NORRIDGEWOCK — The Sunday service kicked off at the First Congregational Church of Norridgewock with stories, laughs and good company.

Pastor Nanci Greene, right, shares a light moment Sunday with congregation members before the start of the church service at First Congregational Church of Norridgewock. Morning Sentinel photo by Rich Abrahamson Buy this Photo

Nanci Greene of Norridgewock, voted in recently as the full-time pastor of the church, built in 1998 at 36 River Road, arrived Sunday with open arms, greeting children and others with smiles, hugs and laughs. She shared a story about the origin of her full name, Nancianne.

“My parents let my 9-year-old brother name me, and he wanted to call me Nanci — but there’s no Saint Nanci. The name comes from Anne, so my name is Nancianne. So really, I’m Anne-Anne,” she said, laughing with the group.

Greene has been filling in at services after the church’s lay minister, Devon Periard, was injured in a car accident Dec. 19, 2019, on River Road in Norridgewock.

As of late last week, Periard had been moved from the intensive care unit at Maine Medical Center in Portland to a room on the fourth floor, where she continues to recover, Greene said.

Greene, who is from Elizabeth, New Jersey, moved to Norridgewock about a decade ago. She was familiar with Maine, having spent many summers at a house on China Lake.

Pastor Nanci Greene, right, fields a question from Elizabeth Coro before the start of the church service Sunday at First Congregational Church of Norridgewock. Morning Sentinel photo by Rich Abrahamson Buy this Photo

She said that when she moved to Maine and found First Congregational Church of Norridgewock, she worked with the pastor as a musician. When the pastor was on vacation or needed a sick day, Greene often filled in at the pulpit.

Betty Libby, head deacon at the church, said it was an easy decision to vote for Greene as full-time pastor. Libby said the process of selecting a new pastor consisted of a meeting with the deacons and Greene, followed by a vote of the congregation.

“Picking Nanci was easy because she’s filled in before and everybody really likes her,” Libby said. “It was easy to do. She’s uplifting, she does a wonderful sermon and Sunday school and she’s really easy to get along with.”

About 20 community members attended the church service Sunday, where they sang, shared prayers and updated one another about community events.

Greene has previously talked about the continued prayers for Periard and the others injured in the December accident on River Road.

Pastor Nanci Greene, right, is embraced Sunday by Mackenzie Jones, 12, at First Congregational Church of Norridgewock. Morning Sentinel photo by Rich Abrahamson Buy this Photo

“They’re a tough bunch, those Periards,” she said.

The two met at the Norridgewock church. Greene played instruments and Periard was in the choir.

When the previous pastor resigned, Periard volunteered to take his place because she is a certified lay minister.

During Periard’s recovery, Greene has been assuming some of her duties.

“We include Devon in our prayers,” Greene said. “This is all small-town America. Everybody seems to know everybody. When things happen, everyone is affected.”

A fundraiser is continuing for Periard and for Robert Miller and Joseph Colombo, who were also seriously injured in the accident.

Members of the church community said they are excited to see Greene as the new pastor.

“I think she’s going to be a good fit,” Libby said. “The kids love her, and we have a good group of people coming in. I hope that the numbers get built up.”

Added Greene: “I am very humbled but very excited. We continue to keep all who were in that accident in prayer.”

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.