Rev. Susan Crane, right and her husband, Gary Wolcott. Photo by Greg Zemlansky

FARMINGTON — The Rev. Susan Crane and her husband, Gary Wolcott, were recently honored for their service to Henderson Memorial Baptist Church and the community.

Henderson’s congregation and community friends gathered in recognition of her retirement from HMBC at the end of December. Crane has served as pastor of the church for over 17 years, one of only three pastors in the church’s history to serve over a long-term period.
During her tenure as pastor, which started July 1, 2002, Crane was instrumental in starting two large ministries designed to help the local community.
An ecumenical heating fund, ECU-HEAT, began in 2005, and the Warming Center in 2009, said John Anderson, church moderator, as he voiced highlights of her service during the luncheon and program held December 15.
Under ECU-HEAT, any low-income resident is welcome to apply and pay a $50 share towards a 100-gallon delivery of oil, kerosene or propane or one ton of pellets or one cord of wood. ECU-HEAT pays the remaining cost of the delivery.
Western Maine Community Action administers the fund for area churches who struggled to respond to requests for help with heating prior to the program start.
Over $600,000 has been raised over the past 14 years to help area families, said Judy Frost, from WMCA, who administers the fund. Much of the fund raising she credited to Crane’s efforts during the luncheon.
Community fundraisers including an annual heat dance was held for several years and a July 4th hot dog giveaway at HMBC was started under her leadership, Anderson said. An annual Celtic Christmas concert sponsored by Old South Church and individual donations throughout the year help the program meet an annual matching grant.
Crane acknowledges each check donation with a thank-you card.
She will continue in her role as coordinator for the ECU HEAT fund, sponsored by the Farmington Area Ecumenical Association, said FAEM member, the Rev. David Smith, pastor of Wilton Congregational Church.
In response to winter heating costs, Crane and members of HMBC created a Warming Center where community members can come to the church for a lunch, heat and fellowship during the months of January through March. Other churches liked the idea and wanted to help, Crane recently said. The Warming Center is now held two days a week with HMBC, Old South and St. Joseph’s Catholic Church opening their doors.
While the center responded to testimonies that many elderly spent the winter in bed to stay warm, Anderson said, good fellowship and a warm meal has helped people unite with neighbors and withstand the long Maine winters. The program begins its 12th year in January with Henderson sponsoring the center on Tuesdays and Old South on Thursdays.
Crane worked with members of other churches and the community to establish a homeless shelter in Farmington.  She wrote grants to establish the Matthew 25 fund which provides money for security deposits giving the homeless a second chance at maintaining their own apartment or home, he said.
“Crane came to Henderson with 25 years of experience in ministry and was well-known for her advocacy of women in ministry,” Anderson said. “She has also been instrumental in keeping the West Association of American Baptist Churches of Maine vital.”
Crane will continue to serve as the resource minister for those churches in the association as she has been over the last few years
She came to Henderson during a troubled time for the church and helped members regain community and trust over those first few years, he said. She helped the church celebrate its 200th anniversary in 2010.
Under her leadership, many improvements have been made to the church building, many undertaken to bring things up to code and to meet current safety standards, Anderson said. New heating alternatives replaced large oil bills for the large, downtown church, numerous upgrades to the sound system helped members hear the service better and in 2019 an addition to the church provided space for a lift helping those who find stairs difficult reach two floors.
Crane and the congregation invited Summit Faith to share the space and costs for maintaining the building in 2012. An agreement that has worked well for both congregations.
The congregation acknowledged Wolcott for leading a Bible study group for several years and for running the technical sound system in recent years.
Both were given gifts and congregation members voiced their appreciation for the couple’s efforts. They have both become a large part of the congregation and will be missed.

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