The New Northeast

tracking the Spirit in the Episcopal Diocese of Maine

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


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 .

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

A Creative Stewardship Idea

A way to raise funds at your church’s next silent auction?

(hat/tip – the Rev. Scott Gunn of Christ Church, Lincoln, RI)


Finance SATURDAYS in February

In yesterday’s Dio Log, an alliterative headline indicated that the Finance workshops in February will be held on Fridays.  Well, that’s wrong, the dates indicated are actually Saturdays.  Please see below.   Sorry for any confusion.

Three workshops for Maine Episcopalians

Do you have questions on how to fill out your parochial reports each year?

Do you wonder how to properly handle priest discretionary funds and designated donations?

Wondering about the new Revolving Loan Program?

Please join Terry Reimer, the Canon for Finance and Stewardship as he presents these topics and others about finances in a church setting.  The topics he will cover are the new Audit Program, Parochial Reports, the new Compensation Handbook, Employee Health Benefits, the Diocesan Payroll Program, the Diocesan Revolving Loan Fund, and Diocesan Insurance Program.  Terry will also provide ample time for questions and answers.  The workshops are open to all who have an interest in church finances.  There is no fee and no need to register.  Please come and learn!

Saturday, February 12 – St. George’s, Sanford – 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Saturday, February 19 – St. John’s, Presque Isle – 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Saturday, February 26 – St. Dunstan’s, Ellsworth – 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Brewer burns the greens

While the night may have been dark and moonless, the parishioners of St Patrick’s Episcopal Church, Brewer, went ahead with what is figured to be their Eleventh Annual Epiphany Burning of the Greens at the home of a church member in Holden. The greens had previously graced the interior of St. Patrick’s through Advent and Christmas.

Originally a Celtic custom, the Burning of the Greens and Epiphany celebrate the well-known Twelfth Day of Christmas, the day on which it’s believed that the Three Magi arrived in Bethlehem to pay tribute to the baby Jesus.

The Greens in this case certainly did “brighten the night” and provide a beacon in the darkness. The tree in the photo had recently emerged from a living room. It was saved until last, and blazed in spontaneous glory for about four minutes (Eastern Standard Time).

Once the blaze died down, the stalwart burners retreated to the warmth and comfort of the hosts’ kitchen for hot Wassail, finger foods, and Winter’s evening’s worth of camaraderie. The planning for next year’s burn is already in the works!

St. Luke’s in Wilton feasts for a good cause

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Wilton, Maine recently hosted the sixth annual Boar’s Head Feast in honor of the Epiphany of our Lord and for the benefit of the Franklin County Ecumenical Heating Assistance Fund on January 7th, 2011. The feast of roast pork with all the trimmings (including plum pudding) was presented by costumed servers while medieval music was provided by the Sytsma family utilizing authentic period instruments. Actor Michael Cooper and wife Susan entertained and the evening was capped off with an appearance by the Three Kings. The fundraiser made over $1,300 for the fund.

The history of the Boar’s Head Feast goes back to 1340 when legend had it that a scholar was studying a book of Aristotle while walking through the forest on his way to midnight mass. He was suddenly confronted by an angry wild boar, a public menace. Having no other weapon, the resourceful scholar rammed his book down the throat of the charging boar, thus choking the beast to death. The celebration of the Boar’s Head became a symbol of the triumph of the Christ child over sin, light over darkness and eventually included themes from the nativity, Epiphany and Twelfth Night celebrations.

St. Luke’s has enjoyed putting on the annual event, which requires participation by “practically everybody” in the parish, said Corey Walmer, house “manager” for the evening. “A crew removes the pews from the church, another sets the tables, others cook, serve, entertain and clean up.” “Besides being an effective fundraiser,” Walmer noted, “it has also become a wonderful opportunity for all of us to gather after the holidays and extend the season a bit longer; we have fun together and look forward to it all year long.” Plans are already in place for next year’s feast to be held on Friday, January 6, 2012.