash Wednesday and welcomed the opportunity to receive ashes and a blessing. It’s high time we venture outside our church walls to offer hope and forgiveness and healing to people who may still have a spiritual hunger but aren’t so sure about Church.”

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Filed under Diocesan Life, St. Ann's Windham, St. Luke's Cathedral, St. Luke's Wilton, St. Paul's Brunswick, Trinity Lewiston, Trinity Portland

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

The heart of our ministry is worship: Profile of Trinity Church, Lewiston

This professionally produced video profiles the many ministries of Trinity Church in Lewiston.  When screened at Diocesan Convention, Trinity received a standing “O” for its commitment to the people of its neighborhood.  Watch to see what one small congregation can do!

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Tree Street Youth summer program to extend to school year

Julia Sleeper, right, and Kim Sullivan talk with former Lewiston High School students who stopped by the Tree Street Youth center in Lewiston before heading off to college Tuesday. Abdi Jibirl, left, graduated from LHS in 2010 and is a student at the University of Maine at Presque Isle. Shobow Saban, second from left, graduated from LHS in 2011 and is leaving for his freshman year at Assumption next week. Abdi Abdi, center, transferred from LHS to the Kent School in Connecticut and is a sophomore at University of Southern Maine. Sleeper taught all three how to read and write English starting in the seventh grade. Photo: Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Here’s a link to a great story in today’s Lewiston Sun Journal about Tree Street Youth, a program that grew out of Trinity Jubilee Center and supported by a the Diocese of Maine through a 2011 Foundations for Ministry grant.

Congratulations Tree Street Youth Program and Trinity Jubilee Center!  Here’s an excerpt from today’s story:

Tree Street’s summer program, which closed Aug. 12, served some 100 kids every day, Bowman said. If the program doesn’t reopen, “they’ll have no place to go. The library’s concerned. They can’t take 100 kids in after school. We have a need for more after-school programs.”

Sleeper, 25, [Tree Street’s Director] is a Brewer native who graduated from Bates College in 2008 and stayed in Lewiston to help disadvantaged children. She was involved in after-school homework help at Trinity’s Jubilee Center, but the demand outpaced available space.

When it opens Sept. 6, the program will offer separate homework rooms for elementary, middle and high school students, plus “hang-out rooms” where students can play air hockey and other games or participate in art, karate or dance.

The center is open to students from Lewiston-Auburn, but the primary focus is students in the downtown “tree streets” area: Birch, Pine, Walnut.

Read the entire story here.

Visit Tree Street Youth’s website

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Filed under Ministry and Outreach, Trinity Lewiston