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Maureen McLain seeks to have educated laity

Covenant ministry gives Maureen McLain a chance to do what she loves, what she knows and what she cares about.

Maureen McLain seeks to have educated laity.

“We often talk about the need to have educated clergy, but I have always thought that we need educated laity, so I want to create teaching and learning communities in which we learn from and teach each other,” she said. “We are all learners and teachers.”

Maureen grew up in West Seattle attending Fauntleroy.

Her journey towards ministry began after she, her husband and two sons began attending Magnolia UCC when Phil Eisenhauer was pastor. They joined in 1977.

“I enjoyed hearing his sermons with references to theologians like Walter Brueggemann,” she said. “We had a strong adult education program. Each pastor added to that.

When she saw other single mothers going to seminary, she felt that was what she needed to do because of her interest in studying theological and biblical scholars.

Maureen had majored in English at the University of Washington, taking time to earn her degree.

In 1971, she began a career in government jobs with the U.S. Customs Service, checking shipping and imports to be sure laws were followed. Maureen did various clerical jobs and had promotions.

After working 30 years, she retired when she was 55 and applied to go to seminary at Pacific School of Religion. She earned a master of divinity in 2004.

“I enjoyed the experience and stayed another year to earn a certificate in advanced professional studies,” she said.

Maureen moved back to Seattle and found an apartment in Mill Creek, a less expensive area.

Her parents lived in Edmonds. One son lived with her in Mill Creek and one son lived in North Seattle. She recently moved to Lynnwood, a 40-minute drive to Magnolia UCC on backroads.

“I prefer to come in person to church, because I have been singing in the choir since I joined,” she said.

Maureen prepared her profile and submitted it to churches but had no a call. Then she learned that Michael Haven was a covenant minister at Magnolia.

She talked with Marci Scott-Weiss and created a covenant. The Committee on Ministry accepted her for ordination in January 2020, but she wanted her extended family to come and that was not possible when COVID was spreading.

Her covenant ministry is in adult education and faith formation.

Maureen offers discussion groups. She prefers in person but does some on Zoom. She also offers three- or four-week book studies.

“Now I offer them at Magnolia, but will eventually work with other churches,” she said.

Later this year, she will teach a forum on the history of the UCC on Zoom which will be open to anyone in the conference. She is also planning a short book study on Parker Palmer’s book, Aging Gracefully.

Classes she offers for Magnolia are volunteer, but she plans to arrange agreements to be paid for leading classes at other churches.

While her preference is offering classes in person so the mutual teaching and learning happens, she knows many people like Zoom, because they can sit in their home and not have to drive.”

Maureen appreciates the model of covenant ministry because each minister offers something different, increasing the Magnolia’s overall ministry.

“We come from so many different backgrounds and perspectives of what the church is and how to do ministry. It enriches the life of the church to have a mixture of backgrounds, perspectives and gifts.”

For information, call 510-717-2031.



Pacific NW United Church of Christ Conference News © October 2023


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