David Porter preaches recently at Henderson Memorial Baptist Church in Farmington. He was called as the new pastor after a two-year search following the retirement of Rev. Susan Crane. Submitted photo

FARMINGTON — Throughout a successful career in law enforcement and corrections, God continually spoke to David Porter which has led him to become pastor of Henderson Memorial Baptist Church.

In doing so Porter is taking a significant cut in pay, about $70,000, he said. He is stepping down as deputy director of operations with the Maine Department of Corrections.

Porter was born in Los Angeles, California, and was a young boy during the Watts Riots.

“It was a pretty rough time, right smack in the epicenter of the riots,” he said during a recent interview. “I saw my first murder when I was eight.”

Porter said his mom was from Hallowell and they relocated, stayed with her father for a time. Porter grew up in Gardiner, graduated from Gardiner High School.

He went to Norwich University, The Military College of Vermont. Porter obtained a Bachelor of Arts in criminology and the Russian language from Indiana State University.


“I have a fluency with languages, that is one of my gifts,” he said.

While in Indiana, Porter worked at the jail. “That was my niche,” he said. 

From there Porter worked as a police officer in Brockton, Massachusetts, and the Kennebec County jail. He was in Maine just a few weeks when the Federal government called and he became a correctional officer in Danbury, Connecticut.

“I just hit my niche,” Porter said. “My first suicide was on the first day of my job. A gentleman died in my arms and I realized I was in the right spot at the right time in my life.”

Porter promoted up, worked in 19 prisons around the country and retired from the Bureau of Prisons in 2016 after 28 years. He tried a few things before becoming the program director of Neil J. Houston House – the first relief center for substance abuse in Pawtucket, Rhode Island.

“It was very challenging work,” Porter said. “God kept weighing on my heart, he kept talking to me. I heard him incessantly.


“One weekend in particular He said, ‘I need you to resign,'” Porter said. “I said this doesn’t make any sense, I don’t have a plan. I resigned and the next day Maine [Department of] Corrections called. Shortly thereafter I got the job as deputy director of operations.

“I became the use of force guy for the department, anything dealing with use of force I engineered and overhauled,” Porter said. “Law enforcement is a very tough job. You are always on the alert and before you know it your work is entwining with your personal life.”

God continued talking to Porter about His plans for Porter. After a few missteps Porter visited the First Baptist Church in Bath.

“The message was ‘So you are called to preach,'” he said. “It was an affirmation for me.”

Porter studied at Luther Rice College and Seminary in Georgia then at Liberty University in Virginia. He will graduate in October with a Masters in Divinity.

In his job Porter had a lot of autonomy. He and the commissioner revised policy, created a state-wide faith review committee.


“I’m very proud of that,” Porter said. “It has grown, we now have our central church that is serving two of our facilities.”

Porter was also instrumental in forming the Faith in Blue program last year in the Augusta area.

“God kept telling me he had a two-year and a five-year plan for me,” he said. “‘In two years you are going to start working towards where I want you. In five years you will leave the department and go to your called church,'” Porter said God told him.

David Porter stands beside a sign recently welcoming him as the new pastor of Henderson Memorial Baptist Church in Farmington. Porter lives in New Sharon and took a significant cut in pay. Submitted photo

Porter saw a post about Henderson Memorial looking for a senior pastor online. The church had been seeking a new pastor since the retirement of Rev. Susan Crane in December 2019.

A resident of New Sharon, Porter has two grown daughters living in Orlando, Florida. He lives with Tessa Mosher whom he met through work. Pia the cat and Nellie, his twelve year old diabetes alert dog are other family members. Porter said he has struggled with juvenile diabetes since young and he has found eating right to be really hard.

“Other Christians can help you walk the walk,” he said.


Porter decided to give the job at Henderson Memorial a shot.

“Here we are,” Porter said. “This August is five years. God is absolute perfection.

“In serving God’s kingdom God can use my testimony to build others up,” Porter said. “People need to be nudged.”

Porter noted downtown Farmington resonates with him. Henderson Memorial has been a presence in the downtown since 1792 – although it has experienced two fires – some school buildings were modeled after the church, he said. Porter plans to continue embracing that history.

A series on the Christian walk is planned by Porter including a sermon on ethical living. A new website is being developed to allow online streaming of services and an online giving platform, he said. Other goals are offering programs for youth, working with the schools and with the community to provide more services, Porter said.

“I fell in love with the congregation,” he said. “The church is here to love on you no matter where you are. Not all families are perfect. Come as you are.”

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