At last fall’s Diocesan Convention, Bishop Lane asked convention delegates to describe the default future for their congregations — the future for their churches if no changes were made. He asked them where the front line of their churches was — where they confronted the moral and spiritual malaise of our society. He asked what it would take to commit to moving the front line from its current place to a place further out. Then, he challenged all of us to host conversations with members of our larger communities about the essential ministry each congregation might offer its community.
We are about to engage in those conversations within St. Paul’s over the next few weeks. Who are we? What do we do, individually and together in church ministry? We are about to identify our front line. We start today. After that we will provide feedback, and move to the next phase – as we consider where we want our front line to be.
We hope you are as excited as we are about this.
This Week in Church School
This week in church school the children are learning about St. Paul–specifically, the time he spent in jail in the Greek/Macedonian city of Philippi, during which time he and his companion Silas did a lot of praying. To remember the dramatic events of Paul’s imprisonment (involving an earthquake and a despondent jailer), they are making paper “prayer chains” for people they believe need their intercession. Then, as they “pray through” the chains, they’ll break each link–symbolizing how, through prayer, we find freedom in Christ.
This Sunday’s Music
This week we observe Ascension Day, the day in the church calendar to acknowledge that Jesus left our physical world shortly after his resurrection and went to sit at the right hand of God the father. Our hymns begin with “All hail the power of Jesus’ name,” a great cry echoing the songs of praises in Revelation, worshiping Christ now reigning as king in heaven. It was written in the mid-eighteenth century by Edward Perronet, an associate of the Wesleys. At the gradual we sing “The head that once was crowned with thorns,” which similarly takes up the theme of Christ as king, with healthy reminders included that this kingship is based on his work on the cross on our behalf. Author Thomas Kelly, also a “dissenter” (the term for Methodists and others who dissociated from the Anglican church), lived in Ireland in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century.
At communion we sing “Lord, enthroned in heavenly splendor,” echoing similar heavenly themes. It’s a hymn with many allusions, including references to holy communion, Moses in the wilderness, and Jesus’ ascension (last verse). Author George Hugh Bourne wrote the hymn in 1874. We conclude worship with “We all are one in mission,” by Rusty Edwards (1986). Its emphasis is on Christian unity through Christ the Lord, a reminder of Jesus’ great commission, “go and be my witnesses,” his last words to us before ascending to heaven.
The choir sings a sprightly and joyful anthem, “Alleluia, Praise,” by nineteenth-century Italian composer Luigi Cherubini. Organ music is also sprightly and cheerful music: by Haydn during the prelude, and Handel (“The Rejoicing,” from his Fireworks music) during the postlude.
St. Paul’s recently activated a process that allows parishioners and others to donate funds and to securely maintain their annual pledge via St. Paul’s web site. Vestry members are available to answer any questions you may have. Alternatively, The Messenger has a detailed FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions and Answers) regarding on-line donations. We encourage parishioners to consider supporting St. Paul’s via on-line donations. That being said, it is not required; your paper checks will continued to be graciously accepted.
Hidden From View – Elder Abuse Awareness
A few of us who attended a recent workshop on Elder Abuse are considering ways to share the information we learned with all of you in the Parish. Some of the statistics are astonishing. Did you know that 90% of abusers are relatives, friends or caregivers. Here are some of the tactics: Uses fear and intimidation; Threatens physical violence or uses violence; Refuses to care for the dependent person – withholds food, medication, affection; Uses silence, insults, blames, humiliates; Threatens – “You’ll go to a nursing home!”; Isolates victim from friends, supports, family and normal activities. None of us want to believe it is happening so close to us but it is. Keep your eyes, ears and minds attuned to elders (or anyone who is dependent) with whom you have contact. Listen to what he or she says. Bring concerns to someone who can act. (Presently, for us at St. Paul’s that would be the Church Office.)
This Sunday’s Announcements
We welcome the Rev. Bennett Barnes as our celebrant this morning.
Members of the Frontline Committee are hosting two Q&A sessions today at 9:20 in the Great Hall and again at 10:20 on the 2nd floor. This is an opportunity to learn what “Frontline” is all about. We’ll tell you about Bishop Lane’s challenge, the book we’ve read, talk about what comes next and invite your questions, comments and ideas. Don’t miss this opportunity to talk about who we are, as Episcopalians and as the Church, and how we might challenge ourselves in ways that both deepen our faith and joy, and also meet the changing spiritual needs of our community.
Small group ministry is very strong here in St. Paul’s. The Vestry would like to celebrate these vital ministries. At the time of the Birthday Prayer, members of one of the small groups will be asked to come forward. This Sunday we celebrate the Ministry of the Lay Pastoral Visitors. All who are a part of this Ministry, please come forward along with those celebrating birthdays and anniversaries.
For Families: Summer Church School and Family Service Info. May 19th is the last day of church school, Rite 13, and J2A until September. Family worship at 9:30am continues all through the summer without break.
Summer Sundays’ Worship Schedule. The current three services (8:00, 9:30, and 10:30) will continue at those times through Sunday, June 30. For July, August, and the first Sunday in September (9/1), the 9:30 Family Service will continue, and the 8:00 and 10:30 services will be combined at 9:00. We will have two supply priests, one for the 9:30 Family Service and one for the 9:00 service. Kris Agudelo will be at the Family Service through June 23, although we will celebrate her on May 19 as her work comes to an end.
Celebrate and Honor Kris Agudelo!! On Sunday, May 19, we will celebrate Kris’ ministry with us at St. Paul’s with an “extra snacks” table on the second floor after the Family Service, and with a combined Celebration/Sunday School picnic in the Great Hall after the 10:30 service. Please come prepared to thank her quietly or noisily, laugh with her, and shout “Godspeed”.
Have you ever had to work with people in church who insisted on their own way? Or who did things that divided the congregation? Or who tended toward argument for argument’s sake? These situations are difficult, but all too common. What’s the most faithful way to navigate them? Come Wednesday at 5:30 to explore with fellow-travelers on the journey these important questions in the context of Titus chapter 3! FMI: Pam Nugent, 737-2369.
Save the date, Friday, May 17, 7-9 p.m., for a fascinating presentation and discussion sponsored by Adult Christian Formation with our very own Jane Knox, choir member and recently retired Professor of Russian at Bowdoin College. The topic is The Rise of Radical Islam in Central Asia/the Caucasus: What Is Our Christian Response? Having taught Russian language and cultural courses, she understands the political, economic, and cultural reasons for the extremism that has developed in that area. In light of the recent Boston bombings, this promises to be a very informative evening, and the question of our Christian response is likely to be with us for a long time. Join us for coffee/tea and dessert at 7:00 and then the program, which begins at 7:30. Contact Pam Nugent (737-2369 or firstname.lastname@example.org) with any questions.
Update from your Vestry/Search Committee: The Vestry met on May 6 and received a short list of candidates. The Vestry is reviewing resumes and will meet to discuss them on May 18.
BION camp for teens. The diocese has set the weeks for their annual teen faith-based camp for August 20th-24th. Please go to www.maineyouth.org for more details, or call diocesan teen coordinator Jane Hartwell (207-772-1953 x129). Scholarships are available. If you need one, speak to Kristin or call the church office.
We need church school volunteers! Have you given thought to teaching church school? Please consider signing up for a slot next year. Here are the facts: 1) You are always part of a 3-person team, so you can rotate “on” and “off” Sundays; 2) You can volunteer for one “trimester” (approximately 8-10 weeks) or the whole year; 3) We prepare all the lessons and crafts ahead of time, so you really only need to do about 1/2 hour prep time at home, plus your hour of teaching on Sunday morning; 4) You do not need to remember all your Bible stories in order to teach! Our curriculum will give you all the info you need. Our children’s programs depend on adult volunteers, so please prayerfully consider whether God is calling you to minister to our youngest parishioners. Check the Christian Ed bulletin board in the hallway to sign up. If you have
questions about the programs, please speak to Kristin or Terry.
Exploring the Word of the Lord: This Sunday there will be no meeting, but we will meet again on May 19. All are cordially invited to explore the Gospel reading (and occasionally one of the other readings) each Sunday in the Library, 9:30-10:15 with other parishioners. If you are an 8 o’clocker, stay a little after coffee hour; if you attend the 10:30 service, come a little early. No preparation, no homework, no long-term commitment, no Bible experience necessary, all comments are honored and acceptable, and the Bible readings will be provided. Discussions have been animated, and the fellowship has been great. OK to just sit and listen. Try it out one Sunday to see whether it’s for you. Please note: Questions? Contact Pam Nugent (737-2269 or email@example.com).
From the Christian Formation Director Search Committee Kris Agudelo, our gifted Christian Formation Director, will be leaving St. Paul’s this summer. We hope to have someone hired by this summer. St. Paul’s is blessed with a large, diverse group of dedicated church school and parish volunteers, but the committee will accept applications only from outside candidates for the Director’s position. We believe a fresh staff perspective will infuse new energy. If you know of anyone who is not a member of St. Paul’s who might be interested, please direct them to the position description on the parish website at http://stpaulsmaine.org/wpblog/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/St-Pauls-Christian-Formation-Dir-job-posting.pdf. Thank you for your prayers and support in our work, and we join you in thanksgiving for all Kris has done to ensure that the spiritual needs of the children and youth of our parish are met.
If you want Coffee Hour Fellowship to continue, please sign up. We do not have a “Coffee Hour Committee.” A sign-up sheet is on the small bulletin board in the Great Hall. Juices, coffee and tea and supplies are on hand for the host. The host makes the coffee, heats water for tea, and provides a few snacks (there’s always a box or two of crackers in the pantry to augment your offering). Please join our faithful hosts in taking a turn. Don’t know how the coffee machine, etc. works? Just give the office a call/email and we can arrange a training session.
Warden’s Office Hours: Pat Ryan or Terry Leitzell will be in the office Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon for a number of weeks. Please drop in, say hello, provide advice, or volunteer for one of the needs we see in this next transition period. Personal contact with you will sustain us.