MATE was organized in 1954 by the National Board of Missions of the Presbyterian Church to support the ministry of newly organized Presbyterian congregations serving small, rural communities in Maine. The two main names associated with MATE and its beginning is Rev. Bill Burger and Rev. Carl Geores. The main purpose at that time was to support these churches financially and form a support network for the clergy serving these churches through the Synod of the Northeast (Presbyterian Church). Both congregations and pastors depended upon one another. Christian witness took two forms: organizing congregations in underserved communities and providing social outreach.
In 1960, out of the parish ministry of 10 churches grew a summer camp for children, called Camp at the Eastward, providing the only “church” some kids have ever experienced. MATE was able to operate CATE for close to 60 years. Sadly, in 2021 the painful decision was made to discontinue CATE programing due to declining enrollment and fiscal infeasibility. The land used for CATE had been leased from the Presbytery of Northern New England who will determine the fate of the property. There is also a new initiative, Maine Outdoor Ministry, which will provide outdoor faith experiences for community youth.
MATE continues to be committed to youth outreach such as MATE Youth Connection (MYC), in which we are attempting to have year round relationships with youth, especially those at-risk and their families to enrich their lives and build better communities. We are also in a discernment period looking for new ways to serve youth in the area.
Through continued growth and innovation, MATE now also serves locally and globally through its ministries. The housing ministry, established in 1979, provides restoration of homes for low income families and individuals, the elderly, people with disabilities and veterans through the help of volunteers, without charge, to improve their living conditions – keeping them safe, warm and healthy.
Our global outreach, now part of Presbytery of Northern New England’s outreach, did support a presbytery in South Africa through building, the implementation of home gardens and the education to implement these throughout the community to realize self-sustainability for impoverished communities.
We continue to strive to further innovate to meet the needs of our communities and we are currently exploring the renovation of a house to serve as transitional housing for families and individuals finding themselves without a safe space to live while rebuilding their lives.