Karen Barbee Memorial Service

Categories: Church Articles

Karen-Barbee-312x377Service of Memorial and Celebration

Karen Francis Goodwin Barbee 

May 20, 2016

It is the sense of mystery that gives to life  its majesty…

for it comes…it goes…it is the song of the bird upon the branch…

… it is the silence when the song is goneWinston O. Abbott, Come, Climb My Hill


Prelude:    Selected music by Wiley Beveridge and Michelle Currie;  Karen’s favorites


Welcome and Call to Worship:                                                Rev. Jan Hryniewicz

We gather this afternoon to remember and to celebrate the life of Karen  Francis Goodwin Barbee…..To give thanks to God for all the ways she influenced us, nourished us and challenged us with her creative spirit, her wonderful wit and wisdom, her passion for life and the natural world.  We come not to weep that she has gone to a better place….but to be grateful for her earthly life and presence with us.  Karen grew up in Biddeford Pool and loved to come to this little church as a child with her siblings.  She was a lifelong member of Union Church, supporting its ministry, serving as a deacon, as a member of the finance committee, generously providing financial and spiritual support when needed.  And so it is fitting that we come  here, to this beloved place of peace and presence by the sea….to worship God…. to share our memories….to comfort each other….and to release to God’s loving spirit,  Karen Francis Goodwin Barbee, deeply loved and respected by each and all of us.


Moment of Silence, personal prayer

What must it be like to step on shore, and find it–heaven; To take hold of a hand, and find it–God’s; To breathe a new air, and find it–celestial; To feel invigorated, and find it–immortality; To rise from the care, the loneliness, and turmoil of earth Into one unbroken calm; To wake up and find it–glory?  We gather in community today…..seeking the presence of the God of mystery and miracles……the God whose love embraces us all , whose Spirit sings  through us and welcomes us home.

Because the sun dips its bright face beneath the horizon,

Do we doubt that we shall find it again tomorrow

                        shining as brightly?

So, too, though the Spirit dims its Light  in that which we have named Death

Shall we not again discover that same bright force

            waiting for us beyond this passing Shadow?

Though the eye does not see  The Soul knows the way…. trust

   …  Joan Walsh Anglund… The Circle of the Spirit


Come and worship and experience the gentle Spirit of God.


Congregational Hymn:   ( Precious Lord, Take my Hand,                  P.834


Prayer of Invocation: Oh Creative God….. We praise you for the splendor of Spring, the sweet music of song birds,  for sparkling seas, swift flowing rivers,  …. of glorious dawns and breathtaking sunsets…… Creator and sustainer of all life and energy…. we call on your Holy Presence today.  Our hearts are grieving and we seek your comforting presence and healing embrace. We long to surrender to your grace and peace….. to be comforted by the assurance of your Loving Spirit.   We celebrate the promise of Jesus Christ…. that we will live eternally, united with the spirit of loved ones in the circle of God’s peace and love.

We are grateful that we can gather in this supportive community to be comforted by the  gentle, healing wind of your spirit. We ask your special blessing on all the family and dear friends…. some who are here only in spirit. We seek your loving presence, oh God as we offer to you our remembrances and give thanks for the  precious life and love of Karen. Amen.

 Scripture Readings:   Psalm 121,  Psalm 23, Psalm 16: 7 – 11, John 14: 1 – 4  & John 11: 25                                    Rev. Dr. Nancy Bancroft


Musical gift:   Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow & Into the Mist                       Larry Barbee


Eulogy/ Family Sharing:     Kathy Neely, Dana Goodwin, Jan


“The Rocks at the Pool”   ( Poem written by Karen’s brother Marshall and read by his son M. Dana Goodwin)


I walked on the rocks at the Pool today This place, it knows something

 of us. I watched the summer wind work it’s mischief on the sea.


You have been with me many times As We searched those tidal pools

 For periwinkles, round stones And other ocean jewels.


I kept my solemn vigil there Gazing over that ocean so blue.

Then a smile came to my face For Kay, it was then that I thought of you.


Tribute by Jan Hryniewicz

I met Karen Barbee when I was being interviewed for the position of Summer Preacher at Union Church in 2000.  I noted immediately the twinkle in her eyes hinting at her wonderful sense of humor.  Her dry wit, open heart, sharp mind …and deep love for this church….were evident in the give and take of the interview.  I liked her immediately.   As my ministry evolved into a full time pastorate , so did my friendship with Karen….. my respect for her wisdom, appreciation for her love of nature….so evident in her beautiful gardens and bird feeding stations…. my awe for her skilled craftsmanship as a superb knitter and rug maker and  admiration for her deep faith and generosity of spirit.  I treasure the rejuvenating times I sat on her sunporch in her family home in Biddeford Pool, watching  a host of birds drop into the feeders and flutter among the gorgeous flowers.  She loved music….sang beautifully herself…. which prompted her to encourage and enthusiastically support the music ministry here at the church.

Karen and my husband Ed had a special friendship, sharing similar political leanings and passion for golf !!  As Karen’s body grew more frail, Ed became a physical support for her as they sat in the pew together , worship buddies…. very sweet.  Karen was always willing to share golf advice and she and Ed….and Michelle…and Vicki…. shared their much loved golf moments….. accompishments and challenges out on the links…. to the Oh Hum of us non golfers!!

In spite of serious medical challenges which could have deleted her spirit, she faced every  challenge with an upbeat attitude, never complaining or giving up….or saying “why me?”.    I admired her courage and strength of both body and mind.   She dealt with that dreadful cancer  with grace and good humor.  Quite remarkable! Visits with Karen were a delight and I always came away feeling ministered unto.

The frendship she and Dotti Butler shared over the  years was a marvelous support for both of them, engendering much laughter and stories….  a gift to all of us who spent time with them!  How they enjoyed their times at Dotti’s rustic cabin on the lake. Ed and I were blessed to spend a day there with Karen, shortly after Dotti passed.  Actually, we were glad to get there in one piece, because Karen wanted to drive, and did so on those back roads in rural Maine at 70 miles an hour!   I was hanging on and when it was time to go home, Ed said “ I’ll drive home!”   And he did!  She was fearless!

Karen treasured her wonderful, close knit family and I have been increaingly impressed by their loving support of one another through all the hardships and deep sorrows.  It is a precious gift to be so loved and supported.

It is thanks to Karen that Union Church now has a garden of remembrance for the internment of ashes.  She is the one who planted the original seed that was tended by many gardeners, weeded and transplanted and finally took root and became the lovely garden of remembrance.  Karen so loved this church and community that she wanted her physical remains to be buried here along with the ashes of her husband Tom, her brother Dana and her sister Judy. …and so this shall be their final resting place , together once again, to be part of the soil and spirit of this beloved church and community.

Karen’s final days were spent with her cherished family and friends, in her home where she had a wonderful view of visiting birds. She enjoyed playing cribbage with friends, watching old movies with Vicki, eating my chocolate chip cookies and enjoying every visit with dear ones!  As the end was drawing near, Michelle Currie  was at her bedside softly singing some of her favorite songs.   Karen and Michelle shared a beautiful, priceless experience, as Michelle  offered to Karen the gift of song to ease her passage into the place of eternal rest and ultimate peace.  What an incredible blessing for them both.

Karen was a rare and wonderful woman,  a devoted sister, aunt, Step Mom, wife, friend and church member.  Her generosity, good humor, courage, faith and kindness were hallmarks of her lifestyle.  For sure she walked the walk of her Christian faith, and the world is a better place because she inhabited it for 82 years.  Rest in peace, dear friend.


In this moment, we can all be blessed as we listen to Michelle sing one of Karen’s favorite songs.


Musical gift:         I Believe                             Michelle Currie

Silent and Pastoral Prayer:


Special Music:       Way Over Yonder ( Carole King)                 Michelle Currie


Words of Assurance:   John O’Donnohue’s Poem                        Stacy Cooper

Though we need to weep your loss, dear Karen,

You dwell in that safe place in our hearts

Where no storm or night or pain can reach you.

Though we cannot see you with outward eyes,

We know our soul’s gaze is upon your face.

Let us not look for you only in memory,

Where we would grow lonely without you,

You would want us to find you in presence,

Beside us when beauty brightens,

When kindness glows

and music echoes eternal tones.

May you continue to inspire us

To enter each day with a generous heart,

To serve the call of courage and love

Until we see your beautiful face again

In that place where there is no more separation,

Where all tears will be wiped from our mind,

And where we will never lose you again.

… John O’Donohue, to Bless the Space Between Us

Musical gift :                  Let Go of the Shore                      Wiley Beveridge


Closing Hymn:     Blest Be the Tie that Binds          P. 306  ( verses 1.3 & 4)


Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love.

The fellowship of kindred minds is like to that above.

We share our mutual woes; our mutual burdens bear.

And often for each other flows the sympathizing prayer.

When we are called to part, it gives us inward pain;

but we shall still be joined in heart, and hope to meet again.



We walk but a little way together, so may our footsteps linger

            and may there be

flowers along our path, that we may hold the fragrant blossoms in our hands- remembering

that they came to grow in the fields without

assistance from you or from me – they were

planted in some mysterious way – and having added color to the meadow – bowed their heads and died –        but death is brief – for there

will come another spring – and fresh new

beauty for the waiting earth –

            may we walk a little farther – until we really know – that beauty

like love – is but another name for immortality.

          ,…. Winston O. Abbott, Sing with the Wind

Go now in peace, embraced by the loving Spirit of God…to remember and honor Karen in every act of kindness, in every moment of beauty …in the warmth of friendship…. in the songs of birds and the fragrance of flowers.  Her spirit will be there….as it will be here, in this church she loved so dearly.   Rest in peace, dear Karen….and go in peace dear friends.

In the peace of Christ, Amen.


Karen was clear that she did not want her Memorial Service to be “dreary.”

It was to be a celebration of her life and her love of life, her family and friends…. upbeat and postive as she always was. …. and so it was.


Karen’s ashes were the first to be buried in our new Garden of Remembrance, along with the ashes of her husband Tom, her sister Judy and brother Dana.  It was a beautiful and historic moment.   Many thanks to everyone who made Karen’s wish come true.       Jan



2 Responses to "Karen Barbee Memorial Service"

  1. Mary Elizabeth Nordstrom
    Mary Elizabeth Nordstrom Posted on July 15, 2016 at 3:46 pm

    At last, I feel that I know Karen Barbee. Thanks to Union Chrch for caring enough to support a comprehensive website to
    share not only its presence by the sea, but to preserve historic moments like her Celebration of Life.

    • ucadmin
      ucadmin Posted on July 17, 2016 at 10:21 pm

      Thank you, Mary Elizabeth. Your thoughts are always welcome by the Union Church family.
      Paul Schlaver, Moderator