Updated at 1:15 p.m.

The Rev. Mike Young of the Universalist Unitarian Church of Waterville thought he was going to give the invocation today at President Barack Obama’s appearance in Portland.

But when he arrived after noon, he said, plans had changed and that he would now sit with the audience. He didn’t give a reason for the change.

WATERVILLE — The Rev. Mike Young of the Universalist Unitarian Church of Waterville will give the invocation today at President Obama’s appearance in Portland.


This is the second time in two years that Young has participated in an Obama event: he conducted a memorial service for Obama’s grandmother in December 2008 in Honolulu when Obama was president-elect.


The two events will have occurred at opposite ends of the country.


Young was minister at the First Unitarian Church of Honolulu for 14 years before moving to Maine to become interim pastor of the Waterville church last August.


Obama’s grandmother reportedly took Barack to the Honolulu  church to attend Sunday school when he was a child.


Young was contacted by an Obama representative and asked to speak today in Portland. Young acknowledged in good humor that he is honored.


“I have  no delusions of grandeur about it,” he said. “It’s just that I’m probably somebody they consider safe — unlikely to do a gaff.”


Young said he wrote the short prayer he plans to deliver today.


“The only piece that’s unusual about it is, it’s an interfaith prayer, rather than being sectarian,” he said.


It begins: “We will invite into our awareness the presence in our midst of the best and highest that we know,” he said.


He also plans to talk about common values shared as part of the richness of such a diverse community, he said.


He and his wife, Nancy, were just leaving their home around 10:30 a.m., as  he was expected to be in Portland at noon, he said.


“I think it’s exciting. I have no delusion that anybody’s going to be paying any attention to me whatsoever. That’s the nature of invocations.”


Young said he does not know if he will have a chance to speak with the president today, as he expects there will be a lot of Secret Service officials.


Before he spoke at Obama’s  grandmother’s memorial service in Honolulu in 2008, the Secret Service went over the building with a fine-toothed comb, he said.


“They went through the church and spoke to every spider and every spider web in the whole church.”


Amy Calder — 861-9247


[email protected]

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.