Bangor Daily News
By Judy Harrison
Monday, June 28, 2004

Ste-Croix - Culture, faith topic of service

BAYSIDE, New Brunswick - The rancor between Roman Catholic and Protestant clergy recorded by the first European settlers in North America was absent Sunday at an ecumenical service at the Ste. Croix 2004 Celebration. More than a dozen clergy from the United States and Canada along with Passamaquoddy Indians conducted the hour-long service at the St. Croix Island International Historic Site.

A 70-voice choir with members from half a dozen churches in the towns nestled along the St. Croix River sang hymns in French and English as the 100 or so worshippers joined in.

"We hear a call to renew ecumenical, interfaith and intercultural dialogue in an effort to bring greater understanding, right relationships and peace between peoples of different heritage, culture and faith expression," said the Rev. Pierre Goldberger, executive minister of French ministries of the United Church of Canada. His denomination comprises Congregational, Presbyterian and Methodist churches.

Allan Gilmor of St. Stephen, the Canadian co-chair of the 10-day celebration, said before the worship service began that it had been important to include religion in the festivities.

"Four hundred years ago, religion was a big part of life," he said. "Even though the clergy may have argued, there was religious tolerance, even then."

The bishops of the Roman Catholic dioceses of Portland, Maine, and Moncton participated along with priests from parishes in Indian Township and Calais. Protestant clergy from churches in St. Andrews and St. Stephen also led portions of the service.

Several of the speakers emphasized interfaith and cross-cultural relationships. Canadian clergy apologized to Canadian First Nations members for their treatment by Europeans and to French speakers for the deportation of Acadians in the 18th century.

The Rev. Nigel Massey, rector of the Huguenot Church in New York, relayed greetings from the president of the Federation of Protestant Churches in France. The Huguenot Church was founded in 1628 by French Protestant refugees, Massey said before the service. Although it is now an Episcopal church, it is the oldest francophone institution in the United States, and services are conducted in French.

Speaking in French and English, Massey reminded worshippers of how their lives are interconnected despite national boundaries and cultural or religious differences.

"Our common life depends on each other's toil," he said. "We are more closely connected than ever. Not one of us is an island. Not one of us can go it alone," Massey said. "St. Croix belongs to each and every community to which we belong."

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