WINTHROP, Maine — Vivian Hodgkins, president of the UMEM Board of Directors announced Thursday that the Rev. Michele St. Cyr is the new half-time executive director of the United Methodist Economic Ministry located in the northern reaches of the Appalachian Mountain region centered in Salem, Maine, effective Jan. 1. St. Cyr will continue to serve as pastor of the Milo United Methodist Church.
“Michele brings a spirit of dedication and commitment to her work and is deeply passionate about her ministry to address rural poverty,” said Pat McHugh, district superintendent, Northern Maine United Methodist Church, in a press release.
St. Cyr will administer and oversee all aspects of the United Methodist Economic Ministry programs, outreach services, staff, volunteers and networks that annually reach and serve over 300 households.
St. Cyr is clearly one of the most articulate, committed and passionate persons to assume critical leadership of the far reaching and diverse programs that are housed within the Economic Ministry, according to a UMEM press release. During her recent months as interim executive director, she helped focus the Board of Directors on several critical issues including: the condition of the Salem and Solon facilities; restructuring the summer housing and maintenance programs and resources; using technology to extend the reach of the EM; assessing and prioritizing critical financial operations; and providing needed leadership and support to staff during the past few months of change and uncertainty.
St. Cyr’s service over the years as a UMEM volunteer, former member of the UMEM Board of Directors, pastor and spiritual leader for several churches in the New England Conference of the United Methodist Church has prepared her for the historic work of the United Methodist Economic Ministry that is deeply grounded in Scripture, tradition, reason and ever-changing experiences for those who are served and those who volunteer to serve, according to UMEM.
Her profound and deep understanding of generational poverty will help people mired in day-to-day poverty to shift from survival to a way of living built on sustainable and supported community connections with churches, agencies, families, neighbors and individuals, UMEM said in its press statement.
“This is a most exciting time to partner with deeply committed volunteers, the UMEM staff and the Board of Directors to work among and with the people in rural areas, particularly in what I have come to know as Northern Appalachia,” St. Cyr said, in the press release. “I am energized and excited to become part of the recent changes and the new and emerging vision for UMEM along with the work begun over 40 years ago.”
In addition to her pastoral and leadership role in several Maine churches, Rev. St. Cyr, an Ordained Elder of the church, has been an adult education teacher, served on several church and community boards, mentors active and entering clergy, has written, implemented and evaluated many church and community based grants and is a highly skilled user of social media and the emerging computer technology.
St. Cyr attended the University of Maine at Fort Kent and Farmington earning a Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education and attended Bangor Theological Seminary earning a Masters of Divinity.
The United Economic Ministry is a non-profit service ministry of the United Methodist Church in Salem. The mission’s service area is located in the Northern Appalachian Mountain region of Western Maine. It is at the heart of one of the Northeast’s poorest regions. The downturn in the nation’s economy over the past few years has increased the number of requests for service, including: clothing, food, basic home repairs, school supplies for many of the areas school age children; assistance for victims of fire and domestic abuse and seniors isolated from critical care needs. The struggle for needed resources is more than the area churches can support so the UMEM Board of Directors widened the circle of prospective volunteers and supporters by reaching out to all United Methodist Churches and community service organizations in the New England area.