Church Staff

 
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Diane Bennekamper

Senior Minister
Phone: (207) 829-3419 Ext. 3
Email: Bennekamper_Diane@comcast.net

Diane has been serving at the church since 1998, and considers herself the luckiest minister in the Maine UCC!  A native of New Jersey where she was ordained, Diane was smart enough to move to Maine more than 40 years ago.  A graduate of Drew University Theological School during turbulent times, she has always felt compelled by her faith to have an interest in issues of social justice and human rights.  Diane previously worked for the Maine Human Rights Commission.

Diane has served as Moderator of the Maine Conference United Church of Christ, and in a variety of other capacities from the Division of Social Justice to chairing the Search Committee for our current Conference Minister.  At the national level, Diane was a member of the Board of Directors for Local Church Ministries for 11 years, serving as Chairperson of that body for the last two years of her term. 

The first openly LGBT person to be called to serve at a UCC church in Maine, Diane and her spouse, Lorraine Martin, feel blessed to be part of this wonderful, caring community, so focused on giving to others.

 
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Judy Braun

Assistant Minister

Phone: (207) 829-3419 Ext 4

Email: jbraun14@msn.com

Judy was ordained to Christian Ministry in the United Church of Christ, September 30, 2012.  Her ministry emphasis is on pastoral care and counseling in what she terms: “this warm welcoming, caring, diverse, progressive, mission-focused and center of Cumberland..... Congregational Church!” Judy’s role is to preach periodically; facilitate the “Called to Care” visitation program; provide religious services at Brentwood Rehabilitation Center; lead support groups and adult education as needed; promote health and wellness, and assist the Senior Minister as church leaders deem necessary for spiritual growth in this faith-filled congregation.  Judy leads a spiritually-focused Faith Exploration discussion group and coordinates Art Appreciation in the Chapel.  She is also a per diem Hospice Chaplain with the VNA in South Portland.

 
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MICHELLE JOSEPHSON

Church School Director
Phone: (207) 829-3419 Ext 5
email: michelle@cumberlanducc.org

Michelle grew up in Cumberland before moving to Germany in high school. She met her husband there and brought him back to her hometown. She is a graduate of the University of Southern Maine with a degree in history and education. She worked in various libraries and summer camps before becoming CCC’s Church School Director in 2007. Her duties include planning all Church School activities for children in preschool-sixth grade, leading Summerfest (Vacation Bible School), planning the annual Christmas pageant and coordinating coverage for our Sunday morning nursery.

She and her husband live with their college-aged son, a teenaged daughter, a guinea pig and a leopard gecko. Michelle is an active volunteer in Girl Scouts and at the Tate House Museum in Portland. In her spare time, she enjoys photography, sewing and reading.

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James wes nga

Music Director email: jameswes67@gmail.com

Jim is an accomplished musician with considerable experience in both organ and piano as well as experience leading youth and adult choirs.  Originally from Malaysia, Dr. Nga came to the U.S. after completing two music performance diplomas from the Trinity College of Music, London. At California State University he graduated Magna cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Music and obtained his Master of Music in Piano Performance from the Notre Dame de Namur University, Belmont, California. While in California, Jim served as Church Musician and Director of Music at the First Christian Church in San Mateo for eight years. 

Jim obtained his Doctorate in Musical Arts in Piano Performance from Texas Tech University and was an active pianist and instructor in the San Francisco Bay Area before relocating to New England. Most recently, Jim was with the Rhode Island Philharmonic Music School as a piano instructor.  He has been anxious to get back to Maine, which he loves, and to be in music ministry again. Pleasant and unassuming, Jim has lots of ideas about building our music program and its presence as a music ministry. We are very pleased to have Jim on our staff.   

 

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Sue evans

Bell Choir Director email: opsue2@verizon.net

Sue has a Bachelor's Degree in Music Education and a Master's Degree in School Administration. Over the course of her professional career in the public schools,  she worked as a music teacher, music director and in the last 15 yrs before retirement, she served as an elementary school principal in Walpole, Massachusetts.   She learned handbell ringing as a teenager during her summers in Ocean Park, Maine.  As the Cumberland Congregational Church UCC Handbell Director, she conducts the choir at rehearsals and performances, chooses music to enhance the worship service, encourages ringers to learn new techniques, attend workshops and perform outside of the church when the opportunity presents.  Sue is married to Dan who sometimes serves as a substitute in the Bell Choir.  They have 3 adult children and 2 grandchildren. 

Sue and her husband live in Ocean Park where she conducts the Temple Bell Choir during the summer months. Sue is the Maine State Chair for Area I Handbell Musicians of America.

 

MICHELLE JOSEPHSON Church School Director Phone: (207) 829-3419 Ext 5 Email: michelle@cumberlanducc.org Michelle grew up in Cumberland before moving to Germany in high school. She met her husband there and brought him back to her hometown. She is a graduate of the University of Southern Maine with a degree in history and education. She worked in various libraries and summer camps before becoming CCC’s Church School Director in 2007. Her duties include planning all Church School activities for children in preschool-sixth grade, leading Summerfest (Vacation Bible School), planning the annual Christmas pageant and coordinating coverage for our Sunday morning nursery. She and her husband live with their college-aged son, a teenaged daughter, a guinea pig and a leopard gecko. Michelle is an active volunteer in Girl Scouts and at the Tate House Museum in Portland. In her spare time, she enjoys photography, sewing and reading.

susan novak

Business Manager/Bookkeeper
Phone: (207) 829-3419 Ext 1
Email: susan@cumberlanducc.org

Susan Melcher Novak is a Cumberland native and 1972 Greely graduate. After graduation Susan moved and attended college in Southern California. After 28 years there she moved back to Cumberland in 2004 with her husband Dan and 2 of her 3 children, Hannah and Zakary, Her son Tanner lives in California.  In May of 2005, Susan came on staff as the Business Manager and Bookkeeper.  In 2009, Susan founded for the church, Main Street Children’s Center, a preschool for children ages 3-5, and is the Director, part-time, as well as the office manager/bookkeeper part-time. When time permits Susan’s passions include being in the out of doors: walking, hiking, swimming and biking. In the fall Susan brought the concept of the StoryBook Walk© to the town and now volunteers with the library changing out the story each month. 

 

lalla carothers Communications Coordinator Phone: (207) 829-3419 Email: office@cumberlanducc.org Lalla has been working as Communications Coordinator since 2015, and has been an active member of the congregation since 2001.  Her passions include working with teens through coaching field hockey and lacrosse at Greely and co-facilitating the Our Whole Lives sexuality education program; advocating for the environment as Green Team Coordinator here at church and volunteering for local non-profits; cooking fresh, healthy food; and spending time outdoors with her husband, 2 kids, dog, and 2 goats.

LALLA CAROTHERS

Communications Coordinator
Phone: (207) 829-3419
Email: office@cumberlanducc.org

Lalla has been working as Communications Coordinator since 2015, and has been an active member of the congregation since 2001.  She has a Bachelor's degree in English and a Masters in Education.  Her passions include working with teens through coaching field hockey and lacrosse at Greely and co-facilitating the Our Whole Lives sexuality education program; advocating for the environment as Green Team Coordinator here at church and volunteering for local non-profits; cooking fresh, local food; and exploring Maine's lovely woods, fields, or coast with her husband Jonathan, 2 kids, 1 dog, and 2 goats.

RICHARD MERRILL Custodian Dick started working at the church in 2004.  In addition to vacuuming our sanctuary, painting our halls, and polishing our floors – always with a smile – he clears snow off the walkways and organizes the parish hall for events.  Dick drives a school bus for Falmouth schools and works as a lobsterman every chance he gets.  

RICHARD MERRILL

Custodian

Dick started working at the church in 2004.  In addition to vacuuming our sanctuary, painting our halls, and polishing our floors – always with a smile – he clears snow off the walkways and organizes the parish hall for events.  Dick drives a school bus for Falmouth schools and works as a lobsterman every chance he gets.  

 

SANDY THOMAS

Youth Group Leader 

Sandy Thomas has been an active member of the Congregational Church in Cumberland for over 20 years.  She and her husband, Jim, joined the church so that they could raise their four children in a caring, spiritual, community-based environment.  Over the years, she has taught Sunday school, served as a Deacon, and on the Education, Women's Retreat, Sign and Auction Committees. Sandy has been a teacher for the past 20 years and currently teaches Health at Yarmouth High School. She was raised in the Hampden Congregational Church and has always enjoyed the spirituality and community that the congregational churches provided her. She has been a PF leader for the past several years and enjoys the energy and perspective the youth provide to our church.

 
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Elizabeth Thomas

Youth Group Leader 

Elizabeth Thomas joined the Jr. and Sr. Pilgrim Fellowship program as a Co-Leader in 2014 after moving back from Boston to the Portland area. Elizabeth is an University of Maine graduate with a degree in Child Development & Family Relations and has minors in Psychology and Spanish. Having grown up as a part of the Congregational Church in Cumberland, Elizabeth has been active with the church for many years as a Sunday school teacher, Deacon, and through the PF program.