Claudia’s Farewell Thank You Note!

March 17, 2019

Dear Friends,

I am writing this on a Sunday morning, two weeks after my final day as your rector. Please forgive my taking so long to thank you for the terrific send-off you gave me. In part the delay is because I have been hustling to get my new home in South Portland ready for the move; but in part it has taken this long to process all of the emotions retiring as your rector has triggered.

Your farewell celebration was truly lovely and I thank you. Although I know many of you contributed in a myriad of ways, I would be remiss if I didn’t identify a few of you in particular for your roles in making the day so meaningful. First, thank you to Bob Publicover for coordinating the day’s activities and sharing the messages written by the Vestry and the Bishop. Many thanks to the Carlton Russell for composing a special Celtic Blessing just for me and to Lorna Russell and the choir for performing it so well.  A big thank you also goes to Mary Boyd (and the minions that assisted her) for organizing a truly wonderful coffee hour feast.  Nora Schroeder gets a special thank you as well; not for just escorting me out at the recessional (her “job” since she was a very small girl) but also for giving us all the permission for one last good cry. And finally to all of you who contributed to the very generous “purse” I was given to help me get resettled. Trust me, it is greatly appreciated and already has been put to good use.

I don’t know if the title “Rector Emeritus” is a real thing. But I love that the vestry bestowed that title on me in their farewell proclamation because of the way it speaks to the fact that we will always be connected if in no other way than at the level of the heartstrings that bind us together regardless of location. Please know that my life has been deeply blessed by my years as your rector and you will be in my prayers always.

With deep and abiding affection,

Claudia Wyatt Smith+

Rector Emeritus

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From The Vestry January 10, 2019

Dear Friends,

By now you have received the news of our beloved Claudia’s well-deserved retirement. During her almost twelve-year tenure we have grown spiritually and prospered as a faith community. We have faced difficult decisions about the church building, hosted four DownEast Spiritual Life Conferences, collaborated with other churches, welcomed people of different faiths, and enjoyed the benefits of learning and fellowship. And that’s not all. Our children’s ministry was restarted and is expanding. Our Outreach Committee is unmatched in its passion to help our neighbors in need.  We have extraordinary music on a weekly basis, and our eClare gets hundreds of “clicks” on each issue.  We have proved ourselves to be a vital, involved, and caring community.

As your Vestry, we are already at work ensuring a smooth transition. Our first priority is to honor Claudia’s years of loving St. Francis with her heart, mind, and soul. To that end, there will be two celebrations of Claudia’s faithful ministry: the first, on March 3, will be Claudia’s final day as Rector; the second will be held on July 7, when Claudia will return one last time so that she and our summer congregants can bid farewell to one another. If planning and participating in these upcoming celebrations is your passion and talent, please let us hear from you.

Concurrently, we have made certain that the uplifting worship we enjoy at St. Francis will continue without interruption. Already, supply priests are scheduled through May 12, 2019. In addition, we are actively seeking to hire an interim priest to serve St. Francis until our new Rector is called.

In addition, the vestry has appointed Sarah Everdell, our highly respected former Fair Chair and current vestry member, to serve as Chair of the Discernment/Search Committee, which will be charged to identify our next Rector. The vestry will appoint the Committee before the end of February, when its work will begin in earnest. In constituting the Committee, it is the vestry’s top priority that all constituencies of the church be reflected in its membership. Once the Committee has completed its charge, a final recommendation will be made to the vestry, whose responsibility it is to call and contract our new Rector. We anticipate that he or she will be installed as Rector within the next twelve to eighteen months.

The vestry is already consulting with The Reverend Canon Michael Ambler, Canon to the Ordinary for the Diocese of Maine. As the Bishop’s representative he helps to smooth the clergy transition process for the Diocese and for St. Francis.  Michael will visit St. Francis on March 17, 2019, to meet with the congregation. This will be an informative gathering, lots of Q&A, and we hope you will plan to attend.

Finally, please know that each and every member and friend of St. Francis is invited and encouraged to be an active participant in the discernment/search process. We are a talented and committed congregation and everyone’s views are crucial to a successful discernment. We want to hear all of your cares and concerns, as well as your hopes and dreams; and there will be many opportunities over the coming months for you to make them known. In addition, the Search/Discernment Committee will provide regular updates to the vestry and to the congregation throughout the entire process, via announcements, eClare, and on our website.  
We have come such a long way together. With God’s help, under Claudia’s dedicated leadership, and with your active and positive participation, St. Francis is a grateful, grace-filled, and healthy congregation. We are a steadfast worshiping community of the faithful, committed to the care of our neighbors. As such, St. Francis is unique here in Blue Hill, on the Peninsula, and in the state of Maine. We are the kind of church our next Rector cannot help falling in love with. We are connected by Love, one to another…. Let us hold tightly to each other as we worship, walk, and work to build the future of St. Francis by the Sea Episcopal Church.

Trusting the steady hand of God to lead us forward, I remain, faithfully yours,

Robert J. Publicover, Senior Warden
On behalf of the Vestry

From Claudia on January 3, 2019

For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven: Ecclesiastes 3:1 American Standard Version I have always loved the way these words from the book of Ecclesiastes are embodied in our Anglo-Catholic pattern of worship. Each year we live-out our faith following an ancient sequence of events, beginning with the season of Advent with its quiet preparation for God’s breaking into the life of the world in the form of a vulnerable child; to Christmas with its celebration for the gift of Jesus’ birth; to Epiphany and the long season that follows when we learn and grow into all that it means for a human to be the incarnation of the Divine; and so on. Our life in the church follows this pattern of Jesus’ life, death and ultimate resurrection as the Christ. With each year we have the opportunity to deepen our understanding of how God works through all of the moments of our own lives as well. In my eleven and a half years of walking this path with you, I have been privileged to be a part of so many of your individual journeys through both the joyous, as well as the most difficult, of times. I suspect I have not always told you how much you have taught me about how God works over the arc of time – or said another way, in each season of life. It is therefore with a heart filled with gratitude for you and our time together that I write today to tell you that we are all moving into another phase of our shared journey. Just as surely as the church calendar advances us from one liturgical season to another, our journey together is moving into a new season with the announcement that I will be retiring on the last Sunday before the beginning of Lent (March 3, 2019). My guess is that for some of you this will not be a huge surprise since I have been trying to prepare you for some time that this day was approaching. Others of you may be stunned by the news and for that I am sorry. Let me assure you all however, that this sort of transition is a natural part of the life of the church – another season as it were. As you are well aware, clergy come and clergy go but YOU are the church and that continues on. Over and over you have demonstrated the truth of that statement. In fact part of the reasoning behind choosing this time to retire is that during my prolonged medical absence this past year, you have shown your strength and resilience. You have carried on being the church even though your rector was absent for a time. Certainly there were wonderful supply clergy rotating through, but on a day in and day out basis, YOU were the church. You are ready to move into this new season without me while you discern and ultimately “call” another rector to lead you into the future. Our journey together over these eleven and a half years has taken many turns, but with each one we met the challenges that were thrown at us, together and in doing so, we have all grown. In many ways it is fair to say that you are not the same congregation that you were when I arrived. I am proud of the work we have done together but now it is time for a new clergy person to grow with you in fresh ways. That is the way God’s plan always works each season propelling us forward on the path. In the next several months we will have much conversation about all of this I am sure. In fact this Sunday, Jan 6th, there will be an opportunity for anyone desiring it, to gather after church to ask questions and learn more about the process moving forward. For now however, let me assure you that there IS a process and St Francis won’t be left to figure this out on its own. Already your vestry is working with the Bishop’s office, as they begin to make plans for the work that lies ahead. Your participation in that work will be vitally important. You’ll be receiving a letter from the vestry soon that will outline the process and ways for you to be involved. For now however, let’s take these next two months to celebrate the time we’ve shared. I suspect there will be laughter and some tears as well, but most of all I hope you will feel the love I have for you all. At the end of the day, isn’t that the ultimate mission of the church – to provide a place that teaches us how to love? So in this season as in all seasons, may we strive to walk in God’s way of love. Faithfully, Claudia+
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Claudia’s Final Sunday at St. Francis March 3, 2019

The 10 am Sermon by the Rev. Claudia Wyatt Smith.

This special service included a prayer for Claudia written and read by Milissa LaLonde and Katie MacLeod

The full 10 am Service celebrated by the Rev. Claudia Wyatt Smith.

At the end of the service there is a “A Celtic Blessing” written by Minister of Music The Rev. Dr. Carlton for Claudia for her last service. It is a piece written for her on a text appropriate to Epiphany Last.

Ministers of Music Dr. Carlton and Lorna Russell,
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Reclaiming Jesus

Recently our Presiding Bishop, the Most Rev. Michael Curry, joined with other faith leaders to publish a statement of faith in a time of religious and political turmoil. It follows here in its entirety for your prayerful consideration. As you will see it is a sweeping statement that calls us into deeper conversation about what exactly it means to be followers of Jesus.

Click here to see the video

Reclaiming Jesus

A Confession of Faith in a Time of Crisis

Continue reading

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A gift that WILL keep on giving!!

A reminder from the Planned Giving Committee. Do you have a traditional IRA. If so, and you are 70 1/2, you might want to make a distribution from that IRA to St. Francis to complete your 2018 pledge (or as an additional gift). As a Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD), the amount would not be included in your income but would qualify as part of your required minimum distribution from the IRA. If you have questions, a chat with your tax advisor or IRA custodian might be helpful.

Tim Thomas

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We are all children of God!

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop and Primate Michael B. Curry has released a video calling for action, “We must make our country safe because all of us are valuable and we are all children of God: We must make our country safe because all of us are valuable and we are all children of God.”

You can view the video he posted by clicking here.


The Episcopal Church Office of Government Relations: Take action with the Episcopal Public Policy Network on an assault weapons ban here, and tell the Senate to oppose the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act Click here.

Bishops United Against Gun Violence resources here. Bishops United Against Gun Violence statement on Parkland, Florida, Click here.

On March 24, the kids and families of March For Our Lives will take to the streets of Washington DC to demand that their lives and safety become a priority and that we end gun violence and mass shootings in our schools today. Click here for a link to the “March for our Lives”, sponsored by some of the kids in Parkland, FL who survived the shooting.


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How to deal?? Pray!

That is the recommendation of the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church.

In the wake of the deadly shooting at the First Baptist Church, Sutherland Springs, Texas The Most Reverend Michael B. Curry says, “We pray for those who suffer and for those who have died”.


You can view the video he posted by clicking here.

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This Bud’s For You!!

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Have you ever wondered what it takes to make the flowers on the Altar look so lovely? Each week a group of dedicated and talented women who make up the Flower Guild take a turn arranging flowers for the altar, narthex and on occasion downstairs in the Parish Hall.

When you ask a member of the Flower Guild what attracts them to this ministry they will easily tell you it’s a combination of their love of flowers and joy that comes from beautifying the Altar. “The flowers represent a visual feeling of beauty and cheerfulness which is a great accompaniment to the spiritual experience,” states Flower Guild Chair, Patty Deetjen. If you love flowers and would like to participate in this ministry, please let the church office know 374-5200.

Flower Guild members are responsible for creating the flower arrangements that grace the front of the church sanctuary each Sunday. Members share responsibility for flowers on a rotating basis throughout the year. During Advent, unadorned greens are used, and for Lent, bare branches signify the austerity of the season. In the spring and summer, guild members often bring flowers or greens from their own gardens and the variety and creativity make for bright bursts of color. The Flower Guild is also responsible for dressing the church for Christmas and Easter.

Funding for flowers comes from donations. The guild often receives requests for flowers in memory of loved ones and will honor these requests. At the end of the service, flower arrangements are distributed to members of the parish family who are ill or celebrating milestone events or anniversaries. 

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Art for Peace

EPFOn Friday evening July 22, 2016 St. Francis was the scene of a special program sponsored by the Episcopal Peace Fellowship with a repeat of the program they did the night before at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Brunswick.Three artists/activists  provided first-hand accounts of their experiences of living with Palestinians in the West Bank. Lily Yeh (of Barefoot Artists), Robert Shetterly (Americans Who Tell the Truth), and Dudley Hendrick of Deer Isle shared their stories and pictures of their work and projects over several stays in the Nablus area.  You are able to hear the full presentation by clicking on this link:  The views and opinions expressed are those of the presenters and not necessarily those of St. Francis by the Sea

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Fighting Next Winter’s Chill Now!

With Spring in the air we need to remember the winter cold and know that no matter what we do, it will come back. But you can do something to make your home more comfortable in the winter – by installing what some call, “indoor storm windows” built by “The Window Dressers organization”. WindowDressersLogo

This all volunteer-run non-profit organization manufactures and distributes these thermal window inserts at very low cost and this spring St. Francis by the Sea has been working with others to set up a local outlet for these inserts. These nearly invisible inserts reduce heat loss by blocking the air leaks from around your windows and thus the ensuing cold drafts. This results in more comfort for you while saving you money on your heating bills.

The parent ‘Windows Dressers’ organization reports heating bill savings of up to 25% and yet the inserts cost only approx. $25 per window and will, with care, last 10 years. Continue reading

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