Community celebration of fall
It may have taken more than a decade for this spiritual and patriotic event to come together, but for 90 minutes in the historic Spurwink Church on Oct. 30, Harvest Song was a memorable celebration for the community, combining music, scripture and poetry, history and reflection, and a sense of what is special about living in this seaside corner of New England.
The Rev. Ruth Morrison and the late but still deeply admired Ginny Jordan originally discussed the possibility of holding an event like this in the Spurwink Church more than a decade ago. But it wasn’t able to come to fruition before Ginny’s passing in 2012. The Rev. Morrison kept the idea alive and made sure it took place this fall, before her retirement next June.
As a fitting tribute to Ginny, Lynne Millett suggested the singing of “In the Garden” during the Hymn Sing portion of Harvest Song. “In the Garden” was always Ginny’s favorite hymn and to many, “In the Garden” still is Ginny.
Approximately 80 people attended Harvest Song from our church, other churches in the Cape and the general community. It included hymn singing, prayers for the church, community and country, scripture and poetry readings and solos from ambitious and dedicated musicians, both young and well-seasoned.
A scripture reading from Psalm 84 was read by 97-year-old Frances Banks and e.e. cummings’ “I am a Little Church” was read by Sherrie Kaminsky.
Our church’s always inspirational choir, led by Faith York, didn’t disappoint with three arrangements, including a truly amazing rendition of of “Amazing Grace.’
Lay Leader Steve Hill delivered an interesting history of the Spurwink Church, which was built in 1802 as the Spurwink Meeting House. It is the oldest building in Cape Elizabeth and is on the National Registry of Historic Places.
Steve went on to explain that he and his wife Judith were married in the Spurwink Church in 1971 and then he asked others to share family connections and remembrances with the Spurwink Church.
Gail Parker, who played the church’s 1890 organ through part of the Harvest Song celebration, explained that her five daughters were baptized in the church and two of them were married there. She also explained that her mother and father are buried in the Riverside Cemetery behind the church. Mike Garrett described poignant remembrances of his mother also being buried at the Riverside Cemetery.
Faith York then stood in front of the gathering and read portions of memories her father, Bradford York, had written in 2000, describing his spiritual experience with the Spurwink Church.
The writing explained when he was 17 years old, he lived on Fowler Road and walked to a friend’s house on Scott Dyer Road. He stayed there until about 9 p.m. and then decided to walk up to Spurwink Ave. and the church on the corner. He was tired and thought about resting on the front step when he noticed the antique handles on one of the front doors. He tried the handle, but the door was locked. He decided to walk over to the other door in front of the church and when he tried that handle, it was open.
“What should I do?” he wrote. “Perhaps I could just look in.”Bradford entered the church and sat in the last pew on the left side.
“I sat in the pew for about half an hour. In that brief span of time something very strange happened. Within a period of about a half an hour, the essential orientation of my life was reprogrammed. Sitting in that pew, I began to be aware of an unusual presence. It was a presence I did not understand, nor that I have words to even yet explain. I had an awareness of something absolutely unique and overpowering. It seemed that I was in the presence of an unearthly kind of goodness I had never before sensed. And it was a presence that instilled joy . . . an encounter absolutely thrilling.”
Bradford went on to explain, “It was a presence whose clear articulation seemed to be ‘It is the power of God unto salvation.’ ” He further remembered, “It was the awareness of something not of this world but whose relationship to this world seemed totally positive. Without question this was the most unique moment of consciousness I have ever experienced. The essence of my response: ‘I will. I will believe!’ ”
Bradford finished by stating, “I left that church building a totally different person. When I got home my parents were sleeping. I woke them up and told them that very thing: that I was a different person. Later in my room I wept. I wept from my soul my every sin, I think, I had ever committed. It was wonderful!
“Thinking back on that night, I am wholly convinced that somewhere there was a choir of angels joyfully singing . . . “Amazing Grace!”
The same hymn Bradford’s daughter led the choir in singing, 68 years later.
Faith’s father celebrated his 86th birthday on the same day as Harvest Song at the Spurwink Church. Bradford had not shared this memory with his daughter until two days before Harvest Song.
Click here for additional images of Harvest Song at the Spurwink Church: