By JONATHAN PEREZ, Portland Press Herald Writer
A new United Church of Christ has opened in Portland. The group first made its appearance in October 1998 with non-traditional, music-centered services at the State Street Church. It was then affiliated with the Congregational denomination.
Today the church, which runs solely on the help of volunteers and the contributions it receives, hopes to become independent. It presently holds its Sunday programs at the Chestnut Street United Methodist Church.
The group has one ordained minister, the Rev. Stephen Carnahan.
"Last Sunday's discussion was pretty lame, but the week before was pretty heavy because we had a family baby that was not doing well," said Carnahan. "We had talked about the miracle of healing, of which some believe in and some simply do not."
The progressive atmosphere of the church attracts many to its open doors. Jessica Richards, in her mid-30s, said she tried many contemporary Christian churches in Maine and back home in Ohio, but had not found one with as wide a range of ages as the United Church of Christ in Portland.
We hear so much about mainline Protestant churches losing members that it is always nice to hear about a new church start. My feeling has always been that if the United Church of Christ positions itself (that’s a marketing term, I know) as a place of progressive faith (which is our history and heritage) our membership will grow. It looks like that is happening in Portland, Maine.