|There will be a 50 to 50 person choir from various churches |
performing at this year's community Thanksgiving
The Windham Area Clergy Association (WACA) invites the Windham, Raymond, Standish and greater Sebago Lakes communities to its third annual ecumenical community Thanksgiving service which will be hosted this year by St. Ann’s Episcopal Church, 40 Windham Center Road in Windham.
The observances will begin at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, November 26 and will consist of music and prayer from each participating church with a 50-60-person choir finale performed by the combined all-church choir and directed by Dr. Richard Nickerson. This year will include a special guest; the Rev. Thomas James Brown who was recently elected in February and consecrated in June as the 10th Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of Maine.
“The purpose of this yearly Thanksgiving service is to encourage the community to come together and give thanks to the Lord for the blessings we’ve received from God as a community,” explained Rev. Tim Higgins, Rector of St. Ann’s Episcopal Church and member of WACA.
It will be the first time that the ecumenical Thanksgiving service will be held at St Ann’s. “We are delighted to host this year’s community service for the first time in three years,” stated Higgins. “And we [WACA] are very excited that Bishop Brown has accepted our invitation and will be a part of this year’s Thanksgiving service.”
Higgins also explained the word, “ecumenical” and the purpose of WACA: “We are a group of interdenominational churches that cooperate on matters of mutual concern. We work together so that our communities will thrive in love, spirit, hope and trust through common worship, fellowship and outreach.”
The first ecumenical gathering of Thanksgiving hosted by WACA occurred in 2017 was held at North Windham United Church of Christ which was followed by the second annual service hosted by Windham’s Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints.
“We are honored to host this year’s community Thanksgiving gathering,” Higgins said. “We are especially excited to have Bishop Thomas Brown to be a part of this service, we are told that Bishop Brown will concentrate on the Gospel according to Matthew Ch.6:25-34. We do not know what wisdom he will share with us, but we are all looking forward to hearing him preach for the first time in the Greater Windham community.”
For those who wish to do so, goodwill offerings such as paper towels, toilet paper, toothpaste, diapers, toothbrushes, and other non-perishable food items will be accepted as part of the community service.
“The goodwill offerings will go to the St. Ann’s Episcopal Church’s Essential Pantry,” stated Higgins. “The Essential Pantry, coordinated by deacon Wendy Rozene of St. Ann’s, accepts all donations that are not available for folks on their EBT cards. We have also begun to give out non-perishable food items. As these items are collected during the service, they will go toward St. Ann's Pantry and be distributed to members of the community the last Saturday of the month.”
Briefly, Bishop Brown received his Master of Divinity from the Church Divinity School of the Pacific, an Episcopal Church seminary in Berkeley, California. He has served as rector of St. Michael Episcopal Church in Brattleboro, Vermont, and as the director of alumni and church relations at CDSP. Bishop Brown has held many leadership positions in The Episcopal Church and in the Diocese of Massachusetts and is currently chair of the Church Pension Fund’s board of trustees.
In addition to St Ann’s Episcopal Church, the other churches providing choir numbers and contemplative services throughout the year include Windham Hill United Church of Christ, North Windham United Church of Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) and Faith Lutheran Church.
As for WACA: “We began meeting as a group in the Spring of 2016,” said Higgins. “The idea is for area clergy to gather monthly and share our concerns and joys and to support one another in ministry.
As an organization, we want to remain aware of the community’s needs so as to be able to react appropriately to any tragedies or difficulties the community may experience. This past spring we were able to respond with a clothing drive between the churches when 400 asylum seekers landed in Portland at the Expo.”
For more information regarding the ecumenical community Thanksgiving service, future community events or if you are a clergy from any denomination from the Windham and Raymond areas and would like to participate in WACA, contact Rev. Higgins at 632-4046 or firstname.lastname@example.org.