MOUNT DESERT, Maine — A local minister who had been under suspension has had his ministerial standing terminated, according to an official with the United Church of Christ.
William “Mac” Bigelow was suspended in 2010 for a three-year period after he was found to have “acted in a manner inconsistent with expectations of ministers,” according to a statement released at the time by the United Church of Christ of Northeast Harbor and Seal Harbor.
Bigelow, a local resident, has not served as a pastor on Mount Desert Island since his suspension in 2010. He had been pastor at the UCC church on Summit Road in the village of Northeast Harbor and at the Abby Chapel on Main Street in the neighboring village of Seal Harbor, both of which are in the town of Mount Desert.
The Rev. Tim Hall, pastor of the Trinitarian Congregational Parish of Castine and chair pro tem of the Committee on Ministry, Hancock-Waldo Association, United Church of Christ, confirmed on Tuesday that Bigelow’s standing as a minister has been terminated. The committee voted to remove Bigelow from the ministry at the end of July after it had conducted a fitness review of Bigelow earlier this year, Hall said.
“The committee determined that Bigelow is not currently fit to minister in the United Church of Christ or on behalf of the United Church of Christ,” Hall said.
Hall declined to go into detail about the allegations against Bigelow that led to the former minister’s suspension and then his termination.
A voice mail message requesting comment that was left Wednesday at Bigelow’s home was not immediately returned.
The current pastor of the Northeast Harbor church where Bigelow served, the Rev. Deborah Jenks, also declined on Wednesday to describe the allegations against Bigelow.
She said the church’s decision to terminate Bigelow’s standing as a minister likely will help some members of the congregation to move on mentally from the controversy, but that many already have done so. She pointed out she is the second pastor the church has had since Bigelow was suspended in 2010.
“As a whole, the congregation has worked hard to move past Mr. Bigelow’s betrayal of trust,” Jenks said. “I think, in many ways, many members have had closure for a while now.”
Hall said that the church recognizes the pain caused by Bigelow’s actions and subsequent removal.
“We continue to pray for everybody who’s affected” by the situation, Hall said.
Despite the controversy surrounding Bigelow’s status in the community, at least twice in the past year Bigelow has given talks on psychology at the Northeast Harbor Library.
In February, he gave a talk and led a discussion on the topic, “Resentment and Getting Beyond Resentment: A Jungian Psychological Perspective,” and last month he gave an hourlong talk titled “Outer Companion, Inner Beloved: A Jungian Psychological Perspective on Attraction and Relationship.”
According to notices published by the library before the talks, Bigelow is a graduate of Andover-Newton Theological School, was ordained as a UCC minister in 1979, and served in that capacity on MDI for more than 30 years. Bigelow has completed five years of training in analytical psychology at the C.G. Jung Institute in Boston and participated in nonviolent accompaniment peace delegations in Central America in the 1980s and in Israel and the Palestinian territories in 2005, library officials have said.
Martha Dudman, president of the library’s board of directors, said Wednesday that Bigelow is “an old friend” and that the library has not received any direct complaints about Bigelow’s speaking engagements. In a prepared statement, she indicated that Bigelow’s appearances are among many scheduled events that the library presents throughout the year.
“We try to present a wide variety of expertise and opinion on many subjects,” Dudman said in an email. “Mac Bigelow is very knowledgeable about Jungian analysis and has appeared at the library many times over the years. Summer or winter, he always attracts a large crowd of people who are very interested and engaged in what he has to say.”