Last Sunday at St. Columba’s Church the theme was “The Lord is my Shepherd.” Most people know the 23rd Psalm, or find the title familiar. The analogy of shepherd and sheep echoes through the Bible, with the Lord being the shepherd and we being the sheep, not necessarily sheep in a passive way, but rather the Lord being active, guiding us, helping us when we get into trouble, and being with us as we travel “through the valley of the shadow of death.”
In the Episcopal church the bishop often carries a staff, like a shepherd’s staff, indicating he is looking out for us. The Diocese of Maine’s current and tenth bishop is Right Reverend Thomas J. Brown, the Right Reverend being the title reserved for bishops. Bishop Brown will be visiting St. Columba’s parish this coming Sunday, May 15, as part of his responsibility to visit all parishes and summer chapels in Maine.
Bishop Brown brings a variety of perspectives to his ministry. He grew up in a small town, Bruce Crossing, in the upper peninsula of Michigan where he attended the United Methodist Church, sometimes serving as the organist. When he approached the Methodist bishop to share his thoughts of attending seminary, the bishop suggested he explore the Episcopal Church. That exploration led him to the Church Divinity School of the Pacific and to ordination in the Episcopal priesthood.
Called to an Episcopal parish in Brattleboro, Vermont, he learned both to love New England and also met the United Methodist Pastor, Tom Mousin, to whom he is married.
Tom also joined the Episcopal Church, was ordained by the Bishop of Vermont in 2011, and now serves as rector of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Portland, Maine.
Before being elected as Bishop of Maine, Thomas Brown served for ten years as rector of the The Parish of Epiphany in Winchester, Massachusetts. One could say that the chief role of a bishop in the Episcopal church is to be the pastor and overseer of the clergy in the diocese where they serve, but more tasks come with the job. Along with other bishops across the United States and even in the world, bishops meet to discuss doctrine, how to best live a Christian life, how the church interacts with the world beyond the church and much more. It is a task beyond most people’s ability to fulfill without the guidance and support of faith.
It is that faith, and guidance and news of the diocese and the broader church that a visiting bishop brings to a parish church. So come, learn, and be open to inspiration beginning at 10 a.m. next Sunday at St. Columba’s Episcopal Church, 32 Emery Lane, Boothbay Harbor, Maine. Bishop Brown will preach, celebrate the Holy Eucharist, and after the service be available for conversation. All are welcome. If you are unable
to attend, you may watch a video of the service at www.facebook.com/stcolumbasmaine/