Friday, January 31, 2020

Rev. Nancy Foran, Pastor at Raymond Village Community Church set to retire in April

Rev. Nancy Foran
By Lorraine Glowczak

“I walked through the backdoor of ministry quite by accident,” joked Rev. Nancy Foran of Raymond Village Community Church. “The last thing I ever wanted was to get a master’s degree and speak in front of people.”

Although she never intended to enter the ecclesiastic field, it is where she inadvertently found her calling. After approximately 40 years as a clergywoman, with a little over 14 years of service at the Raymond Village Community Church United Church of Christ, she has recently decided to step down and enter the next phase of her life. Rev. Foran’s last day at the pulpit will be Easter Sunday, April 12th.  She will be the longest serving pastor in the history of that church.

Originally from New Jersey, Rev. Foran received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Religious Studies from Carleton College in 1971, but as she puts it, “the religion store wasn’t hiring that year.” As a recent college graduate with no job and very little skills, she attended secretarial school. “It was a program for people just like me – we were all graduates who had degrees in sociology, religion, etc.”

After gaining a secretarial certification, she worked as a secretary in the music department at Montclair State College and as a Howard Johnson waitress on weekends. But after a year, she realized the office life was not for her. weekend, she visited a friend who was a student at Yale Divinity School. “I went there as a visitor and returned home as an optimistic future student.” Rev. Foran applied, was accepted and received her Master of Divinity degree three years later

“It was an exciting time to be at Yale,” she said. “When I entered the program in 1972, only a handful of the student population were female,” Rev. Foran said. “Three years later, women clergy students had increased to approximately 50 percent.”

After moving to and living in Washington D.C. for a couple of years, she and her husband, Joe, moved to Maine when he was offered a position with the Natural Resource Council. Making Hallowell their home base at the time and later Cumberland, Rev. Foran acted as an interim pastor for various churches, while raising a daughter and two sons. She eventually became the Elder Chaplain at First Congregational Church United Church of Christ South Portland.

She accepted the call to be the part-time Pastor of Raymond Village Community Church fourteen years ago. She and Joe moved to and still make their home in Naples.

The highlight of her career was the unanticipated delight she experienced in her role as an Elder Chaplain. “I had always envisioned myself working with the youth, but I realized how much I truly enjoyed the amazing lives, stories and wisdom the elderly have shared with me,” began Rev. Foran. 

“By the time they reach their 80s and 90s, they have experienced so many illnesses, death and great disappointments – but yet – they all say their lives have been a blessing despite the tragedies and hardships. Working with the elderly was and continues to be an unexpected joy.”

Rev. Foran also shares her fond memories in her latest position at Raymond Village Community Church. “I am amazed how much we, as a congregation, did together.” recalled the many activities, community gatherings and journeys in which the church has participated as opening their doors to Raymond community events, collaborating with other organizations to provide more inclusiveness and support among the citizens of the town.

“One of the things I think we have enjoyed the most about Rev. Nancy is her approach to her sermons,” began church member Caryl Gilman. “She has been here over 14 years and the sermons evolved over the years to include television, photographs, music, various community activities and mission trips – whether they were to Honduras or to Cherryfield, Maine. Whatever approach she took, she inspired and spiritually stimulated us.”

Gilman, herself, admitted that she will greatly miss Rev. Foran’s quiet, thoughtful perspective that always came with a touch of humor.

Church member, Nancy Yates also shared her view on the pastor’s retirement. “I think the congregation will miss the sense of genuine caring that Rev. Nancy has demonstrated as our pastor, not just for the members of the congregation, but for how they relate to each other and to people in the community. She has reminded us of our duty as Christians to help those less fortunate, not just those who have less money, but those being abused by others having some sort of power over them. She has been instrumental in gaining support for Mission Trips, and has gone personally on many of them, whether to Appalachian Tennessee or Downeast Maine.  Her creativity in decorating the sanctuary and in how she put together special services, such as the Maundy Thursday evening service, will be missed as well.  Her passion for social justice will long be remembered by me and, I would expect, others.” 

As with all careers, there have been some difficulties and Rev. Foran shares one that continues to concern her. “The biggest challenge I have faced is how to make the church relevant in today’s secular culture,” she said. “It’s a challenge for many small churches as we strive to be inclusive, radically welcoming of all and being supportive of economic justice.”

Turning 70 this past year, Rev. Foran states that her retirement will not include watching soap operas and eating bon-bons. “I have so much I want to do. I plan to keep busy.”

She will start by finishing a book about the film industry beginning with the 1930s and 40s (that include the window card era – a form of postcard/advertisement of the time). It is a book she started in collaboration with her father before he passed away about a year ago.

“I have also been told that I should publish my sermons, so I will be busy with that, too.”
Rev. Foran will continue to volunteer in a variety of organizations including her fundraising efforts with Susan G. Komen Foundation and their 60-mile, three day walk-a-thon to fight breast cancer. She also plans to do some travelling that will include visiting their adult children; Heather who lives in Portland, a son Padraic and his wife of East Boston and their son Tim and his wife of San Francisco.

But what she is looking forward to the most is the arrival of her first grandchild. “Padraic and Megan are expecting in May and I can’t wait to wrap my arms around my granddaughter.”

Here’s to the next chapter of your life, Rev. Foran. May it be filled with unexpected joys and adventures.

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