Going Westward: Celebrating ministry in Rumford and Norway

One of the disciplines of blogging is keeping at it. Each week I try to write my blog entry as soon as I get home. But often something gets in the way and the days slip by. So this entry, as the last few, is a catch up entry. My apologies in advance to the congregations I’ve visited. The late blog is not a reflection of the importance of the visit.

On Sunday, October 4, I visited the good people of St. Barnabas’, Rumford. Gretchen and I were out the door very early on a chilly, overcast, fall morning. As we headed north, the sky constantly brightened, and the last few miles were in sunshine. The mountains were covered in glorious color as the foliage reached its peak. Since traffic was very light we arrived early and had time to tour the church. St. Barnabas’ is a jewel of a church, the exterior built of large river rocks and the inside smooth and white. The acoustics are excellent, and the windows are unique and unusual. There is one of Nicodemus up in his tree and another of the call of Isaiah. A simply lovely church.

The congregation was small but we sang with gusto. Fr. Tim Parsons, an accomplished guitarist, accompanied a couple of numbers. There was a confirmation and a reception. Following the service we joined for a lovely lunch and then I met with the vestry. St. Barnabas’ is concerned about the size and age of its congregation and about maintaining its ministries in the community. In those concerns, it joins many congregations of our diocese.

It would have been lovely to linger by the river, but Sunday was a very full day. Leaving Rumford, Gretchen and I dashed to Norway and Christ Church. There I joined with Bishop Richard Malone, of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, in celebrating 30 years of a covenant relationship between Christ Church and St. Catharine of Sienna. These two churches have been colleagues in ministry for a generation and continue to share in all sorts of ministries together. The clergy, including our Anne Stanley, are colleagues and friends and provide continuing support for one another. Bishop Malone and I prayed for the continuing vitality of the covenant and that our relationship would endure despite the stresses between our denominations.

And then we went across the street to Catharine of Sienna to bless the animals! Dogs, cats, birds, ferrets… St. Francis’ Day. A lovely ending to the day leaving both bishops in their finery, covered with hair.

+Steve

A beautiful fall day with all the saints

To all the Saints in Maine:

Sunday was one of those beautiful days – crisp temperatures, sunny, blue skies – that made us deeply thankful to be in Maine. Gretchen and I enjoyed the morning sun as we made our way to Christ Church, Norway.

Breakfast with comfirmands at Christ Church, Norway
Breakfast with comfirmands at Christ Church, Norway

For those of you who’ve never been there, Christ Church is a beautiful, gray-shingled facility with an intimate and open worship space. A recently acquired pipe organ provides wonderful support for congregational singing.

The change in the clocks to Standard Time seemed to cause our GPS to wander a bit, but we arrived at Christ Church by 8:30 a.m. We were greeted by the Rector, Anne Stanley and joined the candidates for confirmation and reception for breakfast and conversation. There were seven candidates representing a wide range of age and experience. Three were high school students. Several were newcomers to the Episcopal Church. All were committed to renewing their commitment to Christ and to Christ’s work.

Following our conversation, Anne and I prepared for worship. I had the opportunity to greet the Rev. Rhys Williams, a long time member of the parish and a retired faculty member of General Theological Seminary. Rhys is well known for his teaching and preaching.

Assisting priest, the Rev. Rhys Williams with Jane Dann, Beulah Ayer, and Gretchen Lane at the confirmation reception.
Assisting priest, the Rev. Rhys Williams with Jane Dann, Beulah Ayer, and Gretchen Lane at the confirmation reception.

The nave was packed and rang with our singing. It was All Saints’ Sunday, and we celebrated our mystical union with all those who have ever loved and followed Christ and all those who ever will – a great occasion for confirmation and reception.

Following the service, we joined for a festive brunch and then I met with the Rector and Vestry. Christ Church ministers in an active ecumenical setting. There is a strong clergy association that shares in pastoral care for the community. Next year Christ Church will celebrate thirty years of covenant relationship with the neighboring Roman Catholic Church! Our enthusiastic conversation about ministry – and the weather and the election – took us to 1:30 p.m.

We ended our visit in quiet reflection with the rector before heading south through the beautiful lake country of western Maine. A truly glorious day in Maine.

Faithfully,
+Stephen

P.S. Visit the sermon page link to the right for the All Saints Day sermon I preached at Christ Church. New sermons will be posted there in the weeks to come.

photos by Barbi Tinder