WE ARE A CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY THAT SEEKS:
- To become the body of Christ in this place we share.
- To celebrate our common journey of faith, honoring diversity of people and gifts.
- To allow ourselves to be formed into an inclusive community of worship, sometimes small and sometimes large, both year-round and seasonal, and warmly open to any who wish to join.
- To extend that community into our neighborhood and beyond, to others who seek our fellowship and support, responding to our neighbor's needs as to our own, and extending our care not only to our human sisters and brothers but to all living things, realizing our kinship with all with whom we share this earth as part of God’s creation.
- To become a community where it is safe to ask questions, share doubt, and explore the gifts and talents God has given us.
- To provide a place where people learn in a variety of ways about God and the faith we share through worship, study, community action, and participation in a welcoming congregation.
- To raise the children among us in the knowledge of God's love and promises.
- To explore and involve ourselves in liturgy, leadership, ecumenical cooperation, and active involvement in Christ’s larger church.
- To act and speak boldly, yet in love, working for justice and peace in the name of God.
We are a young parish, and the origins of this community only extend back to the mid-70’s when a retired priest would celebrate the Eucharist for a few interested Episcopalians during Christmas or Easter. In 1982, Barbara Coan and Marcia Scott began in earnest to organize a parish. With diocesan support, a small group began to meet monthly in the afternoon at St. Mary, Star-of-the-Sea in Stonington. At the suggestion of Barbara Coan, and with the approval of then-bishop, the Rt. Rev. Frederick B. Wolf, the congregation took the name St. Brendan the Navigator. They began meeting weekly, and in 1985, became part of the Downeast Cluster of three parishes sharing clergy. Soon came rapid change with this parish hiring its own part-time priest.
St Brendan's has been blessed with very special clergy, men and women who established close personal ties with the members of the congregation and are loved by the community. All have been excellent preachers, each quite different from the others. A brief time line indicates the depth and diversity of St. Brendan's clergy:
7/82 - 6/84
3/85 - 5/86
Jillian Sydney Howell and Earle Thompson, The Downeast Cluster
8/86 - 4/87
William Ellis and John Hedger, Interim Priests
10/87 - 10/89
Henry Bird, Shared ministry with St. Francis and Trinity
10/89 - 1/91
Cynthia Bourgeault, Part-Time Priest
1/91 - 6/93
David Van Dusen, Interim Priest
7/93 - 6/99
Holly Antolini, Half-time Priest
7/99 - 7/00
Walter Dickhaut, Interim Priest
7/00 – 12/06
12/06 – 08/08
Emily S. Gibson, Interim Priest
11/08 – 12/15
Virginia Peacock, Part-Time Priest
Until 2009, St. Brendan’s shared worship space with other established churches, initially St. Mary Star of the Sea (Roman Catholic), and later Stonington Methodist Church. While these partnerships served us very well at that period, the time came for us to find a worship space we could call our own, and when the North Deer Isle Community of Christ Church building was offered for sale, it brought us to a point of weighty decision.
St. Brendan’s had grown up and thrived for thirty years without owning property. Being unencumbered freed us to devote ourselves and our resources to outreach and the changing needs of ministry on our island and in our world, but it was apparent that a permanent visible place that was specifically ours would allow us to do important things we could not have done before. With much prayer for guidance and listening to one another we struggled with the idea of ownership and decided we were perhaps being called to a new way to be the body of Christ. In the autumn of 2009, St. Brendan’s purchased and moved into the handsome 19th Century building it now occupies.
The acquisition of real estate and the adding of needed structure brought more challenge even than St. Brendanites had anticipated. We have not met this perfectly, but we believe we are growing with the effort.
With our new physical space, increased visibility in the community and deliberate effort to increase our numbers, resources, interests and talents, St. Brendan’s has also faced another struggle, one perhaps less anticipated than the demands of property. We are no longer just a tiny handful of year-round islanders, intimately known to each other, gathering where we can, welcoming in summer several times our winter numbers of seasonal residents and visitors, some of whom shoulder parish work and responsibility for the time they were present, a much needed assist to the year-round stalwart.
The new reality of St. Brendan’s has become - along with greater numbers, resources, energy and ability to take on larger ministry - also the fact of more variety of church experience and expectation, the need to work harder at getting to know one another, the issues created by more complexity in how we relate to one another and make our decisions. We have not always moved smoothly and happily into the new patterns and consequently learned that rapid movement can be painful indeed. We are committed nevertheless to answer God’s call and to finding our way forward in his name.
OUR CHURCH BUILDING
Built as a Congregational Church in the 1870's by the congregation, the structure originally bore a tall steeple, destroyed later in a storm. The light and pleasant interior space reflects the worship traditions of its original owners with its two side aisles instead of the single central aisle found in most Episcopal churches.