For the past couple of years, and certainly the past couple of months, peace and reconciliation are two actions that seem difficult to achieve. The Windham Area Clergy Association hopes to change that by hosting a community worship service of “Prayer for Peace and Reconciliation” on March 5, 2017, the first Sunday of Lent at 2:00 p.m. at the Windham Hill United Church of Christ, 140 Windham Center Road.
“The March 5 service is a response to the deep divisions, stress and anxiety that the clergy have observed in the nation in recent months,” stated Rev. Jane Field, clergy of Faith Lutheran Church and a new member of the association. “As a group, we feel that the communities of faith are in a unique position to offer ‘safe space’ where people can come and practice listening to one another with deep respect and mutual love, seeking common ground and building up the community. When people of faith model this kind of radical hospitality by ‘practicing what we preach,’ we offer a sign of hope and healing to a wounded world and become what the prophet Isaiah said God calls us to be: ‘repairers of the breach...restorers of streets to live in.’”
After approximately a five-year hiatus, the Windham Area Clergy Association was given new life this past fall when Rev. Tim Higgins and Deacon Wendy Rozene from St. Ann’s Episcopal Church, reached out to the new clergy in the community.
“It was all about timing,” Rev. Higgins stated about both the clergy association and the community worship service. “This is how God works. The timing was right and I felt inspired to initiate something again, with the new folks involved. Deacon Rozene and I reached out to the new clergy as well as others and we hosted the first two gatherings here at St. Ann's.”
The clergy association is focused on the “Prayer for Peace and Reconciliation” worship service now but will continue to meet monthly for lunch, support, prayer, and to discuss community events and projects. The overlap of outreach services is also being examined.
Those who are either presently active in the association or have expressed an interest to participate include the clergy from: St. Ann’s Episcopal, North Windham Union Church, Faith Lutheran Church, Greater Portland Unity Church, Windham Hill United Church of Christ, Windham Assembly of God, Cornerstone Assembly of God and Our Lady of Perpetual Help Roman Catholic Church.
“The clergy association is open to any faith and congregation in the Windham and Raymond communities,” Rev. Higgins said.
Acting as the chair and facilitator of the association, Rev. Higgins stated that if other area clergy are interested in participating, they are welcome to call him at: 207-632-4046 at or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The location of the March 5 community worship at Windham Hill United Church of Christ was chosen due to the significance of the bell.
“It is the oldest bell in the town of Windham,” Rev. Sally Colgrove explained. “It has been a part of our church since it was built in 1834-35. The bell comes from a foundry in the Boston area out of one of the workshops of Paul Revere. The bell rings every Sunday but is also rung on special occasions for the community with the hope of peace. It was rung at the end of the Civil War, World War I, World War II and on 9/11.”
The five congregations and leaders that will participate in the first community worship in five years include Rev. Sally Colgrove of Windham Hill United Church of Christ, Rev. Tony Searles from Windham Assembly of God, Rev. Debra Girard of North Windham Union Church, Rev. Tim Higgins and Deacon Wendy Rozene from St. Ann’s Episcopal Church and Rev. Jane Field from Faith Lutheran Church.
Musicians from each congregation will provide the music for the service. The combined choir will be led by conductor David Hansen, music director at Faith Lutheran Church. Hansen will be accompanied by the Windham Hill music director, Andrea Rosenberg.
Each church in the community is unique and has something to offer individuals of the Windham and Raymond area. The diversity and variety of approaches presented by each church has the potential to meet everyone’s spiritual needs and to provide a sacred “home” they can call their own.
“We are initiating neighborhood faith sharing groups for the Lenten Season using a variety of resources,” Rev. Higgins said of his parish, St. Ann’s Episcopal. “We will meet in members’ homes in Gorham, Cumberland, Westbrook, Windham and Raymond. These groups will have a small church feel whereby folks can experience great fellowship, bible study or book study right in their own neighborhood.
Rev. Higgins also added that on March 1, Ash Wednesday, he and Deacon Rozene will be at the Post Office from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. offering ashes and prayer as part of their, “Ashes To Go” initiative.
“Faith Lutheran Church is a small and vibrant community of spiritual seekers who love one another like family and who welcome everybody who walks through our doors,” Rev. Field said of her congregation. “We are open and inclusive in our hospitality, and in our approach to worship, embracing creativity and diversity, and our minds are open to seeing things in new ways. One of the greatest strengths in our worship life together is an exciting music ministry that includes a talented director able to weave in classical music, contemporary, gospel, and even show tunes; and two young adult leaders who provide vocal and instrumental music every week. We are passionate about serving folks in need beyond the walls of our church building and putting our faith into action by working for compassion, justice and peace in the world.”
“Windham Hill United Church of Christ is a church which prides itself on being an inclusive and welcoming community of faith, following the example of our Lord Jesus Christ,” Rev. Colgrove said of her church. “We have a long history, being the founding church of the Town of Windham, but we work hard to keep pace with our society and culture. We have a mission of supporting one another in good times and hard times through service, prayer and action, and all are welcome to participate with us regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, economic status, intellectual ability or physical ability. We are a church for all ages, with a lively church school, youth program and music program. We love to eat together, play and travel together, and serve our community in any way we can."
“Windham Assembly of God is a Church that has been serving the people of Windham and the Lakes Region since the mid-70s,” Rev. Tony Searles stated. “It has grown from a handful of people with no place to call home, to a group of Christ-followers who found a place to establish their ministries in North Windham on Route 302. Today, we have people from all over the Lakes Region, and some come from even further away, to worship with us! The Church also operates Windham Christian Academy, a Pre-K through 12th grade Christian School that serves the families throughout our region by providing a quality education with a Biblical world-view. The mission of our Church is to connect with God, connect with others and to connect others with God. We do this in a variety of ways, but our heart is to express the love of Christ to our community and build bridges to them. We hope folks that may be looking for a Church home might consider Windham Assembly of God and come visit us at 10 a.m. on Sundays!”
“At the warm and welcoming North Windham Union Church, UCC, Route 302, members and friends are walking together and learning what it means to be a child of God in 2017.” Rev. Debra Girard said. “Our worship service is at 10:00 a.m. and all are welcome into God’s church as we are grounded in the ‘Word of God with Christ as the Head of our church.’ Each week our services are highlighted by our choir and led by Minister of Music, Dr. Richard Nickerson. What is special about North Windham Union Church, UCC? The people that choose to worship God together and the joy that emanates from our sanctuary. The church is also becoming known for its Music with a Mission series of concerts which host Maine musicians and raise money for local charities.”
All five churches, each with their own personality, come together for the March 5 worship with the same mission. “This is a general invitation to folks to pray for peace and reconciliation, whatever that might mean for them,” Rev. Field stated about the service.
“It’s a time for prayer, song and scripture with the hope of bringing our community together. We look forward to welcoming all members of the community,” Rev. Colgrove added.