Rev. James Bradbury “Brad” Mitchell

BRUNSWICK – The Rev. James Bradbury “Brad” Mitchell, Minister Emeritus of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Brunswick, died April 25, 2020, after a long illness. He leaves behind family and many friends and parishioners who grieve the passing of this kindhearted and committed man. Brad was 80 years old.Brad was born Oct. 8, 1939, to Ruth (Seabury) Mitchell and James B. Mitchell of Barnstable, Mass., where he spent his childhood roaming the coast and finding special natural settings that inspired his spiritual explorations. A lifelong Unitarian Universalist, he grew up in the Unitarian Church of Barnstable, where he discovered and began to cultivate a lifelong love of the church.Brad graduated from University of Massachusetts, Lowell, with a degree in music education. He taught music for two years at the Lexington, Mass. public schools before he felt called to the ministry. That call drew him to Crane Theological School from which he graduated with a Masters in Divinity in 1969. While at Crane, he met his lifelong partner and wife, Christine Johnson Mitchell, whom he married at the Unity Unitarian Universalist Church of North Easton, Mass., on Sept. 9, 1966.Brad was ordained to the ministry at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Barnstable, Mass., in 1969. In the same year, he was called to the Unitarian Universalist Society of Laconia, N.H., a small congregation where he sometimes played the hymns on the piano and organ, sang in the choir, and preached the sermon, all in the same service. He also directed a number of musicals at the community theater in Laconia. He served the Laconia congregation until 1979, when he was called to the East Shore Unitarian Universalist Church of Bellevue, Ohio. He served the East Shore community for seven years.In 1986, Brad was called to the Unitarian Universalist Church of Brunswick, where he served for 19 years. He was known for the depth of his compassion, his commitment to justice, and his care for the earth.Many remember how, when he listened to you, you had the feeling you were the only person in the world who mattered at that moment. He was known all around town, both within the congregation and without, as someone who would reach out to help in any way possible. While serving the Brunswick church, he was active in the Brunswick Area Interfaith Council, which started the Tedford Shelter for people experiencing homelessness. In Tedford’s early years, Brad often volunteered as part of the overnight staff.Brad retired from the Brunswick church in 2005, but, discovering he was not quite “preached out” yet, he served the Unitarian Universalist Society of Bangor for 18 months as an interim minister. He later served the Brunswick church in many capacities, including archivist, author and publisher of an in-depth church history called People of the Liberal Fire, small group ministry facilitator, guest preacher, member of the Green Sanctuary Committee, member of the Bicentennial Task Force, and more.Brad is remembered particularly for his love of the earth. His beautifully written sermons were infused with observations about and metaphors concerning the natural world. In addition, he was active in earth care advocacy. A lifelong organic gardener, Brad grew most of the vegetables his family ate all summer and fall.Brad’s love of music was lifelong. Upon retirement, he sang in the Brunswick church choir, played piano for occasional services, and added his voice both to the Merry Meeting Singers and the Nor-easters Barbershop Chorus. In addition, he possessed a dramatic flair that the church frequently called upon when they needed to bring children’s stories to life.In his free time, he worked as a family genealogist, compiling a history of both his own family and that of his wife’s family, as well. Through years of research, he traced both family lines all the way back to Charlemagne’s era. He also enjoyed cooking and baking. His specialty was pies. His children still remember all of the fresh berry and rhubarb pies he baked during their childhood.Brad was equally at home preaching, singing, gardening, and holding signs in protest rallies. In recent years, he participated in many rallies on the Brunswick Mall, supporting marriage equality, earth care, women’s rights, Standing Rock, and more. Above all, he was the embodiment of kindness and compassion. Those who knew him remember him as encouraging and supporting, trustworthy and loving. He put people at ease right away and he drew out the good in everyone.Brad was predeceased by his wife, Christine Johnson Mitchell.He is survived by his son, Ian Mitchell of Brunswick; his daughter, Rebecca Mitchell, her partner Luke Gottlieb, and their children, Judah Gottlieb, Asher Gottlieb, and Sebastian Mitchell of Richmond, Calif.; and his brother and sister-in-law, Douglas Mitchell and Christine Welsh of Brookline, Mass.Brad’s death, coming as it has in a time of pandemic, represents a challenge for memorializing him fittingly at the moment. The Unitarian Universalist Church of Brunswick will hold a celebration of his life at a later time. Online condolences may be sent to Memorial contributions can be made to the church:UUCBP.O. Box 129Brunswick, ME 04011

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