Maybeck leaving Trinity for storytelling ministry
By John Swinconeck, Contributing Writer
Northborough — Ask Rev. Cynthia Maybeck, the outgoing minister at Trinity Church in Northborough, what she means by Biblical Storytelling, and she’s quick to come with an example: Recounting Mark 5:25, she tells the story of a woman healed by touching Christ’s garment. At times, miming actions of the woman, gesturing with her arms outstretched, her voice flows naturally – speaking conversationally and dramatically, and ending the passage with a small and humble smile. It’s easy to see how a listener could feel transported to a time 2,000 years ago.
For the past 23 years, Maybeck has been serving as a pastoral minster, the last 13 at Trinity. Now, she’s had a new calling: putting her storytelling skills to use, preaching and telling stories in churches, and in interfaith and secular settings throughout the region. She also intends to spread her message online.
“The audience may be Christian or Jewish, Universalist or atheist,” she said, “because the stories of scripture are really the stories of humanity. That’s what’s exciting. It’s a broader reach that touches people beyond the church setting.”
Maybeck has said she enjoys telling Scripture by heart.
“The Bible comes alive when it is told out loud,” she said. “Jesus was a great storyteller. Scripture was originally told, not written. We’re returning to the roots of Christianity.”
When she was a little girl, Cynthia Maybeck would sit on the porch steps of her grandmother’s cottage, and listen to stories of olden times.
“There were these great stories, like when Aunt Beth wanted to go to bed, and there were young people snuggling in the living room, so she tossed a firecracker in the fireplace to ruin the mood. There’s still a dent in the hearth from when it went off,” Maybeck said.
Storytelling comes from the heart, Maybeck said. “It’s not that different, coming as a preacher.”
During her tenure, the pastor said her best most powerful moments have been Sunday mornings “when the organ is playing and the sun is streaming through the window, and the spirit strikes the heart in a healing way.” Maybeck said she has also been moved during times of grief, when, during funerals, she sees the bereaved sharing memories of loved ones and leaving feeling better than when they came in.
Maybeck began preaching in 1984, working as a minister out of Worcester before coming to Trinity in Northborough. She called Trinity’s multi-denominational arrangement – it is affiliated with American Baptist Churches and the United Church of Christ – a “beautiful fit.”
“This church really puts God first. Its members genuinely care for each other,” she said.
“Being clergy is a really big job and it’s never finished,” she said, and it’s easy to work to the point of exhaustion.
“It’s a tiring job, in terms of a schedule. There’s always another meeting to go to and another call to make. The other part that’s frustrating are the changing times, and people’s lives seem so much busier than they once were. For our parents’ generation, the church was the center of their lives. Today, families are pulled in so many directions.”
Maybeck said she is saddened to leave the people of Trinity.
“It’s breaking my heart,” she said. “I love them, truly. There’s such a sacred trust between a minister and people. That can’t be replaced.”
John Critchlow, chairman of the board of deacons at Trinity, said that the feeling is mutual between Maybeck and her congregation.
“She is absolutely centered in her faith,” he said. “She leads with that. She has a very deep belief in God. When she’s preaching, you can see how God is working through her. That permeates everything she does. People can’t help but be inspired by that.”
After Maybeck’s departure, the board will recruit an interim minister and then start the process of finding a permanent replacement, a process that may last more than a year.
Critchlow said Maybeck has moved the congregation in a more spiritual direction.
“She’s so much led by her faith. There’s been a number of times when we have watched Cynthia leading a funeral. People leave amazed at the spirit she brings out. There’s been a number of folks around who say they hope she’ll be around to do their funerals, when it’s their time. That’s pretty special about what she does.”
“She’s a tremendously strong preacher. Her skills her unmatched, and it makes sense that she’s doing a storytelling ministry,” Critchlow said.
“For me, the greatest story ever told is Jesus Christ’s life, ministry, death, and resurrection. How love is stronger than death,” Maybeck said. “I’ve devoted my life to that. That’s what’s kept my feet on the ground and my eyes cast, with hope, to heaven.”
An open house will be held April 23 at Trinity Church in honor of Maybeck. Those wishing to attend should RSVP by calling (508) 393-8156. Maybeck will be available for storytelling presentations by calling (774) 258-0258, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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