The Rev. Deborah Blood brings years of experience in the local and wider church to her role as Conference Minister. Before a 10 year Pastorate at the First Congregational Church of Bloomfield, CT, a multi-racial, multi-ethnic congregation, she was a practicing attorney for 15 years primarily in litigation, Family law and mediation. She has served as Chair of the Wider Church Ministries Board and Common Global Ministries Board of the UCC, on Unified Governance Teams, and has traveled widely with the church to Israel/Palestine, South Korea, Colombia, India, Zambia and other places. She is a singer, loves the outdoors and loves Maine! After vacationing here since childhood, it is a dream come true to live and minister in this gorgeous State, with such wonderful people and churches!
Very well known to so many in the Maine Conference, Ron Baard is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin, Madison (B. S., Education) and Princeton Theological Seminary (M. Div.). He earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in Theology and Personality (with emphasis in pastoral counseling) at Claremont School of Theology. An ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, Dr. Baard is a Fellow in the American Association of Pastoral Counselors, a member of Spiritual Directors International and the Society for Pastoral Theology. He served as the Imes-Lowry Professor of Pastoral Studies and Dean of Students at Bangor Theological Seminary until its closure in 2013. More recently, Ron has taught classes at Andover Newton Theological School and Boston University School of Theology. In pastoral ministry over many years, he has served as a local church pastor of a small U.C.C. church, a hospital chaplain, an associate pastor on a large church staff, a chaplain at a continuing care retirement community, and a full-time pastoral counselor.
Ron currently serves as an Adjunct Professor at New York Theological Seminary, and taught a pastoral care class for the Maine School of Ministry in the fall term of 2018. He is an active member at First Parish Church, United Church of Christ, in Brunswick, where his spouse Mary serves as Senior Pastor. In his free time he enjoys reading, movies, gardening, walking and spending time with his family, including his two year old grandson Caleb.
Anne Hodgman joined the Maine Conference Staff in the Fall of 2001 as a Resource Center Assistant. In the Fall of 2008, Anne became the Director of the Resource Center. After the conference office moved to Augusta in May of 2013, Anne took on the duties of Accounting Assistant which entails processing all of the Conference and Pilgrim Lodge bills, running the bi-weekly payrolls for both, submitting quarterly and annual reports to the State and Federal Governments on behalf of the Conference and Pilgrim Lodge.
In January of 2017, she added Executive Assistant to her duties as the transition away from the Resource Center began. Responsibilities include answering the phones, providing administrative support as needed, coordinates registration for events and the distribution of data, works on annual reporting to the Data Hub/yearbook, provides hospitality, coordinates the arrangements for General Synod delegates, oversees office machine maintenance, office supplies, maintains the Conference calendar, opens and distributes mail, custodial and other duties as assigned.
Anne is a mom to three adult sons, grandmother, to four grandchildren and lives with her husband of 44 years in Fayette, Maine. She is also a member of High Street Congregational UCC in Auburn where she has served on the Board of Christian Education, Board of Deacons, provided childcare in the nursery, the superintendent of Church School and as the Director of Christian Education for almost twelve years.
Renita L. Dehais has been the Treasury Assistant for the Maine Conference since December of 2014. Her responsibilities include: Accounts Receivable, all operations for maintaining the Consolidated Trust of the Maine Conference, some targeted financial reporting for specific projects and groups within the Conference, among other duties as assigned.
Renita’s involvement with the Conference prior to this position was as the Cumberland Association representative to the Coordinating Council (a predecessor of the current Board of Directors) from 2008 to August 2013 when she was hired to work on the Pilgrim Lodge Capital Campaign as the Donor Relations Coordinator. She was also a member of the Pilgrim Lodge Advisory Team from its inception in 2009 to its end in 2018.
Renita had worked in banking for 16 years prior to being a stay-at-home mom raising two wonderful children. During this time, she held various part-time jobs from picking apples at a local orchard to being an aide in a pre-school, to directing the children’s choir at church, all of which allowed her to work during school hours and to be home when her children got home from school. She finds skills learned from all of these to be helpful in her job at the Conference.
Renita has lived in Cumberland with her husband Bill since 1992, and is a member of the Congregational Church in Cumberland where she enjoys singing in the choir and playing handbells in the bell choir.
Communications and Information Technology Coordinator
Nathaniel Blanchard is a University of Maine undergraduate currently pursuing a degree in Computer Science. He has served as a Communications Intern for the Eastern Maine Development Corporation and worked as a Marketing Coordinator for Eastern Maine Community College. Most recently Nathaniel was the Waterfront Director at Pilgrim Lodge. Nathaniel also serves on the Holden Historical Society Board of Directors.
Nathaniel is a member of the Holden Congregational Church where he is the chair of the communications committee. He also is an Assistant Scoutmaster for the Dedham-Holden Boy Scout Troop #21. In his spare time, Nathaniel dedicates himself to helping others by creating and improving community connections across Maine.
Some of his duties as the Communications & Information Technology Coordinator include managing conference communications, administration of information technology systems such as conference databases and resource portals, as well as the website, marketing, and public relations. Nathaniel also handles conference computer and mobile device systems, networking, data, and security. He also serves as the editor of the A.C.E. and other conference publications. We are very excited and happy to welcome Nathaniel and look forward to all of the amazing things that he will bring to and do for the Maine Conference!
Rev. Dr. Deborah M. Jenks is an Ordained Ministerial Partner (Disciples of Christ) with standing in the Sunrise Association of the Maine Conference, United Church of Christ. Deb has served in the Maine Conference UCC for 25 years as a pastor in churches in Western Maine, Central, and Downeast Maine and for the last seven years in intentional interim and transition ministry. Deb’s teaching experience includes teaching in Bangor Theological Seminary’s Small Church Leadership Program, the Maine Conference’s Academy of Church Life and Leadership, and the Maine School of Ministry. Deb’s experience also includes serving as a member and chair of two Association Committees on the Ministry, and work as a Hospice Spiritual Advisor and Grief and Bereavement Coordinator in central and northern Maine.
Deb has a M.Div. from Union Theological Seminary, New York City, a D.Min. from Bangor Theological Seminary, a M.S. in Pastoral Counseling from Husson University, and two units of Intentional Interim Ministry Training from the Interim Ministry Network.
Deb also from time to time serves as an instructor for the Maine School of Ministry.