Living Stones is a membership organization of Episcopal dioceses committed to Total Common Ministry or, as some call it, Team Ministry. There are currently 16 dioceses in Living Stones. The Diocese of Maine has been a participant for several years.
Two weeks ago, Canon Vicki Wiederkehr and I attended the Annual Meeting of Living Stones along with the Rev. Linton Studdiford and Gail Swanton of St. Philip’s, Wiscasset. Linton and Gail were with us to present the proposed collaboration between Grace Church, Bath, and St. Philip’s. The plan is to create a team ministry between the two congregations consisting of the rector of Bath and a recent seminary graduate who will reside in the rectory of St. Philip’s.
The team will serve both congregations equally. The rector at Bath will become priest-in-charge at St. Philip’s. The seminary graduate will be the assistant in both congregations. Both priests will be present in both congregations on a regular basis. Both congregations will provide funds for the ministry, and the diocese will provide support from a fund for Clergy Internships. There are already deacons in place in both communities, and they will continue their work. We hope the team will strengthen the ministries of the congregations and create an ongoing placement for seminary graduates. Right now we have no assistantships in the diocese. If this project is successful, we will have an ongoing opportunity for new priests.
The conference was well worth the effort it took to get to Des Moines in the winter. Each diocese presents a “case study” in small group settings. Our small group consisted of teams from the Diocese of Northern Michigan, Seabury-Western seminary, and the Diocese of Olympia. We received helpful commentary on our project and were able to be part of important conversations on new approaches to ministry. We are pleased to be part of Living Stones.