The call to be pastor of Frankfort Congregational Church came as a bolt from the blue to Tom Seymour. "It was a shock," he said. He took up the part-time post in early June.

The longtime resident of Waldo had been a member of First Congregational Church of Brooks, UCC, for many years, and said its pastor, the Rev. Russ Arnold, had been a mentor to him. It was at the Brooks church that Seymour became a "member in discernment," that is, one exploring the possibility of ordination. He was pastor there during 2011-12 after having completed his studies for the ministry online, he said.

After that, he was a pulpit supply minister for several years, filling in for pastors on leave or vacation. He had expected his ministry would continue that way until he received a job offer over the phone from Frankfort. It turned out that members of the congregation charged with finding a new pastor had spoken with Arnold and his wife, Deb Arnold, who is the pastor at Searsport First Congregational Church, and they had recommended Seymour.

The position is officially 20 hours a week, "but really, it's more," he said, affirming the truism among clergy that there is no such thing as a part-time minister. Besides leading the Sunday service, he attends all church meetings and helps out with events such as the yard sale that took place Aug. 15 to support church operations and the turkey suppers that run through the summer and fall. On top of that, he assembles and prints the church bulletin each week.

Seymour's home in Waldo has been for sale for some months, and once it sells, he hopes to move to Frankfort and reduce his commuting time.

He said the church has been holding in-person Sunday services for a number of weeks. Typically there are around 25 people, widely spaced and wearing masks. Until the end of March, services had also been broadcast on Facebook Live — for a period right after the onset of the pandemic, that was the only way services were held -— under Pastor Jacob Gran, the previous minister.

There will be a service of installation for Seymour when larger gatherings are allowed, and the church plans to affirm his ordination at that time.

Unlike the Brooks church, Frankfort is not part of the United Church of Christ, but is an independent Congregational church, Seymour explained, entirely governed and operated by the members. Many of the members, who are mostly middle-aged or older, are very involved in the church. "I've never seen anything quite like" the dedication of the parishioners, he said.

He enjoys bringing the word of God to people. "It's so special to be able to do that," Seymour said, adding that he has been impressed by the deep faith of his congregation. "They're real, true believers."

That kind of faith is essential at this moment, he said. "Today, faith is coming under attack. I'd urge everyone to be strong in their faith."

Our series of interviews with Waldo County clergy explores how their congregations are seeking new ways to worship, to connect with each other and the wider community, and to find hope and encouragement in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

Clergy interested in participating in the series may contact the editor at or 338-3334, ext. 110.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected. An earlier version of the story said the Searsport First Congregational Church was part of the United Church of Christ. It is not.

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