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Epworth Retreat House at Dorfield Farm

The Epworth Retreat House at Dorfield Farm in Wells, Maine is Preachers’ Aid Society’s latest offering to active pastors. The Retreat House will be offered for a week at a time free to actively serving clergy in the New England Annual Conference. Registration for the 2019 season is open through the month of February, all active pastors are invited to apply for a week in the coming season May through October. The only week that won’t be offered is the week of Annual Conference (June 9-15). On the application, please indicate all possible weeks that you could come. We will seek to assign all the weeks to those who have applied and let people know the outcome by the end of March. The bigger window of availability you offer, the more likely you will have a chance to come.

The week will run from Sunday Afternoon until the next Saturday morning. The retreat house has 2 separate units each of which have their own bathroom, bedroom and study. The 2 units will share the kitchen space, the outdoor patio and a large sunroom. When you apply to come, you may indicate that you wish to be there the same week as another colleague. That colleague should indicate their desire to share the time with you on their application also.

You are encouraged to bring your spouse for the week if you wish. You are responsible for your food for the week, the retreat house has a beautiful, fully equipped kitchen. Bed linens and bath towels will be provided, visiting pastors are responsible for any beach towels. The house is situated near many restaurants in Wells and other coastal towns. Multiple beautiful beaches and other natural areas to explore are within a short drive. The house is equipped with Wi-Fi, but there is no television. There is a library in the sunroom with a variety of books including topics related to ministry, a few classics and some just for fun. There are a few limitations at the house. We are not allowing any children. We are not allowing any animals (pets or service animals). The house is not handicapped accessible because of the historic nature of the building and the fact it sits on three different levels. Preachers’ Aid Society is delighted to be able to offer this opportunity, we hope all active pastors of the New England Conference will take advantage of this retreat offering.

Retreat Registration

Educational Support

Higher Education Loan Program (HELP)  - Preachers' Aid has been assisting New England Conference Clergy through HELP since 2003.  In that time clergy have repaid over $500,000 which has been returned to this revolving loan program to be used by new participants.  Participants tell us they were able to pay off loans sooner or decrease their payments so that additional funds could go into savings for their children's education or for their pension fund.  To see if you are eligible for this program, please check out the guidelines below link:

HELP Guidelines    HELP Application

Parent Education Loan Program - This program is not a scholarship program.  Higher Education loans taken on by clergy parents of the New England Conference are rewritten.  The maximum aggregate per clergy family cannot exceed $30,000.  A clergy parent is a United Methodist ordained clergy or full-time local pastor connected with the New England Conference or the surviving spouse or ex-spouse of such clergyperson.  The “child” is the natural born or adopted child of the ordained clergy or full-time local pastor. To see if you are eligible for this program, please check the guidelines below:

PELP Guidelines   PELP Application


The Preachers' Aid Society along with the Board of Ordained Ministry of the New England Conference has sponsored Tending the Fire (TTF) since 2006. TTF helps clergy to understand and apply the concepts of Bowen family systems theory to their congregations and to their personal lives.  Over and over we hear back from participants that what they learn about family systems is helpful not only in their church, but in every aspect of their lives.

Tending the Fire requires a commitment of time; it includes three three-day retreats. Participants learn to “think systems” in their personal lives and in their churches.  The process includes lecture, small groups, reading, individual work and discussion time.  Gathering for worship, communion, and fellowship at meals are also important experiences within the TTF process.

If you have decided this is the year for you to attend and need financial assistance, all clergy in appointment in the New England Conference are eligible for MEF short-term grants through the Board of Ordained Ministry.  You can find the guidelines and application on the Conference website under Leadership & Learning> Board of Ordained Ministry>Additional forms.  You can find more information at the link to Tending the Fire’s website below.  For more information, visit the website of The Rev. Barbara Lemmel, founder and facilitator of TTF.

Tending the Fire Website

Resource & Referral

We also encourage or active pastors to take advantage of programs and services provided by the United Methodist Foundation of New England (UMFNE). We especially recommend the Financial and Life Planning Workshops including: 

  • Starting Up Well

  • Clergy Taxes and Compensation

  • Living Well: Financial Planning Basics

  • Retirement Planning

These workshops help our pastoral families better prepare for the future and avoid some of the financial pitfalls that often catch our clergy off guard.

UMFNE Clergy Page →