Following the Diocesan Council meeting at Millinocket, on May 1, Gretchen and I began our visitation with the good people of St. Thomas’, Winn. We joined the Vestry for a festive supper and conversation at Ruthie’s Restaurant in Millinocket that Saturday evening. Strong leadership on the part of the Vestry is helping St. Thomas’ control costs and remain sound.
This was my first official visit to Winn, although I’d been there for brief visit when the former rector departed. At that time the Rev. Ginny Urbanek was called to serve as supply priest. Since then Ginny had been called as vicar and part of this visit was the Celebration of New Ministry.
A Celebration of New Ministry is an opportunity to celebrate not only new relationships and new possibilities for ministry, but also the partnership between priest and people that defines our polity. In the Episcopal Church, the fullness of community is expressed by the leadership of a priest, called or appointed, and an elected body of baptized persons (a vestry or bishop’s committee). Both lay and ordained are essential to the healthy functioning of a congregation, and the Celebration of New Ministry lifts up the various roles that priest and people share. The service we use is drawn Enriching our Worship 4 and is rooted in baptism and baptismal ministry. The service, therefore, celebrates the new ministry the community shares.
The service on Sunday was great fun, including the blessing of the water of baptism and the asperges. I love to get people wet!
Following the service there was a reception and then a lively conversation about the life of St. Thomas’ and the possibilities for the future. The leadership is casting their nets wide in considering possibilities.
The next weekend, we ventured back downeast, this time to the Church of our Father, Hulls Cove. Our two hour rule caused us to travel on Saturday giving us the opportunity to host a dinner for Bangor and MDI area parochial clergy and their spouses. It was a very fun time, and a very different way to be with clergy. Sharing an informal meal with members of the clergy is becoming one of my favorite things.
We were up bright and early to meet with candidates for confirmation and reception over breakfast at 8 am. Church of our Father is already on the “summer” schedule, meaning worship starts at 9 a.m. Following a time of deep conversation, including conversation about the pain of leaving one faith tradition to discover another, we joined for the service. Church of our Father is a compact open space with music provided by a grand piano. The people of Hulls Cove speak firmly and sing loudly. The service was joyful.
After worship we had an opportunity for a reception and conversation. Although I’d recently been at Hulls Cove for Good Friday, this was the first time to meet people for conversation.
The Wardens and Vestry, along with Rector Chuck Bradshaw and Deacon Mary Carol Griffin, then met with me to discuss the ministry of the church. There is a lot of good ministry going on along with the financial tensions of maintaining ministry in these times. The community is also an active participant with the other churches on MDI in exploring the ways in which together they may strengthen the ministry of the Episcopal Church and share resources. There was so much to say that it was mid-afternoon before Gretchen and I headed south toward Portland.