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Reverends and friends

By Christine Simmonds | Apr 02, 2020
Photo by: Christine Simmonds From left, Pastors Wayne Sawyer and Peter Jenks stand in front of their churches in Thomaston.

Thomaston — Wayne Sawyer and Peter Jenks are rival clergy and friends who work across the street from each other since the 90s.

Jenks is the reverend of the Episcopal Church of St. John Baptist at 200 Main St. Across Green Street, Sawyer is the reverend of the Thomaston Baptist Church at 212 Main St.

Sawyer has been at his church since 1984 and Jenks at his since 1992.

Together they are the two longest serving pastors in the Midcoast.

They met in part because of the Thomaston Inter-church fellowship. The fellowship would have monthly meetings, usually with a supper. This, of course, was in the 90s when Thomaston had multiple churches with full-time pastors.

Now, however, Sawyer and Jenks say many churches have left the area and they are the only full-time reverends in Thomaston.

Sawyer grew up in Bar Harbor. He then went to college and seminary in Massachusetts, where he “spent eight years too long down there.” Saywer said he “couldn’t wait to get back” to Maine.

Jenks is not from Maine, and said he loves “being from away” because he can get away with more. People will just say, “oh, he’s from away. They do that.”

Jenks said he feels native Mainers accept him more because he doesn’t mind being from away and does not try to be a local despite living in Thomaston since the early 90s.

Jenks was born in Chicago and lived in New Jersey, Minnesota, New York and Virginia. He and his wife summered in Maine, but Jenks said he was adamant that he did not want to live here year-round.

Someone put Jenks’ name in for the open position at the Thomaston church and he insisted there was “no way” he would be living in Thomaston.

“The only thing wider than God’s mercy is God’s sense of humor,” Jenks said, because of course he got the position.

Jenks was ultimately glad of it. “What I thought I knew was not really what I wanted,” he said. Jenks is thankful he did not end up elsewhere, because “I didn’t really know what I was asking at the time!”

The two men say one reason their friendship works is because they are different denominations. Jenks said, “If someone gets mad at me for something I’ve done, they’re not going to run across the street and join (Sawyer’s) church, they’re going to go to another Episcopal church.”

The same is true of Wayne’s congregation, too. “We can cooperate together instead of competing against each other,” he said.

Beyond that, Sawyer said that after all this time, “we like each other and we need each other.”

The two collaborate on their sermons and check with each other for ideas.

They also understand the unique life a pastor lives. Sawyer said “most pastors are lonely on account of their job,” so they can look to each other for support.

Sawyer also said the best part about their friendship is “we can fight – and we do” without it affecting their relationship too much.

“If we have a knock-down drag-out over a political issue,” Sawyer said, they go back to their churches and “everything is fine.”

Jenks said this is because “all we’re doing is venting because we are mad about something totally other,” and not really with the other pastor at all.

Sawyer said they are both “very accepting,” and after all the time they have been in this area, there are not any more surprises in what they encounter.

Jenks said for a community, “it’s a gift having a long-term pastor,” that does not happen much anymore. Both Jenks and Sawyer have been able to minister to families where they worked with multiple generations.

Sawyer said he married “dozens already of children of couples that I’ve married, and now I’m starting to do grandchildren of couples that I’ve married.”

Jenks said he has not married any grandchildren yet, but he married the children of couples he originally united.

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Comments (4)
Posted by: Crawford L Robinson | Jan 29, 2021 22:45

I haven't gone to church since 1965 when my dear now departed grandmother scared me by telling me it would fall on me.

Posted by: Alana Allen | Jan 29, 2021 14:34

Wayne Sawyer had my children in Sunday school. They are grown men in their 40's now. He is a wonderful person.


Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Apr 02, 2020 14:56

WOW! Am sure their relationship makes God smile.  Both fine gentlemen whom walk the walk showing all of us what the LOVE of God is all about. KUDOS!!

Posted by: Kathleen Stone Macy | Mar 26, 2020 21:14

Actually my husband, the Rev. David Macy has served the North Haven Baptist Church since 1991.

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