Hancock UCC Weekly Messenger for March 5, 2023
So we share in this bread of life
And we drink of His sacrifice
As a sign of our bonds of love
Around the table of the King
Upcoming meetings, events, and opportunities
The Choir practices at 9:15 on Sunday mornings. All are welcome.
Join us in our Sanctuary at 10:00 a.m. or on our Sunday Worship Zoom link at: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88327467219?pwd=Mis3ME4waGE1RmRBN zFXK3VUaDJXdz09
Meeting ID: 883 2746 7219 Passcode: 131738
(Posted later for viewing on Facebook and YouTube)
Our meetings are open to all. If you would like to attend a meeting, please let Vicky know and she will provide the Zoom link, or you are welcome to attend in person.
Lenten Study Group – Wed. evenings at 7:00.
Featuring selected scriptures and Wendell Berry’s Sabbath Poetry of Lent
Join us for a deepening of faith through introspection and discussion…
You need not come to all sessions. Join us whenever you can.
Christian Ed will meet Friday, March 3 at 2:00 p.m.
Deacons will meet Friday March 10 at 12:00 noon.
The Thorsen Fund Committee will meet Wed. March 15 at 6:00 p.m.
Outreach will meet Thursday March 16 at 4:00 p.m.
Council will meet Friday March 17 at 12:00 noon.
Andy Matthews and Charles Dayhoff from Loaves & Fishes Food Pantry will be our guest speakers on Sunday, March 12th. Join us- and learn how our local food pantry
is serving our community - and how we can serve our local food pantry.
A request from Savanna Havey
Hello all! I am currently working for a program called Maine Families, doing home visits with pregnant parents and families with kids ages 0-3. We are no cost to parents and provide evidenced-based information about child development and the importance of playing with your child. We visit parents in their homes and bring activities for play, talk about a developmental topic, and go over family well-being at every visit. We also incorporate the importance of reading to your child. Unfortunately, we do not have the funding to bring a book and leave it with families for them to have and enjoy together. A lot of our funding is federal, and we can bring things like diapers, smoke alarms, outlet covers, baby gates, gas cards, and grocery cards to families who need these things, but we do not have funding to provide books. There are 4 of us serving Hancock County, and we would all love to be able to leave books with our families for them to continue to enjoy! We have a little fund we all add change to, we collect bottles, and we have gotten a grant in the past but the books don’t last very long as we love to give them out.
For the month of March, I would love to collect new books for children in Hancock County. We love board books- (cardboard,) fabric crinkly books and high-contrast books for babies, books that have different textures, books with nursery rhymes, lift-the-flap books, books that foster attachment, and books about transitions for kids under the age of three, ex: using a potty, going to bed; books about feelings, just to name some. Board books or indestructible books are preferred for this age group so they can enjoy them for years to come! If you need some ideas or prefer to order online, here is an Amazon wish list that will be delivered to the office: https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/3GU2KAV4MGGXR?ref_=wl_share
Most of these books are between $4-$9. If you prefer a cash donation, I can collect cash and purchase some of these books as well. Thank you so much for your support!
Meet our congregation:
Meet Pat Shannon:
I’d like to introduce myself, especially to the new members of Hancock Union Congregational Church. My name is Patricia Mary Shannon, and I am Pastor TJ’s spouse. We have been together for 31 years. I have two children from previous marriages; Mary Shannon, 53, lives in Camden, is the mother of Caleb, 20; and Michael, 47, lives in Pocatello, Idaho, is the father of Kyle, 26, and Jacob, 21.
I was born in 1949 in Ely, Nevada, to parents whose grandparents had immigrated from Scotland, Ireland and Denmark to Maine, and then to Utah. Some were Mormon pioneers, others just went along for the ride. I was raised in Nevada, Utah, and Idaho.
I was raised in a mixed marriage; my father’s family were (and continue to be), devout members of the LDS church (Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints), Mormons. My mother’s parents were not affiliated with any religion. She became an Episcopalian when she was in high school, and remained one until she died. I attended and participated in all things Mormon until I was in high school, when I left to become, like my mother, an Episcopalian.
I moved to Wisconsin and met TJ in the mid 1980’s. Years later, we found a lovely Moravian church in our neighborhood. TJ and I became members and participated fully in the life of that congregation until we left for Maine in 2002. We immediately became immersed in the United Christian Church, a member of the UCC denomination, in Lincolnville Center. This is the church of my maternal ancestors, and several of them served as Pastors. The “cloud of witnesses” in that 200-year-old Meeting House includes many of my kinfolk.
Now I have the great blessing of being at home in two welcoming and loving congregations, in Lincolnville and in Hancock.
Please keep the following people in your prayers this week: the people of Syria and Turkey; the people of Ukraine and Russia; the family and friends of Michelle “Mickey” Worth who died Feb. 24th; Nick’s sister Susan recovering from a mild stroke; Kenny Stratton recovering from a fall; Joy & David; Sally’s friend Joan; Denny Doucette; Vicky’s Aunt Eleanor; Morgan Espling; Debbie E; David Mack; Coulter Huyler; Sandy Phippen; Josh Friend; Renata’s sister-in-law Joanne; President Jimmy Carter and his family; Linda K. recovering from foot surgery; a church family seeking solutions for significant mental health issues - prayers for effective intervention and treatment and healing for all; Judith Crowley; Steve Crabtree; Debbie Maddocks and her Aunt Linda Reed; John Wood; Andrew and Tamara; Austin’s cousin Danny; Kathy’s sister Patti Wotton; Roberta Scott; Betty Johnston; Betty’s step-daughter Mollie; Margaret B; Liz & Jim; Gary Edwards; Bruce’s sister Lynn; Renata and the women she cares for; Eleanor’s step-daughter Holly; Tom & Judy’s son Andrew and his family; Cynthia; Nancy; all individuals and families experiencing addictions; all caregivers; all affected by memory loss; those living with depression and other mental health issues; for all victims and loved ones of violence, those impacted by laws limiting reproductive justice; those experiencing food and housing insecurity; all in your heart…
March Birthdays and Anniversaries:
05: Bruce and Patrice Alexander
12: *Tom* Severance
13: *Zachary* Spaulding
15: *Harry* Lounder III
15: *Nick* Davis
20: *Vivian* Foss
21: *Eveline* Thorsen
21: *Savanna Hudson Havey
23: *Linc* Ehrlenbach
28: *Pam* Bowie
Contact Us at Union Congregational Church of Hancock:
TJ can be reached by cell phone at 207-323-6743 or by email at email@example.com
Vicky can be reached at 207-422-3100 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Jen can be reached by email at email@example.com
News from the Maine Conference
Please spread the word: there are so many ways that Pilgrim Lodge makes camp affordable! The “Bring-A-Friend Discount” provides a reduced rate to you and a friend that you bring to Pilgrim Lodge for the first time. Children are eligible for a “Multi-Session Discount” if they register for more than one camp program. Scholarship funds are available! Children and adults are eligible to apply. Don’t let financial barriers stand in the way of an amazing camp experience.
How Good & Pleasant It Is When God’s People Live Together In Unity!
by Maine Conference UCC | Feb 23, 2023 - Conference Minister Rev. Dr. Marisa Laviola
Centuries before Jesus prayed in John chapter 17 about the unity of his disciples: “that they may all be one”, we read from the words of the Psalmist about unity: “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!”
And we may wonder about the relevance of these ancient words to our world that is anything but unified in good and pleasant ways. Having lived as long as I have, one would think I’ve “heard it all” when it comes to dissension and polarization, enmity and taking extreme sides. But I am shocked at the level our polarization has reached. Left vs. right politically and religiously, with ears stopped and mouths yelling wide. And we have seen how the extremes it has achieved spill over into violent actions.
As Disciples of the Living Christ we believe that God is still speaking. What is God speaking to us today? Certainly, in the psalmist’s time and in Jesus’ time there were extreme factions warring and yelling and showing violence. Perhaps God is saying to us the same thing that God has said throughout the millennia: “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity,” and in the words of Jesus: “may they be one as we are one.”
How do we as God’s people, disciples of Christ, do our part so that God’s words are not returned empty? How do we do our part to heal extreme divisions, increase charity, respect diversity? Can we even make a dent? If we believe that God is still speaking and that these ancient texts of unity and coming together apply to us, yes we can!
Perhaps a place to start is at home; I mean our home in the Maine Conference. In the almost four months I have had the honor to be with you, I have learned of much diversity in the Maine Conference: north and south, city and rural, larger and smaller churches, hope and despair for our future, Mainers and Away. And yet we have chosen to unite ourselves under the umbrella of the Maine Conference, under the canopy of the United Church of Christ in its mottos: “that they may all be one” and “in unity, diversity; in all things charity (ie. love).”
Friends, let us ponder the impact we can have—together—to make our corner of the world more peaceable and just. Let’s try to honor our differences while emphasizing our unity. Let’s embrace how good and pleasant it is when we live with unity as our goal (unity that embraces all diversity).
My friends, I encourage you to find opportunities to talk together about these things. I invite conversation with whoever or whatever group would like to speak with me. I invite as many of you as possible to attend my workshops this spring on a new kind of church.
The future of our Maine Conference begins and continues with hope: hope that churches will know a new vitality, that beloved folks will regain confidence in the care and relevance of me and the conference staff, that God is still speaking throughout our churches, that God has a plan for each of us and all of us.
I am your servant who holds deep hope for our future, united in Christ,
Board of Directors February 2023 Update
by Maine Conference UCC | Feb 23, 2023 - Rev. Sara Bartlett - Board of Directors, Chair
Greetings Maine Conference! Your board met on February 16th from 6pm-8pm. During this time, we received updates from our conference minister, associate conference minister, Pilgrim Lodge director, and from MESOM. Thank you to our staff, as well as the copious number of volunteers our Conference is blessed to have. The Board appreciates all the way folks give their gifts for the benefit of others. There amazing ministry happening in, and out of, our church buildings. Thank you, thank you!!!!! The board voted on several items during our meeting. One of our first votes passed is that we, and all committees and groups who fall under our purview, may meet, and vote electronically. On behalf of the Maine Conference, the Board also passed a temporary, electronic voting status which states the same. This vote on behalf of the full body was made with the intention that the Maine Conference will decide on a permanent status on electronic voting during our 2023 annual meeting. We also passed a Land Acknowledgement, recognizing that we meet on the traditional territory of the Wabanaki nations. This acknowledgement will be found on our social media, including our website. For churches who would like to use an acknowledgement before your meetings, there is wording available for you to use, and a liturgy will be available soon. Thank you to all who worked on this document and created it with love and respect for those whose history, culture, and rights have been marginalized. Additionally, we passed the Maine Disaster and Traumatic Event Protocol. This document was created to help support and educate churches in the Maine Conference who encounter traumatic events in our lives together. The first contact in this protocol is our Conference Minister, Rev. Dr. Marisa Laviola at 1.207.616.6704 Thank you to all those who gifted their time preparing this document and continue to give of their time supporting all of us when, or if, we encounter challenges. During our time together, the Board looked at our 2023 goals. Some of our goals are already being addressed by sub committees and teams, while other goals will be addressed over the year. Next month, your Board will do a deep dive into the Conference budget, and we have started conversations on how we can improve communications and connections with our churches. Please stay tuned for updates! Finally, The Board is also working on the 2023 Friends of the Maine Conference campaign. The money raised supports the ministry and work of the whole Conference. Please consider giving, no financial gift is too small: https://www.maineucc.org/giving/ On behalf of the Board, I want to remind everyone that registration for Pilgrim Lodge is OPEN, with outdoor opportunities for all ages, and MESOM has a variety of options for everyone in the Conference, not just for students. The Maine Conference may not be the biggest Conference, numbers wise, but we have some of the biggest hearts in the UCC. Whether we live near the beaches in Southern Maine, the mountains of Western Maine, the expansive fields in the County, or the first Sunrise in our country…we are a formidable and faithful group of people who work hard and live into our faith with love for God, and for each other. Thank you all for the many ways you support the Conference.
Your Sibling in Christ,
Rev. Sara Bartlett M.Div
Chair, Maine Conference Board of Directors
News from the National Setting
UCC GMP Search Committee makes historic choice,
recommends Karen Georgia Thompson as next leader
by Emma Brewer-Wallin | published on Feb 27, 2023
After a year-long search, the United Church of Christ Board’s Search Committee for General Minister and President has made a historic choice. The committee will be recommending Rev. Dr. Karen Georgia Thompson to the UCCB this week as nominee for General Minister and President. If elected, she would be the first woman, and the first woman of African descent, to lead the denomination. Below is the letter to the wider church from Search Committee Chair, the Rev. Emma Brewer-Wallin.
To all who love the United Church of Christ:
I am delighted to share that the Search Committee’s recommendation for General Minister and President is Rev. Dr. Karen Georgia Thompson. The committee was impressed by Rev. Thompson’s pastoral presence and theological depth; bold vision for a decolonized Christianity and the United Church of Christ as a home for people with multiple religious belonging; dedication to collaborative leadership and bridge-building; and skill as a manager and administrator. Rev. Thompson is Jamaican and immigrated to the United States as a teenager with her parents. Her identities as Jamaican, an immigrant, and part of the African diaspora are central to her sense of self and approach to ministry.
The Search Committee for the General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ was established by the UCC Board of Directors in March 2022. An executive search firm — Isaacson, Miller (IM) — was retained to support the work of the Search Committee and facilitate a comprehensive search process. The IM team, along with members of the GMP Search Committee, conducted 14 listening sessions in one-on-one, small group, and town hall formats to receive insights and recommendations from a broad cross-section of church members and leaders. Informed by the listening sessions, the GMP Search Committee published a detailed position profile that outlined the key opportunities and challenges as well as qualities and characteristics for the next GMP. The position profile served as the primary framework for the screening and assessment of candidates at each stage of the interview and selection process.
During the course of the GMP search, the Search Committee and/or our search firm partners actively engaged with 34 individuals who were nominated, expressed interest, or formally applied to be considered as a candidate. From that larger pool, the GMP Search Committee identified six individuals who were most qualified and aligned with the key opportunities and challenges, and qualifications and characteristics, outlined in the published position profile. While we are prevented by privacy considerations from releasing detailed demographic information about the pool of GMP candidates, we feel it is important to note that women and people of color were overwhelmingly represented in the field of qualified candidates. Following several stages of review of written candidate materials, video and in-person interviews, presentations by the candidates, detailed referencing on the finalist candidates, and a sustained process of deliberation and discernment by the GMP Search Committee, Karen Georgia Thompsonemerged as the GMP Search Committee’s recommendation to the UCCB for nomination as General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ.
Rev. Thompson currently serves as Associate General Minister for Wider Church Ministries and Co-Executive for Global Ministries. She has served in the National Setting of the United Church of Christ since 2009, previously as Minister for Racial Justice and Minister for Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations. Prior to joining National Setting staff, Rev. Thompson served on staff of the Florida Conference, as a church planter in Florida, and in family ministries in New York. Rev. Thompson is a highly skilled leader with experience in multiple settings of the United Church of Christ and ecumenically. She holds a Doctor of Ministry, with a dissertation in religious multiplicity among African Caribbean people, from Seattle University, a Master of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary, and a Master of Public Administration from North Carolina Central University.
This recommendation comes from the Search Committee and goes to the United Church of Christ Board, who will hold the next phase of discernment and deliberation during their meeting March 3-5. An affirmative vote from the UCCB would mean Rev. Thompson is nominated to General Synod, the third and final body to discern and vote on her call to serve as General Minister and President. If elected, Rev. Thompson would be the first woman, and the first woman of African descent, to serve as General Minister and President.
The role of General Minister and President is considerable in its breadth, and the Search Committee is confident in Rev. Thompson’s capacity to serve. We found that she particularly shines in the following areas, and I invite you to read more about her experience:
Pastoral Presence and Theological Depth
The Search Committee invited the finalist candidates to lead us in a time of worship, and Rev. Thompson shared a homily on Mark 9:24, Lord, I believe, help my unbelief! She interpreted this for us as, “God, you’re possible, but this situation feels impossible,” illuminating the paradoxes found in much of what we as a church, nation, and world face right now. Throughout our time together, Rev. Thompson’s pastoral and non-anxious presence was a blessing.
In our conversations about local church life, Rev. Thompson addressed the paradox of human shortcomings and God’s possibility by pointing to clergy exhaustion, the strain of the Covid pandemic, and the need for care, resources, and education for all church leaders. She described a desire to explore what is possible through relational work between the National Setting and Conferences. She is grounded in care for church leaders and the communities they serve, and this drives her to think imaginatively about what it means to develop financial resources to support and advance church life.
Rev. Thompson comes by attunement to the paradox of possibility and impossibility honestly. During her first interview with us, she shared about her upbringing in a conservative Christian tradition that did not serve her well as an adult, and which initially made it challenging for her to hear a call to ministry. She described an experience of hearing God’s call repeatedly and in multiple forms — including through grappling with the spiritual dimensions of injustice and through experiences in nature, including on the Eno River in North Carolina. Her faith journey reflected experiences that members of the committee and others have in finding their way to the United Church of Christ after time spent in other traditions — and then seeking ways to integrate those spiritualities, theologies, and practices.
Continuing with her exploration of the possibility of God and the impossibility of the situation, Rev. Thompson reminded us of the membership decline of the UCC and other mainline denominations, affirming that “it doesn’t mean revival is impossible, it just means it’s not demographically based.” The hope she holds for revival is rooted in her experience as Minister for Racial Justice, where she led the rollout and expansion of the Sacred Conversations on Race, her doctoral work focused on multiple-religious belonging, and her experience leading Wider Church Ministries, which does global work on a local scale.
Rev. Thompson inspired the Search Committee when she paired the apparent hopelessness of declining church membership with the possibility of people who are seeking places to form community, to make meaning of life’s challenges, and to serve their neighbors. She suggests that among people who might be seeking such a home are the “spiritual-but-not-religious,” families who are connected to multiple religious traditions, and people who follow teachings and practices of Christianity alongside another tradition. She affirmed that many UCC congregations are already a place of sanctuary for these kinds of people, and proclaimed the possibility of continuing to foster this type of ministry without letting go of the Christianity that makes us who we are.
Rev. Thompson also touched the committee deeply in her proclamation that we need to decolonize the church and its structures. She spoke with pastoral and prophetic truthfulness in naming that the U.S. is currently the largest colonizer globally and that the Church has been remiss in not yet owning our role and repenting. She affirmed the role of the General Minister and President in leading the church through conversations about what our institutions look like and how our histories and experiences perpetuate the injustices we long to eradicate from the life of the church.
Collaborative Leadership and Bridge-Building
In a time of national discord and when the potential for competition between settings of the church occasionally gets the best of us, the Search Committee sought a candidate who centers collaboration and bridge-building and found such a leader in Rev. Thompson. From her role as Minister for Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations, Rev. Thompson has strong experience building, mending, and formalizing relationships with church bodies with whom the UCC shares history and values, including the United Church of Canada and Iglesia Evangélica Unida de Puerto Rico.
In her role as Co-Executive for Global Ministries, alongside her counterpart from the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Rev. Thompson has demonstrated her facility with relational and collaborative leadership in situations that require navigating numerous stakeholders and multiple decision-making structures. We believe this experience will serve her well in facilitating collaborations across multiple settings of the UCC for the good of the whole church.
Throughout our conversations with her, Rev. Thompson consistently uplifted the work of her colleagues in the National Setting, saying again and again, “None of this is work I do alone.”
Manager and Administrator
Rev. Thompson’s care for the staff she works with, supporting them both as people and as leaders, emerged clearly in our conversations with her. She described a practice of leadership development that considers the big picture of the whole church, not only those who are currently working for her, to help ensure that new and emerging leaders are prepared when opportunities to serve arise.
In addition to her aptitude as a manager, Rev. Thompson has demonstrated her savvy of the behind-the-scenes aspects of administration. Her experience overseeing several multi-million-dollar budgets for Wider Church Ministries, General Synod, Global Ministries, and One Great Hour of Sharing prepares her to secure the financial strength of the UCC through sustainable, wise, and responsible fiscal management. As General Synod Administrator, Rev. Thompson emerged as a key pastoral leader during the church’s early experience of the pandemic, adapting our 33rd General Synod to a digital environment. Her long tenure with the National Setting means she knows the inner workings of the UCC well, and she has put that knowledge to use in strategizing the realignment of the Common Global Ministries Board with the UCCB.
The church has repeatedly affirmed Karen Georgia Thompson’s ministry throughout her tenure in multiple roles of progressive responsibility in the National Setting. After a thorough review by the board, she was recently nominated for a second term as Associate General Minister. With equal confidence in her capabilities as a minister, theologian, and spiritual leader for our church, our Search Committee enthusiastically recommends her as our nominee for General Minister and President.
Assuming that her nomination is confirmed by the UCCB and that she is elected at General Synod, Rev. Thompson will vacate her current role as Associate General Minister and assume her new responsibilities as General Minister and President on Aug. 1, 2023. Working closely with Rev. Thompson as the presumed next GMP, the UCCB will oversee a process for appointing an Acting Associate General Minister to fill the vacant AGM position from 2023 to 2025, at which point the next General Synod would be prepared to elect an Associate General Minister.
The United Church of Christ Board will hear from Rev. Thompson at their meeting later this week, March 3-5. I ask for your prayers for Rev. Thompson as she shares her vision, and for the UCCB as they hear it, that this may be a time of fruitful discernment together about what the Church needs in this season.
Rev. Emma Brewer-Wallin
Chair, General Minister and President Search Committee