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We invite you to join us on our quest for the tenth Bishop of Maine. In this diocesan profile, we hope to convey our pride and passion for the people and places that make up the Episcopal Diocese of Maine. Our goal is to give a snapshot of our common life – our worship, our devotion to ministry, our congregations and worshipping communities – and the unique ways in which the culture and natural beauty of Maine shape our experiences of spirituality and our calling to follow Christ. We understand evangelism to be a spiritual practice whereby we seek, name and celebrate the loving presence of Jesus in the lives of all and then invite them to more. We are curious and excited to be on this journey. We hope exploring this profile will spark a creative vision for living and serving among us here in Maine.

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The Episcopal Church in Maine

Who we are

The Diocese of Maine—formed in 1820 when the State of Maine achieved statehood by bidding farewell to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts—is comprised of 59 congregations, 18 summer chapels, and other ministries spread across the state. The geography of the state which ranges from coastline to mountains, from potato fields to blueberry barrens, typifies the variety of the diocese, making it difficult to define in simple terms. It also indicates the geographical breadth of a place where the current Bishop drives roughly 35,000 miles per year.

We are independent. We are good at making things last and thinking creatively about how to repurpose something that has outlived its original intent. This creative and independent spirit serves us well as we consider fresh ways to be the church in a rapidly changing world. We are committed to our congregations but remain open to new ideas about how to be the Church in new ways.

We are diverse. While we lack racial diversity, apart from our cities, there is no shortage of differences among us. Depending on the region one calls home and the fragility of the local economy, our congregations can differ greatly in income. Although as a diocese we tend to lean progressive in our theology, we are balanced by some parishes and clergy who hold more traditional views. Liturgically, this can be seen as some parishes use experimental worship with permission, while others deeply love Rite I and the rich tradition. Our evolving identity includes deeper ecumenical collaborations as well as a blending of Episcopal and Lutheran worship in some of our communities. We value this diversity and the ability to hold our differences in tension while remaining part of Christ’s body, the Church.

We are focused on outreach and committed to our neighbors. For centuries, part of the “Maine spirit” has been to look out for one another. That is especially true in the local church. Nearly every parish surveyed is proud of what it does to reach out to its neighbors in need. In recent years that commitment has been renewed by a sustained effort by our current bishop to acknowledge that if new people are not coming through the church doors, then the church must go out into the community.

This began with an initiative called Praying the Neighborhood which encouraged congregations to actively get to know their neighbors by walking their neighborhoods and then praying about what and whom they discovered there. From there, a more formal experiment with four other dioceses called Living Local, Joining God, guided by consultants Alan Roxburgh and Dwight Zscheile, was launched with an initial cohort of seven congregations. They hope to find new ways to connect with our neighbors and discover what God is up to in our communities.

Our three Jubilee Centers, located in Portland, Lewiston, and Biddeford, and a comprehensive ministry center in Augusta, serve low-income people and refugees and asylum seekers by offering hospitality and friendship as well as food, household essentials, clothing, translation services, and employment assistance.

We are also aware of the needs of the original residents of this place, the four Native peoples of Maine. Since 1992, the Committee on Indian Relations has strived to “deepen our relationship with the Wabanaki of Maine, to stand with the tribes in the pursuit of justice, to affirm their inherent sovereignty and to support the preservation of Native languages and culture.”

Since 2015 the Maine Episcopal Network for Justice (MENJ), has offered training and support for Maine Episcopalians learning to employ their faith voice to advocate around Gospel issues in the public sphere. It connects people with others in the community to work on a variety of issues including immigration, poverty and hunger, health care, and the environment. We look to the Gospel for guidance in promoting social justice for all who suffer because of prejudice, violence or sexual orientation.

We are aging. The U.S. Census is clear that Maine is one of the oldest states in the nation. While that can certainly be seen in most of our congregations, it does not limit our vitality. Visitors to Maine often fall in love with an area and, eventually, retire here. Even though we are aging, new retirees, anxious to become a part of our communities, often find their way to our churches.

We are welcoming. We are viewed as a denomination where one is welcomed and affirmed regardless of sexual orientation or religious upbringing. We are welcoming to the LGBTQIA community. Maine parishes strive to be open and affirming to all of God’s children, regardless of age, race, gender or orientation. We try hard to make visitors feel at home even if our liturgy may be unfamiliar. Congregations have experienced most of their newcomers coming from different religious traditions – from Catholic to Congregational to the un-churched.

We communicate. The Dio Log was one of the first diocesan email newsletters in the Episcopal Church, published twice a month since May 1999. Sent to almost 1,700 clergy and laypeople across the diocese, it shares upcoming events, news, links, and messages from the bishop. In addition, the diocese has a robust social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, as well as a new podcast called Faith in Maine. The current bishop has his own blog and the New Northeast serves as the diocesan news blog.

Technology has been expanded through the use of Zoom videoconferencing to connect the diocese in small-group meetings without having to travel. Still, some of Maine’s rural areas have spotty broadband and older members are often not Internet savvy so the challenge to connect members of our congregations to the messages from the bishop and diocesan news and events persists.

We gather. Despite the challenges of geography and part-time ministry, clergy and lay people gather for diocesan events on a regular basis. Diocesan meetings and events are held in a variety of locations to make driving time more equitable and expose people to the full breadth of the diocese.

Annual Diocesan Convention has been down-sized from two days to one to address fiscal issues as well as encourage diversity in the delegates by limiting the time commitment required to attend. To compensate for the reduced time at Convention, each April the diocese offers an education and networking day called “Spring Training” when lay members and clergy gather to participate in a day of workshops on a wide variety of topics.

Our Cathedral. The Cathedral of St. Luke is located in downtown Portland and shares the campus and a close sense of community with the diocesan offices at Loring House. The Cathedral hosts diocesan events such as ordinations, youth events, and diocesan liturgies.

Leadership Role in the Wider Church. Maine’s representatives to the General Convention and on various interim bodies have provided a strong voice and prophetic vision in the various conversations and efforts of the wider Episcopal Church including advocacy for restorative justice practices, civil dialogue in public life, full inclusion of racial and sexual minorities, the rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the role of alcohol and addiction in the culture of our denomination. The ways in which the diocese have navigated its own theological and cultural divides has provided a model for “pastoral response” to the Church.

Our Last Ten Years

In response to population shifting from north to south and from rural to urban Maine, the diocese has sought to guide congregations from the “one parish/one full-time priest” norm of the past and has assisted vulnerable congregations in efforts to discern their future. Since 2013, two churches have joined together with nearby congregations while five parishes have closed.

In recent years, diocesan aid for parishes, based on a congregation’s vitality, viability, and location, was developed. Called Strategic Mission Support, this program together with a set of Mission Priorities adopted in 2011, helps discern best use of funding for ministries and program groups.

Collaborative efforts, such as Episcopal-Lutheran partnerships in Augusta and Norway, as well as “clustered congregations” that share clergy have provided models of adaptive change in congregational organization. Other supports for diocesan work include New Initiative Fund grants. Over the past seven years, Diocesan Council has awarded more than $250,000 to 58 proposals in support of new, creative ministries in local communities.

Issues of financial responsibility have also affected change within the diocesan office. With fewer staff in place, there has been a shift to greater collaboration between diocesan staff, parish leadership, and emerging ministry networks. Staff members work very hard and work well together as evidenced by their gathering as a group to jointly provide input into the Bishop Quest process.

"If you want to make a difference in this diocese, you can — the diocese will help you."

There is a strong core of young believers who want their church to retain aspects of tradition yet adapt to the changing times. Bishopswood, the diocesan camp in the mid- coast town of Hope, has seen a strong resurgence with a new director and renovated facilities that have resulted in near-capacity enrollment for summer youth weeks.

In recent years, offerings at Bishopswood have expanded to include an adult retreat in June and a multi-generational “Summer Finale” week in August. Diocesan youth ministry programs offered during the school year have seen a decline in attendance, partly due to the rise in weekend sports and academic and social events. But as one young member said, "I've met some of my best friends at diocesan youth events!"

The Pine Tree State

The land we share, originally settled by the Wabanaki people, is known for its spruce- crowded granite islands, forests, mountains and lakes, lighthouses, lobster, wild blueberries, and moose. Throughout the year the landscape offers a spiritual connection with the natural world and all creation.

With dozens of state parks, Acadia National Park, wildlife refuges, and many downhill ski areas, along with 3,500 miles of coastline,the tourism industry is foundational to Maine’s economy in all four seasons. Recreation opportunities abound from boating, fishing, and hiking in the summer, hunting in the fall, and skiing and snowmobiling in the winter.

While the lumber and wood-product industries remain important to Maine, contributing 4.1% of the gross domestic product, tourism contributes a whopping 20%. Tensions exists in some of our communities between those who long for the rejuvenation of our manufacturing base and those who see that the time to shift to a service-based economy has arrived.

Because visitors often experience only a small part of our state, the challenges that face “Vacationland” as is printed on our license plates, are not always apparent. With one major interstate running north-south and none east-west, it takes eight hours to drive from north to south and five hours to drive from east to west. Indeed, the rural nature of our state is such that half of its area is comprised of townships, plantations, and unorganized territories without formal government. This rural part of Maine stands in contrast—culturally and economically—to the Greater Portland area and suburbs where 40% of Maine’s 1.34 million people live.

While there are many jokes about the length of Maine winters, the weather can be managed with L.L. Bean outerwear and an all-wheel drive car with a set of good tires. Over the ten years our current bishop has served, only two visitations were cancelled because of winter weather.

Though tucked in the northeastern corner of the United States, national and international access is good. Southern Maine is home to an international jetport, Amtrak, and hourly non-stop bus service to Boston and twice daily service to New York City. Five of our 16 counties border the Canadian provinces and enjoy a regular exchange of goods and services with our neighbors to the north.

We have a diverse set of cultural opportunities throughout the state including agricultural fairs, music festivals, vineyards and microbreweries, symphonies, and local theater. With more than 200 restaurants, Portland’s food scene is dynamic, boasting more restaurants per capita than any other city in the U.S. Minor league sports teams in baseball, basketball and hockey draw large crowds. Portlanders know well that the city is as fine a place to live as it is to visit.

Since Maine is racially quite homogenous, we tend to define our “diversity” in socio- economic, cultural and political terms. The disparity of population density and economic opportunity between the southern and coastal counties and those to the north leads to the phenomenon known as the “two Maines,” an ever-present challenge to those who make decisions about distribution of resources for infrastructure and economic development. We acknowledge that this north and south divide tends to translate into our political views, ways of life, incomes, and opportunities. Evidence of this divide was shown in the last presidential election when electoral votes were split between our two congressional districts. Some issues however, cross the geographic divide to demand our attention as we seek to spread the healing Gospel of Christ:the opioid epidemic, child poverty, hunger, and the lack of good-paying year-round jobs with benefits.

Maine’s future is also challenged by the exodus of our young people. Even those who attend our excellent colleges and universities tend to leave because of a lack of opportunities for them to build a life and raise a family here.

Mainers are a fiercely independent, hardworking people with an incredible range of opinions. We choose to live here because of the natural beauty, our rootedness in local communities, and the exceptional quality of life Maine offers. Despite challenges, Maine communities are strong and the sense of neighborliness is evident everywhere. We choose to practice decency and compassion, to live life at a humane pace. We choose Maine.

Our Congregations

There is no common characterization of our 59 congregations if one looks at size, income, style of worship or political or theological viewpoints. While the majority of our congregations would qualify as small to medium, there are several larger program-sized congregations with a number of parish staff, religious formation for children, a youth group and a wide variety of programs.

Many of our congregations, located where summer tourism flourishes see attendance double or triple through the summer and often hold their annual meetings at that time. Our larger congregations with a significant number of children revolve their schedule around the school calendar from September through June.

The remaining congregations with an older demographic and few-to- no children will see attendance fluctuate through the year as early fall and the winter months are often popular months for seniors to travel.

However, there are some qualities that characterize all our congregations.

2017 Size of Our Congregations
by Average Sunday Attendance:
Average Sunday Attendance (ASA) Number of Congregations

Our congregations see themselves as welcoming of newcomers. It is commonplace to have our doors open and declare that “All are Welcome!” We are generous not only within our parishes but with our local communities. Our time, treasure, and talents are dedicated to a variety of community outreach efforts such as Ashes-to- Go, food pantries, our Christmas fairs, and community festivals.

Our connection to other faith-based communities is evident with our participation in groups like local clergy associations, Living Local, Joining God, Interfaith Advocacy Days at the Maine Legislature, Maine Council of Churches, and a variety of Lutheran- Episcopal partnerships.

Congregations are interested in access to more programs, such as pathways to strengthen an already solid spiritual base. Parishes actively seek guidance and resources to develop new forms of liturgy and new ways to worship. Music ministry, particularly, is vitally important to many of our congregations.

Outreach to the community, near and far, is evident wherever we turn. Whether it is establishing or staffing a community soup kitchen, food pantry, providing “homes” to 12- step groups and other social services entities, raising funds to provide financial assistance and active involvement to community service organizations, each Maine parish sees outreach as a core aspect of its mission. While there is no dedicated prison ministry, a number of clergy offer pastoral support to those in serving time in state prison or county jail.

Several congregations also have deep, long-standing partnerships with individual congregations and schools in Haiti, sometimes sending funds and sometimes traveling in person to build relationships. A 15-year companion diocese relationship between Maine and Haiti will come to a close in October 2018.

Our Clergy

Clergy in Maine are deeply committed to God and doing God’s work in this place. The clergy describe themselves as having high levels of collegiality and cooperation. They enjoy and appreciate one another.

“We’re colleagues, not competitors,” several said. They love and care for their parishioners and enjoy being pastors. The theological temperature is generally progressive and when differing viewpoints arise, they describe their colleagues as respectful of differences.

There have been significant changes in the clergy within the last ten years. The number of priests-in- charge of congregations has moved from 33 full-time priests in 63 congregations to the current level of 21 full-time priests in 55 congregations*. The average age of both priests and deacons has risen significantly. The number of active deacons, whose average age is over 70, has decreased from 40 in 2008 to 27 today.

Clergy formation has changed in the last ten years. The diocese has accepted fewer postulants for the priesthood but offers more economic support during formation and in their first cure. Those moving toward ordination to the priesthood must demonstrate the capacity to be bi-vocational. The Deacon Formation Program, long coordinated within the diocese with a paid staff member, has moved toward joint formation with Province I.

Those retired clergy who are available as interim or supply priests are regularly sought out and are relied upon.

The number of canonically-resident retired clergy (97) outnumbers the canonically- resident active clergy (83.) The pastoral needs of this ever-increasing and ever-aging body of retired clergy require the bishop’s care and attention.

* some priests serve multiple congregations

What Do the Clergy Seek?

The clergy see the diocesan offices as a source of resources and support that connects them with one another to facilitate communication across the diocese, especially in rural areas. Many clergy describe a sense of isolation and a desire for more contact with other clergy, neighboring parishes, and other faith communities. Fresh Start, a two-year program designed to integrate clergy in new positions, has been a strong help in this regard.

The clergy acknowledge the deep need to tend to their own spiritual lives as the only way to help others, yet many report struggling to do so. Regular clergy days and an annual clergy retreat have been offered within the diocese but the challenges of distance and part-time or bi-vocational ministry hinder some from attending. The clergy desire help from the bishop to identify retreats and workshops in other parts of the country.

"We need someone with the courage to turn over the tables in the temple, and the humility to admit when they may have done so at the wrong time.”

Who is God calling us to be?

Maine’s parishes, in discerning God’s call to them, look with hope to the future despite the holy opaqueness in the road ahead as we strive to engage in God’s mission.

Living in a state with one of the highest percentages - greater than 50 percent - of un- churched residents in the US, we are afforded opportunities to bring Christ’s presence and vision to others. Maine parishes also look to encourage young families to join us in a meaning-filled way of life.

Creative ideas are sought to present the rich Episcopal tradition, witness, sacramental life, and liturgy to those seeking new, or renewed, spiritual growth. A part of the way forward is in innovative liturgy and in programs like Living Local, Joining God that call us to enter into our communities and neighborhoods to get to know each other better.

We need better collaboration among ourselves; we must adjust our habits to the realities of the 21st century: demands on families, “non-traditional” schedules, part-time and bi-vocational clergy, younger generations deeply skeptical of institutional religion, to name a few. We also seek to deepen our ecumenical relationships wherever and whenever possible to find new ways to open our doors to our respective communities.

God is calling us to a new paradigm that responds to these divergent events. Our call to social justice presents an opportunity to be a faithful force for good in Maine, yet we realize that one size does not fit all. We seek God’s strength in creating a family that stays together under an umbrella of Christ’s love for each of us, as we seek the path forward.

Hopes for our next bishop

We remain a hopeful people because of our trust in God, our love of serving our neighbors, and our love for one another. Some of the challenges our next Bishop will face are common to all Episcopal dioceses – a generation of priests retiring while there are fewer new priests being ordained than in the past: a situation compounded in Maine because there are fewer full-time positions available to attract priests from other regions of the country.

We hope for a bishop who can help us speak about who we are as the ‘Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement.’ Though we are welcoming and inclusive when someone shows up at our doors, we struggle with how to express our faith to those who know nothing about Jesus or the church aside from what they see in the news. We hope our next bishop will be challenged to speak about the faith in a way that lifts up and enlivens those in the pews and inspires us to share this life-giving faith. We are eager to be a part of the new expression of church that God is bringing to life.

We hope for a bishop who can help us be united in our common work of living out the Gospel while respecting and helping us to bridge the factors that make us diverse. Many Maine Episcopalians have welcomed and supported the current bishop being outspoken on particular political and social justice matters while some others have not.

We hope for a bishop who will understand the regional and economic diversity of Maine and seek to be a pastoral and inspiring presence. We need someone who will be as attentive to the church with 20 parishioners showing up on Sunday morning as the church with more than 100 parishioners. Both have gifts to offer to their communities and struggles to overcome.

We hope for a bishop who will embrace creative arrangements such as yoked parishes, bi-vocational ministry, and the re-examination of the deacon formation program and face challenges with compassion and flexibility.

We hope for a bishop willing to travel many miles across our beautiful state to be a presence to all of our churches.

We hope for a bishop who will lead by example in growing closer to God through prayer and spiritual practices. We hope for a bishop who loves Jesus and us.

We hope for a bishop who will embrace the breadth and depth of liturgy and our rich tradition, but who also wants us to have the freedom to “break some rules for Jesus” as one parishioner put it. If we need to adjust our liturgy to speak more authentically to our community, we need the Bishop to support us in that.

We hope for a bishop who can help us move from lamenting the past, whether political, economical or congregational, to be excited about and committed to doing God’s work in the world today and tomorrow. Amid the change that will inevitably come, we hope for a bishop who will be sensitive and understanding of the heartache that will come with these changes and who is brave enough to do what is faithful instead of what is easy.

“God is calling us to new and frightening ways of being Church that involve fewer traditional congregations, fewer buildings, fewer paid staff, and less centralized programming. God is calling us to more creative ways of gathering in Jesus’ name: more mission, more discipleship, and greater interconnectedness across boundaries of diocese and denomination.”

We hope for a bishop who can help us articulate the gifts of the Episcopal Church and the life-giving message of the Gospel: rich tradition and liturgy, strong musical ministry, an affirmation that all people are beloved by God and have a place in our churches, and a sense of social justice that transcends politics and proclaims our obligation to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with our God.

A Maine Benedicite

O all ye works of the Lord, bless ye the Lord;
Praise and magnify God forever.

Brilliant-lighted day and dark, enfolding night;
Running sap and clinging mud;
Summer sky and autumn leaf;
Bless ye the Lord.

Island of granite and meadow of grass;
Flooding river and shimmering lake;
Berry-covered mountain and organic farm;
Bless ye the Lord.

Crying loon and scolding crow;
Diving hawk and wheeling gull;
Majestic moose and Belted Galloway;
Bless ye the Lord.

Mill-town and city and unemployed worker;
Wilderness and village and summer hiker;
Resident of Mexico and China and Peru;
Bless ye the Lord.

Merchant and tourist;
Artist and laborer;
Lobsterman and student;
Bless ye the Lord.

Newly-arrived immigrant and native-born Mainer;
Writer of laws and worker for justice;
All people in all places;
Bless ye the Lord.

O all ye works of the Lord, bless ye the Lord;
Praise and magnify God forever.

Our Finances

Our Timeline and Process

How this information was compiled:

To provide information for this profile, all 59 congregations were invited to have conversations within their parish regarding their own parish life, how they view the diocese and what qualities they would like to see in their own bishop. More than 40 congregations returned a summary of those conversations.

In addition, more than 800 people, both lay and clergy, filled out an individual survey. Clergy were invited to participate in three different listening sessions throughout the state. Finally, a group of youth from throughout the diocese provided input at an annual retreat.

2018-2019 Timeline Process
May 3 - May 30, 2018 Receive Nominations
May 3 - June 4, 2018 Receive Applications
June - September 2018 Screen and interview applicants
October 18 to 21, 2018 Candidates' Retreat
November 2018 Standing Committee announces slate of finalists
Standing Committee conducts petition nominee process
January 2019 Walkabouts with finalists
February 9, 2019
(snow date, February 23)
Special Convention for the Election of the Tenth Bishop of Maine
June 22, 2019 Ordination of the Tenth Bishop of Maine