The New Northeast

tracking the Spirit in the Episcopal Diocese of Maine

Family Separation: Op-ed by Bishop Lane, vigils, and more

updated Wednesday, June 21. 7:40 a.m.

“Every so often an issue emerges in public life that compels us, as faith leaders in Maine, to join together. The convergence of World Refugee Day and the current administration’s zero tolerance policy of separating immigrant families — including those who have presented themselves as asylum seekers — at the southern border inspires us to speak with one voice.”

Episcopal Bishop of Maine Stephen Lane and Roman Catholic Bishop of Portland Robert Deeley in an op-ed titled, “Tearing children from their parents at the border goes against Jesus’ teachings” featured in the June 20 edition of the Bangor Daily News.


News reports of family separations at our southern border are causing people to ask, “What can we do?” One Maine Episcopalian – living in part-time exile in Washington, D.C. – has been in touch to make a suggestion. 

Marge Kilkelly, a member of St. Matthew’s and St. Barnabas, Hallowell, proposes that on Thursday, June 21 – the longest day of the year – churches stay open from dawn to dusk to welcome people to prayer for the families affected.

She writes: 

The longest day of the year is Thursday. For families on the border, parents and children, every second, every minute, every hour, every day is the longest of their lives. What can you do to share the longest day of the year and send a message of outrage at the separations and support for the families experiencing their longest day ever? #longestdayvigil

If you would are interested and decide to keep your church open for prayer or host a vigil, please contact Heidi Shott with the details at or send a text to 207.592.7353. 

Churches in Maine open for prayer on June 21 (updates ongoing)

St. Andrew’s, 11 Glidden Street, Newcastle will open our doors tomorrow from dawn to dusk for quiet prayer.  We will have printed resources available to aid people in their prayer.

Grace Church, Bath, will join with other area congregations for prayer on the green (at the Bath Gazebo) at 5 p.m.

St. George’s, 407 York Street, York Harbor – Sanctuary and Chapel are open 24 hours a day for prayer, and tomorrow, Thursday, June 21, from noon to 1:00 pm, we will hold a special vigil with guided prayers and scripture relating to the care and comfort of strangers who are also children and families.

St. Luke’s Cathedral, 143 State Street, Portland – vigil Thursday at noon and will also gather for the Families Belong Together rally at Monument Square on Saturday, June 30, at 3 p.m.

Saints Matthew and Barnabas, 20 Union Street, Hallowell – open Thursday noon to 7 p.m., candle light vigil at 6:30 p.m.

Trinity Church, 150 Perkins Street, Castine – vigil from noon to 3 p.m.

All Saints, 169 Malbon’s Mill Road, Skowhegan – open for prayer 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Christ Church, 2 Dresden Ave., Gardiner –  dawn to dusk

St. Patrick’s, 21 Holyoke Street, Brewer – Noon to 8:30 p.m. with a candlelight vigil at 7:30 p.m.
(Members of St. Pat’s will also visit Senator Susan Collins’ Bangor office at 10 a.m. on Thursday. They invite people to join them at the Federal Building at 202 Harlow, Bangor. Best to leaves bags in the car due to a sensitive metal detector.)

St. Columba’s, 32 Emery Lane, Boothbay Harbor – Open for prayer 24 hours with regularly scheduled guided mediation at 4 p.m.; vigil at the Boothbay Congregational Church at 7:30 p.m.

St. Bartholomew’s, 396 Gilman Road, Yarmouth – 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. with prayer together at 6:30 p.m.
Prayers will be available for you to use during your visit if you so wish. If you are unable to physically be at St. Bart’s this Thursday, let’s hold these families in prayer as we go through the day. Here are copies to use wherever you are or to adapt for your congregation’s use. Prayers -docx Prayers – pdf.

The Episcopal Church’s Office of Government Relations (OGR) plans to host a #longestdayvigil in the chapel of their building on Capitol Hill that they share with many other denominations’ advocacy offices. They will also host a Virtual Vigil for Family Unity on Facebook from Noon to 1 p.m.

Ways to participate:
1. Tune in on Facebook live on The Episcopal Public Policy Network.
2. Submit prayers via social media to be read at the vigil.
3. Engage on Social Media with #longestdayvigil and  #KeepFamiliesTogether
4. Take action on family separation and asylum action using the action alert from The Episcopal Public Policy Network.

Families Belong Together Rallies in Maine on Saturday, June 30

Augusta  at the State House at 11 a.m.

Portland at Portland City Square at 3 p.m.

Diocesan profile is up and nominations are open


The Episcopal Diocese of Maine
143 State Street
Portland, Maine  04101

Contacts: The Rev. John Balicki, Chair, Discernment Committee


Heidi Shott, Canon for Communication and Advocacy | 207.772.1953 x 126 (office) | 207.592.7353 (cell)

Nominations now accepted for the Tenth Bishop of Maine 

[MAINE], May 3, 2018 – The Discernment Committee for the Tenth Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Maine today released the diocesan profile and announced that nominations and applications for the position are now being accepted.  Self-nominations are welcome.

The profile, nomination form, and application form may be found online at All forms and required attachments must be submitted electronically. Nominations will be accepted until Wednesday, May 30, 2018, and applications must be submitted on or before Monday, June 4, 2018.

Visit for news and updates throughout the Episcopal transition process.

Many thanks to Ken Pooley for sharing several photos contained in the profile. Photo credit to Hannah McGhee/Twin Villages Foodbank Farm for the photo of St. Philip’s, Wiscasset, volunteers packing fresh veggies for their food pantry.

The Episcopal Diocese of Maine, established in 1820, is made up of 59 year-round congregations, 18 summer chapels, and many ministries across the state. It is part of The Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Find us online at and on Facebook and Twitter @episcopalmaine. Sign up for our bi-weekly email newsletter, The Dio Log. Subscribe to our podcast, Faith in Maine, on iTunes or Google Play Music or listen at


Spring Training 2018 – April 28 in Augusta

Saturday, April 28, 2018
South Parish Congregational Church
9 Church Street
Augusta, Maine

“Jesus is Here. Right Here. Right Now.”


Gather with Bishop Steve Lane and Episcopalians across the diocese for a day of learning, sharing, and growth. A church leader? A clergy person? Someone interested in spiritual growth or community outreach? With 20 workshops to choose from, you’ll find what you’re looking for. There’s no cost for this event which will be held at South Parish Congregational Church in Augusta.

Congregations and diocesan ministries and program groups are welcome to share their stories by hosting a display table. Click here to reserve a table.

Register for Spring Training now!

Share the news in your bulletin, newsletter, or notice board! Download the Spring Training flyer and bulletin insert.

Learn more about each workshop offered.  Click for workshop descriptions.

Doors Open, Coffee Ready: 8:30 a.m.

Workshop Session I and Dwelling in the Word: 9:30-11:00 a.m.
New Liturgical Expressions – led by Stephen Lane
New Ideas for the Church of the Future – led by Michael Ambler
Christian Formation for Kids – led by Sherry Sivret
Pray Yin: Christian Yoga for Everybody – led by Leslie Lambert
In Their Shoes: – led by Hamet Ly, Catholic Charities Refugee and Immigration Services
Getting to Know Your Congregation and Community – led by Terry Reimer

Plenary with remarks from Bishop Stephen Lane, worship, and music: 11:15 to Noon

Lunch: Noon to 12:30

Workshop Session II: 12:30-1:45 pm
Asset-Based Community Development, Part 1 – led by John Hennessy and Maria Hoecker
Living Local: Joining God – led by Team from St. Patrick’s, Brewer, and Jane Hartwell
Everyday Theology – led by Merle Marie Troeger
The Spirituality of Self-Care – led by Katie Holicky
Loving All Our Neighbors: Committee on Indian Relations – led by John Dieffenbacher-Krall
No-Cost and Low-Cost Ways to Collaborate and Communicate – led by Heidi Shott
Church Finances 101 – led by Terry Reimer

Workshop Session III: 2:00 – 3:15 pm
Asset-Based Community Development, Part 2 – led by John Hennessy and Maria Hoecker
Wisdom for Vestries – led by Michael Ambler
Ministry for Lay People – led by Stephen Lane
Theological Reflection Using Provocative Word – led by Emily Rotch and Emily Jenks
Songs for the World That Is Coming – led by Thew Elliot
Lay Eucharistic Ministry Training – leader TBA
Our Story is God’s Story – led by Nancy Moore


WHEN? Saturday, April 28, 2018.

TIME? Coffee and a snack are available from 8:30 – 9:15.  The workshops begin at 9:30 and end at 3:15.

WHERE? South Parish Congregational Church, 9 Church Street in Augusta. (Click to locate it on Google Maps) A full schedule with workshop locations will be available at the registration table just inside the entrance from the parking lot.

PARKING? Please plan extra time so you can park in a municipal lot or on the street. Please don’t take one of the limited spaces in the church parking lot unless walking is difficult for you. South Parish is a four minute walk from the Dickman Street Parking Garage.

WHERE SHOULD I GO WHEN I ARRIVE?  The parking lot door will be the easiest to use. Register at the door and allow time for coffee, visiting, and browsing the display tables.

WHAT TO BRING? A bagged lunch. Be prepared to eat in a room without a table.

WHO CAN COME?  Everyone is invited, but registration is required so we can plan for you. The workshops were chosen to appeal to clergy, wardens, vestries, staff, teachers, lay leaders and all parishioners in churches around Maine.  Space is limited to 170 people.

WHERE DO I REGISTER? Register here. Registration will close if we reach capacity of 170 people. Otherwise, it will close on Tuesday, April 24. Sorry, group registration isn’t available. We need to get a headcount for workshops in order to put them in the right-sized rooms.

I FORGOT WHICH WORKSHOPS I REGISTERED FOR? Look at your confirmation email. Or use your best guess. Or check the list available at registration which will also indicate which workshops have unlimited seating.

HANDOUTS/DISPLAYS?  If you would like to highlight your church program or ministry, we invite you to reserve a display table. Reserve your display table here.

GRATITUDE:  Thank you to South Parish for their wonderful hospitality!

QUESTIONS? Ask Jane Hartwell at

Ash Wednesday stories from beyond our church doors

The Rev. Suzanne Cole offers Ashes to Go to a young person in downtown Wilton.

On Ash Wednesday, February 14, clergy and lay people in ten Maine communities shared the start of the Lenten season with their neighbors by offering Ashes to Go on street corners, along the road, and in the public square.

Tim Higgins, the rector of St. Ann’s in Windham, was joined by Deacons Wendy Rozene and Cindy Beaulieu in Windham outside the local Amatos and near the post office. He said, “I am filled with gratitude to God for this amazing ministry. There is something about praying with perfect strangers on the sidewalk that is humbling and gratifying all at the same time.

Deacons Wendy Rozene and Cindy Beaulieu offer a blessing and ashes in Windham.

“I had a wonderful conversation with a gal about Ash Wednesday, the Lenten Season, and importance of faith in our lives. I then asked if she wanted to receive ashes and be prayed with and she said, ‘I’m in retail and a smudge mark on my forehead the rest of the day is not a good look, so no thanks.'”

Slightly off the beaten track in Yarmouth, St. Bart’s rector, Nina Pooley, stood with an Ashes to Go sign by the road. She told a different story, “A mom and her middle school son swung in on their way to school. They jumped out of the car and asked for their ashes. It was very intentional and it was that moment when I realized THAT’S why I was there. To do this for them. Our community in is in deep mourning after a recent suicide and if this helps this one family find some healing… it is a holy, holy Lent.”

At Monument Square in Portland, Dean of St. Luke’s Cathedral, Ben Shambaugh, and Larry Weeks, rector of Trinity Church and St. Peter’s, were in the thick of people going about their business on a busy weekday. Shambaugh shared, “I had a young mom with two kids jump out of a car and make a beeline toward me, ‘We really wanted to do this,’ she said. I had a college student say, ‘I am on the way to class. I’m afraid it wouldn’t be taken very well.’ Then she said turned back and said, ‘Let’s go ahead!'”

Ash Wednesday fell on Valentines Day, for the first time in 73 years, as the heart in the background shows. This photo, by Portland Press Herald photographer Gregory Rec, made the front page of the local section on Wednesday.

He added, “People are hungry for a blessing, to know that there is something more, to feel loved. It’s not penitential for them but a sign of hope. And it was very cool to have the huge heart hanging from the library in the backdrop!”

Weeks, who organized the first Ashes to Go in the Diocese of Maine seven years ago, explained to a reporter for a segment on WMTW-8, “We want the Church to be a public entity to offer to everyone, whether they are Christians or not, to come and maybe have a conversation around what it means to have a changing heart.”

Ashes to Go were also offered by clergy from Grace Church, Bath; St. Paul’s, Brunswick; St. James, Old Town; St. Peter’s, Rockland; St. Luke’s, Wilton;  and St. Andrew’s, Winthrop.

The Rev. Susan Taylor, vicar of St. Andrew’s in Winthrop, was featured in a story in the Kennebec Journal headlined, “Winthrop priest offers “Ashes 2 Go” downtown as sign of love.”

Across Maine on Ash Wednesday, Episcopal churches marked the start of the Lenten season in, perhaps, more traditional ways. As Maria Hoecker, rector of St. Columba’s in Boothbay Harbor, where services were held indoors, put it, “We offer opportunities for meaningful prayer and worship for two or more gathered together. I truly believe folks who are able are hungering to be invited to enter into our sacred sanctuary spaces now more than ever.”

Transitions aplenty across the diocese

by the Rev. Cn. Michael Ambler
Canon to the Ordinary

There are a lot of comings and goings among the clergy of the diocese! And that means a lot of congregations are in transition. Here’s an update about some of the newest developments:

  • Auburn, St. Michael’s: The Rev. Dan Warren has announced that his last Sunday will be January 7, 2018. The congregation will soon begin planning their transition process.
  • Augusta, Emmanuel Lutheran Episcopal: The Rev. Suzanne Colburn has started as interim Priest-in-Charge.
  • Bridgton, St. Peter’s: The Rev. Dan Warren will serve as interim priest-in-charge, beginning in the middle of January. The congregation is currently working on their search materials.
  • Castine, Trinity: The Rev. Emily Blair Stribling has concluded her ministry, and the congregation is reviewing applications from prospective priests-in-charge.
  • Deer Isle, St. Brendan the Navigator: Currently being  served by supply clergy while they discern future plans
  • Gardiner, Christ Church: The Rev. Kerry Mansir has started an internship year under the supervision of the Rev. Steve Muncie.
  • Millinocket, St. Andrew’s: Currently being  served by supply clergy while they discern future plans
  • Mount Desert Island (St. Saviour’s Bar Harbor; St. Andrew and St. John, Southwest Harbor; and Church of Our Father, Hull’s Cove): The three parishes continue to live into their experiment in which certain aspects of ministry (including clergy ministry) are shared among the various congregations. St. Mary and St. Jude Northeast Harbor is a new participant in these conversations.
  • Newcastle, St. Andrew’s: The Rev. John Neiman will soon begin the third year of his three year interim, and the process of searching for the next rector will begin in the new year.
  • Old Town, St. James: Currently reviewing applications.
  • Saco, Trinity: The Rev. David Robinson has announced his retirement effective January 2018; the vestry is currently planning the transition process.
    Skowhegan, All Saints: The Rev. Bill Blaine-Wallace will conclude his service at All Saints as of the end of this month; the Vestry is currently working on transition materials.
  • Wiscasset, St. Philip’s: Currently being  served by supply clergy while they discern future plans

This is the wave of transitions that we’ve been anticipating, and it’s just beginning: there are around a dozen more coming in the next year or so. This wave has come about because of the convergence of at least three factors:

  1. There’s a large cohort of clergy who are reaching mandatory retirement (age 72) at about the same time.
  2. There’s a group of mid-career clergy who have been in their parishes for long enough that it’s timely for them to consider new calls, and they are in demand.
  3. The housing crisis, which froze people in place for a while, is well behind us now and there’s some pent-up movement being set free.

We work hard to offer pastoral care and practical guidance to congregations in the transition process. Please feel free to be in touch with me at or 772-1953 x 123. Also, please visit the transition page on the diocesan website for updated information about congregations and the “Guide to Clergy Transitions”.

In order to continue the same level of support in the future, I have assembled a team of priests consisting of Sara D’Angio White of Kennebunk, Sara Gavit of Calais, Jud Pealer of South Paris, and John Rafter of Camden.

Going forward, it is likely one of the consultants will work alongside me on most transitions. I’m excited about working with them, and what we together will be able to do with the congregations we serve.


Committee rosters announced

November 21, 2017

Dear Ones,

On behalf of the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Maine, I’m pleased to announce the newly-appointed membership of the Discernment Committee and Transition Committee in our Quest for the Tenth Bishop of Maine. We are deeply grateful for each person who offered their talents for service.

The Standing Committee received double the number of qualified nominations than we had committee slots to fill. This is a terrific sign of a robust and inclusive diocese! It is our hope that these two committee rosters reflect a balance in the diversity of our genders, ethnicity, stages of life, geographic locations, size of our congregations, and our orders of ministry.

Discernment Committee

The Rev. John Balicki, Chair, St. Mark’s, Waterville
Mr. Dale Brooker, St. Ann’s, Windham
Mr. Arthur Carter, St. Anne’s, Calais
The Rev. Andrew D’Angio-White, St. David’s, Kennebunk
Ms Lisa Lindsey, St. Luke’s, Wilton
The Rev. Kerry Mansir, Christ Church, Gardiner
The Rev. Ann McAlhany, St. John’s, Bangor
Ms Kenna Haines, St. Luke’s, Portland
Ms Nancy Mooers, Good Shepherd, Houlton
The Rev. Laura Peckham, St. Martin’s, Palmyra
The Rev. Claudia Smith, St. Francis, Blue Hill
Ms Merle Marie Troeger, St. Mary’s, Falmouth
Mr. Paul Womer, St. Paul’s, Brunswick

Transition Committee

Ms Patricia Buck-Welton, Chair, Sts. Matthew and Barnabas, Hallowell
The Rev. Carolyn Eklund, St. Paul’s, Brunswick
Ms Billie Ellis, Christ Church, Gardiner
Mr. David Fernald, St. Luke’s, Portland
Mr. Fred Fowler, St. Luke’s, Portland
Mr. Philip Hamilton, St. Alban’s, Cape Elizabeth
Ms Lis Ingoldsby, St Brendan’s, Deer Isle
The Rev. Jennifer Reece, Good Shepherd, Rangeley
Ms Linda Roebuck, St. Augustine’s, Dover-Foxcroft
Mr. Mark Spahr, St. Patrick’s, Brewer
The Rev. Susan Taylor, St. Andrew’s, Winthrop
The Rev. Kit Wang, St. George’s, York Harbor
The Rev. Mary Lee Wile, St. Paul’s, Brunswick

We invite the Holy Spirit into our diocesan-wide discernment process and charge the Discernment Committee and Transition Committee to go forth to do the work they’ve been given to do. Together, we commit to creating a process that is transparent, inclusive, and wrapped in prayer. We encourage all members of our diocese to fully engage in this spirited process as it unfolds with God’s grace.

Our chaplain, the Rev. Cn. Nancy Moore, rector of Christ Church, Norway, has composed a collect our use. We invite you to join us in prayer, now and as a part of your weekly worship in the months to come.

God of Grace, we give you thanks for all of the blessings of our common life and ministries as the Episcopal Diocese of Maine, and for our leaders who are guiding us through this season of change. Grant to the Discernment and Transition Committees open hearts, minds, and spirits as they receive the Holy Spirit’s gifts of faith, hope, and love to aid their work. We ask also that you send courage and vision to our next bishop of Maine as she or he discerns your call.
In Christ’s Name, Amen.



The Rev. Maria Hoecker
President, Standing Committee
Rector, St. Columba’s, Boothbay Harbor

Consider offering your gifts in the search for the next Bishop of Maine

Is God calling you to share your gifts and experience in the search for the Tenth Bishop of Maine?

On June 22, 2019, at St. Luke’s Cathedral in Portland, Bishop Steve Lane will pass the crozier to the next Bishop Diocesan of Maine.

Maine Episcopalians must do lots of faithful, prayerful work in the coming months to bring that day to fruition. One of the people to help do that work may be you!

The Standing Committee of the Diocese invites you to consider an invitation to be considered for membership on the two committees that will do much of the work leading to an Episcopal transition.

 Episcopal Transition Q & A 

What are the two committees?
The Discernment Committee will survey the diocese, create a diocesan online profile, receive nominations, screen/interview nominees, and present a slate of qualified bishop candidates to the Standing Committee by November 2018. Most active: December 2017 to November 2018.

The Transition Committee will manage the details of the candidates’ walkabouts, the bishop election, and the ordination/consecration in June 2019. They will also actively support Bishop Lane, the bishop-elect, and their families with their transitions. Most active: November 2018 to June 2019.

Who may be nominated to serve?
Lay members in good standing in a Maine Episcopal congregation and priests and deacons who are canonically-resident in the Diocese of Maine may serve on either committee.

What is the Standing Committee looking for in nominees to serve on the committees
Standing Committee members are looking for people who…

  • know a thing or two about the Episcopal Church in their local community and care about the future of the Episcopal Church in Maine.
  • will attend meetings, both in person and online.
  • represent all of our churches: large and small, rural and urban, formal and casual.
  • feel at ease with electronic communication and have a dependable computer or tablet.
  • do tasks they agree to do on behalf of the group in a timely and dedicated manner.
  • listen to others viewpoints, able to articulate their own, and will work toward consensus.
  • respect boundaries and keep strict confidences.
  • can attend the initial overnight meeting in Portland on Friday (evening) and Saturday, December 1 and 2. This is required.

What is the deadline for nominating someone for the committees?
Friday, November 10, 2017

May I nominate myself?
You bet!

Where may I find the nomination form?
A link to the nomination form may be found on the diocesan home page at or at the direct link:

When will membership on the two committees be announced?
The Standing Committee will announce the membership of the committees on November 20.

What if I am (or the person I will nominate is) only interested in serving on one of the committees?
Don’t worry, there’s a check box for that.

I would like to serve but I am on a limited budget. Will committee members be reimbursed for expenses?
Committee members may request reimbursement for mileage and/or child care for any in-person committee or subcommittee meetings.

Is there a full description of the work the two committees will engage in as well as a timeline for the process?
Indeed there is! The link may be found on the diocesan home page at

Other questions?
Please be in touch with the Rev. Maria Hoecker, President of the Standing Committee, at


Click here for this post as a ready-to-use bulletin insert.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry on Hurricane Harvey

Our brothers and sisters in Texas and Louisiana need our help.”

Jump down to an update from the Diocese of Texas – 5 p.m., August 29

August 29, 2017

Long ago the prophet Malachi taught that we are all children of God by virtue of our creation by the same God. “Have we not all one father? Has not one God created us,” he asked (2:10). Jesus taught the same thing when he told a story about a Good Samaritan. We are indeed all the children of God. And if we are all God’s children, then we are all brothers and sisters.

In our recent days, we have watched and witnessed the devastation in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. Our brothers and sisters in Texas and Louisiana need our help.

Episcopal Relief & Development reminds us not to send food, clothing or other items because affected dioceses have limited or no capacity to receive, store or distribute goods. It is more efficient and better for the local economy to make a donation.

Episcopal Relief & Development already has actions in place for assistance.

· To donate to the Hurricane Harvey Response Fund to support impacted dioceses as they meet the needs of their most vulnerable neighbors after this event, check here

· Sign-up on the Ready to Serve database to register as a possible volunteer in the future. Episcopal Relief & Development staff share these lists with dioceses when they are ready to recruit external volunteers.

· Bulletin insert for use this Sunday is available here

· The latest Episcopal Relief & Development program updates are available on Facebook and Twitter @EpiscopalRelief and

As our fellow Episcopalians minister to those in need they need our help not just now or in the short term, but for the long haul. Our support of Episcopal Relief & Development is a tangible, practical, effective and reliable way to do that, keep in your prayers for the people in Texas and Louisiana whose lives have been forever changed by Hurricane Harvey.

Together we are the human family of God and our efforts in times like these truly help bring God’s love and ours to our sisters and brothers in great need.

The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church


Additional links:

From the Diocese of Texas

From the Diocese of West Texas (where Harvey made landfall): 

From Episcopal News Service 


Update from the Diocese of Texas by Director of Communication Carol Barnwell:

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Episcopal Diocese of Texas has taken first steps in a robust response to now Tropical Storm Harvey, even as rain and flooding continue to threaten southeast Texas. Spiritual care teams have deployed to the George R. Brown Convention Center, which is housing 9,000 plus evacuees. The Mayor Sylvester Turner said Tuesday that he had requested 10,000 more cots from FEMA and was opening additional emergency centers in the Greater Houston area.

By the weekend, Archdeacon Russ Oechsel, head of the diocesan disaster relief efforts, said he would have dozens of deacons and lay chaplains deployed to the hardest hit neighborhoods to offer comfort and emergency funds to people who were flooded.

At the same time, the Very Rev. Barkley Thompson, dean of Christ Church Cathedral is helping to coordinate the cardinal rectors of Houston’s largest Episcopal churches to respond to the most pressing assessed needs, whether that be space for mission teams, feeding programs and/or funding.

“Our response will come in several ways, and will be long term,” said Bishop Andy Doyle. “We will reach out to our communities through the efforts of Russ, the cardinal rectors and Episcopal Relief and Development, and the diocesan staff will work diligently and urgently to get our affected congregations up and running so that they can serve their immediate communities.”

Episcopal Relief and Development has already provided emergency funds for some of this work and the diocese is accepting donations at Church Pension Group, the Church’s insurance arm, has the capacity to deploy teams to assess the damage to church property and help remediate those issues, said Linda Mitchell, COO of the diocese. She said she had already been in touch with them.
Clergy and heads of congregations will receive online training in best practices for response from Episcopal Relief and Development this week and special liturgical resources will also be provided ( for link). I continue to give thanks for all those around the world who are praying for South Texas and for this Diocese. It is of great comfort to us to know that we are connected to and supported by the larger Body of Christ.

One of the most heartening things to witness during this protracted tragedy is the volunteer response from people who just “want to help.” Robert Jordan, senior warden of Trinity, Baytown was in a boat helping to rescue people when he answered a call from diocesan officials to check on the church. He is one of thousands who put their faith to work in the high water.

“I give thanks for each of you who have offered a warm, dry bed, a hot meal or simply comfort to your neighbors,” said Bishop Doyle. “While it is frustrating to see so much devastation and not be able to fix it, we must first be safe and not create more work for our first responders. Where you have been able to help, it is the reflection of Christ’s love that is shared and it is this love that will bring hope in the darkest moments for many people.”

For now, BE SAFE AND DONATE.  If you are safe, then be a good neighbor and help your neighbors. Give funds to EDOT<> or to Episcopal Relief and Development.<> ERD and diocesan staffs have already begun to help coordinate relief efforts. PRAY for all who are in harm’s way, those who have been displaced and have suffered so much loss, our government officials, volunteers and all of our first responders as well as the media who has worked without rest to bring us this unfolding story. All of these people need our unceasing prayer.

Once the flooding is over, the diocese will coordinate relief efforts as soon as it is safe, working collaboratively with our congregations to make the most impact for both church members and our communities.

“We will face this together. We have a tremendous opportunity to help our communities heal over the coming months and in the long term,” Bishop Doyle said. “This is our call and I am grateful to be with you on this journey, challenging as it is. Thanks be to God.”

River of Life Pilgrimage: praying with your eyes wide open

by Heidi Shott
Canon for Communication and Advocacy

Until two weeks ago, I didn’t own a kayak rack so my kayaking adventures, over the years, have been limited to paddling from my dock on the millpond at the southern end of Damariscotta Lake to Bryant Island – about a four mile round trip. No sweat, literally.

approaching the Cornish-Windsor bridge on Day 21 of the Pilgrimage

Then this spring, the opportunity arose to represent the Diocese of Maine on a three-day segment of the River of Life Pilgrimage, a 40-day, 400-mile paddling journey spanning the length of the Connecticut River, from its headwaters at the Canadian border to its mouth at Long Island Sound.

Sponsored by the seven Episcopal Dioceses of New England, the New England Lutheran Synod, and Kairos Earth, each segment of the journey included a dozen pilgrims paddling 12 or so miles a day then camping on shore or sleeping in local churches at night.

It all sounded like fun until I fell into my default worry mode: Would I have the stamina for paddling that far each day? Could I carry my kayak over the rough terrain of a 200-yard portage? Was I skilled enough to handle the possibly tricky current on a big river? How could I stage a car at the end without hugely inconveniencing my husband? What if we ran into bad weather? What if the pesky bursitis in my left shoulder flared up while underway?

Awash in worry, I forgot the trip was meant to be a pilgrimage – a journey of mind, body, and soul. As a world-class worrier, I’m apt to forget, at any given time, what it is I’m meant to be about.

companions for the journey

My group of 12 pilgrims gathered on a Sunday evening at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in White River Junction, Vermont, for orientation to the next three days of paddling, a supper of sausages and potatoes, and evening prayer. We ranged in age from 11 to early 70s and hailed from many walks of life: teacher and farmer, priest and bishop, as well as roles less easy to define.

At the close of worship, we formed a circle and each shared our prayerful intention for the trip. Mine was to listen carefully for what is next, a fairly predictable intention for a middle-aged empty-nester whose been engaged in the same work and ministry for many years.

Of course, by the time I was driving home to Maine on Wednesday evening, it was clear that God had other news to impart. Pilgrimages are tricky that way.

Each morning from rising through the first hour of paddling we kept, if not quite silence, a withdrawal from nonessential conversation. That silence allowed the bird song and the rhythmic splash of our paddles in the river to fill the gap we so often fill with chitchat. The routine and silence also invited an engagement with our other senses throughout the day. Wind sweeping across the river brushed our arms, and the slightly acrid scent of the silty river mud plastered on our feet and clothes filled our noses. We savored the taste of good, simple food because we were truly hungry from the work of paddling. And on all sides, at each bend in the river, there was something new to see: ducklings trailing behind their adults, the sweep of blue sky over our heads, the play of light on the water, the yellow irises along the bank, the swallows darting low across the water in search of dinner.

the morning after the thunderstorm

How different the river looked from our vantage point on the water. A fellow pilgrim mentioned one evening that she thought she knew what the river was like from driving across a bridge and looking down. “It’s nothing like that,” she said. And she’s right. At kayak level, the river is so much more vibrant and complex and unpredictable. It’s so much more beautiful. Her comment also recalled to me something I knew once but forgot. The ninth-century theologian, John Scotus Eriugena, taught us that we can look to creation just as we look to the Scriptures to receive the living Word of God. Eriugena called Scripture the “little book” and creation the “big book,” which by reading we can divine the grace of God that surrounds us, its type as tall as trees.

Two elements of this pilgrimage were to pray and to paddle, and, at first, they seemed to be mutually exclusive. But since it’s impossible to paddle with our eyes closed, we were required to pray with our eyes wide open. We had to watch for rocks, the ripples that indicate fast water, and the boats of fellow pilgrims. There is no separating the praying and the paddling. For a long time I’ve kept my prayers sequestered from the daily business of living: working, parenting, mentoring, cooking, nagging, gardening, hiking — all the things I do, many of which I worry about constantly – instead of allowing prayer to infuse and, perhaps, defuse my daily routines.

As I drove across New Hampshire toward home, my trusty kayak firmly strapped to the roof, I vowed to live in closer, clear-eyed proximity to the surface of this gorgeous, complicated, fearsome, world. 

approaching Hoyts Landing at the end of the three days

— More news of the River of Life Pilgrimage

Summer Finale Week – a new way to gather at Bishopswood

For the past 50 years, young people from across Maine and beyond have immersed themselves in the natural world at our diocesan camp, Bishopswood. Located in the midcoast town of Hope, Bishopswood is just five miles from downtown Camden.

For all those adults who have had to wave good-bye to children and grandchildren on Sunday afternoon, wishing they could stay at camp themselves, your time has come – finally!

Introducing Summer Finale Week! This new camp for all ages will be offered from August 21 to August 27.  Fred Fowler of St. Luke’s Cathedral in Portland, who serves on the Summer Finale Planning Committee recently visited Bishopswood as part of the planning process. He says, “Camp has never looked so good. I’m looking forward to new sailing and rowing opportunities in the great outdoors while meeting new people and celebrating God in our lives.”

A few years ago, Bishopswood Director Mike Douglass began to invite Maine churches to consider using Bishopswood in the spring and fall for parish retreat weekends. The churches that availed themselves of this opportunity discovered that the chance for people of all ages to come together for fun and fellowship – away from the busyness of the outside world – was good for everyone, kids and adults alike.

Emily Keniston, of St. Ann’s, Windham, who attended one of those parish retreats, is also on the Summer Finale Week Planning Committee. She says, “For me, Summer Finale Week represents the very best that church can be. People from all over, in very different places and stages of life, coming together to share experiences, time and fellowship with one another. We will relax into each other’s company, breathe deeply the fresh air all around, and take the time to really experience the Body of Christ in a way that can be challenging while we’re in the midst of our busy, daily lives at home. Summer Finale Week will be a restful, exciting, inspiring, peaceful, delicious, growing time that we can all choose to experience together.”

In addition to the many activities to be offered,  Bishopswood will provide delicious home-cooked meals made with many ingredients harvested from local farms. Several housing options include cabins or RVs set-ups and tenting sites. A number of L.L. Bean 3 to 4-person tents are available to borrow.

Kerry Mansir of Mustard Seeds at Church at 209 in Augusta, also serves on the planning committee. “I’m looking forward to getting away from the crazy pace of life with three kids to a space where we can slow down and be mindful of the beauty around us, our relationships, and the relationships we will build within the larger Bishopswood community. I am excited about a week of playing outside, worshiping together, and sharing meals,” she says.

For those who can’t commit to the entire week, half-week options – from Monday afternoon (Aug. 21) to Thursday morning (Aug. 24) or from Thursday afternoon (Aug. 24) to Sunday morning (Aug. 27)  – are available.

Embedded into Summer Finale Week will be a discrete Youth Camp modeled after BION,  the diocesan teen camp held for many years.

Douglass says, “This is a perfect time for families, kids, youth, grandparents, anyone to be at Bishopswood and recharge. It’s a time to set electronics to the side and be a part of community that will allow us to grow, recharge, and head back home better than we arrived. Summer Finale is a time to reconnect with ourselves, our environment, and all the good in this world.  Summer Finale is going to be fun.”

Whether you are hoping to relax by the lake, enjoy active recreation, explore spirituality or have fun meeting new people— this Summer Finale Week is for you.

For more information about activities offered, registration fees, housing options, and a link to the registration site, visit . Click here for a brochure that lists all of the activities offer at Summer Finale Week. More questions, contact Mike Douglass at