In 2013 the Episcopal Diocese of Maine gathered their congregations from the lower Kennebec Valley together to talk about doing ministry in the very different world in which we all now live. Maine is the least religious state in the country and doing church like folks did back in the 1960’s just doesn’t work any longer. Something needed to change!
In 2014, Prince of Peace Lutheran church joined the conversation facing exactly the same changing world. Because Lutherans and Episcopalians have a “Full Communion” agreement, they can officially share clergy and ministry, but it basically means that we all agree on the most important stuff.
From those conversations, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church decided to make the first bold move and moved in with the Lutherans at 209 Eastern Avenue in January of 2015. They called the part time Lutheran Pastor to be their part time Priest as well, and the beginnings of the Church at 209 were up and going. The hope has always been to come together to create a more stable place from which we could continue both congregation’s long history of reaching out to the community and making a place for all people.
Experiments hardly ever go exactly as you would expect. We’ve had bumps and bruises along the way as you might expect in any blended family. It’s been hard to begin to say goodbye to the beautiful St. Mark’s property. But through it all we’ve grown closer together and continue to be excited about what the future holds for us. Our not-so-large congregation has a big, positive, footprint in our city caring for people on the margins and helping other groups, both religious and secular, to come together to share their strengths for the good of our neighbors
The Church at 209 is on the path to become a “federated” congregation. It’s a work in progress. Both congregations still are their own, independent churches, but we’re working for the day where we are one, single congregation associated with both the Episcopal Church and the Lutheran Church. The exciting thing (or the nerve wracking thing depending on how much you like change) is that we’re learning and adjusting all the time. We’re learning from long time members and from a growing number of people who have come to join in this experiment we call The Church at 209.