Remembering a founding St. Francis Member

Ellen Anthony

As remembered by Emily Chaney:

They didn’t stand Ellen Anthony on the corner and build a church around her, but almost.  Ellen AnthonyShe and her husband, The Rev. Kenneth Anthony, were living on Main Street in Blue Hill when Ken was approached to conduct an Episcopal service in the village.  That was in June.  Soon, Ken was priest-in-charge on a preaching station called St. Francis by the Sea.  By December, the original congregation of ten had grown and they borrowed the Congregational Church for a 5:00 service on Christmas Eve.  Seventy people attended the service and sang to the organ music provided by Ellen Anthony. Later, Ellen served as organist and choir director for many years.  She introduced the very popular Lessons and Carols which is still enjoyed annually.

After that first Christmas Eve service, Ellen ran down Main Street and stood at her door to greet fifty of the worshippers to the first St. Francis Christmas Eve supper.  Her delicious casseroles were served on Christmas Eve  for many years thereafter, and on most other occasions when the parish found an excuse for a potluck supper.

Over the years Ellen wore many hats: besides being organist and choir director, she was a lector, chalice bearer, vestry member, delegate to diocesan conventions, and senior warden.  While she was warden, she led the parish as it financed, purchased, and renovated our first church building.  On the day our building was dedicated, we all gathered outside, the bishop ready to knock on the door with his crook.  Ellen suddenly said “OH my God!” and ran around to the side, down the hill, and in the back  door.  The Bishop said a prayer and then banged on the door.  There was Ellen, smiling angelically, opening the door so all  could enter.

She started the happy tradition of Greening the Church when many gathered to make wreaths on the last Sunday of Advent.  When our wooden statue of St. Francis began to show his age, Ellen got out her paintbrush and restored his serene appearance. She guided the congregation as it launched its first search for a full-time vicar.  She worked hard to double the size of the St.Francis Fair.  In the early years, her beautiful needlepoint was a big moneymaker in the Fair’s raffle.

Speaking of needlework, Ellen designed and created the damask altar frontal we used for many years at the Legion Hall.  Later she created the frontal used in our new church building: Phoenix rising from the ashes to symbolize the rise of a new church in the community.  She made the hanging at the lectern, and our banner, first carried by parishioners in the parade of St. Francis parishioners at the convention at which we became a parish.

In her spare time Ellen visited the sick, held babies, sent care packages to the needy, gave advice to the confused, encouraged teenagers, settled disputes, healed hurt feelings, organized outdoor clean-up parties, and wrote this poem:

What if we in Paradise were trapped?

Golden Eden with flowers and fruit.

Forever secure, in love enwrapped.

Think it would suit?

No freedom to choose one’s way.

No chance to take, challenge of the day.

No interplay, nor any bitter strife.

No dues to pay.

Perhaps boredom prompted Mother Eve

To heed the serpent’s wiley call.

Perhaps it was good, her choice to leave.

Why named “The Fall”?

For grace went with her, though in different form,

While hardship, too, became her lot.

Life secure, love not so warm,

But not forgot.

Now we enter Paradise at will,

We shape our life, make our choice.

Yet in our Golden Eden still

We hear God’s voice.

by Ellen Anthony

By clicking on the player you can hear the sermon by The Rev’d Canon Ian Bockus and remembrances by David Decrow, Nancy Werth and Geoffrey Anthony.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.