Douglas Cornman – The Driving Force of Spirituality

On Tuesday, July 28th, Mission President John Zavodny and I had the pleasure of co-hosting a Spiritual Roundtable with past Mission presidents and pastors. Joining our Zoom meeting were the Reverends Gary Delong and Scott Planting — both former Mission presidents. Former Sunbeam pastors the Reverends Tony Burkart and Rob Benson, and current Mission Board chair Dan McKay joined too.

Former Sunbeam pastor Reverend Ted Hoskins, former board member Bishop Clark Grew, current board member Reverend Rex Garrett were invited but could not attend.

John and I wanted to connect (or re-connect) past and current spiritual leadership, listen to Mission stories straight from the pastors’ mouths, and better understand the guiding principles and values of the Mission’s history of spiritual work.

The meeting did not disappoint.

After introductions I led the group in prayer. Each participant then shared experiences from his time with the Mission. Stories were told of identifying community needs, and of Mission programs growing from those needs.

I was reminded of why and how Mission workers like Edith Drury once distributed packs of seeds to Mission families. Her work was similar to today when Sunbeam Steward Jillian, and Island Health Services Director Sharon Daley, bring aboard the Sunbeam seedlings from their gardens to share with islanders. Similar to staff at our Downeast Campus building and distributing “Gardens in a Box” to families in Cherryfield.

What a gift it was hearing Tony share how his ministry was led by a “quiet caring of people without a lot of feathers and dust.” Or of Gary’s leadership guided by Jesus’ parable of the sheep and goats: “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Or listening to Scott share how he frequently thought of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s attitude of “obedience, with action” while leading the Mission and staff in the daily work of loving and serving others. Rob told the group he always looked for “hope – wherever he could find it.”

I sat listening with deep gratitude to each of my Mission colleagues share his experiences. Grateful for their legacy of good work, and for their generosity of spirit and wisdom. John and I left the meeting inspired, even as the Mission faces this unprecedented time.

My takeaway from our Spiritual Roundtable? God’s love and call to service is alive in every facet of the Mission’s work. Whether it’s a weekly Zoom church service, a ReachOut phone call made by a Mission volunteer, or staff socially distancing with kids during the EdGE summer camp. Spirituality is not a separate entity or program at Maine Seacoast Mission. It’s the driving force for everything we do.