Isle au Haut’s Union Congregational Church is a visible landmark to anyone coming to the island. Since 1857, its white steeple peeks through the trees to the shoreline. However, with a small congregation, the funds to continue upkeep on the building are limited. When the roof in the parsonage started to leak, the church turned to the Maine Seacoast Mission. The Mission’s Island Church Fund provided a grant that helped them fix the leak and cover the surprise expenses.
The fund provides grants to churches and established faith communities on outer islands that have a year-round population. Each year, between 15 to 20 churches are invited to apply for a grant of up to $500. The grant is part of the Mission’s Islands of Grace program which provides spiritual support for island residents and partnership to their spiritual leaders.
Seven churches were able to make much needed updates to their buildings including fixing broken windows, reducing mold, and replacing kitchen appliances after receiving a grant from the Island Church Fund. On Maine’s outer islands, churches can serve more than spiritual purposes: these sacred places also serve as community gathering spaces.
Monhegan’s Community Church is open to the whole community. The church brings in minsters-in-residence during the summer months, hosting chanting for peace and healing sessions, as well as being the space for the island’s jamboree which is an open-mic for island residents and visitors. When windows in the building broke, they approached the Maine Seacoast Mission for a grant to cover the expenses.
Douglas Cornman, Director of Island Outreach and Chaplain at the Mission says, “Island churches are a vital part of island communities. Not only do they serve as gathering places for the sacred and spiritual, but they are also beacons of hope in a broken world to all who see them. I am filled with gratitude for the Mission’s continued support of these beautiful, and often historic, buildings. My gratitude also goes to the dedicated women and men who work tirelessly to keep the church doors open. They are the real heroes of this story. Make certain to peek inside the church on your next visit to a Maine island. Your body, mind, and spirit will thank you.”
List of Churches Receiving Grants:
This year’s grants were given to Monhegan and Isle au Haut’s Churches as well as: Matinicus Congregational Church for a new hot water heater; Islesford Congregational Church to replace gutters and down spouts; Swan’s Island Baptist Church for a dehumidifier to reduce mold in sanctuary; Outer Long Island Congregational Church (Frenchboro) to replace kitchen appliances; and for the Pleasant River Chapel on Vinalhaven to replace the church’s front doors.
Find out more about the Mission’s Island Outreach program.