Want to Pastor in Maine? Prepare Yourself!

Post a Comment » Written on January 11th, 2006     
Filed under: News
By Stan Friedman

NEW SWEDEN, ME (January 11, 2006) – Pastor Shelly Timber has discovered an extra amount of determination is needed to pastor her small congregation. That lesson came “blowing in the wind” over the past several weeks.

Timber had been excited that a record turnout of more than 90 people had attended the Christmas Eve service. The Swedish Julotta service that begins in the cold of early morning saw a record attendance of 33, nearly matching the congregation’s normal Sunday attendance. Another 33 individuals attended the regular Sunday service.

That’s when things started to turn ugly.

“Ten minutes into the 11 a.m. service, the snow started to fall,” Timber says. It kept falling non-stop through to Tuesday. By then 35 inches had fallen.

The situation got worse.

Heavy winds whipped the fluffy flakes into densely packed dunes three and four feet high in some places – too compacted for the usual pickup snow plows to move. Neighbor helped neighbor as those with front-end loaders and commercial snow blowers gave assistance.

On Sunday night, having had her mind occupied by preparing for three weekend services, Timber began to worry whether she had enough gasoline for her snow blower. Three times that night she cleared the 75-foot driveway, removing a foot of snow each time.

Despite the continuing snow fall, Timber was able to make it out and get gasoline on Monday, but decided after filling the snow blower that she would wait for the 35 mph winds to subside. Finally on Tuesday, she began to clear the driveway, but the four-foot drifts the entire length of the driveway were too much for her snow blower.

Timber says she still was able to make two passes before hearing a popping sound, which meant the blower’s transmission had died. “This was not good.”

The situation got worse.

All the snow plows were committed for the rest of the week and Timber had to leave the next morning to officiate a wedding in Delaware. Fortunately, two men from the church loaded up another snow blower and cleaned her driveway.

Things were looking up. Then they got bad again.

That evening around 10 p.m., Timber was packing for the trip when she remembered the robe and stole she needed were at the church, she says. That would not have been so bad except the church parking lot still was filled with snow up to four feet deep. In addition, county snow plows had pushed a five-foot wall of snow and ice in front of the church.

“But where there’s a will, there’s a way up here in the country,” says Timber, who has pastored the congregation for five years. Not to be denied the robe and stole, Timber drove to the church, bringing just the right equipment for what she termed her Mission Impossible. “If only that theme music could have been playing during the next several minutes as I strapped on my snow shoes.”

With plastic garbage bag in one hand for the robe, shovel in the other and church keys in her pocket, Timber trudged her way over the plow’s snow bank and across what should have been the steps, she says. A few minutes to dig out room for the swing of the door and Timber was inside. While there, she decided to take care of a few errands, including watering the poinsettias. “Who knows when they would next get a drink,” she says.

With robe now in the bag, Timber made her way back across the lot, tossed the robe over the snow drift and snow-shoed back to the car and was home within 45 minutes, she says proudly.

The wedding went off without a hitch, but three days later an ice storm roughed up the town and a snow storm blanketed the area three days after that. This morning, the area was expecting “only about four to six inches,” she notes.

It takes a lot of determination to pastor in New Sweden, Maine.

Copyright © 2011 The Evangelical Covenant Church.

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