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Seeking Common Ground,
Working for the Common Good


156 High Street, Portland, ME  04101      207-772-1918   


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Rev. Sue Gabrielson




Rev. Sue Gabrielson Selected as New Executive Director of Maine Council of Churches

PORTLAND, MAINE--The Maine Council of Churches Board of Directors announced it has selected the Rev. Sue Gabrielson its new Executive Director, replacing the Rev. Dr. Bill Barter, who has stepped down in order to return to full time at St. Ansgar. Dr. Barter will continue as the Lutheran representative on the Board of Directors and will remain active on the Public Policy Committee.

Rev. Gabrielson has been the Minister for the Sanford Unitarian Universalist Church since 2003 where she has been instrumental in expanding the church’s community outreach. Rev. Sue, as she is affectionately called, is particularly proud of their Corner Cupboard non-food pantry, leading the congregation through an 18-month process of becoming a “Green Sanctuary” and facilitating a tri-church collaboration project with three southern Maine UU congregations.

Before attending seminary Rev. Gabrielson worked as a Police Officer for five years in New Hampshire. She has also worked in Higher Education as both an administrator and a faculty member, and has traveled extensively around the world by ship to more than 25, primarily third world, countries.

Rev. Gabrielson earned her undergraduate degree in Religion and Sociology from the University of Vermont, a Masters degree in Adult Development from Vermont College, and a Masters in Divinity from Andover Newton Theological School. She is currently pursuing her PhD in Multi-disciplinary Human Services and Public Policy. She enjoys the outdoors, adventuring and is a certified personal fitness trainer. When not at work she can be found volunteering in her daughters’ (Grace, age 15 and Ellie age 10) schools, coaching, and spending time with husband, Rudy and extended family. Before attending seminary she spent five months thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail.

Rev. Gabrielson has had extensive experience with grassroots social and environmental justice efforts, is committed to the mission of the MCC, and excited about coming on board.

She can be reached at 207-772-1918, or via email Rev. Sue Gabrielson

Reaction to Ferguson decision:

Racism is real. Our justice system is terribly broken. We live in a culture determined by fear. Our sorrow is profound. So, we pray, we act, we tirelessly pursue justice, we teach and learn, hold hands, reach out and are humbled every day. The Maine Council of Churches joins in weeping for all that is grieved today and in gathering our collective courage to insist on a world where we can find healing and where love prevails.



The Maine Council of Churches is strongly committed to Civil Discourse in our political system. Please read all that we have to offer below!



In preparation for this fall's election season, the Council recently wrote to over 400 Maine candidates

for statewide and national office, asking them to sign our "Covenant for Civil Discourse." To date, a

number of candidates have responded favorably. See which candidates have signed onto the

Covenant for Civil Discourse at the following link: Covenant for Civil Discourse


Are you praying for Civil Discourse in our political process? Here is a prayer resource for

congregations to use as we move through the mid-term elections:

An offering of prayers for Election Day.pdf


Recently, the Council of Churches participated in a "Maine Calling" radio program on MPBN Radio.

You can hear it at:


Here is a link to a panel on Civil Discourse, cosponsored by the Goldfarb Center at Colby

College and the Maine Council of Churches. The panel was held on September 18th. It will

also be broadcast on the MPBN Radio program "Speaking in Maine" on Tuesday, September 30th

at 1:00 p.m.  Link to the Panel at Colby College


A couple of years ago, the Council produced a video on Civil Discourse. It still speaks very well

to who we are as a Council. You can see it at: MCC Civil Discourse Video (2012) 

















Hunger is not okay. We can end it.




The Food Supplement Program (known as SNAP or food stamps) is one of our country’s most vital defenses against hunger.

Food pantries and soup kitchens, intended to provide emergency assistance, cannot meet demand as hunger increases.

  • ·      Maine has the 3rd highest rate of hunger in the country
  • ·      A quarter million Mainers receive SNAP
  • ·      38% of those eligible do not receive SNAP
  • ·      10% of Maine SNAP recipients are seniors
  • ·      1 in 4 Maine children live in a food insecure household
  • ·      Every $1 in SNAP generates $1.70 in the local economy
  • ·      SNAP generated $377 million in Maine’s economy in 2012


1. Tell Congress to Protect SNAP!

  • ·   SNAP was cut by $5 billion on November 1st.
  • ·   Congress is debating an additional $8.6 billion cut to SNAP.
  • ·   No more cuts to SNAP! Every dollar cut from SNAP directly increases hunger in Maine.
  • ·   Contact Information:
    Senator Susan Collins, 202-224-2523, @SenatorCollins
    Senator Angus King, 202-224-5344, @SenAngusKing
    Representative Chellie Pingree, 202-225-6116, @chelliepingree
    Representative Mike Michaud, 202-225-6306, @RepMikeMichaud
  • ·   Sample Call Script
    My name is [NAME] and I live in [TOWN] and I am member of [BLANK] church. I am calling to urge [CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATE]
  • to oppose the $8.6 billion cut to SNAP. No cuts are acceptable; Congress must pass a Farm Bill that doesn’t increase hunger.
  • [INSERT PERSONAL STORY AND/OR FACT FROM ABOVE]. Thank you for your support of this critical program.

2. Become an Anti-Hunger Leader

  • ·   Attend a training to learn about hunger in Maine, and steps to ending it.
  • ·   For details contact Michelle Lamm, MHI Program Manager at


The Maine Council of Churches welcomes Bishop Robert Deeley





With great joy and anticipation, the Maine Council of Churches welcomes Bishop Robert Deeley to Maine. Our Roman Catholic sisters and brothers have anticipated appointment of a new bishop for over a year now, and the waiting is over. Since the days of Bishop Feeney, the Council has enjoyed ecumenical dialogue with Roman Catholics, one of the wonderful benefits of the Second Vatican Council. In the 1970s, under the leadership of Bishop O’Leary, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland joined the Maine Council of Churches as a full member. That membership is still a valuable part of the Council today.        

We pray for Bishop Deeley in his new post as Ordinary of the Diocese. We look forward to many fruitful years of working in collaboration on so many of the issues that are important to Maine’s people of faith.









Link to the Pope's Message on the Wave of Prayer                  



A message for Catholics and all people of faith        

Global Wave of Prayer - Tonga to American Samoa

On Tuesday, December 10, Pope Francis and Catholic organizations around the world, including Catholic Relief Services and Catholic Charities USA, are asking all Catholics to participate in a global “Wave of Prayer." This global Catholic campaign is in response to the needs of the poor and vulnerable, and it is a way to show our support for combating hunger as "One Human Family, Food for All."

In a spirit of solidarity with one another in the battle to eradicate hunger, a number of religious denominations will be joining Roman Catholics in the global wave of prayer on December 10th.

Please join our brothers and sisters around the world by pausing at noon on Tuesday, December 10, to pray for an end to world hunger. The Wave of Prayer will begin in Tonga and end in American Samoa, 24 hours and 164 countries later.  

For a list of Roman Catholic churches that are offering prayers, please contact your local Catholic church.

Additionally, here is a list of some Maine Council of Churches members who will be offering prayers on December 10th:


Cape Elizabeth –

The Cape Elizabeth United Methodist Church, 280 Ocean House Road, will be hosting a prayer service in their chapel, beginning at 12:00 noon on December 10th.


Brunswick -

Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 330 Maine Street, will be open for prayer between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.


Lincolnville -

As per the request from Pope Francis and the Maine Council of Churches, our United Christian Church in Lincolnville, Maine will host a time of prayer for an end to hunger this coming Tuesday, December 10th at 4 p.m. for a half hour.  We will meet in the sanctuary, unheated during the week, so we suggest that those who come dress warmly, and consider fasting during the day until after the time of prayer, that we might gain an inkling of what it is like to be cold and hungry every day.  Participants are invited to bring prayers or other reflections they would like to share about hunger and ending hunger in the world.  Our address is 18 Searsmont Road, Lincolnville, ME 04849.  We are affiliated with the United Church of Christ denomination. For more information, people may contact me, Rev. Dr. Susan Stonestreet, the pastor of the church via e-mail at or by telephone to 207-763-4526.  Thank you for suggesting that we do this.


Portland –

St. Ansgar Lutheran Church, 515 Woodford Street, will host a prayer service and meditation time. The church will be open from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. with a brief prayer service at 12:00 noon.




The Maine Council of Church remains committed to ending torture

throughout the world. On Saturday, December 7th, an ad signed by

over 100 religious leaders in Maine will run in the Bangor Daily

News, urging Senators Collins and King to vote for release of the

Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report on torture.

To take a look at the ad, please click here: BDN Clergy Ad Regarding Torture Report


On this Thanksgiving Day, the Maine Council of Churches is pleased

to have been given space in the Portland Press Herald to share our

concerns over cuts to food assistance. The OP-ED can be found at

this link:  Op-Ed on SNAP Program cuts and hunger





The Maine Council of Churches recently emailed an important church bulletin insert to

our member denominations. In collaboration with Maine Equal Justice Partners and the

"Cover Maine Now" initiative, we continue to press the State of Maine to accept the

Medicaid expansion offered under the Affordable Care Act. For more information on

how you and your congregation can get involved, and how your people can share

their stories in support of our efforts, download the bulletin insert here:

Healthcare Bulletin Insert MCC 11142013.pdf





 The Maine Council of Churches grieves at the loss of life and livelihood

in the Philippines in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan. People in the

Philippines are in need of our prayers and loving support. We ask all

people to exercise kindness of conscience and generosity of spirit at

this time.


The Maine Council of Churches represents nine member denominations throughout the state. If folks would like to donate through a religious organization, we offer the following links (in random order):


United Methodist:

Roman Catholic:



United Church of Christ:

Unitarian Universalist:

Presbyterian Church USA:






Representatives from MCC and the

National Religious Campaign against Torture

had a meaningful and productive meeting

with Maine Senator Susan Collins on

October 23, 2013.



 Pictured left to right: William Barter, MCC Executive Director; Leslie Manning, MCC President; Senator Collins;

 Jill Saxby, Board Member of the National Religious Campaign against Torture; and Marc Mutty, Board Member of MCC.   



Our Fall 2013 Newsletter is out! You can find a PDF

copy of the newsletter by clicking on "about us" and

following the links to the newsletter archive.





Nationally acclaimed activist Sister Helen Prejean to highlight the culture of punishment

New Orleans-based activist and author of the book Dead Man Walking, Sister Helen Prejean, will speak at a community symposium on the culture of punishment on October 18th. Maine Inside Out, a local social justice organization, is hosting a four-day symposium, “The Culture of Punishment: From Parenting to Prisons” in Portland beginning on October 15, 2013.

Maine Inside Out, in collaboration with Long Creek Youth Development Center, Friends School of Portland, Portland’s First Parish in Portland, Maine Unitarian Universalist, the Maine Humanities Council, Sebago Education Alliance and the Restorative Justice Institute of Maine, is organizing and hosting four days of workshops, performances, seminars, and panel discussions to explore, question, and reflect on the history, culture, and impact of punitive practices.

Symposium Details:

Faith and Restorative Justice: Youth Performance and Multi-Faith Dialogue

Tuesday, October 15th at 6:30pm | First Parish in Portland, Maine Unitarian Universalist

 Peaceful Parenting in a Culture of Punishment

with parenting educators: Katherine Endy, LCSW and Sarah MacLaughlin, LSW

Wednesday, October 16th at 7pm | Friends School of Portland | Mackworth Island, Portland

 Alternatives to Punishment: Creating a Culture of Positive Behavior in Schools

with Dr. Heather Alvarez of Sebago Educational Alliance. [CEUs available]

Thursday, October 17th at 3:30pm | Portland High School, Alumni Hall

 Screening of the film Dead Man Walking

presented by Portland Public Library Cultural Center Team

Thursday, October 17th at 7:30pm | Portland Public Library, Rines Auditorium

 Keynote featuring Sister Helen Prejean

with performance by youth from Long Creek Youth Development Center

Friday, October 18th at 7pm | University of Southern Maine, Hannaford Lecture Hall

 For registration information and a full listing of events go to



New Executive Director

The Maine Council of Churches has named the Rev. Dr. William M. Barter to be its next Executive Director, effective October 1, 2013. Dr. Barter is an ordained pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Concurrent with his duties at the Council, he will maintain his position as Senior Pastor at St. Ansgar Lutheran Church in Portland.

A native of Bath, Barter graduated from Cheverus High School in Portland and obtained his B.A. from the University of Southern Maine. He holds a Master of Divinity degree from the Catholic University of America, and a Ph.D. from Walden University. Barter was ordained in 1982, and served churches in Lewiston, Waterville, Fairfield, Wallagrass, and Daigle. He briefly served as an interim pastor in Chicago while obtaining his doctorate and then returned to Maine where he was called to St. Ansgar in 2008. 

Dr. Barter serves as a regional representative on the New England Synod Council of the ELCA. In addition to being a pastor, Dr. Barter is licensed in Maine as a psychologist. Prior to being hired as Executive Director, Barter served as Vice President of the Maine Council of Churches.


Bill can be reached at












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 The Maine Council of Churches is grieved by the

current situation in Syria. It would appear from

recent reports that the Assad regime has used

chemical weapons on the citizenry.



In this protracted battle for the heart of Syria, it is fair to say that atrocities have

likely been committed by both sides, thus further complicating the human tragedy.


Simple solutions elude us, but we do know that the guiding principle for all human

conflict is a movement toward peace and reconciliation. It is fitting to echo the words

of Pope Francis, spoken this past weekend, regarding the anguish over the Syrian conflict:                         

"I repeat forcefully: it is neither a culture of confrontation nor a culture of conflict which builds harmony within and between peoples, 

but rather a culture of encounter and a culture of dialogue; this is the only way to peace. May the plea for peace rise up and touch

the heart of everyone so that they may lay down their weapons and let themselves be led by the desire for peace." 

Amidst the drumbeat of war and the cries of those who mourn their dead, please join the

Maine Council of Churches in praying for a peaceful solution to this human tragedy. 

September 2, 2013 




The Senate Intelligence Committee spent four years investigating the CIA's torture program. 

The problem is that the committee's findings (in a 6,000-page factual report) have been adopted
by the Committee, but not released. 

They are sitting in a Congressional vault and with the CIA. 
In the next few days and weeks, the Maine Council of Churches will join religious leaders across the nation, demanding that the Senate make the report public.
We will be asking clergy from around Maine to sign an ad in the Bangor Daily News urging
Senators Collins and King to vote for release.

The council is honored to join NRCAT in this important work of ensuring basic human rights
for all people.

Maine Council of Churches                                                    

Reverend Bill Barter, Vice President of the Maine Council of Churches, testified 
last Tuesday in support of LD 1353 An Act To Further Reduce Student Hunger. 
It was introduced by Senate President Justin Alfond and heard by the Education and 
Cultural Affairs Committee.  In this picture, Rev. Barter heard by Rep. Mary Nelson, 


Maine Council of Churches Statement on the Boston Marathon Bombing

Our hearts and prayers go out to the people and the city of Boston following explosions near 

the end of the Marathon route where thousands gathered to cheer runners over the finish line:  

Those who lost loved ones, those who suffered injuries, those who wait for news, and for the 

many who quickly responded to help with love. It is at times like this when so many respond 

tirelessly and courageously with love that we recognize our strength as a people and a nation.


At times like this, the momentary capacity of a few to overshadow the goodness of the many 

can make God seem very far away. As a community of faith, let us take comfort in the words 

of the psalmist: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore 

we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, 

though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.” (Psalm 46:1-3)


The Maine Council of Churches joins our prayers with the Massachusetts Council of Churches, 

and with people throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and beyond to bring healing, 

to understand, and to restore hope.


The Rev. Dr. William Barter, Vice President

Maine Council of Churches







Remarks of MCC Executive Director Jill Saxby at Candlelight Vigil in Monument Square, Portland December 16, 2012

Poem:  Swimming Lesson Dec 15, 2012.pdf

Invitation to Prayer and Silent Meditation:  There is a place beyond words.pdf


MCC and NRCAT invite you to participate in Human Rights Weekend


The Maine Council of Churches (MCC) National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) invite you to mark Human Rights Day weekend this December 7-9 by lifting up the need to shine a light on places where torture might occur in the U.S.  Your congregation can use a bulletin insert and worship materials, show a video, or gather signatures for the petition asking the President to sign the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT).

Torture happens throughout the world and most countries want it to stop. It is illegal, but that doesn’t prevent it from occurring.  Because prisons, jails, immigrant detention facilities, mental health institutions, youth detention facilities, and other places of detention are often not monitored, torture and abuse can occur – often by guards and other employees.

The United States, which has not yet ratified OPCAT, can learn from the experiences of the 63 nations that have ratified it, including Great Britain, Sweden and Tunisia.  OPCAT, which has been effective, sets up oversight bodies and other national mechanisms that prevent torture and abuse in places of confinement.

As people of faith, we have an obligation to protect those who cannot protect themselves and ensure that no person is tortured or abused.

For worship materials for various faith traditions and interfaith resources:
Collect signatures urging the US to ratify OPCAT:
Additional information and resources on Torture and Human Rights Day:


Solitary Confinement:  Torture in Your Backyard          

Video and Resource Packet Available from MCC

MCC is a member of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT), an organization consisting of religious groups and leaders who believe that "Torture is a Moral Issue" as it violates the basic dignity of every human being. Long-term solitary confinement in prisons is a form of torture because it can lead to permanent psychological damage. 

NRCAT created a 20 minute video, Solitary Confinement: Torture in  Your Back Yard, including interviews with individuals who have experienced solitary confinement.  Because of MCC's work to eliminate solitary confinement in Maine prisons, our Executive Director, Rev. Jill Saxby is featured in the video.  Also included in the film, Maine Commissioner of the Department of Corrections Joseph Ponte talks about the dramatic reduction in the use of solitary confinement in Maine's prisons and the positive impact that has occurred because of the change in prison procedures. 

Contact the MCC Office if you'd like a video and resource packet (study guide, talking points, copy of the Statement on Prolonged Solitary Confinement on which to gather signatures) at no cost to you.




Donate to MCC

About Maine Council of Churches:

Maine Council of Churches is an ecumenical community of nine denominations dedicated to the vision of a sustainable, just, and compassionate world.  We serve as a voice and a resource for Maine's congregations, people of faith, and other organizations that share our vision.

Our Member Denominations:

Association of the New Jerusalem Church (Swedenborgian)

Episcopal Diocese of Maine

Maine Conference, United Church of Christ

New England Conference, United Methodist Church

New England Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

New England Yearly Meeting, Religious Society of Friends

Northern New England District, Unitarian Universalist Association

Northern New England Presbytery, Presbyterian Church ( USA)

Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland

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