A newsletter from St. Margaret's Episcopal Church, Belfast, Maine

November 16, 2017
Upcoming Liturgical Seasons
Holy Eucharist is central to our worship life at St. Margaret's.  We also share worship at the Wednesday Healing Service and Friday Morning Prayer.

Our parish has a great deal of diversity. We include members who are cradle Episcopalians, people who have returned to the church after years away, and parishioners who came from many other faith traditions. This presents a richness of experience. It also presents the need to find ways to make worship meaningful to this broad congregation.
Part of a priest's responsibilities include making certain that our worship conforms to the rules of the Episcopal Church and the local bishop.   Some priests make all worship and liturgy decisions independently.   I have chosen to have a liturgy committee available to consult, with me being ultimately responsible for the final decisions.   St. Margaret's liturgy committee includes our organist, Linn Johnson, and parishioners Juliet Baker, Nan Cobbey, Linda Dunson, and Faye Ward.   This group brings forth knowledge, enthusiasm, and commitment.   Recently we asked the parish for feedback on what is important to you and we discussed parish recommendations for the upcoming liturgical seasons.

I want to share some of the reasoning behind these decisions.   (Note the dates in the calendar following.)

A 12-Step Eucharist will be held at both services on Sunday, November 26 th .  The Rev. Bob Hargrave, who is open about his own path in recovery, will preside and preach.   Last year he spoke about his personal path.  This time he will share about his ministry within the prison system and how his recovery intersects with it.

There has been discussion about holding a 12-Step Eucharist outside St. Margaret's.   I'm certainly open to this and have made multiple offers to bring this to the lower level where 12-Step meetings are held.    I believe it's important that the request come from members in the program.   Please let me know if this is something you'd like to attend or would like to promote, either in the lower level or another public venue.

Parishioner requests have led to the following liturgical changes during Advent, beginning on Sunday, December 3 rd :

  • 8 a.m. liturgy will use Rite I
  • 10:15 a.m. liturgy will use Rite II
  • The Nicene Creed will be spoken at both liturgies
  • The Prayers of the People will be from the Book of Common Prayer (instead of the Intercessions for the Christian People and other sources we have been using)

We're trying this out based on parishioner requests.  The liturgy committee will solicit your feedback in January.

Christmas falls on a Sunday this year so there will be a 9 a.m. liturgy for Advent IV.   This Sunday 9 a.m. liturgy will continue through at least the Sunday prior to Ash Wednesday and possibility into Lent.

We are having spirited conversation about alternative liturgical possibilities in the coming year.  Please stay tuned - and let us know if you have musical gifts that could be contributed to them.

Faithfully, in Christ,


Year of Nurture - A Giving Advent
What are your memories of Advent? What are your traditions that you continue with today? Many of us remember the excitement of opening that little door on the advent calendar and receiving a piece of chocolate; or reading a little devotional. Some of us might have had home-made calendars that held small gifts for us to receive daily. We might also have taken some special time on Sundays to light one of the Advent candles and reflect on what Advent means to us while enjoying some home baked cookies.

As we all know, many - especially children - in this area are not as fortunate and haven't had these experiences. The Outreach Committee has reached out to Waldo County Action Partners (WCAP) and Broadreach Family Services to see if we could help out and make the Advent season a little better for some of our younger neighbors.  Tom also continues to support the "hats and gloves" mission for the men at the Midcoast Re-Entry Center.  With these needs in mind, we are asking you to take part in a "GIVING ADVENT". 

How will Giving Advent work? You can either give an item or cash donation on a  daily basis in your home and bring to church on Sundays during Advent; or you can bring an item or cash donation (made out to Giving Advent) on a weekly basis. These items should not be wrapped and can be placed in the marked basket at the back of church. We will deliver them weekly.

Following are suggested items from WCAP and Broadreach:
Hannaford gift card (for food items only)
Toiletries for children
Insulated underwear
Young children's puzzles (up to age 5)
Healthy school snacks that might be packed in lunch bag
(for pre-k and kindergarten)
Colored paper
Art supplies:  paint, paintbrushes, crayons or markers
Non-toxic glue
Children's scissors

Hats or gloves for the men at Re-Entry Center

Right Here, Right Now
Early on in the convention (after a sumptuous breakfast and prayers) we tried out our nifty polling remotes. Apparently up until this convention it was hand count. Now we had a newfangled digital way to vote that worked based on radio frequency. Bishop Lane walked us through it. We all practiced, off a question that was projected onto a big screen.

"I have a remote and can vote: 1)Yes 2) No." Out of the nearly 300 people who were there, 300 of whom had remotes, there should have been 300 yeses. To great laughter, six people voted no. "Let's try this again," said the bishop. The question reappeared. Twenty people voted no this time, to even more laughter. 

"Jesus is Here, Right Here, Right Now," and saying this three times aloud together, we were off to the races, with resolutions and presentations, nominations and elections, the best food and location ever (many said, and this being my first convention I felt spoiled indeed) eucharist and lots of singing, which was just great. I loved watching Bishop Lane (us St. Meggers seated ourselves in the front row so everything felt very personal!) singing "Lead Me, Guide Me Along the Way" with gusto, clapping in rhythm to this traditional gospel song.

Our state diocese's budget was approved, after a detailed, high-energy and humorous presentation (it opened with the Star Wars theme song). We passed clerical compensations for 2018. After some debate, we passed lay compensation for 2018, with a minimum hourly wage of $13/hr, which is a strain for churches in economically-challenged areas of Maine. We passed the resolution that discerns, elects and consecrates the 10th Bishop of Maine.

It was sweet, but difficult to witness, the celebration of St. Barnabas of Augusta as it willingly went dark, so that it could merge its congregation with St. Matthew's in Hallowell. A moving video was made of St. Barnabas's 125 years of church life, and members of both congregations were on the platform (with their church banners) and a small speech was made by St. Barnabas Warden Su Locsin. 

Our very own Doug Mayer was elected as the lay member for the Diocese of Maine Standing Committee, which is a three-year term.

Many other things were discussed and passed: you can find the details here:  http://episcopalmaine.org/convention/254-198th-convention-of-the-diocese-of-maine. Also you can watch both Bishop Lane's convention speech and sermon; don't miss them, they were terrific. 

As I've contemplated the fun with the polling remotes, I was pleased that even when everyone was supposed to be saying yes, some were still saying no. Orneriness? Highly developed sense of humor?, Probably both. I sensed a spiritual lesson here though too; the facts may be presented and yet there's a "yeah, but." We are all saved by God looking at the facts of us, our lives, and saying "yeah, but" and doing miraculous, incredibly loving things with us and through us, anyway. We are saved: because Jesus is here. Right here, right now.

--Kristen Burkholder

Waking up White
This book review was submitted by Barbara Kemp, a member of St. Margaret's Book Club.

And Finding Myself in the Story of Race
Debby Irving

How would you feel if you were the only white attendee at a conference of black professionals? How would you react if a clerk followed you around a store, watching your every move? Do you believe every American has, regardless of race or social level, a fair chance of achieving if he/she works hard enough? Were you taught to be "nice" at the dinner table and avoid controversial issues?
     Debbie Irving explores these questions and shares much more in her book "Waking Up White." Irving led a privileged and sheltered life, raised by a well-to-do family that left her unprepared to deal with real-world issues and culture clashes. In her professional life as an arts administrator working with disadvantaged minorities, she became aware her efforts to "help" were getting nowhere. In following her journey of self-examination of certain "truths,"  she discusses how easy it is for white people to make decisions that maintain and even strengthen  racisms hold on communities.
     "In policy after policy, act after act, the United States has reaffirmed its commitment  to being a melting-pot society adhering to Anglo-Saxon standards, as  opposed to a mosaic nation built on the diversity of multiple cultures."
     Irving's account of her awakening is sure to cause self-examination in the beliefs of her readers. Most of us are unaware our white skin automatically makes us privileged . But it is not enough, she writes, to merely feel empathy toward people of color or their experiences.   She  offers ways to  become involved in changing our belief system.
Irving's story is a challenging and provocative "must-read" for those who are willing to learn and change their way of thinking.

St. Margaret's Episcopal Church, 95 Court Street, Belfast, Maine 04915
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