This past weekend it was my privilege to share with two communities in new phases of their lives and ministries.

On Saturday I took part in the Celebration of New Ministry between the people of St. Mark’s, Waterville, and the Rev. John Balicki, Rector. Both St. Mark’s, and John’s former congregation, St. Alban’s, Cape Elizabeth, were well represented. The two choirs joined to create a wonderful sound, and many folks from St. Alban’s arrived together on a bus from Cape Elizabeth. More than 200 people attended the service.

The Rev. John Van Siclen was the preacher and recalled us to the “primitive ministries” of the church: telling the story of the good news, reaching out to one another, and serving our neighbors. These are the responsibilities of every Christian, not just the clergy or the parish church.

The service was rich with gifts for ministry, including a new church banner created by the Sunday School and a check for $5,000 given to the Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter. Gretchen and I were touched to receive prayer shawls in support of our ministries.

The day concluded with lovely reception and lingering conversation – and a new St. Mark’s baseball cap for John. It was a powerful and hope-filled celebration of the life we’re offered in Christian community.

Sunday was my regular visitation to St. Luke’s, Wilton. Although it snowed a bit on Saturday, the roads were clear and open to Wilton. But it was cold!!! 15 below zero early Sunday morning.

St. Luke’s is small but mighty, with many community-based ministries, two of which stand out in my mind. The first is an Advent program that allows poor children to shop for Christmas presents for their parents, a truly wonderful way to support young people from the area. And this week, St. Luke’s is joining with a local Methodist congregation to support a “Monday School” at the end of the school day. St. Luke’s is hoping to connect with young people in the community beyond the membership of either sponsoring church. It will be very interesting to see if the program makes connection with a different group of people.

Long time Rector, Tim Walmer, is also beginning something new. He is beginning a part-time gig as a paid chaplain at the local hospital. Tim was already visiting in the hospital a number of hours a week. His new position allows him to expand and formalize that work and to make deeper connections with the community. It provides additional financial support for Tim’s work, but will not take him far from the parish.

Despite the cold morning, it was warm and lively at St. Luke’s. I had great conversation with the Vestry over breakfast, and then an extended chat with the parish over brunch. We talked about ministry, about change, and about our need to keep our hope in God’s promises as we face the fearful challenges (the economy, global warming…) of the 21st century.

I feel very encouraged by the energy and excitement generated in two of our churches by doing something new.

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