South Congregational Church
United Church of Christ

Kennebunkport, Maine

South Congregational Church
PO Box 414
2 North Street
Kennebunkport, Maine
(207) 967-2793

email:information@southchurchucc.org

Sunday Schedule

Sunday Worship hour
10:30 am


Church School
10:30 am (Sept - June)

 

Our mission is to be
an inclusive community
of faith
that preaches
the word of God, teaches the love of Jesus Christ and reaches out to all
through the Holy Spirit.

 

We are an
Open and Affirming Congregation
of the United Church of Christ

 

 

Additional Links and Information

Community House events/receptions

Archives-newletters, articles, Sunday bulletins

Maine Conference UCC

United Church of Christ (National)

We welcome you to South Church
and invite you to worship with us.

 

Words from the Minister

As you read this, I have arrived at Back Bay Mission, Biloxi MS, serving as a Long
Term Volunteer through our United Church of Christ. I will be an Assistant Site
Supervisor in the Mission's housing renovation program. I am grateful for your
support for this extended time of study and mission. This month, work groups
from WI, CT and IL will be here before our South Church group of 15 arrive for
their week on April 23.

This setting will allow me to learn more how the gospel light is an avenue of
transformation in lives of those miles distant from Maine and who endured
Hurricane Katrina, wounded yet rising again. Quickly we realize the reason why
such mission trips are called 'border crossing experiences' as we move into new
geography, new faith expressions, and broader understanding of God at work.
It is both humbling and inspiring at the same time.

What 'border' is God inviting you to cross? What new 'resurrection territory' is
God inviting you to explore? I'll be sending periodic reflections and pictures
which will be posted on the hallway bulletin board.
Please click on this link: www.thebackbaymission.org and learn more of this
program founded in the 1920's and particularly pictures of the housing renovation
program, one facet of their work--- which is our work! Charles

 

In the March 13 sermon, I shared this piece from Kirk Jone's book, Rest in the Storm based upon Jesus calming the chaotic seas after the disciples are filled with fear and find him asleep in the back of the boat. (Matthew 8:23-27):

"'The back of the boat' is a metaphor, a symbol of the necessary break from the activism of life in general, and the rigors of ministry in particular.The back of the boat is not a luxury. Time spent in the back of the boat is not optional if our intention is to lead a healthy, balanced, and productive life. It is back-of-the-boat time - the 'off' time- that makes the bow-of-the-boat time -the 'on' time- possible."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reflections from Rev. Charles at Back Bay Mission Biloxi, MS 2016

 

I am about to arrive in Biloxi MS, deep in the southern part of the state. Just as South Church Kennebunkport is a gathering place to be spiritually nourished and fed, and then to go forth to serve ~ this block of time at Back Bay Mission offers me a similar opportunity.
I will be learning and listening. I will be fed before going forth to serve with the gospel light burning deep within.

Thank you for your support to allow me this opportunity of learning and serving. In these first weeks, groups from IL, CT and WI United Church of Christ congregations will be here each for one week before the South Church group arrives on April 23. Next
week I'll be sending word of the first group here, hopefully with some pictures. As you hold me in prayer, so shall I hold each of you as we worship and serve the God we share.

Going to Biloxi: In my last day driving here to Biloxi; I took a local state road out of Charleston SC towards.It opened my eyes to the spectrum of this country; middle class homes andmany in poor condition, through small towns with blinkers and quiet streets, abandoned buildings and corner shops. Past three enormous car manufacturing plants (Honda,Hyundai, Kia) now in the U.S. while listening to NPR, Cd's (Easton Corbin, Lady Antebellum)and local radio. Then the main road again with rest areas with orange/red colored soil. As I've begun reading Paul Theroux's "Deep South" I feel like the alternateroad taken before returning to I-95 to here was a partial glimpse into his experience. Ialso stopped at the Rosa Parks Library and Museum in Montgomery, AL; on the site where she was arrested not so terribly long ago. Already, my eyes are opened wider and my horizons expanded to the contrasts before me.

Week One:This week at Back Bay Mission, two church groups; Chicago area and Fond du Lac Wisconsin. I'm in the Volunteer Housing home, sharing comfortable space with Ellen and Bill Matten of PA. We have overlapped previous years here, kind and solidly
rooted folks. Worship at the Baptist Church in Gulfport - warm reception and such a rich, meaningful service... exceeds anything I can corral with words. Such is the nature of God.

First day at work site, prepping a vacated apartment for painting tomorrow; later to be new residence for individual in the Micah Center housing settlement program. And today (Thursday) we finished our work; fresh paint throughout including all the trim, bathroom renovations, repairs around the entry door and all windows washed along with some new blinds. All ready for a move in. The Mission
has approx 15 such apartments around the community for their "Home At Last" program. Staff work with individuals in setting goals and steps to achieve them with final intent of 'graduating' into greater independence and self-reliance.

Week Two: This week at Back Bay Mission, two church groups; Chicago area and Fond du Lac Wisconsin. I'm in the Volunteer Housing home, sharing comfortable space with Ellen and Bill Matten of PA. We have overlapped previous years here, kind and solidly
rooted folks. Worship at the Baptist Church in Gulfport - warm reception and such a rich, meaningful service... exceeds anything I can corral with words. Such is the nature of God.

First day at work site, prepping a vacated apartment for painting tomorrow; later to be new residence for individual in the Micah Center housing settlement program. And today (Thursday) we finished our work; fresh paint throughout including all the trim, bathroom renovations, repairs around the entry door and all windows washed along with some new blinds. All ready for a move in. The Mission
has approx 15 such apartments around the community for their "Home At Last" program. Staff work with individuals in setting goals and steps to achieve them with final intent of 'graduating' into greater independence and self-reliance.

Week Three: How is it that folks qualify for the Mission's support/assistance? If I understood correctly, for a family of four, their income must be no more than 80% of the area (county?) median of $42,200 or $33,760. Most of the folks currently receiving aid through Back Bay Mission are at approx 35% of that figure or $14,770. Thus it is not surprising that housing upkeep/maintenance is often at the bottom of the list when food, transportation, utilities and the like is considered. If the Mission can help folks stay in a safe and efficient home since nearly all do not have the 'safety nets' many of us have in place, this is a major achievement.

This week, one of the homeowners (three generations in the home) shared with us his story of drug dependency - being clean for twelve years. A veteran of the US Navy (son now in the Air Force), now working at area large grocery story at beginning wage of $9/hour and now up to $11. New group from Wisconsin now on the new build site. Finishing up somesheet rock on the interior and I worked with some folks doing caulking around the entry area, first coat of paint on exterior trim and nail gun on brick strapping that had apparently been done incorrectly. More caulking around front door entry, second coat of trim paint today plus putting up some scaffolding for working up/over the garage; painting up high and later installing a vent. Not sure what is next.

At our 4pm group meeting with Dr. Alice - Director of BBM- we learned how those of the Micah Day Center for those experiencing homelessness made a request for a garden. The staff thought a great idea, but we can't take this on. 'No, we'll do it - work it -care of it...just get us started.' And so there is a raised bed vegetable garden in back of the Mission dorm building. And what of the
fruits (or vegetables) of their labor. Dr. Alice thought, 'Think about selling the items.' No, No -- the Micah Center clients wish to provide any surplus of fresh produce to area soup kitchen and feeding programs for others. Grace and gardening at work.

In just three more days, our South Church group of 15 arrives,Saturday afternoon-April 23. Will be good to see them all!

 

 


 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back Bay Mission 2015 Reflections

Wednesday, March 18  flight from Boston to Atlanta and on to Biloxi.  Few bumps along the way but all on time.  Picked up rental car and arrive at BackBay Mission soon after 10pm (11pm Maine time).  Met Elizabeth and John of Chicago area, leaders of a group of 12 youth at the Mission this week..... also here is a group of college age youth from NY state. Interesting-- Elizabeth does ALL their cooking.  Goes to work site in the morning, then grocery store as necessary-- and back to the Mission to fix the meal.  I'd heard that this is the approach of some groups.  Chatted in the kitchen for 45 minutes of our various experiences, then to bed.  Tomrrow I drive to Jackson MS to meet Ed and Virginia Pittman-- summer residents of the Kennebunks, South Church and MS residents.

Thursday March 19 A simple breakfast and morning conversations with Craig who heads the Housing Recovery program.... catching up on the past year and look at future possibilities; all very encouraging.  Met Benji and others as they began to vision the projects the current groups here may complete and what we may be doing on Monday (likely painting but never plan too early, things can/do change quickly).  Then off on a 2.5 hour drive to Jackson, the state capitol and a leisurely visit with Virginia and Ed Pittman, summer residents of the Kennebunks and South Church- and permanent residents here.  His long history of service in state government and dedication to values of public ethics and integrity came though again and again with the stories . Lunch during the driving tour of a great city, and then a visit at their home including meeting daughter Jennifer, public school teacher.  Then drive back to the Mission, arriving about 9pm and had some great left-overs from the Chicago group for a late bite to eat.

Leisurely conversation with group leader Dave in the kitchen,  MA schooling and familiar with White Mts and wildnerness ministry.  How ministry has changed over the years, strengths of his group this year of all girls and what happens on the work site as they have learned to operate power saw, nail gun, etc.  Confidence and self-reliance and community all grow.  This is one reason we do these trips.

Friday March 20 I had a chance to see both sites and met a homeowner Debbie where we'll likely be next week. (The program usually has 4-6 house projects going on at once, depending upon weather and skill level of each weekly group, decisions are made.  The Chicago group nearly did 100% of all the siding on her home this week, amazing.  Believe we'll be doing caulking and painting-- ext and interior. Also saw the other work site of the NY group-- again, such spirit and accomplishment.  Stopped by Ms Dawn's home from last year's crew and visited with her for a bit.  She is so, so grateful- expressing thanks to God again and again.   Invited me inside and and full tour of the house which was only half completed when we were there.  A thrill to see her again, a shining light.   Ran a few errands, did some reading "Quiet" on the porch walker and a walk in the morning down by the water.  Tomorrow the South Church crew arrives and we'll begin our week together.  We will work/continue the work of those before us, a blessing to have known some of their faces-- Elizabeth requests pictures as she helped the owner choose the color if I understand correctly.  Quickly apparent that we take some pride and appropriate ownership in the places where we work.  Lives are changing, that is clear.

Saturday March 21 Big day today - the 14 from South Church arrive!  But before, finished up some wash for the NY / IL folks who left at 5am and needed some help.  Had quiet breakfast on my own then to the Visitor Center to watch the 'We Are Biloxi' movie-- amazing the stories of folks were endured Katrina and the actual footage of the storm.  Ie.  Nearlhy fifty police/fire fighters of  this community alone lost their homes -- losing everything but the uniform they were wearing while on duty.
Then off to the airport where all arrived safely.... and nearly all the luggage--- just not on the same flight !!  So good to see them.   Amazing, most got up that morning 3-4 a.m. to make a 7:10am flight out of Boston.  Miriah cleared off 4" snow on her car before driving up from CT to mee the group at Logan.  Nancy came in from FL and met up with the group at Atlanta airport.  Once here, folks rested and soaked up some warmth.  With our rental cars, one group later went to the beach, a group back to the airport for luggage, a group to grocery store... and Joe fixed the non-workikng grill (though he asked someone else to try lighting it!).  Dinner was burgers and salads - so many hands jumping in to prepare-and a true prayer of thanksgiving before we ate.  Folks called home as Laura / Lydia / Sam eyed the sprayer washer in the kitchen and offered to do the dishes.  Could the gospel actually be residing in these teen eyes of mischief ?!  These three washed/dried everything within reach !  Seeing a need, they rose to the occasion. Already we are seeing the spirit of God at work.   Folks hit the sack early after a long, long day of travel.   Church not unitl 11:00 am tomorrow - thank you God.

Sunday March 22 Morning worship at First Missionary Baptist Church of Gulfport, warmly welcomed before we even walked in by Pastor Sonny Adolph who remembered us once again.  Lively and spirited worship- 'rejoice in the Lord always'.  ' If you find a perfect church, don't join it.  For if you do, it won't be perfect any more.'  We all need God and all need each other. The foundation of the gospel rings true in all expressions.

Then off to Susan and Dennis' home in Pass Christian, folks I had met last summer hiking in NH-- and who said 'when you come to MS, we'll have you to our home.'  A full southern spread with rice and beans, gumbo, salads, bread and three desserts including bread pudding and sweet potato pie!  How kind and gracious~~  Afternoon was quiet back at the Mission for a few hours before the group from FL arrived.  Nice , nice folks- quickly shared brownies and ice cream as a large group which Lydia, Sam and Laura made-- delicious!  An 8pm orientation session for us all from Jeanette.... and lots of conversations here and there, people making connections (our Kristen and their Rachel went to the same elementary school in Rochester NH!!)   A rich and wondrous day.

Monday March 23 Patience Monday - we were reminded.... gradual start-up.  We went to attractive and recently built home that had been fore-closed, town of Gulfport took possession, sold it to Back Bay Mission who then gave it a face lift;  new tiling, redid kitchen, trim paint...  then will be inspected tomorrow and put on the market for low income family.  FL group went to another site, doing roofing. Tomorrow we'll move to new site in need of major work; exterior paint all around, trim paint on doors/windows, caulking all seams, a bit of finishing up hardy board siding.  We'll be there the rest of the week.

Kristen and Sue did supper once again; oven baked chicken (so good !!), root vegetables and salad with garlic bread.  Evening the FL group is doing the Myers/Briggs test with any/all present--- fascinating to watch listen.  (They are 10 high school youth, five adults.)  Quiet evening as well with misc conversations.

True beginning of community... our three teens and one of theirs walking back from the beach together as we were returning from work site late :  "Give us a ride, please give us a ride!"  "Squeeze 'em in, get on in" the last 1/4 mile.  Such good people.  One more reason we are here, reaching across both miles and generations.

Tuesday March 24 The house in Gulfport needed a few last touches so Heather, John and Joe headed that direction while the rest of us went to Ms Deb's home next to the Air Force base in great need of attention.  Painting needed on the full exterior plus caulking of all joints - keeps moisture out as well as insects.  Twelve of us on site.... plus 8 Development people of the Mission down here for meetings.  A little too many folks given the number of ladders and all, but it worked.  And Ms Deb came by at end of day--- and stood out front with tears coming down...  many lives touched in that moment.  God at work with paint brushes and tubes of caulk.

The FL group made supper (TACO TUESDAY), a South Church meeting after to confirm next day plans, then free evening. Five of us; Joe, Sue, Datyon and Miriah took a walk down the beach for fresh air and filling our souls with the evening.

Some of our youth have been invited/asked to work with the FL crew tomorrow on roofing - how clearly God is at work.  And wow, did they work at Ms Ethel's home.  She is one of eleven children all born in that house.  At age 14, she delivered her new born baby sister there as the mid-wife didn't quite make it on time .  Ms Ethel oversees the Micah Day Center here at the Mission as a volunteer ... last year was recognized as City of Biloxi Volunteer of the Year while we were here--- however it was somebody else who said 'you know, she has a roof that is leaking but she'll never ask for help'.  As Craig said, she is family.... and roofs that are leaking go to the top of the list.

Wednesday March 25 Nearly all of us Ms Debbie's home on Iberville Road, putting a second coat of paint on nearly the entire home; John and Joe cutting trim boards, Don working on his window with great precision, Dayton up on ladder, Linda and Nancy taking the side entrance area and north side, Miriah and Sue the south side and Heather with Laura who joined us at mid-day working the caulking gun as Kristen worked up off an extension ladder.  Great amount of work done, and at lunch time we visited the FL site where some of our youth were invited to work; Lydia and Sam along with Denise.  And work they did, hot up on a roof doing shingling!   Kristen and Linda and I dropped by Ms Dawn's home for a visit-- and of course, she invited us in to see her new home.... humbling.  Dawn has now been in her home nearly one year--- after being out for eight years!  Dishonest contractors did marginal work for her years ago, exhausting all her money and leaving a house unfit for occupancy.   

Interesting story as Sue and Kristen cleaned-out the walk-in fridge.... tossed out some chili apparently from a previous group as it had a date of 2-3 weeks ago.  Well.... they felt horrible as it previously been frozen and was now thawing out to be used tomorrow at the Micah Day Center for the homeless here at Back Bay.  Would you believe they then found all the ingredients to make up a substitute large pot-- including meat from Taco Tuesday meal here... and by end of the day, chili was available for the Micah Center once again.  Amazing~

Ellen and Bill joined us to head over to the Baptist Church for a supper invitation by their Pastor and people- followed by Bible Study.  Pastor Adolph was so good in his sensitivity to other traditions and understandings of faith and Bible reading- honoring all and inviting wider thoughts and ideas.  I was very much impressed and at ease with his theology.   Amazing how much we do believe and read in similar fashion allowing space for one and all. We ended with a large circle around the sanctuary with 75 of us, all ages--- and I was  honored to be asked to offer the closing prayer and benediction.  Pastor is not hestitant to welcome me once again to speak.

Thursday March 26 Weather is very questionable today though we headed to the Iberville house where Mike has been our site supervisor, nice guy- quiet and steady; from Ohio and frequent volunteer at BBM.  Despite the forecast, we jumped in doing more caulking, Dayton finished the end of a second coat up high on extension ladder, and most the rest of us started the white trim paint.  Looking very nice with clean, crisp white with the sea mist color.  However, radar showed nasty storms getting close so stopped all painting so as to not lose our work, did some raking of the yard and headed back to the Mission building.  As this was our half day of work anyway, some rested and others headed to the Visitor Center to view the Biloxi/Katrina film, then off to the Ohr Keefe museum of potter (late 1800's -early 1900's) and the opening of the Katrina Plus 10 exhibit--- good timing all around.

Interesting story as we sat down to compare notes of money spent for food with the FL group.  Linda first gathered all our receipts and Andy gave us their figures so we could then reconcile 'who owes whom how much; making sure we pro-rate the amounts for them leaving early and having arrived the day after us.  Would you  believe, it cost South Church (with round figures) $ 120 / day to feed our 15 folks three meals on  -snacks-etc.  And the calculator showed that it cost FL folks $ 119 / day..... Done !!!

Evening-- Bill and Ellen joined us for dinner- they will be the next long term volunteers ; she in the volunteer office and he as a site supervisor.  Lengthy conversations about the new media today (Bill was an ABC news producer with extensive travels including a lengthy stay in KPort when the Iraq War broke out in January 1991.  'Do we report the news or create the news?' How is it packaged, who writes it?  Also interesting with five of us talking about hunger and needs in Maine, how statistics are used/embellished, etc.   Earlier -- young Sebastian from the FL group had cake for his 17th birthday and lots of evening conversations -- so good to share this meal with new friends.  Our youth and theirs bonding naturally and quickly-- now we have to separate them !  FL group leaves tomorrow, 7:30 am.

Friday March 27 After a fond farewell to the FL group who drove out at 7:30AM, we finished up our breakfast and headed to the work site.  Over the course of the day, we put a second coat of white paint on the entire house by 3pm.  Visits from Ellen and Bill brought a surprise of three dozen Krispy Kreme warm doughnuts !!!  And just when we were ready for a mid-morning break.  What good people !  Then soon after and some of us were still chatting-- one of the ThunderBirds Air Force Jets began its preparation for the big air show tomorrow--- screaming by just over our heads (our work site was just at the end of the runway) ---literally a few hundred feet above.  Folks on ladders felt their supports tremble and those of us on the ground, our insides were quaking.  And for the next hour plus-- these precise flyers practice their manuvers as other planes of different types continued to arrive.  Some folks went out for sandwiches from the VietNamese Bakery.... I walked across the railroad tracks fifty feet away (more noise !) to a Korean restaurant-- selecting such instead of my tuna fish sandwich (ordered Mongolian beef and shrimp which was delicious--- and the side dish was VERY VERY HOT-- could not swallow by any stretch!!

We continued with our painting... and must say the house looks quite attractive.  Having purchased some new numerals for the address to be posted over the front porch door, Lydia finished a second coat of paint earlier and took the 10' step ladder and affixed them accordingly.  We all took pictures. 

We could tell we were slowing down, mid-Friday afternoon; we washed out brushes and brought all the ladders inside, tools to the trailer, and headed back to the Mission for a 4pm wrap-up meeting with Craig to review the week.  And excellent it was.  We offered a few constructive suggestions from our experience.  Learned more of how the Mission invests in property, and how a site like that for our week began with an estimate of $ 6000 and quickly grew to $ 15,000--- as plumbing was not functioning and none of the electricity in the home was grounded.  Craig said he refuses to leave a house with more needs for safety of resident or security of the building.

Did I say, before we left the work site.... Ms Debbie came over to say 'goodbye' and 'thank you' one more time..... with more tears of a tender heart.  As Craig said, we not only restore homes but also we are restoring hope for individuals.  No further reminder will we ever need.

Dinner, we headed out to The Shed -- a quite funky and well know bbq restaurant--- mighty fine including pecan cobbler for dessert !

The week has clearly exceeded our hopes and expectations.  A Lenten discipline of service and sacriface - lessons of discipleship and being participant in the formation of community one day at a time.  Not easy, and not always pretty; but the character of the people we have met - those of MS, those FL, those in our own group and ourselves- have all grown in depth and what a further revelation of that which resides / shines in our souls.  No one could participate in every aspect of this trip - different work sites, different people met in a grocery or at a local hardware store (the owners took seven feet of water on the second floor in their kitchen !).  These 'border crossing experiences' bring us to places far from home ,  yet bring us home in a new manner and as a new creation.  This is the working of God, around us and within us.
Now time to clean our area for the next group, and to begin our trip home.

Saturday March 28 Up early to do final cleaning before heading to the airport at 8am... and a group picture before departure.  Said 'goodbye' to Nancy at Gulfport airport as she is on a later flight to return to home in FL.  Our regional jet had a smooth flight to Atlanta where we had time for a quick bite to eat before boarding flight to Boston.  Some dozing, some reading ("Quiet" by Susan Cain) and conversations with those in our group.  More goodbyes at Logan as some headed out with C+J bus, others had cars... Mariah heading back to CT.

June Bug glad to see me-- wondering what this travelling is all about.  Nice to be away, such a good trip; and nice to be back home.

 

 

 

 

Mission and outreach efforts of South Church in the wider community

Opportunities to serve

Meals on Wheels - local drivers needed, mileage reimbursement, contact Ann McCausland 800-400-6325
Habitat for Humanity - welcomes assistance on site of their new ReStore, Rte 1 South, Kennebunk 502-7021 or 985-4850
Church Community Service - snack program in our schools, periodic deliveries, contact Beth Jones 967-3613
Bon Appetite Soup Kitchen - Rev. Charles coordinates the scheduling of workers for the third Tuesday of each month.
Local Food Pantry - drivers to town offices or food deliver to schools, contact Beth Jones 967-3613
Community Garden in West Kennebunk - prepping and picking of produce, great for families, contact Leslie Lindgren 985-2608