A visit to St. Alban’s, Cape Elizabeth: Short on drive time; Long on celebration

A cool, very foggy morning greeted me as I headed out for my visit St. Alban’s, Cape Elizabeth. The bridge across Casco Bay seemed suspended in the clouds.

On arriving for the first of two services, I got a quick tour of the church and priest-in-charge John Balicki briefed me on the plans for confirmation.

Not all the parishioners at St. Alban’s can fit in the church for a single service. So at 9 a.m. we joined for a festive Pentecost service. The church was sea of red garments. The Gospel was read simultaneously in half a dozen languages. The effect was a marvelous cacophony that gave us a sense of what it might have been like to be present in Jerusalem. Archdeacon Audrey Delafield assisted with the service. Music was provided by the wonderful St. Alban’s bell choir.

Between services there was time for conversation at coffee hour and a short time with those confirming the vows of their baptism or being received – a total of 24, including 1 from the Cathedral being presented by Canon Carolyn Coleman. Fewer than half that number were young people, and many were folks coming from another tradition.

The Confirmation service at 11 a.m. was very spirited and moving. The convergence of Pentecost and confirmation added richly to our understanding of confirmation. The music was again quite wonderful. After the service we managed to get all the candidates together for a group photo. Great fun.

Following a brief reception, I joined the Vestry for lunch and conversation. We talked in depth about a number of trends in the diocese and larger church and about the transition process at St. Alban’s. The Vestry is committed to maintaining the high levels of participation by members of the congregation and to continuing to develop its programming during the transition.

Bright sunshine had replaced the fog by the time I headed back over the bridge. I got home in time to mow the lawn.

Bishop Steve

Getting a taste of Maine: From Biddeford to Munjoy Hill by way of Cape Elizabeth

+Stephen blesses the altar and baptismal font at St. Alban's, Cape Elizabeth
+Stephen blesses the altar and baptismal font at St. Alban's, Cape Elizabeth

One of the joys of the Diocese of Maine is the diversity of the parishes and their ministries. Today I got a good taste of that diversity.

The morning began with confirmation at Christ Church, Biddeford. Neither Google Maps nor my GPS is much good with the tight twists and turns of an old Maine city downtown. We got lost twice after getting off 95, but managed to find South Street and the back door in good time. Team Bowen (the Revs. Shirley and Peter) met us at the door, and we sat for a while with those preparing for confirmation. After a joyous service and reception, the Vestry and I met to discuss Christ Church’s many ministries and the development of their Jubilee Center. Christ Church has been identified as a “warming center” and the parish is preparing to receive folks who will need a place to get warm this winter. There was just enough time for lunch with Shirley and Peter before Gretchen and I left for Cape Elizabeth.

The Children's Waterfall

We met the Rev. Jim Adams at the rectory of St. Alban’s for conversation before a reception and the dedication of St. Alban’s new Peace Garden. The Peace Garden is a stunning outdoor worship site which combines a eucharistic space, a small amphitheatre and a columbarium/burial ground. Benches and walkways are woven through plantings and trees. A stone table and font provide focus for the worship area. A Children’s Waterfall, offered in memory of children who have died, is a unique feature of the garden. Two years of imagining, designing and building went into the creation of a marvelous space for prayer, meditation, rest and worship – truly a garden for the communion of saints.

A quick trip into Portland brought us to Grace Church, Munjoy Hill. Grace Church meets in old St. Lawrence Church, now a community center. Munjoy Hill is one of the most densely and diversely populated places in all of Maine. Staffed by the clergy of St. Alban’s (Jim Adams, John Balicki, and Audrey Delafield), Grace Church hosts an informal Eucharist every Sunday at 5:30 p.m. Folks come from all over the area. Today, amidst the scenery for a production of “On Golden Pond,” we celebrated a baptism and confirmation. Although we were a little constrained by the need to be out before a 7:30 pm performance, we managed to preach, baptize, confirm, celebrate Eucharist and still have time for a party!

Somebody asked me today what I like best about being bishop so far. I said, “Meeting all the people and learning about their ministries.” There’s a lot of good ministry happening in very different places in the Diocese of Maine.