The New Northeast

tracking the Spirit in the Episcopal Diocese of Maine

Updates on (20!) congregations in transition

One feature of the print version of The Northeast was a report on congregations in search (new lingo: transition) across the Diocese.   That will be a new monthly feature of the NNE.  Here’s the first with Canon Vicki Wiederkehr reporting on 20 (of our 65!) congregations that are currently in transition.

St. Michael’s, Auburn:  The Rev. Jim Low, Transition Priest in Charge
St. Mark’s, Augusta:  The Revs. Dick Bamforth and Ralph Moore providing regular Sunday supply
St. Patrick’s, Brewer:  The Rev. Ann Kidder, Priest in Charge

St. Peter’s, Bridgton:  The Rev. David Heald providing regular Sunday supply.  Transition Committee currently interviewing candidates for Rector

St. Anne’s, Calais:  The Rev. David Sivret retired at the end of 2010.  Supply clergy currently serving

St. Alban’s, Cape Elizabeth:  The Rev. John Balicki, Transition Priest in Charge.   Transition Committee currently interviewing candidates for Rector

Trinity, Castine:  Rota of clergy currently providing regular Sunday supply

St. Mary’s, Falmouth:  The Rev. David Illingworth, Priest in Charge.  Vestry currently interviewing candidates for Transition Priest in Charge

Christ Church, Gardiner:  The Rev. John Widdows, Priest in Charge while The Rev. Jack Fles recovers from surgery

St. Matthew’s, Hallowell:  The Rev. David Matson, Priest in Charge

Good Shepherd, Houlton:  The Rev. Leslie Nesin has announced she will retire in mid-May

St. Giles’, Jefferson:  The Rev. Susan Kraus, Priest in Charge

St. Andrew’s, Millinocket:  The Rev. Bob Ficks retired at the end of 2010.  Supply clergy currently serving

St. Andrew’s, Newcastle:  The Rev. Lu-Anne Conner, Rector.  Celebration of New Ministry on March 6 at 4 p.m.

St. James’, Old Town:  The Rev. George Lambert, Transition Priest in Charge

St. Peter’s, Portland:  The Rev. Wayne Rollins resigned in mid-January.  The Rev. Larry Weeks serving as Priest in Charge with supply clergy currently serving.

St. Nicholas’, Scarborough:  The Rev. Roy Partridge, Priest in Charge

St. Mark’s, Waterville:  The Rev. Steve Foote, Transition Priest in Charge.  Transition Committee will soon begin interviewing candidates.

St. Philip’s, Wiscasset:  The Rev. Linton Studdiford, Priest in Charge

St. George’s, York Harbor:  The Rev. Calvin Sanborn, Rector.  Celebration of New Ministry on May 15 at 4 p.m.

The Rev. Martha Kirkpatrick preaches it at the Environmental Roundtable

The Rev. Martha Kirkpatrick of St. Margaret's, Belfast, offers closing remarks at the Roundtable on Maine People and the Environment on January 20. Photo by Michael G. Seamans/Waterville Morning Sentinel.

Here are remarks by the Rev. Martha Kirkpatrick, rector of St. Margaret’s, Belfast, at the Environmental Roundtable with Gov. Paul LePage on January 20, 2011. Prior to attending seminary, Martha served as Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection in the King administration. Prior to her call to St. Margaret’s, she served as the diocesan Missioner for Environmental Stewardship.

Thank you, Governor, for taking the time to be with all of us today. Thank you for listening to all that has been offered in the last hour and a half.  In my own life, and often I think, in public discourse, we sometimes forget the one thing, which is where I will start and end. Which is gratitude. It is our task, all of ours, to remember all there is to be grateful for. Listening to the stories of the people here today, and there are thousands of stories, I am so profoundly grateful for all that we have been given, for the place we are lucky enough to live, for the people who share it with us, who have cared enough over the years to make this a place where human lives and the natural world can flourish.

This place, in which we have been so fortunate to have been set down, this place is a blessing. A place of astonishing beauty, abundant provision from the land and the sea, strong communities where people care for each other, a place where people want to raise their children. I was born and grew up here, and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

It is a gift, this place. We know, those of us that live here, that the living isn’t always easy. In fact, it almost never is, except maybe for a week in August.  It isn’t, for most of us, a place for easy living.  But it is, and can be, a place of good living. Values and ethics are strong here, and they include being responsible, caring for each other and our homes and neighborhoods, planning ahead for our children’s future, sharing with others. We know, because we’re practical that way, that we are intimately bound up in the web of life, that we live in a system where everything and everyone is connected. Unlike many places, we still understand that we are dependent on the earth for our livelihood, for every aspect of health and wellbeing, physical, financial, moral, spiritual.

We have other gifts, beyond the beauty and abundance of this land. We have gifts of being resilient, resourceful and pragmatic. We weather storms. We don’t waste things. We know we’re dependent on each other and take care of each other. Our communities are places where relationships matter and we value responsibility and good citizenship. We make relationships and personal credibility a priority. We are small enough to try things on a human scale, and adapt and adjust them as needed. We work better with real problems than with abstractions. And we have entrepreneurs, many of whom you’ve heard from today, who have been leaders in sustainability beyond our borders, who are inventively finding new ways to make things and do things that use nature as a model, exciting new ways that are good for the long haul and that position us for the future.

Our connection to this good earth is deeper than we know. It is our home, it is in our blood.  It is a gift we are called to celebrate, to be profoundly grateful for.  This blessing, as all blessings do, comes with responsibilities, to care for it, to tend it and to keep it.  With gratitude for all that is and all we have been given, we are also called to operate from a place of hope. I’m not talking about some breezy optimism that obscures the real problems, environmental or economic. I’m talking about the kind of hope that opens our eyes to the blessings and gifts we have been given, the talents and resources we have, and emboldens us to envision a future where all life flourishes, where community and individual needs balance and support each other, where we work toward a common vision that celebrates and honors the goodness of creation and we were we put our heads together to find sustainable ways to live and work. Clean air to breathe, clean water; forests and farms, lakes and oceans that support and sustain all life that depend on them; healthy places to live and work, and play, places that inspire artists and excite our creativity and imagination and give rest to our souls; healthy children who look to the future with hope and aspiration; vital communities where people look out for each other and celebrate life. We can and should have this vision for ourselves and our children.  There is no good reason to sell ourselves short.  There is no reason to settle for anything less, or expect anything less.  More than a vision, this is our moral imperative, to love and care for what we have been given.

This is our place, our home. This is our time, to live with full and grateful hearts, into what we have been given, and to inspire hope for our future. May it be so.

Thank you.

Check out Bishop Steve’s new blog posts

Bishop Steve organizing his stuff at General Convention in Anaheim. That was 19 months ago. The 77th General Convention in Indianapolis is only 16.5 months away.

Bishop Steve is a master at blocking out the buzz of an airport and using the time he waits for flights to blog about his visits around the Diocese and across the Church.  Yesterday he was on his way to Fort Worth, Texas, to attend the Executive Council meeting.  He’s there in his newly appointed role as Vice-Chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance.

PB&F, as it’s known, is a core body in the Episcopal Church.  It is the group that develops the three-year or triennial  budget that is presented for approval at each General Convention.  Each of the nine provinces in the Episcopal Church is represented by a bishop (appointed by the Presiding Bishop), and two lay or clergy deputies to General Convention (appointed by the President of the House of Deputies).  So that Bishop Steve is the new vice-chair is a big deal, but he wouldn’t ever say that.

Instead, he’s writing about his most recent visitation to St. Matthew’s in Lisbon and time spent in Iowa last week with a group that shares innovative ministry ideas called Living Stones.

Take a look.

Homelessness in rural Maine is real and Christ Church in Norway is doing something about it

From today’s Lewiston Sun Journal

NORWAY — A group of representatives from charities, churches and towns helping homeless and near-homeless people has a tentative name now and a more focused mission.

The Oxford County Community Resource Coalition aims to direct homeless and nearly homeless people to resources and outreach workers who can help.

The group plans to create a resource manual to direct people in need to the appropriate sources for food and mental health services, among other things.

The coalition began when the Rev. Anne Stanley, rector at Christ Episcopal Church in Norway, noticed an increase in people coming to her church asking for financial help. She said more homeless teens and families have been coming in since the fall, and she wanted to be able to direct those she couldn’t help, those looking for shelter and those who hadn’t asked local town governments for General Assistance.

Read the rest of the story…

Presiding Bishop on Sudanese referendum

“We rejoice with our brothers and sisters in both Southern and Northern Sudan” [February 8, 2011]

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori shared the joy of the Episcopal Church with the people in Sudan on the positive outcome of the country-wide referendum in a statement today.

“We rejoice with our brothers and sisters in both Southern and Northern Sudan as they work for peaceful co-existence,” she said in a statement. Sudanese government officials announced on Monday that over 98% voted in favor of independence for the South. In September, the Presiding Bishop called for a Season of Prayer for Sudan, urging prayer, study, and action for the January 9 referendum.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori’s full statement: The Episcopal Church is deeply grateful for the peaceful outcome of the referendum in Sudan. We rejoice with our brothers and sisters in both Southern and Northern Sudan as they work for peaceful co-existence. Our partnerships with the Episcopal Church of Sudan, which will remain united as one church body, will continue. We pray for peace, and for communities where all may enjoy the abundant life for which all God’s children have been created.

Episcopal News Service: Southern Sudanese celebrate the birth of a new nation Presiding bishop welcomes independence vote http://www.episcopalchurch.org/79425_126945_ENG_HTM.htm

Jefferts Schori appointed to Obama advisory group

The Episcopal Church’s Presiding Bishop, the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori was appointed to the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

Read on…

A letter from the Bishop of Egypt

The Anglican Communion News Service has published this letter from the Most Rev. Dr. Mouneer Hanna Anis, Bishop of Egypt.

He says in part –

In the midst of the turmoil which Egypt is going through, we have felt that the Lord is very near to us. We have experienced his peace, and we were assured of his protection. In most of our churches and homes, there have been prayer meetings for the situation and for our beloved country Egypt. All our churches are safe, although they have not been guarded by the security since Friday when all the security were withdrawn. This assured us that the one who protects the churches is the Lord of the Church.

I was touched to see young adults, Muslims and Christians, guarding the streets, homes, and our churches. They did not allow any thieves or looters to come near the area. They also arrested some of those and handed them over to the Army. I applaud our local Egyptian clergy and people who joined the youth in the streets in guarding homes and churches.

Read his letter here.

Primates to meet in Dublin this week

At the last Primates' Meeting, held in Alexandria, Egypt, in February 2009, the Most Rev. Francis Park of the Anglican Church of Korea with Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. Photo by Matthew Davies

Matthew Davies has a story at Episcopal News Service about the upcoming meeting of the Anglican Communion Primates (most of them, anyway).

Read it here.

The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori will attend.  Today she released the following statement about the Primates meeting:

January 24, 2011

I look forward to greeting many old friends at the Primates Meeting in Dublin, and I look forward to meeting those who have been elected in the past two years.

I am deeply grateful that we may begin to focus on issues that are highly significant in local contexts as well as across the breadth of the Anglican Communion. Certainly issues of serving our brothers and sisters, offering good news for body, mind, and spirit, are the central ones in our province.

The Episcopal Church is urgently focused on rebuilding in Haiti, seeking increased ways to bring good news to the poor in indigenous communities, inner cities, and expanding and depopulating rural areas in all the nations in our province.

Across the globe, in partnership with Anglicans and others, we seek to serve the least of these, bringing light in the midst of darkness, peace in the midst of war and violence, and hope in the face of devastating natural disasters and the growing reality of climate change. We own our domestic responsibility to change our habits and ways of life that contribute to environmental damage and destruction.

In all we do, we seek to recognize the face of God wherever we turn, realizing that the body of God’s creation will only be healed when all members of the body of Christ are working together.

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church

The PB also was also featured in a brief Q&A with the Houston Chronicle yesterday.  Check it out here.  [h/t Episcopal Cafe]

The Presiding Bishop writes the President

Here’s a link to Episcopal Cafe’s reporting on the letter the Most. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori has sent to President Obama on the Middle East peace process.  [read more…]

At the Diocese of Maine’s annual convention in October 2010, clergy of the diocese and lay delegates from our 65 congregations passed the following resolution presented by the Maine chapter of Episcopal Peace Fellowship on our role as peacemakers in Palestine.

Resolved that the Annual Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Maine formally recognize that the Holy Land has a unique place in the history of Christianity and the roots of the Christian faith as well as the history and faith of Islam and Judaism; and be it further

Resolved the Annual Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Maine approve the Episcopal Peace Fellowship-Maine Chapter recommendation that we all

PRAY, LEARN AND ACT

to help ease the conflict between Israel and Palestine in order to move into a peaceful and just solution as soon as possible; and be it further

Resolved that we support efforts to better understand and help resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; and be it further

Resolved, that we acknowledge the complexity and emotionally charged atmosphere of debates on the issues inherent in that conflict, and be it further

Resolved that churches in the Diocese of Maine be encouraged to overcome long-standing reluctance to talk about this conflict, recognizing the strong emotions involved on all sides, and to engage in informational programs and open-minded discussions, aimed at increasing understanding on all sides, facilitated, if requested, by members of the Maine Chapter of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship.

Different Means, Same Story

The final edition of Episcopal News Monthly, a print publication of The Episcopal Church launched just one year ago to succeed the 20 year-old publication, Episcopal Life, contains a column by the Rev. Scott Gunn, rector of Christ Church in Lincoln, Rhode Island.

In “Different Means, Same Story” Scott+ writes that the communication tools we have at our disposal for sharing the Gospel story may be radically different from the past, but the message is the same.  He writes

We have to remember why we are doing something before we can decide what to do. Whether we use hand-calligraphied scrolls or Twitter, the church is trying to share the good news of what God has done in Jesus Christ and what God is doing in our own lives today. The question cannot be, “Should we have a Facebook page” or “How long will newsprint survive?” Instead the question is, “How is God calling us to tell the story of how our lives have been changed?” “How is God inviting us to share the good news with a world that desperately needs to hear an encouraging, hope-filled Word?”

[Read the whole piece …]

What my friend Scott+ is writing about is the crux of the conversation Episcopal Communicators across the church have been engaged in for a long time.  When I started as Communications Director at the Diocese of Maine in 1998, virtually every diocese had a monthly or bimonthly tab-sized newspaper.  Ours, The Northeast, published continuously since 1872, is the oldest news journal in the Episcopal Church, and we’ve been proud of that.  Today, very few diocesan newspapers publish even six times a year.  Many have gone to quarterly news magazines, and many – as we are in Maine –  are working hard to determine how we can retain a print presence that is relevant, timely and represents good stewardship of our limited resources.

Scott+ and I served on a panel with other New England communicators in October at the Province 1 Deacons Conference where the theme was ministry storytelling and its vital role in sharing the Good News  as it plays out in the our lives -for  both the teller and the listener.  In the column linked above, he writes that the more and more communication becomes relational through social media like Facebook and blogs like this, the NNE, “The publishing model will give way to the storytelling model.” I think that’s true.

In this newly created space, I invite you to share the stories and pictures of the ministries you and your congregations are engaged in across the Diocese of Maine.  And to make it a true forum – a dynamic interaction of ideas – please please please comment on the postings of others…ask questions, ask how one church’s program can be replicated in yours. Send your news (300-350 words is best) and photos to nne@episcopalmaine.org .

Monthly, beginning in February, we will gather the previous month’s stories into a pdf that congregations can share electronically or reprint for their own newsletters or bulletins.  That’s the plan for 2011, anyway.  Things are changing but our charge remains the same, as this week’s collect so aptly nails it:

Give us grace, O Lord, to answer readily the call of our Savior Jesus Christ and proclaim to all people the Good News of his salvation, that we and the whole world may perceive the glory of his marvelous works; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

–Heidi Shott
Canon for Communications and Social Justice