The Rev. Michele Brigham has accepted an invitation from the United Church of Hinesburg to serve as its interim pastor, replacing the Rev. Bill Neil. She moved into the church parsonage Nov. 1 after brief visits to friends and family on the East Coast. Her installation service was last Sunday.
The United Church of Hinesburg congregation recently adopted a statement defining the church as "an open, welcoming, and affirming church and a reconciling congregation, embracing diversity in our congregation and community, and affirming the dignity and worth of every person."
The congregation's statement explicitly "welcomes persons of every race, language, age, gender, sexual orientation, physical or mental ability, economic or marital status, and faith background." It affirms and celebrates "all loving and committed relationships" and commits itself "to work diligently to end all oppression and discrimination."
The United Church of Hinesburg has ties to the American Baptist, United Church of Christ, and United Methodist churches.
"Pastor Bill, who has transferred to a church in Massachusetts, led the congregation in its consideration and passage of the 'open and affirming' revision to its by-laws," said Sharonlee Trefry, chair of the new-pastor search committee. "We've asked Pastor Michele to guide us as we search for a permanent pastor and move forward to become a more truly inclusive congregation than we have been in the past."
Dr. Brigham is in the process of moving from Wisconsin to Vermont and will begin serving the United Church of Hinesburg next month. She is the mother of two adult children: Paul, 31, who lives in Massachusetts with his wife and daughter, and Ann Martha, 21, who lives in Los Angeles with her friend Bill Rieger. Her husband, Bill, died in 2008.
She holds a bachelor of arts degree in psychology from Mississippi College in Clinton, Miss., a master's of divinity from Southern Seminary in Louisville, Ky., and a doctorate in ministry from Andover Newton Theological School in Newton, Mass., with a concentration on pastoral psychology.
"I am delighted to be a part of the United Church of Hinesburg and the Vermont Conference of the UCC," said Dr. Bingham, who described the Hinesburg church as one that "emphasizes our ecumenical relationships."
Dr. Brigham was raised, educated, and ordained Southern Baptist. She spent her early years of ministry in Miami, Fla., and as a missionary in Bangkok, Thailand, where she was a campus minister, college lecturer, and youth minister.
She transferred her ordained ministerial standing to United Church of Christ in 1989 and served as Protestant Chaplain at Bentley College in Waltham, Mass., and pastor of the Montvale Congregational Church in Woburn, Mass. In 1993, the family moved to East Walpole, Mass., where she served as pastor of the Union Congregational Church.
Another move, in 1999, took the family to East Orleans, Mass., where Dr. Brigham was senior pastor of the Federated Church of Orleans. She also became a fellow in the American Association of Pastoral Counseling, had a small private pastoral counseling practice, and served in leadership positions with the Nauset Clergy Association, Barnstable Association, and Massachusetts Conference. She has served as pastor of the Immanuel United Church of Christ, in Plymouth, Wisc., since 2007.
The United Church of Hinesburg is on Route 116 in the heart of Hinesburg village. Sunday worship services are at 10 a.m. except in July and August, when services are at 9 a.m. A Sunday School program, recently been revitalized under the leadership of Grace Farley, operates during services.