Use case: helping the small town pastor

Let me introduce my user case doppleganger, The Rev. Angela Mather. She’s the minister of the Lower Walnut Universalist Church in Lower Walnut, Maine. I mention her because she could use some help with free and open-source software solutions. Actually, she could use any number of solutions. And we’re going to help her out.

Her position is half-time and the pay is low, but it gives her access to health insurance and a cottage the church owns as a parsonage. She works part-time for the local tourism board to make ends meet for herself and her thirteen-year old son, Absolom. Angela’s quite talented, but she’s “geographically limited” since her marriage ended. (Robert, her ex-husband, convinced her to move back to Maine, where today he runs the family business, a heritage grist mill/bed & breakfast in nearby Upper Walnut.) For her son and work’s sake, she keeps the peace. Settlements and other opportunities in the area are few; best to make the best of the situation.

One reason the pay is low is that the economy is bad — and threatens to get worse — and the congregation is a shadow of its historic size. The families that founded the church also founded the mills but the mills are closed and the families — at least those with money — are gone. Angela has no support staff, but a reliable handful of the elder women in the church help around the office and flower beds. She has an old computer — a 2001-era Windows machine; a relic she’s been told — that stalls and sputters and causes her so much frustration. Not only does she write the orders of service and newsletters, but calendars for the Senior Lunch program and reports for her other job. Oh, and a web site? Not so much.

This is Angela’s story. This matches many stories, at least in part. When I describe or develop solutions, I will have her — the meaning of a use case — in mind.

By Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.


  1. I believe the Fausto family drove through Lower Walnut just a few weeks ago. Aren’t there also Universalist churches in neighboring Middle Walnut and Norwegian Wood?

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