by Judy Rountree
Picture any parishioner of St Francis by the Sea…year-round or summer…and you will see someone who is involved with “reaching out” in love and kindness to each other, to the needs of our community, and well beyond.
“Reaching Out” ranges from our largest ongoing project, The St. Francis Fair,
to telephone calls and brief notes of support. We frequently send out a few dollars to the likes of THAW, Nichols Day Camp, homeless victims in Lewiston who were affected by fires, H. O.M.E. and we support the day-to-day needs of the inmates of Hancock County Jail. None of us can remember a time when we were not deeply involved in the community. Outreach is wonderfully and meaningfully “who St. Francis by the Sea is”.
Our Downeast Spiritual Life Conference held every other summer reaches out to hundreds. Seekers travel here from all over the country and abroad as they did to learn from Richard Rohr, Phyllis Tickle, Andrew Harvey and John Philip Newell.
From the very beginning of The Blue Hill Tree of Life, parishioners of St Francis (before there was a St. Francis!) have headed up the leadership of both the Food Pantry and Turn Style.
Studied and filmed, the Blue Hill Tree of Life has become a role model well beyond the coastal communities on the Blue Hill Peninsula.
Wanting to look deeper into the issues of poverty, last year a group of our Wednesday Seekers viewed the movie, “A Place at the Table”,
and became really excited about promoting that amazing film. Two months later, nearly three hundred people were seated at The Grand Theater in Ellsworth, viewing the film and then having follow-up meetings at St Francis to discuss the issues of growing poverty in our area.
We are deeply involved with The Emmaus Shelter and the incredible work of Sister Lucille McDonald. St Francis initiated a program called “First Mondays at Emmaus”, providing once a month, fresh fruit and veggies to the twenty-five residents who cook their own meals.
We attend the Emmaus Shelter Spring Fest each year and also give them Thanksgiving Baskets and Christmas gifts for children and moms.
However, look again with fresh eyes at other levels of Outreach in our church…a dedicated Prayer Chain which reaches out and lifts up the needs and concerns of many, Coffee Hours Hosts
and Welcomers who greet our congregation and visitors alike, meals and visits, and the work of our Flower Guild
whose arrangements enhance our worship services before they leave our church to grace the tables at nursing homes and other special places. Look again at the spaces we provide for community meetings and exercise classes. Think of the gifts of our musicians who take their talents near and far.
The depth and breadth of Outreach programs at St Francis are constantly growing in many directions, and genuinely represent “who this church is.” Each parishioner has found a way to reach out in meaningful ways to each other and to our brothers and sisters well beyond the property lines of St Francis by the Sea Episcopal Church in Blue Hill, Maine. We feel blessed.