C R O S S
2 0 1 9
The faces of the three boy-magi bringing their gifts to the altar on the Feast of the Epiphany will be in my heart’s memory for a long time. I hope you saw them or a picture of them following the star on a stick held by Children’s Ministry volunteer Pat Blethen. The regular presence of several children in our church is such a happy blessing reminding us that God is indeed among us – bringing us gifts. Of such is the kingdom. Several adult volunteers are developing the children’s program which is an exciting sign of growth.
Meeting with leaders of the new small group ministry, “A Place at the Table,” is an exciting witness that the Spirit is very alive and well in our congregation. Please accept their invitation to join one of the home-based meetings for fellowship, discussion and prayer. It is an invitation to know sisters and brothers in Christ in a more personal way and to deepen your relationship with the Spirit that is already in your heart and life, as you sip soup together.
Thank you to everyone who had a part in contributing to installation of the new sound system. I have received a lot of feedback from those of us whose hearing isn’t what it used to be. The only problem is that Lloyd and Pete can’t sleep through my sermon anymore! I am looking forward to the next step in our technological upgrade – installation of digital screens. These improvements are making this facility much more flexible for us in our worship and programs, and for others from the community who may want to use our space in the future. How about offering Friday night movies for the neighborhood? This art form could easily become an extension of Artful Spirit’s ministry which Paula Baines has so faithfully led. And how about our web presence? Bravo to the web mistress, Paula!
Speaking about flexible space, some of us have been talking about moveable pews and eventually comfortable chair seating. A new Worship Planning Group has been meeting regularly and will help us think through some changes toward the most effective use of space to enhance worship. They ask your cooperation in this purposeful change.
“Worship on the Waterfront” is a regular experience for us and neighboring congregations in the lovely setting of the Children’s Garden along the Penobscot. Thanks to a few faithful hands setting up and cleaning up, this multi-generational community gathering has given us a unique opportunity to celebrate Mother Earth.
As one of the Vestry’s top goals, a Fall Parish Overnight Retreat was held at my cottage in Bar Harbor, led by Rev. Bill Blaine-Wallace. Participants shared the great value of being away and together in deepening a sense of community. Hopefully, another will be scheduled. Two briefer Quiet Days were held at the church by Pat Blethen and Paula Baines.
Another Vestry Goal is to initiate ecumenical collaboration with the Methodist and Congregational congregations, just down Main Street. I have met with both clergy serving those churches and soon will be sending an invitation for members from all three of our churches to meet for a supper and conversation about potential collaboration in the future. Please keep this project in your prayers for discernment of the Spirit’s leading.
When describing our congregation to people outside, I say, “St. Pat’s is a small congregation that over performs her size!” Members are involved all over the community and beyond. Dinner meals are regularly served to street guests at Columbia Street Baptist Church, Blessing Bags of health essentials are given to area police staff to distribute to people in need of warm socks or a cup of coffee. Members serve on boards at Food and Medicine and Faith Linking in Action. Mark Spahr serves in several Diocesan capacities, including the Bishop’s Search Committee, and representing the Diocese at General Convention. Christine Talbott was recently elected as our district’s representative on the Diocesan Council. Our Deacon has leadership positions in Diocesan Deaconate Program. Members are serving the community in many more ways than I can count. We can be thankful for this.
There are some areas where we could use some improvement. The roles and responsibilities of Senior and Junior Warden could be clarified and defined to provide more effective leadership. We are so blessed to have Tom Copeland as our Sexton, but his role, too, needs clearer definition. Handing all buildings and grounds projects over to him, and his assistant Pete Perry, is not an effective way of getting things done in a timely manner. It may save us a lot of money, but it is a good way of burning out those great servants.
Our archives are now stored on site and we need someone(s) to assume the role of parish historian and archivist. There are some archival materials that need attention to be stored properly and to be exhibited to educate all of us where we came from. Our forty-five odd year history is fascinating and informative as we transition into the next half-century.
A “newer” vestry member observed several months ago that our signage and identity is obscure. We are located in one of the most visible spots in the City, but most people have no idea what that white, long, hip-roofed building across from “the Irving is.” When I describe our location to someone who hasn’t a clue where St. Patrick’s is located, I say, “Right across from the Irving Station on No. Main.” “Oh yes!” they reply. “I wondered what that building was!” Let’s invest in some good attractive signage. I think we could sell some attractive digital signage on the Wilson Street end of the building and even slip in some advertising of our own. It would not desecrate the Lord’s House; it would use a resource we have creatively to communicate the “Good News.” Just imagine what we could do for Food and Medicine, F.L.I.A., the Barn, the Police and Fire Departments, our schools, opioid addiction.
What a continuing joy it is to work with Mary Ann and Peg creating our liturgy. And members of the Vestry are patient and kind with my half-time leadership. This church is without a doubt the best in the Diocese. That’s what I hear whenever I go places. They say, “Oh, St. Patrick’s!” And I am proud, and I am grateful that God called me (and Katherine) here to be loved by you. I cannot imagine a more accepting and nurturing community of faith in which to serve. Thank you for being who you are. And thank God for the Love that is transforming us into the beautiful children we are called to become together.