BANGOR, Maine — Arrangements for the Rev. Robert Carlson’s public funeral and reception on Friday have been scaled back in the wake of a Maine State Police investigation of child sex abuse allegations against him.
“The family has changed the location of the service,” said Gary Smith, funeral director at Brookings-Smith Funeral Home in Bangor. “It’s still going to be at the same time, 2 p.m., with Pastor Carl Schreiber officiating.”
But instead of holding Carlson’s memorial service at the Bangor Auditorium and a reception afterward at the Bangor Civic Center, the funeral has been moved to East Orrington Congregational Church on Johnson Mill Road in Orrington.
“Family invites relatives and friends to share conversation and refreshments after the service in Carlson Hall at the church,” Smith said.
“The funeral is designed to bring people together to start the healing process,” according to Schreiber.
Carlson was East Orrington Congregational’s senior pastor for 25 years.
Smith said he was notified that initial plans for police and fire officials to hold a formal ceremony at Carlson’s memorial service were either altered or dropped.
There apparently were at least preliminary plans for a formal presentation of colors by members of the Bangor and Brewer police and fire departments as well as members of the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Office — all of which used Carlson as their official chaplain — and other emergency services.
Attempts to reach Bangor Police Department officials were unsuccessful Tuesday, but Penobscot County Sheriff Glenn Ross said he did not believe there were any plans for an official police or fire ceremony.
Bangor Fire Department Lt. Troy Lare confirmed that Bangor firefighters will not participate in a ceremony and won’t wear dress uniforms.
Like many acquaintances of Carlson in the community, the Rev. Roger Davis also is dealing with unanswered questions. At a Brewer City Council organizational meeting Tuesday night, he talked about the need for the kind of community support a memorial service can provide.
Newly elected Bangor City Councilor Joe Baldacci, who had served as Bangor’s mayor in two previous council terms, also was dealing with the aftermath of the allegations.
“My first thoughts are with the victims,” said Baldacci, a longtime general practice lawyer in Bangor. “I think we need to think about them and really just pray for the people hurt, including his wife and family, in all this.
“This is really a tragedy and difficult to fathom. Hopefully God will help bring some sort of relief or justice to people in this situation.”
Sister Mary Norberta, former president and CEO of St. Joseph Healthcare, was a fellow board member and close friend to Carlson for more than 30 years.
“I’m very sad and I’m keeping everyone in my prayers. There’s nothing else I can say at this time,” Sister Norberta said.
Ross, Carlson’s friend and co-worker for 33 years, said he could not comment as long as there is an active police investigation taking place.
Tom Davis, who has served as a Penobscot County commissioner for 26 years, struggled for words when asked about his thoughts on the news regarding Carlson.
“I honestly don’t know what to say,” said Davis, who has known Carlson for 27 years, going back to when Carlson worked for Penobscot County Jail as an administrator and chaplain. “I’m a Republican and Peter [Baldacci] is a Democrat, but we’re friends and he and I are both bothered by this.”
Peter Baldacci, Joe’s brother and a Penobscot County commissioner for 23 years, was silent as he struggled to find the right words when asked about Carlson.
“I don’t really know what to say,” said Peter Baldacci, chairman of the commissioners. “I’m very sad. I don’t know all the information, but just enough now to know it’s sad and troubling.”