By Elizabeth Field
BANGOR, Maine — There is a change in pastoral leadership at First United Methodist Church on Essex Street in Bangor. After 18 years as senior pastor, the Rev. Randall Chretien is officially retiring but will serve the Baileyville United Methodist Church on a part-time basis. The Bangor congregation will miss him and his wife, Carolyn, and we wish them happiness in their new church and home.
As is common following a long-term pastoral appointment, First United Methodist Church will have a one-year interim pastor, and we welcome the Rev. Dr. Sharon G.W. Jones to that position. Also, the church will continue to be served by the associate pastor Chuck Langbein and deacon, Dr. Jeffrey Fister.
Rev. Jones, who grew up in Orono and graduated from Bangor Theological Seminary, returns to the Bangor area after serving churches in Saco, Buxton, Gorham and Winthrop; East Greenwich, R.I.; Chelmsford, Mass.; and a transitional appointment in Woburn, Mass. Her mother, Sylvia Welch-Pearson of Milford, reported with pleasure that Rev. Jones initially kept moving farther away and then started moving closer and now is home again.
Transitional interim ministry involves an additional educational process, which includes three phases of direct instruction and independent study. Rev. Jones said that she felt called to provide this specialized ministry, which she describes as a challenge and an opportunity, to help churches understand how their history and identity will help them move forward into the future. In addition to her theological education and experience, Rev. Jones has background in planning and economic development and in theater, and focuses on creative worship that engages all the senses.
Rev. Jones is married to Richard Jones, currently the director of facilities for the town of Bedford, Massachusetts. They have two daughters, Sarah Laflamme and Rev. Michelle Whitlock, and three young grandchildren. We welcome Rev. Jones and Mr. Jones to our congregation and look forward to a year of community connection and progress.
First United Methodist Church offers two Sunday services, a more informal worship program at 8:30 a.m. and a traditional service at 10:30 a.m. Sunday school is in session during the school year, and Children’s Church in the summer, at the time of the traditional service. The nursery is available for small children during the 10:30 a.m. service year round. There is a community meal, free to the public, every Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. The church houses two programs for adults with early memory loss or advancing dementia, “Memory Joggers” and “My Friend’s Place,” which provide social interaction for the participants and respite for their caregivers.