St Columba’s Episcopal Church, Pentecost Sunday


It’s hard to tell here, but the Episcopal church in Boothbay Harbor is brand new, and made in a very clean and updated “shingle” style on the outside. On the inside it’s a clean, fresh, open plan space with a sanctuary that has a high wooden ceiling supported by big, nautical-looking timbers along the sides. The people were really open and welcoming, too. I had a number of great conversations with people and did my best to wave the big alto flag. They didn’t have a choir, but I had introduced myself to the organized, Eleanor, who became my buddy for the day. She in turn introduced me to a number of people and got me all nametagged and signed in. They do a great job of welcoming solitary visitors at St Columba, they’re a great and highly motivated group of people, and they’ve formed a discernment committeed and are looking for permanent clergy. They hope to have someone in place by Easter 2009. Living in Maine isn’t for wimps, but these folks aren’t all wizened and crabbed up by life in a small, seasonal resort town; they’re a dynamic bunch of people.

Hope some clergy person in the future sees this and thinks “Huh, this looks like a good bunch.”

They have a church bell with a sally rope, they have a short aisle with chair seating and portable kneelers, but the altar is on a raised dais (although it’s a movable, hand-made piece, very beautiful). They do a nice clear liturgy, straight out of the Book of Common Prayer, but with thoughtful inclusions; for Pentecost today they did the Maasai Creed rather than have a bunch of people do the reading in lots of languages:

We believe in the one High God, who out of love created the beautiful world and everything good in it. He created Man and wanted Man to be happy in the world. God loves the world and every nation and tribe on the Earth. We have known this High God in darkness, and now we know Him in the light. God promised in the book of His word, the Bible, that He would save the world and all the nations and tribes.

We believe that God made good His promise by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, a man in the flesh, a Jew by tribe, born poor in a little village, who left His home and was always on safari doing good, curing people by the power of God, teaching about God and man, showing the meaning of religion is love. He was rejected by his people, tortured and nailed hands and feet to a cross, and died. He lay buried in the grave, but the hyenas did not touch him, and on the third day, He rose from the grave. He ascended to the skies. He is the Lord.

We believe that all our sins are forgiven through Him. All who have faith in Him must be sorry for their sins, be baptised in the Holy Spirit of God, live the rules of love and share the bread together in love, to announce the Good News to others until Jesus comes again. We are waiting for Him. He is alive. He lives. This we believe. Amen.

As it was Mother’s Day, there were special prayers and thanksgivings; I thought of my own mom now departed and David’s mom still kicking, and was glad I didn’t skip church just because we’re on vacation. I belted out my alto notes on the hymns and visited with a fellow alto who noted it was nice to have someone else to sing with.

I liked St Columba’s a lot and hope to return someday on a future trip. They don’t have a web page and boy, do they need one! But their diocesan page gives the gist. However, they do have an early service in the summer at 8AM that’s new this year – no music, so you’re on your way a bit earlier and quicker.

As it happens, I walked there – they were about 3/4 of a mile or so from our hotel, so after coffee and a roll at the little bakery with David, I decided to stump off and walk it, rather than take the car. It was a bit of a haul as I’m out of shape, but I’m glad I walked as I had plenty of time to think, enjoy the glorious spring sunshine, and look at the old houses and the yards bright with forsythia and tulips.

In the photo, you can see all the pine trees that surround the church on two sides; as I approached along the road, I was greeted cheerfully by a man walking amongst the trees. Turns out he was the “outside greeter,” and he evidently took his job seriously. The “inside greeter” set me up with bulletin and such.

One lady wore an extraordinary crimson hat trimmed with crimson feathers; she laughed as she told me Pentecost was the only day she could wear it. Lots of others were wearing bright red jackets, and there were red balloons everywhere, including one escapee that broke free the bonds of Earth (or at least its ribbon became detached from one of the seats) and floated up into the rafterless upper reaches of the boat-shaped nave. The interim priest (kind of a semi-permanent one named Suzanne) noted in her sermon that it had exceeded expectations and compared it to Eldad and/or Medad. Had to look it up to figure out the context as I was woolgathering during the Old Testament reading.

After staying for delicious snacks and wonderful coffee – served from pump pots with real half-and-half, I walked back to the hotel. No speaking in foreign languages, no tongues of fire overhead, but felt plenty moved by the experience.

Although I could use some healing for my feet, they’re kind of achy these days…. 😉

Via: Flickr Title: St Columba By: GinnyRED57
Originally uploaded: 11 May ’08, 10.24am CDT PST

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