WILTON — United Church of Christ Churches from Franklin and Kennebec Counties held an outdoor worship service Sunday afternoon at Kineowatha Park.

In 2015 and 2016, the Franklin County Association held outdoor worship services at Titcomb Mountain in Farmington. Members of the Kennebec Association attended the 2016 service prior to merging into the Living Water Association.

The Wilton Congregational Church offered to host the outdoor service this year as part of its year-long Bicentennial celebrations. Members and clergy from 15 of the 18 Living Water Association churches participated in the service while area children played in the background.

The service opened with Inner Rhythm, a drumming group from Old South Congregational Church in Farmington, playing and singing “Breathe on Me.” Everyone was asked to sing the chorus.

Rev. David Smith, pastor of the Wilton church, spoke of an All Faith outdoor church service held at Kineowatha Park as part of the country’s bicentennial in 1976.

Smith said nobody knows where the name Kineowatha comes from.

“It’s a coined word from Kineo, a boys’ camp elsewhere in Maine, and Longfellow’s Hiawatha. The Town of Wilton purchased it and opened it as a public park in 1975,” he said.

Rhonda McNally, from Moose River Congregational Church in Jackman, read the book “Thank You, World” by Alice McGinty. It shows pictures of similar items seen in eight countries.

“This book reminds me that although the world may look differently in different parts of the globe, we all look up at the same sun, clouds and stars. All were created by the same God.

“God made all of us different yet the same. We may be diverse in many ways but alike in so many others,” she said.

In his sermon “Bittersweet,” Rev. Mark Wilson of the Waterville Congregational Church said fall is the best time of year with its warm days, cool nights and apples. A time of closing up camp and going back to school, speeding up and slowing down at the same time.

“It’s a bittersweet time of preparation for what’s to come: cold, snow, dark and death. Bittersweet (the plant) has been there growing, winding up other things, but you can’t see it until the leaves are gone.

“Slowly and painfully it has been choking the life out of all it can wrap itself around, all the while dazzling us with the beauty of its fall colors.

“It’s invasive. We are invasive to this land, slowly choking the life out of this earth. We might not see it until the leaves are gone. Or the lobsters. What will it profit us if we gain the whole world but forfeit our souls?

“Let’s not let the bittersweet fall of our time, of our people, choke our hope. Spring will come,” he said.

The offering supported the Honduras Education Fund.

“Many have seen the hopelessness and deprivation there. Things are changing. (Education) is what is keeping a 15-year-old from a short life as a drug runner,” said Bob Healy, Shorey Chapel in Industry.

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