Pastor will be departing D-F United Methodist Church

By Emily Adams
    DOVER-FOXCROFT — Rev. Dr. Margaret “Dodie” Sheffield leads the worship service at the United Methodist Church in Dover-Foxcroft for the last time Sunday, June 30.

The service at 156 East Main Street starts at 10:30 a.m.
lo-sheffieldmug-dcX-po-26Rev. Dr. Sheffield  
     In keeping with the church’s “itinerant ministry” Sheffield will relocate to southern Maine as full-time pastor to Tuttle Road United Methodist Church in Cumberland Center and West Scarborough United Methodist Church. Replacing her as of July 1 will be Mark Stevens of Dover-Foxcroft.
    She leaves her present appointment which started in 2007. “It’s always, always so hard to leave a community of people that you have loved for six years and gotten close to and really care about,” she reflects. “To step out of a role that’s so close and intimate with people is always really tough to do.” Her relationships with the people in the church, community, and nursing home were the most important thing about her time here.
    The new appointment is her fourth since being ordained in 1996. Her first two appointments were in Guilford for eight years when her surname was Stowe followed by three years in Conway, N.H., where she met and married her husband, Tom Sheffield.
    The timing of the moves enabled her to never be too far for too long from her parents, the late Thomas and Margaret Kamper, during the last years of their lives.
    Prior to each change in appointment, Sheffield is told the church is considering making the appointment and given a certain amount of time to pray about it “and to try to discern whether that feels like something that God wants us to.”
    Her view is that “God orchestrates and harmonizes everything in creation to work towards the good and towards God’s will and we sort of in our weakness and our brokenness we sometimes make that more difficult for God to do and sometimes make it easier.” A reality beyond the tangible, material realm is “something that I know on faith not on proof” and that “seeing glimpses of it is something that I celebrate.”
    Her present ministry has been on a part-time basis and Stevens will also be part-time. Stevens will maintain his present residence and the parsonage will be sold. “A lot of people might have the idea that selling the parsonage is a bad thing, that it’s a sign that the church is failing,” says Sheffield. “But, in fact, it’s something to revive the church and rejuvenate it, to get it away from the financial burden.”
    It will enable the Dover-Foxcroft and Atkinson congregations to redirect their funds to minister to the community. One such ministry Sheffield happily points to is the Pay It Forward Kids’ Shop and Baby Boutique stocked with clothing sized 0 to age 12, shoes, bundles of diapers and toys.
    Launched in April 2012, it is serving over 100 families. Inventory is replenished by church members and families who return gently used items. The church had a “baby shower” when the shop first opened and held one again on the shop’s first anniversary. People in the church bring their gifts of items for the shop, arrange them around the altar and then celebrate with a cake. Families do not have to be financially needy in order to shop here. They can take five clothing items per month per child and one toy per child per visit. The exception would be for caseworkers who come on behalf of a family that cannot get to the shop.
    As its name suggests, “instead of having people come in and pay like they do in a thrift shop, they just come in and take what they need,” explains Sheffield. The only ‘cost’ is that, at some point in the future, they do “something for somebody else when they get a chance.”
    The Pay It Forward Kids’ Shop and Baby Boutique is housed at 156 East Main Street, accessed by the rear entrance on River Street, and is open twice a month on the second and third Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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