Category: Latest News

Worship Services at St.  Peter’s Temporarily Suspended due to Corona Virus

Worship Services at St. Peter’s Temporarily Suspended due to Corona Virus

A pastoral letter from our Rector, The Rev. Lael Sorenson

This past week Bishop Brown wrote to the diocese regarding an updated diocesan response to the corona virus, which will mean significant changes to our lives. Effective immediately, St. Peter’s, together with all Episcopal churches in Maine, will suspend in-person gatherings in our buildings for eight weeks. This suspension of gatherings includes in-person worship, governance and formation meetings, Loaves & Fishes, and meetings of outside groups who use our space.

These are new times, and none of us has lived through anything like what we are experiencing now. But we know that staying apart slows the spread of the corona virus and limits the numbers of people who will develop COVID-19, so not gathering has become one of the most loving things we can do. Still, St. Peter’s is Christ’s Church in Rockland. How else can St. Peter’s be a place of common prayer, a witness to the mystery of divine love, and a source of outreach?

First, I feel it is important that St. Peter’s continue to be a place of prayer. We are considering a way to make the church available to individuals at set points in the day for private prayer. In addition, though the doors will be locked and I will be alone, it is my intention to celebrate Eucharist every Sunday morning. I will read the lections, post a homily or reflection for you to read on my blog, offer our prayers, and celebrate Eucharist (alternating between the Book of Common Prayer and a Celtic Service). I invite you in your homes to pray along with me or with one of the many churches in Maine prepared to live-stream services. HERE is a list of churches doing just that. We are not yet ready to offer that at St. Peter’s, but are considering a number of different methods for worshiping together virtually.

If you follow along with any of the online services or just quietly in your home, you may want to offer a devotional prayer asking God for “spiritual communion” which you can ask for any time you are impeded from receiving Holy Communion. One such prayer goes like this:

Holy One, I believe that you are truly present in the sacrament of the altar. I love you above all things, and long for you in my soul. Since I cannot now receive you sacramentally, come spiritually into my heart. Let me trust in your indwelling presence that I may live, day by day, into the fullness of my true life with you. Amen. (after St. Alphonsus de Liguori, 1696-1787)

Yesterday, I met with the wardens, treasurer, and other key leaders of the parish to begin addressing how we can begin living into this new way of being. In addition to working with Barbara Jean O’Brien and other liturgical leaders to consider ways of worshipping online, we also had first training in Zoom, a videoconferencing application. Zoom will be how we conduct meetings at St. Peter’s. The Vestry will meet via Zoom as will Bible Study to start with, but, eventually so will budget & finance, pastoral care, and others. Over the past 10 days I have attended four Zoom meetings of diocesan clergy and the bishop and can attest to its value. We could hear and see one another, get good work done, all the while feeling connected, understood, and cared for.

We also had a good discussion about Loaves and Fishes. People cannot gather at St. Peter’s, but we are going to experiment with preparing to-go meals for people to take away. Food insecurity is real in Rockland, as you know, and the corona virus work stoppages, temporary business closures, and lay offs mean that the numbers of vulnerable people will be growing. Under Ron Staschak’s leadership, we will work to produce meals in accordance with CDC guidelines to all who want them to take away.

I will continue to make pastoral calls and home visitations. In all but the most grave cases, I will not be able to anoint, but I will be able to visit so long as we adhere to appropriate social distancing guidelines, and under certain circumstances may be able to offer holy communion. I have a colleague in Washington State who has taken to visiting her parishioners by driving into their driveway and calling them on her cellphone. They then converse and even wave to one another through the window. Is this something you would welcome? If you would like a visit or have suggestions, please call me at the office (207-594-8191) or email me at rector.stpetersrockland@gmail.com.

If you are experiencing a significant challenge and need financial help, let me know. The Rector’s Discretionary Fund was established for just such a purpose. We are here to help you.

It is equally true that, though in-person worship is suspended, the life, work, and responsibilities of the parish will not be on hold. It is vital that we keep our commitments regarding payroll and benefits to our staff, that we maintain our building, and support our diocese. One of the most loving and faithful acts you can do, then, is to keep current on your pledges. You can pay them online through this page on our Website, establish a direct debit from your bank, or mail your checks in. You might also consider continuing to support the businesses and services that are also temporarily closed. I just wrote a check to my hairdresser, for example. They are closed, we did not meet, and my hair is going to get a bit scraggly, but, eventually, it will get cut, and in the meantime I know she depends on that income and tip for her livelihood.

Two days ago, the Rev. Lee Karker sent to the Wednesday morning Eucharist folks advance news of our suspension of in-person worship along with copies of the readings he had chosen for the next day. When 7:00 AM Wednesday came, our chapel was empty, but I know from hearing from nearly all of that body, that individually they had prayed, found great richness in the readings, and experienced a sacred togetherness that many recognized as communion. It was communion. And it was holy.

These kinds of challenges – of living through extraordinary and difficult times – this what the Church does best. We will figure out how to be together in love in new and meaningful ways, to recognize the mystery of God in all things, and to give thanks to God for awakening us to the divine presence within and among us, even when we are at a physical distance.

Bishop Brown will be writing on a weekly basis, and I encourage you to begin receiving his posts directly. There is a link at the top of his latest letter inviting you to join the email list. I will continue with the Weekly News, so you can stay on top of new developments at St. Peter’s.

Please, take good care of yourselves and stay in contact by phone or email. If you want me to read your prayers of petition or thanksgiving this Sunday, email them to me at rector.stpetersrockland@gmail.com.

Finally, I invite you to keep me in your prayers; you are daily in mine.

Your faithfully,

Lael

Please follow and like us:
Loaves and Fishes Operating on a Take-Out Basis

Loaves and Fishes Operating on a Take-Out Basis

Because of the concern about the coronavirus, Loaves and Fishes is currently providing take-out food for our clients. Meals on Saturdays will be available at 12:30 PM and meals on Sundays will be available at 1:00 PM.

St. Peter’s and the cooking teams are creating new procedures reflecting best practices for everyone’s health and safety during this national emergency.

Please follow and like us:
Lenten Activities at St.  Peter’s

Lenten Activities at St. Peter’s

Lent begins a period of preparation for our hearts and minds to witness and testify to the resurrected Christ. The forty days of Lent run from Ash Wednesday (February 26) through Holy Saturday (April 11) and serve as a time for us to return to the Sacred Presence, to God who has never left us, even though at times we may have left God. Lent is a time to renew classic disciplines of scripture study, prayer, fasting, and alms giving (all done in secret), as a way of returning to our true life. All of this is designed to renew a right spirit within us and to prepare us for a deeper appreciation of Jesus’ passion (what he was most passionate about), his death, and ultimately his resurrection at Easter.

Rector’s Lenten Discussion Group, Lives that Light Our Path. Sunday afternoons at 4:00 PM during Lent (March 1, 8, 15, 22, & 29). Lael will lead conversations on people whose stories have the power to break through in critical, desperate, or unusual times. She has her own list of people whose lives, for her, really tell, and she’ll share those. But you, too, will be invited to tell the stories of lives that speak to you.

Rite of Reconciliation. This rite will be offered on Fridays during Lent, by appointment. The Book of Common Prayer offers two rites for privately confessing sins to God in the presence of a priest and receiving the assurance of pardon and grace of absolution. Such confession may be done at any time, but Lent is a traditional time for reconciliation. Please speak with Lael directly or call the office if you’d like to schedule the rite.

Evening Prayer. A service of Evening Prayer will be held on Fridays during Lent at 5:30 PM in the main sanctuary of the church. This brief, candlelight service of prayer with simple chant and incense is a lovely way to close out the work week.

Other Resources

The Library at St. Peter’s. Our library is located upstairs in the office area next to the rector’s office. There you will find Bibles, scripture commentaries, prayer books, theological classics, devotional books, and more. It is open during office hours (Monday-Friday, 11:00 AM through 2:00 PM) and on Sunday mornings. Books are available to check out and borrow.

Living Well Through Lent 2020. Designed for use as an individual reflection or for group study, this Living Compass resource is a daily devotional that provides a foundation for seeking a deeper experience of Lent, an experience that will help prepare us for the true meaning of Easter. Available in both print and electronic editions. To learn more or to order, visit livingcompass.org/lent.

2020 Lenten Meditations from the Episcopal Relief and Development. This book of meditations was created in collaboration with Grow Christians, a ministry of Forward Movement to support ERD’s One Thousand Days of Love campaign. The meditations focus on the spiritual lives of children and how they can inform the prayers and meditations of all Christians. The devotionals are available from Forward Movement for free, with only a minimal fee charged for shipping and handling. You can order them at this link.

Lent Madness. As solemn as Lent is, it’s also okay to leaven your observance with a bit of fun, and again, Forward Movement has something for you. “Lent Madness” (inspired by “March Madness” and the NCAA basketball tournaments) pits 32 saints against each other in a bracket, as each saint seeks to win the coveted Golden Halo. Throughout Lent, fans vote for their favorite saints at lentmadness.org. You can follow Lent Madness on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date.

Please follow and like us:
Difficult Conversations: Community Speakers Series at St. Peter’s

Difficult Conversations: Community Speakers Series at St. Peter’s

The Pastoral Care Committee of St. Peter’s Church presents a series of programs led by experts on topics related to health, physical and mental well-being, and spirituality.

The series will open on Sunday, February 23, at 3:00 PM, with the subject of Stress, Coping and Mental Health, presented by Harold Van Lonkhuyzen, MD. The program will cover how people cope with stress to maintain balance and mental health and, additionally, how to have conversations with family members and friends that are supportive and respectful of personal boundaries. The program is not intended to provide individual diagnoses or treatment. Dr. Lonkuyzen is a psychiatrist working in community mental health at Pen Bay Medical Center and Maine Behavioral Health. He works with patients from all walks of life, with all manner of mental health concerns, but especially those suffering from severe and persistent mental illness.

Future programs will cover end of life issues, family conversations, memory, and cognitive decline. These topics involve difficult and sensitive issues that are important but often avoided in conversations, even with close family members.

  • March 29, 2:30 PM, Living with Cognitive Decline & Alzheimer’s, presented by Cheri Blouin, Director of Social Services at the Knox Center and Quarry Hill.
  • April 26, 2:30 PM, Opening to Grace as Death Nears, presented by Abby Pettee, Chaplain at Pen Bay Medical Center and Sarah Dwelley, RN, Palliative Care Coordinator at Pen Bay Medical Center.

All the programs will be held at St. Peter’s. The programs in the community series are free and open to the public. Reservations are not necessary. Beverages and light snacks will be provided. For additional information contact the St. Peter’s parish administrator at 207.594.8191.

Please follow and like us:
Spiritual Direction at St. Peter’s

Spiritual Direction at St. Peter’s

The Rev. Bill Blaine-Wallace, B.A., M.Div., Ph.D., offers spiritual direction at St. Peter’s on the last Tuesday of each month. Bill is an Episcopal priest, pastoral counselor, and spiritual director. He has served as a spiritual director at the Society of St. John the Evangelist and the Episcopal Divinity School, both in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the Bethany House of Prayer in East Arlington, Massachusetts. Bill moved to Maine in 2006 and continues a ministry of spiritual direction. He is author of Water in the Wastelands: The Sacrament of Shared Suffering and continues to publish in the areas of grief and bereavement, pastoral psychology, and spirituality. Bill can be reached at (207) 491-9645 or by email at wblainew@bates.edu.

The Rev. Lael Sorensen, B.A., M.A., M.Div., also offers spiritual direction, usually on the third Wednesday of the month. Lael is currently rector of St. Peter’s. She is an Episcopal priest, hospital chaplain, and spiritual director. She has served parishes in Silver Spring, Maryland, and Wilmington, Delaware, and at Christiana and Wilmington Hospitals and the Swank Center for Memory Care in Delaware. She is currently enrolled in the 2020 Program for Contemplative Spiritual Direction Training at the Alcyon Center in Seal Cove, Maine. Lael can be reached at (207) 594-8191 or by email at rector.stpetersrockland@gmail.com.

The rector keeps a list of referrals for other spiritual directors who work at other locations in the area.

Please follow and like us:
Advent and Christmas Activities at St. Peter’s

Advent and Christmas Activities at St. Peter’s

The season of Advent begins on Sunday, December 1. See what’s going on at St. Peter’s during this season and on into Christmas.

December 1, 9:00 am, 5:30 pm, First Sunday of Advent

December 8, 9:00 am, 5:30 pm, Second Sunday of Advent

December 15, 9:00 am, 5:30 pm, Third Sunday of Advent

December 21, 9:00 am – 1:00 p.m. Advent Quiet Day

December 22, 9:00 am, Fourth Sunday of Advent
                         10:00 am, Greening of the Church
                          5:30 pm, Festival Service of Lessons and Carols

December 24, 8:00 pm, Christmas Eve, Festive Candlelight Eucharist with Choir

December 25,10:30 am, Christmas DayFestive Eucharist for the Nativity of our Lord
                          12:30 pm Community Christmas Meal

December 29, 9:00 am, Christmas I, Holy Eucharist

January 5, 9:00 am, Christmas II, Holy Eucharist

Please follow and like us: