The New Northeast

tracking the Spirit in the Episcopal Diocese of Maine

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.

1 Comment

One response to “Maine clergy invited to explore ministry in Lewiston”

  1. Both of these programs are indeed excellent but I would also encourage clergy to take the opportunity to see the scope for so many different kinds of ministry in Lewiston. For sure there is poverty in Lewiston, there is everywhere but there is so much more than that here. Please let’s get away from the stereotype of Lewiston being poverty ridden and downtrodden. There is so much more to Lewiston than that. I would hope that this city would be one that people would be drawn to for what it offers(and it offers a lot) rather than what it seems to need.

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