Beyond Sundays

“Round Maine with Bishop Lane” began in the fall of 2008 as a reflection on my Sunday travels. One of my hopes was that it would help us get to know one another better and that we would learn a little about what’s happening around the diocese.

Over time the purpose of the blog has expanded a bit. It now includes occasional sermons and other writings – opportunities for you to read what I think as well as see where I go. And I’ve begun to think that the Sunday-only focus leaves out other occasions of importance in the diocese.

Bishop Steve with confirmands and sponsors at St. Mark's, Waterville
So today I want to share a regional confirmation that took place on Thursday, May 16. There have a been a couple of regional confirmations this past year, and they help in two ways: first they bring together a large group of folks for a very festive service, and they make it possible for people to be presented for confirmation whose process of preparation doesn’t fit with a Sunday visit.

Candidates from St. Michael’s, Auburn, and St. Mark’s, Waterville, joined late Thursday afternoon for a brief time of rehearsal and conversation at St. Mark’s. The service followed immediately at 6 p.m. Steve Foote, interim rector at St. Mark’s, and Jim Lowe, interim rector at St. Michael’s, presented the candidates for baptism, confirmation and reception. The service included a grand procession to the font while we sang Thuma Mina a capella. There were better than a dozen candidates, and the choir of St. Mark’s led our singing and offered a fine anthem. Following the service, members of the two congregations shared a brief reception. Comments from the happy folk at the reception made it clear that this joint service was a meaningful and enjoyable event.

Regional confirmation is an alternative to Sunday confirmation that I’m happy to consider. While visitations are scheduled as much as two years in advance, special gatherings can be scheduled in a much shorter time frame. I know of at least one regional confirmation already scheduled for 2011. Please let me know if such an event is of interest to you.

Bishop Steve

A joyous visit to St. Michael’s, Auburn

Deacon Gary Drinkwater, Bishop Steve, and the Rev. Jim LowAfter eighteen months as bishop diocesan, I’m coming near the end of the my first round of parish visits. Of the parishes remaining, I’ve already been to a fair number, just not in a formal visitation. (It looks like my hope of visiting every two years or less is very doable.)

Such was the case with St. Michael’s, Auburn, which I had visited about a year ago at the beginning of a time of transition. On that occasion, we had talked about the departure of the former rector and had looked to the process of going forward. Now, with the leadership of interim rector, Jim Low, I had the chance to celebrate the life of the congregation and to talk with parish and vestry about their plans.

Auburn is a short drive from Portland – I keep forgetting how short. Gretchen and I were out of the house by 8:30 a.m. and arrived a little before we were expected. Deacon Gary Drinkwater, who was ordained from St. Michael’s, was on leave from Christ Church in Gardiner and assisted with the festivities.

After casual conversation with those setting up for the morning and a brief run through of the service, we settled into a joyous celebration of the Eucharist. I was struck by the creative use of music including a centering hymn at the beginning of the service, a sung response to prayer, and a special closing hymn. A particularly moving moment came during announcements when Dr. Cynthia DeSoi spoke of her recent relief trip to Haiti.

Dr. Cynithia DeSoi and Bishop Steve

Following the service there was a festive reception with time for questions. There were several questions about the timing of St. Michael’s development plan and about what other parishes were doing to collaborate with their neighbors.

I then met with the confirmation class. Currently eight young people and several adults are preparing for confirmation/reaffirmation. They were not ready at the time of my visit, but plan to join a neighboring parish or to sponsor a regional confirmation later in the spring.

Our time ended with a lunch at the home of the senior warden and conversation with the vestry. The vestry is eager to move forward their development plan and believes that finances have stabilized over the last year. They are excited about the future.

It was a bright sunny visit matched by the bright sun of a late winter Sunday.