St Francis by the Sea Episcopal Church
Blue Hill~Maine
Advent and Christmas, 2019
Greetings, Parishioners and Friends!

And welcome to The Rev. Dr. Brent Was and family. We hope for you all a blessed Advent and Christmas, and we look forward to your becoming our rector next spring!
Please join us for our Services
Christmas Eve Candlelight Service
5 PM
In addition to our St. Francis Choir,
there will be a carol arranged by Lorna for young singers and flute, with an opportunity for congregational participation.

The Rev. Stephen Hayward, Celebrant & Preacher
-to be followed by our annual
Christmas Eve Dinner
(Please call the church office with your "what and how many" if you have not signed the list.)

Your guests are welcome!
You are invited to a
Christmas Day Service
10 AM
A Message from The Reverend Steve Hayward

Dear Friends at St Francis,

What a Christmas Gift the Discernment Committee and Vestry have delivered to the parish! Over the past twelve years I have been serving churches either in the search process or simply operating with the help of Supply Clergy. Only in churches with significantly more staff have I seen the effort go so smoothly – which is a testament to the dedication of those who have been involved in the process and to the whole parish which has been fully engaged in keeping the ministry alive and well in nearly all respects.

The gifts that we now want to offer the Rev. Brent Was and his family are a warm welcome and a sustained involvement in growing the work of St Francis. We will want to talk about how we will want to embrace our new rector and his family and be prepared to make a strong start to the next chapter of our life together.

As I suggested in my sermon last Sunday, the beginning of a new pastorate is a critical moment for beginning new opportunities in service. It will be a time to tell our story and to listen for the new ways in which we might be the People of God in this place.

May your Christmases be filled with anticipation as we prepare for the new thing God is about to do at St Francis-by-the-Sea.

Dear Friends, and I mean "Dear",

Thank you for your thoughtful words and kind support as I begin my time as senior warden. May each of you be blessed with health and happiness at this beautiful season and into the new year. Fondly, Milissa LaLonde

From Katie MacLeod

Dear Parish Family,

A little over a year ago, I added a name to the church prayer list: our grandson Ronan. Some of you know that he was born with a rare and fatal genetic disease called Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). It is a disease that my family had never heard of, but we became acutely aware of its devastating effects on infants who receive this diagnosis. Until a year ago,the life expectancy of infants with Type1 SMA was 12-18 months.

Through the grace of God, the quick actions of Ronan's Aunt Molly, and the many angels among us, Ronan was able to become a patient of a Boston Neurologist, Kathryn Swoboda, who is a world authority on SMA. Within a week of his admission to the hospital, Ronan was accepted into a drug trial for Spinraza the first FDA approved treatment for the disease. This succeeded in stopping the disease's progression, but what happened next was truly a miracle: Ronan was considered and approved for gene therapy, the only possible cure for SMA and still in the trial phase at that time.  

Since that time, exactly a year ago, Ronan has made significant gains in all areas. Though his muscular development is a bit delayed, and his ability to sit for long periods is difficult, he is doing great. He goes to a little child care in Portland three days , and his mom (Leah) and dad (Jake) work from home a day each per week. 

This experience has touched us all in profound ways. Our family feels deep gratitude for all the doctors, nurses and scientists that have made this miracle a reality. Also, for the extended family, friends and employers that eased the burden for Jake and Leah in those harrowing early days. And my family and I would like to especially thank St. Francis by the Sea for your prayers and moral support during this critical time. We could not have done it without you. God bless you all!

Much love,

Katie MacLeod & Family
From Anna and Emma Brown in Bangor

Dear St. Francis Family,
We miss you all so much! Although Bangor is only an hour away, it feels like we've moved far, far away from dear Blue Hill--like all the way to the moon! We hope to be there with you for the Christmas Eve service. Until then, know that you are always in our hearts and prayers.
Love, Anna and Emma
A heartfelt thank you from John Higgins shown above with the Grindles before heading out with donations for the Bahamas.
"Thank you for your prayers, I can feel your prayer when I need them most and that is when I have to battle through big pain.
While I’m alone with Jesus at those moments it is your prayer that gives me the courage to engage in that battle.
Your prayers stand up to my fears and this allows me to go with Jesus as we fight off the night time pain that comes with my current condition.
Merry Christmas!"
*John is that very special parishioner who loaded and trucked over 100 bags of clothing down to Southern Maine for the folks in the Bahamas following the late summer hurricane. His willingness to help anyone, anytime, has been a blessing to many of us. Get well, John!
From Nancy and Fred Stine, having an extended visit in Virginia!
"St. Francis is dear to our hearts and wish we could be there with you all at Christmas.
After having a really wonderful Thanksgiving here in Virginia with son John Stine and family, I came down with pneumonia out of the blue and was hospitalized. Two nights ago Fred took a fall and he ended up back in the hospital with a break between his hip and femur.
Know he can not bear any weight on leg for a few weeks. What a saga. 
I think we are going to stay close to home (in Maine that is) from now on!"
From Gail and Page Williamson in Memphis, Tennessee

We are very excited about the Rector announcement!

We send Merry Christmas wishes to the parish...our Montana family is with us in Memphis this year so the entire family will be together. 

Above is a picture from my Iceland Collection...a rural chapel..which is on the front of our Christmas card....

Have a great Christmas, everyone!
A short (2-minute) "funny" from John Haley who has moved to Southern California.

Wonderful Family Fun!
Click below!

From Mark and Libby Cluett , and Spencer, in Savannah, Georgia

Merry Christmas, St. Francis!

From Mark-

We will be celebrating Christmas here in Savannah as the rest of the family is all over the place, e. g., London, San Francisco, etc. I managed to get Lyme disease in August and spent three days in Maine hospitals, thinking I had a stroke. Fortunately, a friendly doctor saw some clues and I ended up taking the correct antibody. It’s a nasty disease.

We received the very nice news about St. Francis' new rector!
Thank you, Roxanne Jansen!

This is the perfect way to welcome the Christmas Season to South Blue Hill!

From Marshall and Terri Smith at their home in Parker Ridge who wish everyone a blessed Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year!
Is this a normal life for a retired priest?

From The Rev. Vesta Kowalski in San Diego, California

After traveling extensively from January through August -- Phoenix area to visit cousins; Orange County to visit my sister; Swampscott, MA to help my friend recover from hip surgery; a month in Japan with my family; back to the Boston area for a week of concerts; five weeks in Europe, spending time and hearing great music in Vienna, Salzburg, Nuremberg, Bad Kissingen, and Wiesbaden/Mainz; a week on MDI for a family vacation -- I have used up all my frequent flyer miles and am happily settled in California. I now do a weekly noon service at the cathedral, and lead the weekly Sunday Bible study that looks at the day's lessons. I'm one of the directors of our library here at the Manor, in charge of ordering new books each month. We just finished our Holiday Bazaar and the library had a used book table that successfully raised money for more new books. I also volunteer at the local public library once a week. Our Manor holiday program is coming up this week, and I'll be playing the flute and singing. A subscription to the excellent San Diego Symphony provides more music. And, of course, all these activities are providing a wonderful group of new friends. Come visit!
A Winter Christmas in Naples, Florida!
-a beautiful white heron "decorates" the home of Colleen Spangler!
From Sarah and Tony Everdell-the grandsons from Connecticut!

Rowan (5) and Keagan (3) having fun during Thanksgiving
It's a Christmas miracle---
an artist in the Rountree Family!

Mary Kathryn has recently moved to Missoula, Montana, and created this gorgeous Christmas wreath!

Below is her sister, Janey, with Frances (3) having fun at Frances' Christmas Pajama Party at her school in Los Angeles.

Mary Kathryn, Janey, Jon, and Frances will soon arrive for a Blue Hill Christmas!
From Judith Dullnig in Austin, Texas

Judith gifted us last summer, speaking about her extraordinary reading program connecting Moms and their children.

Above, Jason listens to a CD of his mom reading the book "Invisible String". He can hear his mom's voice even though she is incarcerated and he is unable to visit her.

* Judith's program has become nationally renowned. We are so pleased that she and Jon have introduced it to St. Francis.

All that- and Jon has a December 25th birthday!
"Mr. Blue" is trying to explain to The Rev. Carlton Russell, "We have studied and practiced enough for one day! Let's go for a walk!"
Then off they go to choir practice and teach it all to Mark
-just like last year!
From Anne and Peter Gilchrist in Huntersville, North Carolina

“We wish all of our friends at St Francis a joyous Christmas. We look forward to sharing good times and ministry with you in 2020 when we return to wonderful Maine.” 
 Anne and Peter

From Terry and Jim Briggs in Southport, North Carolina

Dear St. Francis family,

We often wonder how those who have no faith cope with life.

At this time of year, no matter how the world tries to pressure us into all sorts of Christmas preparations, we are blessed with Advent…the quiet contemplation of Christ’s coming, the rebirth and hope that this brings to our lives. This is what Christmas is all about. The bare, simple truth of what we believe. 

May the star of Christmas shine down on us all and bring God’s peace and love into our hearts, and spread to others in the smiles we give to those we meet along the way in our daily lives.
Merry Christmas!

Love, Terry and Jim Briggs
And another one of your short (two minute) videos!

This one reminds our altar servers of Rev. Steve's "dancing and tapping times" when he is preaching! You will get it!

This priest is "another version" of Rev. Steve!

Click on the photo below!
A Fond Farewell to (and from) Peter and Donny Smith who are "retiring" to Cape Cod...

"A lot of things enter my mind, but we have so many wonderful memories associated with so many wonderful people that there’s just no way we could pick the best or the most important. As we depart we leave behind the small memorial to Donny’s parents and the parking lot divider which we intend to maintain from away — so St Francis will always remain in our prayers. 
I have something I think would be interesting and, given all that Donny has been through in the last year, appropriate. When I retired from the Navy my last boss hosted a very large farewell party where I received a medal presented by the Chairman of the JCS, a lot of gifts for me and one very special gift for Donny. During my time in the service I had attended many farewell parties but never saw a spouse honored as Donny was that day. Even though we moved 24 times during my 36 years in service and I was deployed for almost half the time, she was always able to see the very best in trying times. This cartoon strip was drawn for her by Bill Waterson, the creator of “Calvin and Hobbs.” Bill has captured the essence of Donny Smith."

* Peter and Donny drove through that terrible storm last Saturday and arrived safely at their new home in Massachusetts!
From PJ Curtis
 After a hunting trip to Minn. John has been working on a leaky hot tub and a convertible top that would not convert. Tub is fixed and top is down to stay! I have been busy playing bridge and going to water aerobics at the Y. My son Howie is with us for Thanksgiving as well as John’s daughter and her wife who live nearby. We will be going to Minn. for Christmas with John’s other daughter and her family. We wish you all a very Merry Christmas and look forward to seeing you all again in the spring!!!
 From Cal and Pam Peters-enjoying dinner at Thurstons before heading down to Florida!

We visited our former All Saint’s Rector, Fr. Dave Wilson, his wife Katrina and his family in Nashville in late October to celebrate his 80th birthday in grand style. I’m Godmother to their granddaughter and she and her husband and adorable boys were there too. Such fun. 
We returned to Florida to find our remodeling project substantially incomplete and yesterday as my family house guests arrived for a Thanksgiving visit, plumbers,3 carpenters and electricians were completing (mostly) their work. It has been a rough month but we have been down this road before and as the saying goes, “it’s a First World problem!”
Sending love and good wishes for you and all at St Francis,
Pam & Cal
In The Bahamas-
From Aletha Langham

"This picture is of Susan Knowles receiving the last shipment of clothes in Marsh Harbour. 

The day after Dorian a request was made for “undies”! A few days later as reports began to come in, every fear of damage was realized. St. Francis, as usual, poured out amazing blessings of over 100 bags-not only undies, but clothing, shoes and so much more. 

What an amazing group of people you are! Clothes collected, sorted, bagged, relocated, and delivered for shipment. 

Thank all of you who donated to help the Bahamas. Recovery has begun but is extremely slow. The entire electric grid was wiped out. Reports state that there will not be electricity for a year.
From Jane Reinoso in Ecuador
Leticia, making Chicken soup for lunch. I chose this because what I will miss most when I return to the United States are the people.
Merry Christmas to everyone at St Francis!
From Pam Siewers in S Portland

Remembering loved ones at Christmas is an important tradition and so being in touch with you all through eClare at this blessed time of year is a gift. I love my little house in SoPo and feel very much settled in now - making friends, singing in the choir at the Cathedral, and taking tap dancing lessons with a wonderful group of little old ladies like me! I’m currently recuperating from a total right shoulder replacement, but expect to be back to full function by late spring. Ralph continues to do well at the Vicarage where they keep him busy, engaged and feeling useful. Best wishes from “the south” for a Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New year. Pam
From Angela and Ray Yardy, the grandsons!

These Colorado boys were loving Halloween!

Big brother Oliver (8) and twins, Jasper and Luke (6)

From Ruth Freeman down in Portland
"Everything is going well for me. I love living in Portland and am on Great Cranberry Island in the summer. My little grandson is turning 2 this weekend and, some of my best news is, I have a new novel for children coming out! It won’t be out for another year or so. But she (my editor) and I are very excited about it. I think it’s the best story I’ve written so far. I’ll keep you posted." 
Merry Christmas from Charity and Andrew Chung- with Camdyn (13) Brighton (11) Taggart (8) and Ambrose (5). The photo was taken in S. Blue Hill.

From Andrew: 
"As we've cut down our tree from Clapp's Tree Farm, ice skated in town, and play family board games around the wood stove...we send our season's greetings to our St. Francis by the Sea family as we celebrate our 4th Christmas in Maine."
A little creative writing from Lyn Swazey!

I don’t have Twitter, so I don’t tweet, 

and my phone is dumber than is what is under my feet!

I don’t know why you want me to type you a letter-

When the phone I am typing on,
tells me talking would be better!
Something to think about!

Christmas Greetings from Margie Matter (VanDusen) in sunny Tucson, Arizona

Below is an excerpt from Margie's church letter at St. Alban's Episcopal

In October 2018, our Tucson Electric Power bill was $1,246.45. We are proud to report that our bill for October 2019 was $74.95. Our new solar panels are doing their job!
Merry Christmas and a couple of reminders for 2020 from Mary Boyd!

Did-ja know?
January 6 is National Cuddle-up

Day and January 21 is National Hug Day?
Discernment Committee Chair, Sarah Everdell announces the hiring of our new rector!
A big Coffee Hour followed!

St. Francis' children are shown in the narthex where dozens of gifts are ready to be delivered to the children of The Emmaus Shelter
Thank you all!
Nancy Doane reports on a successful Christmas Fair!
Over $1,800 was donated to our Rector's Discretionary Fund.
A Really Big, Special Project!

Merry Christmas, Harbor View Friends!

On Sunday, December 8, the children of St. Francis put together forty Christmas arrangements with fresh greens and various decorations and thus created beautiful gifts for all the residents of Harbor View in Blue Hill.

This project began on Friday with Nancy Peers and Angela Yardy and was finished under Nancy's supervision during the Sunday School hour.

Thank you to "Tony and the Team" at The Family Dollar Store in Blue Hill who scoured the area from Blue Hill to Bangor to find the forty mugs; to Rev. Steve who blessed and encouraged the children so thoughtfully during the Sunday morning worship service, to Brenda Swayze and Chris Ramsay who helped deliver the mugs to Harbor View, and to Outreach Chair, Sue Grindle, who summed it all up this way:

"I just have to say something about this centerpiece project. I love it when three St. Francis missions work together to create such gifts as these for our neighbors. Outreach supplied the mugs, the Flower Guild supplied the greens and guidance, and the Sunday School supplied the labor. This is what our church is all about, working together as one for the greater mission.Thank you all." Sue
Some of the"Thank you's" from our friends at Harbor View!
From Suzanne and David Decrow, hanging out at Sugarloaf!

Christmas greetings from Carrabassett Valley!!!
We are enjoying being back in the western mountains of Maine.
What a difference a year makes!! We both skied last week and the conditions were really nice. Not so much this week after a few days of warm temps and rain. BUT... the season is just starting.

This photo was taken on 12/12 at a neighborhood Ugly Sweater party. The attendees were quite clever with their sweaters. My sweater got "honorable mention" for most glamorous!!

We are looking forward to meeting our new rector and his family when we return before Easter.
Our best holidays wishes to you all!!
XO Suzanne and David