Explore. Embrace. Engage. Be a spiritual seeker.
Our Minister and Staff
The Rev. Jennifer Emrich serves as our Minister. Rev. Jennifer has particular interests and gifts in adaptive leadership, comprehensive programming and children and youth ministry which have served our congregation well since 2007. Rev. Jennifer Emrich is on Sabbatical from June 1, 2017 – September 5, 2017. Please contact the church office if you need assistance. If you are in need of pastoral care, please contact the office or reach out to our Caring Connection Coordinators, Joan Guild or Nancy Read.
Gwen Matthews, Program Assistant, holds a bachelor’s degree in education and joined First Universalist in January 2016. Gwen values approaching the world with enthusiasm and openness and strives to connect people of all ages with our justice-centered, active, and inclusive faith. She lives with her wife, two dogs, two cats, and an ever-expanding garden on Sebago Lake.
Gail Mills, Administrative Assistant, spent family vacations in Maine as a child and became a resident in 2010 when she moved to Lewiston with her family. She began working for First Universalist in September 2016. Gail is fond of animals, art, antiques, and especially enjoys working with others. She is a graduate of Northern Illinois University in DeKalb where she studied art.
Russ DuPree, Sexton, helps ensure that our church is beautiful and well-maintained. Russ has been working for First U since October 2016.
Our Board of Trustees
Elected at our Annual Meeting on May 21, 2017, the members of the Board of Trustees for the 2017-2018 church year include:
Joanna Landsman, President
Lily O’Brien, Vice President
Marge Titcomb, Treasurer
Sarah Witte, Clerk
Shared Ministry Structure
First Universalist is a church of shared ministry where the Minister and the Board of Trustees are each responsible for parts of congregational life. Our Minister oversees and is responsible for worship, pastoral care, religious education, and social justice engagement. Our staff assists the minister in implementing these programs. The Board of Trustees oversees and is responsible for church finances, the upkeep of our physical spaces, and developing and growing our congregation. The Healthy Congregation Team works with both the Minister and the Board of Trustees to ensure and promote the healthy functioning of our community.
Shared Ministry Goals: 2016-2019
1. Expand comprehensive social justice programs
2. Shift from family church to operational program church
3. Improve and maintain our building
4. Experience programmatic growth
5. Realize increased attendance and occupation of our physical spaces
6. Financial integrity
To learn more about the progress on our Shared Ministry Goals, the Board of Trustees meetings are open to all church members and friends. To find out when the next Board meeting is taking place or to add an item to the Board’s agenda, please contact our church office.
Handbooks, Procedures, and Reports
History of Our Church
Universalism, with its doctrine of universal salvation, began in Yarmouth in schoolhouse meetings in 1832, the town later refusing use of the Town Hall on doctrinal grounds. In 1834, a parish was organized and a chapel, at what is now 25 West Elm Street, was dedicated. The First settled minister took office in 1835; the last was ordained here in 1877.
In 1859, due to political differences, some forty-five members of the First Parish withdrew to organize another “orthodox” Congregational church, which was named the Central Parish. The founding members erected and dedicated the present building in 1860. This church flourished, but members moved away due to the decline of shipbuilding; others died, and numbers were reduced. At length, the liberal preaching of one minister repelled some members, attracted others and in 1885, many members returned to the First Parish.
In 1886, the remaining members of the Central Parish, together with members of the Universalist church, established a Unitarian church, kept the name Central Parish, and retained ownership of the building.
The Universalist Church continued a formal but shadowy existence, and in 1920 became the beneficiary of a substantial bequest. Since there were no doctrinal impediments, the members of the Central Parish thereupon became the members of the Universalist Church. The First Universalist Church became the active body, while the Central Parish, as such, had a merely formal existence.
In 1962, following the consolidation of the Unitarian and Universalist denominations, the local Unitarian and Universalist organizations were consolidated under the name First Universalist Church.
A Video History of First Universalist
The following is a video history of First Universalist—with music, photos, and interviews with many members (The password is: YarmouthUU). This film is 1 hour 21 minutes long and is based on the 2014 book The Church at the End of Portland Street, edited by Mariana Tupper. The book is available for purchase at the church office or at lulu.com.
The Church at the End of Portland Street (the password is: YarmouthUU).