Friday, June 28, 2024

Rev. Tim Higgins bids a fond farewell to St. Ann’s Episcopal Church

By Lorraine Glowczak

After 17 years of providing inspirational sermons to the congregation at St. Ann’s Episcopal Church in Windham, Rev. Tim Higgins wishes a heartfelt goodbye to the parish he has loved and supported during his long tenure there. His last day as the Rector of St. Ann’s will be Sunday, June 30 as he has accepted a call for clerical duties at St. George’s Episcopal Church in Sanford to begin Aug. 1.

St. Ann's Episcopal Church in Windham
invites the public to services and a 
celebration on Sunday June 30 to say
farewell to their longtime rector, the
Rev. Tim Higgins.
The move to a new parish isn’t an easy one for Higgins.

“It has been a privilege to serve St. Ann’s since 2007 and I will miss this wonderful church that has been the spiritual home to my family and me for so long,” he said. “Ministry is relational and thus it entails falling in love with the people you serve. This makes my leaving very, very hard for me.”

The long-time St. Ann’s Rector explains that the average tenure for a priest in the Episcopal church is about 10 years.

“My move signifies not only personal growth for me but also opens doors to new growth, opportunities, and possibilities for St. Ann’s,” he said.

Higgins, who began his career as a Catholic priest in 1987 and realigned his faith to Episcopal principles about 10 years later, looks back on his time at St. Ann’s with a combination of joy and melancholy. He reflects upon some of his most significant experiences.

“My work bringing people together of various faiths for ecumenical celebrations and community support has been one of my most rewarding experiences at St. Ann’s," Higgins said.

The church’s Deacon, the Rev. Lisle Blind, referred to Higgins’ community efforts as a spiritually unifying endeavor.

“I’ve witnessed how people feel so comfortable around Father Tim as if he has been a friend for a long time,” Blind said. “He is fun, laughs easily, and tells jokes. There is no pretense about him, and he creates community wherever he goes.”

Rev. Blind says Higgins’ well-known North Windham Post Office sidewalk visits are legendary. These include the annual “Ashes to Go” on Ash Wednesday, “Palms and Prayers” during Holy Week, and “Peace and Prayer” during Advent.

“I enjoy meeting new people, seeing old friends, and getting the opportunity to pray with them during these events,” Higgins said of himself and the St. Ann’s team he works with. “People always expect us to be at the post office for these sacred occasions and some make a special trip to see and talk with us. Some eventually make their way to St. Ann’s because they feel like they found an accepting spiritual home.”

Another well-liked community effort created by Higgins is the Windham Area Clergy Association, a gathering of clergy from various churches. The mission is to support one another, to respond to the community’s needs as an ecumenical team, and to observe liturgical celebrations together.

“These multi-faith experiences have included MLK observations, Thanksgiving worship, a Seder Dinner led by a retired rabbi, and Pentecostal celebrations,” Higgins said. “The most recent of celebrations is the weekly Free Thursday Community Meals.”

But it is with profound melancholy, that Higgins speaks about the young families and their children who have worshipped at St. Ann's over the years as well as the Vacation Bible School that St. Ann’s has offered for the past 10 years.

“I feel incredibly grateful for the 40-plus children that attended our vacation bible school every year,” Higgins said. “It’s the children who keep your heart open. I will miss these joyful young people so much.

In 2022, Higgins's work expanded when he was asked to serve as a Contact Priest for Faith Lutheran Church in Windham after their pastor left for full-time work.

“The bishop’s representative of the Lutheran Synod reached out to ask if I’d be willing to serve as their Emergency Pastor while they were in transition,” he said.

Higgins accepted and within two years became their transitional pastor with eligibility for a call for a one-year period. This included full parish visitation and monthly preaching.

David Guiseley, Faith Lutheran Church Council President says that Higgins was a stabilizing figure for their congregation.

“Father Tim has been a very personable individual who has been a great communicator with the parishioners,” Guiseley said. “He has been a helpful leader in our time together with St. Ann’s and he will be missed for these reasons, and more.”

As Higgins prepares for his next journey, he offers a sentimental farewell.

“I want to extend my gratitude and thanksgiving to the great Windham community and St. Ann’s congregation for their love and acceptance, faith, and friendship over the years,” he said. “Every life has a season and my season at St. Ann’s and Windham has been the light of my life.”

Rev. Blind captures the sentiment spoken by many in saying Higgins’ shoes will be hard to fill.

All are welcome to celebrate and say goodbye to Higgins at St. Ann’s on Sunday, June 30. The farewell times include an 8 a.m. service, a 9 a.m. coffee celebration, a 10 a.m. service, and an 11 a.m. barbecue. <

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