The first weekend of Spring found us heading north to Houlton and Millinocket. We left early Saturday morning for Ginny Urbanek’s ordination to the priesthood. It was a beautiful morning – a great day for a drive – and Mt. Katahdin shone brightly against the blue sky. It was our first sighting of Maine’s great mountain. The other times we’d been in the area, the mountain had been hidden in clouds or haze.
We arrived at Good Shepherd in time for a soup lunch and brief conversations about the service. Ginny is the first priest formed for the priesthood by our local formation program. Her service will provide flexibility and strength to our ministry in the North Country.
The service began promptly at 1 p.m. with good support from Winn, where Ginny has served her transitional diaconate, Houlton, Millinocket and the County. Carolyn Metzler (Winn) preached a fine sermon on baptismal ministry and priesthood, and the service was graced with music by the Sunday School and the Adult Choir. Leslie Nesin and the good people of the parish gave a wonderful reception.
We left Good Shepherd after the reception and headed to Millinocket for Sunday’s visitation. We arrived in time to change for dinner and conversation at the rectory with our host and cook, Bob Ficks. Bob serves half time as rector and commutes some 70 miles to St. Andrew’s from Hodgton where he lives. (Long distances are a fact of life in the north; Leslie Nesin commutes 90 miles to Good Shepherd.)
For those of you who’ve never been there, St. Andrew’s has a beautiful, contemporary worship space with a large attached parish building. The circular nave is bathed in natural light and the white walls are adorned with beautiful bronze stations of the cross. Adjacent to the table is a large t-shaped crucifix with a figure of Christ bursting from the cross and across the elevated choir loft at the rear is a stunning Pentecost mosaic. It was a truly lovely setting for the service of reception. We arrived early enough to meet with the person to be received. Following the service, we enjoyed coffee hour and I met with the Vestry.
St. Andrew’s is concerned about the closing of the mill and Millinocket’s declining population. Despite that, the parish has a vital mix of long time members and younger families. The parish has recently begun a series of health luncheons to help people of the community live healthier lives.
We ended our visit to Millinocket over lunch with Deacon Bob Landry and his wife.
Last but not least, we headed along the Penobscot for a visit to St. Thomas’, Winn. Along the way we saw what first appeared to be small children ice fishing on the river. Closer inspection showed the figures to be five bald eagles, two adults and three juveniles, standing on the ice. Fantastic.
I met with the Bishop’s Committee and other interested parishioners to talk about the period of transition that is beginning at St. Thomas’. Later this spring Carolyn Metzler will leave with her husband for New Mexico concluding her seven years of ministry at St. Thomas’. We talked about possible options and next steps.
Another blue sky accompanied us as we followed the setting sun home.