PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — When Presque Isle native Mark Nadeau and his wife, Dana, returned to the city this year to start the Shepherd’s Flock Apostolic Pentecostal Church, they knew that part of their mission would be to not only serve their congregation but to also the most vulnerable members of their community.
“We look for every opportunity to be out there in our community and give people hope,” Mark Nadeau said.
Ordained as a Pentecostal pastor in 1997, Nadeau also serves as the chaplain and domestic abuse counselor for the Presque Isle Police Department. Before he and Dana first came to Presque Isle in 2012, the couple had started a Shepherd’s Flock church near their home in Bluffton, Ohio, but were unable to fully commit to the effort because of their jobs as property managers. The Nadeaus moved to Florida three years later due to a family situation.
They first thought of returning to Aroostook County this year when their friend Agnes Drost, now a church elder for the Shepherd’s Flock congregation, called and told them about the need for a Pentecostal church in the Presque Isle region. After much thought and prayer, the couple moved back to the city and have since established Shepherd’s Flock at the historic James School on Niles School near Arnold Brook Lake.
“The school is a good location for us right now because people know where it is and it’s not too far from town,” Nadeau said. “And it’s in a beautiful setting out here with nature. We held our first church service here last Sunday, June 3, and everything was perfect.”
The congregation hopes to find another location, possibly at the Presque Isle Inn and Convention Center, to host their Sunday church ceremonies during much of the fall and winter months to make the commute more convenient for folks and because the one-room schoolhouse does not use heat or running water to preserve its status as a historical site.
But in the meantime most of their efforts remain focused on community outreach. On July 1, the church will launch a Go Fund Me page in hopes of raising $5,000 for the year that will go toward their support of the Presque Isle Police Department. They currently have a PayPal account set up for that same purpose. They call their fundraiser, “Back the Blue,” and hope to raise greater community awareness and support for local police officers.
“If a police officer or one of their family members were in the hospital, we would like to be able to send them a card or flowers. We’ll also encourage people to do small things to show their appreciation, like buying the officers pizza,” Nadeau said. “Those men and women put their lives on the line everyday and we want to raise more community spirit for what they do.”
As their congregation grows, members also will plan to visit hospital patients, jail inmates and people living at the homeless shelter to provide comfort, emotional support and hopeful words to those who need it most, regardless of their religious affiliation. One of their other goals is to work with a local hotel to establish a special room rate for homeless individuals and families who need a place to stay for one night, particularly during the colder winter months.
The plan, Nadeau said, would be to notify police officers once an individual is identified and have the officers check them into the hotel. Although the individuals would not have access to the usual privileges of hotel guests or be able to stay more than one night, church members would ensure they are given a list of community services and resources to access.
“We’ve decided that as a congregation we want to be a church who helps the homeless and provides a message of healing to people,” Nadeau said. “Instead of waiting for others to do something, we want to have an active presence in our community.”