Deacons serving the Aroostook Episcopal Cluster: Jeri Williams, Judy Burleigh,  Steve Summerson, and Cindy Beaulieu

The Aroostook Episcopal Cluster describes itself as a group of five Episcopal parishes who share a common faith tradition, ministry and mission in northern Maine. The cluster concept not only provides mutual support between the parishes but maintains a parish presence in each of the local communities: The Church of the Advent in Limestone, St. Anne’s in Mars Hill, St. John’s in Presque Isle, St. Luke’s in Caribou and St. Paul’s in Fort Fairfield. The four deacons who serve there are part of a unique ministry support team.

In their own words, here are ways in which three of them minister:

Judy Burleigh: Assist with services at the five cluster churches and at Leisure Village (retirement home), serve on the board of PrISM (student ministries at UMPI and NMCC), participate in: two Bible studies at St. John’s, Aroostook Cluster Lenten Study Series (co-faciliate two sessions), Aroostook Cluster Book Club, monthly meetings of deacons with priest, weekly support group for widows, serve on: the Steering Committee of Seniors Achieving Greater Education, Diocesan Council and its committees.

Cindy Beaulieu:  I am the coordinator of our local prayer shawl ministry. I am part of a busy ministry team that share the responsibility of helping providing coverage for Sunday worship services. I am very involved with our local Hospice where I do home visitations as a respite care giver. I bring communion to shut ins who are no longer able to attend Sunday worship, and do hospital visitations for those members of our cluster who are ill, and I am currently busy setting up a diocesan health program for the cluster with the help of Bruce Nickerson of St. George’s in Sanford. I also lead weekly Bible study when Fr. Bob is not available.

Steve Summerson: My diaconal ministry includes serving five parishes in the Aroostook Episcopal Cluster, providing pastoral care within the parishes as needed. Serving diaconal duties with the priest in charge, preaching and interacting with other deacons. Assist in leading an evening Bible study. Provide Safe Church Training. My ministry is providing a ministry wherever God directs me!


From the New England Deacons Network:

Posted on April 2, 2012

Come join us at the Sheraton, Framingham, MA on September 28-30, for NEDN Conference 2012 We’re thrilled to have plans for the following guest speakers: 

Beth Mattingly is director of research on vulnerable families at the Carsey Institute. Her interests center on women, children, and family well-being. Her work at the Carsey Institute examines child poverty and how different family policies influence rural, suburban, and urban families and how families adjust their labor force behavior during times of economic strain. She also examines poverty-related issues, how families cope with economic distress, childhood maltreatment, and foster care across states.

The Hon. Byron Rushing was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1982. He came to the House with a work background of community organizing and of Afro-American history.  In the legislature, Byron’s priorities are human and civil rights, and the development of democracy; local human, economic and housing development; and housing and health care for all. Byron is a member of St. John’s, St. James Parish in Roxbury. He has been an elected lay deputy to the General Convention of The Episcopal Church since 1973; he was the chaplain to the House of Deputies at the 1994 General Convention–the only layperson to hold this position; he is an Adviser to the President of the House of Deputies. He is a founding member of the Episcopal Urban Caucus and serves on the boards of the Episcopal Network for Economic Justice and of The Episcopal Church Archives. He holds an honorary doctorate from the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge. He is a popular speaker and preacher on the ministry of all the baptized and on politics and faith.

Professor Willis Jenkins.  Professor Jenkins’s research focuses on environmental ethics, sustainable communities, global ethics, and theological ethics. He is author of Ecologies of Grace: Environmental Ethics and Christian Theology, published in 2008, editor of The Spirit of Sustainability, and co-editor of the forthcoming Bonhoeffer and King: Receiving Their Legacies for Christian Social Thought. Professor Jenkins previously taught at the University of Virginia and at a rural campus of Uganda Christian University. He has significant international experience in community development initiatives, was co-founder of the Episcopal Young Adult Service Corps, and served on the Episcopal Church’s Standing Commission on World Mission, 2000–2006.

Mark your calendars, check out the whole blog (click on Links and find the newenglanddeacons at: <;).

Here’s the brochure with registration form:  NEDN Conference 2012

Plan to join the caravan of carpools headed there in September!


Peggy Day: I moved from being a deacon at St. Dunstan’s in Ellsworth to being deacon at St. Patrick’s in Brewer, the first of the year.  My first Sunday at St. Pat’s was February 5th.  The focus of my ministry has always been around mental health and family violence issues. I have served as a deacon since October 25, 1990.  During the week, I serve as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in private practice in Bangor.  I serve on a board of a local domestic violence project and also assist them with fund raising events.  I co-chair the major Gala Event that is held on March 31rst every year.  I am also trained in spiritual direction and offer individual spiritual direction, as well as groups, such as retreats, quiet days, and women’s spirituality groups.  I am currently co-facilitating a women’s spirituality group that is being held at St. Pat’s and has women from a variety of backgrounds, as members.  I do all the diaconal liturgical duties during the Sunday services and I visit parishioners and bring communion to them.  I also visit patients at EMMC when asked to do so by clergy from around the diocese who are not able to get in to see them.  I used to work at EMMC, as a nurse and as a chaplain and so am very familiar with the hospital and comfortable with that role.  Lately I have added my cat to my list of tools, as he goes with me to visit Tom and Teile and others in the Boyd Place Complex.  He is loved by all!


Today begins a weekly posting on the “Our Ministries” page of the Deacon’s Bench blog. Visit the page and read about how our newest deacons are living out their ordination vows.  More next week!

31 of us came to Deacons’ Day  on March 31 in Palmyra at St. Martin’s Church.  We spent the first half of our time together with Bishop Steve, who led us first in worship, and then in an experience of “Lexio Devina,” reading Matthew 6:1-21 and allowing us a good amount of time for reflection on those words.  Here’s a link to download Daily Prayer for all Seasons, the resource the Bishop used for the short service that began our day. During the rest of our time together with Bishop Steve, we spoke mostly about how we might do a better job of creating a sense of community among all the deacons of Maine.  We enjoyed delicious soup and sandwiches provided by St.Martins, and continued the conversation into the afternoon.  Archdeacon Mary Lee shared the results of the survey that more than half of us completed, and we shared our thoughts and experiences of our own formation experiences.  Download the survey here:   DFP Survey overview.

The deacon’s’ Prayer List will be revived. People have been missing it.  I (Sudie) confessed to dropping the ball on this and was informally absolved by those attending (Whew!)    The prayer list will be sent to all on the deacon list at first, with an option to “opt out” if you don’t choose to participate. It will come as an email on the first Sunday of each month.  (If there’s an urgent need for prayer, contact me at We will be praying for our own personal concerns (not parishioners–we assume they are on your parish lists)  I will list the name of the Deacon requesting our prayers, just the first name of the person we are to pray for, and a broad reason for the prayer (healing, grief, peace of mind, etc.) This should address any issues of confidentiality. People will be kept on the list for a month, unless I hear that they need to stay on for longer.  I will do my best to keep this up.  Happily, I have given up trying to be perfect long ago, but if I miss that first Sunday of the month, I hope you will gently remind me.

All in all, it was a wonderful day–well worth the drive and provided a good chance to see and catch up with friends and colleagues.


  • On Friday and Saturday, May 18 and 19, plan to attend our Annual Retreat at Living Waters.  For the first time, if enough are able to stay, we’ll be offering the option to stay an additional night, until Sunday lunch.  Important: This will be the last time we will be  enjoying the Sisters’ hospitality at Living Waters.  The retreat center will be closed at the end of this season.  Come one more time and enjoy a time of rest and reflection at this beautiful spot!  Details and specifics will be sent to all shortly.
  • The Downeast Spiritual Life Conference — Ellsworth, ME, August 24-25 — Some at our meeting mentioned this.  Here’s a link for your convenience.
  • Reserve September 28-30 for the biennial New England Deacons’ Network Conference that will be held once again at the Sheraton Hotel in Framingham MA. The topic is “Crushing Poverty: Service and Solidarity with Those on the Edge” The organizing committee has lined up some excellent presenters:

Registration information and more will be sent to all shortly.  Those of us who went to the Conference in 2010 recommend that you make every effort to attend.  We will learn a great deal about the issues covered and it’s always good to meet with other deacons and share experiences.  This is the continuing education opportunity offered in the fall.  Registration will cost $225 and each night at the hotel will cost $94 (that’s single occupancy–find a roommate and save money!) Ask your congregation for funding and/or request a grant from the Loring Fund–it’s well worth it. Our Venerable friend Geof Smith has put together a blog to keep us all informed:


  • Coming up right away: Friday April 20-Saturday, April 21: Annual New England Anglican Studies Conference presented by the Harvard Divinity School Episcopal/Anglican Fellowship and the Harvard Episcopal Chaplaincy that’s focused on preaching:
  • On Tuesday, June 5, you’re invited to “Out of the Darkness and into Delight! Spirituality, Flourishing and Joy” at Colby College.  Keynoter Dr. Jeff Levin will ground us in “Spirituality and Health:  An Epidemiologist’s Perspective,” and 10 workshop leaders will share their experience and knowledge with participants in an array of experiential sessions.   (FYI–this conflicts with our Clergy Day)

The Rev. Tom Benson (right) and wife Teile Benson were honored on Sept. 14 with the renaming of the Medical Office Building Conference Room to the Tom and Teile Benson Conference Room at Bangor Visiting Nurses/Hospice of Eastern Maine on Union Street, Bangor.

BANGOR — Family, friends and colleagues gathered on Sept. 14 to honor the Rev. Thomas “Tom” Benson and Marteile “Teile” Benson for their three decades of devoted service to Bangor Area Visiting Nurses and Hospice of Eastern Maine. The recognition ceremony included the renaming of the Medical Office Building Conference Room in the nurses and hospice suite at the EMHS Mall on Union Street to the Tom and Teile Benson Conference Room.

“Tom and Teile’s varied services to our organization have resulted in the community being a better place for all to live and die,” said Wayne Melanson, hospice volunteer manager, at the ceremony. “They are two extraordinary people who exemplify selfless service to others. Their can-do attitude and perseverance in championing compassionate, quality patient care are models for the rest of us to emulate.”

The impact of Tom and Teile’s service to Bangor Area Visiting Nurses and Hospice of Eastern Maine is far reaching, Melanson said. Tom participates on Eastern Maine HomeCare’s Professional Advisory Committee and Teile was one of the visionary co-founders of COPES, now Hospice of Eastern Maine, 30 years ago, and she served as its first president. COPES volunteers introduced hospice to the community and brought compassionate comfort care to end-of-life experiences for patients and families. Tom and Teile were two of the first patient care volunteers with COPES, at times working as a couple to provide emotional and spiritual support.

Teile has participated as the Hospice Memorial Garden chairwoman and the Citizens Advisory Committee chairwoman and continues to be a top solicitor for the annual Celebrity Dessert & Auction. She also leads the prayer shawl ministry at St. John’s Episcopal Church and gives hospice patients and others in spiritual need with prayer shawls.

Together Tom and Teile served on the Time To Care Capital Campaign committee in 2005, the visiting nurses’ first capital campaign. The campaign exceeded its goal. In 2008 nurses and hospice staff, with guidance from Tom and Teile’s daughter Ann, worked on the creation of the Rev. Thomas & Marteile Benson Endowment Fund.

“The response from family and friends was overwhelming, and a true testament to the impact this couple has had on the lives of so many in this community and beyond,” Melanson said. The wooden plaque, with the image of the couple on it, reads: “The Tom and Teile Benson Conference Room. In grateful recognition of their distinguished service, devoted support, and leadership in advocating for quaility patient care on behalf of Bangor Area Visiting Nurses and Hospice of Eastern Maine.”

Bangor Area Visiting Nurses has achieved HomeCare Elite status for the fifth year in a row. Along with its hospice program, Hospice of Eastern Maine, visiting nurses extends services into central Maine. Last year its caring staff drove 293,983 miles to provide 27,433 visits to more than 1,550 home care and hospice patients and their families. Although home care services are paid for by public and private sources, or directly by patients and their families, tax-exempt donations help cover the cost of care provided to the uninsured or under-insured.

A part of the Eastern Maine HomeCare Family, and a member of EMHS, Bangor Area Visiting Nurses works to ensure that the highest quality home care and hospice is available to those who need it. For more information about home care and hospice services, visit or call the EMHC Patient Referral Line toll-free at 866-591-8843.

Source: Bangor Daily News — The Weekly




For deacons ministering in areas of domestic poverty, this week’s ABC coverage of hunger’s impact on American children is frighteningly relevant. This is clearly an issue in need of both Prophets and Good Samaritans — and prayer. If you would like more information:

From Mary Lee Wile, our Archdeacon for Formation 

Here’s a balanced look at diaconal ministry as both prophetic and pastoral, written by Deacon Carol Huntington as a pre-session reading for students taking the EDS “Ministry that Reaches Out” online course (previously titled “Diaconal Congregations”). With her permission, I’ve edited out the paragraph that was specific to the course, but otherwise it’s intact. The course wasn’t limited to deacons, but included lay and priest participants as well, so “diaconal congregations” refers to congregations that undertake diaconal ministries – inspired, perhaps, by their deacons but encompassing everyone.  MLW  

(From the editor: If you missed it the first time, the course will be offered again this fall. Check for details at the end of this blog post.) 

Both…And: Reflections on Finding Our Voice as God’s Prophets and Good Samaritans in Diaconal Communities
by Carol. L. Huntington, MSW, M.Div.

The Church has need of both band-aid ministers and system changers. Good Samaritans who respond to immediate crises, and prophets who speak truth to power in order to change oppressive and unjust social and economic structures, are equally important.

The Episcopal Church has made more progress in the Good Samaritan approach than the Prophetic one. Although in recent years the Church has taken courageous stands on justice issues such as women’s ordination and gay rights, indigenous nations, she has neglected other justice issues that relate to the Civil War, torture, human trafficking, peace, the environment, and those living with mental illness disabilities. Moreover, even the Good Samaritan approach is often sterilized to protect us from the pain and frightful reality of poverty and misery. Experiencing injustice and suffering firsthand would necessarily mean a change in our self-awareness and attitudes to others, and this is often threatening and frightening. Indeed, it could be a kind of metanoia. We would behave differently. We would grow spiritually in depth of commitment. The works of compassion of the Good Samaritan, especially as the Pathway for so many of us to begin to see systemic problems and begin to understand how to articulate them and make changes is valued.

Finally, there are times when the two approaches are seen within the Church as incompatible. Prophets concerned with changing the system worry that the Good Samaritan emphasis on charity downplays the need for justice. Good Samaritans concerned with addressing the immediate needs of people in crisis worry that the Prophetic emphasis on social change is aloof, abstract, and too political and, I contend, personally threatening. Dorothy Day lived the walk she talked. Her relationship with The Christ was such that her spirituality and faith empowered her to be both prophetic — changing the system — and also ‘hands-on’ healer of society’s wounds in a band-aide, Good Samaritan capacity. There is an ethical Biblical imperative to the spirituality of following Jesus. We are called to do justice – healing systems and healing individuals.

[Our diaconal task] is to help the Church touch the wounds of the world, to encourage, mentor, model, and empower both individual Episcopalians as well as the Church community as a whole to be better Prophets and Good Samaritans.

Different people have different talents and are called to different ministries. Prophets and Good Samaritans are both working for Kingdom values, and there is no reason why they should view one another’s ministries with suspicion. But in order for both to succeed, the institutional Church must take a more courageous and vigorous stand on justice issues than she normally does, and must empower and encourage individual Episcopalians to work together to seek genuine contact and interact in a meaningful and equal relationship with the sufferings of those whom they are called to serve.

Interested in learning more about the course? Here are the details:

Help your parish to be a diaconal congregation with this course on how to form members toward an outward focus, and then get them outside and into their ministries. September 19 to November 20 you will watch video presentations, engage in small group and individual reflection, and develop an integrative project around your next steps to help your parish look outside the four walls.

$200 per person or $250 for teams of two to four from the same parish. Contact Liz Magill at 617-682-1581 or for more information. Click here for an informational flyer.

Ann and Chick celebrate the end of DFP!

Our two newest deacons at the end of the June retreat: Ann McAlhany and Chick Carroll celebrating the end of DFP and the reality of ordination!

Ann was born and raised in South Carolina and grew up in the Southern Baptist church; however, she has lived in Maine all her adult life. She was confirmed in the Episcopal Church at St. Margaret’s, Belfast in 1982 and is now serving as deacon at St. John’s, Bangor. Ann works full time as a Business Counselor with the Maine Small Business Development Centers, at CEI, where she understands her job to be to listen to story, and offer feedback to help clients reach their goals and  realize their dreams. She volunteers her skills to offer a financial literacy course at the Women’s Reentry Center, a pre-release facility in Bangor, where she also listens to story and helps the women envision a better life. She has a B.A. from Furman University in German with a concentration in Ecology, a Master’s in German from UMaine and a Master’s in Global Logistics from Maine Maritime Academy. She has two adult children, and lives with her partner Lorraine in Milo, Maine.

Chick was born in Massachusetts, and spent his early adult years in several places (including New Jersey and Washington D.C.). In 1976, he saw the light and moved to Maine. He now serves as deacon at St. Paul’s, Brunswick. He undertook both his community-based formation and congregational mentored practice in Brunswick, the latter at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church; his time there reawakened and deepened the relationship between St. Paul’s and Good Shepherd, who shared some of their Holy Week services this year as a result. Chick has served several years as a chaplain at Parkview Adventist Medical Center. Just prior to ordination, Chick received his M.A. from Bangor Theological Seminary. Absorbed by environmental and social justice issues, Chick was recently instrumental in collaborating with colleagues from several local churches to establish The Gathering Place, a drop-in day center for the homeless in Brunswick that opened in February of this year. He also helped inspire volunteers to take part in staffing the center and welcoming guests. Chick has four adult children, and he lives with his wife Ann in Topsham, Maine.

Welcome to the Rev. Ann McAlhany and the Rev. Chick Carroll!

The whole gang at the June DFP retreat: Chick Carroll, Bishop Steve, Dick Rasner, Ann McAlhany, Pat Blethen, John Arrision, Mary Lee Wile, Corey Walmer, Jane Chatfield

As all of you know, no one makes the journey through DFP alone. A year ago, Ann and Chick were joined by Dick Rasner, from the Cathedral Church of St. Luke. Then in January, four more joined the DFP: Pat Blethen from St. Patrick’s, Brewer; John Arrison from St. Margaret’s, Belfast; Corey Walmer from St. Luke’s, Wilton; and Jane Chatfield from St. Peter’s, Rockland. These fellow-DFPers sent Ann and Chick off with a psalm they composed, prayers they gathered, and the support of their presence and participation at the ordination.

Dear Brother and Sister Deacons,
   The recently formed Council on Deacons in the Diocese of Maine met for the first time on Thursday, June 16 and we are excited and honored to have been elected to serve the deacon community. As your chaplains we make ourselves available to you, not to replace the Bishop, who is our  chief pastor, but to support Bishop Steve in his ministry to us.
We will be calling each of you to say hello and to encourage you to call on us when and if we can be supportive of you  in your ministry and in your personal life, with prayer, and a listening heart.  
Our ministries are deeply valuable to the people among whom we serve and to our families, friends and congregations and  we all need support from time to time.We are eager to offer this ministry of service to you.
                                  Christine Bennett and Peggy Day

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Photos of Maine Deacons

Deacon Retreat 2010

Deacon Ben Wetherill of Good Shepherd, Rangeley, reads the Gospel at Convention 2009