Category Archives: guest preachers

Notes from Old Trustees Records

Phyllis Conway trnscribed these excerpts from official Board of Trustees Secretary’s Records.  This is part One 1928-1953.

A Little History.  The present building of the Chilmark Community Methodist Church was moved from Middle Road in 1910.  In 1908 a house, designated the Parsonage was moved to its present site, donated by the Tilton, Adams and Mayhew families.  This parsonage was built on Middle Road in 1863, first as a one-story building, later a 2nd story was added.  Once moved to the Menemsha Crossroad site this parsonage was rented out by the church.  Pastors served more than one Methodist Church on the Island and they lived down-Island, journeying to Chilmark for Sunday worship and pastoral care.

In the Quarterly Conference Book of 1928 it is reported that Chilmark and Edgartown were an allied parish, sharing a pastor.

Chilmark was part of a shared parish in the 1930’s through the early 1980’s.  We shared a pastor with variously;  Edgartown, Lambert’s Cove, Vineyard Haven & Oak Bluffs, in the ’30’s and 40’s.

In 1928 the Board discussed wiring the Parsonage for electricity, but deemed it too expensive.  The parsonage was heated with coal stoves and had a large cook stove in the kitchen.  In April, 1940, at the expense of a tenant holding a 4-yr. lease, the Parsonage was wired for electricity.

In May, 1941 an organ was given to the church by the Camp Meeting Association of Oak Bluffs.  Oscar Flanders (father of David Flanders) moved and installed it under the balcony at the rear of the sanctuary.

In January, 1947 the Board discussed whether to sell or retain the parsonage.  The District Supt. of the Methodist Conference counseled against selling unless imperative.  The board decided rather to repair the building and to continue renting it.

In 1953 Mutual Church Insurance Co. declined to insure the parsonage since it was not the pastor’s home.

In Sept 1953 The Board voted to give the organ in the rear of the santuary to the Bradley Memorial Church of Oak Bluffs.

Guest Preachers

One of our first guests  the Reverend Charles W. Bowman, returns Nov.15.  Woody  received his BA from Trinity College in 1974  and his Masters of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary in ‘79.  He is the Director of Faculty Ministry and Director of the study center on Lambert’s Cove Road for FOCUS, Fellowship of Christians in Universities and Schools.  He and his wife, Susan  live in WT on the Panhandle.

Guest Preachers (Check calendar for any last minute changes)

Our Guest Preachers from AFAR (off island) Series begins Memorial Day Weekend with Susan Thomas.  Susan holds a both Master of Divinity and Master of Theology degrees from Columbia Theological Seminary in Georgia. She has been a supply preacher/worship leader in a number of diverse congregations from retirement community, a  second generation Taiwanese church,  an African -American church, Presbyterian, UCC and UU congregations.  We’re looking forward to her leadership here.Susan will also preach on June 28 and August 9.

Our next guest will be Nell Fields. A press release follows.

Nell Fields, Chaplain and Director of The Hope Project at Westborough State Hospital, will be preaching at the Chilmark Community Methodist Church, June 7 at 9 a.m. She holds a Masters of Divinity from Andover Newton Theological School.  The Hope Project is a multi-year, multi-disciplinary, hospital-wide initiative on hope therapy , a cognitive-based intervention designed to teach patients skills and strategies to increase hopefulness.
Prior to her ministry, Nell Fields had an impressive career in the technology business. She was, most recently Vice President, Product Development  for First Data Corporation in Denver Colorado; prior to that,  Vice President , Business Development for Yaga, Inc, in San Fransisco,  CEO of Clickshare Service Corp. in Williamstown, MA, and Vice President of Global Marketing for Korn/Ferry International, Futurestep in L.A.  She also worked for ten years in journalism at Daily Journal Corporation in L. A.  She has a MFA in English from Mills College in Oakland, CA. Nell will be with us again on Sept 7. She will have been ordained.!
Lia Kahler will be introducing “Walking the Bible” on June 21. Lia, an opera singer by profession, has been studying comparative religions over the winter at NYU.  She is interested in the idea of  learning by moving in space, as on a stage.

Connie Williams will lead our scripture discussion on July 12. Connie and her husband, Preston, worship with us when they are at their home in Spring Point.  She is an associate Professor, Emerita, at Brandeis University.  On the Vineyard, she serves on the Board of the Permanent Endowment Fund.

Michael F. Hall will be with us  July 19. He will have just finished his second year at Andover Newton.   In his other life he has been a Historical Interpreter, think Plymouth Plantation.  His company, Two Trees Productions, does programs in schools, churches and historical societies.  He comes recommended as a preacher!

Rev.Arlene Bodge, not exactly a guest,  will lead us in worship on May 31 and July 5.

Rev. Phyllis Evelyn will conduct our service August 2. She writes:

“My parents come from Portland, ME and Pennsylvania “Dutch” country. Being a ‘war baby’ I was born in New Orleans, LA and I joke that I am “Yankee bred and Cajun born, so I don’t know where I belong; living half my life north (Alaska) and half my life south (Panama). I have lived from Portland, ME in the east to California in the west. The only state I have not visited is Hawaii; having lived in nine different states from Alaska to California, and from Florida to Maine.

My education includes BA in English Literature from Northwestern University, Evanston, IL in 1964 and a Masters in Divinity from Eden Theological School in Webster Groves, MO in 2002.

Currently I am pursuing a Doctor of Ministry at Andover Newton Theological School in Newton Center, MA. My major emphasis is Pastoral Counseling for children (8 yrs and up) and young adult women (18-24 years) who have escaped or been rescued from sex trafficking. Working to discover what a New Abolition Movement would encompass through study at the Carr Institute, Harvard School of Government Studies.

Also, I serve as supply preacher for churches in United Church of Christ, American Baptist, and Methodist denominations. Interest in emerging church movement and contemporary theology guides my personal readings.

Like any new grandmother, my spare time and hobbies revolve around two grandsons, my daughter, her partner, and my son. Since I have been the daughter-in-law of a Methodist Minister (IN Conference) and I never visited Martha’s Vineyard, your invitation is special for me.”
Phyllis Evelyn, M. Div. Summer 2009

On August 23,  Kwame Osei ‘Reed79 M.Div., will be our guest preacher.
Born in McComb, Mississippi, into a family that was active in the civil rights movement, Reverend Reed later graduated from Howard University with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and from the Howard University School of Law with his Juris Doctorate degree. He graduated from Yale Divinity School in 1979, where he served as student body president.

As an attorney, he is an active member of the Virginia State Bar. Since his ordination into the UCC in 1979, he has pursued a career ranging from pastoring to legal and academic work. He served on the faculty of Oberlin College, in the Legal Studies Department of the University of Pittsburgh, and as a Visiting Scholar at Yale Law School. As chairperson of the Potomac Association’s South Africa Task Force, he organized a January 1986 Washington, D.C. Convocation with Archibishop Desmond Tutu, the ongoing work of which has made great strides toward the liberation of South Africa.

Formerly known as Bobby Reed, Kwame was ceremonially adopted into the Ashanti people of Ghana, where he was given the name Kwame Osei. Recently, he and his wife, Rita Wallace Reed, M.D., MPH, a native of Ghana, began construction of a clinic for sick children near Accra, Ghana. Kwame and Rita live in Reston, Virginia with their sons, Nene and Kojo.

In November 1987, at Howard University ‘s Andrew Rankin Memorial Chapel, Reverend Kwame Osei Reed was installed as Association Minister for the Potomac Association of the United Church of Christ. In this capacity he serves as the executive officer for UCC congregations in the National Capital Area.

Erika Hirsch will be with us  August 30. Since 9/08 she has been studying for a Doctor of Philopophy in History of Christianity at BU.   She has a Masters in Divinity from Yale (5/07), a Bachelor of Arts in music (flute and piano) and minor in religion  from Emory university . She has a  certificate in Flute Performance from Prague Conservatory, Prague, Czech Republic. She has served in a number of Methodist Churches in NY and Conn.

Rev. David Berube will NOT preach on Sept . 27. He is being deployed Sept 8 and we’ll have to wait for his return to hear him.  Read the MV Times article below.

Preacher finds ministerial calling

Published: June 19, 2008

Officer David Berube described his role as chaplain in a telephone interview with The Times.

Could you talk a little about your background?

I grew up in Connecticut and was ordained in 1987 by the American Baptist Churches USA. At first I served in a more traditional role as a solo preacher for several years. I then decided to join the Air National Guard and started working with people outside of the mainstream parish-type of setting. I moved to the OBPD in 1999 as a volunteer chaplain. The more I worked in a non-traditional setting, the more I realized that it was a good fit for me. In the summer of 2000 I did some training with the department just to be comfortable in the setting I was working in. Then when a full time job opened up I enrolled in the municipal police academy and became a full-fledged police officer along with being the department chaplain.

What is a chaplain?

My job as a police chaplain is not to bolster membership in a religion or to bring people into my faith community but to support everyone regardless of what their particular faith perspective is or isn’t. My role is to assist people in questions of faith or whatever the issue may be. It’s a non-sectarian role.

What are some of your duties as the OBPD chaplain?

I think the biggest highlight of being a police chaplain is that I have absolute privilege in my communication with my fellow officers. I’m not required to report the conversations I have with them to the chief or anyone, except in cases of child abuse or self-harm. What gets said to me stays with me and it’s strictly private. Members of my department can come to me in a way unlike anyone else in the department. I will also get called out to do any type of death notifications or any particularly difficult calls or contacts in a crisis situation.

What prompted you to expand your role as chaplain to include policing duties? And would the use of force pose a moral conflict to you as a chaplain?

I think it was the sense that it would round out my calling as a pastor. For me the hallmark scripture passage for my ministry is the Shepard’s Psalm; “Even through I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will feel no evil, bear with me your rod and staff, comfort me.” Obviously that talks about God and not an individual person. But for me as a shepherd under the Shepherd, there is the sense that all shepherds have the tools to herd and protect the sheep. The staff to guide and direct the herd from harms way. Then the rod, which is a weapon, is used to defend the flock from predators. I think for me stepping between the sheep and wolves, if you will, really has been the completing element to my role as a pastor. People may not really like that other side of the shepherd. In modern culture we don’t see that role when we think of men of faith. We see the pastor as a simple, kind, and loving person, who would never even raise his voice. But the reality is that if all a shepherd does is herd the sheep, the wolves will have the opportunity to pick his herd off one at a time. Someone has to be able to step into that gap and protect the flock. I think that our culture has pacified the role of shepherd. I think of that role as a defender of those who cant help themselves.

What would you say is the hardest part of your Job?

I think maintaining the balance between caregiver and protector is the hardest part of my job. If you swing too far to either side, it becomes difficult. Finding the balance point is a daily thing because it is a moving target. How much care versus how much direction and authority to use is extremely hard in any given situation I am faced with.

Could you give an example of when your role as chaplain was called upon by the OBPD?

On July 7, 2001, we were called to a moped crash down on Seaview Avenue. It was pretty horrific crash. A young couple and their friends were out on the Island for the day. The young woman crashed into a car and died later that day. Her husband had witnessed the whole event. I pretty much spent five hours with him at the hospital giving him pastoral care. Most people just come to the Island and don’t really have any idea what is going on. So we have developed a protocol for situations like that so the chaplain can help out in crisis situations.

Is there anything you would like the community to know about your role as police chaplain?

Just the idea that people don’t necessarily know what its like to be a police officer. I want people to know that police officers are some of the most compassionate and generally human people that I know. And my role as chaplain is to take care of the people who take care of the community. It’s a tough job.

Gary Shaw’s View From the Bridge

Dear Pilgrims,

My last reflection about those seeking a “spiritual” connection verses a “religious” connection and quoting research by the Gallop which noted that New England has the lowest percentage of people who claim that “religion plays a daily part in their lives” has drawn a great deal of commentary. I am thankful for the variety of research and questions that have come my way; if nothing else I am grateful that people find these ramblings interesting.
Allow me to share with you some of the reflections that returned to me. Paul writes:
I read with interest your recent commentary in “A View from the Bridge” and it prompted me to investigate something I’ve always been curious about (and something you are probably already aware of).  As background, in my daily life when I encounter “formerly churched” people who now consider themselves to be non-religious, they most often seem to be former Catholics. I did some research and found that there is a very strong inverse correlation between the % of Catholics in a state and the % of the population that considers itself to be religious. You mentioned that “Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee, Louisiana and Arkansas (are) the most religious states in the nation.”  According to a recent study (see reference below), 8 of the top 10 states with the fewest Catholics are, in order, Tennessee, Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Georgia (8th ).  In other words, all 5 of the most religious states are also the least Catholic.

Then you mention that “Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts are the least religious.” In fact six out of the ten least religious states are located in the soon to be New England Conference. (VT 42%, NH 46%, ME 48%, MA 48%, AK 51%, WA 52%, OR 53%, RI 53%, NV 54%, CT 55%).  According to my research, 4 of the top 10 most Catholic states are in the NE Annual Conference and are among the least religious. Those states are, in order, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut (4th), and New Hampshire (7th).

Correlation is not causation; however, there is a clear relationship between a states Catholic population and the percent of that state that consider themselves to be non-religious My hypothesis is that when Catholicism is rejected by much of its traditional base, those people often do not return to be churched elsewhere. What does/should the UMC do to better meet the needs of this specific group of “unchurched” who were once people of faith but now find themselves with no place to turn?

Kevin wrote:
The questions you raise in your musings on the Gallup “State of the States” poll are very stimulating.  Let me respond to your final question: “Will we have the ability to adapt…?  If by “we” you mean the institutional church – whether mainline or evangelical or Roman Catholic… and if the “us” includes the 52% of the population who do not self-identify as “religious,” then the answer is no… the institutional church will not adapt.  The new wave of spirituality you correctly identify has more in common with Craigslist and Wikipedia than institutional Christianity.  This new wave has no need of “gate-keepers” or structure.  The institutional church is on the down-side of the bell curve.  I expect that if the Gallup poll had been broken down into age cohorts the results would have been even more discouraging for the institutional church.  Institutional mainline and evangelical Christianity stopped working for most of the young a long time ago.  Does there continue to be a place for the institutional church in New England?  Absolutely… after all there is still the 48% (even if that 48% continues to shrink).  Let’s celebrate that.  But let’s also recognize that something new is happening; and the new wine will not work in the old wineskin.  There is no need to lament the old wineskin… God honored it and blessed it for many years.  But let’s remember it’s not the wineskin that matters, it the wine!  What can we (those who have drunk deeply from the old wineskin) do?  We can send people out – being careful not to try to impose our old wineskin ways – to live and share the gospel.”
A couple of comments. In a recent Lily Foundation that came out of Trinity College in Hartford, CT, (summary below) there has been a significance decrease in Catholicism in the New England States. Rhode Island which has typically been one of the most heavily populated Roman states went from 62% of the population being Catholic in 1980 to 48% in 2008; essentially losing a generation of people.
That same study noted that the term “evangelical”, which is what I believe most Wesleyan’s are, be they progressive or conservative, has been co-opted to by various organization to express a “political agenda” as opposed to a spiritual passion inclusive of piety and social justice. While the Methodist Church continues to lose membership, as do all mainlines, are people “rethinking” how church is done and how relationships might be built in a different way? Do people recognize who we are (Christians) based on a negative perception (what we do/belief) instead of a positive? Do we recognize the death of the institution church, or are we in such denial that we cannot see its demise? And, in this season of Lent, as we approach Easter, “what is unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see?” Perhaps our Lenten journey is to pray for a new path, unformed as it is, instead of walking the same road with same destination.

Letter from DS Shaw “View from the Bridge”

Dear Pilgrims,
A January 28, 2009 Gallup Poll entitled State of the States: Importance of Religion reports that when asked “Is religion an important part of your daily life?” 65% of Americans reported that religion is an important part of their daily lives. This conclusion was based on interviews of more than 350,000 participants around the country. The poll also breaks down responses to the same question state by state. Here the information gets a little more interesting. The poll finds that “Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee, Louisiana and Arkansas to be the most religious states in the nation, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts are the least religious.” In fact six out of the ten least religious states are located in the soon to be New England Conference. (VT 42%, NH 46%, ME 48%, MA 48%, AK 51%, WA 52%, OR 53%, RI 53%, NV 54%, CT 55%). (
I am of the opinion that this Gallup Poll reveals some deeper questions such as: What is the future of “religion” in New England? What is “religion” in New England? Why isn’t religion an important part of peoples daily lives in New England? While some like to believe that New England may be on the verge of a “religious revival” I am not sure the evidence would bear that out, but what if we were in the verge of a “spiritual revival?” That’s the question I would like to see answered, “Is spirituality an important part of your daily life?” I believe that the answer to that question would be vastly different.
One of the things I have learned over the years working alongside people in recovery, as well as in my own spiritual journey, is that addicts who identify themselves as Christians are often resistant to embrace step three in the twelve step program: “Made a decision to turn our will and lives over to the care of God as we understand God.” Some have speculated that this is because addicts who have been raised in the church note that they have already tried the “God stuff” and it hasn’t worked, thus creating a resistance to trust and an unwillingness to “do it again.” Others have noted that addicts who are also “religious” may be unwilling to let go of a childlike understanding/relationship with God; an unforgiving, punishing, judgmental, unlistening, and failed miracle God. In any case part of recovery is “reframing” a relationship with God that is personal, maturing and spiritually connected. It is the willingness to turn “will and lives” over to God, and letting something new develop that may have nothing to do with the past and may even make the future a little scary.
In my church travels I often hear churches discuss the need for new members along with the appropriate reasons why. The conversation is often about the needs of the church and not the spiritual needs of those who might be coming into fellowship. It is much like asking; Where is religion in your life, verses where is the working of the Holy Spirit in your life? When churches have assumed values of what it means to be “religious” or what it means to have “religion” in your daily life and try to impose it on others the result will often be a dying church. When a church understands the centrality of the Holy Spirit working, reshaping, reforming, recreating the body, exercising a mature and bold faith, the result is often that the church will grow. The “concept” is the same, at AA or UMC; it is about allowing God to direct us, and not us correcting God.
New England might not be the hotbed for a religious revival, but I am convinced that there is a spiritual awakening among us, the question for our churches is: Will we have the ability to adapt and allow the working of the Holy Spirit guide us deeper into something we don’t quite understand or will we try and assimilate the Spirit into the institution and extinguish the flame. It’s a personal question that requires turning oneself and the church over to God.

In the Company of Strangers

“In my view, the mission of the church is not to enlarge membership, not to bring outsiders to accept its terms, but simply to love the world in every possible way—to love the world as God did and does.
The body of Christ is a network of organic connections between people,  connections  which make one’s joy another’s joy, one’s suffering another’s suffering. In this sense,  everyone, Christian or otherwise, is included in the body of Christ—included not within an organizational framework or theological point of view, but included within a community of compassion. I do not believe the church enters into the public realm to aggrandize itself, but to glorify God; and God is glorified as we manifest the unity in which we were created without dishonoring the diversity we have become. If we are able to love the world,  that will be the best demonstration of the truth which the church has been given.”

“If the church is to serve as a school of the Spirit, and as a bridge between the private and the public realms, it must find ways of extending hospitality to the stranger. I do not mean coffee hours designed to recruit new members to the church, for these are aimed at making the stranger “one of us.” The essence of hospitality—and of the public life—is that we let our differences, our mutual strangeness, be as they are, while still acknowledging the unity which lies beneath them.”


February 1 Arlene Bodge preaches

Chilmark Community Church, United Methodist: Press ReleaseRev. Arlene Bodge, the first in a series of guest preachers, will lead worship at Chilmark Community Church February first at 9 a.m. Rev. Bodge is well known on the island and a popular preacher.

She started her religious life in a convent with the Sisters of Charity. From there she found her calling into nursing, studying first at Salem Hospital of nursing and graduating from Boston University School of Nursing. The year she graduated from B.U., she bought Web’s Camping Area in Oak Bluffs. For years she ran the Web’s in the summer and worked off-island as a nurse in the winter. When Web’s began to be profitable, she was able to go back to school in the winter to pursue a divinity degree at Andover Newton Theological School. While still a student in 1991, she was appointed by the United Methodist Church to serve Edgartown and Chilmark Churches. She graduated from Andover Newton in 1992, was ordained an Elder in 1996, and served until her retirement in 2003.

Chilmark Community Church, United Methodist, is at 9 Menemsha Crossroads in Chilmark. All are welcome .