Imago Dei Church – multi-generational, missional, and Anglican – moves into Bangor’s historic ‘Brick’ church

Imago Dei Anglican Church has moved from their meeting location at the Kenneth Anderson Community House in Orono to Bangor’s historic ‘Brick’ church located at the corner of Union and Main Street. The first service at this new location is this Sunday, September 7th at 10:00 AM.

I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know some of the men and women that attend and serve at Imago Dei these last few weeks and months, and I am excited for the new spiritual life that they will undoubtedly usher back into this aging landmark.

Imago Dei moves into Bangor's historic Brick Church

Imago Dei moves into Bangor’s historic Brick Church

Strategically located in the heart of downtown Bangor, Imago Dei is eager to use their new home to join forces with other churches and organizations already in the trenches of our city as they set out to serve the physical and spiritual needs of the surrounding community.

Concerning the significance of their name, the phrase “Imago Dei” — pronounced i-ma-go day – means “Image of God”. As explained on their website...

…the pinnacle of God’s creative genius is humanity who, unlike the rest of his creation, is made in his likeness, in his image. We were made for relationship with God and others: To receive love and give it away.

Next, here is some context to why I subtitled this article “multi-generational, missional, and Anglican.”

Multi-generational

All ages are of course welcome, and their congregation is multi-generational with some driving from significant distances to attend their weekly services. However, one of the first things I observed with Imago Dei is that they are noticeably younger than one might expect at a church with the ‘Anglican’ label. Their previous location in Orono, home to the University of Maine, has undoubtedly fostered this generational make-up.

So, what are some of the qualities that have attracted people to Imago Dei?

When I posed this question to Tim Kenerson, he said Imago’s hands-on approach to ministry called him to put gifts to immediate use that he had never explored in previous church settings. He said the practical “go and do” culture of Imago came at a perfect time in the life and spiritual growth of he and his wife Sam, who had both grown up in a more “come and hear” Christian environment.

Aaron Watt, a 31 year old owner of a local painting business, transitioned to Imago Dei a couple years ago because of what he described as an appreciation he had for what God is doing in all streams of Christianity.

I believe Imago Dei’s attraction is that they don’t try to be “attractional”, but instead offer an authentic church experience that is rooted in historical Christianity.

Missional

While their decidedly ‘traditional’ style of worship service may intimidate the would-be guest who might be more familiar with the ‘casual’ evangelical churches that dot our landscape (more on that later), Imago’s focus has been community-facing from the church’s launch in March of 2012. As one would expect, this characteristic spirit comes from their leadership where 31 year old Justin Howard — who was ordained as an Anglican Priest at the age of 27 in April of 2011 before planting Imago Dei — sets the tone.

Imago Dei’s missional efforts will naturally shift to partnering with organizations who serve Bangor, but they plan to maintain a significant presence at the University through leadership roles already established with UMaine’s InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.

A core principle of how relationships are formed and fostered at Imago is through Missional Communities. Instead of “church” just being something you “attend” once a week on Sunday, Imago takes the view that the church body should be “an extended family on mission together.” Missional Communities are the environment in which they foster this sense of family.

As outlined here, they desire that –

…everyone who comes into contact with Imago Dei are loved where they’re at, cared for, challenged, and growing in their gifts within a thriving community.

Imago Dei has also joined the coalition of area churches that are part of the Day of Hope that is set for September 20th on the Bangor Waterfront. Please say hello if you see them there.

Anglican?

Most people probably see the word ‘Anglican’ on a church door (or website) and have some immediate predispositions – I know I did. You may either think “theologically liberal” or “old and dying out” — or both. And then if you know a little more about Christian denominations, you might ask, isn’t the American version of Anglicanism called the Episcopalian Church? Why does Imago Dei call themselves Anglicans instead of Episcopalians?

Well, Imago Dei is part of the Anglican Church of North American (ACNA), a denomination newly formed in 2009 that is neither theologically liberal nor old and dying out. Contrarily, the ACNA was formed to differentiate from the theologically liberal direction that the Episcopalian Church in the United States has taken.

The entire breadth of issues that led to the formation of the ACNA is outside the scope of this article, but Wikipedia outlines it in pretty good detail.

What to Expect at an Imago Dei Sunday Service

So, if you are considering visiting Imago Dei on any given Sunday, what should you expect? I asked Rev. Justin to describe a typical Sunday at Imago.

First, he explained that there are 2 main parts of an Anglican worship service — Word and Sacrament.

The “Word” portion of the service starts with music, which does consist of contemporary ‘praise’ music that includes keyboard, drums, vocalists, etc. However, they also have traditional hymns, ancient prayers, reading aloud of Scripture, the creed is recited, and then the sermon is preached.

Following the sermon, the service transitions to the “Sacrament” portion. This part of the service includes prayer time and confession, before moving to an invitation for people to partake in Holy Communion — also called The Eucharist in the Anglican tradition — which is celebrated every Sunday at Imago Dei.

Justin explains that, “at the table of the Lord (ie, during Communion), we become one with Him in a mysterious way. When we receive it by faith, Jesus encounters us, nourishes us, and conveys grace to us in order to strengthen us to go back on mission with Him.”

At the end of the service, if people wish to be prayed with and for — whether they are sick, discouraged, wounded, or just want to follow Jesus — there is time set aside for that to take place.

Justin concludes, “when all is said and done, the people are sent back out into the world to be Jesus’ hands and feet through the power of the Holy Spirit.”  

As a practical note, during the main service there is a separate area where children are ministered to in a safe and spiritually nourishing environment.

Finally, while Sunday mornings are important to Imago, Justin says they are not the focal point, but rather the climax or pinnacle of our life lived on mission together throughout the week.

***

For more information, visit Imago Dei’s website and connect on their Facebook page. Celebration services are each Sunday at 10:00 AM at The Brick Church, 126 Union St.

***

I stopped by this past Sunday to help out and talk with people from Imago Dei as they were moving in to their new home. Here are a few photos from the occasion:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.