Reverend Theodore “Ted” Hoskins, who worked for the Mission for 16 years, passed away on Saturday, August 5. Ted joined the Mission as the Minister of the Outer Islands in 1993 and in 2002, he became the Minister to Coastal Communities and Fisheries. He retired in 2009.
When hired, he spent the first few weeks visiting each island. He had said at the time, “Ministry, local church ministry is what my life is all about. I shall preach and teach, visit and counsel, baptize and marry, comfort and bury. I will work for the well-being of the island residents in every way possible.” And from the time he stepped on Sunbeam IV to his retirement, he continued to advocate for the people he served. Colleagues remember him as a dedicated and caring pastor, who was every bit as comfortable dressed in a clerical robe standing behind a pulpit as he was traveling with a group of fishermen, preparing to meet with legislators to talk about the challenges they faced on the coast.
Prior to joining the Mission, Ted had been the summer pastor on Isle au Haut for thirty years. His picture still hangs in the Town Hall, a reflection on his lasting impact on the community. And while he called Isle au Haut home, he was equally dedicated to all the people and islands he served. Ted might have explained it best when quoted in Down East magazine, “They’re not mine at all. I’m theirs…I belong to them.”
photo courtesy of Greig Cranna
Shortly after Sunbeam V launched, Ted set out on a lofty quest to visit five islands (Monhegan, Matinicus, Isle au Haut, Frenchboro, and Great Cranberry) on Easter Sunday. The first year, boat troubles kept them from making the trip. The next year, he successfully made it to four islands though the Annual Report explains one Easter Lily was crushed in transit. Rob Benson, who became the Minister of the Outer Islands after Ted, says this commitment is what makes Ted so beloved on the islands even today. “He took the time to be with people. He was authentic and people knew that.”
Gary DeLong, Mission President from 1999 to 2010, remembers a night he spent with Ted early in his tenure. “One day Ted called and asked if I would like to go with him to a meeting,” he recalls. “Some fishermen’s wives wanted to help find some way to become more financially secure. Lobstering and other fisheries were hard to get into. It was hard to make enough to live. Ted was there to pass on information and encouragement. As the discussion ended and pie and tea were served, there was a feeling that something good was happening. I learned a lot that night about how Ted listened.” Gary says that the way Ted would bring together people, as well as how he listened, would inform his work going forward. The beginnings of programs like EdGE and telehealth, were couched in this idea of bringing people together for informal discussions where the Mission could just listen to people’s concerns.
In 2002, Ted Hoskins transitioned into the role of Minister to Coastal Communities and Fisheries. Through his work as a pastor, Ted had seen the challenges that fisherman faced and wanted to help them maintain their way of life.
The 2003 Annual Report explains, “The Mission is in a unique position to be able to bring the parties together. It has been active on the islands and coastal communities for almost a hundred years and has achieved great credibility during this time. Ted, as the boat minister on the Sunbeam quickly established his bona fides with the islanders and with others involved in the dialogue.”
Photo courtesy of the Island Institute
During this time, Ted worked with numerous organizations including the Nature Conservancy, Island Institute, New England Fishery Management Council, and the Maine Department of Marine Resources’ Lobster Advisory Council. For many years, he also moderated the University of Maine Lobster Institute Canadian/American Lobsterman’s Town Meeting. “He was devoted to the lives of fishermen. Ted had a deep interest and passion for the work he did with fisheries,” Rob says.
Even after his retirement, he continued to advocate and care for the coastal communities he called home. And his caring made a difference, Gary says. “Regardless of which role Ted was embracing in any given moment his presence and demeanor always brought comfort and hope to those most in need.”
To learn more about the work Reverend Ted Hoskins contributed to, please visit the Island Outreach program page.
A full obituary can be found here.