Dear Maine Conference and Pilgrim Lodge supporters –
I am so grateful and excited to introduce to you Melinda Trotti as our new Interim Director of Outdoor Ministries. Her biography is included in this letter, and details her significant passion and experience in church camp and retreat ministries.
Our Interview Team consisted of Adam LaViolet, Liz Charles McGough, John Rimkunas, Josh Fitterling, Anne Roundy, Allison DiMateo and myself. We were grateful to have the services of Jody Oates, of Kaleidoscope, Inc, to assist in the search by posting our position widely, screening candidates and providing three very strong, well-qualified applicants to serve as our Interim Director. We also posted our position to the UCC Ministerial Opportunities page.
After initial interviews, it became clear to the whole Committee that Melinda was by far our top candidate. We brought her to Maine, snow-shoed into Pilgrim Lodge, provided time for Melinda to meet with Karen and John Steelhammer and Ruth Choate, had dinner and more conversation – and agreed unanimously that we wanted to invite Melinda to work with us as we strive to assure Pilgrim Lodge’s future. We were impressed with her significant experience, passion and positive outlook. She seemed to fit right in!
Melinda reports that she loved the Dean’s Retreat last weekend, and gives kudos to the planning team – she says she couldn’t have done it better herself! We are working now to orient her to Pilgrim Lodge and the Maine Conference before she returns to her home for Holy Week and a few weeks thereafter. She’ll work from home until returning to Maine for “Jump Start Weekend” and staying through the end of October.
We will decide as soon as we can about whether this is a one season or two season Interim. Stay tuned! And feel free to reach out to Melinda. She can be reached at Director@pilgrimlodge.org, at 207-724-3200 or by cell 310-773-6657. She would love to hear from anyone who loves Pilgrim Lodge!
I am feeling very blessed to welcome Melinda Trotti to our Conference Staff, and know you will too once you have met her!
Blessings and peace,
Rev. Deborah J. Blood, Conference Minister
Melinda Trotti, the new interim director of Outdoor Ministries and Pilgrim Lodge, brings over 20 years of church camping and not-for-profit leadership experience to the Maine Conference. As a specialist in interim camp and retreat ministry, she has a proven record over the past decade in leading camp and retreat centers in Florida, California, Oregon, and Massachusetts through a successful and sustainable transition. She began her camping experience first as a Girl Scout camper and then in developing camp programs for children in the foster care system in Mississippi.
The approach that Melinda takes in a time of transition is to first listen and learn from those involved in the ministry. There is inherent freedom as an “outsider” to see and speak to interim situations from an objective viewpoint, bring experience from other sites around the country which have gone through similar transitions, and provide a solid setting for a new leader to take over when the transition ends.
Melinda approaches ministry as a collaborative leader, seeking the best out of the people with whom she works. She has taught personnel management for the United Methodist Camp and Retreat Ministry certification program through Drew Theological School and has mentored many young leaders in the field throughout the U.S. She also brings a passion for justice and a Christian commitment to the poor and oppressed having served as both a community organizer and Director of Justice and Outreach Ministries for the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church.
As a certified spiritual director, Melinda also focuses on self-awareness when working with staff and groups. She has a passion for the outdoors and the relationship between ecology and theology and the practice of stewardship of the land and all of creation. Having served in an Interim position in which she oversaw the $600,000 remodeling of a retreat center, she was able to utilize the knowledge she gained from both previous camping positions and her growing up in a family of contractors.
Melinda’s current home base is in Southern California where she lives with her husband, the Rev. David Berkey, and her dog Gouda who will be joining her for the summer at Pilgrim Lodge. She knows New England and the northeast well having received two masters degrees in Boston and Cambridge, the second a M.A. in theology from Episcopal Divinity School, and also as a settled Director at a United Methodist Camp and Retreat Center in the Hudson Valley of New York.
The Maine Conference of the United Church of Christ has been intentionally planning for the sustainable future of Pilgrim Lodge, and the hiring of Melinda Trotti as Interim Director is the next step in insuring that sustainability for generations to come. Melinda is familiar with the Pilgrim Lodge Sustainability Report, completed by Kaleidoscope Inc., a consulting firm for camp and retreat centers. This report was received in 2017 and is being used as guide for Pilgrim Lodge’s next steps. That report can be found here.
We welcome Melinda to Maine and pray for her, the staff, volunteers, and campers as they prepare for another exciting season at Pilgrim Lodge.