The Rev. Emily C. Goodnow, Senior Pastor

Image of Emily Goodnow smiling

Emily is a New Hampshire native who moved from Oregon 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 until 2016 when she and her husband, Noah, drove across the country and joined us here in Western Maine. 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 the Maine UCC Summer Camp 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, a program for young clergy who have been identified by the UCC as transformational 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.

Pastor Lisa M. Burger, Associate Pastor

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Lisa and her partner Bea Walker first attended First Church in October 2017, shortly after Lisa retired from a career in healthcare administration. New residents to the area, First Church was their first stop in finding a church home – and they soon realized after that first Sunday, there was no reason to look further; they had found their spiritual home. Through prayer and discernment over what she perceived as an “unfulfilled call to ministry,” Lisa began to feel God had brought her to First Church for a reason. In January of 2020, Lisa returned to ministry as a Licensed Pastor at First Church and a Member in Discernment with the Oxford Union Association of the Maine Conference of the UCC. 

Lisa graduated from Hope College in Holland Michigan with a BA in Education. She received her Master of Science degree from Indiana State University with a major in Sport Psychology. Lisa attended Bangor Theological Seminary where she worked towards a Master of Divinity. She is also a graduate of the Small Church Leadership Program at Bangor Theological Seminary; a program targeting the development of lay people in positions of leadership for their local congregations.  

Lisa served as a licensed local pastor from 2004-2010 at the East Boothbay United Methodist Church and the Southport United Methodist Church. Lisa has also held a variety of professional titles outside the church, and has worked as a college instructor, athletic coach, business owner, executive in the credit card industry, and a human resources professional at many levels before her last secular role as the Director of Physician Practices for two small rural hospitals in Maine.

Pastor Lisa is excited to be given the opportunity to be in ministry with the Rev. Emily Goodnow and this amazing congregation. It is her fervent hope and prayer that this journey will culminate in her ordination in the United Church of Christ; a place where God is still speaking, and where all are welcome; a place where we can all find our spiritual home.

Sandy Wissmann, Christian Education Coordinator

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Our children run down our church walkway on Sunday mornings to see Sandy, and Sandy loves every one of them!

With a background in Elementary Education and art and a love for little people, Sandy is always turning our church into a pirate ship for Vacation Bible Camp, learning a new song for Sunday School, or trying out a new craft to teach our church’s youngest.

Her artistic talents, compassionate heart, and gifted classroom skills are a blessing to our whole church community, though her focus here is with children, youth, and young adults. Sandy holds a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Stetson University.

Before moving to Lovell, Maine, and beginning at First Church in 2004, Sandy worked at St. Thomas Episcopal Day School in Coral Gables, Florida, as a teacher and, later, as the Director of Religion Education.

Jeremy Hill, Senior Choir Director and Organist

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Jeremy grew up in a musical family and has been a church organist since the age of fifteen when he began playing at the Mission Congregational Church in West Paris, Maine.

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

Prior to First Church, Jeremy served as the Organist at the Deering Memorial United Methodist Church in South Paris, Maine, and 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.

Judy Harrison, Junior 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 in the Oxford Hills School District.

Judy has been performing in choirs since age 5, and currently sings with the Choral Art Society, the Mostly Bach Festival, the Promise Singers, and the First Church Choir. Judy has also sung with the Ralph Farris Chorale and the New Vocal Collective.

Judy has taught generations of children at First Church to love music, church, and God.

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