NEW PORTLAND — Every Sunday, members of Western Mountains Baptist Church tote a pulpit and musical equipment into the gym of Kingfield Elementary School where services have been held for most of the church’s seven-year existence.
Soon, the congregation of close to 100 will have a permanent place to worship.
They are working to build an 8,600-square-foot church on six acres off Route 27 just south of the Kingfield town line in New Portland. They hope to have their first service there sometime in July.
Church crews from all around the country, a total of nearly 300 individuals, will come and help, member Crystal Fitch said. Two large groups are expected in June. A smaller group will come in August to complete projects. Many of these came to help build Farmington Baptist, she said.
“It’s been church in a box,” Pastor Tom DuBois said, referring to the trailer where the pulpit and church materials are stored throughout the week.
In the elementary school, Sunday school classes have limited space, the high school class meets on the stage, a woman’s group in the boys locker room, others spread out, he said. Bible studies and other groups meet during the week in people’s homes and a large youth group continues to meet on Thursday, he said.
The new church building will provide a combined sanctuary/multipurpose room, four classrooms, a 16- by 24-foot kitchen, office and storage, said Ron Staier, who has worked on the plans. The vinyl-sided building will use propane gas and have radiant heat through the floor, he said. The building is expected to seat up to 250 people.
Some members previously attended services at Farmington Baptist but when a large youth group formed in Kingfield they realized there was a need for services closer, Roger Meldrum said. Pastor Earl Edgerly would preach in Farmington in the morning and hold an evening service in Kingfield until the church hired a pastor, he said.
It was also easier to invite others to church when it’s held in Kingfield and doesn’t require miles of driving to Farmington, Meldrum said. The congregation includes members from Strong, Stratton, Eustis, Kingfield, New Portland and the surrounding areas.
The congregation moved from the school to a former school superintendent’s office for about a year and then back to the school, he said. First Baptist in Kingfield has provided support and space for the congregation’s extra activities.
DuBois has led the congregation for about four years and the membership has about doubled.
Several members are playing key roles in getting the new church started. DuBois said his role as pastor is to help members realize the gifts God has given them and then plug them in to it, he said. Much of the congregation is involved in ministry. It’s a vibrant group of families, he said, extending an invitation to the 10 a.m. worship service or Sunday School at 9 a.m.
After purchasing the land from Randy Cousineau, the congregation has cleared the space, added a well, sewer, lights and installed radiant heat components in preparation for a concrete foundation.
The land price and work so far totalling nearly $100,000 has been covered by a capital fund campaign and by setting aside a portion of their offering for a building fund, DuBois said.
After days of rain, crews finally poured 160 cubic yards of concrete Wednesday. Contractor Jeremy Norton and subcontractors worked quickly to smooth the concrete pumped through a boom that allowed the mixture to reach the middle of the slab, he said.
More information about the church is available on its website, www.westernmountainschurch.com