A 2013 service for seasonal workers at St. Saviour’s Episcopal Church. FILE PHOTO

Seasonal workers service shares hallmarks of home

BAR HARBOR — St. Saviour’s Episcopal Church is entering its fourth summer of holding Seasonal Worker’s Services that gives foreign workers the chance to reconnect with their religion and home through worship.

The services are held twice a month at St. Saviour’s in Bar Harbor at 7:30 p.m. Reverend Timothy Fleck of St. Saviour’s said the idea for the service came out of a casual conversation. “Rick and Gail Leiser, owners of Galyn’s Restaurant, are members of the church. They were talking to folks in the kitchen who were regular church goers, but didn’t have the opportunity to attend church here in Maine.

“The service started with the Leiser’s help in the summer of 2012. That summer, we tried to run a service for the Jamaican folks, but it soon became clear that what they really needed was a space to do their own service.”

Since 2012, the tradition has continued and strengthened, with an estimated 30 or 40 people in attendance, depending on work schedules, Fleck said. “Most of the folks are either Pentecostal or Evangelical Christian. Those who enjoy the music, which is a sort of Christian Pop, and those who enjoy an enthusiastic and joyful worship service are welcome to attend.

“You don’t have to be Russian or Jamaican to come to the service. Everyone is welcome. We at St. Saviour’s are blessed to have such a large and beautiful worship space, and we are happy to be able to share it with people who appreciate it.”

Jackie Widderbourne is from Jamaica. She has been coming to Maine for four summers for employment. She is currently working at Galyn’s and the West Street Cafe. Widderbourne is a coordinator for the Seasonal Worker’s Service. She is one of its original members. Introduced to the service by a coworker and friend, she was excited to attend and saw Rick and Gail in attendance. She explained: “Being a Jamaican going to an American church for the first time, we felt really welcome. We were invited to do some singing, and it eventually worked out that Gail turned it into a summer service for all workers. It really is for all summer workers, not just Jamaicans.

“I am so glad for the privilege we have to go to worship at St. Saviour’s. They open their doors to welcome us there. We really feel appreciated, and we appreciate getting to go to church on a Sunday. For me, the reason why it’s really important is because I’m Christian. Being away from my church back home, I feel confident when I’m doing it because I feel like I’m going to church in Jamaica. There are other people who don’t get the chance to go to church, and the privilege to go is a big plus.”

Giving everyone a chance to worship and enjoy their time on Mount Desert Island is a cornerstone of St. Saviour’s decision to extend a hand to seasonal workers, Fleck said. “The seasonal workers here on MDI are a group of people who are working very hard during the day, and who are far away from their families and home churches. The service is an opportunity to be together, and to worship, and to support one another and to really feel God’s presence.”

The next service will be held on Sunday, June 28.

Stephanie Calas

Stephanie Calas

Stephanie Calas

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