GET TO KNOW US!

We provide a spiritual home for people from all walks of life as a progressive, diverse, tolerant and vibrant congregation.

Our History

Our Mission

State Street Church,1852 to the Present

Throughout its rich history the people of State Street Church embraced and challenged the social assumptions of their times and chose to speak and act deliberately to make the world a better place.  Beginning in 1852 a long tradition of compelling oratory was initiated espousing abolitionist and other broad Christ inspired points of view.  At State Street “the way of faith is the way into life.“ They wrestled with the challenges of the wars, several economic depressions and the moral challenges of their eras, initiated relevant evolving contemporary programs to meet basic human needs such as food and clothing, intellectual and spiritual growth and by serving the broader community.  In the 1960s and ‘70s the Church sponsored “The Gate,” a coffee house, a friendly melting pot to meet the needs of lonely and alienated people and be a “church without walls.” More recently we’ve become an open and affirming congregation welcoming GLBT members. We have welcomed the growing immigrant community of Portland providing some with a new church home.  State Street is a congregation that welcomes people from all walks of life to create a spiritual home.


Music has always been an important part of our church community. Our Roosevelt organ was installed in 1892 by a New York Firm of the same name. Under the direction of talented and dedicated music and choral directors music became featured expressions of faith.  For example, Seldon T. Crafts of Bates College commuted weekly to State Street from 1909 to 1947 to play some 2,000 services. Our music and performances have helped shape the musical life of Portland in many venues. Dr. David Maxwell, our current Minister of Music, provides concert quality experiences at every service, has inspired our choir to render professional level anthems, has brought many professional musicians for special services to our chancel, featured talented musicians from our congregation, and welcomed a newly formed blue grass ensemble “No Strings Attached” to enrich selected services and events.


Varied programming is a continuous part of our church life. Growth is always exciting. The Men’s Group, the Women’s Guild, the Women’s Home Missionary Circle, the Foreign Missionary Society, the Junior Guild and Bible Study were all part of this tradition. Similar groups, for example “Women of Hope, Women of Change, and the Clothes Closet continue to make State Street a rich and vital place. Church membership more than doubled in the 1920s, pew rental was abolished, and State Street became the State’s largest mission donor. In the 1950s seven classrooms were added to the Sunday School. In the 60s and 70s the Church community worked to actively engage with the social unrest of that era e.g., the Vietnam War, women’s and human rights, and substance abuse. There was a 50 year history of direct radio broadcasting of church sermons. Three younger church members enrolled at graduate theology schools and State Street housed the 40,000 volume General Theological Library of New England and the Portland Campus Center of the Bangor Theological Seminary.


The move of people to the suburbs and the challenges of relevance to the main line churches are part of our history as well. In recent decades several renewal campaigns were launched with notable success in membership and capital. All of our spaces are fully occupied by others who are meeting human needs where they are found be it in preschool formation, traversing the turbulent teen years, struggling to escape life crushing addiction or seeking another cultural spiritual journey.


We are weathering membership issues since our Golden Years by welcoming and engaging new arrivals in many different ways that are comfortable for them. Our Interim Pastor Rev. Dr. Scott DeBlock makes everyone welcome. He helps create the opportunities for all to become a part of something larger than one’s self and to experience God’s unconditional love. He infuses our lives with hope, optimism, belonging, meaning and new reflections on our life experiences grounded in age-old wisdom. Recently it was asked as part of a current Bible Study class “Is it possible that “faith” is less about asserting the existence of a hypothetical Being called “God” than it is about simply accepting and being shaped by experiences of being set free and goodness coming to us from some source “out of this world?” Could the “resurrection” at the heart of Christian faith be not an assured ticket to an afterlife that enables us to “avoid pain” but rather a call to renewed life now that lives fully, daringly and hopefully towards the unknown? Is “trusting God” less a secure answer to life’s central problems than it is an empowerment to deal with them courageously? Welcome to the spiritual journey of State Street Church.


This historical overview by Jared Clark with contributions from others is based upon the following: “125 Years of State Street Church,” Eleanor Johnson, Editor


“The Golden Candlesticks, 150 Years of Faith and Service, 1852 – 2002”

Franklin Talbot Archivist, Martha Mater, Editor

See what is very close to us

We are thankful, God, Christ, and Holy Spirit, that you have called us to be your church and that you are present with us always. We recognize that we, your people of State Street Church in Portland, Maine, are but a small part of your church's presence on Earth. Taking into consideration the particular resources and gifts you have given us, we seek to define our particular tasks as an inner city church and to do them to the best of our abilities. In so doing, we commit ourselves:


  • To celebrate our common journey of faith while honoring the diversity of gifts and people that are the essence of our church.
  • To create a community within which it is safe for individuals to explore all the gifts and talents you have given them.
  • To invite all to participate fully in the life and ministry of this Open and Affirming Church, with the belief that we are all loved unconditionally by you, O God, creator of all life. We seek to be a congregation that affirms your presence, your spark of life in all people. We joyously welcome persons of every age, race, gender, sexual orientation and identity, faith background, marital status, culture, physical and mental ability, socioeconomic status, and other differences that enrich and bless the diversity of your people.
  • To provide a place where people can learn about you and faith in a variety of ways - through worship, study, community, involvement, and a welcoming congregation.
  • To raise the children among us in the knowledge of your love and promises.
  • To reach out into our particular community to minister to the poor, the lonely, and the estranged.
  • To be as sensitive and responsive to our neighbor's needs as to our own, realizing that all with whom we share this Earth are our neighbors.
  • To use wisely the heritage of this building, recognizing that what we have to offer is the treasure of space for ministry in an urban setting.
  • To recognize that stewardship includes our responsibility to support the mission of our church with both money and time.
  • To speak and act boldly, yet in love, building upon our heritage of innovative ministry, interfaith cooperation, and active participation in the larger United Church of Christ.


We humbly ask for your help, your love, your spirit among us as we try to carry out this mission of State Street Church. O God of our past, present, and future, we hear your call to us and we seek to follow.


What our members say about us.

"It is a community of faith that challenges, supports and renews my faith - and for this I am deeply grateful."

Anonymous

"State Street Church provides an open hearted welcome,

Where I experience God's unconditional love through

An open minded theology that accepts

Different interpretations of God, Christ and the Holy Spirit,

Where beautiful, joyful music is shared."

Margy Soule


OUR STAFF


Reverend Bryan Breault

Rev. Bryan Breault will be starting as our new pastor on August 2, 2021.

We are delighted that Reverend Bryan Breault has accepted our call and will begin serving as our settled pastor on August 2. He comes to us from the Holmes Retreat and Conference Center in Holmes, NY, where he was the executive director. Prior to that he was the director of outdoor ministries for the Maine Conference. Many of us know him from his work at Pilgrim Lodge. He has served in churches in Washington state and Connecticut. Bryan has a BA in Theatre and Psychology from Drew University, a Masters of Divinity from Yale University and a Masters in Social Work from the University of Connecticut. ​​​​​​​


Dr. David Maxwell

Minister of Music

Dr. David Maxwell earned degrees from the University of Illinois in piano performance and in organ performance.  He was elected to membership in Pi Kappa Lambda, the national music honor society.  His first university teaching position was at Western Illinois University, and he was later appointed to the music faculty of the University of Southern Maine.  

 

His work in church music began at age twelve in a Presbyterian church in his home town, Tolono, Illinois.  He later served as organist at Wesley Methodist Church, a large church on the campus of  the University of Illinois.  In Portland, Maine, David has served as Minister of Music at State Street Church UCC since 1980. 

 

As a performer, David has played numerous solo recitals as well as having performed as a member of several chamber music ensembles including The Ineluctable Modality, Musica Tricinia, and the St. George Chamber Players.  He also has played with the St. Louis Symphony and the Portland (Maine) Symphony Orchestra.

 

David began composing music in earnest in the late 1990’s.  His first published work, “Voluntary for Trumpet and Organ,” was published in 1998 by H.W. Gray Publications (a subsidiary of Warner Bros. Publications).  This piece has been performed numerous times in Europe and in Asia in addition to North America.  Other publishers of David’s music include Concordia Publishing House, Augsburg Fortress, MorningStar Music Publishers, and Zimbel Press.  Dr. Maxwell now has over 200 publications.  He has received ASCAP (The American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers) Plus Awards annually for several years, and his compositions have been critically acclaimed by national reviewers.


Anne Hendrix

Office Administrator

A graduate of the University of Southern Maine, Anne began working at State Street Church in 2004. Prior to that she worked in the printing industry in both administration and production.




Emory Burke

Christian Education Facilitator

I am excited to introduce myself as the new Christian Education Facilitator for State Street Congregational Church, Woodfords Congregational Church, and Williston-Immanuel United Church. I live with my husband, my three dogs, and my cat in our little cabin on the river. I have lived in Maine for 1.5 years and thoroughly enjoy living here, especially engaging in outdoor activities and exploring cities and towns throughout Maine. I am originally from Colorado but have lived in various places in both the United States and abroad. I spent a year in South America, specifically Peru and Paraguay, as a volunteer missionary working with children and youth programming and supporting churches there. I grew up in the Church of the Nazarene and served as a volunteer, intern, and volunteer pastor for several different churches in that denomination. I also worked as a Youth and Family Minister for an Episcopal Church in the Midwest. I have also attended congregational churches, including being a member of a Christian Church (Disciples).


All of these different experiences have helped shape me into someone who loves to explore the big questions of faith and life. I appreciate diversity and love learning. I am currently finishing my Master of Theology degree. My undergraduate degree is in Intercultural Ministry and Christian Ministry, as well. One of my favorite parts of Christian Education and Spiritual Formation is allowing people, especially kids and teens, the space to explore their own faith in meaningful, creative ways. I enjoy connecting to my personal faith through spending time in nature, engaging in social justice, praying, meditating, and having spiritual conversations with friends. I love drinking coffee, going to the ocean, watching my favorite TV shows, and traveling. I am excited to get to know each of you and to work together to create impactful, engaging Christian education and spiritual formation programming for our families and young people.


WHY WE EXIST

All Are Invited To Participate

To celebrate our common journey of faith while honoring the diversity of gifts and people that are the essence of our church.

Pray and Worship

Center and anchor what we do with prayer

Grow as a Church

We strive to grow together as a church. Fellowship and growing together through God.

COMMUNITY OUTREACH

We have many community outreach programs. Please see our Ministries page for information on some of the programs we offer.

TESTIMONIALS

"We are a community sharing in the value of love to act kindly, to uphold each other and to bring Christ's values out into the world."

"State Street Church is my spiritual center and a center of friendship and support.  It is a place where I can give, serve and receive.  It is a source of many blessings, and a center of gratitude."                                                      Helen Price

Helen Price