The New Northeast

tracking the Spirit in the Episcopal Diocese of Maine

Why me, Lord?

by Heidi Shott
Canon for Communication and Advocacy

kris

He does have that ’70s Jesus thing going for him.

Of late I’ve been posing a question that was once asked by the venerable 20th Century theologian and Rhodes scholar, Kris Kristofferson.

“Why Me, Lord?”

It’s not that I’m facing some Sunday-Morning-Coming-Down existential crisis, far from it. It’s that I’m a slightly mystified as to why I’m propping up a wall in JFK’s international terminal waiting for the Royal Jordanian Airways ticket counter to open at 6 p.m.

It seems that I, along with six talented Episcopal writers and bloggers – and an additional 18 or so religion writers from other denominations – have been invited by the Jordan Tourism Board on a nine-day tour of “the other holy land.”

When the offer to apply first arrived in my inbox this summer, I was loath to believe it.

“What a great opportunity,” an encouraging Bishop Steve Lane offered by way of blessing several weeks later.

Then he said this: “But I also want you to represent my office on the Diocese of Maine pilgrimage to Israel and Palestine in late October.”

Two trips to the Middle East in five weeks with a little event called Diocesan Convention in between. As daunting and overwhelming as that seems, experiencing the hospitality of Jordan, which is often described as “a quiet house in a noisy neighborhood” in advance of a trip to Israel/Palestine where strife and violence, or the fear of it, are woven into the fabric of daily life offers an opportunity to bear witness to so many human stories. It’s an offer I can’t refuse, even if I’m not sure why I’ve been graced with it.

It is my great hope that I will find ways to do justice to the telling of a few people’s stories and the circumstances in which they find themselves and the way that God is at work in their midst.

My colleagues and I invite you to follow along with us. On various social media channels, we’ll use the hashtag #holyjordan. We’re a varied group in terms of both geography and vocation so our perspectives will, I hope, complement the our story-telling styles.

Please join us  – and join in – our Jordan journey.

Here are some posts already shared as we head out.

The Rev. Rosalind Hughes, rector of Church of the Epiphany, Euclid, Ohio
“Crossing the Jordan” at www.rosalindhughes.com

The Rev. Tim Schenck, rector of St. John the Evangelist, Hingham, Mass.
“Journeying to Jordan (TODAY!)” at www.clergyconfidential.com

Grant opportunities from the Diocese of Maine help bridge the gap

Since 2007, the Diocese of Maine has made .07% of its income available to support international efforts and ministries that help to alleviate poverty. Any Maine congregation or program group may offer a proposal to Diocesan Council for consideration to fund an international development effort. Past grants have included the Al Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza run by the Diocese of Jerusalem, midwife education support in Haiti, teachers salaries at a school in the Diocese of Liberia, and support for the ministry of St. George’s Anglican Church in Baghdad, among others.

In 2015 an additional $5,000 was included in the diocesan budget to fund ministry that serves those living in poverty in Maine. The first year’s recipients were Church at 209 in Augusta to support the settlement Iraqi refugees and the “Dinner is Served” community meal program out of St. Brendan’s, Deer Isle.

On September 10, Diocesan Council will meet to consider proposals for both grant programs. The deadline for a letter outlining a proposal is Tuesday, September 6, It should be addressed to Diocesan Council and emailed to Heidi Shott at hshott@episcopalmaine.org. Please be in touch with Heidi if you would like to receive copies of proposals that were funded in the past.

Below is an account by Deacon Rebecca Grant of Church at 209 about the real and meaningful impact a grant from the Diocese of Maine can make on the lives of our neighbors.

___

Bridging the Gap is an outreach collaborative between the Church at 209 (St. Mark’s Episcopal Church and Prince of Peace Lutheran Church) in Augusta. The collaboration is funded by a New Initiative Grant and a Domestic Poverty Grant from the Diocese of Maine.

The initiative, led by Deidrah Stanchfield, works with Iraqi refugees as they settle into the Augusta community.

Early in this work, we learned that refugees often arrive with only what they can carry. Furnishing apartments, clothing the family for the Maine climate, and integrating into the local culture are just a few of the challenges our friends face. We’re able to provide clothing through our free clothing bank, Addie’s Attic, and essential items through the Everyday Basics Essentials Pantry. Our work is about going beyond providing material items. We are about the business of building relationships in the Bridging the Gap initiative. Recently, Deidrah shared an interaction that occurred when Adnan, her principal contact in the Iraqi community reached out for assistance:

Adnan called, fairly late in the evening, and asked me if I knew where to get diapers. I asked him what size, and how urgent the need was. He said that a family had a week old baby, and had no diapers for her. I told him I could meet them at Walmart, and I could be there in as soon as ten minutes. 

I met Adnan and the family at Walmart. The mom looked very tired, the father very excited, and the other children were excited that I had brought my daughter Aurora. I looked at the newborn, who was sleeping, and dressed in clean but stained little boys’ clothes. The blanket they had was not in great shape, some holes and obviously well worn. Through the course of our visit, they shared that their other children had been born in Iraq, and so they had left all of their baby items there.

We went and I grabbed a box of diapers, and a box of wipes. Before leaving my house that is what I had planned on buying for them. They did not ask for more. I could not, however, ignore the fact that they obviously did not have any kind of a start for this little baby. While I knew Addie’s Attic could provide some clothing, I felt compelled to help them with the basics. I told Adnan to tell them to get what they needed. They were confused at first, but I looked around and picked out a sleeper, and asked if they liked it. We went around, and when I thought about the little things that I needed when Aurora was young, it just blew my mind how they were going to start this tiny life, and care for it. We got things that I knew they would need, bottles, socks, baby wash. The mother was looking longingly at a baby carrier, one that you can put the baby in and still accomplish some housework work with. I put it in the cart. With her other children out of school for the summer, she was going to need her hands free as much as possible. 

I cannot really describe the feelings during this event, and during check out. It was obvious that they had never had someone do something like this. And to know for myself how I would have felt, it was quite powerful. I certainly do not have the money to be able to support a family through a time like this, so having the grant to work with was truly a gift greater than anything I could have done. The relationship with the Iraqi Community made it possible for them to know who to ask that might help. They could not thank me enough. I told them that it was not me that made this possible. This grant is really making great things possible. 

Our thanks to all who support this initiative and the outreach ministries at Church at 209. The support allows us to make a difference in the lives of so many.

New chaplains to retired clergy appointed

The Rev. Elizabeth Miller and the Rev. Larry Estey

The Rev. Elizabeth Miller and the Rev. Larry Estey

Bishop Stephen Lane recently named two new chaplains to retired clergy in the Diocese of Maine.

Maine’s Chaplains to the Retired, the Rev. Lawrence (Larry) Estey and the Rev. Elizabeth Miller, stand ready to help retired clergy and surviving spouses by providing or helping locate local pastoral care if needed; by hosting gatherings; and by keeping in touch through regular communication.

They step into the shoes of Archdeacon Tom Benson, of St. John’s, Bangor, who has served retired clergy and surviving spouses for many years. The new chaplains agreed that they “look forward to developing new ways of carrying out this important ministry.”

Maine currently has 115 canonically resident clergy and 150 non-canonically-resident clergy, widely dispersed through our state and beyond. The mean age for both groups is in the early 70s. While some of retired clergy continue to serve congregations, most do not.

Chaplains Miller and Estey hope to reach out to this scattered band of clergy and to surviving spouses, in ways that take account of the limitations of geography and time. “We look forward to developing an occasional newsletter, and to being available to help locate resources to help in whatever stage of retirement we may find ourselves. We’re a work in progress!” said Chaplain Estey.

Elizabeth Miller grew up in the Bangor area and has lived in the Portland area for most of her adult life.  She worked in the business world until she was ordained in 2002, and served in Maine at S. Mary the Virgin Church in Falmouth, St. Matthew’s in Hallowell, St. Mark’s in Augusta, and Christ Church in Norway. She also has been active as supply priest to many congregations.

Larry Estey came to Maine in 2000 to serve as rector of St. Brendan’s, Deer Isle, after serving parishes in Massachusetts, Maryland and New York since his ordination in 1969. He retired from St. Brendan’s in 2006.

Please feel free to contact them with requests for assistance or with suggestions to help develop this ministry.

Larry Estey (207) 367-8884 lestey@roadrunner.com

Elizabeth Miller (207) 650-2911 emiller13@juno.com

Dreaming about a new ministry in your community?

Apply now for a 2016 Round 2 New Initiative Fund grant from Diocesan Council.

Each congregation and organization in the Diocese of Maine is eligible to apply for funding to support new ministries or expanding existing ministries in new directions. Applications will be evaluated on the how closely they meet the Diocese’s Seven Criteria for Mission.

The next deadline for Round 2 applications is 4 p.m. on Monday, August 15. Diocesan Council will make grant recommendations at its September 10 meeting.

The online application may be found at www.surveymonkey.com/r/2016-NIFRound2

Download the application worksheet and complete your application on that before cutting and pasting your application into the online Survey Monkey application linked above.

Once your application is processed, you will be contacted by a Diocesan Council member from your area. That member will serve as your advocate through the application process.

What kind of ministry might a New Initiative Fund grant get going? Below is a list of grants made by Diocesan Council over the past two years in spring and fall grant cycles.

Dream big!

2016 Round 1 New Initiative Fund Grants

St. Paul’s, Brunswick – $2,500 to develop a community collaboration to educate and support at-risk teens vulnerable to trafficking and domestic violence.

Center for Wisdom’s Women/Trinity, Lewiston – $6,805 to fund training and travel to Thistle Farms for a team that will minister at at Sophia’s House, a supportive housing program for vulnerable women.

St. Margaret’s, Belfast – $2,500 to support two weekend retreats at Camp Bishopswood for the Encounters Youth Program.

All Saints, Skowhegan – $1,200 to support “Conversations that Matter,” a program of community conversations on timely and important issues.

Church at 209, Augusta – $10,000 to support “Bridging the Gap,” a collaborative ministry serving newly-arrived refugees and immigrants in the Augusta area.

Trinity, Portland – $4,200 to support “Songlines Maine,” a collaborative community music program to build new and deeper connections between Trinity and other Portland nonprofit service organizations.

2015 New Initiative Fund Grants

St. Luke’s, Wilton – $3,000 to install a community labyrinth

Human Trafficking Ministry Group – $2,650 to bring Becca Stevens and women of Thistle Farms to a conference in November 2015

St. Matthew’s, Hallowell – $2,450 to support a Ecumenical mentoring program for women recently released Kennebec County Jail, Walk with Me: A Journey

St. Paul’s, Brunswick – $1,750 to gather and create resources for congregations to effectively talk about alcoholism

2014 New Initiative Fund Grants

The Congregations of the Southern Kennebec Valley (The Kennebec 6 – St. Mark’s, Augusta; St. Barnabas’, Augusta; Christ Church, Gardiner; St. Matthew’s, Hallowell; St. Andrew’s, Winthrop; and Prince of Peace Lutheran, Augusta) – $10,680 to establish a Sunday afternoon community Christian education program for families called “Mustard Seeds”

Trinity Church, Portland – $4,600 to assist All Saints Community Church, a Sudanese congregation that had met at Trinity for four years, in establishing a Christian education program

St. Nicholas’, Scarborough – $2,200 to establish a community garden on their Route 1 campus

St. Ann’s, Windham – $3,000 to establish an essentials pantry for needy members of their community

St. Peter’s, Bridgton – $2,400 for Women’s Initiative Mentoring Program

Diocesan Christian Ed Collaboration – $6,700 to bring Godly Play training to Maine

 

“We must not let fear become another closet. “

by the Rev. Calvin Sanborn
Rector of St. George’s Episcopal Church, York Harbor, Maine

[Ed. Note: The Rev. Calvin Sanborn was invited to share his reaction to the Orlando shooting at a gathering earlier this week at Maine Street, a gay nightclub in Ogunquit. Pretty sure it’s where Jesus would have turned up.]

The Rev. Calvin Sanborn, center, marches with other Maine Episcopalians and hundreds from across the Church at a march against gun violence in Salt Lake City last year.

The Rev. Calvin Sanborn, center, marches with other Maine Episcopalians and hundreds from across the Church at a march against gun violence in Salt Lake City last year during the Episcopal Churches General Convention.

Let me begin by expressing my gratitude to Jimmie, Eddie and Normand for organizing this event. As we struggle with myriad emotions in the wake of the horrific and terrifying act of hatred toward the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in Orlando over the weekend, it is SO good to be together. Thank you!

I learned about the shooting in Orlando as I was just about to begin my first service at St. George’s in York last Sunday. A beloved member of the congregation who has a gay brother in Orlando shared the news with me.

My gut immediately clenched, and my heart began to ache. It was difficult to absorb the words. I had to begin the service, so I did my best to maintain my composure, succeeding up until it was time to lead the congregation in prayer. At that moment I found myself unable to speak.

Through tears I could no longer hold back, after a few moments, I managed to choke the words out.

As a priest and a person of faith, of course, prayer is meaningful and important to me, but I’m not here tonight just because I’m a priest. I’m also here because I’m a gay man. I’m here because I know why an attack on a gay night club is so uniquely painful to the lgbtq community, our community.

I’m blessed be a part of a faith community where I’m not expected to hide or be silent or afraid. In my tradition I’m reminded on a daily basis that I’m imperfect, yes, but beautiful and beloved and holy in the eyes of God as is every single person here.

In the past few days, memories of my own nights in my early 20s spent with my friend Stephanie going out to clubs in the greater Boston area have been flooding my mind. I was there to dance, to celebrate, to feel joy. I was there to be surrounded by people like myself and to know that I was safe in the company of people who understood me in a way that other people did not.

I didn’t grow up in a community where I could count on that. I grew up in a small town in rural Maine. While my friends and family there loved me, I knew that love required me to keep parts of myself hidden. Thankfully, that’s no longer the case, but in my 20s it was, and, in those clubs, I didn’t have to hide.

As we honor the memory of the 49 people who were brutally murdered in their own safe space, I think it’s important to remember that they were not only lgbtq people, but also people of color. Several news reports have noted that many were from families who came to know their child’s sexual identity only because of this tragedy. Many of them may have been at Pulse because they, too, needed a place where they didn’t have to hide.

As we contend with our grief and our hurt and our fear and as we rally our strength and our pride for action, it is vital that we resist any and all attempts to erase or deny reality. This crime was a hate crime. I refuse to let that fact be ignored. These murders were of lgbtq people and their loved ones because they were lgbtq, and that is damn scary!

And that’s when I come back to being a priest in the Episcopal Church. I recognize that my faith and my traditions may not be shared by everyone in this place, and I completely respect and honor that. But I feel that there are parts of my faith, and yours too, that have meaning for us all. I’m blessed be a part of a faith community where I’m not expected to hide or be silent or afraid. In my tradition I’m reminded on a daily basis that I’m imperfect, yes, but beautiful and beloved and holy in the eyes of God as is every single person here.

And I follow the teachings of Jesus, a man who reminded his followers over and over and over again, “Do not be afraid.”

Do not be afraid. I say those words to you now.

We must not be afraid. We must not be silent. We must stand up. We must be proud.

We must NOT let this act of hatred cause us to shrink back into the shadows. We must not let fear become another closet. We must let the power that is in us and within our community well up and revive our commitment to seek justice, to be advocates for every person in this world who is being told that they are worthless, and to demand that safety and security are basic human rights.

We must honor the 49 lives lost in Orlando, and in so many other mass murders that have occurred in our country, by using our voices to support our leaders who value women, children, black people, latino people, gay people and transgender people. And we must help pass legislation to change our gun laws. Assault weapons do not belong on the streets.

And we must keep on dancing, keep on celebrating who we are, and keep on marching. We must never lose our pride!

Maine’s Committee on Indian Relations goes to school

by the Rev. Ted Kanellakis
Committee on Indian Relations

The gathering at the school on Indian Island

The gathering at the school on Indian Island

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

St. Paul’s youth journey to Dominican Republic deeply affecting

group shot pasluz 3rd gradeAfter nearly two years of discernment and planning, four St. Paul’s high school youth (all seniors) and three leaders boarded a plane on February 12 to embark on pilgrimage to Dominican Republic. There they volunteered with Outreach 360 in Montecristi near the northwest Haitian border. Youth included Ally Collins, Cedric Hipkins, Markis Larrivee and Joanna Brown. Leaders were Myrna Koonce, Hugh Savage and Macauley Lord. The group returned on February 21, changed and moved. Their experience was, by turns, challenging, absorbing, confusing, rewarding and joyful. Here are some highlights:

  • Awakening to dozens of roosters crowing and many motor scooters (“motos”) heading to school or work
  • Standing in front of groups of schoolchildren and chanting, “Wa-wa-wa-what’s the weather, what’s– what’s the weather?”
  • Watching our planning ideas take shape as children of all ages eagerly volunteered to engage in activities designed to help them speak English
  • Playing chasing and ball games with children during recess at tiny Pasluz Escuela
  • Playing “Papa Caliente” (hot potato) with the fifth and sixth graders at an even smaller school in Laguna Verde
  • Holding our own prayer service each morning on the rooftop of our Outreach 360 building in Barrio Salomon Jorge, Montecristi
  • Singing, drumming and dancing merengue with our new friends from Berkley High School in Michigan
  • Answering Spanish/Dominican trivia questions before eating rice, beans, meat, plantain and tropical fruits for lunch and dinner
  • Hiking up El Morro, the local mountain, to watch the sunrise
  • Giving and receiving friendly “holas” everywhere we walked in the town
  • Buying fresh juices from the local “juice lady”
  • Touring the salt flats where salt is harvested solely by hand
  • Visiting the crowded twice-weekly market in Dajabon, where Haitians cross the border to trade with Dominicans

The youth and their parents and leaders worked hard to raise funds for this trip by offering several events, food and services to their fellow parishioners. In thanksgiving, the youth will offer reflections at an upcoming all-parish worship service, and a Dominican dinner for the parish, cooked by the journeyers. We are so grateful to have such an active and inquiring group of teens among us, and we wish them the best as they leave for college next year.

Spring Training 2016 – Becoming members of The Jesus Movement

springtraining.logoBishop Steve Lane invites Maine Episcopalians to a diocesan education day called Spring Training 2016 to be held on Saturday, April 9, at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Brunswick.

Three sessions will offer a 20 workshops in areas such as spiritual growth, formation, music, public policy advocacy, church leadership, conflict mediation and more. We’ll pause at mid-day to gather, worship, sing, and hear more about change in our wider culture and the role the church may play in our communities. (Full workshop descriptions are here.)

Bishop Lane says:
Our new Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry, calls the Episcopal Church in Maine to be a part of The Jesus Movement. We want our members claim the faith that sends them into the world proclaiming the good news of God’s love. To do that we need to focus on three principles:
  • Know Jesus and follow him.
  • Go into the world where Jesus already is.
  • Leave your baggage behind.

My hope is that Spring Training 2016 will help to prepare us to take our place in The Jesus Movement.

Here’s Bishop Curry’s take:

Want to learn more? Visit our diocesan homepage at www.episcopalmaine.org to link to event information, full workshop descriptions, and registration. You may register directly at www.tinyurl.com/springtraining2016.

Download a flyer and a bulletin insert to share with members of your congregation.

Registration is limited to 150 people, so please don’t delay in signing up.

We look forward to seeing you there.

March 12 Workshop: Engaging in Public Life as Christians

original-4636-10657629The Maine Episcopal Network for Justice invites Maine Episcopalians to faith-based advocacy workshop at St. Luke’s Cathedral in Portland on Saturday, March 12, from 10 a.m to 2 p.m.

“Engaging in Public Life as Christians: A Faith-Based Advocacy Workshop,”  will offer four interactive sessions. Topics include: examining assumptions about the relationship between religion and democracy, a walk through the Maine legislative process, case studies on issues that will appear on the 2016 ballot, and practical steps to engage as individuals and churches. Free refreshments and a boxed lunch!

Please find an outline of the day below.

Because attendance is limited to 40 and lunch is provided, registration  is required. Please register at www.tinyurl.com/March12workshop

Download a copy of the event flyer here, MENJ-March 12 workshop

10 a.m. – Dr. Elizabeth Parsons Elizabeth Parsons photo

Liz will examine some prevalent assumptions about the relationship between religion and democracy in the United States and propose a way of seeing the world that shows why thoughtful Christian engagement is vital to our public life.

Part 1:   Revisiting the founders’ thinking about religion and governance
Part 2:   Thinking like Anglicans in the public square today

Elizabeth C. Parsons is an educator, activist, former ECUSA missioner to Southern Africa, and a member of St. Luke’s Cathedral. She holds the M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School and the Ph.D. in theology and development from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. She currently teaches at Boston University School of Theology. 

joanne11:15 a.m. – Joanne D’Arcangelo – Former Chief of Staff to Speaker of the House

By sharing engaging examples and defining terms, Joanne will unpack the legislative process in the Maine State House.

Joanne D’Arcangelo, owner of JD’A Consulting, Inc.is an advocacy, political, and organizational consultant with over twenty-five years’ experience in public policy development, legislative advocacy, voter education, and organizational planning, coaching and support. She served as chief of staff to the Speaker of the Maine House during the 122nd Legislature.

12:15 p.m. – Working Lunch with Case Studies from the 2016 Ballot:
These sessions led by campaign leaders will show how grassroots campaigns work.

      • Gun Safety  – Maine Moms Demand Action
      • Fair Wage Maine – Amy Halsted of Maine People’s Alliance

johnhennessy11 p.m. – John Hennessy

This interactive session will focus how to frame a message and narrative to demonstrate our values and how to taking action rooted in Christian practices. John will also share the scope, plans, and aspirations of the Maine Episcopal Network for Justice going forward.

John Hennessy is the Director of the MENJ. He has extensive experience advocating for non-profit social service organizations in Augusta and Washington, DC. His clients have included: Maine Community Action Association, Disability Rights Center of Maine, Maine AIDS Alliance, and AARP among others. In his new role, he is eager to help organize people of faith to enable them to contribute all of their unique gifts and resources to the broader movement for justice in our state.

Space is limited, so please register today!

Learning to listen in Brunswick

by Deacon Chick Carroll
St. Paul’s, Brunswick 
The Gathering Place volunteer

Chick Carroll

Chick Carroll

Have you ever been in a place that didn’t feel right? Perhaps not safe, maybe unfriendly. Or possibly it was okay, but you felt unwelcome? Like it was a little “off” for you. Or how about someplace where you felt you just didn’t know the rules? What was expected of you?

If you’re homeless or deeply poor, almost every place can feel that way. When you’re carrying everything you own in a backpack, you can stick out like a snowball in July. It’s impossible to feel safe– or even comfortable. Even in a town like mine. Where people can be afraid of you because you don’t look quite “right.”

How do I know this? Am I desperately poor or homeless?

No. But lots of my friends are. How do I know what it feels like to to be turned away, or turned down, or to have people in church or the grocery store look away, ask if they can help me- when what they really mean is how can they help me out of there, away from them.

Well, I have learned to listen. I can listen to and learn from my friends, my friends who are deeply poor, friends who are homeless, or were last month, or will be next week. Because they just received notice from the landlord. I can see what they live through when they don’t get the job for the tenth time in a row. Or when they just can’t keep the one job they got, at $7.50 an hour, because they have to get up every morning at 3 am in order to walk the four miles to work – -and they just can’t do it any more.

Do I know personally what it’s like to finally get a place to live even though it’s drafty and loud, and costs a pile to keep it warm? Or what it’s like to have an adult schizophrenic son that has to live with me– or die. But because he’s there I can’t work, because he can’t be left alone? No, I don’t. I don’t know personally. Because I’ve been lucky in life. No, I didn’t earn my luck; it happened to me. Sure, I’ve done my part, but good fortune has been a huge factor in my life. But not for many of my friends.

And I listen to what they talk about, the stories they tell, the insults they endure, the endless lines they stand in. I squirm when someone tells me tell how she was treated when she tried to buy something at the store that’s so friendly to me, but not to her. How people give him a wide berth as he walks along Main Street, as if he were contagious. When the doctor doesn’t give him the attention he needs, or that she gives me, because he doesn’t have insurance anymore, because Maine Care decided to cancel him. I fume when I hear what has happened to her food stamp allowance, even though she is disabled, when what she gets for a month wouldn’t feed me for more than a couple of days.

Where do I hear about all this? Where is a place in town where folks feel comfortable enough to tell these stories? Where no one like me is going to give them a big load of well meaning advice that’s supposed to turn their life around? Where is a place they think of as their own? It’s called The Gathering Place, Brunswick’s daytime drop-in center. It’s been around for going on five years, just off Union Street.

I have volunteered there since the beginning. So have a lot of other folks like me. We’re coming to learn about what life is like if you’re desperately poor, if you can’t work because you got badly hurt on the last job you were able to get- ten years ago. What life is like when your husband went broke and left you all at the same time, and your monthly social security’s a few hundred dollars. What happens when your husband breaks his back just before summer, when he would have been able to earn enough from odd jobs to keep you all from becoming homeless. And so you come to The Gathering Place because you can’t stay alone all day, and there will be friends there- friends whose lives are like yours, or maybe not, but who will listen and understand anyway. And you come because it’s one place in town where you’re really welcome to stay a few hours.

I also have friends on the “right” side of the tracks. Good people. Many of them really get it. And some don’t. Many understand that their town is just the friendliest place for them, but not for the desperately poor. And some don’t get that at all! And for a long time, many years, I didn’t either. Maybe ten or 12 years ago, the light went on for me. I began to see I was among the lucky ones– not the smarter or the better ones. Just the fortunate. Why, why me, God? Who knows?

But I began to understand I could be of help. Could I change the world? No. Could I light a lamp for someone? Yes, sometimes, and sometimes the lamp just wouldn’t stay lit, and sometimes the person I lit it for turned out to be me. And sometimes the person I thought needed my help was the one I needed, instead.