“Wintery Spirituality”

Dear friends,

I write this the day after another snowstorm has transformed the landscape. The view from the window in my home study is one of stark contrast: the trees, dark forms of varying width, set off against a background of white.

The Rev. Claudia Smith Rector St. Francis by the Sea

The Rev. Claudia Smith
Rector St. Francis by the Sea

As many of you know, my house is bordered by woods. In summer it feels as though I am plunked down on the edge of a great green mass of vegetation. But today, looking out my window, instead of saying I live in the “woods,” I would say that I live in the “trees.” Silly I know, but somehow it feels very different to me. Denuded of leaves, these dark shapes now tell new stories that are as individual as they are. Stories that speak of suppleness and flexibility as slender trunks and limbs sway in the wind: or the rigidity of one tree that snapped in the last storm; or the large evergreen that apparently had shallow roots and now lays toppled on the edge of the yard. Each has its story that I had not seen when their branches were fully leafed-out.

The church’s Lenten season began on Feb. 10 with our observance of Ash Wednesday and the words “remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.” I always feel that those words strip me down to the barest of elements: denuding my spirit of all the external trappings I use to adorn my soul. In some ways it feels like suddenly standing cold and stark as the leafless trees outside. Lent like winter reveals our structure like trees denuded of leaves. Only as the structure is firmly established are we able to dress it with the budding leaves and delicate blooms that will come in the spring. Lent like winter is the quiet fallow time when we prepare for this rebirth.

So it is that we are called to explore this “wintery spirituality” – to discern the bare structure of our lives, to face and feel the cold winds of our often discordant and disquieted spirits, to fully admit how much we need God and to encourage our roots to take a firm hold in that understanding. May this Lenten season provide the stillness of a gentle snow to allow you the space to quietly deepen and nourish your being.



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Ash Wednesday ICYMI (In case you missed it)

Here is the Ash Wednesday sermon, February 10, 2016, from the St. Francis Rector, The Rev. Claudia Wyatt Smith:

And now you can listen to the full Ash Wednesday noon, February 10, 2016, service:

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Lenten Lunch & Learn

Once again, three Blue Hill churches will come together to offer a six-week ecumenical Lenten Luncheon series on Thursdays from noon to approximately 1:00 p.m. Each meeting includes a light lunch at noon followed by teaching and discussion on a Lenten topic. There is no charge for the program and lunch will be provided.

imageTopics this year are “Qualities of Discipleship.” The curriculum, written by New Testament scholar Marianne Blickenstaff, explores various discipleship traits including perseverance; learning and devotion; the faith to take risks; the ability to work with others; and humility. Each session will challenge adults to ponder the characteristics of those who follow Jesus and to look for ways the qualities can be included and strengthened in their own journeys of faith.

The sessions are as follows:

Thus., Feb 11: St. Francis by the Sea Episcopal Church, 330 Hinckley Ridge Rd. (Rte. 177)
Thus., Feb. 18: First Congregational Church of Blue Hill, 22 Tenny Hill
Thus., Feb. 25: First Baptist Church of Blue Hill, 57 Pleasant St.
Thus., Mar. 3: St. Francis by the Sea Episcopal Church, 330 Hinckley Ridge Rd. (Rte. 177)
Thus., Mar. 10: First Congregational Church of Blue Hill, 22 Tenny Hill
Thus., Mar. 17: Thus., Feb. 25: First Baptist Church of Blue Hill, 57 Pleasant St.

Those interested may come to as many or as few meetings as they wish. For more information, call St. Francis by the Sea at 374.5200.

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“Meditations for Lent: Contemplating the De-Creation”

Starting February 17th St. Francis will offer a series of six weekly Lenten meetings that couples meditation and ecological awareness with spiritual renewal.  This special Wednesday Seekers series is free and open to all. The sessions will take place each Wednesday through Mar. 23rd from 10 a.m. to noon at St. Francis image

The discussions will be based on materials provided. Participants will read approximately 20 pages of text in advance of each meeting, then engage in a facilitated discussion. Following discussion, participants will practice contemplative exercises such as chanting, walking a labyrinth, journaling, one-on-one discussions or prayer in order to fully incorporate what was discussed into their hearts and spiritual lives.

Leading the group discussions will be Denis M. Sweet, PhD who is a veteran teacher of the humanities from Bates College where he taught experientially-based courses that paired meditation with ecological subjects.

Leading the meditations will be spiritual director and psychotherapist Phoebe Phelps, MA, DMin. Since retiring from Naropa University in 2005, she has led environmental awareness seminars and spiritual studies groups with an emphasis on fostering spiritual strength in the face of our developing environmental crisis.

During the six-week seminar, participants are encouraged to pursue a daily spiritual practice of their choice (fasting, prayer, meditation, etc.) Please bring materials for journaling.

Class size is limited to 20, so register early for the series by calling St. Francis by the Sea Episcopal Church at 374.2434.

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Pictures from the Baptism of Sadie Annaliese Weed

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Lessons and Carols and Photos

Here is Lessons & Carols December 27, 2015, from St. Francis by the Sea and The Rev. Dr. Edward Dufresne:

You may also listen to the full  December 27, 2015 Service. Simply click here:

Lesson I Genesis 2:4b-9, 15-25      Bob Publicover

Hymn 8 “Morning has broken” Bunessan

Lesson II Genesis 3:1-15     The Rev. Carlton Russell

Hymn 100 “Joy to the world!” Antioch

Lesson III Isaiah 7:10-15     Scott Grindle

Hymn 81 “Lo, how a Rose e’er blooming” Es ist ein Ros

Lesson IV Luke 1:26-58     Lynn Swazey

Anthem: Noël nouvelet! Noël chantons icy! French traditional

Lesson V Hebrews 1:1-12  P am Siewers

Hymn 87 “Hark! the herald angels sing” Mendelssohn

Lesson VI John 1:1-18     The Rev. Dr. Edward Dufresne

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Christmas at St. Francis In Case You Missed It (ICYMI)

Here is the Christmas Eve Sermon, December 24, 2015, from St. Francis by the Sea and The Rev. Claudia Wyatt Smith:

You may now also listen to the full beautiful music filled Christmas Eve Service, December 24, 2015. Simply click on the player:

Here is the Christmas Morning Sermon, December 25, 2015, from St. Francis by the Sea and The Rev. Dr. Edward Dufresne:

You may also listen to the full Christmas Service, December 25, 2015. Simply click here:

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Christmas Day Photos 2015 at St. Francis by the Sea

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Christmas Eve Photos

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T’is Better To Give

And the members of St. Francis by the Sea proved it once again!  The Outreach Committee set up the “Giving Tree” right after Thanksgiving.  The ornaments were colorful cards with only the age of a child and whether a boy or a girl’s gift was wished for.  Anyone could pick any one or more of the cards.    The Reverend Claudia Wyatt Smith invited Committee chair Sue Grindle so speak after the second week.

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And this past week Sue Grindle and Nancy Doane took this beautiful bounty to Emmaus, as Sue said, “My large Taurus SUV was packed! I think we had 8 huge bags plus a bag just full of wrapping paper. Judy (Rountree) had taken over the (additional) shirts and socks earlier in the week. Here is the thank you note I received from Alice Grindle, Assistant Director of Emmaus:

I want to tell you again how much I truly appreciate your support not just during the holidays but all year round.  It means a lot to me personally to know that I have people who are really there for me whenever I ask especially now that I’m working my way in this new position as Assistant Director.  

I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and I look forward to working  with you in the new year.   Alice 

 Sue adds, “I replied that it is our privilege and mission to help the less fortunate members of our community. Because of all of you, I think we fulfilled that mission quite well in 2015.”

A more in-depth story about the good works of the Outreach committee will be coming soon

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All’s Fair in the spirit of Christmas!

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Once again it was a super success  filled with lots of goodies from a hand-made Adirondack Chair to a healthy way to make your own popcorn and a whole lot more…   Proceeds will be used to help others in our community this winter.


As Christmas Marketplace chair Nancy Doane told the congregation on Sunday December 6, 2015:


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330 Hinckley Ridge Rd  Blue Hill, ME 04614

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A Celebration of Life and Laughter

On Saturday, November 21, 2015, St. Francis by the Sea said a fond final farewell to one of its most dedicated founders Emily Chaney.

As our rector The Rev. Claudia Wyatt Smith wrote on Nov. 6th: “Many of you knew Emily for years as the stalwart head of communications at St. Francis by the Sea.
As the editor of The Franciscan, she shareIMG_1097d the news of the parish with professionalism and humor as only Emily could. Her work in so many areas of parish life, in fact, became the model of what it meant to be engaged in the life of the parish and community, making her the first recipient of the award that was named in her honor. She moved to a senior community in Topsham to be closer to her daughter and it was there that she lost her battle with cancer on Tuesday evening.”

By clicking below you will be able to hear the Homily by the Rev. Vesta Kowalski:

Click on “Continue Reading” to see the photo gallery from the Celebration of Life of Emily Chaney.

Continue reading

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Twitter All a-Twitter: Passing of the Pastoral Staff

A magical day in DC as Michael Bruce Curry became the 27th Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church!

The 2nd Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Eastern Michigan,
Todd Ousley ‏@ToddOusley tweeted during the installation inside the Washington National Cathedral:

“Wading in the Water at Installation of Michael Curry as Presiding Bishop”

And our own 9th Bishop of Maine— Stephen Lane (@bishop_maine)  ‘waded’  in on twitter, too!:


“Michael is preaching the Word! What God has done before, God can do among us.” Continue reading

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And Why Are YOU Here???

It is not a judgemental question. It is just one of the questions embraced by the 2016 St. Francis by the Sea Stewardship Campaign. Co-chair of the committee, Mary Crawford made an emotional appeal to kick off the Campaign.

“Why am I here? What brought me here? What keeps me here?”

Sarah Everdell spoke during the service in the second week, but because of a technical problem we were unable to record it.
Week three was St. Francis Treasurer Kevin Hunt

and as eClare reported:Sarah and Kevin spoke openly about personal great loss and the role of St Francis in their lives as each of them has struggled to regain their footing. “

Week Four brought forth LaLonde Pledgetwo of the biggest and most contagious smiles — John Paul & Milissa LaLone. They shared fun and moving reasons why they are at St. Francis, what brought them here and what keeps them here. which was delivered with the love they bring to our parish.

When Mary Crawford asked anyone who has ever served on a Stewardship Campaign or the Vestry to come forward and stand with her —
Continue reading

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An UN-Conventional Bishop?

This is how Bishop Stephen T. Lane added a personal “light” touch to the 196th Convention of the Episcopal Church in Maine


For all the conventional actions at the Diocesan Convention simply click here!

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Reaching Out from the St. Francis Fair

This year’s St. Francis Fair partner is more than $9,000 richer as Fair Chair Sarah Everdell presented Nichols Day Camp located on Walker Pond in Sargentville their fair share of the Fair proceeds. Gratefully accepting the check is the executive director Nan Fowler. You can hear the presentation and Nan Fowler’s powerful thank you simply click here:

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Blessing of the Animals Sunday In Case You Missed It!

Here is the Sunday, October 4, 2015, Blessing of the Animals sermon from St. Francis by the Sea Rector, The Rev. Claudia Wyatt Smith.  Just click below:

You may now listen to the full 10 am service for Blessing of the Animals Sunday,October 4, 2015. Simply click below:



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As, Barbara Brady wrote in the Sunday bulletin about the flowers: “After some monkeying around dog-gone-it, Mary Gallant has created the purr-fect arrangements in celebration of the Blessing of the Animals. (catmint; elephant ears; dogwood; foxglove; turtle head; snap dragon; zebra grass; and snake root to name a few)”

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Dog Gone It!

St. Francis by the Sea went to the dogs on Sunday, October 4, 2015 for Blessing of the Animals. There was only one cat, kept in her carrier so as not to scare the pups.  Take a look at some of our furry friends enjoying the 10 am Service!

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And then we all moved outside for the actual Blessing of the Animals!

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Rainy Days and Sundays!

“Prayers in the Park” may have been “rained out” Sunday, September 13, 2015, but the service simply moved indoors. The Prayers in the Park ‘Great Creating Spirit ‘ non-denominational service celebrating the Oneness of God’s creation. Including music by Heather Ford and Douglas Beck (Celtic Harp).

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Mixing Church Business & Pleasure

It’s been such a busy summer that St. Francis tried something new.  Holding the Annual Picnic right after the Annual Meeting that was right after the 10 am service on August 30th.  And it worked!!  We had a wonderful turn-out for everything to the point it was almost a “standing room only” audience.IMG_0301

But with fast-moving volunteers everyone had a seat at the table(s).  The Rev. Claudia Wyatt Smith called the meeting to order by saying “I know that it is warm and everyone would like to move along to the eating part… so, let us pray.”

“Almighty and ever-living God, ruler of all things in Heaven and on Earth, hear our prayers for this parish family. Strengthen the faithful,  arouse the careless and restore the penitent. Grant us all things necessary for our common life, through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Since everyone had an opportunity to read the annual report in advance, the meeting moved right along approving last year’s annual meeting minutes.   Continue reading

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Prayers in the Park on a Sunny Sunday

It was a picture perfect Sunday morning August 23rd as at least 70 people gathered in Blue Hill Town Park for the first of this year’s two St. Francis by the Sea’s “Prayers in the Park”(really by the sea).image  It was a non-denominational service celebrating the oneness of God’s creation using John Philip Newell’s “Great Gathering Spirit”.  The Rev. Claudia Wyatt Smith Officiating with music led by Heather Ford.

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Parishioner Makes Prison News in a Good Way!

And it involves prisons, prisoners, and mothers separated from their children. It was that separation that caught the attention and love of one of our dutiful St. Francis summer parishioners, Judith Dulling who found a way for imprisoned mothers to read to their children. As the Founder and Executive Director of  Women’s Storybook Project of Texas, Judith and her highly successful program were recently featured by both The New York Times and by the Huffington Post on HuffPost Live. Click here to see the view the video and read more about keeping kids and mothers connected despite being separated by prison bars.  Judith told us, “Also, although we record the female offenders in Texas prisons, we send books and recordings to the children; and they live all throughout the country with their caretakers. One time, we even mailed recordings and books to Russia!”

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It was a much better than Fair FAIR!

St. Francis by the Sea’s 26th Fair Day was spectacular weather-wise, which brought in a happy crowd, many of whom left with bulging bags or full hands of great bargains:

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In here you will hear how much was collected at the Fair yesterday as of 10 am Sunday from Fair Treasurer Tim Thomas:

but it is just a preliminary number.  To the point that by the time the 10 am service had ended another $1,000 + had been added.  Of course, this is before all expenses are in.  

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Fair Day 2015 in Pictures!

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