C r o s s
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A couple of weeks ago I was discussing my new two-year Letter of Agreement with the Vestry and realized that I had completed three years of ministry here at St. Pat’s. How time flies when you’re having fun! And it has been a wonderful time for me and Katherine to have been a part of this unique community of faith. I suppose all congregations are unique in some way, but I continue to realize how precious our relationship as priest and congregation really is!
As this last chapter of my active parish ministry unfolds, given my eccentricities and individual quirks, I realize that I would not “fit” in many places. I have become increasingly impatient with the institutional bureaucracy of the church, have been forthright about my intention to be creative with our worship, and have sought to follow the Spirit’s leading wherever she will take us.
In other sections of this report are described the many ways we have been the Body of Christ: Living Local, Faith Linking in Action, Crafts and Conversation, Artful Spirit Connection, the Brewer Ministerium, the “Dignity” study group, neighborhood walks (Caroling, Pentecost, Palm Sunday), Worship on the Waterfront, Columbia Street Baptist Dinners, Diocesan Committees, and many other ways I am not mentioning.
Our Agreement is that I will serve half-time, which is understood to be twenty-six out of fifty-two weeks of the year. Actually, I have been here more than that and intend to be this next year. Being part-time is less than ideal for both of us. Finding good supply clergy is increasingly difficult, resulting in more Morning Prayer Sundays, which is a good opportunity for lay leadership. Our solid team of Music Director, Mary Ann and Deacon, Peggy Day have made planning and leading a great variety of worship services smooth and fun. We are richly blessed by “Servant Strings,” our faithful music ministry.
Another great gift is having our Deacon Peggy Day exercising leadership in worship, pastoral care and outreach. I cannot imagine sharing ministry with a more compatible colleague. She is a constant witness to God’s loving care, deep spiritual grounding, and sense of humor. Yes, we have many laughs together!
I shared with the Vestry several areas I think need attention in the year ahead. You will hear more detail in the days and weeks ahead, but I want them to be a part of this report.
Once the new leadership is in place, I intend to schedule a retreat to deepen our relationships through prayer, Bible study, and initial discernment of where the Spirit is leading St. Patrick’s in the foreseeable future.
I have been hinting about the lack of adequate sound and visual technology in our building. First, so that all of us can have access to modern-day resources for preaching and teaching the Good News, and secondly to make our facility user-friendly to outside groups for a variety of uses, I am asking the Vestry to take this request seriously, and to have a good audio and visual system installed.
As we continue to create a variety of worship and educational experiences for ourselves, Diocesan groups and the community, greater use and flexibility of the sanctuary upstairs space is needed. We are fortunate in being able to move the pews rather easily, and to equip our space with comfortable, flexible seating. The possibilities for use of our space are limitless.
Members of our congregation who are active in specific ministries, like the music group, get to know and support one another at a deeper personal level. Opportunities exist for sharing stories and experiences and questions about faith journeys. I think our whole congregation could really benefit from opportunities to participate in a regular system of small groups, intentionally designed for some prayer, study, and sharing. A proposal for inviting our whole membership to join a small “house church” may be forthcoming in the Spring. This could be a means to strengthen our faith community and to build up the Body.
With several programs St. Pat’s is slowly becoming more and more involved with other communities of faith around the Bangor-Brewer neighborhood. Within a mile down Main Street, I hear that the Methodist Church and the First Congregational Church are both in life support mode. Our congregation is not really growing. I will be asking the Vestry for support in creating a proposal and invitation for some configuration of collaboration of interested churches in a new “North Main Street Interfaith Community Center.” It is time for us to focus on what unites us in faith, not denominational differences. This could be a bold step in real stewardship.
I am looking forward to an exciting year together. God has blessed us in many ways. The Spirit will continue to direct our path as we put “First Things First,” and commit time and energy to seeking, asking, and knocking at the doors of opportunity that we discover. In a spirit of humility and gratefulness, I am thankful for being a part of this wonderful faith community.