One of the joys of ministry, whether in the congregation or the diocese, is the opportunity one gets to share in the breadth of human experience, to be with folks in the richness of their lives.
This past weekend was that way for me.
On Saturday I had the privilege of presiding at the marriage of the Rev. Lev
Sherman (St. Martin’s, Palmyra, and All Saints, Skowhegan) and Dr. Ann Holland (St. John’s, Bangor) at St. Luke’s Cathedral. The Revs. Rita Steadman and David Robinson joined me in celebrating the marriage. Enthusiastic friends and family members added their voices.
For Lev and Ann I think this relationship is an unexpected and joyful surprise later in life. Neither had anticipated a new marriage relationship. But our God is full of surprises, offering us new life when we least expect it. And despite the risks of beginning such a relationship, Ann and Lev have chosen joy over fear. It was a genuine pleasure to be part of their celebration.
Following the wedding, Gretchen and I headed up to Boothbay Harbor and time for a relaxed dinner with Rector Wes Shields. It was our first opportunity to be with Wes in a year, and we spent the time catching up and learning about life in the congregation. St. Columba’s has done some remarkable work in the last year, both paying off the mortgage on their new building and returning a ministry grant to the diocese. In addition, Wes has started a new community youth group.
That energy was palpably evident on Sunday. The day began with a good conversation with the Vestry and continued with further conversation in the sermon and over lunch. The folks at St. Columba’s asked probing questions about the future of the church, particularly about the place of part-time clergy in congregations. The effective part-time ministry undertaken by the rector may be a model for others in the future.
Departing from Boothbay, Gretchen and I were off to St. Andrew’s and the Celebration of the New Ministry shared by the people of St. Andrew’s and Rector Lu-Anne Conner. The church was full with clergy and visitors from several congregations, including Lu-Anne’s former boss from the Diocese of Newark. The choir outdid themselves with an anthem that lifted the rafters. The festivities continued after the service with a wonderful reception. Clearly rector and people are developing a healthy partnership.
Finally, as darkness fell, we joined with Lu-Anne and Kate and Lu-Anne’s family and close friends for a quiet, but very happy, supper. We were tired, but uplifted by the afternoon’s celebration.
We drove home through heavy fog. The fog sometimes obscured the road, but couldn’t hide the richness of the weekend.