Castine pastor to deliver sermon at his first church

Posted Dec. 11, 2008, at 7:22 p.m.
Last modified Feb. 13, 2011, at 10:54 a.m.

CASTINE, Maine — The Rev. William J. Friederich, pastor of the Trinitarian Congregational Parish, will preach Sunday at St. Paul United Church of Christ at the 150th anniversary of the church where he was raised in Pekin, Ill. The town is located about 70 miles north of the state capital in Springfield.

“When I bring the message that morning,” Friederich said in a press release issued by the church in Castine, “two worlds will come together.”

The roots of the Castine congregation are in the Massachusetts Bay Colony and with the Pilgrims. The congregation of Friederich’s childhood was founded by German Calvinists who traveled on the Mississippi River. At their foundings, the two churches were worlds apart — one English-speaking, the other German-speaking, according to the press release.

They were also very different expressions of similar theological motives. Now, however, the two churches are part of the same denomination, the United Church of Christ. The Evangelical and Reform Church and the Congregational Christian Church merged in the late 1950s to form the United Church of Christ.

“This invitation to preach honors both congregations,” said Friederich, 57, of Penobscot. “It reflects the unification which has occurred, and is still occurring, in our denomination. By reaching across this original division in our church family, the two congregations co-participate in a direct and tangible way.”

The minister’s grandparents, parents and sister have worshipped at St. Paul’s and been active volunteers in the congregation. Friederich was christened and confirmed there. He delivered his first sermon in the Zimmerman Chapel in 1972 at the age of 21 and is believed to be the only person from St. Paul working as a minister.

Friederich played percussion with U.S. Army bands in Colorado and Europe. He continues to perform in the Castine area with Paul Sullivan and Friends and with the Bluebirds. The pastor has likened the rhythm of the percussion instruments to prayer and has said it is inseparable from spirituality for him.

He was called to the Castine church in 2001. Under his direction the congregation has experienced growth in membership and activities that place an emphasis on the arts.

Friederich has participated in ecumenical events such as Memorial Day and Good Friday services, and Easter sunrise services on the fantail of the Maine Maritime Academy training vessel.

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