St. Anne’s Builds Community Connections with Summer Events

Photo: Making "messy art" at St. Anne's on July 13th were these youngsters, who clearly enjoyed the creative and satisfying activity of generating their own personalized "slime". Messy Art is held every Thursday from 10-11 at St. Anne's, and it is open to the public at no cost. (Photo by Lura Jackson)

By Lura Jackson

You can tell a lot about a community and their values by the activities happening around the churches. If you were to assess the Calais area using St. Anne’s Episcopal Church as your barometer – based on the activities being held over this summer – it would be immediately apparent that this is a community that values connectedness. Between a new initiative to embrace its history, well-attended youth activities, regularly scheduled group meetings, and a brand-new approach to their annual upcoming feast day, St. Anne’s is a buzzing hub of ongoing events.

This is the first time in memory that St. Anne’s Feast Day (which falls this year on Wednesday, July 26th) will be celebrated with a market held on the grounds, followed by a Celtic evening service. While the church always recognizes the feast day, “This year we decided to be creative and thing about some kind of a bigger celebration day,” explained member Christine Felker. “Everybody here loves to bake and to cook, so we decided to have a market right on the grounds.” Felker said to expect baked goods, baked beans, pasta, plants, flowers, and arts and crafts as part of the outdoor market with a daylong café inside. The market will begin at 7:30 a.m. and go until everything is sold. Since St. Anne, being the mother of Mary, is the grandmother of Jesus, St. Anne’s Feast Day will also honor elders throughout the day.

In the evening, Reverend Sara Gavit will preside over St. Anne’s first Celtic service. “It’s something that has become popular around the country,” said Gavit, adding that it was popular in all different denominations. “The language is from the Celtic tradition, so it’s more creation-based and nature-based.” The service will include Scottish and Irish prayers along with Communion, with all guests welcome to partake in the Eucharist regardless of their affinity. “The Feast Day of St. Anne’s was a good opportunity to have a worship service that was celebratory but also contemplative,” said Gavit. There will be Celtic music playing throughout the day, potentially by live musicians.

Next week will also be marked by two youth activities. God and Country Camp, which was designed for Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts but is open to any children in the community, will be running from Monday through Friday, with drops-in accommodated. Children who attend will be taught how their lives are similar to Jesus’s, along with how each of us and our families are unique and worthy of celebration. “It helps them realize that it’s good to be who you are,” said Sherry Sivret, coordinator of the camp. There is a fee to attend, but a full scholarship is available.

Every Thursday in July has brought together children and older members of the community at St. Anne’s for “Messy Art”. Messy Art is a free, hour-long art experience open to children of all ages from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. “The idea was to give kids a chance to play, to explore, to be creative, and to have an hour to make a mess and not worry about it,” said Sivret. Past creations have included paper frogs, slime, paper plate bugs, and more slime, among other creative projects. “I think it’s fabulous,” said Joanne Curtis of Florida at the Messy Art on July 13th. Curtis has been bringing her great grandchildren every week. “It looks like good therapy.” Curtis said she will be sharing some of the ideas with her church’s Sunday School in Florida. 

The Messy Art event is held at the same time as the weekly crafting group event at the church, enabling some of the women who come to the church to craft to participate in the Messy Art with the children. “We had some folks come in last week that were just visiting, and they were just amazed at the level of energy and noise in the church at the time,” said Gavit. Messy Art will be ongoing until the end of July.

Another July-only activity is drawing cerebral adults of all ages. Every Sunday from 6:30 to 8, an open discussion about the relationship between mind, body, and spirit is being held at the church. “It fosters a sense of interconnectedness,” said Christine Felker, who guides the discussions. “There’s so much that’s happening today that’s encouraging all of us to disconnect and create space between ourselves and others and other ideas. It’s nice to be a in a place where people can recognize that they can have different ideas and different histories and different perspectives on things and they can still be in the same room or at the same table.” The discussions are open to any who are interested and they are not intended to be sequential.

Other activities at the church are ongoing. One is a veterans’ outreach service that brings in a VA benefits counselor as well as a psychologist to speak with veterans on a regular basis. Another is an AA group that is specifically designed for people who have experienced addiction and are working to overcome it. For more information on these groups, please contact St. Anne’s at 454-8016.

Aside from its plethora of activities, St. Anne’s is also engaging in the active collection of historical photos and artifacts from the community to assemble a “history wall” and expanded archive. Among those pieces that are being copied and framed are the original 1853 deed. Everyone who may have a relevant photo is invited to bring it in so it may be copied and subsequently shared. 

“As a church, we are so steeped in tradition and longevity here in Calais,” said Reverend Gavit. “Yet we’re simultaneously a really vibrant parish.” Gavit attributes the vibrancy in part to the church’s acknowledgment of its roots and ongoing support of the future. “It’s like reaching back into the past and also coming forward and growing at the same time.”