Meet Our Staff

the Reverend Emily C. Goodnow, Pastor

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Emily is a New Hampshire native who moved to Bridgton to be our Pastor in September of 2016. She is passionate about creative worship, intergenerational community, counter-cultural and gospel-centered living,  and church as vehicle for social change.

Emily was ordained in the United Church of Christ in 2013 in Dover, New Hampshire, and served as the Associate Pastor at the First Congregational Church of Salem, Oregon for three years (2013-2016). Emily received her Master of Divinity from Yale University and her BA in Creative Writing and Religious Studies from Colby College. Between Colby and Yale Emily worked in Bamako, Mali with Save the Children and on a small grant-funded project called Awn Be Se, and then taught creative writing at The Telling Room, a nonprofit storytelling center in Portland, Maine. Emily also spent 5 summers working at Pilgrim Lodge, first in the Craft Cabin and later as the Assistant Director.

Emily is honored to be a participant in the United Church of Christ’s Next Generation Leadership Initiative: Target 2030 (commonly called NGLI), a program for young clergy who the UCC has identified to be promising leaders with an important role to play in leading “the Church of the Future.” She grew up in the UCC and loves the denomination both for the ways in which it is rooted in tradition, ritual, and history, and for its courage to speak truth in love and stand for justice in the world.

Emily’s joys beyond church include camping, hiking, music, dance, theater, reading, learning the ukulele, making pickles, and roasting s’mores. Emily is partnered with Noah Garrison, a native of Minnesota who is a carpenter, potter, runner, banjo player, and beekeeper.

Jeremy Hill, Senior Choir Director and Organist

Jeremy grew up in a musical family and began his career as a church organist at the age of fifteen, when he began playing at the Mission Congregational Church in West Paris, Maine. Later, he  served as organist at the Deering Memorial United Methodist Church in South Paris, Maine, for three years. Most recently, Hill spent 14 years as the organist and choir director at Christ  Episcopal Church in Norway, Maine. He teaches piano to nearly 20 private students, and also teaches mathematics at Hebron Academy in Hebron, Maine.

With his fluency in a wide range of musical styles, and his tremendous gift for teaching, Jeremy has brought tangible excitement and joy to the First Church music program since his arrival in 2013.

As Jeremy puts it: “Music has always been extraordinarily important to me. I see my job as creating moments of worshipfulness with music by creating moving and evocative moods and helping the Holy Spirit to move us all.”

Sandy Wissmann, Director of Christian Education

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From Rally Day in September through Vacation Bible Camp in June, Sandy and the Christian Education Committee plan the children’s programs, including Christian Education classes on Sunday mornings, teen group events, the Christmas Pageant, and many other faith related events. Sandy graduated from Stetson University with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. She taught at St. Thomas Episcopal Day School, in Coral Gables, Florida, started a family, then returned to St. Thomas as the Director of Religious Education. Sandy and her family moved to Lovell, Maine, in 2004. She has worked for First church since 2004.

Judy Harrison, Youth Choir Director

Judy Harrison joined the Senior Choir and the church in 1988, and has been directing our Junior Choirs since 1989. She is a certified K-12 music teacher, and currently teaches general music, 4-6 Chorus, and Strings in the Oxford Hills School District. Judy sings with the Choral Art Society in Portland, Maine in one of the smaller ensembles and with the Masterworks chorus that performs with the Portland Symphony Orchestra.  She also sings with the Mostly Bach Festival in New Hampshire and with the Promise Singers and church choir. She has performed in choirs since age 5, has previously performed with the Ralph Farris Chorale and with the New Vocal Collective, also in New Hampshire.

Judy has been involved in every aspect of music at First Church, from caring for our music library to substituting for our choir director and pianist. She has taught generations of children at First Church not only to sing in choir, but to love music and to grow in faith and love of God through love of music.

Ree Russell, Office Manager

Ree Russell joined us as our Office Manager in August 2017. She grew up in the Boston area, lived in Colorado for a brief time, then settled in Maine in 2010. She has a two young sons, as well as a wonderful life partner with whom she owns a small farm in Minot. Ree loves to read, write fiction, garden, teach yoga, forage, and spend time with her family.

Ree is in the office from 9am – 12pm, M – F.